Sunday, March 30, 2014

Back Home

We left Amman on Valentine's Day to visit family in SC for three weeks. We decided to use our second R&R after we learned that Thomas's dad wouldn't have surgery as scheduled in January, because his tumors hadn't shrunk. (He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer early Summer 2013.) We thought it would be good to visit them the same time as Thomas's sister Priscilla and her husband Trevor, and have the whole family together, which is a rarity since they also live abroad. After a long trip we finally made it to Columbia and were glad to see my brother-in-law Jason and my dad at the airport around midnight. They helped us load everything into my parents' car, which they kindly lent to us for the duration of our stay.

Snoozing at the hotel in Columbia.

Saturday and Sunday we hung out at Thomas's parents' house in between letting the kids nap at the hotel. Monday afternoon Thomas's dad went into the hospital, he'd been poorly for a couple weeks and we thought he'd just get some help and then start more cancer treatments down at MUSC. Monday night Priscilla and Trevor arrived, and Tuesday morning we saw them at the house. We left to have the kids nap at the hotel with plans to visit Thomas's dad in the hospital later in the afternoon. About 3:30 Thomas got a call that we needed to come down to the hospital. We got there too late, Thomas's dad had already passed away.

It was such a shock. We didn't think it would happen, not that soon. Time felt like it stood still for a few days. Thomas helped his mom and sister with some of the arrangements, then the funeral was on Saturday. Seeing all the family who came in was really nice, despite the circumstances. The service was really worshipful and encouraging, Dr. Larkin was a strong believer and a humble servant of the Lord. It was amazing to see the number of former students, colleagues and friends who came and spoke to the family afterward. We stood in the receiving line for two and a half hours hearing about how much he meant to so many people. What a testimony to a life dedicated to teaching others how to know God and study His word. Read more about him here and here.

We spent another day in Columbia to visit with the family who were still around, then went to Aiken and stayed with my parents for five days. It was nice to get into a slower routine, but everything still felt a little surreal. We went back to Columbia for a little less than a week, stayed with my sister and her family again and tried to get in some good family time. I got to catch up with some girlfriends, which was great, and we made a point to eat as much delicious American food as possible.

Snuggling with Mom at Aunt Sarah's house.

At Mimi and Papa's house in Aiken.

Koalas at the zoo in Columbia!

We left after three weeks, and it was hard to say goodbye. I wasn't looking forward to the trip back, and knowing we wouldn't be back in the States for over a year made it even sadder. Hopefully Thomas can make it back if it's necessary. So, yeah. It was totally unexpected, but we're grateful for God's timing in allowing us to be home when everything happened. It's tough to be far away from Thomas's mom though, so please pray for her. We hope she'll come out and visit us, it would be wonderful to have her stay. (Hint, hint, Mom!)

The trip back was long, we had a short flight to Atlanta and then it was about 8 hours to Paris. We hung out there for about 6 hours, and took turns napping on the available benches. Benjamin passed out for a good while. He got a little sick on the plane to Amman, and that leg was definitely the worst. Everyone was overtired at that point. Thankfully we had an embassy driver who met us at baggage claim and helped us get through customs and out to the car. It was weird to be back "home", where our stuff lives, but also good to be back in the rhythm of everyday life. I'll try to be more proactive about posting stuff, especially pictures. The boys are getting bigger all the time!


Poor, tired buddy.

-Rachel




Saturday, February 8, 2014

Back Again

Hey folks,

Yeah, it's been a couple months. Quickly, here's the rundown. Thanksgiving was great, friends had us over and I only had to make a couple things. Christmas was good, but Benjamin got so completely overwhelmed by toys that he freaked out every five minutes the entire day. Actually the past few months have involved lots of tantrums, which isn't my favorite. I need to do a better job of disciplining and praising positive behavior instead of just getting angry about disobedience and backtalk. I'm enjoying Daniel and his sweet baby-ness even more now that I know what happens when our sin nature comes out more as they get bigger.



Handsome little men

On January 1st we drove down to the Dead Sea for a little break from the norm. We stayed at the Marriott, we like it the best so far, it's laid out like a normal hotel all in one building instead of lots of little buildings all spread out, ala the Movenpick. I got a facial that afternoon while Thomas watched the boys, and the next morning he got a massage before we checked out. Having everyone sleep in the same room was a disaster, first Daniel woke up around 1am, then Benjamin. Not the most relaxing "vacation." I am plotting a girls weekend for sometime this spring.

Sunset
 
Today is Benjamin's third birthday. I can't believe it's been three years since I woke up that Tuesday morning, three weeks before my due date, and told Thomas we needed to head to the hospital. He's been a pill recently, but we love him so much. Not that long ago we weren't sure that fertility treatments would work, and prayed every day that God would give us a baby. How undeserving we are, and how gracious is He.

Showing three fingers. Ignore the chapped face, we're all sick.
Thanks for my tools, Aunt Priscilla and Uncle Trevor!

I'll try to do a better job of posting more regularly. Here's hoping!
Rachel

Love them


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Three Months

It's been a while since I've had any energy to write up what we've been doing, because it's mostly just been gross over here.  The two boys are (seemingly) constantly sick with a cold, my throat is always killing me, and I just have zero patience with Benjamin.  It's been a rough time full of failing, which combined with lack of social interaction due to the kids being sick, means I'm in a funk.  Tired and grouchy, and quick to complain.  I need prayers, so please think of us and ask for grace and mercy.  And healing from this interminable sickness.

Daniel is three months old today, which is crazy.  He's been doing really well sleeping, his pattern is about midnight to 9am, but we're trying to move it earlier so we can have some of the evening to ourselves.  We pass him back and forth, I'll nurse and then Thomas will snuggle and that gives me a break while we watch something on TV.  It's nice to get a full night's sleep, and I'm so grateful that Benjamin goes down about 7:30 or 8pm and doesn't need anything else, so evenings are pretty relaxing.  Nursing plus bottles does make the time go by slowly, but I'm very grateful for being able to breastfeed for the time being.  I think sometime soon Daniel may start rejecting me in favor of just bottles, but I'll try not to focus on it until it happens. 


Closest we got to a smile.


Getting chubbier!  Yay for formula!

It's hard feeling like I need to be always holding Daniel, or feeding him, and not spending lots of one-on-one time with Benjamin.  He always looks forward to Emy coming, he knows she'll play with him.  And he's been pushing my buttons recently with not putting away toys when I ask him to, and just generally being disobedient.  Poor guy, I know life is very different for him now than even three months ago.  Hopefully in God's grace we can move forward and figure out an effective way to discipline, rather than constantly asking him, do you want a spanking.  Sigh.

Today was mostly good, I think Emy coming in the afternoon helps a lot because I can focus on dinner and getting stuff ready for Thomas to come home, and she'll play with Benjamin and wash dishes.  She really is indispensable.  I'm glad we've got a long time before I have to contemplate life without her.  Benjamin was also more obedient and sweet than the past few days, hopefully a result of feeling better from his never-ending cold.

Benjamin picks out his clothes a lot now, and this is the cutest outfit EVER.

He really loves "Big Dino", AKA Littlefoot from Land Before Time.  I remember getting him, in the 2nd grade.

We got some Christmas candy in the mail, I hope the chocolate didn't melt on the trip.  And we have a few presents for Benjamin stocked up and ready for wrapping.  I'm going to let him open a Playmobil nativity on December first.  It's for older kids, but he's very good with the dad and kids we got to introduce the idea of a baby brother, so I think it'll be okay. 

I don't have any good ideas for presents for Daniel, would it be terrible to wrap up some baby toys we already have?  I'm counting on grandparents to send a few things for him, and I don't know we need that much since we've got a decent selection of baby stuff.   I keep adding stuff to Benjamin's wish list, it's getting out of control.  But I rationalize that anything Benjamin gets, Daniel will play with later.  I'm not sure if I should start asking Benjamin what he wants, and I don't know how to approach the Santa stuff.  Any suggestions for how to do it without it taking precedence over Jesus' birth?

-Rachel

Monday, November 4, 2013

Musings

My mom is sending us a stocking for Daniel, she has supplied all of ours and is rounding out the bunch.  Last year I bought two sets of stocking holders, they came in packs of two.  We'd never needed them before, our place in Arlington doesn't have a fireplace.  I was pretty sad thinking about the baby we lost and wondering if we would ever need that fourth holder.  I'm so excited that we get to use it this year.

I must still have some pregnancy hormones rolling around, I started listening to Christmas music and when "I'll Be Home for Christmas" came on, I was close to crying.  It's hard this year, we don't have the excitement of traveling to Paris this time and knowing that both Thanksgiving and Christmas will be just us makes me sad.  I'm sure it'll turn out to be good, and we're always happy to be low-key, but it's tough being far away from family.  Hopefully we can take a trip to the Dead Sea or something to get a change of scenery.  We'd thought about maybe going to Germany for a long weekend in December to check out the Christmas markets, but airfare is super expensive, especially now we have to buy Benjamin a seat.

Daniel had done a couple nights in a row sleeping from midnight to 7am, but then last night he woke up at 5am.  It was rough.  Today I got to escape and eat lunch at the embassy with Thomas, which was sorely needed.  Last week I'd planned to do it on Wednesday, but Emy was sick a couple days and it didn't happen.  Sadly Benjamin and Daniel have colds, but I think they're slowly getting better.  Daniel's is very slight but Benjamin has a gross nose and the saddest little hoarse voice.  Thomas and I are mainlining orange juice to hopefully avoid getting sick. 

Last Thursday for Halloween we'd planned to hang out at the embassy and let Benjamin trick or treat, but with his cold flaring up that day we decided to skip it.  People really go all out, and the kids are adorable.  It was sad to miss, but next year maybe I'll plan ahead a little and coordinate the boys' costumes.  This year would have just been Benjamin in his Carhartt overalls with his Ikea toolbelt.  Not original.

I can't wait to decorate for Christmas.  I already mentioned that the Xmas tunes are in full force, but I want to put the tree up!  Thomas says we can do it on Thanksgiving, so I'm counting down.  I need to organize/tidy things up, though.  Our living room where we hang out is pretty clean, thanks to Emy, but I need to get a system for toys.  And also start to rotate, so everything isn't everywhere at once.  Once things are more stripped down I can hang stockings and feel festive.  I've been adding stuff to the boys' Amazon wish lists, but now that Benjamin is more aware I want to downplay the materialistic aspect as much as possible.  I think I just want us to get him one thing, and with grandparents I figure he'll have a few things to unwrap.  It doesn't need to be an orgy of unwrapping and throwing one thing aside the second the next is opened.  But maybe that's just inevitable and I should get over trying to manage it.  Thoughts?

Over the weekend we had a crazy rain and hailstorm.  It looked like it had snowed, but then everything melted pretty quickly.  I heard somewhere that this winter is projected to be the coldest in a long time for the region, which isn't good news for refugees.

The white stuff is the hail.

So crazy!

I got my new glasses on Sunday, and I wasn't sure I liked them at first.  I'm still not 100% sure, but it's nice to have something a little different.  My prescription is the same, so it's purely just to have a change of pace.  We have a lot of money in the HSA that we need to use up or we lose it.  I may order another pair of glasses, just for fun.  I got sunglasses too, but no pictures of those yet.

I trimmed my bangs, which is always iffy.

That's it for now!  I can't believe it's November already.  Time is just flying by and Thanksgiving will be here before I know it.  Time to plan the menu...

-Rachel



Saturday, October 26, 2013

Two Months

Hello there.  Today was a four cups of coffee day, which explains a lot about what life is like these days.  Daniel's been sleeping for longer stretches, usually about midnight to six, which is pretty good.  But definitely not anywhere close to good enough!  We're anxiously awaiting the day he can sleep through the night for a minimum of eight hours.  But he's pretty sweet and getting bigger all the time.


Playing football.

Can he catch it?

Yes!

Daddy and the big kid.

Benjamin is so funny these days.  A few months back he started talking about "the shivers", which is one of the Frog and Toad stories.  He's obsessed, and talks about it all the time.  He and Thomas have a game where Benjamin will hold the football and run, while Thomas chases him.  But Benjamin will drop the ball and then fall on the floor, and yell "I got tackled" while Thomas is still three feet away.  So silly. 

Watching Sesame Street in the morning. Perfect time for me to take a shower!

Benjamin still watches Sesame Street every day, and we've added "Potty Power", a DVD I bought that's supposed to encourage potty training.  He likes it, and asks to watch it, but whenever I ask if he wants to go sit on the potty he says no.  Maybe in a week or so, hopefully. 

Daniel showing off his cool new outfit.  Thanks, Aunt Marian!


Brothers.

Now that it's starting to feel more like fall, with highs in the low 70s, I've started lighting a pumpkin-scented candle.  Thomas thinks I'm ridiculous with my candle fixation.  I want to get some of those wood-wick candles, but I'm not sure if they'll ship here.  I like the crackly sound they make.  I had a stash of Yankee Candle stuff from when we moved and I guess I forgot about them last autumn, but now that I'm using them it feels more like home.  I love this season, wearing sweaters and feeling cozy.  We haven't turned the heat on yet, but probably will in the next couple weeks.

Leaning...

Hey there.

Smiles!

All in all, things are going pretty well.  We're so grateful for Daniel and Benjamin.  Despite the lack of complete rest, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And now it's two months until Christmas.  Time is flying!

-Rachel

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Life is Good

This week was full of doctors visits.  My six week checkup on Monday, Daniel's six week checkup on Wednesday, and then my annual-ish eye exam happened today.  All good reports, Daniel is now a little over 10lbs and is getting bigger all around.  His pediatrician was impressed, and it's great encouragement that my nursing and our supplementing is working.  Hooray! 

In honor of our cold spell, we broke out the footie pjs!

Can't wait for more cold weather.

The only bummer came today at my eye exam.  Surprisingly my prescription stayed the same, but I was diagnosed with keratoconus, a steep cornea.  It's not super serious, and I'm in the early stages.  The doctor said that I should come back in three months to get checked, and I'm hoping that it's slow in progressing.  Maybe the hormones from pregnancy will subside and arrest any further change.  It's evidently treatable, but still something to keep an "eye" on.  ;-)

But the fun part, I picked out new glasses!  I'll post pictures once they arrive, I ordered regular glasses and prescription sunglasses. 

Daniel is doing really well sleeping, at least for the moment.  He'll stretch from midnight to about 6 or 6:30am.  It's been awesome to get more than just two or three hours at a time, but I'm sure come the next growth spurt I'll be singing a different tune. 

Now that we're getting more of a schedule, and more consistent sleep, I'm looking forward to having some time to get to the gym.  I'm glad to be back in "normal" jeans, but I can tell it's going to be a while before I'm in my skinny pairs again.  I had decided to wait until January but I think I'll start sooner, since things are settling down faster than I thought.  This requires some planning and initiative, so pray that I'll be diligent about actually working out.  My goal is to get to a reasonable weight to hopefully get rid of any effects of my PCOS, in case we decide to try to have more kids.


Funny faces.


Still having fun with my new app!

In other news, Benjamin is funny and sweet and occasionally infuriating.  Emy is amazing and I can't imagine life without her assistance.  We've started using The Fresh 20, which is a menu-planning service thing.  It's been really helpful, I'm terrible at thinking up meals and would get frustrated, and it was stressful for Thomas to come home and have me trying to think of something at the last minute.  Thomas is super helpful and will grocery shop on the weekend, and he'll help with food prep and cooking.  He's the best.  I'm really grateful for our friends who suggested this website, it's made a big difference.  And the food tastes good, is pretty healthy, and definitely is a welcome change from my usual standbys. 


Thanks for the cool Tshirt, Mimi and Papa!

That's it for now!
Rachel

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Six Weeks In...

We've made it this far!  Sleep is still elusive, but we're improving slowly.  Daniel usually nurses around 11pm and again at 3/4am then again at 7/8am.  So I get a couple naps in.  Thomas will do a bottle afterward or burp him, which gives me a break.  I feel so blessed to have such an awesome husband - he's the best dad and partner in diaper changing/bottle feeding/all-around parenting two boys.

Daniel at six weeks.

Benjamin in the same outfit, at two months.  Hopefully Daniel will get the same chubby cheeks soon.

Speaking of Thomas's amazing-ness, his birthday was this past week.  With the baby and all, we really didn't do anything special, aside from ordering Papa John's pizza.  I definitely dropped the ball, but hopefully we can do something more exciting for our anniversary to make up for it a bit.  Sadly the anniversary of Thomas's birth was the day his grandpa passed away.  It's hard to be far away and unable to go to the funeral, but we are so grateful for his grandpa's witness and love for the Lord and his family.     

I'm trying to do a better job of taking pictures of Benjamin as well as the baby.  I found an awesome app for my phone that lets you put in text or fun little doodles.



You start with this...

And end up with something like this!

Benjamin is so funny, he's very decisive about things he likes and doesn't.  Tonight I asked him if he wanted to wear his overalls again tomorrow, because I looove them, but he said no and that he wants to wear jeans.  Oh well.  Today the weather was very cool and fall-like, highs in the low 70s. 

Daniel has been doing great with nursing and only takes about 9oz of formula per day, which means that I'm making about 2/3 of what he needs.  I'm pretty excited about that, and that breastfeeding is successful so far.  I'm not counting on anything lasting, just trying to be content in the moment.

As far as the shutdown goes, life isn't much different.  Thomas is still working, which I was bummed about.  Fingers crossed Congress will figure it out and everything can get back to normal.  This weekend I got my nails done with a girlfriend, it was magical to get out of the house and chat and have my feet worked on.  It had been about two months, and things were really ugly.  I feel much more human.  I came home to a crying baby, but otherwise it worked out well. 

Benjamin wearing the blue sweater at four weeks.

Daniel wearing the blue sweater at six weeks.

 Time really flies when you're delirious from lack of sleep.  Although usually I feel pretty good, mostly after I inhale some liquid form of caffeine.  Late nights are starting to get easier, when he can do longer stretches around the 3-4am session.  We're so grateful for this little guy.  Looking forward to the 2 month mark when sleeping through the night becomes more attainable, though!

Rachel