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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Holiday Wrap Up: House Parenting and Honea Travels

     We had a wonderful set of Winter Holidays with our kids.  In an effort to "stay in touch" with everyone but also provide a way for us to remember these times in our lives, I am trying to cover several things at once here, so please forgive me if it seems choppy.

     We still have the same sibling group we began with in October, and we are all getting to know each other quite well.  Some days feel like a struggle for us all.  As parents we feel ineffective and frustrated when confronted with the same attitudes and issues that we've been dealing with since the kids got here, some of which I think just comes along with parenting adolescents and teenagers, and some is specific to these individuals. I think as kids they sometimes feel isolated and alone without being close to home and their familiar friends, family, and lifestyle.  For many good reasons, primarily safety, kids who live here cannot have cell phones and free range on the computer or play on facebook.  Those are some of their biggest complaints, which we actually have no control over anyway, but we have to defend these issues frequently.  Most days we get along, talking and laughing amidst the daily routines and chores of cooking and cleaning.

     In October we went to a few different "Fall Festivals" the last week of October at some different local churches, and the kids had a great time.  I have to say, we did get some funny looks, and we did feel very awkward at times.  Most of the time though, at least one or two people came over and spoke with us the whole time and made us feel welcome.  The kids really enjoyed cake walks and bingo and free food and candy.  

     In November the kids got to go home for Thanksgiving and a few days after, but it wasn't a long enough break for us to do the big 5 hour drive back to Huntsville. John, Jonah and I stayed in Waynesboro and my parents and brother Kris came to visit and do Thanksgiving.  Our huge kitchen was so perfect for the big day of cooking.  Both ovens were constantly on and my mom and I had a good time talking and cooking.  It was a relief to not have to go to 4 different houses like we have before. One big meal and one set of yummy leftovers. 

     In early December John and I actually got several breaks!  We spent a little 3 day break down in Foley, AL and the outlets doing some Christmas shopping and then tried to get a few pictures of Jonah at the beach.  He was tired and it was a little chilly, so he wasn't really loving it.

It's so bright!

Yay Mommy!

This sand stuff is gross.

     Several local churches brought the kids here Christmas presents and gift cards.  Two churches came over and threw parties at our house.  The Harley motorcycle group threw a big party in Jackson for the whole organization and each kid got about $150 spent on them there alone.  A church a few hours north of us threw another party that John took the older kids to while I stayed home with the babies.  It just didn't make sense to make the little ones take a 3 hour car ride for a party they wouldn't understand and then probably make everyone else miserable on the 3 hour ride home and get totally off their schedules.  However, the older kids really enjoyed it.  Some businesses and individuals brought food items needed for us to have a nice Christmas Dinner plus many meats (we have 4 large hams, 3 turkeys, and several pounds of sausage in our meat freezer).  Friday the 21st of December, six different people brought over Christmas gifts and/or food items for the cottage.  One group even brought a little gift for Jonah.  I spent all day Saturday the 22nd cooking, and yet we had fewer items than it seemed like I had put in the time for.  We had a whole baked chicken, a spiral sliced brown sugar honey ham, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, baked carrots and celery, biscuits, gravy, strawberry pretzel salad, and cake.  I felt like I had accomplished a lot at the time, all by myself.  The kids seemed to like it.  They each got more than they asked for on all of their wish lists, plus several gift cards to go buy their choice of items. 

     John, Jonah, and I spent our next breaks in Huntsville visiting family and friends.  Our kids here got to go home for Christmas and a few days, and John and I didn't come back on duty until the 31st.  We were both a little sick the 22, (I wrote about that Sunday here: Christmas from Revelation sermon post)23, and 24th, so we were a little slower leaving the morning of the 24th than we had hoped, but we both desperately needed the rest.  We drove to Huntsville that day and spent Christmas Eve with my family.  My parents of course doted on and over-gifted little Jonah and got John and I several lovely gifts.  Christmas morning we got up and drove over to John's mom's house where we stayed the next few days.  They spoiled Jonah with several large fun toys and more attention than he's used to getting here.  Both of our parents blessed us beyond what we needed or deserved.  They are generous and we are blessed.

My sweet little elf

Mommy Baby Love

Caught red-handed - at being cute that is!

Little Rudolph

These were all taken just after Thanksgiving.
This is Christmas Day - in a month he got a little fatter! :) 

     The evening of the 26th we went over to our dear friends the Neely's for a Christmas dinner time with them and another couple.  It was fun to spend time with other Christian parents.  It was also good to see a couple who are pursuing adoption and to see their preparations and soon to be homecoming of their twin babies from Africa!  You can read all about (and donate if you so feel led, they can use any amount to help with adoption funds and travel expenses) the sweet family here at their blog: The Neelys They are very inspirational people. This is one of my favorite pictures of them:

    The evening of Thursday the 27th Jonah and I spent the night at my parents so we could get up fairly early Friday morning to go to Clarksville to see some friends and family.  My mom and family made it a little Baby Shower/Tea Party for Jonah and I.  Back when I was pregnant and living in Memphis, my feet began to swell pretty badly after coming home from my Huntsville baby shower on Spring break in March, so we did no more long trips after that.  Then, Jonah was born in May, and my wonderful Granny Em went to be with the Lord when he was 10 days old.  Some day soon I will write a post or two all about her.  Right now the pain is still very fresh and I just haven't felt like crying that much in one sitting.  So anyway, that side of my family didn't really have the opportunity to celebrate Jonah's birth.  Besides, he didn't even wear some of his 0-3 month clothes because he had so many, so a baby shower at 7 months was perfect timing!  It was so good to see some of my friends and family! A teacher friend I worked with has a sweet baby boy only 6 days younger than Jonah and we had a few hours to catch up and talk about baby stuff.  It was nice to see a friend.  Somehow, John and I haven't made any real friends down here, and it is beginning to get lonely.  Then I got to see my dear Granddaddy and some sweet aunts and cousins and an uncle.  My cousin had a little boy in February, and he and Jonah were checking each other out.  She got them cute little matching outfits! It's fun to see Jonah enjoy other babies so much.  Jonah was great, and stayed sweet for people to pass him around until we left that evening.  It rained all the way back to Huntsville, and Jonah woke up and cried loudly the last twenty minutes straight.
Granddaddy Jim and Jonah

Granddaddy's hands helping Jonah stand

      The morning of the 29th we met John and his dad in Huntsville and ate lunch out then spent the rest of the next few days at his mom's house hanging out and relaxing with family.  We left the morning of the 31st and drove back here to our new home in Mississippi.  Whew! So much driving! A sweet family here invited everyone over for a New Year's Eve party with fireworks, but we thought the babies should stay home and go to sleep on their schedule, so we stayed with them and our relief parents took the older kids to the party.  They had a bunch of fun, and actually came home around 11pm, so we let them stay up till midnight and drank Sparkling Welch's Grape Juice to toast. Haha! I wrote about my thoughts on New Year's here: New Year's Resolution and we stayed home with the kids for a few days doing projects around the house, which I am going to write about a little later as I actually complete the ones we started.

     Jonah and the other baby are in this great stage where they are beginning to sort of play together.  He is almost crawling.  He goes backward on his knees, and can pivot and turn in any direction, but can't figure out how to go forward.  It's rather comical because he's not trying to go backward at all, and his eyes are looking at something directly ahead that he cannot reach while he moves in the opposite direction.  The other baby is older and just began walking, but is smaller in stature and weight than Jonah. We can sit with them and let them explore each others' hands and give hugs and share toys.  Occasionally they still try to pluck each others' pretty little eyes out, but it is becoming much less common than it used to be.  They both babble constantly with lots of consonant sounds, 'ma, da, ga, la, ya,' are the most common, and most recently 'ba'.   Jonah does "Hey Da!" quite often and sounds like he is calling John, but then he just says it to everyone.  They both love music and singing and dancing, and if they are in a good mood they can be entertained by sitting in their high chairs with a teething ring, a sippy cup, and some puffs. This is great for us when we need to accomplish something and can't sit or play or chase them.  They also both have little walkers, and although Jonah hasn't figured out to walk in his yet, he seems to enjoy hanging out in it.  Like all babies, they'd both rather play with things like empty boxes, clean or dirty diapers, tissues, TV remotes, laundry baskets full of folded clothes, and cell phones than play with their own baby toys.  We constantly play the "Oh no, baby, you can't eat that (something crazy)" game.  

     School started back in full swing last week with our regular schedule, complete with older kids' science fair projects, and younger kids' spelling words. For now there is no break or relief in sight for us since one of the relief parents quit and the other was moved to a different campus (it was two friends, not a couple).  So please continue to pray for more house parents to be called to this job and get hired quickly!  We still feel called to this ministry, but it's definitely not what we expected when we were hired.  We feel confident that God will continue to equip us to do anything for His glory, and we know we are growing stronger in our faith from this experience.  Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I love "meeting" new readers! Looking forward to following your blog and reading more about the role of being House Parents! Have a great day!