Friday, December 31, 2010

Decompressing Bullet Points

  • My fingernails are bright pink.  Ana decided to paint them.  Pink isn't my favorite color (by a long shot) and ironically this nailpolish has stayed on longer than any other has. 
  • We're on our way home for 18 hours.  I'm depressed about that but happy that we'll get to be together in Korea.  And I'm hoping the end is in sight.
  • Christmas at Casa was amazing. 
  • Having the girls with us for 10 days was probably the most rewarding thing ever, and the most difficult thing ever.
  • Pre teen girls are really, really different than pre teen boys. 
  • High School Musical in any form is now banned from my house until further notice.
  • The way little ones are able to pick up language is amazing to me.
  • I've finished my craft projects for the year, but I still have to post them. 
  • Over eating during the holidays is cross cultural.
  • Atlanta Int'l Airport is one of the busiest and craziest airports I've ever been in.
  • Eat, Pray, Love has been the movie shown on three of the four flights.  I'm sick of it.
  • I'm really thankful that I've done some reading on attachment stuff for kids, and after the last week I am convicted that I have a ton more to do.
  • It's going to be a really, really, really big change to have three girls with us all the time.
  • I've never been happier that we chose to proceed with all three girls rather than leaving one or two behind. 
  • I have no idea why Tate loves being on the floor.  It seems like no matter where we go he ends up on the floor.  He must have an amazing immune system because he's not sick all that often and the germs he encounters down there...yuck.
  • Theo eats way more than Tate. And sleeps way less.
  • I got to pay Erika for her hats for Hope By Design and it was one of the highlights of my trip.  Watching her jaw drop when I told her how much the hats sold for was so fun.  She had a baby on the 9th of December and knowing that she can still make money while staying home with her child is such a relief for her and her husband.  I love that the skills my grandma taught me are being used to change lives.
  • Tonight I have to dump out all of our summer clothes and pack all of our winter clothes.  I'm really hoping our luggage arrives with the airplane because if it doesn't I don't know what we'll take to Korea.  Garbage bags?
  • I'm supremely happy that we were able to spend Christmas with the kids at Casa Bernabe.  I missed our family but I know it was the right choice for us this year.
  • The girls' grandparents came to visit them on Christmas.  It was wonderful to meet them and have the girls spend a couple of hours with them. 
Well, I'm off to try and get Theo to sleep.  Thanks to Delta and modern technology I'm able to connect to the interwebs while we're on the plane.  Mark, bless his heart, has both of the boys for a few minutes so I can get a break.  Theo is 100% hands on right now!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On our way

We are packed and ready.  I can't believe it's here.

But I'm feeling melancholy.  Not because we're going to Nicaragua...I can't wait for that.  I have had an inbox of emails saying how many people are excited to see us.  I can't wait to see them, too.

It's the trip back to Korea that's looming in my mind and making me heavy hearted.  I don't want to go back.  We'll only have one day home and then we have to leave again.  It's making me sad.

I want to start the new year in our home, preparing for all the great stuff that is coming.  I want to go to our church, hang out with our friends and be with our family.


I need to change my focus.  I am blessed beyond words to get to see our girls in less than 24 hours.  I'm going to miss my extended family but I know that when we do come home it will be a wonderful treat to see them again.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a New Year full of laughter and love!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nicaragua for Christmas

So, this week we'll be heading to Nicaragua to spend Christmas with all of our kids.  I'm pretty sure we won't be staying in the Posada this time because there are new house parents and we don't know them.  My prayer is that there won't be distance between us and the boys just because we won't be living there.  Also, it's Nicaragua.  Things change all the time.

We have no firm plans for our trip, just ideas.  We may get to have the girls with us overnight while we are there which would be amazing!  I'm trying not to have any expectations, though.

I have some pictures to upload but the server keeps rejecting them.  I'll keep trying.

I'll try to post in Nicaragua, but I think you all know how spotty that is.

Hopefully there will be no airplane horror stories this time around.  We've had several talks with Tate about the importance of keeping his pants on...

Seriously though, we'd appreciate your thoughts and prayers while we're there.  This is the home stretch with travel for a while and it's going to be killer.  Two weeks in Nicaragua with a one day turn around to go to Korea for +/- six weeks for LT Wonderful's job [we may just pack the dirty clothes because I'm cool like that].  We are all excited about Nicaragua and dreading Korea.  I know that sounds horrible.  I'm just ready ready ready to be home for a while.  Tate's ready to start preschool and Theo, well, honestly he's up for anything.

Peace and love,

Our Seventh Anniversary!

Today is a significant day for LT Wonderful and me. 

We are celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary!

I've often heard stories about how difficult the seventh year of marriage is, but I never really put much stock into it.  But for a hundred reasons; yet really just one, this year was our most difficult.  The reasons behind the difficulties are many little things-during the past year or so we have moved twice, changed jobs, changed lifestyles (Navy to civilian), we have a toddler, a four year old, we're adopting three more.  On top of that, we spent most of the last year anticipating this job in Korea, then had it postponed and extended several times. 

But those are mainly excuses.  The main reason this year was so difficult is that we stopped making our marriage a priority.  We let ourselves get bogged down with the details of our lives.  It wasn't a him or me thing, it was a him and me thing.  He got busy with work.  I got busy with the kids.  It was unintentional and avoidable.  I thought that nothing could ever happen to us but the truth is that no one is immune to problems.

We found ourselves thousands of miles apart with 16 hours of difference between us.  We weren't angry with each other, we just kind of stopped communicating.  We can come up with so many excuses but the bottom line is that we weren't putting each other first.  We weren't putting our relationship first.  We were trying to fit each other into our own lives and it wasn't working.  Some hurtful things were said and done and we were suffering. 

So we scrapped our best laid plans and met at home in Portland.  I'll be honest,  I didn't want to leave Nicaragua.  LT Wonderful was concerned about leaving the project in Korea.  But we both decided that it would be best to go home.  We needed to re-prioritize our lives and start putting each other first all the time.  

And that's what we did.  With family and friend support, we came home as a sign of our commitment to each other and our marriage.  We went on dates.  We talked.  We focused on reconnecting and having fun.  We communicated.  We started cleaning off  the bridges that had been neglected.  Once we felt like we were on the right track we left for Korea again, together.  

Once in Korea we continued focusing on our relationship.  After our personal relationship with God, our relationship is our top priority.  And I'm happy to say that the choices we've made and the work we've been putting into our relationship has paid off.  Amazingly, when we are both focusing 100% on each other, all of our individual needs are met.  When we start focusing even just a little bit on ourselves and not on the other person then we start to have problems.  It's a continual give and take, but I feel like we're on the right track. 

So this year; even more so than in the past years; we have something to celebrate.  

We fought back.  
We worked for our marriage.  
We are working on our marriage.

 It would have been much easier to stay in our separate worlds and let everything else take over.  

But we didn't.  

There were tears, hurt feelings and hard decisions.  But more that, now there is forgiveness, love, hope and a renewed commitment to each other and our family. 

So I'm going to take today and really enjoy it.  When we said for better or for worse seven years ago I know we meant it.  But now that we have lived through the worse of that better or worse I really feel like we're onto something.  

I was thinking about it last night.  I think love is like a tree.  It starts out pretty fragile but gains strength as it grows.  When it goes through a dry season it suffers.  But if you care for it and lovingly nurse it back to health, it grows stronger and more beautiful.  Trees are resilient.  So is love.  It just takes two people to work together to get a relationship healthy again.  Taking the metaphor one step farther (to perhaps gross territory, but whatever) when you throw crap on a tree it may stink for a while but it grows stronger than ever before.  It takes the nutrients that it needs out of the mess and uses it for growth. 

I think love is like that, too.  Sometimes life throws crap on your relationships.  Sometimes you throw crap on your relationships.  But if you can work together, learning how to do it better next time you really can grow.  Not just in spite of the crap, but amazingly, because of it!

Mark, Happy Anniversary!  I'm glad we've got the seven year stigma out of the way and can move on.  This year will be our best yet!  We've stopped throwing crap on each other and together we can grow stronger when life throws junk  our way.  There is no one out there that I'd rather be partnered with!  

I love you, Mark.  Now and forever. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bad news/Good news

It has been an insanely long week.

Earlier this week I got a phone call around 9:30 pm from our landlord.  She wanted to move back into the house, the sooner the better.  She was super nice about it but bad news is bad news, no matter how it's delivered.  I went into freak out mode, and for good reason.  Between now and February we've got about 5 days that we'll be in the US.  The rest of the time we'll be in Nicaragua or Korea.  And seriously, bad news at night is a hundred times worse.  I would have preferred getting a call in the morning because at least I would have a good night's sleep to back me up.

I don't know about you, but I am physically incapable of packing up all of our stuff with two little elves running around "helping".  I have us almost packed for Nicaragua and I've had to load every suitcase about 4 times due to Theo's perpetual "helpfulness".

The good news of this whole story is that today I got a call saying that she found an apartment and wants to let us stay.  We're signing a new lease through June.  Praise Jesus!


Then today I was visiting my grandparents and we got the news that his brother passed away.  It was my grandpa's last living brother.

Since he wouldn't, I wept for him.

I tried to take as much off of my dear grandma's plate as possible.  Being the bearer of bad news is never fun but I felt like it was the least that I could do.

Grief is so difficult because everyone handles it differently and at their own pace.  I never know what to do or say.  I just hope and pray that I was able to help a bit.  I do know that having the boys there was an appreciated distraction.

As I was driving home tonight I had a memory of being little and fighting with my brother.  I don't remember what the fight was over but I remember clearly my mom's response.  "You two need to stop fighting and learn to communicate.  Someday your dad and I will be dead and you two will be the only family you'll have left!  You don't need to like each other but you always need to treat each other with love!"

I kind of understood that at the time, but I get it even more now.

My brother Stephen is honestly one of my best friends.  He's two years younger than me but I know he's got my back no matter what.  He can irritate me faster than almost anyone but until I had kids there was no one I was quicker to defend.

Siblings are really the ones who get it.  Steve grew up with me.  He saw me pre-braces, during braces and was there when I got them off.  He saw the fat Jenni, skinny Jenni, and every Jenni in between.  He knows where all of my horrible adolescent pictures are in the family album and gleefully shows them off when he gets the chance.  I know where all of his are, too, for the record.

I don't have to explain inside jokes to him: he was there.  He lived through them with me.  He suffered the awful mandatory fun Ungame nights right along side me.  We skipped a week of school together when our parents went out of town.  Even though we rarely see each other anymore [because he's always in Asia and I'm usually in Central America] I know he's got my back.  I know he would be there in a heart beat if I needed something.  He's my brother.  He's my blood.

And that's why I felt so strongly for my grandpa.  I didn't know his brother well.  But I can empathize with what he's lost.

Siblings are one of the best gifts.  I consider myself blessed to have an amazing one and I am so excited that my kids have great ones, too.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tate's New Skill Set

[So Mark taught Tate some hand gestures to say, "I love you" "you're the best" and "you're cool".  Tate was telling me this at dinner...and then he added his own.]

Tate: Mom, look!  You're the best of the champions!

Tate: "And, you're cool."

Tate: "And, Mom?  I love you."

Me: "Oh, Tate, thank you so much.  I love you, too.  You are such a sweet boy!"

Tate: "You're welcome, Mom.  And you know what?"

Me: "What?"

Tate: "This means, 'you're a duck!'"

[after breakfast]

Tate: "Mom, can I watch cartoons?"
Me: "Nope.  Not right now."  
Tate: "When can I watch them?"
Me: "Maybe before dinner."
[Tate is quiet for a few moments]
Tate: "Mom, I just talked to my tummy and he wants to watch cartoons too."


[Tate is coming down the stairs and is tucking his shirt into his underwear.]

Me:  "Tate, we don't tuck our shirts into our underwear"
Tate: "Yes we do." 
Me: "No bud, we tuck them into our pants."
[understanding dawns]
Tate: "Ooooh, so that's how we do it, huh?"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 Craft Goal-SO CLOSE!

27 & 28
The Last Two Stockings!

Aren't they just beautiful there together?  We have Joy [Jenni], Mercy [Maricela], Faith [Ana], Blessing [Theo], Peace [Tate], Hope [Teresa] and Love [Lt Wonderful]. 

I love that all of our stockings are done.  These were the only things that really had to get done and I can relax and bask in the glow of accomplishment. 

And, let me say again, don't they look great all together?

Just two more!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Ugly Truth

Since we've come home I've managed to sneak on 5 extra pounds.  Since those 5 pounds really make the difference in me feeling my best and feeling a little sluggish, I've decided to do something about it.

It seems like everywhere I turn is an opportunity to eat goodies and, well, crap.  So for the next day or so I'm just going to have some fruits and veggies.  Mostly in the form of Green Smoothies because I love them and I have yet to find a better way to get spinach down the boys' throats.

So, today and maybe tomorrow I'm having fruits and veggies.  I want to cleanse my body of the processed sugars and fats that I've been eating lately.  I'm sure it will be easy until small group tonight.  I'm bringing snack and even though I want to force my choices upon everyone there, the truth is that I don't know a few of the families and I would like to make them friends.  Somehow I feel like if I just brought green smoothie everyone would feel gypped.  So I'm bringing pizza and pumpkin pudding.  And it smells delicious cooking so I'm being properly tempted.

Another thing I need to do but haven't felt in the mood for is a work out.  I really need to do one but I really don't want to.

I'll let you know how the rest of this process goes.  5 pounds.  I can do it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Isn't that a scary thought?


It's been a busy week...I'm not going to go into specifics but it's been crazy.  The good news is that even though it's been busy we've accomplished a lot. 

And, let me just say (in case I haven't said it recently)
It's AMAZING to be home again!