Friday, October 5, 2012

It's happening... again.

No. Not labor. It's more complicated than that. It's that crazy mix of anticipation, excitement and a little trepidation about a new baby coming into the Culbertson Clan and upending things again. Don't get me wrong, I am super excited. I can't wait to find out if this baby is a boy or a girl and to see that little face and hear that little cry. We have always talked about wanting a larger family... (although I realize that four kids is nothing to some more "experienced" parents.) We've gotten a number of people who ask us if we're nuts or look at us like, "good luck with that" when they see us with the two little ones and the huge mama waddle I've been rocking. This little one is a blessing. And we know that. Life, itself, is a miracle. So, if we know all of this, why do I feel a little anxious at times?
I'll admit. I don't always feel nervous. Actually, until recently, I've felt much calmer about this pregnancy than the first two. We are still tweeking things in the nursery. (Which is mostly together and ready to go... with less than a week until baby is here.) Names have finally been narrowed down. (Although we'll let you know what those are on delivery day.) I, as of a few days ago, now have a hospital bag packed. (Jon is still totally convinced that the baby will only come on his/her scheduled csection date, so he does not have to pack until the night before.) We weren't really rushing or making a crazy amount of fuss. Maybe it's because this is our third. Maybe it's because we still don't know if there's a little boy or little girl in there. Maybe it's because we combined this with moving and trying to get a new house in semi decent order before baby arrives... Who knows.
One week before baby's scheduled delivery date... 
But now, it's started to hit me. We will have to answer to "Culbertson, Party of Five" at restaurants. Someone will always have to hold two kiddo hands (at least for a while.) The delicate balance that is brother and sister will be upended. I realize that this last one, especially, is sorta' odd to think about for those who already have two children of the same sex... but for us, it's been nice to have a "girls time" or "boys time" for each of us with the kids. And vice versa. Maybe it's because Sam is so much younger than Ava was when we had him. He is really starting to develop his own personality. He thinks his sister is hilarious and wants to be just like her. Sam's vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds and we're finally hoping to get out of the point and whine stage when he wants something. There are about ten funny things he does/says each day that   I text to various people or tell Jon about when he gets home. (Today, Ava put one of those sleep/eye masks on him, but since it was, obviously, too big, he had it around his chest yelling "BOOBIE!!!" while running around the house. Yep. That's my kid.) 
Ava is in the inquisitive/independent stage. Lots of questions. Lots of things she is trying to figure out how to do or decipher on her own. She is full of interesting comments or questions and everything is still so amazing to her. She is such a big helper and is so ready to meet her new sibling (which she is SURE is a girl... just so we will outnumber the boys.) So, why would having another blessing like either of these two causing any concern? 
I don't think it's the actual having another baby that is the issue. I've done this. We've prayed about this. We know (sorta'- although every kid is different) what to do with a baby. We know that God will help us and give us patience with all of the baby chaos of the first few weeks. I think it's that I'm afraid of missing something with the other two. I'm afraid I'll be so consumed with the baby and his/her needs that I'll miss the cute things that Avery or Sam do or say. Even if it's unintentional. I know I can, at least, rationalize and talk to Avery about the new baby needing more attention. I can set aside some time for her and she'll understand what I'm doing. I'm not sure about Sam. He is super excited about babies in general, but how will he react to having to share his snuggle partner? 
The kids decorated my belly for baby.
I've been assured by those who already have more than two kids that we will adjust and the kids will adjust... and I believe them. I just know that change is always a little daunting... and exciting at the same time.  Here is where I have to go back to that confidence that, if God can create a tiny human life from the raw materials we have inside, I have to figure that He can, surely, help me with my time management skills and powers of observation of every day miracles. If He can sacrifice his son for my salvation, I'm going to guess it's not a stretch for God to be able to make me able to handle three children. Even taking them grocery shopping if I have to.

I'll have to do my part. To open my heart up again. To be open to change and new routines and schedules. To learn to really take the time to listen to each one of my kids. And, with less than a week to go of being a family of four, I'm ready to take on those changes head on and meet the newest little Culbertson in the cul-de-sac. :) We are praying for this transition and new phase in our lives... and we hope you'll join us in those prayers. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Here it is... the whole story. The HOME story. Some of you know this adventure because you went through it with us. Some of you know bits and pieces. But, for posterity's sake and for the memoirs for the kids... I'm writing the crazy way God worked this whole thing out down on paper... or at least on a blog post. 

I guess I could start at the beginning... When we were looking for a place to live in Lancaster about 12 years ago. Jon was already living in Lancaster (Lititz actually) with his roommate from college's parents. They are an amazing family with a heart for... everyone. He loved living with them. He would live with them and work during the week and then come to my parents' house about an hour away in Dover, PA for the weekends. We were engaged then and we knew that we needed to find a place to live. We figured we'd rent, but we didn't really know anything about the area or about the apartments in the area. There were a few weekends that we did some apartment shopping... And we didn't like any of them. We were getting married in August. It was May. We still had no place to live. And just like that, Jon said he'd found a place. I remember clearly. He came to my parents' house and said, "We have an apartment." This was news to me. Especially since we had not discussed or seen this new place. Actually, I came to find out, neither had he. He just heard that this one place was decent and close to everything and in a good area. He went in and asked if they had any openings as of July or August. They had JUST had someone submit notification that they were moving. And it was the only apartment open. Two bedroom. Two bath. Bottom floor with a patio. Jon said we'd take it... and he never even saw it. No model was shown either. Oh gosh. I was a little leery to say the least. When my mom and I did get a chance to check it out, the former tenants had moved out and we were going in to get measurements of the windows so we could look for curtains. We walked in and... it was HORRIBLE!!! A pig sty. No kidding. Mystery stains on the carpets. Weird holes in the walls... My mom almost cried. There was a crew of people there assuring us that they were putting in all new carpet and fixing and painting the walls in the entire place and fixing all of the other things that the former tenants had destroyed. Again, we were leery, but we decided to trust that it would all work out. 

When we moved in, we were pleasantly surprised that it had ALL been redone. It was a nice apartment. We liked it there. We loved the area and the setup of the actual space we had was great. Except that it was an apartment. It was very likely that the people that lived directly above us worked 2nd or 3rd shift and were part time cloggers or WWE wrestlers. The ladies who lived above them were two sisters who got into huge verbal shouting matches. Sometimes when one was outside walking their little dog and the other was on the balcony. And then there was the unibomber who lived across the hall. Okay, so he wasn't really a unibomber. At least, we don't think so. But, he never came out. And the one time that we happened to open the door at the same time as he did, he looked at us creepily and closed the door and went back inside. Freaky!!! We began driving through neighborhoods in the area to see if there was anything we liked. We always kept returning to this one little development that had lots of mature trees and cute houses, but was only a few minutes away from where we were at in the apartment and close to just about everything. True that we hadn't ventured very far in our searches, but we knew we liked the area. It was just outside the city but about halfway between Jonny's job on the eastern side of Lancaster County and mine on the western side. When we finally looked for a house, we sat down with the realtor and said this is what we want. We also had driven by this little cape cod on Fruitville Pike (about 3 miles away from the apartment) and saw a "FOR SALE" sign in the yard. We asked them if we could check that one out. My mom came with me for the first showing. Heck, it was the first house we really looked at. It was the Monday after Thanksgiving (aka: first day of buck season!) Jon had to work, but I was off school and my mom was off as well. No one was living there. It was right on a main road, but had three bedrooms, a huge back yard, and, although it needed a new kitchen and bathroom, was loaded with character and... I LOVED IT!!!! I called Jon and we scheduled a second showing when he got off work. That was about 6pm. He liked it too! We found out that there was another offer on the house so we put in an offer and hoped for the best. We got a call that the seller had accepted our offer. That was 8pm. In a little over 8 hours we had gone from living in an apartment to promising to purchase a house!!!

Our Fruitville Pike house...
Remodeled kitchen
Our back yard!
The living room
Holy crap!!! What were we doing? For real? It was a crazy whirlwind. Was this how things worked? In a month we were moved in. Over the next few years we redid the bathroom and kitchen. Much better now. It's funny. Because we moved there and started going to a new grocery store that was closer to the house, we met someone who would eventually lead us to a whole new group of friends... some of our best friends for the past 8 years now. Crazy. We loved the proximity to everything, but we now lived on a busy street. Not my favorite. Luckily, our back yard was pretty big and led to what was eventually turned into a community park. We put a fence up (to make sure the dogs didn't get out) and used the back of the house mostly like the front. However, the dogs did get out and one of them got hit on the busy road. This was our first dose of "this house isn't going to work forever." We began having children and when Avery was born, had to turn the guest room into a nursery. We still had an office and our bedroom though. Then, Sam was born. There goes the office. Avery moved into the office bedroom and the "office" got displaced to share our dining room. We knew we were running out of room. Baby and kid stuff was taking over our house. Jon and I had discussed wanting to find a bigger house before Avery had to register for Kindergarten. We didn't want to have to just get her started somewhere and then move her. But we had time. Sam was just turning one in a few months and Ava would be four at the end of March. We had time. 

But then we didn't. Well, sort of. The day before Sam's 1st birthday we found out I was pregnant with #3. Due in October. Hmmm... where would we put this one? I mean, we could double kids up in a room. No problem. But would we do that and then have to move in a few months anyway? And how long did this whole house selling/buying process take? How did it work? Would we be here with our house on the market hoping for someone to buy it and having potential buyers coming through our house when we were in the midst of having a baby? Crap. Now what? We had been doing the "open house groupies" thing for a while to see what was out there. We liked a few, but not a bunch of the others. Pretty sure we saw a brothel at one point. We kept hearing that you should put your house on the market first because you never know how long it takes to sell a property. The buying is the easy part. So, we finally decided to put our house on the market and start our "official" search.

There were a lot of people through our house. Ten showings in a week. And then... an offer. Two, actually. We finally decided on one of them and had our house under contract. In a week. Hallelujah!!! But now we had to find a place to live!!! We made the sale of our house contingent on finding another (so we weren't homeless) and we only had about two weeks to make it happen. Well, in two weeks, if we didn't find a place, the buyers of our house could decide we were taking too long and get out of the contract. 

We were probably the biggest pains in the butt to our realtors. We went to a bunch of houses. Some were on busier roads than we wanted. Some were, set up in an odd manner or had lots of neighbors looking in on us. Some were ok... Not many impressed us. Only a few. And they had some other issues (being further than we wanted to be, or having kid bedrooms and our bedroom on different floors - which we didn't want, or being too stretching on the current budget.) The goal was to be getting OUT of debt with the profits from our house. It was not being house poor because we bit off more than we could chew with the new house. On Good Friday we, again, were on a tour of houses to see in the area. No luck. (Pretty sure the owners were hiding in one of them while we were there, and another had about 90 varieties of wallpaper plus other updates that needed done... for out of our "comfort price.") We had to figure something out. I was getting frustrated. We had about a week left. My parents had said we could move in with them till we found something. Which was looking more and more like what we were going to do. Or we could move to York County where we could get a lot more "bang for our buck" but we liked our area and we had a life and friends here...

Jon, who is my perfect completer, had no such issues. He's calm. Like, I'm pretty sure that all of NJ and eastern PA could fall into the ocean with one big swoop and Jon wouldn't bat an eyelash. I can just see it now. "Sweet. We're closer to the beach." That would be his response. This is his kind of calm. But, you see... it's more than that. He TRUSTS GOD!! With everything.  He and I finally sat down TOGETHER and prayed about the housing situation. We'd been praying individually, but don't you know, the scripture says in Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." We stood on the promise that God would take care of us. We are more important than the birds, and they are taken care of. We trust Him with our SALVATION, yet why was it difficult to trust Him with things like housing? Because, we thought we could do it ourselves. Finally, we knew that if we needed to live somewhere temporarily, that would be fine.  Even if it was a commute, even if we weren't where we thought we wanted to be. God would make sure that something better came of it. And... wouldn't you know it. The next day, Jon checked out a real estate site... and found a house in that exact little neighborhood that we used to drive through when we first moved to Lancaster. We asked our agent if we could see this house (as well as some others, just in case...) But, it was most of what was on our list!!! 
Our Roosevelt Boulevard house

Dining room leads to screened in porch

Living room (needs new paint) :P 
Back yard with play set! Kids are happy
We went to see it two days later. And my parents got to be there for it too. It was great. Four bedrooms... with the potential to add another down the road if we wanted a bigger master. All the bedrooms on one floor. A second bathroom on the main floor. Hardwood floors. Finished (although ugly) basement. Screened in porch. A swing set. Gas heat and an outdoor already included gas grill. Backing up to... nothing. A protected wetland. All of this on a cul de sac right down the street (less than two miles) from where we live now. This was even more than we had asked for. And it was in our budget. Yes, the house needs love. Some paint, a fence, a few updates, and a little revamp of some of the areas. But even the "uncool" parts have "cool" potential! We knew God had answered our prayers. But... if it didn't go through, if they didn't accept our offer, we were still at peace about it. It would work out. It took a few days, but on the night before our contract contingency for our current house was up, we  were under contract on our new house!!! Can I get an AMEN?!!! We are trusting that this will happen. We are excited about the new house. But even if, for some unforseen reason, we are unable to move in...  we're okay. No more "Mandy-freak-outs" on the horizon. We both know that God is in control. He has ways and plans we don't understand (and may never understand.) I'm working on being as constantly calm as Jonny... but I'm not sure that's in my personality. I'm getting better at it though. Thanking the Lord for His provision every day in every aspect of our lives. He truly is our source. For EVERYTHING!!! 

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Most Blessed Girl On The Planet...

For real? Almost a year now... As I type this, my little man will be one year old in only a few days. It has flown by. What a difference a year makes.

Sam was born on February 2nd. Groundhog's Day. We actually got to pick his date of birth. When I had gone to the doctor after Avery was a week late they said that the fluid was low and they needed to induce me. They looked at the ultrasound and told me that they expected her to be around 8lbs. Not bad for being a week overdue. I didn't even get very far in labor, and her heart rate kept dropping. They didn't know if she was wrapped up in her cord or what, but she wasn't going to tolerate labor if she was already stressing and I didn't feel any contractions yet. So they whisked me away down the hall to perform an emergency Csection. Not my plan, but I had already decided that the goal of the day was to have a healthy baby and not get stressed on the "plan" for delivery. When she was born, she was 9lbs and 14 oz (they obviously just guessed before and were WAY off!) and there was meconium. Any of these things could have contributed to her being stressed out (lack of room, poop in there, low fluid, etc...) This is why they let me decide if I wanted to have another Csection with Sam.

I was a little leery of deciding to have a csection again. It was a bit painful. But, we decided to do it again and got to pick our delivery date... 2/2/11. :) Jon thought it would be easy to remember! lol! In fact, when I look back, I really do like the memory of his birth. We were scheduled to be the first csection of the day at 8:30 am. This meant we had to be there at 6:30. Normally, I'm not at all excited about being anywhere by 6:30 am. But, this time it was different. Neither Jon, nor I, could sleep. We were too excited. My mom had slept over and stayed in bed with Ava while we got up and left for the hospital. She would give her breakfast and come to the hospital when we called her later.

As soon as we got up we noticed the ice. There was an ice storm the night before. At 6am, everything was cold and dark and quiet and glistening... Jon made sure to scrape the patio and the car and such, but we were ready. We prayed before we left. For safety, for the surgery and for peace. We drove to Women & Babies Hospital (which is only a five minutes or so from our house) very slowly because of the ice. The road was virtually empty. Schools were being cancelled and a lot of businesses were closed. It was just us and this glisteny, quiet world. One last drive before our world got flipped upside down again. It was if God wanted us to slow down and take a moment to reflect before our lives got a bit more chaotic. It was awesome.

Even when we got to the hospital it was quiet. There weren't a ton of people milling around because it was so early and even the ladies at the intake desk for scheduled csections were just getting in for the day. Everyone was calm. Everyone. Even me. We met with the nurses and anesthesiologists and finally the doctor. All was smooth. We were told that we'd have to be bumped back to the second slot of the day because someone had an emergency csection ahead of us. No biggie. I was remembering how they'd done that for me when I had Ava. We were ready. I went in and got prepped for surgery. Still, no stress. God had given us that peace we had asked for. Even though I was numbed, I was still aware that no one else was stressing either. They were talking about their kids and one guy wanted to convince his wife to buy into alpacas... :) No, I was not THAT drugged up...YET. Jon was right beside me. Making me laugh and smile the whole time.

And then... There was a wail! This little boy who had been making me have heartburn, was finally out and screaming like crazy. It was the best scream ever. He was NOT happy. People were roughing him up, pricking him, measuring and weighing him, and Daddy was over there snapping pictures of the screaming little man. 8lbs, 14oz. If we would have let him cook as long as Ava did (an extra week and a half) he probably would have been a "biggie" too. And then they swaddled him... Still screaming. And brought him over to me. I finally said his name and got to hold him and he stopped. He just stopped crying and tried to place the voice. He seemed to know it was me. (Maybe not, but I'm going to say that's what it was.) I had talked to him and near him for nine months. He calmed down. (Don't worry. That didn't last too long.) But in that moment, I knew my life was absolutely amazing and that I was the most blessed girl on the planet.  Thank you, Lord.

Now, this messy little kid sits at my table and dumps food on the floor for the dog. He walks around the house and tries to chase his sister (who loves EVERY moment of it.) He wipes his nose on the dog and puts everything into his mouth (or tries to shove it in mine.) And in those moments, when I look at the two beautiful blessings that God has given me laughing and giggling on the floor... I am reminded again that my life is absolutely amazing and that I am the most blessed girl on the planet. Thank you, Lord... again.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A little perspective...

I am going to tell you a secret. Well, it's sort of a secret. I'm a people watcher. I know that there are others who secretly (or even very publicly) enjoy this voyeuristic past time as well. (Maybe this is why social media, like facebook, is so popular.) So far, my favorite people watching spots are the boardwalk at OCMD, the mall -but mostly at Christmas time, and the airport. I love to watch people interacting and imagine a whole scenario in my head as to what their "story" is. Are they arguing because someone left the oven on? or Did they just get a frantic call from the babysitter who has been locked in the bathroom by their five year old? or Is this guy looking nervous because he is on his way to propose to the love of his life... or maybe he just needs to desperately find a bathroom in a hurry.

I started thinking about this whole idea of just catching a snipet of someone's life. I mean, I don't really have the entire picture. I can make up any scenario I want, but it would take a lot more than a stare down in the airport to know what someone's life is about. I only have a limited perspective on any situation. As I started thinking about this more and more, I started realizing something. WE ALWAYS HAVE A LIMITED PERSPECTIVE... EVEN ON OUR OWN LIVES!!!

The age old question of "Why do bad things happen to good people?" came up recently. And, no. I don't have the answer. But, I do have a thought. First of all, don't think that God MADE bad things happen. He didn't. Did He ALLOW it to happen? Possibly. But why? Why would He allow a family to lose a young mother of three small girls and then lose their home a few months later? Why would He allow a man who has only ever served others, be involved in a fatal crash? Why would He allow a child to have a rare heart condition or cancer? I don't know.

But, then again, we all have a limited perspective. For real. In the span of eternity, or even if we could see into the next 300 years or so, there may be a positive in such negative situations. God may wait for the perfect time to perform a miracle. It just may not be in our desired time frame. Maybe it's not even during our generation. Maybe it's something that, because of the situation and how we handle things now, there will be a life changing moment for your great great grandchild. Of course, that doesn't make the crappy parts of life any easier in that moment, but, again, we don't see the big picture.

I know. It's a lot to swallow. Especially if you're the one going through it. Especially if you are smack dab in the middle of it at this very moment. It's easy to say or even think about... logically. But, those emotions and focusing on the current situation, typically take your head just about anywhere but "logical."

As the Christmas season approached this year, I heard a sermon about our faith filled responses to God. I started to think about how much absolute faith Mary must have had. I mean, she was only in hear early teens. (They got engaged and married young in those days.) I can't imagine that as this unwed teenager told her fiance or started to show, that her situation was very easy.

If I was Mary, I would have probably balked a bit. "C'mon God! Can't you fix this? Why am I the one going through this? What did I do wrong? Everyone is talking about me. I am seeing the true colors of my 'friends' when they act this way. I have no one. Joseph finally believes me, but his family and mine think that we're nuts..." Pretty sure this kind of thinking on my part would take me out of the "candidates for birthing the Son of the Living God pool."  Mary just seems to take it. She doesn't go on a rant on fb (or write on the side of the stall in the stable) about how her friends and family are horrible. She knows what she was told and believes that it's true. She still has that limited perspective, but she has a decent attitude about it.

I don't know if she could have fully grasped the idea of her son, her little baby, being the Savior for the whole of mankind. How could she? For ALL of mankind. Not just her generation. Even if she was told this, eternity is a hard concept to totally get your mind around. Let alone, her baby growing up to save people. I have a hard enough time trying to imagine my kids growing up and getting married or whatever.

God can see all of that and more. He has the benefit of seeing eternity. He has the benefit of seeing what possible outcomes lie ahead for the crap that Satan throws your way. He has the benefit of the ultimate perspective. We still have that limited perspective. Like we're watching our own life from the other side of the airport. We only see the snipet we're involved in at the moment. It may not make your situation disappear to think of it this way, but if you try to think of God's perspective, you may just have a better attitude about it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Am I Nuts, Or Is It Him???

Am I nuts, or is it him? I used to ask this question a lot. If any of you know my husband, you'll know that we are... pretty much exact opposites. Where I tend to err on the side of not knowing when to shut up, Jon barely says a word in public. (I even had a friend ask me when we started dating if he was mean to me. She figured that since he didn't talk to everyone and isn't really expressive, good or bad, that he must be grouchy and mean. Just so you know, he doesn't know HOW to be mean. Honestly.) He's definitey not speechless at home, but that's only with a few that he shows his more talkative side.

When we first got married, although we had talked about marriage and families and goals and such before we ever got married, (just ask the pastor who did our premarital counseling) I still was very frustrated that our communcation wasn't working as well as I'd have liked it to. He was... not like me. I mean, I'm expressive. I'm that crazy person you see in a crowd of people from a distance who is acting out the scene and waving her arms all over the place. My husband may not even be with the crowd. I'm a hugger. Or a toucher. If I'm talking to you, I may put my hand on your arm (to make sure you don't get away) or playfully punch your arm. Yes, I know for you non physical people, this is annoying. I'm working on it. Jonny is not like that at all. Hugging is REALLY stretching his comfort zone and he doesn't even think about holding my hand or putting an arm around me when we're in public. I mean, he does it... now. But he has to make a conscious effort to do so. I LOVE to hang out with him. Watch a movie, take a walk, sit and talk, go to dinner, etc... He is cool with all of those things too, but he doesn't NEED to hang out with others. He's fine if he has time by himself. Jon could easily go to a movie, dinner and/or play a game of hoops all by himself and have no issues with it.

When we got married, I wondered what was wrong with him. Should I fix him? (My mom called it "missionary dating" in high school.) I mean, he can't really be happy like that, right? I knew he loved me, but after a while, especially when he'd be playing basketball for hours every night or those video games or whatever... I got really irritated. And, like a genius, instead of sitting down and telling him, I decided I'd play a little game. (One that I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND and that I'm not proud of.) I decided I'd wait until he hugged me or kissed me or whatever first. I would not innitiate. Darn it. That sucked. Stupid idea. It was a day and a half later that he finally kissed me. I was irate. I didn't even want to kiss him. Didn't he understand? Why didn't he love me back? We had big blowout. Actually, I had a big blowout. Jon doesn't really get angry, and I'm not really sure he knows how to yell at another person. Not to mention, he was clueless as to what I was blubbering about, and he looked super confused.

We got over it, but, a few years later, we were encouraged to read a relationship book in our small group. It's called The Five Love Languages. To be honest, we only sort of read it. Then, about a year later, we were encouraged to read it again by our business team. Yes, a business team. At that point, we were ready to read it and actually apply it. Funny thing is, it's not only about husband and wife relationships, but in EVERY relationship. ONE of the reasons it was highly recommended by people in business.

As a general overview, the book talks about how people perceive "being loved" in very different ways (or languages.) Some people love being told that they do a great job. (Words of Affirmation) They love people verbally applauding them. Some people love getting gifts, even if they're just cards or something small. (Gifts) This is a sign of love to them. Others are touchy people. (Physical Touch) Their physicality is an expression of caring. Some people are all about spending time with people. (Quality Time) They would rather spend time than money on someone they care about. And there are still some people who love to DO things for others. (Acts of Service) They would go out of their way to do something for someone else without any kind of reciprocation.

Holy cow. After reading this book we knew what the issues in our marital communication were. We weren't even speaking the same darn language!!! You may have guessed that I'm a Physical Touch/Quality Time love language combo. Hanging out and holding hands makes me feel loved. But... Jon is not. Not that he doesn't enjoy it, but it doesn't come naturally to him. He has to THINK about it. Make a conscious effort. Jon is interesting, because his showing and receiving love is different. He shows love by Acts of Service. If I go somewhere, I'll come home and he'll have cleaned the house, done the laundry, mowed the lawn and made dinner. Just so I don't have to. He's pretty smooth like that. And the funny thing is, this is how he shows me he loves me. He'd be willing to do these things without me asking or just because he loves me. He doesn't expect or receive love in return this same way though. He loves Words of Affirmation. The Thank Yous and Great Jobs and other encouraging words. (Although we all love kudos now and then, this motivates him and makes him feel loved more than other things.) And I never knew it. I never realized that this was his language. When I get mad or emotional and say hurtful things, this REALLY hurts him. When I praise him or thank him, this REALLY makes him feel loved! So, he's not crazy and neither am I. We just speak different languages when it comes to loving someone.

I've also begun to notice some other things. My mom is a lot like me. My dad is... you guessed it, a lot like Jonny. Weird, huh? Now I understand them a bit better, too! And then we had Avery. Holy cow. If I hadn't read that book... She is a Words of Affirmation girl. If I correct her in front of people, and even sometimes in private, she may start to bawl. She hates feeling like she did something wrong. She lives on praises. Just the other night she was putting together puzzles all by herself and asked (after almost every piece) if I was proud of her. If I hadn't read this book, I'd probably have crushed her little spirit (and probably that of my husband) a long time ago. That really stinks. It's a bit early to figure Sam out, but I'd think he's a bit Physical Touch. He'd have me hold him all day long if he could have his way. We make sure to have snuggle time at least once a day...

There is so much more to this book. It has helped me in just about every relationship imaginable. Please, I emplore you. For your sanity, for your friendships, marriages, kids, and any other relationships, READ THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES!!! Yes, I do realize that this is pretty much a big book promo,but it will make a world of difference. I am forever thankful that I did. Now I know I'm not crazy, and I know how to not drive other people crazy either. I'm still a work in progress, but it's a start!  :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

No More Monkeys Jumpin' On The Bed...

First there were giggles and laughing. Then a thud. Then a split second of silence and... a WAIL!!! Bawling. I ran into the living room and found Ava curled into a ball on the overstuffed chair holding her head. It didn't take me long to figure out what had happened.
She's recently taken to jumping on the furniture. Our bed, the couch, and now, even the chair. The one that is by the steps. The back of it is just high enough so that if you fling your head correctly, you may be able to whack yourself off the edge of the steps behind it. (Not if you're just sitting down though.) Obviously, this is what she did. I cuddled her into my arms and kissed it to make it better. The tears flowed for a little while longer, but eventually dried up. Ava looked at me and tried to explain what had happened. She had "bonked" herself.

"Do you remember Mommy & Daddy telling you 'NO MORE JUMPING?' Just like the monkeys, right?"
"Do you see why we don't want you to jump? I know it's a lot of fun. We're okay if you jump on the floor or a trampoline or even in the bouncy house we went to. Jumping on the furniture is not okay. You can hurt yourself more easily here."
"But, I did it before. I didn't fall off before."
"I know." I tried to explain how I could see the possibility of it happening without it happening every time. That's a bit much for a three year old. So, we just left it at, "Ask Mommy & Daddy if you want to jump somewhere and we'll tell you if it's safe."
I started thinking about our conversation. I always feel like I'm setting down a ton of "no fun" rules. (No jumping on the furniture. No talking to people who come by the back yard by the community walking path. No playing hide and seek in the stores... I'm a killjoy, I know.) It's for her safety, but I know she doesn't see it that way. Then I started thinking...

I've heard a lot of people refer the Bible in the same manner. (List of rules. Lots of stuff you aren't supposed to do. No fun.) Hmmm.... Although I don't see it that way, I'll admit. There are a bunch of things in the Bible that the Lord tells you not to do or that you're supposed to do. Some of them don't seem like they should really be a big deal. Especially not in today's society where a lot of things are allowed. Some of them may seem like a "killjoy" or just there to squash your fun/ freedoms.

What if... maybe, just maybe, God knows more than us. His understanding and the possible outcomes that He sees is greater than our own. He can see that there is potential for danger. Maybe not even for you, but for someone who is watching you and sees you as an example. He can see if there's the possibility for "bonking your head." Or maybe He sees that you're example will lead to others pushing the envelope even further. ie: You may just "jump" on the furniture and be okay, but the next guy sees you and decides to do a flip or try some trick and falls off of the bed.
Maybe, just maybe, they're not a list of "don'ts," but a list of places where humanity tends to fall apart or bonk themselves over and over. And maybe, just maybe, He loves us enough to tell us "No More Jumping" even if that makes Him seem like someone who wants to squash our fun. I think I'll try not to JUMP anymore. I'll also ask my Heavenly Father if it's safe, if I DO feel the urge to jump.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book vs. Nook???

I read a question some time ago (probably over a year) that I've been turning over in my mind since then. It was not long after I had mentioned how enamored I was with the Kindles and Nooks. You know, those e-readers. I think it was not long after the Kindle had come out and they were still pretty expensive. Well, the question I read was in reference to these e-readers. I don't remember the exact wording, but it was along these lines and brought up several spin off questions in my mind...
Are e-readers really the way to go? What will become of our libraries? Will they go the way of the Encyclopedia Britannica or World Book? Will we even have a reason for libraries if everyone starts carrying an e-reader? Will children lose that love of ... holding a book in their hands? the smell of the pages? the lovely sound of a never before opened book being creased for the first time?
I mean, I can VIVIDLY remember the first book I ever read from. It's a Richard Scarry book of several stories. It's still in Ava's room. I remember loving to hear my mom read from that book almost every night. I knew the stories by heart. I would sit and pretend to read until, one night, I actually figured out the words to the story of the egg that had fallen down the drain pipe. I was in LOVE!!!
I realize that these e-readers are great and really convenient. I can't say that I don't still secretly yearn for one... But, I pray that they don't take away from the love of actual books. I know that it's a way to carry more books with you and have more of them at your access at a time.
Maybe it's just nostalgia, but I find something therapeutic about having an actual book in my hand. Is this just me? Does this mean I'm officially old? Or just hoping to preserve a precious feeling/memory for myself and to pass on to future generations?