Saturday, September 28, 2013
I’ve been in denial about my “baby” becoming a teen. Those years always seemed a lifetime away, a milestone too far to reach, and frankly I never thought I’d be old enough to have teenager. But now that “baby” is taller than I am, can sleep till noon, is never completely full, and has a voice that I often mistake for his dad’s, there’s no denying it, there most definitely is a teenager in the house.
I’ve been doing a bunch of reading lately on raising teens – how to guide them, how to talk to them about pertinent issues, and how to continue raising them with a heart for the Lord. Lots of reading. Lots of information. Lots of note taking. Lots of praying. One overriding theme is the importance of family time. Without movie theaters or parks, organized sport teams, malls and restaurants, music lessons or youth group in our rural Paraguayan town, family time is something we do a lot of.
In North America families have to fight for time together. Parents are busy with work and errand running, kids are in school long hours, plus extra activities after school and on weekends. Family times around the dinner table and family hangout nights are hard to come by. Although there are some things I miss about living in North America, having to scramble for time together is not one of them. Having Jeff’s medical clinic parked in our yard and choosing to homeschool, we spend all day (and all week) together as a family.
There is hardly a lunch or dinner where all 9 of us aren’t present. Meal times are precious family times as we laugh together, read missionary biographies, have Bible time, learn random facts, or take funny quizzes. We also spend once a day sipping terere together (a Paraguayan tea and custom). I have to be purposeful in putting lunch preparations on hold if we terere in the morning or pausing homeschooling if we terere in the afternoon because the kids look forward to this time. It’s amazing the variety of topics we can cover – culture (both US and Paraguay), morality, medicine, and currents events while passing the yerba filled cow’s horn!
Missionaries are always travelling. Every 4-6 weeks we pack up for another 10 hour round trip road trip. We’re pros at passing the time with Adventures in Odyssey, reading books out loud or and playing games (catchphrase being a favorite). We also regularly are travel to visit team mates (who live an hour to 1 ½ hours away) which equals a lot of togetherness in the car on a monthly basis.
Our church meets all together for services, our children come to Bible study with us, and their friends come to our house to play. Togetherness. When I asked Ryan if he thought he spent too much time with his parents he said, “No way. I like you guys.”
As I’ve been reading up on teens, I’ve discovered a new term – “tween” – of which I have two. So I’ll keep reading, gaining information, taking notes, and above all praying.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
“...she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25
I remember when Ryan, our oldest was a baby. We were such proud parents and loved showing off our wrapped bundle with big blue eyes, chubby cheeks, and round face. He was a great baby. He slept through the night early on, ate on schedule and hit all those milestones on the textbooks given dates. As I was trying to adjust to motherhood, older woman would always stop me at grocery stores, at church, or in the mall and say, “He may be good now but just wait till he hits two.” Ah yes, the infamous terrible twos. Those two words strike terror in my heart. I pictured a one-shoed kid screaming through a parking lot with a lollipop in his hair and a haggard mother in baggy sweats and spaghetti stained shirt hopelessly trailing behind. Will I ever survive?
Two years later I was in the midst of chasing a two year old (with a newborn on my hip) and it didn’t seem so terrible. Ryan was by no means an angel; there were tantrums and spankings, limits pushed and toys strung all over the house at all times. There was screaming and lollipops in hair. It was like every other stage of parenting (before and since): messy, tiring and required a lot of selflessness. But terrible? No.
Once Ryan outgrew toddlerhood and his early elementary years, older women would snicker, rolled their eyes and say, “Just wait till the teen years.” I began to dread navigating those teen years up ahead. I invisioned
Rebellion, bad attitudes and awkwardness filled my mind. I imagined teenhood like a plague - to avoid at all costs.
Now I have a teenager and guess what? It doesn’t seem so terrible. In fact, I like it. I love how he can articulate his thoughts and ask insightful questions. I love seeing him hang with the big guys in volleyball and rock on the guitar. I love seeing his passion for reading develop and his love for his siblings grow. I love hearing him speak Spanish and realize that he has a love of learning languages. I love how he tells me he missed me after he’s been at a friend’s house for days (he misses me!).All those times of teaching the Bible, training behavior, molding character and modeling attitudes when he was younger is being to bear fruit. Granted, he’s only been a teen for a year and a half now, but I absolutely love the teen that my son has developed into. Are we done teaching the Bible, training behavior, molding character and modeling attitudes? By no means! They just take on a different shape and form – on car trips with just dad or on his bed after the others are asleep. It’s like talking to a friend because, well, he is my friend. He is someone that I enjoy being around and miss when he is absent. I realize that there may be bumps and glitches and no-so-pleasant days or months ahead, but I no longer fear those (terrible) teen years. I can do this; and that’s a good feeling because, if I have calculated right, I still have 46 ½ teen years left to navigate!
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Tyler:“Pass the chromosome cheese.” He meant parmesan cheese.
Mom: “Why is that chicken head on the kitchen table?”
Tyler: “Because it’s mine.”
The day after a tooth pulling, Joshua wanders out of his room with a sad face. “What’s wrong? “I ask. Joshua says, “I miss my canine.”
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Imagine the contrast: Ginny and I were at a girls’ retreat with her 3 best friends and their moms sipping coffee and eating chocolates from the U.S while Jeff was frantically seeing 21 patients before noon. I was playing games, laughing and socializing while Jeff prepared lunch, packed the car and 5 kids for three days in the capital, loaded everyone and drove to pick me up. I was listening to music and painting while 1 hour into Jeff’s trip, the car’s breaks and power steer went out and he coasted into the town where I was by the grace of God.
The tow (with our car on top) came to pick me up from the retreat. Our family then rode in the car, on the tow truck the 3 hours to Asuncion.
Thankfully, it was a minor repair and we were still able to pick up our friends at the airport the following day. The couple visiting was a regional rep for SIM in the California area. We went through SIM orientation together 9 years ago. They came to Paraguay to see the various ministries here and share with the team.
The day they arrived, we took them to our house. We also took another family with us which made 15 of us in our Excursion for the 5 hour drive. We were snug! There’s nothing like walking into your house with guests from the US and realizing that your cat had been locked up in the house the past 5 days and the place where she chose to do her “business” was, of all places, on the guests’ bed! I was very embarrassed, but our guests were gracious and put me at ease. The weather was pretty cold while they were with us; we drank lots of hot beverages and kept putting on more layers. For 2 nights, we all slept in the same room to escape the cold – that’s 11 of us in the one room with some insulation.
Despite the cold and the cramped car, they had a great time and we enjoyed visiting with them. The final night of their stay, they took us out to eat in Asuncion. Our team mates watched all 7 of the kids....I left Josiah for the very first time (a few tears were shed) which was very sweet since Jeff and I only get to go out on a date once a year.
Unfortunately when we arrived home, we realized we’d been broken into again. This time the kids’ money was taken from their wallets (last time it was the goat, the time before a puppy, the time before that various things were disturbed in our house...you get the picture). We find ourselves traveling every 6 weeks or so to the capital for car repairs, dentist appointments, meetings, picking up guests, etc. which means we leave our house often. We’ve fortified our front door, added extra locks to windows and redid our front gate hoping to deter thieves, but living in a typical Paraguayan built house, it can never been fully secure. This time someone came by removing tiles from the roof! Please pray for security while we are gone. Pray also for our attitudes. It’s hard not to begin suspecting everyone and it’s hard on our kids since it is their things being taken.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
As I woke up this morning and my whole body cried out: I CAN’T DO THIS ANY MORE!
It had been cold for 7 days. The 9 of us had been sequestered in the boys’ room – the one room of our house that has brick walls - for a week. I don’t mind the cold weather, I just don’t like being cold. Here with the damp cold and a poorly built house, I am cold all the time.....even with several layers on, a scarf, gloves, and a hot water bottle as a constant companion (so constant that Ginny named it Gramy). Since the rest of the house seriously feels like a meat locker we have been homeschooling, playing, watching movies, eating our meals and sleeping in that one room.
Sleeping in one room means the kids go to bed late since Jeff and I are not ready to go to bed at 8:30 (normal bedtime). In the morning then, of course, no one wants to get up. We move like molasses, struggling throughout the day to get assignments done in a reasonable time.
Sleeping in one room is a bit like camping. I like camping, but l don’t sleep the best with kids coughing and sleep talking and a baby who still wakes up a couple times a night to nurse.
The noise level of 9 in a room all day long can drive one crazy. The baby wasn’t sleeping during the day, the kids were getting restless, and I was getting grouchy. Cabin fever had set in.
So when my body cried out I CAN’T DO THIS ANY MORE I called our nearest teammate and asked if she was interested in helping to save my sanity. Being a great team mate, she let us all come over that afternoon. And God let the sun to peek out for a couple hours while we were together. The kids played and ran outside while the adults positioned themselves for maximum sun intake. I got just enough fellowship and sun to last me through a couple more days of cold.
I love God.
I love our team mates.
I love sunlight.
watching a movie
Julia with "Gramy"
Monday, September 2, 2013
August 5, 2013
We started the homeschool year this week. I have a beginner, an elementary schooler, 2 Jr highers and a first year high schooler. It has been crazy getting use to the new schedule, finding all our new books, teaching 4 grades, grading their work, spending adequate time with all 7 children, and fitting everything else in (cooking, diaper changing, nursing, exercising, cleaning). I have fallen in bed each night.
Ryan – 13 years old, 9th grade:
Playing sports (especially soccer)
Playing with my brothers and sisters
Playing Call of Duty on the Wii
Playing Frisbee with dad
Playing board games (Monopoly) and card games
Adventure style books (39 clues, Percy Jackson series)
Mom’s chicken and veggie bake, pizza, pancakes, waffles, French toast, and asado
Spending time with MKs
Staying up late
Ping-Pong with dad
Our dogs and cat
Math (especially since he gets to use a graphing calculator this year!)Learning Latin (and studying other foreign languages) which he might use as a platform for a profession one day or he may want to do something sports related
Ginny – 11 years old, 6th grade:
Wearing a bathrobe
Collecting “junk” (shiny things, toilet paper tubes, rocks, marbles)
Cora, Karis, and Romy
Playing with the baby
Sharing a room with Julia
All kinds of animals
Swimming (especially at the beach)
Shrimp, pork, pickles, broccoli, bacon, and anything grilled
Books about horses (Black Beauty) and dogs
Adventures in Odyssey
Shopping and buying things
Stopping by the pet store
Listening to instrumental music (Michael W. Smith’s Freedom CD)
Singer Nicole C Mullens
Playing with farm animals
Listening to the music from musicals
Wants to be a veterinarian
Draw animals and people, painting landscapes
Making things, doing crafts, sewing, designing clothes
Joshua – 10 years old, 6th grade:
History (especially studying about the Presidents and different countries)
Potato soup, sea food, meat, and pizza
Reading good books (Percy Jackson series, Heroes of Olympus series)
Movies: Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit
Anything to do with the Marvel Heroes
Adventures in Odyssey
Wants to be in politics
Tyler – 8 years old, 3rd grade:
Throwing the Frisbee
Call of Duty on computer
Playing with Ryan, David, Eli, Micah, Toby and Colton
Ramen noodles, noodles, asado, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers and pizza
He may want to be a doctor when he grows but doesn’t want to work every day
Adventures in Odyssey
Micah – 6 years old, pre-k
Playing in the sand and looking for snails at the beach
To eat shrimp
Listening to Adventures in Odyssey
Wants to be a scientist