Friday, July 25, 2014

Bad Mom Moment!

Hannah basically hates her play area. We have half the room sectioned off, but she still spends the entire time she is in there, planning and trying to execute her jail break. (And screaming too -- she does a lot of that as well.) She'll work on the end (nearest the wall) and push and shove until she can get the toy basket away from the wall. Then, she'll make a break for it. If she hears you on her tail, she starts crawling or walking faster. She wants nothing to do with playing in there.

The kids have learned to let us know if Hannah has gotten out. They will yell, "Hannah alert! Hannah alert!" (Or in Abigail's case it is more like, "Hannah awurt!" This means we should come running because a jail break has occurred. 

We keep changing the way we have the gate set-up to try and outsmart her. It will work for a few days and then she'll get wise on it and figure out how break out again, and we have to go back to the drawing board.

I wish I didn't have to keep her in there. But because we have no furniture, I have no bookshelves to hide cords behind. I have no drawers to put items safely out of reach. There are just wayyyy too many hazards. We do let her out, but only if an adult is walking around with her 1-on-1 without interruption.

The only time that she is okay with being in her play area is if someone is in there with her.

Which brings me to my "Bad Mom Moment."

JB was doing some work on the computer which is on the other side of the room. He had his headphones on so he couldn't hear anything. I decided to lay on the floor with Hannah. I put my head on that beanbag at the top right of the photo and just let her crawl all over me while trying to get any rest I could. The three older kids were playing legos upstairs peacefully. I thought maybe I could manage a little rest.

This went on for about an hour. Hannah climbed on my head, pulled my hair, ate my stomach, tried to eat my feet ... you know, typical baby stuff.

At some point, she quite harassing me and went to play with the toys in the basket.

The next thing I knew, JB was yelling, "Wendi!"

I jumped up. I instantly turned to find Hannah. 

Yep. You guessed it. She had made a jail break. I must have fallen asleep (or she was uber quiet) because I never saw or heard anything.

But the story gets worse. Hannah -- our little ten month old Hannah -- was three-fourths of the way up the stairs to the second floor.

By the time I realized what was going on, JB had already grabbed her and was coming back down the stairs with her in his arms. He handed her to me and tried to look mad, but mostly, he was trying to figure out himself how she managed to pry the toy box away from the wall and get up a flight of stairs before either of her in-the-room parents had any idea what had happened.

This folks, is why we pray for our children. 

Friday Funnies

Right in the middle of eating a wonderful Chicken Cordon Bleu meal (cooked by Grama), Sidge says, "I want some pancakes?"
Me: "Pancakes? Now."
Sidge: "It doesn't have to be right now. But I'd like to eat some pancakes. Maybe tomorrow?"
That kid LOVES food.


I've been trying to teach the kids about musical composers. After putting the kiddos to bed while JB was working, I put on some music. Sidge came out.
Sidge: "Is that the deaf guy?"
Me: "Beethoven? No."
Sidge: "Oh. Is it George Washington?"
Me: "Bach."

A message from Criss

A message from Criss -- from our currently sponsored couple: Joel & Criss

To help with our adoption costs I have signed up to sell Thirty-One! 

If you are interested in any products for yourself or know anyone who loves Thirty-One and share my page with them, we very much appreciate it! 

They are a faith based company with lots of bags, accessories and organizational products. Just click the link and click on 'Christina Van Wyck' as your consultant!

SO if you could, please pass on the link and THANK YOU for all your prayers, help and support!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Superhero Homeschool

I am working at collecting any and all superhero-based homeschooling activities for my five-year-old boys. If anyone has any additional ones, I'd be most obliged to you sharing them with me! I plan to return to this page and update it to oblivion! UPDATED!!!

Homeschool packets:
Superhero Mini Unit
Superhero Pre-K Pack
Superhero Kindergarten Math Pack
Batman Preschool Pack
Spiderman Unit (Biblically Based)
Superhero Unit Study: Lesson Ideas that Pack a Punch!
Superheroes Kindergarten Pack
Superhero Unit

Marvel Heroes: Second Grade (Math Made Easy)
Math Made Easy: Superman: Third Grade
Math made Easy: Marvel Heroes: Fourth Grade
Math Made Easy: Batman: Fifth Grade
Extended Superhero booklist

Coloring sheets & Activity Packets
Captain America Printables 

The Physics of Superheroes

Little artist

Isaac thinks coloring is okay. He'll get in a groove and color a bunch. But only if he has the right picture. Or a blank paper and a good inspiration.

And if it isn't a Superhero ... forget it.

Sidge basically hates to color. If I ask him to color for school work he'll sigh and say, "Coloring makes me soooo tired."

(And Hannah -- well, I'm sure all she knows how to do is eat crayons.)

But Abigail? This little chick L-O-V-E-S to color.

Recently she has started asking for blank paper so she can actually draw. 

Notice her little princesses set up on the left -- these are her inspiration.

And here is the finished product: Four princesses. Supposedly one is Mulan and one is Jasmine. Not sure how that can be when there are three blondes. I also couldn't ascertain why one has a gray face, but hey, I'm not picky.

Now I roll my eyes (inside at least) every time I hear a parent rave about how brilliant their child is. I mean, really, aren't most kids basically the same? But I do think that Abigail's drawing seems a little bit advanced for a three-year-old. But just a little bit. And I'm not writing her a ticket to art school yet or anything.

But mannnn is it fun to watch your kids develop their own personal likes and dislikes and gifts. Daddy is an artist so who knows what skills she inherited ...

... from him of course.


Our stuff is due in on Tuesday.

I am trying to keep the faith that it will be mold-free, but we have now received word of a FOURTH family that has had an entire shipment ransacked by mold. One friend had a mold-free shipment so I know it is possible, and I am trying to remain hopeful.

It is not actually the thought of mold that bothers me. My stuff is all replaceable. Even our Turkish carpets are something that with insurance, we could buy again. However, it is the time and hassle that I am just not sure I have the energy for right now. The thought that the truck could pull up and then have to leave for some cleaning and discarding facility is simply not something I care to think about.

Please pray that I can keep the faith. I am trying ...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I blamed my wife for our messy house, I was wrong for many reasons

Just read this article and wanted to share. 

There were two paragraphs that especially stood out to me ...

The author writes:

We got into a huge fight. Mel told me that I needed to realize what she was up against. And then she told me something that really hit home. She said, “Sometimes it comes down between cleaning the house, and taking Tristan and Norah to the park. Or spending time having fun with them, or teaching them to read or write. Sometimes I can either do the dishes, or teach our son how to ride a bike, or our daughter how to walk. I’d rather do those things, frankly. I’d rather not be that mom who ignores our kids, and myself, because I’m so busy worrying about what the neighbors might think of our messy house.”

What I discovered was that taking care of the home is actually a collection of a million full-time jobs. My wife is a housekeeper, disciplinarian, teacher, nurse, chauffeur, comforter, cook, part-time student, school volunteer, neighborhood caregiver, and more.

This parallels with another piece I read entitled: Apology to All Stay at Home Mums. Written by a stay-at-home Dad, he confesses that he usually to really think how nice it would be to sit around and watch TV all day. Until he became the stay-at-home Dad. 

"It's not easy," he writes in his closing paragraph. "In fact it's the hardest job I've ever had. Sure it has it's moments, but it is a very challenging, very stressful job that is all held together, for most women at least, by a good bottle of wine."

Time to Wee-Wind! (It's Wednesday!)

On this date in 2009, we arrived in Snowmass, Colorado.

 JB had a Conference he was attending. I joined him with two little boys in tow. My great friend Kelsey joined us for a few days.

I look at this picture of Isaac, above, and cannot believe that he is now six! He has long legs and big feet and has lost teeth and is starting kindergarten! In some ways, I greatly grieve how fast the time has flown. But in otherwise I love seeing the little boy he has become!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's Off to Work He Goes!

JB's work is so very different from anything he has done the last four years.

The last four years were pretty predictably Monday thru Friday full workdays. He would also be on call quite a bit.

Now he is working 12 hour shifts. These shifts can be anytime during the week. They run from 7am until 7pm or from 7pm until 7am. Generally he will be doing more days than nights. He is supposed to be doing at least ten shifts a month, but he would like to do more in the neighborhood of 12-14. He is never on call.

There are some very good things about this schedule. The first is that we can easily take trips or he can attend conferences without actually having to take time off of work. He simply tells the scheduler thirty days ahead of time what days he would like off and viola! there you have it.

In addition, he is usually doing only two or three shifts a week. This is a grand total of 36 hours a week. Both in Turkey and the Azores he was usually working closer to 50 hours a week. (And I won't even get started on what his hours during his residency at Eglin were.)

If he works nights and there is nothing going on, he can also get some sleep which on a good night can mean he gets paid to go to sleep!

He also gets paid for every single hour he works. This means that if he has to work later due to a busy shift, he gets paid for it -- instead of working salaried as he did in the military.

Working by shift obviously has its downsides. Because he is a contractual employee, he has to get his own health insurance. He also doesn't get paid if he doesn't work (i.e., if he has to call in sick.)

This is a small ER. Family medicine physicians generally only work at small ER's. Any "big" things that might occur in a town (car accidents, violent crime, etc.) go to trauma centers and so, unless they walk in themselves, John won't see them. Big ER's staff doctors who go to school in Emergency Medicine.

Overall, we think we are going to like the new ER schedule. The days he is gone are very long to me. He leaves before 6:30am and is home close to 8pm. Originally, I was trying to leave the kiddos up to greet him when he got home. But this was hard for him because he had to quickly jump into a bedtime routine, and the kids were getting to bed an hour late. So now, we've decided that I'll do the whole bedtime thing solo, get them in bed, and then he can go in and kiss them and snuggle with them if he gets home in time.

Dad and Mom are here in TN now. Mom is here for good. Dad will still be going back and forth to finish up some jobs in Florida. John's brother and his wife (Ray & Gabbi) are living a town over so Dad and Mom are spending a good bit of time at their house too. While I miss Dad and Mom (and their help!) when they are gone, I'm so glad that they are close to another one of their children and their grandchildren.

As for me, this week we started a new homeschooling curriculum. I've only done it for two days, but I am simply LOVING how organized and easy it is to know what I am doing each day and to follow the schedule so easily. Like I said, I plan to spend more time discussing what we are using and how I am doing it, but for now, I'll just say that it is totally working for us. Today, I even invited over the cousins to play. I wondered if I could get our four hours of homeschooling in with visitors, and we did it pretty easily!

If you think of it, please continue to pray for the delivery of our "stuff" on the 29th. I've received more reports of people receiving entire shipments destroyed by mold. But I also received the good news of someone receiving an entire shipment with no mold. While it is just "stuff" there are a few things in there that would not be easily replaceable. There is a quilt that a friend made us for our wedding. There are also our three handmade Turkish rugs. And of course there is a smattering of photos and pictures that while technically replaceable, would be sad to lose.

Yes, you have insurance, but filing claims and getting those taken care of can be a real pain. Take our storage shipment. As I mentioned previously, our stuff arrived minus a king sized mattress we had put in there just for this situation. Basically, it was stolen. Totally gone. We reported it, but they are saying that in order to file a claim over $300, we need a receipt for the mattress. Who keeps a receipt from a mattress you bought the first year you were married? Not us. Trying to file that claim for the mattress with the terribly cumbersome military website has taken JB no less than THREE hours ... and that's for one little mattress! Needless to say it isn't so much the "stuff" but the "hassle" that I am REALLY hoping will pass over our house!

All righty ... hoping JB will be home from his shift any minute! Night everyone!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Few Fun Notes

Life has been interesting as of late. Here are just a few "big" things that have been going on:

1) We found out that our stuff is scheduled for delivery on July 29th! We are so incredibly excited to finally have everything we own in one place. We have been without our things since the beginning of April, and our delivery was supposed to have occurred before June 3rd. Please pray that our stuff does in fact come. In addition, please pray that there is no mold in our shipment. Another gal on our boat received her goods and they were nearly all completely destroyed by mold. It's been a terrible thing for her, and we are just hoping and praying our's doesn't include the same problems.

2) I gave my talk to the MOPs group in Japan last week and it seemed to go very well. Other than the fact that I screwed up the time change slightly and almost missed the talk (gulp!) and then Skype wasn't connecting properly, everything seemed to go off without a hitch.

3) A few months ago I submitted a few of my infertility pieces to Bethany's Stepping Stones, a support group for women dealing with infertility. One of my pieces has already been published. And then, yesterday, I received an email from their publisher. They are submitting two of my pieces to Christianity Today. Not sure what this means right now, but they asked me to be available for an interview so we'll see what happens.

4) Hannah is walking!

5) We have started a new homeschool curriculum. I will be including a lot of information on this in the weeks/months/year to come so stay tuned.

6) We found a church just one mile from our house that seems like a great fit for our family.

7) JB is really enjoying his new ER job! More to come on that too.

An Infertility Story

We dealt with infertility for five long years.

So when we adopted Isaac and then found out that we were, miraculously, pregnant with Elijah, a friend of my Mom's gave us a framed photo.

I've taken a picture of it and included it above.

It was a beautiful picture, but we had two boys. And I knew I wasn't going to have any more children. We were still in complete shock that we had TWO boys. We knew Elijah was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and we were perfectly content with our two boy family.

We lived on Eglin Air Force Base at the time. My friend Joia had just had a little blonde-headed girl, and so I asked her if she would like the picture. 

The picture, while beautiful, caused me pain. It reminded me of the China adoption we had pulled out of. It reminded me of our years of infertility. Like a few other things, I just had to remove them from my house so that I didn't think about them all the time.

And then, somehow, I found myself pregnant again.

Abigail was born. And as she grew, she was blonde. Very blonde.

And suddenly, I started thinking about that framed photo I had given to Joia. It popped into my mind all the time. I wanted to see it again. Was it as beautiful as I remember? Did it look like Abigail like I remembered in my mind?

I felt terrible asking Joia if I could have it back. But finally I decided that she was a good enough friend to understand my dilemma. I emailed her and asked her if she was attached to the picture. And if she was, could she at least provide me with some of the print details so I could find a copy of it.

Joia sent it to me in the mail! She said that it had hung in her daughter's room but that she wasn't particularly attached to it and that she felt honored to give it back to me at a better time in my life.

I received it last week, and as I looked at the blonde mother holding her blonde daughter and praying together, I couldn't help but cry. I'm not a crier, but I stood there just weeping at the amazing God I serve.

My own doctor told me, "I would never have given you a chance at having a biological child."

And today I have FOUR amazing miracles. 

I pray for those of you waiting for your miracle today. Please believe me when I say that I was NOT the person who was going to have four children. Anyone who knew me "back then" will tell you that their hope for a house filled with Kitsteiner children had basically shrunk to zero.

But today, this photo ... a photo I would never have dreamed could find an appropriate place in my house ... is hung.

Thank you Joia.

Thank you Jesus.