a man on the move

I have no idea where the time has gone since I last posted.  It’s a testament to my busy life that I don’t blog nearly as much as I used to.  It’s also a testament to how Facebook has changed the way I spend time on the internet!  Anyway…

The Little Man is perilously close to eight months old, and since today happened to be a day with two big milestones in it for him, I thought I had better document this day for posterity.

First of all, the Little Man climbed up the one and only step in our house today!  He still only army-crawls around the house.  Somehow, he got both hands up on the step and, little by little, heaved himself up so that he got himself fully up the step.  Once up there, he is on hard ground, and for an army crawler, that allows him to scooch himself along the floor much faster than he can on carpeting.  (Poor LM has perpetual rugburn on his abdomen from army-crawling on the carpeting of the family room!)  Unfortunately, he doesn’t know how to climb DOWN the step, and during one of his trips up the step, he would have rolled right back down the step if we hadn’t caught him.  I’m sure the day will come when he does roll down, but at least it’s only one step and it’s onto carpeting.  But this new ability means we need to babyproof the house – now.  Oye vey!

The Little Man’s other new trick today was that of standing up in his crib!  JJ put LM in his crib while he prepared a bath for him, and when JJ came back to get the baby, he was STANDING UP IN HIS CRIB.  Holy buckets!  Thank God for sending a guardian angel to keep LM from toppling over the side and landing flat on the floor.  JJ and I made sure to lower LM’s crib, in order to prevent that from happening again.  Since LM is still on the small side, we lowered it only to the middle slot.  This means we’ll have to lower it again to the bottom slot at some point, but for now it keeps us from having to lean quite so far down to pick him up.  Interestingly, we’ve never lowered the crib to the middle spot before; with the girls, the crib was either at the top spot or at the bottom spot.  Boys are definitely different!

And in one more milestone, on top of all that, I had the opportunity to weigh LM today.  With his lightweight clothes on, he weighed exactly 18 pounds.  Woo-hoo!  However, I still have quite a few packages of size 2 diapers left in my garage, diapers that are for babies 12-18 pounds.  Thankfully, he hasn’t outgrown the diapers yet, and they still seem to be holding their own, so to speak.  So, I’ll just continue to use them until they’re gone.  Then, on to size 3 we go!

In milestones of the recent past, one week ago today, the Little Man got his first haircut, courtesy of Me.  I don’t cut hair, and I certainly don’t cut boys’ hair, so this was a big First for me.  JJ helped me by holding LM’s head still, which allowed me to do my poor best to cut and trim.  LM’s bangs were hanging in his eyes, and his hair was quite long at the sides of his head over his ears, so those both got trimmed.  I also trimmed off his “mullet” in the back of his head.  I measured it, and it came to 3 inches long!  Wow!  LM looks SO MUCH more boyish with his haircut!  He looks older, too.  It took me a few days to adjust to his new ‘do, but now at a week later, I’m quite used to it.  He is so stinkin’ cute, I can hardly stand it sometimes.

The Little Man is definitely a stereotypical boy.  He likes to be on the move all the time, he likes to explore new things, and he isn’t content to sit still.  However, he’s also very sweet, and he continues to be the smiliest baby I’ve ever had.  He loves to be where the people are.  Last Wednesday I got the high chair out of the garage, washed it up and put it in the kitchen.  LM thinks that is the best thing ever!  He loves being in there when the family is eating; he has always liked to be where the people are.  Last week, I also got the exersaucer out of the garage, and he immediately loved that gadget, too.  He’s now ready for these bigger-baby toys.

My Little Man is growing so fast!  I wonder what new tricks he’ll learn next week!

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goodbye, one more time

This past Sunday, my husband and girls and I had an unusual opportunity that most pastors in our church body do not get.  We had the opportunity to attend the installation service of the pastor who is replacing my husband at his former congregation.  Since we live in California, where Lutheran churches are few and far between, and since we only moved two hours away, it was not out of the ordinary for us to attend this installation service.  In fact, pastors from churches further away than ours also attended the service, Even with all of that, it still was a bit of an unusual situation.

But, unusual-ness notwithstanding, we went.

One of the other pastors from our current congregation rode along with us.  He’d never been to our former church before, so it was all a new experience for him.  We had a lovely drive over, and we took the Bay Bridge to get onto the Peninsula, which always makes for a scenic trip.  It was enjoyable for us to point out familiar landmarks to him as we got closer and closer.

One thing we did NOT want to do by attending this service was to draw attention away from the new pastor.  It’s his church now, and we were only in attendance due to our unusually close proximity (for this area).  I think we managed to achieve that.  Still it was hard not to get teary eyed when my husband, the former pastor of that church, took his turn at laying his hands on the head of the new pastor of the church in blessing.  I wasn’t the only one taking a few (flash-less!) pictures when that moment came, and I don’t think I was the only one who got a bit choked up as I heard my husband’s blessing for the new pastor.

But it was such a treat to see the members of our former congregation again!  One of the sopranos in their small church choir was ill, so when I was asked to fill in with the church choir, I happily agreed.  (Thankfully, one song was just a hymn melody, and the other song was one I had sung at WELStock last summer.)  I’m very noticeably pregnant, so it was fun to have opportunity to share with people that the new baby will be a boy, and it was fun to catch up again.  My line for the day was, “What a happy day for this church!”  And it truly was a happy day.

I strongly suspect that I will forever have a soft spot in my heart for our former congregation, as will my husband.  We loved that church, and we loved the people there.  In so many ways, they truly did feel like family to us.  I don’t know if our current, much larger congregation will ever feel as much like “home” to us as our former congregation did.  I asked one of the other pastors in attendance how long it took his wife for her to feel home when he took a call to his current, much larger congregation.  He replied that he didn’t know if it has ever felt like home to her, and I’m pretty sure they’ve been at their congregation at least five years if not more.  So, perhaps for me, too, it will never be the same Here as it was There, and I’ll have to be okay with that.

After the service and the dinner, there was a party up at the parsonage, our old house, now the home of the new pastor and his family.  It was interesting to see the changes that had been made: the new paint colors, the new kitchen floor (that was LONG overdue!), the familiar and unfamiliar places in the house.  It was nice to share with the new pastor’s wife some of the quirks about the house, and how we made the best of those quirks – or even found them useful!  All in all, it was a real treat to be back.

Lyd and I left the party for a bit in the evening to head across the street to the home of one of my best friends in the area.  It was so wonderful to see her and her family again, and after a lovely but too-short visit, Lyd and I regretfully headed back to walk the dark quiet street we had walked so many, many times before, this time with a bag of baby boy clothes slung over my back.  After we got back, I got the girls changed into their pajamas for the two-hour car ride back home, and off we went, back to our new home.

One day last week, as JJ and I contemplated the upcoming emotion of this trip, JJ said to me that he almost didn’t want to go.  When I asked why, he replied that it would be the final act of our leaving that church.  Now not only are we gone, we are replaced.  It’s the last small step in finally severing our ties to that congregation.

But at this installation, I realized that we will never be able to sever fully our ties to our former congregation.  I don’t know if any pastor ever can do that with a congregation he serves!  As JJ and I have said many times, we grew up there.  Those people hold a dear, dear place in our hearts, and I don’t think any other congregation will ever, CAN ever be as dear to us as our first congregation.  Add to that the fact that they’re only two hours away and that very likely opportunities for us to see those people WILL come up in the future – and all of it adds up to the fact that we’ll never totally leave.

But, hopefully we have left our former congregation fully enough so that the new pastor and his family are free to make their own memories there, and that the congregation will regard the new pastor as their pastor, rather than continue to view my husband as their pastor.  I’m pretty sure that will happen, and I think the transition will go well.  We certainly will do all we can to stay out of the new pastor’s way and let him fully take the reins himself.

While we were in town, I stopped at our favorite grocery store to pick up some marinated tri-tip steaks to bring back to our new home with us in a cooler.  At the store, I also bought a bottle of wine to give to the new pastor and his family as a housewarming gift.  JJ and I presented it to them and told them, “May you be as happy in this house as we were.”

And we meant it.

speaking well

It will come as no surprise to those of you who know me in real life that I would describe myself as an extrovert.  I love to be with people, carry on conversations, be social, and while I do enjoy moments alone, I feel most energized being with others.

Over the past week and a half, I have been blessed to cross paths with many interesting people, and to have many interesting conversations.  These conversations are still swimming around in my head, almost so much so that I am having a hard time coming back down to earth and caring for the mundane details of life.

There has been lots of activity around our church that has facilitated all of these conversations.  Apparently that’s one of the benefits of being at the Big church – many of the events come to you!  It’s been a lot of fun, and definitely one of the perks of being here.

Thankfully, I seem to have developed my conversational skills to the point that my husband is no longer worried when I open my mouth to speak, nervous about what I might say or how I might say it.  Tact hasn’t always been my strongest skill.  My willingness to say practically anything to anybody has caused my husband more than a bit of consternation over the years, especially because he is so (perhaps too much so) very careful about what he says and how he says it.  But, as time has gone by, we’ve softened each other, sharpened each other, been each other’s best teacher and toughest critic, and now when I speak, my husband is almost always grinning with pride at me as I talk.  I’m still not perfect, but I think I’ve matured quite a bit.

It’s interesting to look back and see how our former congregation was such a good learning experience for me.  Boy, if JJ’s first call had been to this big church we’re currently at, I would have been quite a liability for my husband.  This past weekend I heard a pastor say that one’s first church always remains dear in a pastor’s heart, because they’re the church that really had to put up with you.  When I heard that, I immediately agreed!  I wasn’t the pastor, but I was the pastor’s wife, and our former congregation certainly had to put up with me!

It’s lovely to feel like I can be confident enough to say what I think, and to know how to say it (for the most part) nicely.  It’s not going to my head, though; don’t think I’m bragging.  But just like it’s nice to finally know how to tie one’s own shoes or to finally get one’s driver’s license, it’s nice for me to know that I can do this.  I can talk to people and be myself without embarrassing myself (or JJ), which hasn’t always been the case..

This is especially important when those people that one is having conversations with are Important People in the little world we call the WELS, which is what has been happening the week or so.  For example, JJ and I went out for a private dinner with the president of MLC last night (who, by the way, is one of the kindest Christian men JJ and I have ever met)!  How many people get an opportunity like that?

I know I’m still not finished yet, but it seems I have, for the most part, finally crossed this milestone.  Of course, who knows what new milestone will be around the next bend in the road, waiting to be conquered?  But it’s a good feeling to know that, just as he has in the past, God will continue to send me the people and experiences I need to continue becoming the woman he has always intended me to be.

As the president of MLC said last night, “There are no coincidences in the Lord’s economy of events.”  Whatever happens is God’s way of working things out for my good.  What a blessing!

first day of school for both girls

Today was Lyd’s first day of second grade and Jujubee’s first day of 4 year old Kindergarten (pre-K) at our new school.

Today was also my first day of being home alone all morning with an absolutely quiet house.

All in all, it went quite well.  No tears were shed by anyone.  In fact, no one – even me – came even close to tears.  Cute pictures were taken of cute girls wearing cute uniforms.  There was happiness and excitement.

I survived my first morning alone.  To celebrate, I spend half an hour house-hunting online for a friend, and then I deep cleaned my bathrooms, which badly needed it.  Then, I made a start at wading through the mass of papers (unpaid bills, paid bills, receipts, mailings, coupons, etc) that currently covers our card table which is currently our excuse for a dining room table.  That table is my goal for the week.  Then, it’s on to boxes.

I felt a bit melancholy, but I tried to keep busy, and that seemed to help.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t too distracted.  It felt to me like the silence was reminding me that it was now time for me to get something done.  So, for the most part, I did.

Jujubee was pretty tired out from the morning, but she had a good time.  They did some story with Clifford the Big Red Dog, and the kids all came home wearing big red Clifford ears.  Jujubee was very proud of them.  After lunch, I told her that now that she’s going to Kindergarten, she has to have rest time every afternoon.  It took her a bit, but she did fall asleep for a much-needed nap.

Lyd came home hot and tired as well, and with some homework (!), but with good reports of her new classroom and her new teacher.  She is the only new student in second grade, and she likes that.  However, she said that it was a bit distracting for her to have both first and second grade in the same room.  She had five grades in her room last year, but there were only seven students, so the teacher often worked with each class individually (and quietly) at a back table.  This year there’s only two grades in her classroom, but there are over 20 students.  I suspect Lyd’s new teacher teaches everything from the front of the room, and while she’s a very cheerful and friendly lady, she’s not a quiet lady.  So, hopefully Lyd will be able to concentrate enough that she won’t need to take all of her work home with her as homework.  Fingers crossed…

But, overall, everything went very well.  No one was late, I managed to get lunches and snacks packed on time, and we had a good first day of our new schedule.

Let’s hope we can all keep up the good work!

Goodbye, nukker!

(I wrote this post back on May 17, three months ago, and it’s been sitting in my “drafts” file ever since.  I’m finally posting it now, but I added an update at the bottom.)

Long-time blog readers will know that for quite a while I’ve been trying to find a way to break Jujubee of her nukker [pacifier] habit.  She only uses it at sleep times, but she HAS to have it to sleep.  Over the past few months, I can tell that she doesn’t need it as much as she used to; when I check on her at night when I go to bed, it has often fallen out of her mouth, and she doesn’t wake up looking for it at night.  If it has not fallen out, I often take it out myself and set it on the pillow next to her.  For over a year of my life (probably closer to two years), I got up at least twice a night to replace the nukker once it had fallen out of her mouth.  So I have had years of nights of interrupted sleep.  And considering that with all of her health problems when she was an infant, she didn’t even start truly sleeping through the night until she was 16 months old …  I have had a lot of wakeful nights with my little girl.

However, I think that her days of using a nukker may be behind her.  Woo-hoo!

I mentioned before how in May Jujubee has been going to Kindergarten two mornings a week.  Earlier this week on Tuesday, I went to bring her home after noon recess.  However she begged me to let her stay for the afternoon part of Kindergarten.  “I want to have rest time with the kids!” she wailed.  I knew that she indeed DID want to stay for rest time, as she asks almost every time, and my answer is always “no.”

But on Tuesday, for whatever reason, I consulted with her teacher, AM, and asked her what she thought about this request.  AM said that it was fine with her if Jujubee stayed.  Jujubee was, of course, delighted.  🙂

I went down after an hour or so to check on how Jujubee was doing, just in case she was melting down and needed to be taken home.  But she was fine; the Kindergarteners have mats they sleep on, and my girl was still sound asleep on her mat.  However, the classroom lights were turned back on, all the other kids were up and working on an activity at the table, music was playing, all while Jujubee was still sound asleep on the floor.  AM and I discussed it, and I said that if it wasn’t too much of a bother, could Jujubee continue sleeping until she woke up?  That worked out fine, Jujubee woke up happy and excited to still be at school.

After school, I said to Jujubee, “You were such a big girl!  You took a good nap at school, and you didn’t even need to use your nukker!  Do you think you are a big enough girl to be all done with your nukker?”

Jujubee thought seriously about that a bit, and then said definitively, “Yes, I’m a big girl.  I need NO MORE NUKKER!”

Wow! I thought.  I said to AM, “If this afternoon of her napping in your classroom truly does cure Jujubee of her nukker addiction, then I owe you a huge debt of gratitude!”

I brought up the nukker topic again at supper tonight when Daddy was there, and Jujubee reiterated that she was a big girl and needed No More Nukker.  JJ and I looked at each other with an expression that reflected our doubts about how bedtime would go.

Bedtime soon arrived.  As the girls were getting ready for bed, to my amazement, without the topic even being brought up, Jujubee voluntarily walked over to her nightstand, picked up the four nukkers off of it, and pronounced, “I’m all done with the nukkers.  I’m going to throw them away.” She carried them to the garbage can and dropped them in one at a time.  Lyd and I looked at each other with astonished eyes, but neither of us said anything.

After bedtime stories and prayers, as usual, I asked the girls if they had anything they wanted to pray for.  Jujubee thought for a bit, and then said, “I want to thank Jesus that I throwed away my nukkers.”  And she did.

Unbelievable.

Over the past months, I have repeatedly told her that when she was a big enough girl, she wouldn’t need her nukkers anymore.  I told her that she could decide when she was done, and that she could tell me when she was done.  And that’s just what happened!

Interestingly, that was the same approach I took with Jujubee’s big sister Lyd when she didn’t want to poop on the potty.  She was fully potty trained, except she wanted to do her poop in a diaper.  So, while I allowed Lyd to poop that way, I gently but repeatedly told Lyd that when she was big enough, she would make her poop on the potty.  And one morning, just days before Jujubee was born, she did!  I praised her, and asked if she thought she was now big enough to do ALL of her poop on the potty, and Lyd enthusiastically responded that she was!  And, that was that.

Apparently, that approach DOES indeed work!

——————

Update: It’s been three months since Jujubee threw away her nukkers.  That first night, she had a very difficult time falling asleep.  It took her quite a while, and there were lots of tears.  Part of me wanted to cave, but the stronger side of me wanted her to be able to succeed.  So, when she cried for her nukker, I gently said, “You threw them in the garbage, remember?”  Jujubee cried then about being sad that she threw her nukkers away, but she didn’t ask to go get them out of the garbage.  Later that night, when she was finally asleep, I did rescue her nukkers from the garbage, washed them carefully, and hid them in the kitchen where Jujubee wouldn’t see them.

In the morning, I praised her for sleeping without a nukker, and I ignored the fact that there had been so much crying.  She was sort of proud of herself for making it through the night, but she reminded me that she was sad about it.  I told her it was okay to be sad, but that she was still a big girl.  That night, she cried a bit more, saying, “I’m sad about my nukkers.”  I hugged her and said that I knew she was sad, and that it was okay.

By the third night she told me she was still sad, but she didn’t cry about it.  She also went to sleep at her usual quick speed.

And from then on, she was okay without her nukker.  If you ask her today, she scoffs at nukkers and says that she’s a Big Girl and she Doesn’t Need a Nukker!  She’s quite proud of herself now.

In the end, I was very glad that it worked out the way it did.  It really helped that we didn’t have to deal with nukkers during the move and with our long trip to Wisconsin.  It’s all good.

And the nukkers?  I threw them away when we were packing up the kitchen.  She never knew that I had kept them, and she never used them again.

homeowner

We signed the escrow papers on our house today.  We were supposed to sign yesterday, but there was some problems getting all the documents together, so we signed today.

Although, today’s signing almost didn’t happen, because I woke up this morning with (drum roll please) — a bladder infection!  Fun times.  It’s been quite a while since I had one of those.  Luckily I had antibiotics for it on hand, so I started those.  I think I actually have interstitial cystitis, but it mimics a bladder infection during flare-ups, so it gets treated that way.

For the first time, I used AZO tablets to take away the pain in my bladder.  The tablets worked … okay.  They did help, and they made the two hour car ride between here and Sacramento possible.

My parents took care of the girls and things at the house while we were gone, so that was nice.  And I napped in the car on the way there and the way back, which I needed to do.  So, in the end, it all worked out okay.  The papers got signed, which was very necessary.

We drove a rental car out there because our car is currently in the shop having a four-figure repair done on it.  Joy.  Great timing!  Because of the large cost of our repair, though, we were given a rental car for free.  I told the guy, “Is it okay if we drive this car to Sacramento?”  And he said Sure!  Best of all, the Toyota Corolla rental got 42 miles a gallon, so that was pretty nice on our wallet.  🙂

So, we’re more or less homeowners now.  In California, you don’t actually get the keys to the house until all of the escrow papers are processed and checks are cashed, and that takes a few days.  But hopefully by the end of this week or early next week, our realtor will get the keys to the house for us.  And then — it’s ours!

Kind of scary.  But hopefully it will be a good investment for the long run.

a much-needed break

My husband, younger daughter, and I left on Sunday afternoon to drive to the Sacramento area to begin the search for our new home.  Our older daughter, Lyd, stayed behind.  Our Kindergarten teacher, AM, graciously agreed to stay with her at our house so that Lyd could continue her usual school routine.  We gave Lyd the option to come with us, but since it was “Spirit Week” (aka. dress-up week) at school, she opted to remain behind.

The house hunting process will be another post in itself (a one-word description: demoralizing), but when we returned safely to our current home 48 hours later, we returned to a Lyd who had had a wonderful time.  JJ and I were wondering if we had made a mistake in not bringing her with us, as she had never been separated from both of us for so long before.  However, it all worked out very, very well.

AM, the Kindergarten teacher, needed to be at school by 7:30 a.m. in the morning, so Lyd also had to be there at that time.  Getting Lyd to school by the start of the school day has … well, never been our family’s strong point.  We tend to get her there at the last minute, even though we live right next door!  We’re just not good with that morning routine.

However, with AM as her “second Momma” (as Lyd called her), Lyd did very well getting to school so early on the two mornings we were gone.  This morning, she wanted to be to school early again.  She laid out her outfit last night, and this morning she did great at getting up and going on her own – without an alarm!  She had time to eat her breakfast at her own pace, review her memory work with me, brush her teeth, and give her sister (and me) a pleasant goodbye before heading off to school – at 8:10 a.m.!  It was pretty neat.  I was very proud of her.

It’s nice to feel proud of Lyd.  You see, she and I have been at outs a lot lately.  It’s not power struggles, but she does things – or doesn’t do things – that she KNOWS she should/should not be doing.  It’s been driving me absolutely bonkers, and in my frustration, I’ve been frequently raising my voice to her.  I must confess, I wasn’t completely sorry to drive off with my husband and almost-perpetually-cheerful younger child and leave my older child behind.  I really felt like I needed a break from her.  I felt guilty for feeling that way, but I was still grateful to drive away without her.

But, it seems the break has been good for all of us.  Lyd had a marvelous time, and she didn’t cry once.  She was almost crying when we left, but apparently when we drove off, she said to AM with a twinkle in her eye, “And now it begins…”  AM cracked up, Lyd cracked up, and it set the tone for the next 48 hours.  Lyd got to go out to eat with AM and a few other people, and she just had a wonderful time on her own.

Plus, with the calm morning I had today getting Lyd ready for school, I had plenty of time to start my Lentil & Ham soup in the slow cooker for tonight’s Lent Supper at church.  I also finally (finally!!) got a walk in with Jujubee this morning.  After over two weeks of not being able to take my much-needed walks, the weather has taken a major turn for the better.  I think our winter of rain, rain, and more rain is finally drawing to a close.  (For you Midwesterners who have had one of the snowiest winters on records, be glad you don’t live in the Sierras: some parts have had close to 700 inches of snow!  Yes, that’s 58 FEET OF SNOW!)

So, things are looking up here.  Hopefully this break provided Lyd and me with a much-needed break from each other.  We certainly seem to be starting off on the right foot.