25 May 2008

halfway there

I'm single parenting for 9 days while Peter explores Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks with my brother Steve in California. About a month ago I was checking around and found him a ticket to San Jose that cost $250, the exact amount of gift money he received for his birthday this year. He was still hesitant to go and leave us, but I assured him that we'd be fine and he should go without guilt. We're doing amazingly well without him (I'm sure I'll regret saying that) apart from the tire I blew out on my way to a friend's Thursday. Fortunately, we were able to park the car close to home, and another friend's husband changed it for me the next day.

The middle of today marked the halfway point of Peter's trip. That milestone would have been exciting enough for us at home, but then we actually got our first call from him around 6pm. I was so thrilled. They can't get a signal on their phones to call in the parks, so I knew we might not hear from them at all. Then today they found a pay phone and used all their quarters to check in. Unfortunately, they've had lousy weather and have spent most of the trip so far dealing with snow, rain, and fog. They've only had one decent day hike and nothing overnight yet. If you feel inclined, I'd love it if you'd pray for the weather to clear so the second half of the trip is more enjoyable than the first. I feel strongly that Peter needs a relaxing time away from the pressures of everyday life to connect with himself and God, and it's a lot easier to relax when you're not stuck in a tent in lousy weather. I'll update again if I hear anything else, and I hope to have some beautiful pictures to share after Peter comes home Thursday night.

18 May 2008

Patience: one year later

Still trying to catch up, but I don't want to miss the chance to give each of our kids a moment in the spotlight-- even if that moment is a month late.

Above you see Patience on April 9, 2007 and 2008. It's been quite a year for Patience. She's the one we've wanted to strangle more times than any other. When she came home, her English language skills were terrible. She took almost all her cues from Joshua. As a result, when she would get into trouble or need to talk directly to us, we would have extremely frustrating conversations. We didn't realize how little she really understood until Joshua went off to school in September, leaving Mommy and Patience with 7 hours a day to communicate. That first month was brutal until I figured out that she wasn't trying to be horrifically disobedient. She just didn't understand me and wouldn't tell me so. Once I realized that I needed to back way up to converse with her, things improved. Patience still is quite far behind in her speaking skills, but she has come so far. She still doesn't understand everything we say, but she can hear me make a mistake in my speech from a room away. "Mommy, you call Garty Joshua!!" She also picks up on words and phrases that she hears in music and on the radio. After a conversation with the kids about Barack Obama when a door hanger was left for us the day before the primary, she now triumphantly announces his name when she hears it on the news in the car. (She still doesn't pronounce it correctly, but she knows it when she hears it.)
Patience definitely has some emotional issues going on that have expressed themselves in bathroom problems at various times throughout the year. Just when we think she's over having accidents, lying to us about those accidents, and not telling us when she needs to use the bathroom, she has another round of problems. We had a good 2 months or so that ended a few weeks ago. Now we're having problems again. We know this frustration will eventually end, and we just try to encourage her positive behaviors in this regard. We're just thankful there aren't more signs of emotional adjustment issues.
Physically, Patience went from a size 3 last year to a 5 or 6 now! She has gotten very long in her arms and legs. Since we had nothing to do with her physical appearance, I don't think it's conceited to say that she is going to be gorgeous-- tall, thin, great facial features, and beautiful skin. We're going to need to keep a close eye on her as a teenager.
When Patience isn't testing our patience, she is such a joyful girl. She loves to laugh and has such a gorgeous smile now that her 2 front teeth aren't rotting anymore. Her personality has blossomed as her English has improved. She loves to joke and tease. Her favorite trick is to hide things behind her back and tell me that she doesn't know what happened to them. I then say something to the effect of, "Oh no! Where do you think it is?" Patience responds, "I don't know" with very exaggerated arm motions and shoulder shrugs. Then after I worry a little more about the missing item, Patience triumphantly produces it and laughs hysterically. Remember, I didn't say she is funny. She just thinks she is.
Patience was and will always be our cuddler. When she came home she was so starved for attention. She wanted to be held constantly and was inappropriately affectionate with strangers. The first time Joshua and Patience went to a store with me, I talked to a cashier for a moment only to turn around and find them holding hands with the next person in line. The poor woman didn't know what to do! While the extreme neediness has disappeared, Patience will still take any love she can get. She loves to give hugs and kisses. Sometimes she sits on my lap and rubs her face back and forth against my cheeks for no apparent reason. It's a bit weird but sweet. We're pretty sure it's impossible to avoid falling in love with our little girl.

12 May 2008

Mother's Day reflections

Mother's Day 2007: The kids had been home for 3 weeks. Loud tantrums still abounded. Bedtime each night was a battle. Peter had been gone for 10 days. I was exhausted. We picked him up at the Newark airport mid-afternoon on Saturday. There was no way we were heading out to church Sunday morning. Peter's goal for the day was to do everything and keep the kids out of the way all day so I could have a real break. By mid-morning I had come down with Hep A, Garty's unexpected Mother's Day gift to me. Peter got his wish. I didn't do anything that day. Or the next day. Or for quite a while after that. He didn't even have to figure out what to feed me. Mother's Day 2008: When I went in the kids' room to get them up, Joshua and Patience wished me a happy Mother's Day. Joshua immediately wanted to go get the gift he made at school and had been hiding all weekend. While everyone else ate baked oatmeal for breakfast, I snuck a leftover piece of peanut butter cheesecake from our dinner party on Friday. We had a nice time at church. While Garty napped, the rest of the gang went to Bertucci's to pick up 2 orders of Chicken Parm to split and lots of delicious rolls. After dinner we all had quiet time in our rooms. My quiet time was extended an extra hour, so I had a wonderful nap. When we were all awake again, we hiked up the road to the creek. I love sitting by the water under the trees. Everyone threw rocks and sticks in the water until it was getting dark and time to head home. We sat around the table eating pistachios, pretzels, and strawberries with fresh whipped cream. After Peter put the kids to bed with no assistance from me, we watched Charlie Wilson's War (picked up free from Redbox). Oh, and we polished off the peanut butter cup cheesecake at intermission. My night ended with a massage from my dear husband. Truly a happy Mother's Day.

07 May 2008

upcoming holidays

Tonight we were having a discussion about Mother's Day which led to a discussion about Father's Day which logically led to the question, "After Father's Day is Children's Day?" Peter's response to Joshua was, "Every day is Children's Day."

06 May 2008

ready to go to Guatemala?

As if things haven't been crazy enough around here the past few weeks, I've now been convinced (by Peter) to lead a trip to Guatemala in August. He'll be Mr. Mom by day and working from home by night while I introduce a team of North Americans to the wonderful people of Guatemala for a week. Our previous trips there have always been life changing. We're currently taking applications for the team, so let us know if you'd like more information about the trip. We'll be working with Mildred Pur de Lacan and her team of volunteers. You can read more about Mildred in our latest Prayerlink. I know it's easy to dismiss opportunities like this because you don't have time or don't think you can raise the funds or can't get away from your family or a long list of other reasons, but if I can make it a priority, you probably can, too. Give it some thought.

By the way, I know I left you all hanging on our 1 year updates... and the car situation... and all the huge firsts of the past few weeks that you don't even know about yet. I promise I'll write at least one of the belated posts this week. Now that I've said it, I'll be guilted into getting it done. Not tonight though. My brain is too fuzzy.