Author Archives: historymom

Finding Center

1BL_3779I sit sweltering at the kitchen table. The temperature has been reaching up to 106 degrees this week and our house has no ac. I lean my head against the wall and notice that from this vantage point the church in our tiny village is exactly centered between two of our porch columns. I vaguely wonder if it would make a good photo. My camera is all the way across the room though and it’s just too hot to move. I feel a bead of sweat slowly trace down my cheek. So I sit and think about the little village church. If you are native to Kathiana it is the church you would attend every Sunday and every holiday. How very different that is from my own church hopping experiences back home. I briefly ponder where we’ll make our church home if we find ourselves moving back to Arkansas. Neither is a given, the move or the church. It’s been a long time since we had a church to call our own and it would take consideration to choose the perfect one for our family. As sunset approaches I watch beautiful golden light bathe the whitewashed village church and I think about the people who worship there. Is it the perfect church for them? Probably not. But all the same they go. They join their family, friends, neighbors, enemies and even the guy who ran over their chicken week after week and they make it work because it’s their home.

As we wait to find out where we will be moving next – these reflections on “home” sit heavily upon my chest. I’m well versed in platitudes on the subject: “home is where the military sends you,” “home is where the heart is,” but platitudes bring me no peace in this period of transition. Nevertheless I move on day in and day out, making lunches, changing diapers and doing all the normal things that can sometimes feel even more a burden during times of limbo. But I’ve been surprised to find that this time the burden doesn’t seem too heavy and I’m mostly able to be at peace in it: in the small moments of every day life and in the assurance that all things work according to a higher plan. In the next couple of weeks we will be set upon a new path and I pray that we will walk it with equanimity, grace and above all, faith. Because while we may not have been born into a small close knit village with a default church, I know that there is a plan and a place for us; be it putting down roots this time or more short term stops along the way. And like that little church, centered and bathed in comforting golden light, I will carry on content in that knowledge.

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Unworthy

I don’t do this terribly often but let’s get personal for a minute.

We all have particular personality inclinations and one of mine is people pleasing. I want to make everyone happy, and related to this – I want to feel like I am doing the right thing. Now, I’m fairly self aware about this inclination and do try to make sure this trait doesn’t conflict with where I feel led by God. Life isn’t black and white though, is it? And I am more susceptible to suggestion that I would ever like to admit.

Last night I checked up on an old friend. We have drifted apart: our paths have diverged. I may have moved, but they moved on. And in comparison? My life looks insignificant and so very un-worthy. My focus seems off; raising my boys, traveling, worrying about petty things like math curriculum and black/white conversions. In the grand scheme of things that matter to the urgent issues of today, how do my priorities stack up? Poorly, that’s how. I felt so small and even worse was the palpable rise of anxiety: that old companion of mine. He whispers in my ear that I am worthless, lukewarm and out of sync with the only thing that matters…

So with downcast countenance I tried to soldier on with the evening. Of course it didn’t take long for hubby to read distress on my features. Having been married long enough to know damage control was needed ASAP, he wrapped me up in a big hug, bowed his head and prayed for me. It helped. It usually does. But the seed of doubt and fear remained.

Later on:

While Dan showered I read in bed. I’m currently reading Jeannette Walls’s Half Broke Horses and as I  wound down for sleep I came across this line: “Teaching is a calling too. And I’ve always thought that teachers in their way are holy – angels leading their flocks out of the darkness.”

As often happens, God had found me where I was and laid a comforting hand on my shoulder.

While I can’t say I slept peacefully last night (because Wesley, the incredible never sleeping toddler) I did sleep untouched by anxiety. I am right where I am for a reason. God’s reason. He will continue to meet me where I am and give me the encouragement to run the race set specifically before me; he will grow and call me personally as he sees fit.

And I will endeavor to accept his peace in it all.

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Roman Gladiator Training School

This was the highlight of our trip for Rowan! They started out in the museum and learned all about Roman warfare. Then they began the training! After training they broke up for individual sparring matches. Daddy and Rowan both won their matches! At the end they were awarded new Roman names and a certificate. Such a neat experience that really brought history to life for my boys.

Spring in Italy

I like lists. I’m also short on time and assume you are as well, so I’ve decided to run down our Italian adventure in bullet points 😀

Itinerary:

  • Venice: We flew in on Thursday morning. The goals (that we met) were to tour the Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Aqua Alta bookshop, the Jewish Ghetto (the original ghetto), to get lost on back streets, eat lots of gelato, chase pigeons, ride a traghetto to the Saturday morning fish market, count lions (the symbol of the city) and have no one fall in a canal.
  • Rome: on Saturday  we took the night rain to Roma termini station, without incident. Our (met) goals here were to take a general bus tour of the city, step foot in Vatican City, tour the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, traipse about famous squares and fountains, and to have Daddy and Rowan take a gladiator training course. We adored our apartment, enjoyed the vibe of the city and would love to return someday to the eternal city!
  • Naples: Tuesday afternoon we grabbed a train down to the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. We had a packed itinerary for the two half days scheduled here that mostly went not-as-planned. We were tired, opening hours weren’t clear on the subterranean city tour and on our way to one of the castles some delinquents threw glass bottles over a ridge, landing close to Rowan and scaring him near to death (we skipped the castle, grabbed some pasteries and went back to our apartment). We were able to visit the museum where most of the artifacts from Pompeii are housed, eat at a famous cafe, see some famous squares/shopping centers, eat some famous deserts, and of course eat pizza in it’s birthplace! We were also able to have a couple of very thrilling metro rides (I have personally never experienced anything like them, nor probably touched so many strangers all at once…except that I did engage in mosh pits as a teenager I seem to remember, so maybe I came close?) and upon getting lost and waiting ages for an airport bus, we hailed a taxi for one last wild adventure (I was panicked and asked him to “hurry.” This was effective and incredibly terrifying.)

Brags/Things that went right:

  • We managed to pack for a week in only carry-on bags!
  • No one fell in a canal!
  • We didn’t miss a single train or plane!
  • We didn’t lose a single kid
  • We saw most of what we wanted to see.
  • We ate lots of gelato
  • We weren’t pickpocketed
  • Our apartments were all very nice/as advertised. In Venice we had a canal view and in Naples we had an incredible 10th floor view of the city and Vesuvius.
  • We worked together to overcome obstacles and bonded on an awesome learning adventure ❤

Things we learned for next time (yes, even with all the travel we have done with kids we still make plenty of mistakes!):

  • Bring sun hats – always. Yes, even when the spring forecast is cool and rainy because it might actually be warm and sunny the entire time.
  • Maybe purchase attraction tickets in advance (although the ticket purchase line at the Colosseum was shorter than the advance ticket line and we were glad we didn’t pre-purchase for the Vatican museums because by the time we were supposed to go, our hearts were not in another museum visit with toddlers…so mileage may vary here).
  • Don’t bother with restaurant recommendations like the ones I painstakingly pinned – we just ended up eating takeaway pizza and supermarket sandwiches anyway – much less stressful than sit down meals with loud, messy, off schedule tots.
  • No markers. I’m sure the train seats/pastel toddler pants will thank us next time.
  • Remind husband extra times about putting color sucking laundry sheets into mixed loads. Or do the laundry myself.
  • Don’t leave the elderberry immune gummies in the car. Although I’m sure we still would have caught colds (because toddlers and public transportation).
  • Leave stroller intact instead of stripping snack tray and sunshade for weight reasons. See above about weather forecasting. Also, it would have spared a few unbelted toddler spills. Oooops.
  • Agree on souvenir and treat prices ahead of time so the kids know what to expect (or not to expect).
  • Accept the lack of early starts.
  • Accept that you’ll cut 1/4 -1/2 of your itinerary.
  • Trains are not scary. Hop on and enjoy the lack of airport uptight-ness.
  • Make time to pee/ get snacks before getting on the train instead of being so uptight about being there and waiting 45 minutes for a gate to even be announced.
  • Conversely: Either give the airport shuttle bus a huge lead time or just take a taxi (instead of frantically hailing one from the bus stop and eating the bus tickets). This could obviously vary by city, but Naples transportation was a crowded, under construction, disorganized nightmare. And…cue the pictures!
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Speaking


I’m not very good at it. I’d rather run away than disagree or fight. But sometimes something is too important to me, too deeply felt. This situation has not come up for me in a real raw way that leads me to openly witness to someone yet, but maybe every-time a situation causes me to break my comfort barrier it will bring me more peace in witnessing about my faith. In the meantime I do try to live my life in a way that exhibits God’s love and thus witnesses indirectly. 

It’s not enough, but I hope to always be learning and growing.

Time

It’s funny, living this semi-nomadic life. We exist outside of place, not time but it often seem like time moves at a different pace for us. We come, we go – we sever ties, or just wrap them up and freeze them for later. We go and then come back and time has skipped along – we see it in new gas stations, the growth of children and in the new products lining store shelves but it seems wrong with time only having dabbled, dragged, dripped and scuttled along.  

But here it is, almost a new year. My baby is two, the big boys so big. And our stint overseas, initially a year, then near three – is almost over.


 There will be endings and new beginnings. We long for stability; a home where we can hang shelves and have pets. And a mini van to soothe the cramped car blues (not to mention the bad news from the mechanic about my aging Subaru). A homeschool co-op and my kitchen aid mixer from storage. All the little strings of our lives that have been stored here and there, shoved into nooks and crannies or merely a chest of hopes to await a day when it will all come together. Coming home is an exciting prospect! 

But there is fear here too – it comes unbidden and unwanted. Job change is scary enough but it’s that and everything else. The missing of beaches, and novelty. Job security and holding patterns. The unknown is scary but God knows and that does bring me peace. I’m no stranger to these periods of tumultuous change, these times when I am standing on a cliff in the dark with only faith to guide my next step. I guess I always hoped it would become easier with practice or time. Maybe to an extent it does. I don’t have the luxury of ruminating over the anxiety with three small needy boys. I just press onward. Onward. Ever onward. 
And so here we are greeting another new year. We hope to do so with grace, peace, trust, and joy. But I can’t promise there won’t a wee pinch of trepidation along the way. 

A break

Taking a Facebook break is freeing and annoying. To have vivid proof of ones addiction in the constant impulse to click on an app that is no longer there…

Also, it’s just an annoyance. I’d like to invite the homeschool group to the park today, but … no Facebook. I love the benefits though. Facebook is such a time suck and a distraction and it influences my mood far too often. 
Maybe this will be a more permanent thing. 

Sleeping, perchance

My youngest is a bad sleeper. My pediatrician has confirmed this as a diagnosis, ha. His non-sleeping habits have caused no little chaos to our family dynamic. I’ve been beyond tired. Combine this with tandem nursing until Connor turned three and hello extended postpartum hormonal land. Survival mode is my normal now. 

While big boys sleep, I try to fold laundry. Wesley helps by not only not sleeping but also unloading the recycling bin. Thanks dude.

Messy normal – the laundry I spent/wasted naptime folding? Baby unfolded it while I helped the toddler potty.

Some days my kids get organic meals crafted into fun designs. Sometimes things are more survival-y and they get cold canned chicken/beets on tupperware lids because there are no clean plates.

Some days this is my to-do list.

Connor weaning and potty training has made me feel somewhat more normal and this week I’ve set some new routines in place that just haven’t been possible in my baby and travel weary brain until now. A morning circle time routine should help with the noise complaints from our (late sleeping) downstairs landlords. And finally making the decision to crawl out of bed and run before the kids are up: this is a big one. When you feel like you’re drowning in exhaustion, every minute in bed is golden. But somehow making the decision to get up on your own and do something in the quiet pre-kid calm is worth every lost moment with my cozy blanket nest. Not to mention the mood and energy enhancements from the run itself. It’s good stuff. 
None of that means I won’t still be tired, pants-less, disorganized and grumpy with my kids… But it’s a start. 

A long time.

It has been a long time since I blogged. Life has raced forward, as it has a tendency to do. When you last saw your heroine…there were only two wee ones and it was post deployment/reintegration. So, obviously that went well…and now we have three boys. Hubby got orders overseas, which we never in a million years thought would actually happen. We are now 1.5 years into his 2 year tour in Crete, Greece. It is lovely, alien, and already familiar. Closing time is near enough for me to be anxious about leaving this island, which has become our home. We don’t know yet where we will be blown next by that silly north wind but stay tuned and I will try to write more frequently, as I did in the past. The old anxiety monster has tapped me on the shoulder again and has necessitated that counter measures be taken. So, I will be right here; writing, running, praying, swimming, loving, raising my voice and then apologizing, wiping bottoms and boogers, traveling, and all of the rest of the things that make up my crazy beautiful life. I hope you’ll read along with me 🙂