‘tude

Last night was our first night of Jr. High VBS, which Preacher Man structured and billed as a 3-day Jr. High Conference. I really can’t even explain how amazing it was and how proud I am of what my husband pulled off. I also can’t explain how much it filled my heart to be able to serve in his ministry again. After Preacher Man got home around 10:00 last night, we were talking about our day and sharing the experiences we each had (even though I was able to help serve at the conference, we literally spoke about two sentences to each other), and Preacher Man said, “You look happy.” It took me back a little bit, but I realized that I am happy. It’s always a juggling act when you have kids, but it does my heart good to use the gifts I’ve been given for His kingdom. I love being a help-mate and an asset to Preacher Man, and I love that he can count on me to cover the things he needs me to do. I never thought I’d say this, but I guess it turns out that being a minister’s wife actually kind of suits me.

One of the roles I filled last night was assisting students as they checked in – making sure the computers were running fine, helping students navigate the system, and introducing visitors to how the check in station worked. Right before things kicked off, one of my co-volunteers said, “That’s interesting. That girl just checked in, walked outside, and is sitting at the cafe tables outside.” Being unafraid of confrontation, I ventured out (in the 109 degree heat, mind you) to see what was up. I feel like you’d enjoy the interchange more if I write it like a script:

Me: Hey, how are you?

Girl: Fine

Me: Are you going inside for the conference?

Her: No.

Me: Why’s that?

Her: It’s boring.

Me: Hmmm…well, you don’t really know that since you’re not inside to see exactly how boring it is.

Her: I don’t have to be inside to know how boring it is.

Me: Well did you check in?

Her: Yes.

Me: Yeah, see – then you’re gonna have to go inside. If your parents think you’re attending the conference, you probably need to attend the conference.

Her: Yeah, that’s the point. I can check in, sit out here, and my Mom – she’s volunteering across the street- will think I went.

Me: Yeah. I can’t let you do that.

Her: I don’t want to go inside just to be bored to death.

Me: Well…they’re playing some games right now – and you gotta admit – watching other kids do dumb things is always more fun than staring at cars going by. Come on inside with me.

Her: Yeah. I don’t think so.

Me: Yeah. That’s not an option.

Her: [blank stare]

Me: So your Mom’s volunteering. Do you have any siblings who are here at VBS?

Her: Yeah, a younger brother and sister.

Me: You get along with them?

Her: No.

Me: How much younger are they than you?

Her: My brother’s exactly a year younger, and my sister’s five years younger.

Me: Wow. Yeah, I have a brother who’s almost exactly a year older than me. His name is Jesse, and people always thought we were twins, so I got called Jessica all the time. I remember feeling like we were always competing and I was always trying to be better than him. We get along now, but not always when we were younger.

Her: [long pause] Yeah, maybe your right. [looks me up and down and rolls her eyes] Maybe being in there would be less boring than being out here.

HA!

I audibly laughed and answered, “Yeah, you’re probably right. Let’s go inside.”

I tell ya, these kids got some cojones. Wit and determination, for sure – but some mighty impressive cojones.

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on the homefront

Preacher Man: Jr. High VBS is kicking off tonight, so Preacher Man has quite a bit on his mind and his plate. He’s mostly moved into the new student ministry center – thank goodness! We’ve learned about ministry that it always has its busy seasons, and then it has its relaxing less busy seasons. There’s no doubt about which season we’re going through right now, but I’m excited about the things he has planned for VBS and can’t wait to see his ideas executed!

Jen: I’ve just gotten over a case of strep throat, so I’m earnestly praying that no one else in the family experiences it. I was kind of a pathetic sight for a couple of days, since it was one of those rare cases of strep that also presents with vomiting, body aches, and a high fever. You know, cause tearing up when you swallow just isn’t enough. Antibiotics are just about the best thing in the world though, so I’m back to healthy and ready to go! Even though the next few days will be a chaotic for us, I’m really looking forward to being a part of Preacher Man’s event. I’m grateful that childcare is provided for volunteers, and I’m eager to be a help-mate in ministry again.

Bug: Overall, Bug and Bear seem to be getting along a little bit better, but I still have to keep a very close eye on Bug and his tendency to get frustrated and not share. He informed me yesterday that Bear’s name is, “Co-Co BearMonkey,” and he likes to call him Monkey for short. I really have no idea where he got this, but it’s really cute to watch him hand Bear a toy and say, “Here, Monkey!” He also informed me that his Crocs with the Steelers logo on it are his “Runner Power” shoes, and he insists on showing me just how fast his runner power is when he wears them. Which is ironic, since a good running game isn’t really the Steelers’ thing. That’s right. I just went there.

Bear: Geez, is he really going to be 1 soon? He’s still working on walking, although he seems to be more trepidatious than Bug was. We gave him an early birthday present of a little push-along walker, so he’s learning! He’s also learned the sign for, “milk,” and we’re working on “all done” and “more.” Bear loves his big brother with every fiber of his being – he actually laughed so hard at Bug this morning that he gave himself hiccups!

In family news, we’re really looking forward to an upcoming vacation we’re taking with Preacher Man’s family soon! We haven’t been on a vacation since our honeymoon, so some quality time with loved ones is the perfect way to end our weeks of crazy!

mr. independent

Preacher Man and I were tag teaming the kids last Friday, so he came home from work at nap time and I headed to the gym. I told him Bug was playing quietly, and that I thought he could go ahead and get a shower. If Bug was still playing when he got out of the shower, Preacher Man could lay him back in bed. If not, he obviously fell asleep on his own – which is great!

Preacher Man got his shower, and when he finished he took some time to do some work and relax since both boys were napping peacefully. After about an hour and a half, Preacher Man heard the door from the house to the garage opening, and assumed I’d come home early from my work out. He was more than a little shocked to see instead that our two year old son was walking into our house…from outside.

“What the…? Where were you?” he questioned.

Bug answered, “I pway. Outside.”

“You were playing? Outside??” Preacher Man asked…with a slight tone of disbelief and panic in his voice.

Bug put his hands in the pockets of his cargo shorts and his eyes got big – as if to signal that he didn’t really understand why his Daddy was acting like he’d done something wrong. “I ride my red bike,” he told Preacher Man, who promptly asked, “Where is your red bike?”

Bug looked at the ground and replied sadly, “I lost my red bike. Way, way far away.” Preacher Man’s heart sunk as he thought about where exactly Bug might’ve been driving his ride bike that he’d lose it “way, way far away,” and he quickly went outside to see if he could find it.

He couldn’t help but smile as he stepped outside and immediately saw Bug’s red tricycle two driveways down. When Bug and I play with his bike, that’s as far as I let him go. So in the mind of a two year old, that is pretty stinkin’ far away. Of course, Preacher Man gave Bug a very firm talking to about going outside by himself, which I’ve been reinforcing every chance I get.

Secretly though, we’re kind of proud of him. The boy opened his door, walked through the house, and out to the garage. Once in the garage, he set his mind to playing with his red bike, which he wheeled to the sidewalk (apparently along with our double stroller). He then drove his bike on the sidewalk for an hour and a half, when he promptly decided he was tired and came inside. I mean technically, we’d never made a rule about not being allowed to go outside and play by himself, so the only rule he knowingly broke was leaving his room during nap time.

As a direct result of this incident, we now have two new rules in our house – 1)Bug is not allowed outside without Mommy, Daddy, or a babysitter. 2)All doors must remain closed and locked when the boys are not being directly supervised, and especially during nap and bed times.

That boy. That sweet, sweet (daring, mischievous, stubborn) boy. I swear, I’ll be lucky to make it his 5th birthday without gray hair and a heart attack!

processing

*Warning: This post may contain an inordinate amount of discussion of such words as menstruation and uterus. If that makes you squeamish, you should probably stop now and instead surf to espn.com or something like that.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself feeling exhausted. I was falling asleep on the couch at 9:30pm and heading to bed at 10:00, only to wake up with the boys at 7:00 and not ever feeling like I got quite enough rest. I’ve been taking the boys’ nap time for my study and prayer time, and I twice fell asleep while doing so. Both times I surprised myself a little when I woke up, since the last thing I remembered was closing my eyes to pray, then – bam. Asleep.

One night I was telling Preacher Man how strange it was that I was so tired and joked, “Maybe I’m pregnant.” He did not think the joke was quite as funny as I did, so I reassured him that I was actually on my period at that moment – so there was no way.

A couple of days later, I woke up with a very weak feeling tummy. I drank my coffee just fine, but by the time I got around to eating breakfast, the thought of food made me feel noticeably sick. I managed to eat an egg, but the nausea stayed with me until the afternoon. “Huh,” I thought, “This new medicine sure is affecting me strangely.”

This past Friday night, I woke up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. I was thoroughly annoyed at the interruption to my sleep, and as I crawled back into bed I thought, “Geez, I haven’t had to get up to use the restroom since I was….”

Oh crap.

My first order of business the next morning was to take a pregnancy test. I squinted my eyes and tilted the test and couldn’t deny it – there was a very, very faint line. Preacher Man tried to tell me that he could see where the line would be, and he thought the line was just showing through – that the test was really negative. As someone who’s taken dozens of pregnancy tests since we’ve been married (what? so i’m a little paranoid about such things), I tried to assure that if there is a line there, it means something. I’ve taken my fair share of tests in hopes to see that little blue line, and I can tell ya – when there’s no pregnancy, there’s really no line.

However, since the line was so faint I did my best to not freak out and wait until the next morning to test again. Preacher Man sweetly got the tests from Walmart for me (along with some Reese’s mini cups – the perfect gift for any occasion), and I took one the next morning. Yep. Faint line.

It took until after I finished this test to remember that I had finished my period just four or five days before this. As I thought over how strange that was (even though I do know some women have a full period in their first month of pregnancy), I remembered that there were actually several really strange things about my period. Firstly, it was ten days long as opposed to my usual 5-7. Secondly, it started and stopped two or three times, which has never happened. Thirdly, my cramps were stronger than usual, and for a couple of days I kind of thought my uterus was going to fall out. I remember thinking, “Phew, having two kids really has changed my body.” Fourthly, it was really freakin’ heavy. Really heavy.

It dawned on me what may have happened, so I did some googling and and felt some confirmation in what I suspected. Up to 80% of women have very early miscarriages, and most just think they had a strange period. I matter of factly told Preacher Man my suspicions, and told him I’d wait another day to test. If it was positive, I’d make an OB appointment and if it was negative, I’d assume I had miscarried.

The next test was another faint positive, although to my eye it looked slightly more faint. Deciding that I was tired of spending my day squinting at lines, I bought and took a digital test yesterday afternoon. I reasoned that if I am pregnant, the test would tell me definitively. If not, I would have miscarried about a week and a half ago, and according to my googling the HCG hormones would have been out of my system. I took the test and waited anxiously for the two minutes to pass. I thankfully had two sweetie pies who were more than happy to provide enough distraction that I didn’t check every three seconds. After changing a diaper, I walked back into the bathroom to read the test. There it was – no room for doubt, for squinting, for tilting, for second guessing. Not Pregnant.

I bent over, laid my head on the edge of the sink, and cried.

I have to be candid here (as if discussions about my cycle aren’t candid enough, right?), and admit that at least 80% of my tears were overwhelming relief. Preacher Man and I had just decided that we’d wait another year to talk about the possibility of having more, and I’m just now feeling like my life is not total chaos. On the other hand, my heart was also heavy with sadness.

I was devastated when I found out I was pregnant with Bear. I cried every time I thought about it for the first two months, and I freaked out about my capability of handling it emotionally and our ability to handle it financially. As I looked at Bear during the past few days, I couldn’t help but be reminded of God’s faithfulness and provision. He knew His plan for us, and He knew that not only would He provide for me emotionally and us financially – He knew that I would pray prayers of thanksgiving for that boy every day of his life. He knew that I wouldn’t be able to imagine life without him, and I wouldn’t trade a moment of his life for all the world.

I didn’t want to be pregnant, but I knew that if we were, God would provide for us in ways that would astound me. After just having lost almost 50 lbs I wasn’t excited about pregnancy weight, but I couldn’t help but be in awe at the idea of nourishing life again. Being pregnant wasn’t in our plan, but I had confidence that our little family would only be blessed by it. At the time I had no idea, but I remembered the specific day that I miscarried. I was bleeding particularly heavily and passed what I thought were blood clots. I now know that it was the beginnings of the life I was carrying.

I know it doesn’t make sense, but I’m at once relieved and at the same time mourning. I’m not seeking to define or explain that dichotomy, I just know that I’m experiencing it. So I’m allowing myself to both rejoice that I can have an extra cup of coffee  and sleep right through the night, and mourn that my body didn’t hold onto the life it fleetingly possessed. I don’t know that it’s the best way to process my emotional roller coaster of the past week, but it’s just about the only way I know.

a letter to bear

Dearest Bear,

One year ago today I was eight months pregnant right smack in the heat of a North Carolina summer. I knew I had a tiny little person growing inside of me that I’d soon meet, but I had no idea how madly I would fall in love with that tiny little person. Today, Bear you are eleven months old. You’re funny, cuddly, giggly, sweet, and smiley, and Daddy and I love you more than we ever thought possible.

You have a whopping six teeth already, and have been done with the mashed baby food for awhile. In fact, you’re currently not happy eating in your high chair and tend to eat a lot more when I can put your food on the coffee table and let you eat, play, eat, play, then repeat. You’re transitioning from bottles to sippies, and some days you insist on drinking your milk from a bottle, and some days only a sippy will do. I can’t lie – Daddy and I are really excited that we only have one more month of the formula buying for you! You’re walking holding onto our hands and are experimenting with standing on your own for short periods of time. You’re still doing your flop-scoot, though you do crawl with your knees under you when you’re not in a rush to get somewhere. Then again, it seems like you’re always in a rush to get somewhere what with keeping up with Bug and all!

Daddy says you’re a little instigator and like figuring out how you can take toys from Bug, but I think you’re just being an eleven month old who is easily distracted. Then again, Daddy knows all about the little brother instigator business, so maybe he’s right. 🙂 Speaking of Daddy, you are definitely in a Daddy phase right now. You love him with all of your little 17-pound self, and you love to squeal at him until you get his attention. When he does smile at you, you break out with a grin so big I’m sure it’s going to bust right off your face and you do your famous shimmey-shake with glee. You’re also still looking quite a bit like your Daddy and your Papa, which I don’t foresee changing anytime soon. Of course, I’m a little partial to your Daddy’s looks – so I’m okay with that.

Although you’re still very young, I think you may have picked up your Daddy’s musical gene as well. Music has the capacity to soothe you instantly, and you can’t seem to help but to do a little dance when you hear music. The dance usually involves a little bit of a booty bounce, then you bob your head to the beat and look like you’re saying, “That’s my jam!

As you grow, you’re becoming more vocal about your big brother. You love spending time with him and are dying to keep up with him – you even crawl to his door and try to open it when he’s taking a nap! You’re also quickly learning to screech when he takes a toy from you or has something you desire. While I’m grateful you’re learning to stick up for yourself and definitely think Bug needs to learn to be less bossy, I look forward to the day when you can use your words and notsomuch these high pitched squeals. In the past month, you’ve found your inner water baby and have started to genuinely enjoy swimming with Bug and me. Your favorite things are to splash your hands and to sit on the edge of the pool and kick your feet. You don’t seem to understand that you’re not able to swim yet, so I have to keep a tight hold on you, or you’ll take right off! Crazy kid.

I think some of my favorite memories of you this past month are the one on one time Daddy and I have gotten with you (I guess that makes it two on one, huh?). When I lay you and Bug down for naps at noon, you usually wake up first and I get about 15 minutes to spend with and focus on you. On Fridays, Daddy and I get to both just pour into and play with you. Those moments are so precious to me because it’s so important that you know how much we love you. You are uniquely you, and we love you for the person God has created you to be. We don’t love you because you’re cute or because you’re sweet – we love you because you’re you. And you’re ours. You’re God’s gift to us sweet Bear, and we pray to be wise stewards of that gift. We love you so much, happy eleven months!

Love always,

Daddy and Mommy

on the homefront

Preacher Man: Lots of really cool things are going on with the student ministry right now, so Preacher Man’s been just a tad busy. The church has been building a dedicated student ministry and missions building across the street from the main campus’ church, and it’s grand opening is set for this Sunday. It’s a really amazing building, and we’ve been praying that many lives will be changed within its walls. Selfishly, one of the more exciting features is that Preacher Man will be moving from working in a small cubicle to having his very own office! I know he really appreciated the cubicle atmosphere in the sense that he was able to dive in and connect with co-workers in a way he wouldn’t have had he been in an office, and as a new staffer it was nice to be able to so easily ask questions and get feedback. Nonetheless, he’s excited about having his own space, and I expect that his productivity will increase as distractions decrease.

In calendar news, the Jr. High four day VBS is coming up soon, so Preacher Man is working hard at programming and volunteer recruiting. Childcare is thankfully provided for children of volunteer, so I’m eager to not only help, but to dedicate time to getting to know the students a little better.

Jen: Since being diagnosed with PMDD and taking medicine for it, I’ve noticed a big difference in myself. I don’t carry around the weight of anxiety any longer, and I’m not struggling with feeling overwhelmed each day. I’m finding myself to be much less irrationally emotional and much more rationally logical in the way I view every day situations. In summary, I guess you could say that I feel more peaceful. My doctor told me that I could choose to take the meds for two weeks out of the month, or I could choose to take it every day. He mentioned that most women find taking it every day to be easier to remember, and also said that many women who have  PMDD have underlying depression and anxiety and find the medicine to be helpful the rest of the month, too. I’m still experimenting with how I feel and with what kind of the difference it really makes in my daily life, but I’m leaning towards taking it mostly every day.

Bug: In regards to Bug, I’ve been hearing a lot of people telling me, “Shew, he just does not stop, does he? He’s all boy!” He’s doing great, but seems to only be growing in his level of energy as he gets older. Bug is talking more and more, and I’m just delighting in hearing his thoughts and processing. The toy fights with his brother have begun, so teaching him how to share is a huge theme in our house right now. He must not be too upset at his newly mobile brother though, since one of his favorite things to tell me is, “Mommy, Co-Co Bear so, so, so, so kwoot (cute)!!!!”

Bear: I’m still waiting on Bear to get over a cold before we get more blood drawn, but he’s doing great otherwise. He’s able to hold onto my hands and walk, and has started pushing his brother’s wagon in front of him as he takes steps. He now officially has six teeth, though I felt some sharpness in his gums this morning, so there may be another one or two on the way.

Speaking of the boys, Bug is about the bounce Bear right straight out of his Johnny Jump Up, so I’m thinking I should probably do something about that. Here’s hoping your day is a great one!

happy 5th of july!

I realize I’m  day late, but we were so busy spending time as a family yesterday that I just didn’t have a chance to blog. Our family slept in ’till about 7:00 am (Bug’s current wake up time), and then we spent some time playing with the boys, watching the news, and drinking our coffee in our pjs. Preacher Man made his incredible peanut butter and banana stuffed french toast, then we did lots of cuddling and kissing on the two cutest boys the world has ever known. I made some funfetti 4th of July cupcakes, then headed to the gym to get my 4th of July work out on! We were blessed to be able to spend the evening with friends, where we grilled out, let Bug swim and play with water balloons, and even had some homemade ice cream. Time got away from us as we were chatting, so we didn’t end up leaving until about 9:30 – just in time to see some fireworks through the trees on our way home! We’re looking forward to Bear being old enough next year to handle the late night and loud noises of fireworks, but were glad we didn’t have to deal with the crowds and waiting this year.

Speaking of Bear, it’s kind of amazing to think that he’s coming up on his 1 year birthday in a month! I’ll save all the mushy stuff for his birthday blog posts, but I’m having a hard time believing I’ll soon be a Mom to a 2 year old and a 1 year old. On our way home from dinner last night, I was telling Bug that he was my friend. I told him that Daddy was also my friend, and so was Bear. Bug said, “No Mommy! Bear not a friend, Bear a baby!” I told Bug that babies can be our friends, and then he proceeded to tell me that Bear was his best friend, just like “Light a Ma-Keen” (Lightening McQueen) and the truck (Mater). He called Bear his best fwend two or three times, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tear up a little bit. I’m not sure how Bear would like being compared to Mater, but I think he’d agree that the sentiment behind the comparison is just about perfect.