Friday, March 20, 2009

Getting Settled

Well, we made the big move last Friday. Before we left, I was able to have a couple of girls' night outings with some of my best friends, high school age and older. My friend Jessica and I got to pretend we were college students one night when we went to Denny's at 11pm and came home at about 2:30am. Of course, the fact that we were two pregnant ladies sitting in the corner booth probably gave away the fact that we're a little older than 22! :) Ladan and Gabe did get to play with some of their friends a couple of times for extended periods of time during their last week in Louisville. I was very thankful for that as well.

We had SO MANY friends help us pack, load up, and clean in Louisville, and we had plenty of help once we arrived in Champaign-Urbana. Talk about a relief! We rented from the sellers here for a week and closed today. So now we're officially homeowners... or at least the owners of a hefty loan that tells us the home will really be ours when we're finished paying the bank a ridiculous amount of money! As long as the government recognizes us as homeowners when it comes time for tax returns/credits, we'll take it! We're definitely thankful to have this part of the process all finished.

We've met several neighbors, some with kids and some without. There are LOADS of kids in our neighborhood, which will be a great way to find friends for the boys and a great way to meet the adults! The other folks who don't have kids all seem to have pretty great gardens and/or homemade composters, so as I attempt to plant a few things myself and compost yardwaste, I'll have a good reason to talk to them and get lots of tips. There are also people from many different countries and backgrounds living in our neighborhood. For example, Chet met the man who lives across the street. He's from Bangladesh. All of the houses are pretty close together, which makes for easy opportunities to meet people. There's also a small neighborhood park at the end of the block. Chet and the boys met a mom and her two children (9 and 3) the other day at the park. She's in the process of a divorce and is staying with her parents who live a couple blocks down our road. Our neighbor his a strong Christian who works for a mercy ministry in town as a financial advisor for people who are struggling to make ends meet. And the people behind us are a chemistry professor at the university and a lawyer. It's really great to be in a place where there are so many different people! We're excited to see who we run into once spring and summer really start in full force and people are outside even more than they are now!

I was able to get signed up for health insurance and scheduled my ultrasound and doctor appointment. Also this week, we hooked up the internet, started our trash and recycling services, met with some folks, unpacked a lot, took a couple trips to Menard's and other stores to purchase necessary household items, went to church at Twin City Bible Church to visit and see what's it's like (it's one of the churches in town with the largest student populations), talked to some neighbors, let the boys play outside some, and located various necessary businesses/stores around town. Chet applied for jobs at a few places and will hopefully hear more on Monday. We're really praying hard that it will work out for him to get a job at the Starbucks right by campus. We'll let you know more about that when we find out.

We moved Gabe into his big boy bed a couple of days ago. We started with naptime and had a pretty hilarious experience. The boys are sharing a bedroom now, and both have bed tents on top of their beds. We got Gabe all settled into his tent and closed the zippered parts. There is a flap door that is held on with just a couple of velcro strips, so he can get out if he wants to. And of course, he wanted to. He had to be corrected a couple of times for escaping. After about the second or third time, Chet decided to sit in the room with him to see if he was getting up. Since Gabe was in the tent, he had no idea Chet was still in the room. Chet said he popped out through the tent flap, looked up and saw Chet, and DOVE right back in through the tent opening. Of course, he had to be corrected again. At this point, he stayed in his bed, but he kept using his tiny little toes to lift the tent flap just high enough to look out and see if Chet was still there. Can you just imagine his tiny little face with his big eyes peeking out of that? Chet had a hard time not cracking up at him! He's a smart kid, that's for sure. After Chet warned him again not to try getting out again, he finally got it and went to sleep.

I had suspected that we'd deal with this sort of misbehavior from him repeatedly for days on end... but we've only had to correct him just a few times for getting out of his bed. It's been AWESOME! I'm so thankful! Whenever he gets out of his bed, his brother is right there to call for us through the monitor and tell on him. Not that I want to encourage tattling, but in this case, I don't complain when Ladan volunteers the information.

I thought the bed tent would help, but I wasn't sure it would be this great. It helps both the boys not to be distracted by one another while they're trying to go to sleep, and it gives Gabe a boundary, which is very helpful. I think these tents are probably the smartest Christmas gifts we've bought the boys so far! The boys love them, they're practical, and they preserve our parental sanity. Perfect!

At some point during the first or second day here, I overheard Ladan talking to Chet. It went something like this:
Ladan: "Dad, this is our house! We get to live here!"
Chet: "That's right, Buddy. This is our house."
Ladan: "We have soft floors here!" (Falls down on the floor on purpose, which he would never do on harder floors for fear of hurting himself) "Look, Dad, we have soft floors!" (Stands up clapping) "I'm clapping because I'm so happy!"

At various points he's wanted to move back to Louisville, and then sometimes he really enjoys our new home. When he talks about these things, we try to explain that he'll likely have these different feelings for a little while. He's very anxious for his friends to come to town. He keeps asking when Maddie, Asa, Harper and Addison are coming to our house. He doesn't really understand the timeline very well, and since there is no official timeline for the other families to arrive here, I can't explain it very well either. He's also regularly talking about his other friends from Louisville telling me about things he remembers and things he enjoyed with them. There are some boys his age just a few houses up the street who we met the other day, which will help but won't take the place of his friends.

Honestly, I am so thankful that Ladan misses his friends. A year and a half ago he wasn't super close to his friends and was really just as content to play by himself. I think it's a great sign that he's opening himself up a bit and is loving people around him enough to care when one or the other is not around anymore. It also gives me great confidence that he can meet good friends here.

Finally, our temporary housemate, Kayla, will move in tomorrow. We have her room all cleaned out for her. I have a few other things I'd like to get in order before she gets here, but we'll see how that shakes out. The biggest things are done. We're excited that she's going to be able to stay with us for a while as she transitions as well.

I'm sure I'm missing a million things, but that's always the case. I'll try to upload some photos as soon as I locate the card reader. We have much to be thankful for, particularly for those of you who have helped us in practical/physical ways and for those of you who are praying for us!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Man vs. Woman -- No One Wins In This Competition

I was just sitting down to take a quick break from packing, and I thought I'd check my e-mail. I get the daily feed from the Desiring God blog, a ministry of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. One of today's entries titled "Over My Dead Body, Son" was written by John Piper. In response to the fact that a girl is going to the MN state wrestling championship for the first time, Piper provides an excellent call to those of us parenting boys (and particularly to the dads of boys) to help our sons think and act in a God-honoring fashion, specifically in the sports arena. After all, it can be a training ground for all of life. Here are a couple of excerpts, but you MUST check out the entire entry here:

"Come on, dads, have some courage. Just say, 'Over my dead body are you going to wrestle a girl.' Of course, they will call you prudish. But everything in you knows better.... Give your sons a bigger nobler vision of what it is to be a man. Men don't fight against women. They fight for women....

... This is not about courageous commitment to equality; it's about wimpy fear of criticism for doing what our hearts know is right.

... we should raise sons to think of themselves as protectors. Tell them they should lay their lives down to protect girls. Help them know that God designed them to grow up to be a picture of Jesus in their marriage. Nurture the instinct of a boy to fight for girls not against them."

For us, this training has started at the toddler stage. The boys are simply not allowed to wrestle or tackle girls. And even when they play football with me, we're helping them learn the difference between playing gently with Mommy and getting to go all out with Daddy. When we wrestle or tackle, they know they need to be gentle because I'm a girl... and because they're protecting the tiny baby growing inside me. And even then, we tell them over and over again that they cannot for any reason tackle or wrestle with another girl. Hopefully it sticks.

When I was in high school, there was a girl wrestler at one of the other schools in our district... and she was really good! I can't remember if she made it state, but she made it very far, that's for sure. Piper is definitely right to talk about how we can train our boys to care for and protect girls, but as a female myself, I think there is also something to our role in not trying to defeat the men around us. Talk about setting these guys up for total humiliation! Any guy who got beat by this girl was completely embarrassed to even walk through the halls of his school.

As women, there will be plenty of "manly" things at which we may excel... but it doesn't mean that we have to exercise all of those gifts in a competitive way. After all, if we do this, we're in danger of squashing the God-given desire of the men around us to love and cherish us, to honor and protect us. OF COURSE this does not mean that we are incapable of taking care of ourselves sometimes or that we have nothing to contribute to the world around us or that we can NEVER play a game of basketball or soccer against men/boys.

However, there is a certain way to handle ourselves as we enjoy these activities without crushing the men around us. For example, before my c-sections, I used to be able to hold Chet in my arms (under his back and legs) and swing him in circles. I could have flung him across the room I guess, but that wasn't the point. It was just fun, and we both thought it was fairly hilarious seeing as how he was at least 80 pounds heavier and 7 inches taller than me. I would have crossed the line if I had swung him around, flopped him down on the ground, pinned him to the floor, stood over him shouting in victory, and then told all my friends and the newspaper about how weak my husband was compared to me. Visualizing that picture makes me laugh in one sense because it's so ridiculous. But in reality, if I was actually capable of doing this and really carried it through with a heart to defeat this man, can you imagine what that would do to destroy our relationship and his ability to adopt his God-given role as leader of our home?

I definitely think it is fair to say that a woman should never try to wrestle or box or otherwise beat up a man with a heart of competition in any situation outside of protecting herself against an attacker. So, parents of girls, I guess that's my encouragement to you. Don't let your daughters manhandle the guys around them. Help them learn to respect and honor men, and help them learn to receive love and care from the men around them. This is honoring to the God who created us, and it is a real picture of the interaction between Christ and His bride, the church.

Now, back to packing!