Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Be Content

This whole two kids in school, getting up early, homework, running a business, mothering a two year old, keeping a house reasonably clean and laundry reasonable kept up, all while trying to have a life of my own (including being a good wife to an awesome husband) is really starting to wear me out. I'm tired. Seriously, dragging my feet, wishing for bedtime, sneaking in cat-naps, bone tired.

Before you say it, I completely realize none of this gets easier, or less tiring. (Comments like... "Wait until Jack gets in school." and "You know you'll have two teenage girls in high school, right." can all wait until Jack graduates from college, thank you very much.) I will have to find a way to cope and get less tired with hopefully less caffeine. And, I will. In the meantime, my current coping mechanism for dealing with all of this is daydreaming.

Lately, whenever I'm in the car, or on a run, or walking back from the morning school bus (of which are usually my non-sleeping moments alone), I think of all of these great posts about dreams and aspirations for my life. Now, most of them escape me, but wanted to get a few on paper. Here's a brief list...

- Lies I Tell Myself (Mainly based around, "If I didn't have kids, I would _______." i.e. eat less/better, work out more, read more, etc.)

- Bucket List - I've been thinking a lot about this recently. Probably because we don't have a lot of time to spare for trips around this house. So, in my dreams, I'm on a mission trip to Africa, or in some tropical locale on a beach with Tom, or working for a Presidential campaign (not volunteer - get paid - added that to the list today).

- Wish List - Much like the bucket list, but less about actual things to go and do and more about things I could do around home. For instance, learn the fiddle, become crafty (see Lies I Tell Myself), spend more quality time with the kids (again, see above), start a cool, hip blog about crocheting (seriously, go google it - there are none), etc.

These thoughts have been consuming my brain power lately. Eventually, I need to get them on paper, so I'm hopeful this will fill that need for the short term. And, if it doesn't, I'll be back to dig deeper.

For now, I'm encouraged by my sweet Josie's new favorite Bible lesson. "Be content." She learned about the Israelites in Egypt at Sunday School not being content with God's provisions, and it stuck with that kid. She asked Gram to go jump waves with her at the lake last weekend. She said, "I know I'm not being content just playing on the beach, but I really want to jump the waves." It's come up multiple times over the last two weeks and it's like it was placed on her heart just so she can place it on mine.

Be content. Realize what I have in the moment. Realize that this, like all of the other phases, won't last for long. Realize that this will be like rocking a non-sleeping newborn at 3AM and simply slip away like grains of sand through my fingers. There will be a time for all of those other, non-mothering things in my life. But, by then, all of this will all be a distant memory and I'll want just a piece of it back. Be content.

{Just one of those grains of sand I wish I could have back...}

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gift of Life - Brought to Life

So, I had to go back through my posts to see if I have ever talked about Rotary. You can find all posts in which it is referenced here. But, I am sad to say, I haven't really talked about what we actually do as Rotarians. And, actually, the true details will need to be saved for another post. Suffice it to say, it's an awesome civic organization in which we've met a ton of new people with caring hearts. And, it's the reason I eat lunch at Ponderosa every Thursday. :)

One of the club's main fundraising efforts each year is for Gift of Life. Gift of Life International is a large organization that works on getting children all over the world life saving operations for heart conditions with tons of support from Rotary Clubs across the globe. Each year, our club puts on a huge auction to raise money for the same cause. (I'm sure my Rotarian friends would be able to put this all more eloquently, but honestly, I'm not sure of the connection between GOL International, our Rotary District and our club.) The auction raises around $50,000 a year and our club has saved the lives of a bunch of children due to this one night and all of the hard work that it takes. I will say this post will not do any of this justice...

We have also sent a vocational training team from Riley Hospital to Uganda two times in order to train Ugandan surgeons and staff to do the same surgeries as we do here. You can check out their blog for day to day updates about their trip. They are able to operate on more children while there for the same costs as flying one child here. And, the training the doctors and nurses receive while there makes it possible to do even more surgeries once we leave.

Every once in a while, though, we bring children to Indianapolis. This year, it will be five children. And, by we, I mean our club's Rotary District. This year, a member of our club, Stephanie, is the District Gift of Life chair. Fortunately for me, we are Stephanie's new neighbor. Sunday night was the night the new baby and her mother arrived at the airport from Kosovo. I went along for the ride, leaving the house after my normal bedtime... 10:15. Their flight was due to arrive around 11:30. We waited there with some other Rotarians.

Suzanna and Monica watched down the long hallway to try to see her. Monica ended up hurdling the couch once she saw her coming. :)

It was sometime during this wait that I realized what Mira (the mother) must be going through during this time. I know we work really hard at putting together the auction and getting the items and it can be very stressful at times. However, the stress and uncertainty of this woman's situation certainly outweighs all of that. She boarded a plane, alone, with a five month old for a 24 hour travel day. Then, she arrives in a foreign country and is not able to speak the language. She rides with a stranger to a strange place and has to eat strange food for the next six weeks. Meanwhile, her baby is operated on by a stranger too. I become very overwhelmed when I put myself in the same situation. I don't know that I would have the strength or courage...

Finally, they arrived. It was great to see them.

I snapped this photo while we were picking up their bags.

Stephanie putting Sara in the car seat.

We took them to the Ronald McDonald House and arrived there around 12:30AM or so. I have never been there, so that was an experience too. I can't imagine what comfort this place must give families when they need to be close to a loved one in the hospital. We got her settled into her room, made her bed and Sara's bed (she wasn't so sure about the pack and play). Then, we left to let her sleep. Once home, I tossed and turned all night - thinking about what a great thing Mira is doing and how scared I would be and praying for peace for them.

Stephanie went back over to the hospital to be with Mira and Sara for their first pre-surgery appointment. Not having a translator was hard I'm sure but they started using the Google Translate app on her phone. I didn't think too much of it, but they had to call in a formal, official translator when it came down to the real medical sign off stuff. Mira only speaks Albanian and there is not an official translator in all of Indiana.

Here is a great picture of them in the hospital together.

Today, Jack and I took a trip over to see them. When I arrived, she was talking back and forth through the Google translate program with another family staying there. I think she was happy to have some socialization! We stayed and talked there a while and watched the kids play.

Eventually, I took her over to the community kitchen and asked if I could make her lunch. (All through the translate app on the phone.) Stephanie had told me she liked noodles, so I made mac and cheese. She liked it. Maybe comfort food is the same in any culture. :)

She is able to communicate with her family over instant messenger but we have not been able to get video chat up and running yet. I think I finally have it set up so it may work now. I was able to take a video of her and Sara and let her send it to her husband and family. She chatted a long time on the computer, which I can tell she appreciated.

In the meantime, I took photos. :)

Jack was really enthralled with her. I told him last night we were going to see a baby today and he talked about it non-stop. He got down and talked to her and she "talked" back. He was so sweet with her and kept saying "Mama, she's talking to me!" Here's a little video (please ignore the over protective woman in the background - she seriously needs to settle down...)

Sara will have surgery on Monday. I'm going to try to make it over again sometime during the week. It sounds like she will be in the hospital for at least a week but probably 10 days. So, Jack may not be able to visit again until later in their stay. I'm hoping to take the girls too. Mira and Sara are here until mid-September while she recovers.

I think it's important to help form a loving heart in our own kids. There is no way to teach them this without hands on experience. They won't need to wait to go on a mission trip in junior high to see that people need our help and our compassion. I want them to see mom and dad doing these things as they grow older not just talking about it. So, they'll come with us again when we set up for the auction and now they'll have a face to put with all of the hard work. And, so will we. :)


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

First Day Excitement!

Today was the day! Josie started first grade and Tessa took on kindergarten. This marks a huge change for us. Josie was only half day kindergarten last year and just took the bus to school and we picked her up from school. Then, of course, there was no bussing for Tessa's Pre-K. So, having both girls transported to and from school is a huge gift for us! (Both time and gas money!)

{You can see the post from last year too!}

We spent the last night before school getting everything ready. Tom took them swimming at the neighbors so that they would be nice and tuckered out by the new 7:30 bedtime. It worked. All of the kids were bathed, bags packed, lunches ready, outfits picked out and settled down and out like a light at 7:30. And, it's a good thing. Tessa was down in our bed by 5AM (this is not unusual anyway) and Josie was up and dressed by 6:15.

Breakfast, hair and teeth brushed and we were ready to go at 6:45 - only 30 minutes early. :) It gave us lots of time for photos!

Hoping to take this photo each year! We'll be able to judge by the doorbell height!

Running off to the bus stop together - lots of nervous energy this morning!

When it was time to get them off the bus, one of my neighbors came over and said do you want to hear how Tessa did? (She was one of the gracious parents that helps get the little ones off the bus and to their classrooms for the first week.) Oh no! Apparently, she cried most of the way to school on the bus. Josie didn't sit with her (she thought she still had assigned seating from last year) and so she didn't have anyone to sit with. Apparently, that really shook her up. :( But, thankfully, the neighbor saw her and sent her daughter over to help her out. (My girls LOVE Brynn.) She settled down quickly and did great the rest of the day. So thankful the neighbor was there to check on her!

We were able to learn a lot about their days. Sounds like everything was great. Maybe a short (very short?) lunch but other than that, sounds like they had fun. Tessa was sad that she didn't get to drink her Capri-Sun and I still haven't really figured out why but I'm sure it will get easier. Those kids chowed down this afternoon and tonight though! They had an after school snack and then took off for the neighbor's house. Then, for dinner, they ate more than I've ever seen them eat and were still asking for more when they were done.

We had a bit of a breakdown with Tessa at bedtime though. Not the usual fit-type breakdown, but more of a weepy thing. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. She said she's confused about what to wear tomorrow and really just wanted big hugs. I can't even imagine how much she had to go through today. A full day of kindergarten with everything new (teachers, students, routines, etc.) can really take it out of a five year old. This is so different than last year when we were just dropping Josie off and picking her back up 2 hours later. I know it will get easier for her and for me, but I immediately threw myself back to all of those uncomfortable school memories - first day at a new school, first time in a lunch line, first night at summer camp, first night away at college, etc. and how scared and uncertain I was. I just feel so helpless and want to make her feel better and hold her hand the whole way. (Meanwhile, I'm fast forwarding to dropping the kids off at college and it makes me cry even more!) I keep reassuring her (and myself) that it will get easier and it will be so much fun, but I think she's having a hard time believing me through my tears. :)

Now, mind you, Josie had a great day and had nothing but positive things to say. Music class was a big hit and she said her teacher was really nice. :) She brought home homework and we managed to get that done tonight too. 

We managed another 7:30 bedtime and I snapped these pictures around 8:15 with the light still streaming in their bedrooms. It looks like Tessa is still concerned. Tom tells me I sleep like this all the time though and I'm convinced that's what has caused all of my wrinkles. :)

Full, full day!