Letters to My Family

Dear Sweet Pea,

You are 11 months old–almost not a baby anymore. Please get your act together and start sleeping longer than 2-hour stretches at night. Seriously, I’m tired. But I do love how happy you are to see me in the morning, despite the fact I was with you only 2 hours earlier–it does give my ego a boost.

Love, Mommy


Dear Babykins,

I know you’ve been a little deprived of attention lately thanks to your sister’s clingy behavior, but you have got to stop standing right under my feet in the kitchen. Also, please stop yelling during quiet time because it wears on my nerves. Mommy needs quiet during quiet time. However, I do love how you’ve been walking around saying, “I love my mommy so, so much.” It’s adorable and please never stop doing it.

Love, Mommy


Dear Husband,

Please bring home chocolate.

Love, Your Wife


Dear Cats,

You are no longer “Creature #1” in the house. Please act accordingly. Isn’t enough that you won the battle to come into our bedroom? I suppose you make up for it by being cutely fuzzy.

Love, Your Owner

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Thanklessness, Know Your Reality!

In my more thankless moments, I long for a bigger house. Our family currently fits comfortably in our parsonage. Technically there are enough rooms for both girls to have their own bedroom, but I would rather keep the third bedroom as a guestroom (Sweet Pea’s impressive nighttime wailing may thwart this plan). We have a sizable kitchen and a spacious living room. Our basement is the same size as the upper floor and provides ample storage space as long as I am careful to pack against dampness.

Still, envy is a strong beast and I sometimes find myself thinking of the “if onlys”: If only we had another bedroom, if only we had an extra living space, if only the basement was drier and finished, etc.

I know contentment is found in what we have, not in getting what we want. Likewise, we have a more spacious house than many people would have had just 75 years ago (and Ma Ingalls would say, “Really, you’re complaining about your house? I lived in a cabin with a dirt floor for many years.”).

However, what actually drives my discontentment away is our reality: No matter how big our house is, we would all still wind up in one small area anyway. We could live in a freakin’ mansion and we would still be crowding each other in the kitchen or bumping into each other in one bathroom. More space would just mean there would be more options for where we could all get in each other’s way.

Just an average morning around here.

 

 

 


The Whirlwind of Motherhood

I was warned that life would seemingly go faster with two children. It’s true. Sweet Pea turned 6 months old at the end of May. How did half a year already pass?!

Babykins is turning 3 in a few months. She sleeps in a toddler bed and is quickly becoming potty trained. Sometimes I look at her and wonder when did she start becoming a little girl.

Sweet Pea is different than her sister. She is quick to laugh and quick to wail (I think she’s going to have what we might call a “strong personality”), and has a strong desire to not sleep in her bed at night. All babies grow quickly, but it’s still shocking to think that the chubby baby that is learning to sit and roll over had very little controlled movements 6 months ago.

It’s so hard to write about these days–the mundane triumphs, the trivial woes, and the never ending sleep deprivation. My daily grind can seem repetitious and dull to an outside observer (and sometimes it is to me!). However, I find more and more that there are moments in my days that amaze me.

There is breathtaking beauty in seeing my girls grow. I cannot orchestrate these times that dazzle, so it is a privilege to observe them. For example, I get to hear Sweet Pea’s delighted giggles as she watches her sister frolic around her, I can watch as Babykins unabashedly runs about in a rainstorm. I am the audience for Babykins’s yells of, “Momma! Watch me, Momma!” and the receiver of Sweet Pea’s nuzzles. Like I said, so many little moments of immense joy.

This isn’t the life I wished for growing up, but I suppose this just shows that it can be wonderful that our wishes don’t always come true.

 


The Second Baby is Easier and Harder

Sweet Pea is now just over 3 weeks old. People have asked if she is a good baby. I’m always thrown by this question since babies aren’t intentionally good or bad (well, besides that whole original sin thing). The only proper answer to this question is, “Yes”, because how can I say my baby is bad?

But truthfully, our first baby wasn’t a good baby. She was fussy. I’m quite skilled with the Moby wrap because I bounced her to sleep in it almost every night from 6 weeks old to about 4 months. She and I had difficulty nursing and she gained weight slowly. Almost every outing ending with her red-faced and screaming. No, Babykins wasn’t an easy infant. But that’s okay because she grew out of it and is now a spunky 2-year-old. It was just hard to see her potential through the screams.

I don’t know if Sweet Pea will be as difficult as her sister, it’s still too early to tell. But I can tell that some things will be easier just because I have experience. I know that sometimes she will sleep and sometimes she won’t. Sometimes she’ll even sleep where she’s supposed to (this isn’t one of those moments since she is currently in the Moby wrap). But I know she’ll grow out of whatever odd sleep habit she develops. She’s also a better nurser. There’s no nipple shield to finagle this time and she’ll nurse in public without making a scene. If she was our first, I would say she’s a fairly easy baby.

But she’s not our first, we still have our lively Babykins to contend with. So when Sweet Pea decides not to sleep from 12 a.m.-3 a.m., it’s hard to fight back some of the postpartum hysteria because Babykins will still be up at her usual time in the morning. Sweet Pea may nurse much better, but she’s still unpredictable in when she’ll want to eat. And those 45 minute newborn nursing sessions are a bit tricky when an antsy Babykins decides that she wants a space on Mommy’s lap as well. Then there’s the whole thing that the people around here still want to eat and have clean clothes. And these factors is what makes the second baby hard.

But in my clearer-thinking moments, I look forward to spring when Sweet Pea is a little older, the weather is a little much warmer, and I’m a little less hormonal. Experience tells me that life won’t always feel this chaotic (or at least the chaos will become our new normal).

 


Sweet Pea Has Arrived!

Sweet Pea was born earlier this week on Monday, November 21, weighing 6 lbs 1 oz (the exact same birth weight as her sister), measuring 19 inches, and perfectly healthy. We left the hospital on Wednesday and were able to celebrate Thanksgiving at home as a family. Babykins loves her baby sister–our current challenge is making sure she doesn’t smother Sweet Pea with her love. We thank God for her safe delivery and we look forward to her baptism next Sunday.


2016 Family Vacation

Miles Driven: 1500

Nights Gone: 8

States Crossed: 4.5 (Half of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan)

Beds Slept In: 4

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Babykins explores the CTS Fort Wayne Playscape during our brief visit to the seminary.

This year for our summer family vacation, we drove to Ohio to visit my grandmother, aunt, and uncle on my dad’s side for a few days. We then drove to Michigan to spend the weekend with some of my family members on my mom’s side. Babykins hadn’t meet many of these family members before, but overall she handled the unfamiliar surroundings and faces very well (except for the fact she still hates long car rides).

While it was nice to get out of town for a bit and the visit to my grandmother was long overdue, we’re still happy to be home.


When Your Toddler Becomes a Big Sister

From what I understand, it’s fairly common for parents expecting their second child to have some worries about how their oldest child will react to a new sibling. My husband and I have had the same concerns about Babykins. After all, she will be just over 2 years old when Sweet Pea arrives–there really isn’t a way to talk to her about her new little brother or sister. I realize that we aren’t the first family to have kids close in age and we’ll find a way to make it work, but doubt still lingers.

However, I have moments of hope that Babykins will easily slip into her role of big sister. Recently she has started to play with her baby doll more. She can be very sweet with Dolly–she rocks Dolly, pats Dolly, pushes Dolly in a stroller, and (attempts to) swaddle Dolly.

baby love

“Ah,” I think to myself during these moments, “Babykins is naturally so caring. She’s so sweet! Maybe we won’t have many issues with her adjusting to the new baby.”

Of course, these moments are usually followed with scenarios like this:

graham cracker

tossed

forgetten

And, with the promise of food, Babykins’s “natural” care promptly disappears and Dolly is left abandoned on the floor.

Conclusion: There’s a reason why toddlers aren’t in charge of another human life.


Easy-Peasy Ice Cream Cake

My husband asked for ice cream instead of cake for his birthday last week. Since I’m a birthday purist, I couldn’t stand the thought of not having cake for a birthday. Ice cream cake was the obvious solution for this dilemma. However, buying ice cream cake is expensive, so I went in search of a simple ice cream cake recipe.

Guess what? I found one! Betty Crocker’s Brownie Ice Cream Cake was exactly what I was looking for: simple and delicious! Because the brownies have to cool and the ice cream has to set, it does take some planning ahead to make the cake (I made it the day before my husband’s birthday). However, actual hands-on time isn’t any longer than it takes to whip up a box of brownies and throw some ice cream on it. My husband also loves caramel, so I used caramel sauce instead of hot fudge sauce.

Mmmmm. . . ice cream cake.

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Traveling, Traveling

Since Thanksgiving is one of the few major holidays that my husband doesn’t have a church service (our church has a Thanksgiving Eve service), we traveled to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. These trips are always a bit of a whirlwind since we try to see both of my siblings/spouses, one of my husband’s sisters and her husband who lives about 20 minutes from my parents, and some of my friends from high school. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to see so many people, but my introverted side is always ready for another break when we get home. Consequently, tonight is another short post.

 


What I’ve Learned in the Last Year

July 6 was my husband’s one-year anniversary of his ordination. Not to sound cliche, but this past year has flown by–it took my by surprise to realized that we are no longer in the first year of his ministry!

1st year

Obviously after only a year, I’m no expert at this whole “Pastor’s Family” thing. However, having gone through the first year has given me some unexpected insights.

1. I often don’t think of myself as a “Pastor’s Wife”. I spent the seminary years taking advice from many pastor’s wives on how to handle this vocation. I was prepared to build my “Pastor’s Wife” persona with whatever congregation called my husband. However, I now realize that I rarely think of myself as a “Pastor’s Wife”. If I were to tell people about myself, I would first say that I’m a wife and mother. I might even mention that I fancy myself something of a writer. But a “Pastor’s Wife”? At most, I might mention that my husband is a pastor.

2. The congregation members let me keep to myself. Again, after spending the seminary years learning about what the life of a pastor’s wife would look like, I was prepared to say no to many church activities. However, the people here mostly leave me alone. There’s been minimal pressure to join the LWML and no one has asked me to do anything like teach Sunday School or head up social events. I’ve been given my space, and I appreciate that.

Of course, having a baby during this first year probably help lessen the pressure. 🙂

3. It’s hard to adjust to the “forever home” mentality. During the seminary years, I became skilled at not becoming attached to places. Now that we’re not moving this summer, I realize that I still feel like an observer of the church’s and town’s going-ons rather than a member.

4. I’m still not sure what to call my husband when talking to other members. Prior to arriving at my husband’s call, I was very adamant that I would not call him “Pastor”. After all, I wash the man’s clothes, budget his paycheck, and bore his child–I would think that would prove that we have more of a relationship than just Pastor-Member!

However, I didn’t realize that people have a tendency to pick up on what I name I call him and use it in conversations with me. I still don’t refer to him as “Pastor” often, but I have become careful not to call him by his first name in front of members. Usually I call him “my husband” or tell something about “us” or “our family”. There have been instances that I opted not to include part of a story simply because I couldn’t figure out what to call him!

5. Learning to filter the questions I ask my husband is difficult. As a couple, my husband and I desire to share most things about our lives with each other. While I can freely tell my husband everything I do during the day, he cannot. Despite my inclination to ask for details about his daily work–after all, I care about him and what he does–sometimes vague answers are necessary. It’s not my business to know details if he only tells me he is “meeting with someone”. And when he has a bad day, sometimes the only reason he can tell me is “church stuff”. Asking questions puts him in the uncomfortable position of having to tell me I can’t know the details.

Of course, not all parts of his work is taboo. I can certainly ask things like how a Bible study went or if so-and-so is home from the hospital.

6. Trying to balance my husband’s needs and my needs on his day off is still a work in progress. In order to fully relax, my husband prefers to leave town because of the fishbowl issue. However, I’m a homebody and would prefer to stay home and do things around the house. We’re still working on finding a balance.

7. Nothing can fully prepare you for your husband’s call. It doesn’t matter how many pastor’s wives panels you attend or how many pastor’s wife blogs you read, you can’t know how your life will look like before arriving at your husband’s church. There are just too many factors: Your husband’s personality, your disposition, the experiences members have had prior to your arrival, the town’s dynamics, and so on. All you can do is trust that this is where God has called your husband–and consequently, you–and make the best of it.