Mother’s Day ’18 Recap

Yesterday I shared what was on my heart.

Today I’ll share my memory of yesterday. It’s quite comical, really.

First, let me say, this was the first year I woke up without the mindset of, “It’s Mother’s Day… I need a day off.” I believe in as many ways as possible, moms should have it easy on Mother’s Day. Next year I may wake up having returned to this mindset, but yesterday, I woke up with no expectations, no need for rest… I just woke up thankful and this wasn’t a decision I made.  I just felt that way, and all day long I wondered what caused this shift in attitude and never pinpointed it, I just went with it.

I started the day by spending some time in my office (which, if you read yesterday, you know not to have any grand ideas about what this office is like). Here are some snapshots of what I was watching:

I arrived at church on time, mind you, though not as early as I would have liked, and dropped Anna off before heading upstairs to the sanctuary. Matt lead our service in a baby dedication which is always a special time. In a military community, it’s a different kind of special as we know that the people in the audience vowing to help raise the children being held by their parents won’t actually have the pleasure of helping to raise them, but will only be in the child’s life for a few years.

Once the ceremony was complete I headed downstairs to relieve a mom who was volunteering. A mom who is currently in the middle of the years I remember very badly needing Mother’s Day to be a day off. Or at least a day with less to do. (While I would have loved for her to stay and chat, I really did want her to go to the service!) She has five boys. Yep! I have extra amounts of love for this mama because there’s a “thing” between “boy moms.” I’ve been told that I still get to retain an honorary “boy mom” title even though we’ve added a girl because I did spend 15 years of my parenting journey in this exclusive club.

When I entered the nursery Anna, who absolutely loves her class, came to me and said, “Not leave me. Not leave me.” I love watching the maturing stages of children and keeping an eye on the stages of development, especially in light of adoption and making sure we’re doing right by Anna. She goes to class just fine, and runs to us when we come pick her up. Yesterday, when I went back to her class earlier than usual, she noticed something was off and stuck by me pretty closely for the first ten minutes. I literally drank in her wanting me. I don’t know how else to say that. I held her and absorbed her want. I assured her that I wasn’t leaving and was going to stay in her class today. When I had to put her down to tend to something else, I let her hold my finger as I said, “I’m not leaving. I’m staying.” When she got jealous that I was holding another kiddo, I pulled her onto my other knee and held them both. I’m still kind of surprised she let me hold them both… it could have gone sour. After a while she believed that I was going to stay and she wandered around a little more, but still she played on the half of the room I was in more rather than wandering around like she normally does. I was her “safe base” and she wanted to be near me. I loved every minute of being in the nursery… and lest you think I’m a saint, this is the first year in my parenting journey that I wanted to be in the nursery on Mother’s Day.

Now on to the comical part of our day… and hear me when I say, I am the guest in this country. I will adjust to the cultural expectations of this part of the country which are noticeably different from those of Wiesbaden. I also realize that here, especially in the city of Stuttgart with a vast array of other people groups represented, we have multiple cultures to navigate… So, we went to lunch at a restaurant I’ve been eying and excited to try. I didn’t make reservations because I wasn’t sure if Anna was going to be too “two-year-old” for eating out.  After church she was still acting just fine so we loaded up our two cars and drove to a Greek restaurant. We walked in and no one was at the “greeting” desk so I opened the next door that opened into the actual restaurant part and saw a table full of people to my left, three waitresses standing behind the bar, and saw several tables empty. None of the waitresses spoke and all three looked me dead in the eye. It felt stupid to ask but it was the only thing I could come up with in the moment… I asked, “Are you open?”

When one said yes, I said, “seven people” in German and she pursed her lips and then asked if we had a reservation. I said no, and she looked down at her seating chart. “This is a problem” she replied in English… I’m guessing what we did would be the American equivalent of walking into Chili’s with a party of 60 with no reservation. No American would do that. We know that for large parties (10-15 or more) you really need a reservation or to at least call ahead to see if they could accommodate the group.

But seven?  A single family?  Again, I’ll learn the cultural norms here and will work with them, but we’ve been here a fairly short time and we’ve spent much of it in recovery (casts, surgery, etc). There’s my excuse.

Everything froze for a good 10 seconds before I finally said, “It’s okay. We’ll go somewhere else.” She said, “No. No. Come.” and by that point I was done. We were about to spend 100 euros on a meal and I was not going to do so in a place that was that harsh. I don’t think she did anything wrong, necessarily… I was definitely in the wrong for not having a reservation, but I just couldn’t spend that kind of money feeling as rejected and dejected as I felt at that moment.

We walked out as unobtrusively as a family of seven can (we felt all eyes on us) and stood in the parking lot for several minutes googling restaurants. It’s hard to find one open on Sundays in Germany.

I found one with good reviews and a cool name (Parker and I are reading a book with a character named the same as the restaurant). We drove 15 minutes, parked in an underground parking deck that was considerably farther from the restaurant than we originally thought (it wasn’t that far for walking-people but for those on crutches, it was too far…).

This was a German restaurant and we were greeted much more pleasantly than at the first, though his first words were, “You have a reservation?”

There was my second rebuke of the day.

“No, I’m sorry. Is that okay?” I asked, and he said, “One moment.” and went to check seating. He came back smiling and said, “It’s okay” and he seated us.

By this point Anna was getting “squirrely.” Spell-check is rebuking me with a red line under that word but I promise, there’s no better word to describe her. She wasn’t being ugly, disrespectful, whiny, but she was like a squirrel playing in the branches of a tree. There was no containing her.

We hadn’t brought the stroller because we thought we were closer to the restaurant than we were and after checking around, the waiter said they didn’t have one.

There was no way we were going to survive this meal with Anna the way she was so we left our second restaurant of the day. I apologize profusely, thanked him for trying to accommodate us, and scooped Anna up.

We walked out as unobtrusively as a family of seven can (we felt all eyes on us… again) and left Carson by the front door so he didn’t have to hobble back to the car. On the way to the parking garage I called a pizza place near our house and ordered four pizzas and five sides of fries.

Once at the garage we couldn’t find the Kasseautomat (first time in over three years in Europe that we spent more than a minute looking for the kasseautomat). I’m embarrassed to say it took us close to ten minutes to find it but we were successful. I stopped at the pizza shop and on the way home I ate my fries because it was Mother’s Day and I wasn’t going to eat soggy fries. If I was going to splurge and eat crap then I was going to have the tastiest fries I could find!

We ended up enjoying a much calmer lunch than had we stayed at the restaurant. That afternoon Matt and I watched a tv show and then I spent a few hours working on creating Anna’s two family trees.

Hayden found a near-by soccer field and asked if I could take him and Bailey while the rest of the family rested. I did and took along a book and enjoyed the cool breeze while they played. While there Bailey spotted a neat park with all sorts of fun activities.

We ended up going home and getting the rest of the family to play at the park. We had SO much fun. All seven of us rode the zip-line multiple times!

We tried to FaceTime with Mama Kim but she was at work so Anna and I recorded a video and sent it to her. This little girl cracks me up! (She loves to see herself in the phone… she is an entertainer!)

To close the night we watched the first half of Monster’s Inc. and all of us literally laughed out loud… especially at the part when Sully repeatedly faints when he thinks Boo went through the trash compacter.

It was a great day in spite of the “cultural learning experiences” we had. I love being a Mom.  I am honored to be these kids’ mom… I am undeserving and I want to do the best by them.

Here are some photos from our evening at the park:

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Mother’s Day 2018

Oh, be still my heart. The thoughts that go through a mother’s head when she sits still for a few minutes…

I’m sitting in my office* wearing my new earbuds that I got as a Mother’s Day listening to a classical music and out of the corner of my eye I see a slide show on the television that I created almost two years ago to display during our “Happy Hamrick Day” celebration – the day that our adoption was finalized.

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These pictures are making me feel very sentimental… and the beautiful music I’m listening to is adding a poignant underscore. Because the slideshow is mostly of Anna, things I’ve been thinking about lately regarding her are flooding through my mind and I thought I’d jot them down while I have a few minutes.

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Anna, throughout your life I will tell you lots of things… things like:

  • You are lovely. You make me smile, and while I want you to know that always, please know that it’s not your job to make me smile. You were not put on this planet to make me smile, to give me a daughter, or to fill a pink-and-frilly-hole in my heart. You were put on this planet for big things and only God Himself can reveal those things to you. I am so honored that Mama Kim has allowed me to take part in watching you grow into the woman you will be.
  • You are beautiful… you are “make-people-do-a-double-take” kind of beautiful. I pray you never question your beauty. I want you to know you are beautiful and lovely and all the things girls hope to be, but I also want you to know that your beauty is not what makes us love you. When we mention your beauty, it’s not to tell you that your worth is in your beauty… your worth is an immeasurable value set by God and has nothing to do with your physical appearance. With that said, we are often shocked by your beauty because we are still so surprised that God saw fit to allow us to be your parents.
  • You are strong. You are so strong. There will be challenges you will have to face and you have it in you to face them with grace. Yesterday you opened a door onto your toe and it hurt. I wanted to scoop you up and make the pain go away but I did for you what I did for your brothers… I said, “Rub it!! Rub it!!” and you did. Within five seconds you calmed yourself down and were telling me, “I okay. I okay.”
    * * * Even though you are strong (and this may be even more important to understand than that you are strong), you have a safe place in me and daddy, and your brothers… a safe place to let someone else be strong for you. You are very quick to tell us that you’re okay when you trip or get a scraped knee… It’s literally the cutest thing to hear you yell out, “I okay!” just after you slipped on your blanket or ran into something. When you get hurt and rubbing your boo-boo doesn’t make the pain go away, I am here, ready to scoop you up and snuggle you. You don’t have to be strong. You don’t have to be okay. You can be hurt, mad, sad, scared, confused, annoyed, and any combination of those things. Your feelings are not threatening to us. We are okay with them. Like I said before, you don’t exist in this world to make sure I’m happy…  My job as your mother is to make sure you’re okay. You have my permission to not be strong all the time.
  • You are brave. You can climb anything and you are willing to try anything. Once. If you try something you don’t like, you very clearly remind us next time that you don’t want to do that again. At the moment you are very certain you don’t like tall slides, but you did it once and figured out that they aren’t your jam. For now, anyway.
  • You are smart. As in, crazy smart. I googled it. Kids your age typically don’t the vocabulary or sentence structure that you have. You figure things out on your own and you know how to get what you want. I can’t wait to see what you do with that brain of yours.
  • You are an encourager. I love picking you up from your class and hearing your teachers tell how you told them GOOD JOB when they set the table or held the door open. You make others feel good about themselves and you bring life and joy into any room you enter. While I don’t think that’s what God put you on the planet for, necessarily (meaning, I don’t want you to think it’s  your job to make everyone happy at your own expense) I do firmly believe that it’s a part of your character, who you are at your core, and I believe that when you make others happy, you receive genuine pleasure. Keep these in mind… you should encourage others and at the same time, set healthy boundaries. (We’ll talk a lot about boundaries as you grow up.)

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My sons… what treasures you are.

  • I love watching you grow. I adore sitting with you in the mornings, reading books that impact your lives. This week as read from a historical-fiction book and then took a rabbit trail down a path that often goes unexplored in public schools, I rejoiced. I felt a deep sense of satisfaction: I homeschool you so that we have the freedom to learn what we want to learn and on our schedule, and so that we spend our limited time together in the best way possible.
  • I love sitting with each of you individually when you need help with a subject… it’s time I look forward to. Sure, I want you to understand your math or science and not need my help, but when I need to sit with you to help you figure something out, I treasure those times.
  • I love watching you transition from boys to men. You teens are doing so great at this. (In the moments you act more like boys than men, I’m reminded that my job is not quite done… if you’re reading this, go pick up your socks!)
  • I love watching each of you with Anna. All four of you have such unique and special relationships with her. I feel I’m getting to see a taste of what each of you will be like as dads. What a fun result of having bigs AND a baby at the same time.
  • I dread watching you guys move away and at the same time, I am doing my best to make sure you’re prepared for whatever next-step is ahead of you. Please know that I’m very aware that during this duty station Hayden graduates and at the next, Carson and Bailey will. It is not your job to make me happy but please know that by being the men God created you to be, you are making me the happiest mom on the planet.

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To Mama Kim:

May your Mother’s Day be lovely. May your little ones hug you and be extra sweet today. We honor you as Anna’s first-mom every day. When we ask her, “Who loves Anna?” she lists us, her brothers, her grandparents, and you, and each time in a different order. Your place in her life is permanent. Forever. You are her mother… her first mother. You hold a place in her life that I can’t hold and I don’t want to. You. You are first.

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To the moms… mine and Matt’s:

Thank you for being such amazing examples of motherhood. I pray I honor you in my parenting.

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*If you’ve gotten this far you’ve probably forgotten the asterisk in the first paragraph. No worries. As this blog is my family journal I wanted to make note of the physical location I spend my time writing… thus, the following few sentences. Welcome to the asterisk: My office is really the family “extra” room – the room where Parker and I do school, where we keep the extra TV, where Matt’s guitars have a home, and it’s the least decorated of all the rooms in our house. I struggle with that because I want this to be a place where I can relax and write and let my creative side run free, but the room is 100% functional – 0% lovely. So… don’t get any fancy notions about this room.

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Hayden’s 17!

I’ve found myself saying this to younger moms quite frequently lately:

Don’t dread the teen years. They don’t have to be filled with angst. You can have so much fun if you spend the years leading up to that building healthy relationships.

I’d like to say I just knew that from the get-go and was smart enough to raise these teens to be respectful, strong, thoughtful, and caring without any outside advice but we all know that’s not how this parenting thing works. We need others who have gone before us to give us their best tips and I believe God orchestrated our time just-after-college to prepare us for where we are now. Yes, I believe God used Matt’s first “real” job (youth pastor) to give us insight we’d utilize throughout our kids’ lives so that they’d reach (and walk through) their teen years as gracefully as is possible.

Matt and I watched very closely several sets of parents from Floyd’s Creek Baptist Church. We watched how they raised their teens. We watched their relationships with their teens. We watched them and sat at their kitchen tables and gleaned all we could from them. (Oh, how I miss sitting around those kitchen tables… those mamas knew how to cook!)

When Matt joined the Army one of those teens-turned-college-student introduced us to Facebook and that incredible blessing allowed us to watch the kids grow into young adults, marry, and now many are becoming parents themselves. And we’re still watching. We saw the advice those families gave us work for their own families and we’ve seen it in our own children.

I personally believe it’s worked because it’s Biblical. Those incredible parents, who were not perfect people and were willing to share their mistakes and brokenness with us, taught their children the following:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

We have utilized their tactics and we are seeing great results in our own teens.

I’ve given credit to the parents who helped us learn how to parent teens. Now I must give credit to our own parents – without us realizing it, my parents and Matt’s raised us with these same tactics, but it wasn’t visible from the teen perspective. Looking back, it’s totally obvious. And finally, I want to give credit to my teens, because no matter how “good a job” Matt and I do, each of our kids has free will. They each have to make their own decisions. Rebellion is an option and each are making the decision to follow Christ in their own unique ways.

Boys, you are incredible. You are strong and resilient. You are willing to have hard conversations in preparation for real life.  We are glad you are our sons! We are SO, so proud of each of you. 

These thoughts come to you today because it’s Hayden’s 17th birthday. All the other birthdays seemed like normal birthdays but seventeen just seems so old. I believe it’s because that’s the age Matt and I were when we met. We felt so adult. So grown up. And now our first child is that age.

These kids look so young here!

 

*Note: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again… we have issues that I don’t write about here because my teens are teens. When they were younger I could write about whatever problems we were having – I knew that as they grew up they would look back on those stories and be fine with the fact that I wrote them; they’d think those stories were cute. I stopped writing the details of our struggles when they got to an age I felt they’d be embarrassed if I shared certain things. When I knew their friends could read this. So please don’t read this post and assume that my teens are perfect. They. Are. Not.  They irritate me and are often forgetful (chores, anyone???), they sometimes use sarcasm when they should not… but all of their shortcomings do not mean they aren’t great kids. We take those moments as learning moments, for myself as well as for them (don’t you love when you hear yourself coming out of their mouths?!?).  I am happy to chat privately about the challenges of raising teens but I won’t write publicly without their approval.

 

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I can’t sing but I can write.

God’s timing is impeccable.

I was asked to submit an article to Sonlight months ago and I asked for grace until March. They were kind enough to understand the International PCS I was facing and allowed me to submit in March.

After I finished watching The Greatest Showman and spending some time teaching Matt the ASL letters which correspond to our kids’ names, I checked my email. I received an email from the editor letting me know that my article is live on their site!

While I’ve had one voice taken from me temporarily another was shared with the world.

How great is our God.  Just a sweet reminder that He is in control… and what an honor to have a company I so admire take my words and share them with their readers.

I do hope my editors (Aimee, Mom?) are watching my back because I’m about to post this!

~Jennifer

Click here to go see the article.

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I can’t sing.

That isn’t me being modest. I really can’t sing.

I admit here and now that I have, my whole life, taken for granted that I could sing. I come from a family of amazingly talented singers and, while I’ve never wanted to sing solos or perform using my voice, I have always loved being in choirs and praise teams.

I have especially loved singing to my babies. One random afternoon in November as I was standing in my office area swaying Anna and singing to her, I heard another voice in the house… Anna and I were alone and so this voice scared me. I froze in place and within seconds I realized that the voice I had heard was my own… but it wasn’t really mine.

My voice cracked and only air came out when I hit any note in the upper half of my register. When it did it the second time my blood froze and I literally felt a shock run through my body to the ends of my fingers and toes. This really scared me.

At a routine appointment I mentioned this and, because I was just weeks away from an overseas move, she and I decided to try a three month antacid to rule that out as a cause rather than see an ENT in Texas.

Since then I haven’t been able to sing any notes above my speaking voice. Think about that: Christmas songs. Nursery songs. Praise and Worship every Sunday. I haven’t been able to use half of my voice.

This may seem so trivial and I guess it really is, in light of what could be, but singing is a part of who I am and I miss it. My physician here referred me to an ENT who stuck a scope up my nose and videoed/photographed my vocal cords.

The results were mostly conclusive:

  1. My vocal cords don’t close all the way and;
  2. I have a cork-screw, sideways-lying blood vessel on the left side;
  3. There were no polyps nor were there any signs of tumors.

The doctor isn’t sure if the blood vessel is causing the cords to not close and therefore make my voice disappear, or if something else caused the vessel and the loss of my voice. Tomorrow morning I go to the hospital for them to kill that vessel. I will be under general anesthesia and hope to be home by lunch time. I then have to go to 6-8 weeks of vocal therapy before I return to the ENT for another fun scope to check on the healing of that vocal cord.

One further possibility is 6-8 weeks of total vocal rest. If this is prescribed it’ll have to be once we finish our school semester because I literally read aloud- or speak to my kids in some fashion for four solid hours in the morning, plus any further discussion we have throughout the day. I must finish this school year out! We are currently on week 30 of 36… we must finish!

So, with that said, your prayers are appreciated. Oh! This is interesting. Tomorrow at 9:00 Bailey gets his cast off and, Carson gets his changed out (hopefully to a walking boot). Their cast changes (and all of our hospital experiences) are at the same hospital I’m having surgery. So they’ll go in with us early and just do school in the cafe once they’re done with their appointments. Convenient!

 

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Missing TEXAS? Naw….

Brutal honesty.

I was ready to leave Texas behind. The heat; the vast expanses of nothingness; the flatness; the lack of green… Four and a half years in a location not of my choosing was long enough. At least that’s what my brain thought.

Here’s a well-known fact within the military community: It’s easier to be the one leaving than the one staying. When you’re the one moving, your brain has to take over because there are literally hundreds of logistics to manage. When you’re the one staying behind, you watch your dear friends pack up, leave, and then you have to drive past their house that is now filled with strangers. You have events to attend without your friend. Over those four and a half years in Texas I had been the one staying and my heart took the brunt of the pain, as we said good-bye to one precious family after another. (If I tried to list the families who left holes in my heart, the blog post would exceed the appropriate number of words, and I’m sure I’d accidentally leave someone off and hurt feelings.)

So when it was time for us to move, to say goodbye to the house we brought Anna home to, the friends we were still blessed to be doing life with, I was not only willing to let my brain take over, it was a necessity. I couldn’t have functioned had I let my heart take control.

This past month I’ve been snippy with Matt. I’ve been pretty patient with the kids, but Matt has taken the brunt of my irritation. He’s been incredibly patient with me. He still does all the things he’s always done: dishes, toting kids around town, most of the laundry (if I list all that he does you’ll begin to wonder what in the world do around here so I’ll stop here). My point is simply that he has done nothing to cause my irritation, but yet he’s had to take the brunt of it.

The Monday night before Carson broke his leg I was flipping through Facebook and saw an article about “projection.” I think the click-bait said something like, “Are you always mad at your spouse but can’t think of a good reason why? You may be projecting.” I decided to click and what I read sounded quite accurate. (Basically, there’s an underlying issue that is bothering me that I haven’t pinpointed yet so I take out my irritation on the closest thing to me… Matt.)

The next morning I sat with my Bible, journal, and pen and asked the Lord to reveal to me what was going on in my heart.  A few weeks prior I had shared on Facebook that now we’re settled I’m finding more free time on my hands. This has a lot to do with my irritation… now that my brain is able to rest, my heart is speaking its mind and demanding attention.

While journaling I listed all the things that could possibly be causing me to be irritated – the fourth thing I wrote broke the floodgates.

Was I so excited to leave Texas and so excited to come to Germany that I didn’t properly grieve?

I wrote in the “birthday post” that I’ve been dreaming of my Texas-friends. Last week I had a moment where I got caught up in my memories thinking of our tailor-made co-op and for a minute I forgot I was in Germany. I had a flash-of-a-thought: “When is our next co-op date?” and it was then that my heart finally caught up to my brain… We won’t be going back to that co-op. We won’t be seeing those friends for some time. We aren’t in Texas anymore. 

My heart finally told my brain that it was in pain.

I began to cry and I didn’t really stop for a few hours. I went to PWOC and made it through without making a total fool of myself but I was puffy-eyed. I had that crying-headache all day.  It was pretty awesome.

That night I got to talk to Stephanie for an hour which helped tremendously and just a few minutes after we hung up Matt texted to tell me that Carson had broken his leg… and my brain had to kick back in, leaving my heart on the back burner… again.

Once Carson when into surgery, I wept. I wrote in the blog post yesterday:

With every step I started crying harder and harder. I was vaguely aware that there was a man in the corner of the darkened room but that couldn’t stop my tears. I wept. Like, for real. The flood-gate of the past eight days burst: Bailey’s broken arm; Matt’s pinched sciatic nerve that was keeping him in severe pain (yet in spite of that he had to be a solo-parent at home while I was to be in the hospital with Carson); my PCS grief had really set in and I had come to the realization of what was going on with me just that morning, and now this… the first of my kids to go under general anesthesia, intubated…. It just came flooding out. I didn’t try to stop it.

My heart… ugh. Military life is hard. We love it, don’t get me wrong. We do. But moving, even when you are leaving somewhere you don’t want to be and going somewhere you really really really want to be, is a very traumatic experience. Sometimes the trauma doesn’t hit you until you’ve been in the new place three months (to the day, actually) but it usually does hit. Eventually.

 

Looking back on the blog post I wrote to announce that we were moving TO Texas I can see I knew in my brain that I’d leave Texas with a heart-full…

I even have a feeling I’ll come out of there with great experiences, great friends, great memories, and referring back to this day as one of those, “If you only knew how great it was going to be you wouldn’t have had such a pity party on McLeod Street.” (January 29, 2013)

Anyway, I just thought I’d share a bit about where I am right now. What it’s like to be a mil-spouse who is exactly where she wants to be and is still struggling. My takeaway: I will never ever dread moving to a duty station ever again. I’ll never have a single duty station that I don’t want to go to. I survived the heat of Texas and left there with some of the best moments of my life having occurred there. What a gift…

And to end on a positive note (because while I am missing Texas, I have some fun things going on related to Texas). We get to have dinner tonight with some our first Texas-Friends! (Last night by the time this posts.) As I mentioned in Anna’s Birthday post, we have other Texas-friends here in Germany whom we love! And, drumroll, please…. some of our dearest Texas friends are 99% sure they are getting to come see us this summer!  I’m already planning trips and things to show them! YAY!!!

Blessings from Stuttgart!

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This photo was taken the day after Bailey broke his arm. It was snowing, I was in heaven.

Posted in depression/blues, family, friends, germany, marriage, military, moving, Texas, travel | 3 Comments

Soccer for two, not four. (Part 2)

Yesterday I shared the first part of this story. And it continues…

I shared this screenshot of the text that no mom ever wants to receive:

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I went into mom-mode and got to the field around 8:30 PM without knowing how I got there. Lights from two MP cars were flashing as well as an ambulance and firetruck.

Here’s what I saw:

No mom wants to see these vehicles pulled up to the soccer field to pick up her son but, on the other hand, I’m so thankful that Carson got the best medical care possible.

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Oh, and because of this the parent meeting was called off.

I was a little unsure of what to do. Carson was in pain and they were taking him by ambulance to Ogla Hospital. I was going to ride with him but they were going to have me ride in the cab so I wasn’t going to be with him anyway, and that would have left my car at the field and me with no way to get home. I decided to drive myself and I left before the ambulance.

I got there at the exact same time they did and even heard the ambulance sirens… not a sound you want to hear knowing your kid is their patient.

It’s been 8 days since this moment and I can close my eyes and I’m right back in it. My kid was in so much pain. The medicine they gave him was basically Motrin. There were a few lost-in-translation moments but the doctor was amazing and went to bat for Carson. They did a set of normal X-rays at 9:21 PM. You can still see his one cleat on. His injured foot had been properly braced on the field but unwrapped for the X-rays. They never got it comfortable again until after surgery. Every bump, turn, hurt… every time his muscles flexed, which was often as he was having spasms.

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At one point a particular nurse forgot to put in the order for the second set of X-rays and when the doctor found out she lit into her. They battled it out right in front of me and the doctor won.

At point a very sweet nurse came on duty and if I were to have another daughter I’d consider naming her after this nurse. Ansania.  (Ahn-sahn-ya.) She was incredible: she had a caring spirit, was genuinely concerned about Carson’s comfort and knew I wanted to know what was going on. She was with us (in and out) for the duration of our time in the ER.

Ansania took us for that second set of X-rays (most painful thing… Carson had to sit upright, put his twisted foot into proper position and sit that way for 3 minutes). The first set of “regular” X-rays didn’t reveal the depth of the breaks… just the surface breaks. The second scans allowed the doctor to see just how deep the breaks went.

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The look on his face says it all. Misery. Oh, and he only got to wear these pants once before they cut them off of him.  (In the midst of all this pain, the kid had the heart to apologize for the fact that we bought him new clothes and gear for the season and he isn’t getting to use them.)

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It was after that set of scans (Pep Scan? – it wasn’t PET…) that Carson could have the good medicine. He had to be lucid and able to get into position for the scan.  That was the reason the doctor was so mad at the nurse for forgetting to put that order in… he was suffering for no good reason. Once he got that medicine he was a new man. I liken it to being in labor before and after an epidural. Pain? Yes… still a lot of pain. But he was able to relax; his shakes went away; his grimace went away completely.

Helpless does not begin to describe the way I was feeling during all of this. There was absolutely nothing I could do for him and I hated it.

Our great doctor came in a time or two and explained why they needed that second set of x-rays and when she said something about surgery it went over my head… It was as if somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking, “There’s no way he’ll need surgery. This is just a broken bone. They’ll give him a boot or a cast and we’ll go home tonight, as  they did with Bailey’s bone.” (Bailey’s was, after all, our first “real” break requiring a cast or any type of real medical care.)

Little by little, over the course of the next hour, “surgery” kept coming in and out of conversation. Words like, “pins, plates, wires, screws” were used. I don’t recall the moment that it became real to me that Carson was actually going to need surgery and that those words were being used to describe what they were going to have to do to my son. I was nodding and saying, “okay,” because I was understanding what they were saying but I was not absorbing… not really.

AT 10:45 I texted Matt that Carson was being admitted for surgery and asked him to call Tricare.

Around 11:45 or so it was time for Carson to go to the operating room I asked for Ansania to go with us. I needed her there… I felt so much comfort from her. She said she would absolutely go with me but would need to get someone else to accompany us because she was just a nurse-in-training. I told her that she is going to make a fantastic nurse someday, that she really has the perfect personality to be a nurse.

They allowed me as far as the door of the operating room where I said good-bye* and then the nurses and I had to leave. In the elevator they told me to go back home and get some rest. Nope! I was not leaving that hospital!  I started leaking at the eyes while on the elevator and both nurses felt so sorry for me. They knew I had been keeping it together for Carson’s sake… (*By this time Carson’s good meds had kicked in and he doesn’t remember me saying goodbye.)

They don’t have a waiting area for the operating room, so they took me back to the ER’s waiting room. With every step I started crying harder and harder. I was vaguely aware that there was a man in the corner of the darkened room but that couldn’t stop my tears. I wept. Like, for real. The flood-gate of the past eight days burst: Bailey’s broken arm; Matt’s pinched sciatic nerve that was keeping him in severe pain (yet in spite of that he had to be a solo-parent at home while I was to be in the hospital with Carson); my PCS grief had really set in and I had come to the realization of what was going on with me just that morning, and now this… the first of my kids to go under general anesthesia, intubated…. It just came flooding out. I didn’t try to stop it.

As I got the bulk of my tears out the phone rang. It was my parents calling to pray for Carson and that was a call from God, to be sure. I needed their prayers and it was as if they were there with me. I know God ordained the exact timing of that call… it kept me from wallowing too long.

I glanced at the clock and saw that the time was 0000… exactly midnight:

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They told me surgery could last anywhere from 2-4 hours… it lasted 1 hour 10 minutes. The surgeon came down to speak with me and told me that of all the possibilities they had mentioned, his turned out to need only four screws. That when they went to re-break (set) the bone, it went in place perfectly on the first attempt. {In fact, Tuesday, when Carson went back for a cast-change, the lady doing the cast told me she had been in the operating room with Carson and had put his original cast on. She remembered him and that his injury was a soccer accident. She even pulled up his original X-rays to show me that before they set the bone they were expecting to have to put screws in both bones but because it popped into place so perfectly, they decided not to put any in the smaller bone… that it would heal on its own!}

Four titanium screws in his tibia, no plates, no wires, and nothing in his fibula.

Carson still had to wake up before I was allowed to see him and when they finally came to get me, it was 1:54 am.

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The hospital was full so they put him in a room with a 4-year-old girl on the cardiac ward.

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We teased that his red toes made him look like the red Incredible Hulk.  They were swollen and red!

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Matt brought Carson Popeye’s for lunch and I got to see my other kiddos for a few minutes. They moved him from the cardiac ward to the Orthopedics ward around lunchtime.

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If you haven’t read “Sacred Spaces” by Corie Weathers, you should. It’s specifically military marriage related but its concepts reach into all aspects of life. Carson and I have a shared sacred space… the time spent together in the hospital. We were there almost exclusively alone from 9:00 Tuesday night until Friday lunch-time. We had a rhythm that worked for us and it is a time that no one else shares. Because of Corie’s book I recognize that time as a sacred space.

Part of our shared experiences include the food that he was offered and didn’t touch (but I enjoyed bits and pieces of. He’s my pickiest eater… (he doesn’t complain about food much, but isn’t very adventurous.)

One shared experience is of the bull-of-a-nurse who came in at night turning on lights, declaring how bad his English is, and rebuking us because the bed wasn’t adjusted properly… the day nurses set it that way but we were getting the rebuke!  He was the only person in the entire hospital who refused to even try to hear what we were saying… Only once did I ask Carson’s roommate to translate for us… usually we were able to get by with a mix of my bad German and the nurses (little-bit) of English. But I had had enough of this guy’s bullying and had the roommate tell him that we didn’t change the bed, the day nurse did! He was still a bull.

We’ve had broken bones before, but always in places that healed themselves. (Collar bones, toes, a foot bone in Parker’s foot that warranted a walking boot which he wore for precisely 24 hours.) Within an eight-day period we had two fairly serious broken bones requiring casts… one requiring major surgery. Both of those kids out of soccer for the season.

It’s been a crazy week but my heart is at peace. Matt did a great job as a solo-parent. The kids have all been incredibly patient and all have pitched in to help with Anna. We’re good. I’m still sad for the boys they can’t play soccer, but I am praying that Carson will regain the strength needed to play in an upcoming season (USYS, a different league we are looking into for H&C) as well as the willingness to get out there again. He’s, understandably, a little scared to even consider it right now.

Strangers in our community have loaned us a shower chair and a scooter, and Tricare is approving a wheelchair so we can continue with our travel plans. We’re heading to France with a local homeschool co-op to see Verdun and some nearby historical sites.  With these tools Carsons should be able to see most of what is on the itinerary.

A few more photos of our sacred space:

During the worst part of Carson’s recovery he was incredibly sore, his leg was both throbbing and experiencing sharp pain, he was hot, and couldn’t find a comfortable position. The first night (not the night of surgery, but the next night) was rough. We were up about every hour adjusting or trying to find something to make him more comfortable.  Note the ice packs on his skin to cool him down.

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Coffee… because even if there isn’t a mug a coffee-girl will find a way.IMG_1462

And when that coffee-girl finds a mug she stashes it away for the duration of the hospital stay.

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And I’ve been trained on how to give Carson shots at home every day for two weeks – to help him avoid blood clots. Pressure, much?

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Ultimately, I know things could be so much worse. I didn’t want to tell Carson this the night of his injury, nor did I say it to him during his time in the hospital but it was always on my mind. I could see other patients who had much worse injuries. The little four-year-old girl in the cardiac ward broke my heart. At least my son’s problem was a broken bone that would heal, nothing as scary as a heart issue.

When we went in for Carson’s cast-change he mentioned this himself. He came to the conclusion on his own that his injury, though bad, was nothing to worry about when compared to what others are dealing with or even when compared to what could have been his own outcome.

I’m really thankful he came to that conclusion himself… it’s genuine that way.  And we have some sugar cookies that have been promised that we are all looking forward to from some new friends we’ve made here.  Spring break looks different than we thought it would but we are absolutely grateful for everything. For health, healing, strangers who loan us medical equipment, new friends who promise sugar cookies, old friends who are coming to Germany to visit, and for our Savior whose resurrection we celebrated at church as a whole family. That in itself was an answered prayer!

Version 2

 

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Soccer for two, not four. (Part 1)

Soccer has been a part of our family since Hayden was four.

The only break we took from soccer was when Anna was born and that was a unanimous decision so that we could focus on our squishy. It was hard to say no to that activity, as we knew how much the boys loved it and what good exercise it was for them… not to mention it’s pretty much the only socialization our homeschool kids get. (Sarcasm, there.) But we were all at peace with the decision and enjoyed the calm that came into our lives, not having multiple practices a week and Saturdays filled with games.

Each time the opportunity arose for the kids to play soccer after Anna was born we offered it to them and each time they said, “Not yet.”  Hayden had aged out of the CYS soccer offered at Fort Hood and Texas schools don’t allow homeschoolers to play on their school teams, so he really didn’t have much choice, other than travel soccer and we are not quite that committed to the sport. (Financially or with our time.)

We knew the time we were taking off was good for our family as we are very deliberate in what goes onto our plates.

Even before we left Texas I made connections with a few soccer leagues in Stuttgart in order to make good decisions about what teams our kids would participate in. DoDs schools in Europe do allow homeschoolers to try out for their sports teams so that was one option. There are a few other options that we considered and for the season, here’s what we went with:

Hayden tried out for and made the JV Soccer team at Stuttgart High School. (We’re very proud of him as it’s quite competitive.)  His practices are M-F, games on Saturdays. It’s a big time commitment for him as he rides the duty bus. As for family commitment, we just have Saturday games. It fits in well with our lives.

The other three we signed up for CYS and we were happy Carson and Bailey were placed on the same team. That means they could ride the duty bus to practices and we only have to pick them up, as their practices end after the duty bus stops running for the day.  Parker’s practices are located within walking distance of our house and his practices are on Saturdays. Easy enough.

On March 19th as I was cooking dinner I got a phone call from a strange number. I answered because we’re new enough here that almost all numbers are strange. I remember someone asking if I was Bailey’s mom and I said yes. I figured it was his coach calling to tell me about upcoming soccer practices or something but that’s not at all what he said… I vaguely remember him saying, “Bailey was skateboarding near AFRICOM and had a pretty bad fall. I think he may have broken his arm.”

In my mind Bailey was lying on the ground and this guy was standing over him, calling me to ask me to come to him. I was a bit dazed and I asked him if he’d stay with him until I got there. He sounded confused and then said, “I think they’re probably at your door by now.”

Sure enough, two men, a stranger and a neighbor (who happened to come across the scene of the accident and is a flight medic), walked Bailey in the door. The neighbor stayed 20 minutes or so and helped get Bailey’s arm braced and secured with a sling. The stranger left pretty quickly and the guy on the phone? No clue! Bailey never told him his name, our phone number, and Bailey has no idea how the guy knew to call me. We still don’t know where that guy came from or where he went.

Bailey and I went to Olga Hospital where we spent five hours. I was asked to leave the room when they had to re-break his arm to set it… I cried. Bailey was a trooper through the whole thing.

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The way he broke his arm requires that they position it in this awkward position. I will admit I’ve made fun of him a time or two… eating yogurt is quite difficult!

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We found out that he wouldn’t be allowed to play any soccer until he had a soft cast, which wouldn’t be until the last couple weeks of soccer. I was sad for him, but he took the news well. Bailey has made some friends at youth, Club Beyond, and on the duty bus (take after me, much?).

In the meantime we went to a couple of Hayden’s games and we looked forward to the start of Carson’s and Parker’s seasons.  We’ve missed watching our kids play!  (See if you can spot some of our family in the picture below… Hint: none of them are on the pitch.)

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Carson was really getting excited for the start of his season. I don’t think he realized how much he has missed playing until we started going to Hayden’s games. He even talked about trying out for the high school team next year with Hayden. (I pray that he will…)

On the night of Carson’s first practice I remember sending him off… I was so excited for him but tried to play it cool. I told him to be safe and I remember when he arrived at the kaserne where practices are being held, he called, double-checking that he was in the right place. He was, but he was there 30  minutes early because that’s the way the busses run… you get there 30 minutes early or 30 minutes late.

That night I had planned to go pick him up because Matt had just gotten home from work and I didn’t want him to have to go back out: Matt had a pinched sciatic nerve that was wreaking havoc on his back.  I was on the phone with Stephanie catching up (phone calls with friends in the states are rare treats!) and so Matt told me he’d go get Carson. There was to be a brief parent meeting after practice so that worked out fine and Matt’s pain level wasn’t too bad at the moment.

And then, this:

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I’ll continue the story tomorrow…

 

 

Posted in brothers/boys, family, germany | 1 Comment

Birthday Season ~ 2018

  • January – Anna
  • February – Carson
  • March – Parker and Bailey
  • April – Matt
  • May – Hayden

We celebrate non-stop for five months, seven, really because mine is in November and Christmas is in December!

I generally like to highlight each of the kids on their birthday but with moving and getting settled in, I’m doing good to get this out there! While it’s mostly about the boys’ birthdays, there are a few other things I’m putting in because they’re just worthy of being mentioned.

Carson’s birthday was in February, the day after we received our HHGS.

We celebrated by going to Ramstein to see a movie with our dear friends, the Wests. We received our HHGS Thursday and Friday and left an hour after our movers drove away. While the rest of the family was in the theater, Anna and I shopped at the Ramstein mall and then we walked over to the USO in the airport and played in the family room. Because it was Valentine’s weekend, Dunkin’ Donuts had heart shaped treats which I couldn’t resist!  Anna had to have one.

img_0824We stayed at the hotel on Baumholder so Parker could spend some time with his buddy.

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We forgot Anna’s pack-n-play so she slept with us. She literally covered her face with her blanket and went to sleep while we were getting ready for bed.

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When we got home we Carson’s favorite meal, spaghetti, which I did take pictures of us enjoying but promised not to share… teens.  

Our family loves a good meal of schnitzel and fries so to celebrate Parker’s and Bailey’s birthday we went on our first real meal out to a traditional German restaurant. I can’t say it was the most relaxing experience as there was no high chair for the toddler, and ordering wasn’t as easy as it could have been (confusing translation issues) but the food was delicious and the restaurant was adorable.

After dinner we came home and had cake and ice cream. Our commissary is tiny and the only cake they had was a plain white sheet cake. I let the boys decorate the cake and we enjoyed the sugar rush… Anna loved the chocolate ice cream! We didn’t have matches so they laughed when I made them pretend so I could take pictures.

Because we haven’t been here long enough to do birthday parties the way we generally do, we took Parker’s new friend with us to Sensapolis. It was pretty cool! Parker was very disappointed that he was too short to ride the go-carts but other than that, it was a very good way to celebrate their birthdays.

Because we now have a princess, we got to enjoy watching her experience the massive castle.

img_1252img_1205img_1204img_1235img_1236img_1217img_1210img_1230Hayden is a little sore from soccer tryouts/practices!img_1231After the boys tired of the castle, the girls stayed behind and danced in the ballroom. Anna is a dream come true for our family. img_1251Anna saw the “deer” and wanted a picture with it. img_1247Before we toured the rest of the park Anna and I spent an hour in the toddler area exploring. I rarely get to do these things with her so I savored every expression…img_1188Touching a tornado.img_1198

Parker’s actual birthday was yesterday. The night before, he came out of his room for a second hug and said, “Tomorrow after school do you wanna go see my fort in the forest?” The first thing that ran through my mind was, “He’s forgotten that tomorrow is Tuesday and I have PWOC.” The first thing I said was, “YES!” I then messaged my PWOC facilitator and told her that I had a date in the forest and wouldn’t be at PWOC.

Parker and I did minimal school yesterday and we loaded up Anna (in the Ergo), water bottles in his backpack, and off we went. I have to say, I was shocked at just how cool the fort is. He “inherited” it from other kids who built it.

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A bridge…img_1296The Fort.  Scale is hard to see but that’s a hole where a tree root system used to be. Those branches are taller than I am.img_1285img_1294img_1297img_1303

After we got Anna down for a nap, I took the birthday boys to the PX where I let them get their traditional Starbucks coffee. They received money from Nana and Papa and from the Eastes Family. Here they are opening their gift cards from the Easteses… I think it’s funny that Matt snuck up on Parker!

img_1307img_1309img_1311img_1318While the boys were off shopping I took what was supposed to be a quick stop in the bathroom. When I finished my business and tried to leave, I found I was stuck. At first I was sure that I was doing something wrong. I tried to text Matt but there is NO service in the PX… at least there wasn’t in the bathroom! I waited until a lady came in who could try the door from the outside. She couldn’t get it either so she went for help.
The Food Court maintenance guy came and he couldn’t rescue me. He climbed up into the stall next to me and had me try the door while he watched.  He agreed that I was trying to open the door the right way and said he couldn’t fix it.
They called in reinforcements who disassembled the door and freed me. Apparently this happened to a woman on Saturday and she ended up having to climb over in order to get out. I could have done that but I was willing to give the staff the chance to rescue me, which they did. I was awarded no prize for getting stuck in the bathroom.img_1319img_1320

The boys didn’t find what they wanted to buy for their birthdays so we went to a nearby mall. At Game Stop they hit the jackpot! They found Pop Bobbleheads and all Marvel was on sale 20% off.  Instead of being able to get two, they were each able to get three! On the way home Bailey said that if the package he ordered was at the post office, it’d be the perfect day. (It had a gift for Parker in it as well as something for himself.)

I went to the Post Office at 5:50 and sure enough, the package had arrived. Just this morning Bailey said, “Yesterday was the best day I’ve had since we got here. It was perfect.”

Parker had requested Shrek Noodles for dinner which I prepared from scratch… pesto and all.

Good times. I’m in heaven over here with the easy pace of life and the cool temperatures. I miss my friends and have found myself dreaming that we are hanging out.  Good dreams, but I’m a little sad when I wake up. Parker and Anna are settled in and good to go. Hayden, OH! I forgot to mention this! He tried out for the high school soccer team and made it, so he’s getting connected and practices five to six days a week. The people on the team are high quality individuals and I love that he’s playing soccer again. The rest of the boys start CYS soccer very soon. Bailey goes on a retreat this weekend with Club Beyond and will return on his actual birthday.  Matt is now the senior chaplain at the contemporary service and we really love the people there. School is going well, though we will be working past May. We usually like to be done by early May… we’re looking at the end of June at this point! Some of the teens feel more settled and content than others, but I know that is to be expected.
Friends will be made in time, not overnight.
Friends left behind will be missed forever… that won’t go away.

 

 

Posted in brothers/boys, family, friends, germany, homeschooling, moving, parker | 3 Comments

Camping in our Apartment

So, using the word “camping” is a bit of a stretch. We have everything we could possibly need to make life comfortable. But, we aren’t using our things and therefore, we are feeling the discomfort of being without.  It’s good, though. Every few years military families move and gain an appreciation for the word “home.” We know what it’s like to be in major transition: jobs, friends, homes, cars. I believe it makes us so much more grateful for our things that were we never without. We may live for years not even thinking about how amazing it is to have a vehicle that seats everyone facing forward, heads not touching the ceiling and then we PCS overseas…

So, I call it camping because life as we are currently living it isn’t normal. We only have about 5% of our personal belongings; just enough to consider it comfortable camping.

Something is going on with my computer and I can’t “mark up” my photos at this time, but I’ll come back later to edit. For now, these two pictures show the front and back of our house. We’re the center apartment, third floor. From the front our windows are those between the two gray drainpipes. The stairwell entry is in the middle of our house.

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From the back, same thing. Third floor, all windows between the two gray drainpipes.

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I wanted to give a shout-out to some pretty amazing people who have helped to make our transition better. I won’t give names because I don’t have their permission but here are a few of the sweet ways we’ve been welcomed.

  • We were able to borrow the Volvo even before we bought it.
  • Flowers!!
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  • Pail with treats
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  • Basket with the makings for spaghetti as well as fruits, teas, and chocolates
  • Banana muffins
  • Pillows, sheets, and quilts to make sleep possible
  • Fridge
  • Microwave
  • Loaner furniture
  • ACS lending closet
  • duty bus
  • USO – home away from home
  • nail polish remover and a shovel (It’d take too long to explain)

 

Our van arrived this week and I am THRILLED because it’s so big compared to the Volvo. I no longer have to ride the duty bus, though I’m thankful that it’s available for the kids to run around town. I don’t have to take them all the places anymore!  Sure, Hayden ins’t able to get his license here, but the flip side is that ALL THREE TEENS can come-and-go as they please, not just Hayden. Last week I took the duty bus a few times and twice it never came. It runs on an hour-loop and twice it just didn’t show up. The first time I only had Anna with me and I was heading home from PWOC. (Please let me pause here to say that Matt offered the car but that would have meant I would have had to come back to get him that evening after worship practice and I’d rather take the bus!) We waited for thirty minutes, and, rather than wait another thirty minutes, Anna walked from the chapel to the PX where we took a potty break, I bought some gloves, and then we caught the bus from their. The second time the bus was a no-show I was with Hayden and Carson. We were heading to Panzer (where Matt works) to pick up our van. Matt was jumping through all the hoops to get our van registered and through inspection (Esso card, plates, etc) so he couldn’t come get us. Plus, that’s a waste of gas. So, the bus failed to show so we walked back home to kill the thirty minutes before the next bus. While we sat in the cold waiting, though, I told the boys, “This is what people are thanking you for when they say, ‘Thank you for your sacrifice.’ People can imagine the loss you experience with leaving family and friends behind, but they don’t see these little inconveniences like having to use a duty bus that sometimes doesn’t show. They don’t know that they’re thanking you for the sacrifice of being without your own bed or car for months, but they are. They don’t see these little ways that you sacrifice for the decision your dad to serve the Army. But please know that when they say thank you, they really do appreciate it all, even if they don’t know all the little ways you sacrifice.”

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Matt and I knew we’d need some kind of cabinet in the bathroom so we went to IKEA to scout the place. We made a list and then, once the first shut-down ended, we made our purchases. The piece we selected for our bathroom is perfect! Another way we’re making this apartment our home.

Carson and Bailey have a huge wall of closets but Hayden’s and Parker’s room has only one. We bought a shelf for Hayden to display his record player and other things.

The very day we picked up our van we found out our HHGs are here. I was able to call within the three-hour window they allow once the email is sent and got our delivery scheduled for this Thursday! I can’t wait!!  I’ve made our school schedule to reflect this and plan to spend Wednesday preparing; preparing meals so that I don’t have to put much thought into food while I will be organizing the house, and preparing the house by sticking post-it notes where I want the movers to place furniture and taping signs I made before we moved by the bedrooms so the movers can tell where boxes go by the color of tape I placed on the boxes back in Texas.

Because the living room is one huge open space and echoes like crazy, we moved all the furniture into the room we’ll use as an office to make it cozy. Works beautifully!

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I struggled in the kitchen when preparing meals because the lighting was so bad. I even asked the inspector why there wasn’t an under-cabinet light under the center cabinets and she didn’t know. None of them have lighting there. Standing and preparing meals my body blocked the light from the ceiling lights and this was just completely unacceptable. So I did my research and found that IKEA had what I needed. I had to use some broken (butchered) German and the grace of an employee and got all the pieces I needed plus a bonus wireless light switch. I can turn them off and on from the same spot I turn on all the rest of the lights. I am even more pleased with this than I expected I would be! (And again, thanks to all of you who suggested I fly with my Instant Pot. That was such a great suggestion! It’s a little dented but the dents were worth it!)

Before images on the left, after images on the right.

 

Camping in our apartment has been so much easier than living in the hotel, even though our experience at the Panzer Hotel was great. I am so thankful for this house and for our amazing neighbors. We love our location even though we do have a 20-ish minute ride to church/work. We really do feel at home and we know that that’s in part due to the generosity of those who have loaned us things and brought us treats. Soon it will be my turn to bring treats to new people! Until then, I’ll be doing school, cooking meals, and receiving the other 95% of our household goods!

 

 

 

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