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Sunday, February 10, 2013

House Parenting: Recent Happenings and Ramblings

People often ask us "How are you doing down there?"  This is how we are doing.

Standing at the low window sill.
Jonah is crawling and pulling up on everything in the house, which scares us to death and makes us very proud at the same time.   He hungrily drinks 8 oz. bottles now instead of 6 oz. and is now waking up nightly around midnight and 4 am for bottles and we can't figure out how to get him back on a normal sleeping routine so we can at least get a 6 hour stretch again. So, we try to take naps when we can fit them in to our day. I am reading that babies go through sleep schedule changes when they hit new milestones like this crawling/pulling up business.  However, I thought he'd be more tired from all the increased activity and sleep better.  Wrong again.  It is 1:20 am, and I am awake because I was the lucky one to get to take a nap today, and thus I got the midnight bottle duty. He's too cute to be annoyed at though.
Talking to his reflection

Standing by pulling up on the TV stand.
 The older kids continue to amaze us by alternately being helpful and respectful and then saying or doing really strange and disrespectful things.  I still don't know how much of their behavior is just teenager stuff or just them or just because we haven't parented teenagers before and maybe we suck at it.  All of the kids constantly try to get out of doing household chores. We had them do the "5 Love Languages" quizzes for their appropriate ages, and so we've been trying to reach out to them more specifically the ways they responded to feeling the most loved.  We can't tell if this is helping or not yet, but I certainly see more smiles! I don't know if you can count your effectiveness in facial expressions, but sometimes it seems like the only way around here.  The other baby walks now and thankfully, hits Jonah less, so we can leave them alone together in a playpen or baby zone we've created with rugs, toys, and baby gates, for about 2 minutes now before either one begins to cry. We signed new privacy forms the other day, so I don't think I can say much else about the kids.

We have almost finished decorating the house to make it feel more like "home" in most rooms.  We have added several things to the walls, including lots of pictures of the kids here, and bought some rugs to balance out the super hard concrete floors.  It is a little different though having the village furniture instead of our own.  I mean, I really miss our big L-shaped cuddler couch, but I am glad at least we have our mattress and bedroom furniture with us. We struggle to keep our room picked up though.  It is difficult to share a bedroom with both your husband and your baby.  It hardly ever seems like a good time to do our never-ending laundry, especially around Jonah's nap times during the day when he is in the crib and we need to sort clothes or put them away.  The kids get points taken away on their behavior score-sheets if their room isn't clean...we would have no points if we were on a score-sheet.  That makes me feel guilty, but not guilty enough to sacrifice my devotion or run time for cleaning my room time.

Speaking of run time, we have been exercising more! This at least makes us feel good, even if results are slow to see.  My goal is to get back to pre-pregnancy weight and being able to easily run a 10 minute mile by the time Jonah turns one.  I'm trying very hard to get there.  I ran an 11 minute mile last week.  John is doing well with diet and exercise too.  We have a little competition between us that whoever can get to their goal weight first and maintain it for a month, gets to choose our next real vacation location!  However, with absolutely no breaks or other houseparents down here, that vacation is seeming less and less plausible.  I want to go the Grand Canyon.  John is undecided in location but positive he is going to win.  I just stopped nursing/pumping, and I have a feeling now that I don't have that as an excuse to eat a few extra calories, I'll be able to eat less, and therefore maybe win.  I'll let you know how that turns out.

We are really enjoying our wonderful pastor and his sweet wife at the church we attend down here! They constantly ask us how we are doing, and had us all over for the Super Bowl, and we all had just a lovely time.  I didn't even mind staying over there with grumpy sleepy babies until almost 10 pm, because it was so nice to just be away from the house and in the company of other grown-ups! However, the rest of the congregation is a little stand-offish, or maybe just busy.  John has taken some of the kids hunting at one nice older gentlemen's house a few times, and that was awesome!  Other than that, no contact, no friends, no other adults to talk to down here.  I literally go to Sunday school to see/hear other adults.   I love the messages in the sermons at church, and I am learning how to worship to a much older style of music, but I miss having friends in my church family and hearing some contemporary music. Sometimes it gets lonely.  We'd like to make some friends.  We talk to people in church a lot, but you can't really invite yourself over to their house with a pack of kids.  We are thinking of inviting people over here, and just hoping the kids will all behave, and the other adults won't blame us if they don't.  We had such great church families in the last few places we lived, and built relationships quickly, so this is kind of weird for us.  We also know that we are kind of weird to them though, I mean, you don't see a lot of couples with a group of other peoples' children living with them.  I also know the true adage, "You've got to Be a friend to have friends." So, I am on a quest to try to "Be" a friend. John feels the same way, plus he misses getting to speak/preach.  After speaking at least once or twice a month for the last two years, it's kind of strange and difficult for him to go a few months in a row without sharing a message.  I feel that it is making him an even better speaker, though, because the few times he has gotten a chance to preach or share, he has been amazing! I am so proud of him! I can really see now how seminary taught him some neat things about the Bible, the history, the Greek and Hebrew language, and lots of other cool stuff.

We've had some crazy weather down here lately. It has been beautiful weather many days in January with upper 60s and even 70 degree days, where we can take the babies running with us and all enjoy the fresh air.  Then we have also had some severe thunderstorms, tornado watches and warnings, flash flood warnings, and cold days.  Tornado warnings result in us all sitting in the hallway together for about 30 to 45 minutes at a time.  This is an interesting way to get everyone to talk to each other and spend time with one another while silently praying against impending doom (at least, that's what I'm doing.)

We've also finally struck on a style of nightly devotions we like for the kids.  We were doing a children's devotion for younger kids then a teen/college age devotion for older kids. This felt a little disjointed and awkward at times and the kids seemed to zone out.  Now, we read a Bible story from the children's bible, then read a corresponding adult Bible passage from Stormie Omartian's "Praying Through the Bible." This flows well! For example, I read the beginning half of the story of Noah and the Ark in the Children's Bible, then John read the devotion which quoted a piece of that story and then went on to highlight how important it is for us to listen to God and follow his will, despite what people may say or think, just as Noah must have been severely ridiculed for building an ark in the middle of the desert.  We are happy about this.

One of our good friends procured tickets to the Southern Miss/Memphis Basketball game yesterday, and John's parents just happened to be here for the weekend, so they stayed home and watched Jonah, and John and I took the kids to Hattiesburg for the game.  I did not have very high hopes for this sporting event simply because I am a recovering book nerd from high school who hated sporting events, but I really enjoyed it!  Due to having lived in Memphis longer than I have lived in Mississippi, and having enjoyed Memphis far more, I cheered for Memphis, and was happily proud for my team! I wore blue in a sea of white, and had a good time.  I tried to take a decent picture of this without any of our kids in it, for privacy's sake, and this was the best I could do:

The kids complain all the time about not doing things, but then didn't act as though they enjoyed this, so that was kind of frustrating.  If you have or know teenagers  - what do you do to make them happy? I'd love some tips on this.  They aren't allowed to have cell phones and they have limited computer time with no social media allowed, and those rules alone make them very disgruntled.  Suggestions on how to otherwise entertain them are welcome! We have done movie nights ("Here Comes the Boom" was a good family movie for us, but does have quite a lot of UFC type fighting - maybe not good for little kids), and gone skating, had them exercise with us, and gone shopping.  There's not a whole lot of choices down here unless we drive 45 minutes to Meridian or 50 minutes to Hattiesburg. If you have ideas for how to entertain and please teenagers please comment below or send me a facebook message!

So, that's "how we're doing." :)

1 comment:

  1. Well, argh. I typed a comment and then it disappeared. So let's see if I can gather my thoughts again.

    I don't have kiddos of my own, but I'm trying in recent months to try and spend one-on-one time with my nieces who are fifteen and twelve. Do you every get an opportunity to do something like that? Perhaps in that one-on-one environment, a bridge can be built that will give you better clues on what will work for them.

    And YES! I have been where you are in not feeling a connection with the church where you're attending. When I moved away for a short while, I left a church that was more like a family and moved to one where I felt I was more an imposition. I had a few friends I connected with...but I longed for the people who seemed to have more a desire to get to know me. I'll pray for you on both of these issues that God will provide an answer.

    And so very proud of you and your exercise! You will be at your goal in no time!