Saturday, June 29, 2013

2012 in pictures

January 2012

Turkey is warm year round (as evidenced by Elijah showing off the pepper he grew in the backyard.)

But within four hours, you can be in the mountains ... and in a ton of snow!

Snow can be good and bad!

 February 2012

I take a trip (sans children) to Germany to speak at a MOPs group for a childhood friend. I document some of the Turkish reminders on my trip. I won't be living in this country for too much longer.

Here I am with Jenny at the MOPs event.

March 2012

Oh how I loved the women who "served" alongside me in Turkey. Here I am at a birthday celebration for Anu. With Briana, me, Rana, Stebbs, and Anu.

Call me Supermom. I decide to make the trip home to America by myself, with three children. So what if I didn't get a seat ... they are all sleeping!

A picture in our home just prior to saying good bye to our "stuff."

April 2012

We pack out our home in Turkey. Such mixed feelings.

May 2012

It becomes time to start saying good bye to people on Base.

First friends are the best friends. Saying good bye to William was a really stinky thing!

June 2012

We say good bye to Turkey and make our move to the Azores.

July 2012

During our first month in the Azores, an old friend from Medical School, Nicole (and her daughter Hannah) come to visit us while her husband is working in Spain.

September 2012

Grampa and Grama join us in September!

And then Aunt Connie comes to stay with us for awhile beginning in September too.

October 2012

The Base had a big Halloween trick-or-treating fun time. Sidge wanted to be a Chef and Isaac went as Clifford. 

And then Joni came to visit us in October! Yipeeee!!!

We managed a family picture in November!

And we were so excited by Shane and Linda's visit to our new home!


And then spent Christmas at home in South Florida (and even got a picture of all 5 grandkids in one shot!)

Friday, June 28, 2013

These are reusable!

Yes, I have been informed that you can buy reusable "swim diapers." But if you, like me, have packs of these that you want to use, you can not throw them away every time!
It was my sister-in-law (thanks AD) who informed me that if they are not "pooped in" you can wash these and then hang them dry. I tried it today and, yes sir'ee! Reusable! Way cool.

Friday Funnies

Latest baby name ideas for a little girl, courtesy of the boys:
  • Amelia "Where-heart"
  • Pomegranate 
Sidge: "Is our new baby going to be stinky?"
Isaac: (As Daddy is driving in the van and I am in the passenger seat): "Daddy, do you know where places are better than Mommy?"

Sidge: "What does T-O-A spell?'
Me: "T-O-A is not a word."
Sidge: "It spells not a word?"

Sidge: (after eating three pieces of pizza) "What can I have to eat now?"
Me: "Nothing."
Sidge: "But what else?"
Sidge: "One time, in real life, I saw a guy wearing sunglasses and a hat. But he wasn't a super (in other words superhero.) He was just plain."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

10 Great Ways to Be an Unhappy Mom

By: Beth Berry 

Over the years, I have pinpointed a few behaviors that — though widely accepted and even promoted by popular culture — simply don’t serve me. Changing these behaviors is a process and one that requires both a willingness to take personal responsibility for our choices and a continuous countercultural commitment to creating our lives by a truer, though “less convenient” set of standards.

However inconvenient, these subtle shifts sure have made for better living in my experience — that is, once I sorted through the mainstream confussion surrounding what makes for good living. 
  1. Believe that you must have it all now. This one is running rampant through our culture, creating discontent within every demographic. Because we are suddenly aware of the existence of millions of products, experiences and ways to “improve” upon our lives, because millions of dollars are spent annually to creatively convince us that we need that which we’re suddenly aware of AND because instant gratification is now assumed and expected, it’s easy to see how we’ve become totally caught up in this defeating mentality. It is equally present within the mainstay of motherhood. We are taught that we can have careers, babies, balance within our homes, bigger homes, more time with our spouses, more organized closets, physical fitness, money in savings and vacations to counter the chaos (to name a few) ALL AT ONCE. Then, in an attempt to manage impossible loads (or ease our guilt for having failed to do so), we consume — because according to the ones spending the millions, that will solve the problem. Guess who wins in this vicious cycle?
  2. Compare yourself to other mothers (including your own). You are your own unique version of motherhood. No one right way exists to raise children. Just as comparing our bodies to the photoshopped depictions of the “perfect” woman distorts our sense of beauty and perception of what is desirable or even possible, comparing ourselves to other mothers — the lives of whom are either totally fictitious (instant bliss upon the uncapping of a bottle of laundry detergent), largely made up by our wild imaginations (“so and so” has it “all together”) or comparisons of apples to oranges (remembering your mother’s home when you were a teenager and comparing it to your current home full of babies) — leaves us senselessly unsatisfied and seeking contentment where it can never be found.
  3. Base your contentment on the state of your house. I like a tidy house. I feel more on top of my game, at ease and productive once it is relatively “clean.” But I would have gone insane (and taken everyone with me) if I held onto the idea that I could only be content once everything was “in its place.” Kids exist to dispel this notion. Likewise, feeling the need to apologize for the state of things upon welcoming unannounced visitors is like saying, “I’m sorry you have to see that we live in this house.”  The notion that homes must look like display windows before they are presentable to guests is a crying shame in a culture so starved for community. 
  4. Allow “them” to dictate your priorities. Every time we walk into a store, open a magazine, hop on the highway or turn on the tv, we are bombarded with images that shape our perspective on what’s important. Even seemingly harmless sites such as Pinterest can leave us wanting and wishing when we’d been hoping for inspiration. For more on this subject, head to my blog and check out my most popular post to-date, Let’s All Compare Our Perfect Lives and Then Try to Enjoy Our Day.
  5. Build stories based upon unevaluated “truths.” So much of the misery we experience in life is based not upon actual occurrences, but the stories we create about things that might happen (which we can’t predict) or could have happened differently (which we can’t change). Byron Katie’s Loving What Is is a must-read if this is something you struggle with.
  6. Play the martyr role. There are few more direct roads to resentment (both resenting and being resented) than behaving as if your own needs are of little importance compared to the never-ending demands of your family. Statements such as, “I can’t go to the party. have to stay home to nurse the baby,” are about worthless for encouraging the sense of empathy you are likely needing in that moment. Learning to be an effective communicator will benefit you as much as your relationships.
  7. Make decisions based on guilt. We often say “yes” to commitments, not because we have a genuine interest in them, but because we have not yet learned to honor our own personal balance over other peoples’ perception of us (or what we think they think). Protecting ourselves from overcommitments is not selfish, it’s just plain smart.
  8. Stay isolated for the sake of “independence.” Though just about everything in modern (US) culture tells us otherwise, I do not believe we are intended to go it alone as mothers. We are not stronger because we “don’t need help,” nor are we weaker when we ask. Women all over the world raise children together, and have been since the beginning of time. Creating community in our car-dependent, single-family-household society is no easy task, but one that I believe to be essential in any conversation regarding the support of motherhood and the betterment of this country.
  9. Believe that you’ll be happier when_____. “I’ll be happier when my kids are out of diapers.” “I’ll be happier when we have more monthly income.” “I’ll be happier when the washing machine is replaced, when the husband comes home from work, or when my kitchen has been remodeled.” Really? Will you? How can you be so sure? We have no idea what tomorrow (or next hour) will bring. Deferring happiness until some hypothetical future experience only serves to rob you of the only happiness that truly exists — that which is available in this moment.
  10. Allow “busy” to become your default answer to, “How are you?” Busy does not equal fulfilled. Busy does not equal valuable nor important. The quality of your experiences is more important than the quantity. Feel like no matter how busy, you never quite do enough? I’ve got a post for that, too. Reword your everyday accomplishments and realize just how productive you really are. 

Golden grey crayon!

I reached into our crayon box and handed my second born the color silver. His face spread into a huge grin. "What color is this?" he asked. "It's like golden grey."
"It's called silver."
"Ohhhh," he replied. "I love this color."
He then proceeded to color half of a zipper on his letter "Z" worksheet with the silver. He colored the other half grey with a pencil. "See it's like Two face," he explained.

"The superhero?" I asked.
"The villain," Sidge replied. "Except Two face was blue and brown and this zipper is grey and golden grey."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

For the days we are running on empty

Author unknown

For the days we just don't think we have it in us to read one more story, play one more game of Uno, wash one more round of sheets. For the days when we think everyone else has it together. For the days we're sure anyone else would do this job better.

For those days. You know the ones.

Repeat after me:

1. I shall not judge my house, my kid's summer activities or my crafting skills by Pinterest's standards.

2. I shall not measure what I've accomplished today by the loads of unfolded laundry but by the assurance of deep love I've tickled into my kids.

3. I shall say yes to blanket forts and see past the chaos to the memories we're building.

4. I shall surprise my kids with trips to get ice cream when they're already in their pajamas.

5. I shall not compare myself to other mothers but find my identity in the God who trusted me with these kids in the first place.

6. I shall remember that a messy house at peace is better than an immaculate house tied up in knots.

7. I shall play music loudly and teach my kids the joy of wildly uncoordinated dance.

8. I shall remind myself that perfect is simply a street sign at the intersection of impossible and frustration in Never Never land.

9. I shall embrace the fact that in becoming a mom I traded perfect for a house full of real.

10. I shall promise to love this body that bore these three children out loud, especially in front of my daughter.

11. I shall give my other mother friends the gift of guilt-free friendship.

12. I shall do my best to admit to my people my unfine moments.

13. I shall say sorry when sorry is necessary.

14. I pray God I shall never be too proud, angry or stubborn to ask for my children's forgiveness.

15. I shall make space in my grown-up world for goofball moments with my kids.

16. I shall love their father and make sure they know I love him.

17. I shall model kind words to kids and grown-ups alike.

18. I shall not be intimidated by the inside of my minivan this season of chip bags, goldfish crackers and discarded socks too shall pass.

19. I shall always make time to encourage new moms.

20. I shall not resent that last call for kisses and cups of water but remember instead that when I blink they'll all be in college.

... with love from one tired mother to another.

While looking online for superhero color pages ...

... we found this picture. Sidge went on to tell me, "Those are a different kind of superheroes."
Me: "I know. It's The Incredibles."
Sidge: "Yeah. We aren't in to those."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Our Island Life

The town we currently call home -- Porto Martins -- on the island of Terceira in the Azores, Portugal

Three sides of our home here overlook the ocean.

The hill (visible out of the one side of our house that does not face water.)

From the fourth side, you can see up the side of a large, rolling hill -- where sheep are always grazing.
Most days, nearly all since so few days are completely devoid of wind, you can hear the waves from any room of our house -- hear them crashing on the rocks that line the coast.

Volcanic rock

The boys have named segments of the rocks they love to climb. "Radiator Springs" (from Cars) is one section. "The Island of Sodor" (Thomas the Train) is another.

This time of year, the birds are chirping nearly constantly. It is bright and sunny and beautiful until nearly 10pm. Many of the houses in our neighborhood that were closed up for the rainy season, are now wide open. Whether the inhabitants migrated to another country or just another part of the island for the "winter", they are back in Porto Martins for the serenity of summer.

It is around 70 degrees every day right now. Nearly the perfect temperature in my opinion. We have been getting in our pool nearly every day. (I think it's a bit on the cold side, but the kids are loving it!)

And yet despite the exquisite beauty and peaceful surroundings that this island boasts, this place is strange to me. Foreign. Unfamiliar. My heart doesn't know it. Doesn't feel it. Doesn't recognize it.

Flashback in your own mind to the most peaceful vacation you ever had. Lounging in a hammock maybe? Overlooking the water? Reading book after book after book? Sipping your favorite drink? Ordering from a luxurious menu? You get the idea.

In the middle of that vacation, you probably had a moment that left you thinking, "I could do this forever!"

But could you?

That's the island in my opinion. That's our life here. Most people who are stationed here, when asked what they think of Terceira island, will say, "It'd be a nice place to come for a vacation." But to live? most agree that the life here is very remote. More remote than most people in America are comfortable claiming.

Some people live on Base. I have heard it said that two-thirds of people reside in a base house while one-third of those stationed choose to live off-Base. The choice is your's. People's reasons for choosing either are wide and varied. Many live on-Base just to try to retain some of their American identity. Others because they are uncomfortable being in a foreign country. Or they want their kids to be able to walk to school. Those that live off-Base can't imagine living in a foreign country and not really living in itOr they want privacy and some anonymity.  

America is a country where you can drive for days and not reach a dead end. I have been to 46 of the 50 states, which I think is a lot, and yet I have not seen so much of our country -- really only touched the surface of what is there.

This island is 12 miles by 19 miles. You can drive around the perimeter in just under two hours. There is no mall. There are really no museums or department stores. There is not a single fast food restaurant. There are only three stoplights. Cows outnumber people two to one. My housekeeper Hita had never been in an elevator before riding the one in our house (which has since been removed, by the way.) One tiny airport. Two or three small grocery stores aside from the Commissary on Base.

It's like we live on a tiny island.

Wait. So yes, we do live on a tiny island.

I have realized that two years in Turkey in a remote location (where leaving Base or travelling were not "simple" nor advised) and now living on this remote island, is a lot of remote. I know that I will probably never, ever live somewhere so beautiful. I will probably never experience a life so peaceful and routine. There is little to do. Outside of activities offered on Base, there aren't many things waiting to be tackled. Life is simple. Plain. Ordinary.

We still have yet to see all of the island. There are other things we want to do and explore. But generally speaking, we have made peace with most of the spots here on Terceira and don't feel we have left very many stones unturned.

Life will probably never move this slow for us again. The pace will never be as steady. I will most likely not hear waves out my bedroom window again in my life. I won't walk around the corner to the neighborhood café and find the same faces each and every morning (one of whom always has a beer at 7am). The beach, covered with Portuguese bodies as the weather gets warmer and warmer, won't be visible from my windows. Life will change.

I am trying to embrace this opportunity. To remember that this is just a brief period in my full life. But I find myself wanting it to feel like something it will never be.

It will never be Turkey. Turkey, for me, was so incredibly rich culturally. I learned the language (of which I have been unable to do here -- probably due to the Turkish still filling my brain.) I embraced the Turkish people, and. I was surrounded by American people that just "fit me" so well. If I went back to Turkey tomorrow, it would not feel like that. It would be different. It was a time in my life. That time is passed.

And this will never be America either. America is home. It is normal. It is typical. It is within a day's drive (or a cheap flight) of family. It has fast food and Wi-Fi and traffic lights and Target.

Minnesota. Southern Florida. Kentucky. Northern Florida. All places I lived in America. And all places that felt like home when I was there.

But here? It doesn't feel like home. It feels like vacation. It feels ... weird. Foreign. Strange. Uncomfortable even? Just not familiar.
And yet it's supposed to be home.
That's hard. To live somewhere that feels like vacation for two years.
What is home? I'm not sure. This island, with all it's beauty and charm and personality, isn't home for me. But I am blessed, beyond words, to be here with JB and my kids and to have us together as a family.
And we will be blessed, next year, when we return to the USA, and the comforts that it affords as well.

A little girly

Check out the bows!

Monday, June 24, 2013


Last week the boys did Vacation Bible School at the Base Chapel. What a fabulous time they had! What an incredible blessing it is that people would volunteer their time to love on my children. I was so glad they could be a part of this. Next summer, we will most likely be mid-move, so I am not sure we can participate anywhere, but I am so glad we got to do this both last summer (our first summer on the island) and this summer.

It was actually last summer that, through VBS, I met Carla. We didn't have our van yet, and she drove us to VBS every day! I am so blessed to have this awesome lady (and her fantastic sons who play so well with my boys) in our lives.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Powerful Video

A five minute video by Focus on the Family proudly demonstrating the power of a Father's Love -- whether it be for a lifetime, or just a matter of moments.

Oh my goodness!

Just looking back through old pictures. Found this one of Abigail that made me smile!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mom Guilt over Portuguese Ice Cream

When your five year old picks out a flavor of ice cream and says, "There's no eggs in this, right Mama?" And you say, "No, this flavor has no eggs," and he nods, so excited (because eating ice cream is one of his all-time favorite things to do, you are happy as a mom.


A few minutes later, it became obvious things were not right. Isaac turned to me and said again, "There isn't eggs in this, right Mama?" He then asked for water. And orange juice. And then said he didn't want anymore, and I looked at JB and he looked at me and we knew we had screwed up as parents.

It stinks to make a mistake as a parent. It stinks to see your child in discomfort because you didn't do the right thing.

I was glad JB was there to scoop Isaac up and grab the Epi pen and head to the bathroom without even asking me who was going to administer the dreaded shot. Isaac knew what was coming. He tried to downplay his throat bothering him, but he's five now, and he understands. He is actually the one who has become hyper vigilant about the egg-status of an item he might eat.

As I sat with Sidge and Abigail eating our own ice creams, we heard Isaac scream, and it hurt my feelings something awful. He had asked me if this ice cream had eggs. And I had told him that it did not based on the word of an employee of the restaurant. He trusted me. And now he was in the bathroom getting a shot to prevent his throat from swelling too much.

This is the third time we have had to give Isaac an Epi pen during the last year on this island. And all three instances have revolved around Portuguese ice cream. The truth is, it's not processed enough for Isaac's allergy. It's too creamy and fresh and yummy. And so, we've made the should-have-been-obvious-already decision that our Isaac, as much as he loves ice cream, just can't eat ice cream again unless it is the normal, processed, pre-packaged kind you can find in Portuguese Cafe' freezers. (Or the kind we can read the labels on that they sell at the American Commissary.)

What you can't screw around with is an allergy that effects the throat. JB noted a recent research article that indicated the children who die from allergies are usually children whose parents knew of the allergy but either (a) failed to bring an Epi pen or (b) failed to administer it due to wanting to avoid the pain.


This parent stuff is quite tricky. Quite tricky indeed.

*To read more about Isaac's allergy and the Epi pen, click here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Is 27 the magic number?

Could it be that my morning sickness is ... actually ... gone? That the nausea and dry heaving and out-of-breathness has passed? I've thought it was gone before, prayed that it was gone for good, only to see it return. But this time, it has stayed gone. There haven't been really any hints of it returning. Even when I lay down, a time that usually the nausea would overrun me, it has not been present. I don't believe you can "jinx" things, but I've still been hesitant to really say out loud (or write out loud) the hopes that I have finally gotten through the "first trimester" (yeah, right!) sickness.

Google "morning sickness" and every single site will say some variation of the following: "Morning sickness (or really 'all day and all night sickness'), is one of the most common physical signs of early pregnancy. However, not all women will experience morning sickness and it is not an 'essential' physical sign you have to experience to be pregnant. Typically, morning sickness starts around 6 weeks of the pregnancy and continues until about 12 to 14 weeks of the pregnancy. However, morning sickness may start later than 6 weeks and may continue until 16 to 20 weeks of the pregnancy (and occasionally beyond)."

It says occasionally. I don't want to be in that group!

My morning sickness started closer to week 4 and as the magic number 14 came and went, I set my sights on having the sickness end by week 16. That came and went. 18. 20. 22. 24. 26. I was giving up. I had talked to women and read about women who stayed sick during their entire pregnancy. But I did not want to be one of those women! How could I be one of those women?

If you have ever had a stomach bug, something that left your stomach lurching, I am sure it sent you reeling. But to have that stomach bug for 24 weeks? Six months?! It really seems to much to ask of anyone!

Well, now, at 28 weeks pregnant, the nausea appears to have left. For good? I am hoping. I can also sleep now without Ambien which means I can nap too!

JB kept telling me that the "down-ness" I felt was due to the sickness. That as I felt better, my mood would lift. Boy was he right! I am honestly a new woman. I'm getting chatty again. I'm wanting to do things again. I'm feeling like Wendi again.

I went in today for a repeat 20-week ultrasound since we couldn't get a clear picture of baby girl's spine on the previous one. I am 28 weeks. She is measuring at 30.5 weeks. She is riding very low with her head down (and pressed firmly against my bladder.) In fact, the tech estimated she is weighing nearly 3.5 pounds at this point. (She was concerned about gestational diabetes because the baby was so big but that test, administered today, came back negative.)

No matter what, I am praising the Lord for the good week I just had. I am praising Him for the ability to sleep. I am praising Him for the ability to eat. I am praising Him for the obviously healthy baby (she moves like crazy nearly non-stop!) I am praising Him that I am able to enjoy her more now. That I am able to enjoy my other three children more. That my husband and I are able to reconnect and conversate more readily. That my mood has lifted.

Some women are able to keep better perspective then me. Of that I have no doubt. I do think that the length of time I was struggling and the fact that my mood was effected early on by the IVF drugs compounded my issues.

Either way, I am celebrating how I am feeling now and just praying it continues. Getting very excited to meet this little lady in just about 10 weeks!

Friday Funnies

Not really a "Friday Funny" but Sidge told me this morning, "Whatever is not moving is stronger than the wind." Pretty insightful (in my mom-opinion.)
Isaac: "Mama, in heaven can we play with superheroes?"
Me: "Of course."
Isaac: "Do they every kind of superhero that we would like?"
Me: "I'm sure they would."
Isaac: "Yesssss!"
Sidge: "I got really sick in the Azores once."
Me: "Yes you did."
Sidge: "And I threw up in the toilet."
Me: "I remember."
Sidge: "That was gus-gusting."
Sidge: "I'd like some cereal."
Me: "You've had two waffles and a granola bar. You can a banana or an apple if you are still hungry."
Isaac: "Or you could eat hay."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

They are growing up

The boys save pennies. They get them for good behavior and helping and speaking respectfully. Every 100 pennies they save is equal to $10 to spend at our local BX. The selection at the BX is ... well ... not fantastic. There is one half of one side of aisle of toys for boys in my kids age range. There is very rarely anything there that really moves them much.
[I could not BELIEVE the number of aisles of toys in Target when we went back to the USA. Holy cow! How could you ever decide what to buy -- as a child or a grown-up?] 
But Isaac spotted a Superman comforter the other day in the tiny bedding section of our BX, and it moved him. He got soooo excited. He quickly asked me how many pennies he would need to save to earn that blanket. I calculated. 450. That's a lot.
So we went home and counted. He had nearly 200 saved. And he had $20 that family had given him   for his birthday. Sidge wanted the Spiderman one. He didn't have 450 pennies but John (who is truly the softy when it comes to this kind of stuff) allowed him to purchase it anyways -- with the promise that he could work off the pennies later.
(It's not like we could just run to the next store over to get these blankets if they sold out.)
Even funnier? Our little girl went to the pink blankets on the opposite side, picked one up and immediately said, "Baby." (This is what she calls herself.) It was as if she knew that the blankets her brothers were picking were for boys and that she wanted one for girls. And Daddy the softy? Bought that one too! It has princesses on it! (Egads!)
Here is a picture of the boys' blankets in their room:

JB and I stood at the entrance to their room for a number of minutes, just sort of staring at these blankets. For some reason ... blankets ... were a lot more emotional than we ever thought about them being.

When we were adopting Isaac, we decorated the nursery in a "Safari-themed" pattern. The reason was that it was green ... a color that would work for a child of either sex. If for any reason, Bri changed her mind, and Isaac didn't come home to live with us forever, we could use the nursery for the daughter we had been intending to adopt from China. Safari was safe.

We have used the same theme with Abigail. Kept is simple. Added a little bit of pink, but hey, we are a military family. We move a lot. No need to go to extremes.

Suddenly the little "safari-themed" nursery that we had first set up when the boys were babies is being erased and changed by superheroes. Our boys are growing up. The room still has relics of that safari-theme emerging. But our little boys chose to color over them with a theme of their own.

Watching kids growing up is such a myriad of emotions. It's so nice to see them be more independent. To allow them to play on their own and not have to watch every move they make. But at the same time, you can't help but wonder how they went from babies to pre-kindergarten age overnight.

Happy 15 years!

I looked back on my blog. The first anniversary we celebrated after I started the blog was June 20, 2006. We had been married eight years.

Here were the wedding memories I reflected on then:

To take a quick (and not too sentimental) trip down memory lane, JB and I were engaged on my birthday in 1997. John had told me all week that we were going to go out to eat on my birthday. I therefore suspected that it was at this dinner that he would propose. Instead, I went to bed on the 21st and was awoken by loud music at 12:01 on the morning of May 22nd. Ticked off at my roommates, I meandered out of my room. It wasn't unusual for them to party into the morning, and I thought they were bringing the party home with them. Instead, I found rose petals leading into the living room. However, I was still half-asleep so I had no idea what this meant, until I followed the rose petals into the living room and found a card with a Bible verse and a quarter taped to it.

Every couple has their own quirky "inside" jokes and ours was that John would give me a quarter when he asked me to marry him. I am not sure exactly where this originated. At some point we had given each other a penny, nickel, and dime, and we joked that this was the next "step".

John had one of our favorite songs playing and got on one knee to propose. He would have slipped the ring onto my finger if it wasn't too small. Oh well. You have to have a funny story or how fun will the story be to tell?

So a year and a month after we were engaged, we were married in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Even though both of us were from Florida, the fact that we were both living in Kentucky at the time coupled with the fact that I had a lot of family in Illinois that I hoped would be able to make it to the wedding if it was closer (6 hour drive vs. 26 hour drive) made us opt for Kentucky. The church we were attending was too small, so our pastor asked a friend if we could borrow his church -- Westminster Bible Church.

It was a VERY hot June day and to make matters worse, the air in the church broke. Luckily it didn't break in the second floor fellowship hall where I was getting ready or I would have had makeup smeared all over my dress I am sure. There were about 150-200 people at the wedding. My Aunt Dorothy played the music and even though she would have preferred I chose another song, as apparently "Here comes the Bride" is from some horrible opera, I did walk down to "Hear comes the Bride." My Aunt Mary and Aunt Linda sang a beautiful song, and I have the words they changed slightly for us, hanging above my dresser. My best buds Kristi and Michelle stood up on my side as did JB's two sisters, Elizabeth and Katie. My junior bridesmaid was my long-time "little sister" Brianna Van Wyck. JB was joined by his three brothers. Ray was the best man, Matt was a junior groomsman, and Rob was the ring bearer. My brother Keith, his friend Sean and his childhood friend Craig were also in the wedding.

One of my favorite parts of the wedding was when we took communion together and our friend Deanna sang a beautiful song. This was a very moving part of the ceremony despite the fact that we were both so hot!

The reception was held at Garrett Ballroom on the campus of Western Kentucky University. We didn't have a lot of money to spend so we had a buffet style meal and a DJ and a beautiful cake. I was amazed at how well things came together on a small budget and my lack of intimate bridal influence. When the cake maker asked me what I wanted I said "pretty and purple". When our florist went out of business, and I talked another into taking us a few weeks before the wedding despite the fact that she had another wedding that day I said, "Something that is pretty and goes with purple." I really didn't know what I wanted nor did I care that much. I just wanted a simple, pretty wedding. And I wanted to be Mrs. Wendi Kitsteiner.

We spent our honeymoon in a cabin in Boone, North Carolina. We spent the first night of our honeymoon at Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, a gift from John's parents. We went back there on our third wedding anniversary as a special surprise from John.

Our first house, which we lived in in Bowling Green, Kentucky was actually a 2 bedroom, 1 and a half bath townhome that we rented for $365 a month. After that, we went to Franklin for 3 years where we rented our 2/2 duplex for $450 a month. Needless to say, our rent increased when we moved to Rochester in 2003.

Eight years later, and I can't even remember what it sounds like to introduce myself as Wendi H. But I guess that used to be my last name. We have now been together since December of 1993. Thirteen years. In a few years, I will have been with JB more than I have been without JB.

John's younger brother Robbie was 4 when we started dating and is 17 now. He admits that he doesn't remember John before I was his girlfriend. This really makes me feel quite old.

Anyways, so that is a little trip down memory lane. I have to say, as I have never been shy about saying, that I am married to the best guy in the world. He is truly my best friend.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How happy is he ...

.... that the little "Red Cafe" around the corner from our house knows its summer time again and has brought ice cream back to the menu!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lemonade Stand

From left: Jonah with Kristy and baby Liam, Sidge, Jackson (Carla's son), Noah (Kristy's oldest son), Max (Carla's second son -- behind lemonade pitcher) and Isaac.

Our friend's Nick and Kristy run a non-profit organization that does work in Peru. Nick is there now so Kristy decided to let Noah try is hand at a lemonade stand to raise money for Daddy's organization. The concept is entirely familiar to the Portuguese so we didn't sell much lemonade, but we did sell some and the kids had a great time learning. Kristy is so good at these types of activities -- she has a real gift.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Strawberry cake

We tried this "Egg Replacer" at our Commissary to make some strawberry cake. Isaac is still showing signs of this allergy, and therefore, he can't really eat baked goods at all. He wanted to make some cake, and when I saw this item in our tiny Commissary, I thought it was too good to pass up. So try it we did. The cake was pretty good. JB (our foody) said he could tell the difference, but I couldn't. Yum!

Bluebbery Boppin'

The boys and I attended a birthday party on Saturday. Daddy and Abigail stayed home so she could nap. While we were gone, JB captured this video of our little girl attempting to mimic his blueberry-tossing-and-catching-in-his-mouth-ability.

P.S. You'll see her signing "more" in this video many times. She continues to talk little and sign a lot!

P.S.S. Blueberries are expensive here on the island. Sharing them with Scrubby (who usually snubs his nose at blueberries anyways) is not an option. I think each blueberry probably costs us about ten cents!

P.S.S.S. I have been having a lot more good days and continue to be hopeful and prayerful that the third trimester in pregnancy will be my best trimester yet!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

My Dad. I could never pick another Dad more perfect for me! And as good a dad as he was, he's an even better Papa! I found a few fun photos of my Dad to share:

Our family. By the time my Dad was my age (36), he had a 12 year old! Yikes!
My Dad started coaching me in youth softball and would be my coach in many sports for years to come.

This was in 1995. I was the player of the year for the Miami Herald newspaper and my Dad was the Coach of the Year at the same time.
Thank you Dad for instilling in me my faith. Thank you for being so much fun. (I have funny memories of you telling me you were ready for church in only your t-shirt, shorts, and black socks.) Thank you for always caring not how good I was but how well I tried. Thank you for loving me.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

To my husband on Father's Day

1993. Once upon a time, he asked me to homecoming ...

1994. And I talked him into falling in love with me.
2008. And after many more years than we would have chosen ourselves, we adopted our little Isaac.

2009. And were utterly shocked by the arrival of our Elijah "Sidge."

2009. Two boys in just under nine months, while in residency. And he didn't miss a beat.

2011. Nor did he appear overwhelmed, in the slightest, when Abigail made three.

2012. Life took us from South Florida to Kentucky to Minnesota to Northern Florida to Turkey to the Azores. It brought us each other and three (almost four kids) and a big dog.

There is no question, whatsoever, that my JB is the "glue" of our family. While I have been hormonal and overwhelmed and freaked out by the direction our life has gone, he is steady and confident and amazing ... always. He loves his children so incredibly much. They are the only thing that ever make him tear up. He is hands-on, devoted, committed and steadfast. He loves the Lord, his wife, and his children, without hesitation.

I love you JB. Happy Father's Day to my best friend. In just a few days we will celebrate fifteen years of marriage. We've been together nineteen years. I'd do it all again. Any day. I love you.

Can I get an Amen?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Things that make you smile

Folks, our Commissary here is, well, frustrating, to say the least. There are so few choices already, and they seem to be out of something all the time. The Base downsizing has magnified that issue. For awhile, they stopped carrying any sort of wipes (except the little disposable, cheapy wipes that all of us know to avoid.) They were completely out of size 5 diapers for months (except the cheapy diapers that all of us know to avoid.) Our grocery store is only about 10 aisles big already so remove items from that, and it can be a little ... frustrating.

But during today's visit, some good news was to be found:

All natural jelly.  I bought five jars because JB limited me. But truthfully, I wanted to clean out the shelf! (Food hoarders are not looked upon kindly in these parts.)

Another thing that is often hard to come by -- ripe bananas. They will often have VERY green bananas that you buy, thinking they'll turn yellow, and a month later, no joke, they are still green. But today, we got some! Yipeee!!!

We haven't tried these yet so the jury is still out on whether or not these strawberries will make the grade. But at least they even LOOK semi-eatable!

Friday Funnies

While bringing her up the stairs for her bath, JB said to Abigail, "How did I get so lucky to get a little girl like you?" Without missing a beat, Abigail replied: "Mama."
Looking at a picture on our shelf, Isaac said: "Was that when Daddy was younger? Was he a daddy or a boy?"
Sidge: "I would like you not call my Elijah. Only Abigail can call me Elijah. And Daddy, when I am being bad."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Guest Post on Infertility

I can't even remember when it was that I submitted a story on infertility to the popular Rage Against the Minivan adoption website. But I did. And I just realized that the story has just gone live! Here is a link to my piece: "What I want you to know about talking to your infertile friend."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


As I have mentioned previously, writing has been difficult for me recently. I don't know if it is writing as much as it is, properly processing my thoughts, and sharing, without worry of judgment from others or maybe, even more so, judgment from myself.

I know that when I look back, this period in my life will be but a blip on my radar. And I don't want to make it more than a blip. I don't necessarily want to look back and read how difficult this process was.

I think I don't want to remember. I just want to remember the joy of this baby. I want to remember the good stuff. The fun memories with my children. So many people have written me or told me that I won't remember all this so vividly. I have to believe that is true. They have encouraged me to go easy on myself. That it is okay if I am on the couch more than I would like to be. That it is okay if I am not able to "do" all the things with them I would be liking to do.

But I just miss Wendi. Both physically and emotionally. I move slow. I think slow. I feel bad. My patience is not what it usually is. I feel that I am "selling my current children" short if that makes sense.

Emotionally, I feel like I am doing better. The anxiety has been tons better. The depressive feelings, just coming when or right before I get really sick. I have some good days, but I am still fighting daily with feeling really yucky. I have to take Ambien to sleep and am just, generally, struggling.

I am frustrated by that. I don't get it. I want God to save me. I want him to rescue me from this. I have three other children that I want to enjoy and take care of. I don't want to wish these months away. I don't want to have to rely on my husband so heavily. I want to be able to do it myself.


Without God?

In a sense, when we don't need Him, do we really, truly lean on Him?

I received a link to this blog: When the Pressure Crushes You.

In the post above, Glynnis Whitwer  wrote: "My self-sufficiency was slipping, being replaced by God-dependency. Peace snuck in where I didn't expect it. Circumstances didn't change, but my understanding did. God never needed to depend on me ... rather I was to depend on Him."

This is currently all I know. All I know is that each morning when I wake up, I have to completely rely on God.

That's it.

HE must be my only source of strength.

Whether you are feeling good, bad, or indifferent today, may you remember that too. That truly Jesus is all we need.

Monday, June 10, 2013

What's really important

What do I want my children to remember — my joy in clean floors, made beds and ironed shirts — or my joy of the Lord?

You will be most remembered — by what brought you most joy.

The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith.

-- Ann Voskamp

Good bye

Today we said good bye to Aunt Connie. She is returning to her home in the USA. In fact, she is probably landing in the U.S. as we speak. We will miss her tremendously around these parts. Her help during the last nine months has been incredible. The Lord brought her here at a time when He knew we would need her most. I had no idea that after our fourth IVF, I'd be so sick, for so long, with this little baby. But God knew, and Connie here just for that. Now it is time for her to return to America and continue the adventure she has begun. God will continue to provide!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Princess Abigail

And here is Connie's tribute, again, wonderfully written, to Abigail. How neat to hear my kids talked about by someone else!