Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Brush with Paint

A loooooooong time ago.. before Aed was two.. before the haircut.. when Asher was still pretty fresh.. I thought it might be a fun activity for Aed to try his hand at painting. He’s not a huge fan of crayons, though he will play with them for a short time (and I mean play.. they usually end up on the floor being pushed or dumped or tossed rather than used for coloring). He sort of likes pens, pencils, and the magnadoodle. But, we just really haven’t found his artistic niche. Though with his current obsession with playdough, I’m beginning to think he’s just more of a 3-D guy. :)

We don’t have a great set up for painting (for children or adults, boohoo.. note the wicker furniture. Bumpy surface, impossible to clean), but I decided to go for it anyway and just hope I could clean up whatever mess was made. Sounds like a good plan, yes? :)

Turns out, painting is very exciting! I had cut bits of colored paper and shown him how to glue as well, so he could make a mixed media painting if he so desired.

(And really, before any of you self-proclaimed ‘non-artistic’ mothers out there begin to lament your lack of creativity-inspired activities.. I did NOT think it through this much when I gave him the paint, brush, and paper.. I pretty much just thought, ‘Well that could be fun’ and gave him stuff :) Blogging can make lots of things look much more sparkly than they really are.. Also, my child is no artistic genius. He glued way more paper to his fingers than he did to his painting :) Just keeping it real here.)

So we got down to work. He was really excited to have his picture taken..

But in the end let me get a sort of good one to show off his lovely painting.

We have some work to do on the quality of our art documentation :)
He didn’t do a lot of painting on the paper itself, but REALLY enjoyed smudging the paint around on the palate. (I see finger paints in our future!) The best part of the whole thing turned out to be watching the water change colors when we rinsed the brush. He asked me over and over again to ‘make watah boo gen.’ (Or in big people terms, make the water blue again.)

One thing I hadn’t considered would be the potential difficulty in doing this while I was holding Asher. I’m a pretty good juggler, but at some point Aed managed to get his hands on his brother when I wasn’t ready for it and Asher got to join in the adventure.

We delved back in to painting again this week on a rainy, grey day and it was loved even more this time around. Fortunately, Asher was sleeping, so avoided painting peril. We got to use lots of colors and Mama helped, so we ended up with a fun, collaborative painting to adorn our refrigerator. (I let him choose the paper.. he chose a scrap piece of yellow which is why part of it is cut off :)

It was so fun to watch his delight as we turned a red(ish) triangle into a smiley face, then gave him a hat, then gave him feet so he could walk, then gave him ground to walk on! I delight in his delight :)

Aed was SO proud of this painting. At various times every day he decides it’s time to ‘see smiles’ and runs over to look at it. He has taken the time to show it to many of his toys and has asked numerous times to take a picture of it. He gets such a kick out of seeing it and counting the smiles. It’s great motivation to see what we can come up with next!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Beach

We still go!

Even though it is getting frigid and windy and, did I mention really cold?

A few weeks ago we had about a week of really nice sunny, warm weather. Unfortunately, during this wonderful weather, I was juggling two napping babies which meant it was more difficult than ever to take advantage!

After one particularly sunny day that included lots of nap refusals, I decided we just needed to get the heck outside. So we did. We tried and tried and tried to convince Daddy to come with us to the beach because it was SO nice outside. He was relentless in his claims of ‘needing to work’. I was skeptical of this need, but I suppose that very resolve is what has gotten us to this point of completion in his work.. so who can complain, really?

Off we went, Daddy-less, ready for some fun. By the time we arrived one of us was sound asleep..

One of us was feeling rather timid..

And, one of us couldn’t believe what a gorgeous day it was..

Before long the timid one had moved from Mama’s lap..

to full-fledged filling and dumping.

Which is a good thing, because about three seconds after we arrived at the beach the sleeping one woke up to kick his cute little feet in gentle gusts of sandy wind..

Aed loved playing with his bucket and was very focused with each scoop of sand..

I hear sticking out the tongue enhances concentration :)

And we had a wonderful time stripping off the jeans and boots (Aed’s, not mine.. I stayed fully clothed) and playing in the waves. After he warmed up to the idea, I could not get Aed out of the water. He threw the fit I knew was coming when it was time to go, but it was so fun watching him run through puddles and tide pools, flirt with college girls foolishly hoping for a suntan, and refuse to surrender his toes to those lapping waves.  

We may not get any more warm visits to the beach, but this was certainly a sweet one.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Here’s the scoop..

I wrote the last post in the midst of contemplation. We are processing, attempting to figure out how to transport our belongings, wondering how we will say goodbye and what life and these relationships will look like when we do. I completely overlooked the fact that I didn’t leave you with the slightest inkling (unless you already knew, of course) of where we were going or why we were going.

(Let me interject.. THANK YOU for your wonderful comments and emails of support and common understanding after my last post. We appreciated it so much, and I was far more emotional in reading and being reminded of all the wonderful friends and loved ones that we have than I was when I actually wrote that post! Thank you, thank you.)

So, here are those details.

First of all, it’s no big secret that overseas tuition is kind of absurd. Add to that a wonderfully horrible (though better than it was) exchange rate, and you get very poor graduate students. This was a pricey endeavor, and we knew that it would be. Coming into this year, some things changed for us financially that we hadn’t anticipated, so we started considering the possibility of moving back to the States sooner than we had originally planned.

Then, after three years of labor pains, Ian gave birth to this..

Taken on the evening after the first compete draft was printed. You can bet a celebration ensued. 
A completed thesis! Woohoo! When Ian took stock of his work for the coming year over this last summer, it started to look like he’d be submitting much earlier than we had anticipated. So we started considering the possibility of moving back to the States sooner than we had originally planned. (Seeing a trend?)

The next hurdle was (is) finding a job. It seemed a bit defeating to move back to the States with nothing to show for these last 4+ years of education (aside from the new title of Dr.! Hello! But, try telling that to the one who earned it..), but arguments were still strong that moving would be the wisest option for our family and our afflicted bank account.

In the end, we decided to cut 6-7 months off of our stay in St Andrews regardless of Ian’s employment status because the numbers just had a really good argument. They can be very persuasive. So despite the loss of physical presence at his school, Ian will still be applying for jobs and preparing for his defense in the spring. He will be back here at least twice - to defend and then graduate (if all goes as planned :) next summer.

We had such a hard time committing to this change. We had planned on finishing this school year and enjoying another summer before we moved on. It was a really difficult shift in thinking to start to consider our time here ending so soon.

So we will be taking up residence in a comfy little number in rural Indiana with wide open spaces and lots of bedrooms. We will be living with my parents through the spring and probably a good chunk of summer, until hopefully, we move on to a job for Dr. Church.

We are really looking forward to sharing our boys with their family who have missed them so. We are looking forward to a time of rest (well.. at least a little bit) after some very stretching and busy years. We are looking forward to sweet corn and watermelon (ok, maybe that’s mostly me :). We are heading back to where we came from. One step at a time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Since we have lived here, I have…

learned to look right first when crossing the road.

discovered that I get very motion sick when being transported on the left side of the road rather than the right.

grown, birthed, and loved two beautiful boys.

adjusted to ‘Mexican’ equaling barbeque flavored.

worked in an office, worked in our home.

learned to cook from scratch, including ridiculous substitutes for American recipes.

come to understand what it means to be displaced.

watched the beauty of the immediate bond that can develop when you’re both far from home.

lived in a flat which I loved, and a house which I love more.

grown so accustomed to a tiny grocery store that I am unable to shop without help when visiting the States.

learned to love public transportation.

learned to hate public transportation.

traveled to 12 countries.

baked and loved baking so, so much. I’m thinking about changing my middle name to Sugar.

benefited and suffered from free health care.

enjoyed using my feet to get myself from here to there rather than a vehicle.

become claustrophobic when I’m not in walking distance of water.

been a supporter and been supported.

grown closer to my husband than I realized.

come to love a wide assortment of foods I never gave the time of day before.

walked hundreds of miles through a slow-paced life that lets me live one day at a time.

served, learned, and grown in a little church that was just what we needed.

watched both my babies baptized in a community of believers that love them.

forgotten what it feels like to be completely comfortable in the States.

stopped worrying about if my furniture matches and started being just plain thankful.

learned that it is going to be so much harder than I ever imagined to say goodbye.

When we moved here over four years ago, all I wanted to do was go back. It didn’t feel right. It was hard and uncomfortable. I felt out of place and overwhelmed. Everything felt so different from home. And somehow now, that feels like a different person. This is home. This is where I belong.

We are moving. It has been such a hard process deciding what will be best for our family, but we have decided. As of mid-December, our feet will trek across the customs line and we will be residents of the US once again. I am excited. I’m nervous. I’m a little scared. I’ve done a lot of growing up in this country rather than that one, and I am afraid of the learning and growing I’m going to have to do all over again. I’m afraid of losing what I’ve gained and the treading of water that will have to take place until I can figure out my strongest stroke in a new place.

Our decision became official this morning with the purchase of plane tickets. I talked to Aed a bit about flying on a plane, going to a new house with a new room to stay in for a while. His response was, ‘Go on plane, wanna stay dis house.’

Me too, Buddy.

But it will be good. It will be hard and good and a new adventure. Change doesn’t give in. It forces its way in to every nook and cranny we try to hide and protect. There’s no use in running away. So, here we go. The next step.

Praise the Lord.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Power Outage Conversations

A few weeks ago we were sitting around the table eating our dinner of leftovers, when suddenly, all the lights went out. I was immediately confused.

‘Did the power just go out? Or wait, is this a fuse thing? Do we need to check the fuses?’

After looking around and taking in all of the blank screens where digital clocks formerly were, as well as finding all the little power lights to be out on our various electronics, it was determined that, indeed, the power was out.

Oooooh.. exciting! My first thought was, ‘Oh man, I’m glad we already heated up dinner!’ I don’t think our landlords would have appreciated a kitchen fire to heat up those leftovers :).

As we realized what a power outage at this time of day would mean and began to discuss how we were going to handle it, it became very apparent that we are entirely unaccustomed to thinking non-electrically.

For example. Because it was dinnertime, that meant bedtime was looming. Since both our boys sleep upstairs, we use monitors so we can hear if they wake up while we’re downstairs. Ok, so we’ll leave the living room door open so we can hear a little better. Should be fine.

Next issue. The noisemakers. We are white noise people. Both the boys have white noise playing in their rooms and can’t sleep well without it. As we discussed this I came up with this excellent solution.. ‘Well, we can just use your iPod in Asher’s room, and use our white noise on the computer in Aed’s room.’

Easy, right?

Ian follows with, ‘And what are we going to do when the computer dies?’

Me: ‘Plug it into the.. oh.’

Once I manage to stop laughing, a thought suddenly hits me.

‘Wait, does this mean we can’t flush the toilets?? I seem to remember whenever the power went out growing up we couldn’t flush the toilets?’

Ian: ‘I don’t know.. I think the toilets will be fine.’

Me: ‘Yeah, I remember Dad refilling them with buckets.’

Ian: ‘That’s probably because you guys lived in the middle of nowhere and so had a well, which probably used electricity to pump water to the house.’

Me: ‘Oh.’

Then Ian realizes that if the power is out, that means we won’t be able to heat up the leftover dessert we were saving until the kiddos were in bed.

So, I come up with another zinger..

‘We can still heat it up! We’ll just use the stove instead of the microwave! Oh, wait..’

Ian: ‘Yup. There it is.’

Me: ‘Why am I so bad at this??’

So we focus once again on solving the white noise problem. I took a flashlight up to investigate our situation.. Both noise makers could also be operated by batteries! Yes! I rounded up some batteries for Aed’s, took them up, and viola! You’d never know the power was out (aside from the flashlight usage, of course).

Asher’s, however, took a 9V battery. Turns out we didn’t have one. But, all the fire alarms have them, so I suggested Ian just take one out of the a fire alarm and use it for the night in the noisemaker. He didn’t like this idea. Ian hates messing with the fire alarms. It always ends up with all kinds of unnecessary beeping, climbing on chairs, struggling to get the caps off, etc. It’s not pleasant. So he was already fussy before attempting to remove the battery. As he stood on the chair trying to remove the heat detector from the ceiling, apparently the reality of an evening without electricity began to sink in. All of a sudden he explodes with, ‘What are we even going to do tonight, PLAY SKIPBO?!?! I HATE camping!!’

I proceeded to crack up laughing at his desperation to get the battery out of the detector while dealing with these revelations.

About this time, I hear Asher poop. Shoot. It’s dark. Ian and I both managed to pass yet another test of parenting: changing poopy diapers by flashlight. I guess power outages inspire bowel movements because both kids went for it. Ian tells me that though he was slightly confused, Aed thoroughly enjoyed bedtime by flashlight.

I had a meeting that night, and quickly learned that it was only a small segment of houses right around us that lost power. It was kind of funny being in an electrically lit pub with a few friends, imagining Ian sitting alone doing something (SkipBo?) by candlelight back at our house.

Fortunately, by the time I got home the power was back on and all was well. Aside from the fact that Asher had hardly slept since I left, but that’s another issue altogether..

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Haircut

We’ve been talking for a while about maybe possibly probably needing to cut Aed’s hair.

I’ll admit.. I kind of didn’t want to. We got little kid conditioner to see if we could keep those curls under control.. We tried wetting his hair down to keep those curls under control.. I even took the small amount of my spray gel that was left and mixed it with water to use on Aed’s hair to keep those curls under control..

But, alas, all it took was one nap or nighttime to create a mess of frizzy, semi-curly dread locks on the back of my baby’s head. There was no keeping it under control. I had to give in.

But once I did, I was drooling to take scissors to those curls :) I was daydreaming of a little boy with cute curls sans weird dread locks. So.. we talked about cutting his hair a few times with him, and he got the idea enough that he would pull his hair out as far is it would go (almost as if he wanted to confirm that it was indeed, too long :) when we mentioned it.

He climbed up into his big boy chair, ‘all nakey!’ as he described it (he loves being nakey).

And we set him up with a Bob the Builder marathon so he wouldn’t focus on the fact that I was wielding scissors around his head.

(all nakey.. aside from his stripey socks :)

Worked like a charm.

I snipped and chopped and cut of lots of little curls.

And I’m so glad I did!

His hair is so cute now that it’s shorter! Unfortunately, he is really not okay with having pictures taken these days. The ironic thing is he still wants to ‘see Aed’ in the back of the camera, but won’t let me take the picture to begin with. Figure that one out.

Maybe if Daddy holds him he'll let me take a picture?

Nope. Not even then.

We spent the next several days ooohing and aaahing about how cute he is. And, other than the occasional ‘Shoot, now I have to do this on a regular basis’ feelings, I am loving the shorter curls :)

Monday, October 03, 2011

I love this picture!

It's from one of our baby/mama teas earlier this spring and I think it might be my favorite photo that we've captured of the kiddos :) Too cute!