Church, Family

Increase in Energy

It’s been quiet on this blog, partly because I’ve posted on the other blog a couple times, but partly because I don’t have much to say. There’s a lot going on in our lives here, but that means I don’t have as many thoughts left over at the end of the day to write about in a blog post.

 

One thing I have appreciated lately is an increase in energy. I think it’s because M is finally sleeping well–more often than not, she’ll sleep from 7pm-7am, waking up at 11pm to eat, and then sleep the rest of the night. It’s glorious to wake up at 7am and realize I got a full night’s sleep. But that also makes the nights where she wakes up to eat once or twice even more painful. I think I also have an increase in energy because of the 3-5 cups of coffee I drink a day. 😉 And I think my energy is increased from the healthier diet I’ve been eating.

 

I also think not having a newborn increases my energy. I love having a newborn. The squishy face, the cuddles, the smell. But this time around, I was ready to get out of the newborn stage. Now that M’s almost 6 months (I’ll do a 6 month blog post on my other blog), I’m LOVING this age! She’s still semi-immobile, but interacts and smiles all the time, and she can handle the energy of her siblings, so they’re enjoying her more too. I also think I’m just getting out of the cloud of such a hard time in our family. The autumn and winter here was cool, the sickness stayed around, and with lack of sleep and just busyness at church, it was all pretty overwhelming and difficult. I’m thankful that as August starts and the spring is in sight, things are looking up. We’ve had a week here and there where no one has been sick, which is a blessing. It gives me hope that we may actually someday be relatively healthy as a family again.

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Poor Mo had a stomach bug this past week. We’re still getting sick, one person at a time 😦

 

We’re also hitting a very new phase of our church. John’s been here 1.5 years, which means we’e starting to begin some changes that have been needed for quite some time. When the church called John, they wanted to change things. They wanted to be an outward-facing church, but also a church who had a strong community amongst their members. Recently we’ve been revamping the Bible studies in order to create a greater Gospel-focused community among the members, and John’s been preaching more on discipleship. We’re also making plans to do more outreach in the community, including a VBS next year and our Christmas in July dinner that we just had last week.

 

Not only are we temporarily changing our morning ladies’ Bible study content, but we’re adding an evening ladies’ Bible study for those working women who wanted to be a part of a Bible study. We also just started something called The Titus Project, a women’s discipleship program that will bring older women and younger women in the church together over prayer and Bible reading. We’ve planned term events for the women (there are 4 school terms, and our goal is to have an event once a term) and are hoping to get a church retreat going for 2018. So many plans, so little time! It’s an exciting time for the women’s committee, but that also means it’s been busier for me, as I’m one of the members of the committee, helped spearhead The Titus Project, and will be leading the evening Bible studies. I’m excited for this opportunity but I’m also slightly worried about getting all the planning and studying done that needs to happen in order for the Bible studies to be productive and engaging. Thankfully I have a small group of willing ladies who want to help lead, which has been a blessing.

 

John’s been busy as well. With faithful Gospel-centered preaching comes more counseling opportunities. And with an emphasis on one-anothering comes more chances to have people over, both during the work day and for dinner. Our college and career group is still thriving, and John’s planning a new series every other Sunday night that focuses on building up leaders in the church. It will teach them how to be Gospel-centered while they teach, while they evangelize, and while they just live their lives. He’s really excited for the study, but it’s also more work to plan and prepare.

 

We’re also going to be able to stop for a night next week and celebrate our 7th anniversary. 7 years. We’ve gone through a lot in 7 years, but I’ve enjoyed these years immensely. They’ve been challenging–no one ever said a Southern boy and a Midwest girl would have an easy, argument-free marriage 🙂 –but they’ve been fun, too. I’m thankful John’s in a church that he (and we) loves, doing a job he’s called to, to a people who are (mostly) thankful for his hard work. I’m also thankful to God for giving us each other. 4 kids in 7 years–that doesn’t sound that bad. But man. It’s been a hard road. Thankfully God has brought us through to this moment, and we’re confident He’ll keep His promise to us and continue to walk us through the rest of our years on earth, together.

 

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Little did we know on our honeymoon here (in Sydney) that we’d be living 1.5 hrs. from this famous landmark 7 years later!
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My, how we’ve changed in 7 years! Same landmark, same people (I think…although wow, I look different), definitely different life circumstances.

 

 

Family

A Mom’s Failures

Vacuuming the dining room floor is a thrice-daily activity over here. Mo is a prize winning food-thrower, as much as we try to break her of the habit. She’s now starting to push her food in-between her body and the booster seat, just so she can get it off her tray but not get in trouble by throwing it on the floor. It’s just lovely for me, a mom who’s not a big fan of food messes.

 

Two nights ago, during my routine vacuum cleaning after dinner, I found myself going over the day. I was sad that the kids watched a movie. I thought about the times I cleaned the dishes while they played instead of getting down and playing with them. Mo is also in the stage of wanting me to read all the time, so if it were up to her, I would sit with her in my lap for hours every day, reading the same 5 books over and over. The guilt of not doing that two days ago came up. And then I thought of the times I got angry or frustrated with their disobedience. I mentally shook my head at how the day wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be.

 

Then I realized, when IS it as good as I want it to be? When do I look back over the day and think, “Wow, I was never angry, my kids and I played the whole day, Mo got all the attention she wanted, and M was held and played with during all of this. And to top it off, my house is clean!” That hasn’t happened. Ever. Every day has failures, shortcomings, sins. I never feel like I did that day well, or that my kids will look back on their childhood and remember a mom who always had a smile on her face, or constantly imparted biblical wisdom, had Scripture always on her lips, and was super crafty. Such is life as a sinner. Instead, my kids see a mom who is fallen but asks them for forgiveness (sometimes) when I get angry. They see a mom who sometimes stops her chores and builds forts with them. Mo will remember a mom who has spent hours (never as much as she hopes) reading books to her. And M won’t remember anything from this stage in life, so that’s reassuring. She won’t remember when her brother accidentally hit her head with his own and she screamed bloody murder.

 

My kids will know my sinful nature, but they’ll also know my sinless Savior. I don’t speak of Him enough, but I do speak of Him, and when I do, they hear their mom saying she doesn’t have it all together, that she’s sorry she can’t be all they need, but that Christ gave them all they need when He died for them. Even if I were the best mom ever, if I didn’t share that message with them, it makes me the worst. So, it’s good to know that Christ covers up my failures with them and they do have a perfect Parent to look to.

 

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They’ll remember park trips and picnic lunches on Daddy’s days off
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They’ll remember baking chocolate cupcakes with Mama and getting to lick the bowl
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They’ll remember when Mama would stop and try to get a smile out of them
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They’ll remember cuddles with Mama on her chair
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They’ll remember movie nights with Daddy’s homemade stovetop popcorn
Church, Cultural Differences, Family

Witnessing to our Neighbors

I realized something this week. I went to Christian schools from K-12th grade, then 2 Christian universities, then seminary, and I’m just now, at 34 years of age, able to say I have non-Christian friends. 34 years. I’ve had more than 20 years of training around and by Christians, but only half a year of actually being friends with non-Christians. Now, I’m not saying I was never acquaintances with them before. I worked in secular jobs for years, so my co-workers were mostly non-Christian. And I was an au pair in Holland for a non-Christian family, so I got to live with and intimately know non-Christians for a year. But this is the first time that I’ve actually been able to say I hang around some non-Christians and can have conversations with them about life, our kids, and other things. I’m ashamed to say that, but it’s true. I have been so blessed to be able to be trained in the Word, but I haven’t done a good job in using that training to witness to those around me. I have squandered many years of my life because I’ve been scared to get out of my Christian bubble. It’s become a part of who I am, so much so that leaving it was almost impossible.

 

Then I had kids. And moved to a foreign country. Both these things have made it almost impossible to NOT leave my Christian bubble. If my kids are to have friends, I have to go looking elsewhere for them (although we do have kids at church their age, which is a blessing). So, E’s ballet class and J’s music class have been good outlets for them. Although J’s music class is now on hiatus (we were sick too often to make it worth it), E’s ballet class has served and continues to serve as a wonderful outlet to meeting new people. She’s been in class with the same three girls for 1.5 years now, and just this past week, I was able to have two of those girls and their moms over for a playdate. It was so much fun! The ladies and I already normally chat on Mondays during ballet, but this past Tues., we were able to have two hours together. We covered so many topics, including my church, but it was just so laid back and refreshing. One of the ladies is a Buddhist (I’ve had a good conversation with her before about Buddhism and Christianity) and the other one is nothing, but her daughter goes to E’s school, so she’s been exposed to Christianity. Not only did E enjoy playing with the two girls (she’s really good friends with one of them because of preschool), but I had fun talking to their moms.

 

I remember a non-Christian girl in my neighborhood growing up–I don’t know where she lived, but I remember her coming to our door a couple times. She wasn’t a Christian and would swear, so I was told not to hang out with her anymore. I also remember trying to think of ways I could tell her about Jesus, but because I didn’t hang out with her much, I couldn’t share with her. I had a desire to tell others about Jesus, but I never got to meet many non-Christians, and the ones I did meet were more threatening because they were so different than I was. I started to get too scared to say anything to people, and that fear eventually killed my evangelistic heart. The Christian bubble wasn’t necessarily to keep me safe at that point–it was just a way I could hide from what God was urging me to do. E, on the other hand, has such an evangelistic heart–she and I both prayed before the girls came over that we could tell them and their moms about Jesus, and that God would make them believe in Him. She is always excited to tell people about heaven and Jesus and has no fear that they may seem threatened or put off. Oh, to have the faith of a child! She humbles me and makes me more bold with others, partly because I sometimes have to explain some of her statements she makes to them. 🙂

 

God has given us so many opportunities since being here of sharing the Word, and He’s growing us in wisdom about when to share and when to stay silent. He’s taking us all out of our Christian bubbles (and Christian society–living here is SO DIFFERENT than living in Texas) and putting us into the world so that we can do what we were meant to do as Christians–share the good news that is within us. It’s what we’re commanded to do…it just took me 34 years to really do it. We pray that our kids learn it right from the start.

Crunchy Living, Family

Whole30 Update

I’ve been on Whole30 for 12 days. According to the Whole30 timeline, this is when people quit–the newness has worn off and all around you are things you can’t eat. And that’s what I’ve experienced in the last couple days. Today the kids got some gummies from the store. I picked out a couple for each child and had SUCH a desire to just pop one in my mouth. A couple even fell out in the bag, and instead of eating them, I put them back into the jar. The biggest adjustment for me last time I did Whole30 and this time has been coffee. I normally have milk and sugar in my coffee. Since going off milk with M, I was using coconut milk, but I was still definitely putting some type of sweetener in my coffee. To go black, or with just coconut milk, makes me sad. Coffee is no longer something I truly enjoy drinking in the morning–it’s more something I drink now so I can stay awake. However, if I have time to sit and enjoy a cup, I found that eating a date or two with it will make it taste good again–it’s like eating a cookie with black coffee, something that I would do periodically pre-Whole30.

 

The thing that makes this change worth it is that it’s helping M. If I were doing Whole30 just because I wanted to change my diet, I would have quit a week into it. It’s so difficult at this stage in my life. I have 4 young kids, one who is 4 months old, so spending hours making a lot of meals just isn’t something I have time for. However, I am making time because it’s helping M. It really is. From the first day when she started eating better, until now when she still has a great appetite and is gaining weight again and eating at normal intervals, I can truly see the benefits of what I’m eating. It’s just hard making every single dinner the way that I used to before getting pregnant. Since pregnancy, I’ve done easier meals. We’ve always eaten homemade, but I wasn’t as creative because I didn’t have the energy or the time. Now though, we’re having homemade cauliflower rice again, and zucchini noodles, and all kinds of healthy foods. Our veggie drawer is constantly stocked, as well as our fruit bowl. Although it can get expensive, we’re saving money on all the coffee and fast food that is NOT being bought outside the house, so it pretty much evens itself out.

 

It’s also been interesting for me to see the power of self-control. When I was growing up, we didn’t really have a lot of snacks in the house. My mom would make chocolate chip cookies, but because they were always there, they weren’t tempting for me. I was drawn to the store-bought sugar treats like Oreos, any Little Debbie treat, or sugar cereal. We almost NEVER had those in the house so when we did, I would eat a lot of them. Since living on my own, those things haven’t been a part of my weekly purchase, but if they were in the house or I treated us to them ever so often, I would again eat a lot. Since Whole30 though, there has been sugary treats in our pantry that I have not eaten. Case in point–the gummies from today. Or the Hershey candy bar that John bought at Aldi’s American themed week. Or the chocolate-covered biscuits that have been there for the last few weeks. They’re still there, either to give to our guests, or for our kids or John to snack on, but I haven’t touched them. It’s encouraging to see my self-control grow in that area, especially if I see the benefit it has on M. Without dairy, or sugar, or grains, or whatever was affecting her tummy, she is happier, less gassy, and sleeps (slightly) better. She’s still congested, but even that isn’t as bad. And she still wakes up a couple times at night, but it’s not as much from gas as it used to be.

 

One thing I’m looking forward to in Whole30 is the “tiger blood” that’s supposed to come before or after Day 21. That’s when the healthy eating and good fueling of your body is supposed to kick up your energy and make you thankful you stuck it out for 3 weeks. I can’t WAIT for that energy because I need it! I’ve been dragging for the last week and a half, and I’m sure the kids are excited to have an energy-filled Mama!

 

I’ve seen just how much food affects me, but especially those times that I’m having a rough day and want to treat myself to a coffee. As you can tell, coffee is a big part of my life. It’s a big part of society here as well. People stop what they’re doing at 10.30 and 3.30 for a “cuppa,” which I really enjoy. Wherever you go on outings, you stop and have a cuppa with your family either before, during, or after your event. When we went to the Children’s Museum this past week, I was so sad I couldn’t have a latte from the nearby cafe. When I drop E off at preschool, I mourn the loss of my periodic latte from the attached cafe. When we drive around doing errands, we can’t stop and get a coffee. Or when the kids are getting on my last nerve, John, as a surprise, can’t go out and get me a conciliatory coffee. Yeah, I drink a lot of coffee. And yes, we’re saving a lot of money not going out and buying it. But I miss it so much. It’s just a part of my day here, and I miss that comfort, that vacation in a cup. I know I’ll get through and will have to continue to get through past the 30 days because of how it’s helping M, but I’m grieving my coffee.

 

So, all this to say, I’m surviving but grieving. And I’ll probably continue to be in this mode for awhile. 😀

Church, Family

Church Update (and some pictures, of course)

Just last week, John Facebook live’d (can that even be used as a verb?) his first sermon. For me, a mom with sick kids who has to stay home many Sundays, it was a welcomed addition to my life because I can now watch him instead of another church while I’m at home. Plus, it gives me a way to stay connected to the church, even if I can’t be there in person. Check out and ‘like’ the Horsley Christian Church Facebook page and you’ll be able to watch last week’s sermon, as well as see notifications for any future Facebook live events he may do.

 

The church is really going well out here and John and I are thankful for it every day. Just last week we kind of kicked our hospitality into high gear again after taking about 6 months off after M was born. It’s still difficult with her, as she wakes up multiple times at night, and with the other kids’ sicknesses, John and I are pretty tired, but we love to have people from the church over, and feel like the invitations we’ve been making over the last half a year can finally be realized as we set up actual dates for families to come over.

 

Our weeks here are pretty busy. I mentioned previously how we have events and school going on for the kids, but I failed to mention various church events. Mondays are John’s day off and we hold that day pretty sacred, except for E’s ballet class. It’s definitely a down day for us–this morning John let me sleep in because of M’s late nights, and he was able to relax most of the day to recoup from a very busy week last week. Tuesday nights we either have a couples counseling session with a couple from church (which is what will happen this week), or he has a Session meeting. The thing with their Session meetings is that they’re normally really long, so they meet at 5, eat a meal, and then start their meeting. This month (and 5 other months a year), it’s at our house so we’ll have the other 3 elders over for dinner. Wednesday nights are Bible study nights, so if it’s not being held at our house (next week it will be over here, along with a BBQ dinner for everyone), John will be leaving at around 7 to go lead Bible study. This week starts a new series for him, a series on Ephesians. The format will be new as well–he’ll teach for a 1/2 hour on the passage and then split people up into smaller groups where a designated person will lead that group into an application portion of the passage. Thursdays are sometimes open nights, although this week is the Session dinner/meeting, and Fridays are free, although this Friday John and I are going up to Sydney to see Vivid. Look up Vivid online–it’s an awesome lights display in Sydney that I can’t wait to see! Saturday night, we’re having a family over from church and Sunday, along with a full day of church/lunch, we’re also hosting a women’s dessert night at our place. I’m really excited for this event because the women’s committee at our church is just getting off the ground, so we’d like to get input from the women of our church for what events and ministries they’d like to see us do.

 

Basically, we’re busy. Our nights are filled with church events or hosting dinners, the kids are constantly on cloud 9 with the people who come over, and our fridge is always filled with food and pantry stocked with delicious snacks to serve to others.

 

If our lives were always this busy, I think we’d burn out pretty fast. I love having people over but I definitely need days where we just stay at home and enjoy dinner with just our family. We’ll have busy weeks and then we’ll have some down weeks. This week is a busy week but next week may have less events. The school holidays are coming up in July, which means we get a break from routine and a chance to breath and gear up for another school term full of events. Plus, I’ve been drinking about 3 cups of coffee a day, so my mornings are uber productive when I’m on my caffeine high.

 

In amongst the hosting, our kids continue to have fun around the house. From dress up to fort building to playing with their sister (and movie-watching thrown in there as well), we manage to stay busy.

I bought an Anna hairpiece and Elsa hairpiece for the girls today so they did some posing–and J wanted in on the action so he put on the Anna one for a little bit.

 

Fort-building and playing with packing peanuts. Funny story with the packing peanuts–they were the ones that disintegrate with water so Mo kept putting them in her mouth and they’d get all sticky. Needless to say, she didn’t get to play with those again.

 

Despite being sick, this little baby is getting so smiley and happy all day! She’s started sucking her thumb so that may be why she’s happier. But she’s becoming quite a happy baby and content to even sit in her swing for minutes at a time.

Church, Family, Medical, New Baby, Sickness

Autumn is Ending, Winter is Arriving

I’ve sat down to write a post so many times over the last few weeks, but I just couldn’t bring myself to open this page up. It could be too many things to write about, and when I feel overwhelmed, I tend to shut down. Or it could be that there’s always something else to be doing. Either way, a post is long overdue, so I thought I should bite the bullet (is that phrase still pertinent in Australia where bullets aren’t as prevalent?) and type a post up.

 

The biggest thing that has happened since last writing has been Mom and Dad T’s visit. They were here for 2 weeks and we had a busy but fun time with them. The kids still miss them and ask about them. We love when family visit us because we get to spend such concentrated time with them, but that makes it all the more difficult when they leave to go home–the hole of their absence is felt strongly, especially by the kids.

 

I can’t even list the things we did and saw with Mom and Dad, but I really think they have a good idea of where we live, the sights and sounds of the Illawarra region, as well as a taste of Sydney. The weather was absolutely perfect, such a change from when my parents were here. It was high 60’s, low 70’s every day, and almost every day had bright, sunny skies. We went to the beach a few times, went up the Escarpment to the cute towns, went over to the local hills for some scenic overviews, and, like I mentioned, Sydney. The Sydney trip was the most fun, exhausting trip John and I have taken yet. As much as we love traveling (and we’ve done a lot of it), this was the first trip we did with 4 kids, one being a 3-month-old, and it was something we probably won’t be doing for a long time. Although the kids did really well, just the sheer number of them and their young ages made for a tiring time for John and me. We were thankful for extra helping hands, and we were sad that Dad and Mom experienced many Sydney sights with a crying baby or cranky toddler, but it also gave them a taste of life for us here–never a dull moment, and never a quiet minute. I think they probably enjoyed the silence of their home when they opened the door in Dallas. 🙂

 

Since they left a couple weeks ago, we’ve been getting back into the swing of things and starting up our new normal. Now that M is almost 4 months, we’re starting to get a feel for what life is like with 4 kids and let me tell you, it’s harder than I thought it would be. For all three of our other kids, the transition wasn’t horrible. I did ok with adding a new child. This one though–wow. Threw me for a loop! She has been our hardest transition, but I think it also has to do with the fact that we’ve all been sick, nonstop, for about 6 months. Granted, that comes with the territory (4 kids, 5 and under, 1 in preschool), but it’s also been difficult to deal with a sick newborn/infant for the past month and a half. She STILL has a cough/congestion that’s been going on for forever, but today I just told John she seems to be coughing less. At first I thought her lingering cough was just because she’s a baby and sicknesses will affect her differently, but I think it’s also because this specific coughing bug itself is one that lasts for more than a month, even in adults. John had a cough that lasted more than a month, E had that same cough, and then they gave it to me, and apparently M. So I just finished up my coughing last week, and I’m hopeful she’s on the end of it, but I’m sure she’ll catch something else from her ever-sick siblings. Oh, the childhood years.

 

Other than that, we’re also getting into the swing of things at church. It. Is. Difficult. We have a creche at our church but only for the sermon, so all 4 kids are in with me until the Bible reading. At this stage with a baby who will NOT sleep or sit in her car seat without crying, I’m consistently having to carry her in the Ergo which doesn’t allow for a lot of freedom to take care of my other 3, especially Mo. Thankfully we have a very kind church family who are willing to step in when asked. Mo has spent many services sitting with our friends the Hodges because she’s comfortable with them and it frees me up to deal with my other three. We also always sit by their Australian grandma, Agnes, who watches E and J when I have to get up and deal with M. It’s a lovely way to help me out and include the church family in the raising of covenant children–at least that’s what I tell myself when I feel guilty for having other people watch my kids.

 

John and I are getting more and more involved in the life of the church and community as the months go on, especially now that I’m not pregnant and now that our kids are getting more involved in various groups in the area. E is in a ballet class nearby and I’ve been able to reach out to a couple of the women who have daughters in her class. One of the girls also goes to E’s preschool, so please pray that both E and I will have a witness and boldness to tell both the girls and their moms about our church (although E doesn’t lack boldness–she regularly tells us of those she’s talked to Jesus about, which is great!). We’ll helpfully be having a Christmas in July dinner at our church that will allow for us to invite people to a church event without the pressure of a church service, but I still need the boldness to invite them.

 

I’ve also been really convicted lately of how I lack boldness with those around me. I’m amazed at how Christianity isn’t a part of the conversation here. The weird thing is that Anglicanism is a pretty big thing, as well as Hillsong, so it’s not like there aren’t Christians in the area. The Anglican church where E attends preschool has a service attendance of more than 600 people, and they’re mostly all local, so I know that there are Christians around me. However, I almost never hear anything about Christ or Christianity when talking to people. That’s impacted into how I interact with people, I find. J is in a music class on Tues. mornings and this past Tues. they got to play the xylophone. One activity they were asked to do with their parent was try to play a familiar song, so I plunked out ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ I found myself feeling ashamed that I was playing it with the other kids/adults in the room. How sad is that! The amazing thing is that the teacher started singing at the end and said, “That’s Jesus Loves Me. I know that song.” So it’s not like she discouraged it. But it’s just something in me that recoils at any mention of Christianity. I can’t blame the Australian society though because in the end it comes down to not wanting to be ridiculed or have people think less of me. That makes no sense to me and I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true–I don’t want to turn people off. I worry if I say something wrong or say it the wrong way, they’ll hate me and the door will be shut. I realize it’s all about the Spirit and His awakening of the person’s heart, but my sinful heart puts it all on me, thus making me too nervous and closing my mouth.

 

Anyway, that’s a summary of our life here in the last month. Please pray that doors will be opened to present the Gospel to those who have been placed in our lives, and that we’ll have the boldness to invite them to church. Pray also that we’ll be given a respite from sickness, or at least that M will get healthy soon, poor baby.

Church, Family

11 Weeks

M’s been changing over the last couple days, getting bigger/chubbier, interacting more with all of us (not just me), trying to suck her hands (I keep covering them up in mittens so she doesn’t scratch herself), and doing better with going outside. She’s getting used to the Ergo, thankfully, so that’s been our go-to carrier for her in church.

 

This week marks the beginning of Term 2 around here. E started ballet back up today and would have started school tomorrow but it’s Anzac Day (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) here in Australia, a day where we remember the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who lost their lives in various wars, so everything is closed. These last two weeks of holiday have been wonderful, not only because we haven’t had any schedule to worry about, but also because we haven’t gotten sick! And now we’ll start the sicknesses back up again as E brings home some more new Australian germs. Yippee. J also starts his music class next week, so we’ll see how that goes. Sometimes he’s hesitant to go to things without me, but other times he does fine on his own, so I’m hoping he’ll be so excited about various instruments that he won’t notice I’m not there. We’ve been trying to talk to him about it for the last few weeks, getting him psyched up for his very own class, and he doesn’t seem to not want to go, so I’m hoping that’s a sign he’ll be accepting of it and excited to go off on his own new adventure.

 

E has been obsessed with putting things on M’s head. The first picture is a wedding veil, because apparently M is ready to get married. And the second picture is of E’s (clean) underwear–such a stylish hat, and doesn’t M look amused?

 

I just love seeing their relationship grow. M is really starting to smile at Mo, and Mo loves to give her air kisses.

 

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Since having M, we haven’t really had many people over, much to the kids’ chagrin. they LOVE having guests, so when they found out the college/career group was coming over Sunday night for dinner/Bible study, they were THRILLED! For 1.5 hrs beforehand, they were getting their chairs/Bibles ready, excitedly running through the house, and looking out the door, waiting for them to come. They love it when we have people over!

 

 

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I wasn’t here for this picture–John was. They’re both really into weddings right now, as well as pregnancy (due to my most recent pregnancy). Here they are getting married to each other while they’re both pregnant (stuffies in their clothes). We have yet to explain to them that they’ll never be able to marry each other, and that J will never be able to have a baby. 😀 
Family, Medical, Sickness, Uncategorized

In a Haze

We’re still in a haze of sickness here but I’m hoping the end is in sight. John came down with a virus while Mom and Dad were still here. He had a fever at night for a few days, a cough, and congestion. He still has a lingering cough and it’s been almost 3 weeks. E then came down with congestion and night fevers about a week ago. M got it on Saturday, probably from all of the kisses she gets from her sister. Then J and Mo got it Monday, so our house has been full of sick kids for the last week. The scariest sickie has been M. 2 months old is too young to have a cough/congestion because a.) they’re too young for almost all medicine, and b.) they’re too young to deal with the congestion. We’ve had the radio doctor come out on Sunday at 2 am (they have doctors that come to your home if it’s off hours–so nice!) and our normal doctor saw her on Monday. Both said her lungs are clear and there’s no fever, so we’ve been trying to get her through this horrible congestion and spare her from any scary hospital visits. We’ve had a lot of success with lessening her congestion by doing this: chopping up garlic and putting it in olive oil, then placing in on her feet and wrapping in saran wrap. I reapply every 12 hours or so. I’ve found for M that it’s a natural expectorant, so for the last couple days, she’s been vomiting up phlegm. It’s so hard to watch but it’s also the best thing for her. The phlegm has significantly lessened over the last 6 hours and her last feeding was the first one where I heard NO CONGESTION in her nose. Praise the Lord! We’ve also been giving her and the other kids lots of steam baths and putting their faces in the freezer right after. The older three have had epson salt baths with lavender EO in it, as well as hot water/honey drinks before bed. In addition to the garlic on her feet (J and Mo also had some of that at night), M has had suction and saline drops in her nose, and she even had a little bit of colostrum in a bottle a couple days ago. After 4 pretty intense days with her congestion and cough, I think I see her coming out of it. She’s also been really clingy and will only sleep if she’s being held by me, day or night. Needless to say, Mama needs a break. 🙂 So, that’s been our week.

 

Before this sickness wiped all the kids out, we were having a lot of fun around here. The kids were starting to play with M more now that she’s interacting with them, as we can see here with Mo and M “talking.” They’ll soon be roommates, too. When Mom and Dad Terrell visit, the older 3 kids will be in the same room. After they leave, we’re moving M out of our room/bassinet and putting her in the portacrib. We’re moving Mo into E’s bed and moving E into J’s room on the top bunk. Lots of fun changes happening as the kids get older.

 

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This picture comes via E stealing my camera. She did a great job capturing her sister!
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One of the few times she let John hold her without crying! John was pretty proud.

These little sickies can still smile for the camera. In fact, E has a pose here that she was pretty proud of.

 

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On Monday, we needed to get out of the house and go for a drive. We went up to the top of a local mountain (interestingly enough, it’s where the first koala was discovered) and admired the view. This is looking north, towards Sydney. You can’t see Sydney from this view, but the trees are all a part of the Royal National Park.

The weather is getting cooler over here, so autumn is on its way! And when we’re all better, we’ll be able to get outside and enjoy it more. Until then, we’re staying inside, enjoying homemade chicken noodle soup and trying to recover. 😀

Family

Overdue Update

It’s been awhile! We’ve been busy here with my parents coming to visit us for the last two weeks. They just left yesterday morning and we’re still grieving over here. I went outside today with the kids and remembered my dad walking in the driveway with Moriah, holding her hand while she walked on the ledge, or stopping her from riding her bike into the street. When I hung out the laundry in the backyard, I saw my mom doing that same thing a few days ago while the kids played in the water table nearby. Our lawn is freshly mowed because my dad went out during one of the few sunny days this past week and mowed it, Josiah at his side near the end to help.

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We’re sad that they’re gone, and the kids are sad that their playmates aren’t here anymore. Even though my mom and dad aren’t spring chickens anymore, they still seem young and are constantly working around the house or playing with the kids. That’s not to say we didn’t wear them out though! When you’re sitting in a comfortable rocking chair with a sleeping baby, how can you NOT fall asleep!

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It rained for much of their time here which hindered our plans to see some things, but it allowed for a bunch of playtime at home.

 

Dad and John put up insulation in our garage and caulked around the windows to help keep our house a little bit cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Dad found other odd jobs around our place to spruce it up, while Mom constantly did our dishes, laundry, and kept the place tidy. She did some crafts with the kids and both she and Dad would read and read and read to Mo. We even have a new dining room table and chairs because Mom felt sorry for us after using our old set. M and I had various doctor appointments (she turned 6 weeks last week so we had all those appointments to go to) and we had built-in babysitters.

 

We took the kids to an indoor play place one morning while M and I went to the chiro nearby.

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We all went to the children’s museum in town and the kids had a BLAST for hours! Plus, we had 4 adults covering 4 kids–it was so great!

 

The first Sunday they were here, John preached and M was baptized. It was so special having Mom and Dad here for the baptism. They were going to come out for Mo’s in 2015 but Dad got sick on the way so they didn’t make it. This time, however, they traveled half way around the world and watched Mom’s namesake be baptized. It was a special day. Although M cried through much of the ceremony (and before and after), the older two kids did fantastic, and we wrangled Mo enough to get her to stay in our arms for the baptism. M was wearing my baptism gown that Mom had preserved all these years, which made it all the more special. Someone at church took pictures of the event, but we don’t have those yet. We do, however, have individual pictures we took of the kids before church–they turned out well!

 

We also took some family shots and got some cute candid ones too.

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John, E, M, and I all went up to Sydney the first Monday Mom and Dad were here to get some American paperwork completed. E needed a new passport (kids passports need to be renewed every 5 years, and hers is expiring this year) and M needed U.S. citizen birth abroad, Social Security, and passport paperwork completed. We spent basically all day up there from the train ride up and back and the 2 hour appointment/lunch while Mom and Dad watched J and Mo here at home.

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We had to go to the Lindt Cafe while there.

 

We went up the escarpment (the ridge nearby our town) and visited Bowral, a small tourist town. On the way back we gave Mom and Dad an authentic meat pie experience when we stopped at Robertson’s Pie Shop. We brought them to Symbio so they could see koalas, kangaroos, and other Australian animals up close. On the way down we drove along the coast so they could see the Wollongong area in all its beauty. It was a clear, sun-filled day–perfect for a drive along the coast!

 

The last Tuesday they were here, John and I (and M because she refuses to take a bottle) brought Mom and Dad up to Sydney, the only time they got to see the iconic city. We were sad we didn’t go up there once more but we were able to drive over the Harbour Bridge (Dad requested it and we weren’t going to do it, but we got lost and ended up driving over it during rush hour) and see the Opera House in daylight. We took a water taxi over to Carmen, which took place in the Botanic Gardens nearby. It was a GORGEOUS night for it and you could see the Opera House and Harbour Bridge behind the opera. They even had fireworks go off during the performance. Although we ended up getting home past midnight, it was worth it! If we had our choice, we would have spent more time in Sydney showing them a few more sights, but with the weather being what it was, we just didn’t have the chance.

 

Wednesday was their last day here so Mom and I went out for coffee and lunch at a local coffee house while the men watched the 4 kids. Dad got a chance to read more books and Mom got a chance to hold M a lot, as I wanted to give her as many opportunities to hold her as possible (and I had to take advantage of the extra set of hands).

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M is a pretty fussy baby. I’m finding out more and more foods I can’t have, and if I’m strict on my diet, she does well. However, there are still many moments when she just has to cry because I don’t have enough hands to hold her and get stuff done. With Mom and Dad here, however, she never had to cry without being held. Don’t get me wrong–she cried! A lot. But she didn’t cry on her own–she always had someone comforting her.

 

So, that’s where we’re at. It was a hard day yesterday and today but we’re trying to get back into a routine again. Thankfully the weather has been great yesterday, today, and tomorrow, so it’s making the transition easier because they can go outside and ride bikes, etc. The rain starts up again on Sunday, so we will once again be homebound.

 

We love houseguests and if anyone wants to visit us, we have a whole room for you to stay in and very eager children to entertain you, as well as a minivan with extra seats to drive you around in. 🙂

Family, New Baby

Happy 1 Month Birthday!

M has had a great month…she’s gaining weight well and thriving. I’m learning she has a system like her brother and sister closest to her–I’ve had to cut out dairy from my diet to help her reflux. She also inherited her dad’s tongue tie, for which she got hers cut last week. Every day I have to stretch her tongue 4-6 times which is so hard to do, mainly because she screams bloody murder for the 5 min. it takes to do it. She also has very sensitive skin–she’s had a diaper rash almost from day one and had some yeast infection for a couple weeks. We’re finally on the way out of the yeast infection, but she still has a slight diaper rash, despite no-diaper time, warm water/cloth instead of wipes, baths every night, using only coconut oil to heal the skin, and giving her (and me) probiotics to get her gut health healthy. Hopefully she’ll eventually heal from all her sicknesses and ailments.

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She’s a good baby. She LOVES being held, which means when she is put down, she cries and cries and cries. I’ve learned she’ll eventually settle, but we have to put up with the crying for about 20 min. before she’ll either tire herself out and fall asleep, or she’ll tire herself out and just sit and stare. The kids are getting used to the crying, too. She enjoys the sound of the vacuum, so often when she starts to cry, J goes to the vacuum and turns it on. He’ll also plug his ears. E will go to her and try to calm her down by rocking her in the swing and singing to her. And Mo copes by rocking her for a little bit and then either walking away or crying. She’s the most sensitive one to M’s crying–in the car, when M cries and cries and cries, Mo is the one who will cry as well, making for a joyful car ride for the rest of us, while the older two kids put up with it quite well. It’s almost like they’ve been trained. 🙂

 

M is a very strong baby. She holds her head up well and has since almost day one, but in her anger and crying, she can pretty much crawl off her blankets when she’s put on her tummy on the ground. Because she has to go bare bottom for long stretches of time to heal her diaper rash, I don’t always have time to hold her, so I sometimes put her on the ground on a towel. She doesn’t like that, so she’ll scream and push herself forward with her legs. Her head is still heavy so that stays on the ground, but her legs compensate and she has, in the past, pushed herself about a foot forward in her angry cries.

 

She’s also been an amazing sleeper. For all the crying she does when she’s put down, I can’t complain because 1.) it gives me an “excuse” to hold her a lot and get my newborn fix in while I still can, and 2.) she may be fussy when she’s up, but she sleeps for long stretches. I’m really bad with fully waking up when feeding her at night so I don’t always know when she wakes up to eat, but she normally goes to sleep anywhere from 9-11 pm and will sleep until 8-9am, waking up only once, sometimes twice, to eat. She does cluster feed from about 7-9/11 pm at night, which I think allows her to sleep so long at night, and then sometimes she’ll wake up at 6-7 am for a quick meal before going back down until 9 am. Either way, she’s an awesome night sleeper and, after eating, will normally go right back to bed. There are nights where she doesn’t follow that pattern and I wake up like a zombie the next morning, but such is life.

 

I still love this newborn stage and now that 2 out of the 3 older siblings are healthy, they’re able to enjoy her more as well. When she starts staying up for longer periods of time and stops crying when put down, she’s going to be an absolute favorite with them all. They constantly ask if they can hold her or kiss her, and E is singing made-up songs to her while J pats her back to comfort her. They’re big fans of her and love being protective older siblings.

 

She has crazy, stick-up hair like her siblings, only she’s the only one with blond hair and a pretty decent mohawk. She has E’s hairline, which she inherited from John, so it’s pretty far back but it’s slowly getting lower–while she’s gaining hair in the front, she’s losing it on the sides. She LOVES to pull it when she’s angry, as well as scratch her face, so she’s almost constantly wearing mittens to protect herself.

 

In other news, the other kids are doing well. E went back to school this week and loved it, as usual. She loves to draw and comes home with sheets of artwork to give to us. This past week John told me such an endearing story. Her teacher was talking to her while she was painting and E asked her how to paint Jesus. Then she asked the teacher, “Do you believe in Jesus?” The teacher said, “Yes, I do. I go to this church (the preschool is in Dapto Anglican Church).” E said, “Good, that means you’ll go to heaven someday.” We’ve been encouraging her to tell her friends at school about Jesus because that’s the only way they can get to heaven someday. She then told me that some of her schoolmates don’t believe in Jesus, so they’re going to hell. I wonder how that went over with them when she told them. Oh, the honesty of children.

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J’s vocabulary is really growing and it’s fun to see him interacting a lot more with E. They normally have quiet time together in his room, which is more like ‘play for 3 hours together but try not to wake up your other siblings.’ They’ve really gotten close to each other with those times together and I can see a friendship building between them. He’s sad when she goes to school on Tues. and Wed. but he also loves being here without her because he gets more time from me to play with him.

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M is getting cuter by the day. I just took out the 18-24 month clothes from E, so she has a whole new-to-her wardrobe. One skirt that we discovered was this one…she LOVES it and asks to wear it all the time. I wanted to take it off for dinner last night so she wouldn’t get it dirty, but she started crying, so I kept it on. She also loves to dance in it, which is what she’s doing here.

 

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We’ve started eating oatmeal for breakfast every morning, and Mo is a BIG fan. Normally either John or I will feed her, but when we’re too busy, E has taken it upon herself to do it. She loves it, Mo loves it, and we love it because it’s one less thing we have to do in the morning. THIS is why we had 4 children–they do things for each other and make our lives easier. 😉 They also are playing with each other more and more, and letting Mo be included on the fun. Here they are eating  a supper of tennis balls and wooden food. Normally Mo will take their things from them, but sometimes she’ll be content with what they’ve chosen to share with her. They all sat so nicely and ate–for about 5 min.