Friday, August 24, 2012

Waltz of the Wallflower and a Dancing Machine

Since we were in the states this summer we were able to go to my cousin’s wedding.  It was fun to get to share her big day with her.  Her momma would have been proud, she was a beautiful bride.  Can you guess what her new last name is?  I thought it was clever.

One of my favorite parts of a wedding is dancing. I had so much fun dancing with my sister, brother, Tamara, cousins and Calvin.

Calvin also shares a passion for the dance floor.  I’m glad I have a son who loves it too and who asked me the next day if we could go back to that place where we were dancing.  It makes this mama’s heart very happy.

I think Micah’s following his daddy’s footsteps, they don’t sharing our love for dancing.  (Someone suggested he’s just being a good SB J.)  While Calvin was tearing it up on the dance floor, his little brother grabbed his daddy’s hand and pulled him outside and to the car.

My boys couldn’t be more different.  But I love that little Micah man just as much as my little dance partner.

Speaking of dancing Marvin ran across this song and he felt it perfectly described high school dances for him.  Enjoy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Our trip to the Sea

Our friends here have invited us to the Sea with them every time they have gone, but every time we have had something going on or just wasn’t great timing.  This year when they stopped by to give their condolences and invited us we decided to take them up on that offer.

We knew it was going to be a cultural experience and might be a little frustrating at times but we’ve known them long enough and lived here enough years that we thought we could do it.

Marvin was an amazing driver and drove 10 hours straight through the night, no stops.  I don’t know how he did it, although he could barely move when he got out of the van.

Since we went with locals we did things they would do on vacation, like not have a place to stay before we left.  No worries because at the place we went there are a couple of guys whose job is to help people find a place to stay.  He drives around in a vehicle with a sign on top helping people find lodging.  In exchanged he gets 10% of the person’s stay from the hotel.  So after a few hours of searching we finally found a place.

Here’s the only picture we got of the place we stayed.  I’m not sure what the equivalent is in English, basically someone who converted their back yard into a mini hotel.  Only three rooms share a shower room and toilet.  (It actually wasn’t that weird, maybe we’ve been here long enough we’ve adapted.)  Then there was a shared kitchen for all 6 rooms.

Marvin is very much a planner.  It works great on vacations because I make suggestions about what would be fun to do and he figures out how to get there and if it’s worth doing.  So it was a little hard for him to hear a suggestion and wonder if we were really going to do it.  After a lot of talk and not seeing anyone get ready to go and having our boys running around completely bored we decided we would just go to the beach in the morning and then after naps.

So all week long we just played in the sand and water.

Calvin loved the water.  

Micah loved the sand.  It was a great combo.

We went to a sandy beach that was very family friendly.  So I think we were spared from some of Europe’s skimpy suits.  But of course Speedos and bikinis on all body shapes were abundant.

Our kids were pointed at several times.  Their rash guard swim shirts and floaties were quite the talk of the beach. 
 Yet all the children in their underwear or naked, not weird. 

It was a great beach, very shallow and other than the sea weed on a few days I was impressed at how clean the beach was and I saw people actually put things in the trashcan vs. throwing them on the ground like they do in our part of the country.  It gave me hope that maybe someday we wouldn’t see plastic bags everywhere.

Our trip was cut short a couple of days because our friends’ youngest daughter had a fever.

It was drama.  The fever was around 101- 102 degrees F, so not super high, the sweet little thing seemed to be smiling and playing, but people freak out here with fevers, coughs, blood pressure, etc. So they called the ambulance to look her over.

I’ve finally figured out they have two different ambulances.  One is for emergencies and the other is like a nurse who comes to your house and gives you shots of who knows what or an IV.  It’s different, but it’s what people do.  My friend was convinced that her daughter was sick because she was walking on the concrete barefoot, and I’m not the slightest bit joking. I’m never sure how to respond to that.

So they gave her some shots of something to bring down her fever and gave them a long list of things to pick up at the pharmacy.  So we decided to leave and go home day two of her fever.

The ride home was a test of our patience.  The boys and I were in the back of the van which only has vents in the front.  We left during the day and it was in the 90s and sunny.  So any AC must come from the front.  We had 9 people in the van which adds a lot of body heat, so to get it cool in back you had to leave the AC on.  Now AC and wind is dangerous to children and elderly here.  So you can imagine how concerned they were for the feverish baby and the AC.  They turned off the AC after she woke up from her nap because she was soaking wet, from being wrapped up in blankets in the sun, but never mind that fact.  I thought Marvin turned on the heat, it was crazy hot.

We finally stopped and it was time to give her medicine, which involved a shot of something and antibiotics.  A few hours back on the road it was time for medicine again.  I’m sure it tasted awful and the poor thing had had enough and up came everything.  Poor girl.  Thankfully she slept the rest of the trip and we made it home.

We were glad we went but man, were we glad to be home.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Raising the White Flag

So last week we embarked on Lora Jensen’s 3 Day Potty Training.  Micah was telling us about his bodily functions, eager to sit on the potty, saying potty and going to the toilet and he’d lift his shirt up stick his belly out and pretend he was doing something and get a really proud look on his face.  So we decided to give this a go, because my language doesn’t start back up until September and I had some time.

Well Day One, was the worst.  I may have gone a little crazy and broken down in tears. Day one might have also evoked a little marital strain.  Because cleaning up pee all day long isn’t fun and you will feel crazy when you’ve said, “Tell Mommy when you have to go potty” for the 15,000th time that day.

This program is also about staying positive after 32 accidents I’m not sure it’s possible to still be positive.  I had to balance staying with him all day long with dashing to throw pee soaked undies and various other pee soaked things in the wash before he had another accident, so these undies would dry in time before we ran out. (Remember we don’t have a dryer, so it was the power of wind and sunshine to get these babies dry.)

He’s shown signs that maybe it’s going to click, but then 2 minutes later he’ll be going in his pants without even knowing something’s happening.  He’s been dry in the mornings and after naps, but then he refuses to go when he wakes up, resulting in lots of accidents in the subsequent emptying of the bladder.

It has been beyond frustrating.

Plus the boy is stubborn.  I mean, really, really, really strong willed.  So if it’s not something he’s deemed interesting, he’s not doing it, period.

The other thing working against him is his ease of distractibility.  Seriously if he hears, sees, smells, touches something, the teachable moment is over.  He’s now fascinated with a bath mat, a remodeling noise coming from upstairs, dinner that he’s smelling, not on the pee that is in his undies and surrounding him on the floor.

So I’m giving up. Because it’s not worth it to have a stressed out momma, all the time, and because I want to leave the house in the next month.  I just don’t think he’s cognitively ready.  I guess we’ll try this potty training thing again come Christmas break, more than likely with a different method.  Hopefully he’ll be ready then.

So bring it diaper changing wrestling matches
Bring it ladies who like to ask questions to shame you “oh your child is still in pampers?”. 

Yes he is, it’s the best alternative to the 1,000 loads of laundry each week and a clearly not very encouraging and positive supportive mother. 

I’m looking forward to actually just being with my kids and enjoying them, rather than obsessing over bodily functions.  I think it’s best to abandon ship. 

My white flag is raised.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Being Revived

Unfortunately Marvin and I know what it is like to watch our child be revived.  It’s a moment in time that will forever be imprinted in my mind.  Through tears, all I could do was pray desperately for doctors to revive Seth, for God to heal him, to give him breath.  I knew if they didn’t it would be time to say goodbye to my baby.

So the word revive carries some very heavy meaning for me, in fact just breathing is something that is I no longer take for granted.  Our breath is our life, without it, we run into the arms of Jesus.  It's so hard watching that final breath.

So when we heard this song one Sunday while we were in the states, it instantly brought tears to our eyes. 

My heart’s prayer today……
Lord I’ve seen your goodness and I know the way you are
But give me eyes to seek you in the dark.

Thank you Christy Nockels for the beautiful song.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


We knew it would be hard but we checked our bags and made the long trip back home without questioning that decision.  Thankfully Micah did a little better on the flight home and slept some of the long flight, which helped considerably.  Calvin can entertain himself pretty easily these days and the screens on the back of the plane made for effortless entertainment.  So the traveling itself was fairly easy, well with the exception of a delayed flight which made us miss our flight home and added 24 hours to our travel time.

Being back has been different.  Our team met us at the airport and gave us quite the greeting.  They and other friends filled our fridge and freezer with lots of goodies and meals.  I still haven’t had to cook yet, In fact might have forgotten how to do that because the other day I made some veggies to go with dinner and I grabbed the cayenne pepper instead of paprika and liberally seasoned them, only Marvin was able to eat those.  Calvin was elated to see his friends.  While are thankful we are home, it’s hard too.

This week past was a little more difficult.  I had a couple of days where life was just so overwhelming, where it was difficult to just meet the needs of our boys.  I think the reality of this is sinking in being home.   

Much of our life feels very much the same, but it’s not.  I think the hardest has been that our routine hasn’t changed, we only have 4 chairs at our table, no baby swing to move in and out of rooms, we still only put 2 boys to bed at night, as our neighbors greet us there are only 4 of us to greet, but there is there is one of us that is missing and that part is hard.

Then there is the telling others part.  It’s been hard receiving Congratulations upon meeting friends and acquaintances who clearly see I’m not pregnant any longer.  It’s hard to crush their smiles with the words, “Thank you, but our son died.”  Thankfully it’s easier to say in another language, one that the words are new and therefore not so connected to our heart.

But we’ve been surprised at how many people have come.  They have been doing what they do to comfort friends who have had a loved one die.  They come and sit with us and offer their condolences and that has been a sweet gift.  They have acknowledged our loss and while we’ve received some hurtful comments, we’ve been thankful that Seth has not been forgotten.  Continue to pray as we learn what our new normal looks like.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


We usually are sitting on the other side of this, being those who minister to those around us, so it’s really odd to find ourselves on this side of things.  We have been so thankful of how the body of Christ has surrounded us and cared for us.  It’s been beautiful and just a little taste of heaven.

When we found out we were headed back to the states we really had no idea what we where we were going to live except that we needed to be in Kansas City close to KU med.  We had several offers and are so blessed by all those who made calls to find us a place or offered a portion of their own home.  Our sweet friend Amy quickly made a few call and found out there was an apartment available on Midwestern’s campus.  What a blessing it was living there.

I didn’t arrive until after I was dismissed from the hospital, but it was neat to hear how the Lord had already given Calvin a couple of friends on the playground.  By the time I was dismissed our family had gotten to know several of the neighbors and the first afternoon I was home the neighbors quickly stopped by to see how Seth was doing.  With tears I barely got out the words, he’s with Jesus now.  Within an hour we had hot muffins delivered to our door a card signed by various people in the neighborhood and food coming in.

The next day a neighbor came over with a couple gift cards from her friend in Texas who heard our story and just wanted to love on us.  Seriously, amazing.  If that wasn’t awesome enough she had put together a schedule for meal for an entire month.  Loved we were.

It was so sweet getting to meet all these strangers who brought us meals each night.  Just a beautiful example of how we can be the body to one another.  One person who I was particularly touched by was a friend of our friends who also work overseas.  They’d been following our story and had their friends praying for Seth too.  So when this woman found out about a need to bringing us a meal, she eagerly signed up.

There was a group who brought us so many groceries, some who brought us diapers.  It was amazing.

One of the sweet things about living where we did was that God knew exactly what we needed.  Amy worked hard and got the place completely furnished.  We had a dishwasher, a washer and a dryer in the apartment, which made us feel like we were living luxurious.  It made the daily stuff 1,000% easier and for that we will be forever grateful.  The Lord knew we needed to be there and he also knew we needed friends there too.  We are so grateful for the friendships he brought to us through Midwestern’s community.  You all have ministered to in ways we can’t formulate words to describe.
We even had wildlife right outside our door.  Coming from a place where it's really, really rare to see a squirrel it was pretty fun to look outside and spot a family of deer, a turkey, or groundhogs.

Monday, August 06, 2012

The splash park in the ghetto

We had so many dear friends and family join us for Seth’s funeral.  It really was a meaningful group of people, thank you so much for all of you who were able to come.  Some came a long way to be with us and we’re so grateful for them and their willingness to drive or fly to celebrate our little boy.

One sweet treat was a couple of our friends who live in our neck of the woods were just a state away.  So they hopped in their vans and made the long drive to Kansas.

Afterwards we got to hang out for a couple of days.  It was nice to not have to answer any questions for a couple of days about our life back home because they already knew about it.  It was fun to talk about shared friends, laugh about cultural quirks we find a little strange, but mostly it was just sweet to be with our friends, the same friends that were so excited with us when we announced baby #3 was on its way last Christmas Eve.

Friends that also cried with us when we received our devastating news from an ultrasound.
Friends that prayed without ceasing for God to heal Seth.
Friends that were broken when he didn’t.

So their coming was pretty special and helped make those quiet nights after the funeral not so quiet.

So since we had friends in town we decided to find the closest Chick-Fil-A get some lunch and then head to the closest splash park, which also happened to be in the projects.  Although since we’re not at all familiar with KC we didn’t know that till we pulled up.

But no biggie.  Thankfully our children are used to playing in spaces with broken glass.

I’m sure we were the talk of the projects friends.  Thanks for coming, thanks for loving on us, thanks for just being with us.

Sunday, August 05, 2012


We went to church with my cousin and his family while we were in KC and their Sunday school class had a good series going about marriage, and wouldn’t you know the week we went the lesson was on suffering.

Smack dab right where we were.  I don’t think it was a mistake we were there.

Before Seth died, we had not experienced any suffering.  Sure maybe some first world problems but nothing that really shakes you to your core, brings you to your knees to get through each day kind of suffering.  We’ve been learning what it means to suffer, and while physically we aren’t suffering our hearts have been taken to a depth we didn’t know existed.  I imagine many of you are familiar with this depth and you too know it’s difficulty.

One of the things I took from that class was not to miss the treasures that are waiting for us in this suffering.  There have been so many treasures through the Word and the closeness to our creator through all this.  One treasure though is pretty tangible, returning to the states for a period of time, we were given so many gifts through that.  Thank you Seth for that, your brothers would not have had the chance to get to know their grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles if you were not a part of our family.

One really special treasure was being close to my family for the 4th of July.  It’s weird because it’s the one holiday that really gets me homesick over here. 

There’s really nothing special about it, just family getting together, but oh how I miss it when we’re not there.  So thank you Seth for letting me spend this day with my family.  I’m not sure if we’ll get to do it  again for a long time.

We even got to spend it with both sides of my family, even bigger treasure.

Calvin and Micah enjoyed the pool with my dad’s side of the family.  Calvin was a little fish and was a little prune by the end of the day.

Micah eventually fell asleep.  After scooting as far away from Marvin as he could.  He conked out like this.

A couple days later we were able to head to the farm to celebrate with my mom’s side of the family.  The boys loved the farm about as much as I do.  It was just good to be with my family and I so enjoyed our chat girls.  While this year was incredibly hard on so many levels it was good to see you girls, how I wish Seth could be a part of this next group of babies.

On the farm the gravel can entertain my boys for hours.

Water guns, helped beat the heat.

The tractors were begging the boys to climb on in.

I love these two so much, I’m so thankful we got to spend a day with them.

So thank you Seth.  You blessed your mama’s heart.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Fair Time

One fun thing that came out of being in the states this summer was taking the boys to the county fair.  Marvin grew up involved in 4H.  I however don’t have a clue.  Just recently I told Marvin that I thought the fair was only for the carnival.  Boy was I ill informed.

Of course we had to go to the parade.  

We knew Micah would be over the top in love with the tractors and trucks.  We were right.  

Calvin on the other hand was in love with the ridiculous amount of candy he scored.

  We had fun waving to everyone we knew on the floats.

The boys loved the Parents As Teachers area, where their grandma works so hard every year.  Micah spent hours playing in the water which happens to be one of his favorite things ever.

Both boys would rather watch these ponies from a distance than ride them, but Calvin mustered up the courage with the help of eager cousins wanting a ride and rode once.  Micah would not release the death grip around my neck, so we just watched.

Calvin loved helping his cousins feed their bucket calves.  Thanks for including him girls and teaching a city boy how to do chores.
And a City boy he is, the first time he helped he asked when they fed the calves Popsicles? It was so hot, so I'll give him that.

Our nieces did so well showing their calves, and one of them even came away with the biggest trophy and best ribbon, which in my lack of 4H knowledge don’t know if it was the light purple or dark.

One evening while we were eating at some picnic tables a couple of guys were playing guitars and singing behind us, and as they belted out their country tunes it was just a perfect small town moment.  As we watched people stopped chatting with neighbors and friends, music playing in the background, sun setting, it really made us enjoy small town America and thankful to have those roots.  Since I’m not a….native I was surprised when I ran into a friend from grad school.  It was much fun to reconnect.  You just never know who you’ll see at the fair.

We ended our fabulous experience with the carnival because that’s what I always thought it was about.

Favorite ride?  Spinning dragons, but I think it’s just because of his company.

The alligator really surprised him.  Next time it’s important to watch before you get on a ride.  Lesson learned.

Thanks for the memories Marshall County.