Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thank you.

To all of you who prayed for us, thank you. To all of you who thought about us or sent us sweet notes of encouragement, thank you. We appreciated it more than you will ever know. Travels went as smoothly as possible with a toddler, so I know your prayers were heard. We literally ran through the Chicago airport and had to cut in the security line, but we made it to Omaha on time and God gave us the energy we needed to get up at 4:00 a.m. the next morning to make the drive to my grandpa's funeral.

John left Christmas day and made it back on time as well. Wintertime travel rarely goes as planned, as least in our past experiences, so praise the Lord for His travel mercies. Kaleb and I are fighting little colds, but we are so thankful it isn't anything worse. We are slowly getting over jet lag and enjoying time with family and friends, although missing daddy like crazy at this point. I can't explain how grateful I am for such an amazing husband to travel across the world for me and to get off the airplane upon his return to Poland to go straight to practice.

I hope that each of you enjoyed your Christmas celebrations and that you are looking forward to the New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Heading Home.

This is crazy fast, because I have 500 things to finish up. As it turns out, we are heading home tomorrow for my grandpa's funeral on Thursday. We will arrive into Omaha late Wednesday night and wake up early Thursday morning to make the four hour drive to the other side of Iowa for the funeral at 11:00.

I am writing quickly to ask you to pray alongside us. Please pray for smooth travels, as we don't have much time for delays. Please pray for strength and energy, as I am already emotionally exhausted. Please pray for health for all three of us, especially for Kaleb, and for patience just when we need it.

I don't imagine I will have time to wish you a Merry Christmas before the day arrives... so my prayer for you is that this Christmas season is filled with much joy as you celebrate the birth of our Savior. Wherever you are in the world, I pray that you will enjoy everyone and everything around you.

Thanks so much for your prayers, and to God be the glory for working out all the details thus far. It seemed impossible, but He made a way. To be honest, the journey sounds exhausting, but I know He will be with us every step of the journey. For now, I just have to take one thing at a time.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours,
Suzanne

Monday, December 19, 2011

Missing Grandpa.

I lost my grandpa yesterday, Kaleb's only great-grandpa. And a great grandpa he was. Today has been hard. I have sobbed uncontrollably as John has comforted me, prayed with me, and asked Kaleb to give me a countless number of hugs and kisses. Right now? I want nothing more than to be home, with my family, mourning with them yet celebrating a life lived well.

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Unfortunately, John's team won't let him leave. I know there is a silver lining, it's there somewhere. I am just struggling to see it right now. But I will, eventually. Eventually? I will.

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It is okay for me to mourn, to struggle with my loss. There is a season for everything. A time to be glad, a time to be sad. Or in some cases, both.

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I am sad to see my grandpa gone, yet thankful for the time I had with him. I desperately wish I could be home, but am thankful the rest of my family will be there. For now I am going to hold on to cherished memories. I wish I had more of them, there is never enough time with loved ones, is there?

Four generations.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Travels.

John's team is fortunate this year, while every other team in the league has a game on December 23, Trefl Sopot has a "bye". While we were hoping to possibly make it home for Christmas, it became evident that would not be the case when the practice schedule was announced. We were only to have off the 22-25 and while we contemplated traveling somewhere, I wasn't keen on the idea.

I am a traditionalist. I listen to the same music every Christmas. I bake the same bread, make the same cookies. I always use white lights on our Christmas trees. We always do our big dinner on Christmas Eve. The thought of not being in our own place, to wake up in the morning to the smell of homemade cinnamon rolls did not sound appealing at all. John, and the other hand, thought it would be just fine to be away for Christmas. We tried finding flights that would get us home by the afternoon of the 24th, but nothing seemed to be working. So, we decided to just stay here. The thought of being stuck in an airport on Christmas day sounded miserable to me.

But as the time went on, I just started feeling a bit trapped. As if the walls of this tiny apartment were closing in on me. Thanks to pregnancy sickness causing me to throw up a couple times a day, we haven't ventured out as much as normal. I started missing home, and wishing I could sleep in my own bed for just one night. I kept thinking about Christmas last year, and just how special it was. I even woke up one night, tossing and turning unable to fall back asleep... when suddenly I just started sobbing. (I am blaming it on the hormones.)

All that to say, when John's coach graciously changed the practice schedule allowing more travel time, I conceded that we should get away. Forget traditions, we'll make it an untraditional Christmas this year. We won't be with extended family anyway, so we might as well be somewhere fun and new together. When we found good flight times and prices to a city we've always wanted to visit but have never made it to, we didn't do any comparison of flights to other cities.... we just booked it. (Which is rare for me, I like to know all my options first.)

Image courtesy of: Tumblr

Image courtesy of: Pinterest

Yep, we are going to LONDON! I am thrilled at the prospect of speaking English; I adore the British accent. Our list of sights to see is quite extensive and I don't think we will manage to fit everything in before the entire city shuts down on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (Including public transportation, which is what we will be using.) And we don't know where we will eat on Christmas Day as everything is either closed, crazy expensive, or too far away from our hotel. But, I will embrace it all: the adventure, the busyness of the city leading up to Christmas and the quiet serenity of the city on Christmas Day. We will celebrate the birth of Jesus as a little family, our last Christmas just the three of us. And yes, I will even embrace room service if I have to.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Variances in the English language.

I just received an e-mail from the airline in which we are to travel with over the holidays. I had the hardest time figuring out what they were speaking of in this sentence:

"Christmas crackers cannot be accepted on flights so please do not bring them to the airport as you will have to leave them behind." 


Finally it dawned on me... they must be referring to fireworks! Or fire crackers. I was sitting here thinking it was some sort of cracker (that you eat) that comes out only at Christmas time and couldn't figure out why they wouldn't be allowed. Thank you Wikipedia for confirming my theory was correct. No worries airline, this family won't be attempting to bring fireworks on board. 


To appease your imagination and keep you from having to google it yourself, here is a photo of a "Christmas cracker." (Am the only curious mind that googles EVERYTHING?)

Image courtesy of: Wikipedia



Extra credit for those of you who can figure out where we are going for our Christmas break. We leave in one week from today, and I am getting SO excited! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Road Trip to Russia.

I have done some pretty ridiculous things in my time abroad. Yesterday? Well, it may just have made it to the top of my list.

The background: My visa to stay in Poland, along with Kaleb's, expires soon. I won't go into all the details, but basically we had to leave the EU via Russia and come back to re-enter Poland.

The scenario: A member of the team management was to take all three of us (well, actually four!) along with one of John's teammates on a road trip to cross the border and re-enter. We were told it was only one and a half hours away, that we would probably just cross and maybe do a little shopping and then come back. In my mind, we would also more than likely get something to eat. I mean, how often does one get to try authentic Russian food?

How it played out: Kaleb (in his convertible car seat), John and his six foot nine figure, and I spent eight and a half hours crammed in the back seat of a euro sized car. After our first couple of hours of travel time we finally arrived at the border of Poland and Russia. I don't even know how many checkpoints we had to go through to get to the other side, I lost track after the first three. In fact, we had to go through to Polish checkpoints, just to get approval to leave the country.

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By the time we got to the Russian checkpoints to officially enter Russia, Kaleb was already on the verge of a meltdown and also had a massive diaper explosion, (which conveniently ended up on me as well.) Thankfully, one of the Russian women was kind enough to escort me to a bathroom where I ended up having to use his changing pad on the floor. His face says it all here. Little did we know we still had HOURS of waiting in the car.

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Checkpoint after checkpoint. Paperwork followed by more paperwork. Instructions in Russian that we couldn't really follow. Getting in and out of the car to show our faces to match to our passports. Putting Kaleb's coat on, then taking it off. Trying hard to keep a toddler occupied in a very tight space. Which, might I add, is nearly impossible. Eating what little we had packed, not realizing it'd be hours before we were able to eat again. The highlight of our trip? The hats the Russian border control were wearing. If you look closely at the man on the right here you can kind of see it. Me, the rule abider I am, was afraid to get in trouble for taking a photo, hence the bad shot.

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The hats. Once again. At least I felt like I was in Russia, even if I was just sitting in the car at border control!

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We finally passed through and entered Russian territory. Only to drive about one mile, turn around and get in a massive line of cars waiting to re-enter! Once we got to the point in the following photo we still had a couple of hours wait time. Instead of keeping their cars running, nearly everyone shut them off while they waited. I don't know how they kept from freezing to death. Some drivers in front of us were putting their cars in neutral to push their cars forward in line instead of starting their engines. The scene was a bit surreal to me. I felt like we in war times attempting to flee the country. And yes, I think we were the only crazy ones with a child.

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We FINALLY made it through and were back in Poland. Seriously, I thought angels would appear in the sky. After about three minutes of protest Kaleb was fast asleep; bless his little heart for hanging in there. Of course, as soon as we stopped at the gas station for our gourmet dinner he woke up and had a hard time getting back to sleep. John was sleeping too. I on the other hand was just trying not to pay attention to the road, but was finding it increasingly difficult. Two lane roads here become three lane road when you want to pass. Meaning, you had better move to the shoulder so you don't end up in a head on collision! We were flying at high speeds and all I could do was pray for safety. By the time we got home, I don't think any of us had been more excited to see our beds. (Minus trips to and from the States!)

We woke up this morning feeling as though we just had one long bad dream, but our aching bodies reminded us it was reality. At least we can feel them! ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kaleb's Current Status: In Training!

Big Brother

Big news around here!!! Kaleb is expected to move from "in training" status to official "big brother" status some time around June 10, 2011! That puts our itty bittiest at just over 14 weeks and will put Kaleb and his sibling at a little under 23 months apart. (IF all goes according to "schedule"!) We are just so thankful and feel so blessed for another little miracle. I am getting more excited by the day to see Kaleb in his new big brother role. Lately when I ask him where "baby" is he points at my belly. (Although he also often lifts my shirt up, I must put a stop to that before he does it in public.)

I am so thankful to finally share our big news with all of you. I haven't written much lately because I found it difficult to share daily life without sharing that we are expecting again. And to be honest, there were days that I could barely process my own thoughts by the time I got Kaleb to bed, let alone put them in writing. Some of my friends have already figured out why it has been so quiet around here. I didn't realize I was being that obvious, ha! I guess I have plenty of catching up to do.

We found out we were expecting again just a couple weeks after we arrived in Poland, thus it has made the transition quite interesting. It has been strangely reminiscent of our year in Germany, when I was pregnant with Kaleb. We arrived later in the season (September this year, October in Germany), found out we were expecting not long after being in either place, and struggled to get into a rhythm thanks to all day "morning" sickness both times around.

Of course, there are plenty of differences as well. I am showing much earlier and will soon have to resort to buying maternity clothes once again. (Unfortunately, I didn't bring any with me.) The time is going by much faster, primarily because I have Kaleb to focus on as well. I think I was actually more nervous about a miscarriage with this pregnancy- it was something I had to (and still do) submit to God regularly. I would often look at Kaleb's sweet face and just pray and pray for the health of his little brother or sister. In addition, the healthcare system is much different here than in Germany and I now have a frame of reference to make comparisons. (Which hasn't necessarily been a good thing.)

Finally, we are so thankful for God's perfect timing. We have been praying all along that God would grant us another baby according to His will. The positive pregnancy test came a bit as a surprise, as it was pretty much the last thing on our minds after packing, traveling, and adjusting to a new time zone with a toddler. That said, the timing of it all couldn't be more ideal. Kaleb and I will have to fly home earlier than John, but we are just trusting God to sort out all the details. It will be so nice to not only have the baby in the States, but to have more time (in theory) to adjust to being a family of four before we travel again. God is so, so gracious and we are so grateful.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kaleb's First Haircut!

And... FINALLY.... photos from Kaleb's first haircut! Needless to say, cutting a squirmy wormy toddler's hair was quite a challenge. Every time I pulled his hair out straight he would reach behind his head with his chubby little fingers in an attempt to figure out what I was doing. Daddy did a good job at keeping him entertained, but I just wasn't fast enough. However, I think it would have been way more dramatic had we gone to a salon!

Please excuse the messy little face. This is real life here... and we were heading to the bathtub directly after his haircut. Why bother with clean up twice?

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This little boy has some really great hair- hair I wish a little girl could have! Nice and thick... also making it hard to cut!

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Mommy, what are we doing?!?!

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Okay mommy, now I am really confused!

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Happy little guy showing off his new "big boy" haircut! The next morning I looked at my Kaleb and felt like he had grown half a year. I knew this would be the case. But, he looks so cute... so proud of himself as he toddles around sans baby locks. I am just loving this stage, he is so much more aware. Oh course, that also brings its own challenges... but I'l take them for this rewarding smile. :)

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Interview over at Married to a Baller.

For those of you interested in more details of our story, how we got here, where we've been, what I struggle with, what I've learned.... then you can check out an interview I did over at Married to a Baller. 

Erin Crispin, the blogger behind Married to a Baller, has been such an inspiration to me. I love getting to know other basketball wives, because they "get it." For instance, they know this life sounds way more glamorous than what it really is and thus we can easily relate to daily life experiences. Erin is a dedicated wife and a mother of four who loves Jesus. Her blog posts often encourage me and remind me that God gives us strength to endure the life that He has planned for us. That said, she makes it look way easier than what I know it really is!

(In other news, we gave Kaleb his first haircut... and suddenly he looks so much older. Sigh. I knew that would happen, which is why I procrastinated it. He is awfully cute though, toddling around and looking more and more like a "big boy." I will be sure to post pics soon.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mid-Week Randoms.

1. Kaleb and I rode with John to practice this morning so Kaleb could walk around a bit. Well, that didn't go over so well because he didn't want to walk. John's coach said "hi" and he just got all shy and started crying. But, we did have a nice long walk back which gave me time to do some thinking about life.

2. My thoughts this morning went something like this: What a bizarre life I live. I mean really, I kind of live two different lives. Of course, I am the same character in each story.... but I can't imagine being in the States and riding with John somewhere and walking back as if I had all the time in the world. My mornings at home are usually filled with errands, and nap times often mean tackling little projects around the house. Not that I lead a super busy life in the States, after all when you are only home for a short season it is hard to get involved... but it is so much different than here. I like both lives, they are just so different.

3. For instance: We stopped at a bakery on our little trip home. I tried to order wheat bread... even had the right word for it... but they were out. (Wheat bread is hard to come by here!) So I don't even know what I ended up with, but I did end up with some yummy little pastries... which I *think* were filled with rhubarb, but don't quote me on that. Honestly, I rarely go to a bakery to buy bread in the States unless Panera counts. ;)

4. I find myself so thankful for the little things over here... like getting in contact with a woman from the States who directed me where to find SWEET POTATOES for THANKSGIVING!!!!!! Yay. Seriously, it is little things like this that just make my day over here! Like I said, two different lives here. At home, I'd just run out to Hy-Vee.

5. I saved the best for last. Seriously, God never ceases to amaze me. Since the time we found out we were coming here, I have been looking for a church. I thought I had found one, and on John's first Sunday home we attempted to go. The problem? The church is no longer meeting. The missionaries are still here and hoping to relaunch this summer. They graciously invited us into their home for dinner and the fellowship was really refreshing. That said, they later sent me contact information for some Americans that came over to start a church.

Can anyone guess where from? Probably not, I would have never guessed myself. Lincoln, Nebraska! Not only that, but the sending church is Lincoln Berean which is where John went in his college days. This is a crazy small world God has created. They only meet twice a month, so we FINALLY get to go this Sunday and we are so looking forward to it!

Enough random ramblings for one morning,
Suzanne

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Outliers by Malcom Gladwell.

I realized the other day why educators had been on my mind. It is because I recently finished the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  One of the chapters "Rice Paddies and Math Tests" was an interesting read on education systems around the world and one of the determining factors of a child's success- especially those that come from lower income families.

The author did a fabulous job at using real life stories to make his point. Gladwell used facts to present his case, but primarily used case examples which made the book all the more interesting to read. I would highly recommend this book to any parent, grandparent, or educator. Successful people aren't just born, they have been awarded opportunities and have taken advantage of them which later leads to their success. Does our current education system hurt or hinder the next generation? You decide, but after reading "Rice Paddies and Math Tests" you may find a valid argument that will hopefully lead to further discussions and research.

That being said, I do believe that what the world defines as success is often different than what God defines as success. But, we still want to raise children that make a difference and who use the talents and abilities that God has blessed them with to the absolute best of their ability. As the stories in this book will attest, it takes hard work and diligence to land at the top, it doesn't just "happen."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

From one year to the next.

Kaleb at one of daddy's first games last year:

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Kaleb at daddy's second home game this year:

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Still my sweet Kaleb but SO MUCH bigger! He loves going to John's games now. Last time he started kicking his legs and waving his arms as soon as we entered the gym. There are two mascots that he adores and as soon as he sees them, he wants down from his seat so he can get close enough to touch them. When he sees John during warm ups he tries to get on the court. Now that he is walking more I have a feeling I will be doing a lot of chasing in the games to come!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Laughter, sweet laughter.

We took Kaleb to this open field behind our apartment to work on walking, little did we know we were in for a far greater treat.

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Who knew throwing bread to the birdies could elicit such laughter from a little one? Cherishing every moment with this little guy. (Side note: this video was actually taken over a month ago, when it was much warmer!)

Spaghetti Dinner.

What do you mean I have to go straight to the bath tub?!!?!

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall Fun.

My little guy loves being outdoors, as I imagine most little boys do. So, we are trying to take advantage of the cool, crisp air before winter settles in. The colors outside are beautiful; I can't stop marveling at God's creativity. Although he was hesitant about the idea at first, Kaleb now loves playing in the leaves.

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Loving fall.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Great Educators.

For whatever reason, I have been thinking about educators lately and the ones that made the biggest impact on my life as a student. Ranging from elementary school to the university level, I realized there was a common theme. My favorite educators were the ones that challenged me the most.

Sure, their classes were hard and they expected a lot of me. But I rose to their challenge and usually excelled in them even more so than easier classes. I wouldn't have gone to school with a high fever for just any teacher, but for some I did. I once had a professor read a paper I wrote and hand it back to me saying, "I know you can do better." And I could, so I did.

My point is two fold. First, I must do the same with Kaleb. I love him and will eventually expect a lot out of him because of that love. Like a good teacher, I will have to let him make mistakes but be there to correct him when he does. I can't say "no" before he gets into trouble now, but must first see what he does (unless it is a matter of safety) and then proceed accordingly. As easy as it is to just do things for our little ones, I must be patient as he learns, guiding him along the way. There will be times when I would rather prevent him from making a mistake instead of letting him fall and being there to pick him up and comfort him afterward. However, the point of parenthood is to raise children that will become independent, responsible and productive citizens of society.

This leads me to a bigger, more important concept. My Father has the ability to make my life as comfortable as he wants. But does he? No. Why? Because He loves me. I would never know the mountainside highs if I didn't have to experience the valleys. I know there will be hard days ahead of me. I have friends going through hard times and I just want to take it away from them, but I can't. The one thing I have been assured of though, is that God, like a good teacher, will refine us all in those trying times. Some of His most beautiful, faithful followers are the ones who have been through the fire and come out on the other side more alive than before.

I wouldn't have had that relief of being done with a semester if it wouldn't have been hard. I wouldn't have been so excited to get a top grade if the test would have been easy. Even as a fourth grader, I wouldn't have learned what I did had my teacher not pushed me and my classmates. In all of life, no matter what the age... we all have so much to learn. I am thankful that God doesn't give up on me, but that He continues to teach me daily. I am thankful that He gives me wisdom, that he puts trials in front of me that require me to submit everything to Him.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Through Christ.

I so needed this today, perhaps one of you does too. Such a beautiful, simple message. I am thankful that my God makes me strong when I am weak.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Comforting Cuddles.

I may not want to fully admit it, but my baby boy is growing up before my own eyes. A sweet family moment this evening not only left me in tears, but later... after I had tucked in my little guy I found myself looking through photos. My has he changed.

It seems like just yesterday that I snuggled him to my chest for the very first time. So, when he did so tonight, after daddy asked him to give mommy a hug... I couldn't hold back the tears. Tears of joy for the sweet little boy I have been blessed with. Tears of joy mixed with tears of sorrow because I am missing home and family... and it is just so hard to be far away when I know my grandpa isn't doing well and other loved ones are going through hard times.

But tonight, when my sweet Kaleb just held on to me and cuddled as I lay on John's lap, it wss as if God was answering my prayers right then and there. Kaleb was his instrument of comfort.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day Four of Four.

John has been on the road for the past four days, his team won their season debut and are playing on the road as I type. I am hoping they get this win and get home soon, I am missing my other half. Looking forward to a family day tomorrow, absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Here are the small things that have meant so much to me these past days:

1. Kaleb getting excited as we came home from a trip to the zoo the first day John was away. We got to the hallway of our apartment and he kept repeating "dada dada dada." Although I was sad that daddy wasn't here to greet him, it made my heart happy that he recognizes home now.

2. Someone higher up finally decided it was time for the heaters in the city to be turned on! I was wearing Uggs around the apartment yesterday and was getting ready to go buy Kaleb a warm sleep sack when they turned them on. Oh the things we take for granted in the States, like being able to heat your home according to your own will!

3. Finding Sudocrem. If you have mothered in Europe there is a good chance you will know this product I am referring to. Kaleb has a bad case of diaper rase and our California Baby rash cream just wasn't cutting it. So out with cloth for a bit and in with disposables and the best- diaper- rash- cream- ever.

4. I had one of those magical motherhood moments last night. The one where you just want the whole world to freeze so that you can take everything in. It was cold and rainy, we had been shopping... Kaleb was tired and I was dreading getting all our stuff from the car to the apartment. And so, we ran. In doing so Kaleb started giggling away... half out of excitement and half out of awe. I wanted the world to stop. My sweet little boy reminding me to find delight in the little things, even if it was something I wasn't overly eager about at first.

5. Kaleb's rosy cheeks after playing for a good 30 minutes with his yellow ping pong ball. He'd throw it... chase after it... throw it again. Bring it to me... take a few steps here and there... but mostly just crawl on his knees. Honestly, I have never seen another child do such a thing, but he crawls upright on his knees only. So funny. Oh buddy, please walk soon. Anyway.... back to the point: Kaleb's face was bright red by the time we were done, as if he had just ran a mile. I should have taken a picture because it was pretty cute. I finally made him stop and get ready for bed.

Ready for bed as soon as this game finishes... up by 12 with a little over three minutes to go. Go Trefl!

-Suzanne

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Made it....

Made it.... by turekfamily
Made it...., a photo by turekfamily on Flickr.

to La Crema. I savored a delicious latte with perfect foam. It is super cute inside, just as I suspected from my view from the outside. Oh how I adore cafes in Europe!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Friday Night Sunset.

Last night was serene.

Watching the sunset while enjoying a pizza and greek salad picnic with my two favorite boys. The sound of waves softly crashing onto the shore serving as soothing background music. Cold sand between our toes reminding us that it is fall. Old and young alike soaking up the scene before them and reminding me just how similar we all are.

Relaxing.
Goodnight Sun.


Peaceful.
Goodnight Sun.


Beautiful.
Goodnight Sun.

Friday, September 30, 2011

For those of you with google reader....

You may have noticed my mishap. ;) I guess I can't sent multiple photos in one e-mail or it will result in multiple postings. Now I know.

The blessing in disguise is that when I went to try to fix it, I realized I had uploaded a bunch of old photos (still working on backing all my photos up in cyberspace) and somehow messed up my privacy level on them. Let's just say I didn't realize one could make an inappropriate comment on that standard beach shot of your toes. Really people?

That said, I will re-post pics from tonight... but probably not until the morning. :)

Happy Friday!!! This mama is finally going to bed....

-Suzanne


Thursday, September 29, 2011

On a totally unrelated note....

How cute does this place look? must.visit.soon.

Oh happy days.

All I hear right now is the sound of my clock ticking away, reminding me that I need to start dinner soon. And thus I am happy... so happy that my little man went to bed without a single cry tonight resulting in his blessed silence. He babbled for a few minutes and was out like a light, which is a good sign that things are on the way back to normal. I shouldn't have feared, but after nothing calmed my screaming boy for a good 45 minutes the other day, I got deseperate and sent out a virtual plea via facebook for any advice that would help my situation. The consenus was clear: it would just take time.

I'd say after two rather miserable days, the most recent hours have been pretty smooth sailing. Which by the way, Kaleb loves watching the boats. And of course the birds. He blew kisses to a little friend he made at the beach today. (Which is just him blowing with his lips pursed together slightly.)

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His little smirk is coming back. Of course, he is generally a happy camper when it comes to meal time!

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My grandpa is undergoing heart surgery today... and we have been praying for him all day. Perspective changes everything. Every day here is a gift, a beautiful gift at that.

Thank you again for your prayers. For now Kaleb's sleep tent is still inside his crib... but we will transition out of that eventually. For now he is sleeping better again and God continues to remind me that He won't give me more than I can handle with His strength.

Hope you find beauty in His creation today,
Suzanne

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

First Week in Poland.

We boarded a Chicago bound flight just one week ago today. Final destination: Sopot, Poland. By the grace of God, we arrived here on Wednesday afternoon safe and sound, without any meltdowns. That is saying something with an overtired, didn't- sleep- more- than- five- hours, toddler. We had people praying for us, that is certain.

Our apartment is cute, the best decorated one yet. It doesn't look like a bachelor has been living here for oh... the past five years. It is small but cozy. Kaleb is having a difficult time adjusting to his surroundings. I guess I wasn't fully prepared for that. Our first full day here it was just the two of us in the apartment. I was unpacking his suitcase and all of a sudden he looked around, closed his eyes (which he usually does when he sees a stranger) and started crawling as fast as he could in my general direction. That is when I knew it would take some time for my sensitive little guy to adjust.

The days have been filled with unpacking, cleaning, walks downtown, trips to the grocery store, and a trip to the beach. Nights have been filled with a crying, jet lagged baby and poopy explosions resulting in middle of the night baths. (Can't wait for Kaleb's internal system to get the memo that we are in a new time zone!) John left the morning after we arrived for what was supposed to be a three day, two night tournament. Thankfully it turned out to be two days, one night. I was feeling really good about everything, like I had everything under control, but the initial adrenaline of sorts is wearing off. This is probably just where God wants me- trusting in Him for strength and patience with my unusually crabby toddler.

I probably haven't given myself enough grace, thinking I should be better at this by now. I just packed up my family in a matter of days, boarded three airplanes (and managed to lose my husband in O'Hare) and unpacked in a new country. I've never done this with a toddler who is totally aware of his surroundings. I need to give us both time... because it is going to take it.

It always takes time. However, somehow every year I seem to forget that it does. I can relate it best to having a newborn. All you remember are those sweet little cuddles, the tiny fingers and toes, the suck and swallow as they nurse... the sweet milky breath when they are done. You almost forget about recovery, about the sleepless nights, about the unconsolable cries. I think God gives you this amnesia of sorts so that you'll do it all over again. I guess somehow he does the same for this transition period of our lives each new season.

We are thankful indeed. Grateful to be back in Europe. Waiting longer than usual will do that to you, make you more grateful for what you have been blessed with. John is enjoying being on the court again, and I am happy for him. His team is hosting a tournament here this weekend and I am anxious to watch him in action! We must remember to treasure this simple, slow paced season of our lives.

-Suzanne



Friday, August 26, 2011

Pediatrician Love.

Kaleb had his one year appointment today (One month late, yep... super mom here; I'm blaming this one on insurance companies.) and can I just brag about my pediatrician for a minute? Okay, only HALF joking. But, seriously she is pretty great. Although, maybe I just find her great because I am used to a different "system" in Europe. It was so refreshing to take Kaleb to a doctor's office here that is what I was used to growing up. Naturally what we are used to seems normal although essentially every mom across the world has their own version of normal. I mean really, what is normal anyway?

Our little man now weighs 33 inches and weighs 28 pounds. I read somewhere the other day that a general rule of thumb is 10 inches of growth the first year. Sounds about right to this first time mama! (In Kaleb's case it was about 11.) No first steps yet, I should probably start some sort of pool as to when they will occur. He has two signs down now, "more" and "drink." Although now he seems to be confusing the two. Regardless, watching him sign and say "moa" is pretty darn cute.

Rest assured, the doctor seemed to be content with all my answers, how we are doing things and Kaleb's rate of growth. (There is a reason "moa" is one of this first words!) Isn't it funny how reassuring that feels? Maybe it is just me, but it feels good to at least think I am doing something right. Far too often I carry too much guilt, thinking I could be doing something better or accomplishing more.

Bravo to all my other mama friends out there- you are all doing a fabulous job wherever you are. It isn't always easy. Forget the never ending "to do list." Instead focus on everything you are doing right. When you think of all those sweet hugs, kisses, smiles and giggles.... nothing that you "didn't get done" really matters after all. -Suzanne

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Keeping up Appearances.

It all started with one comment yesterday, this thought process of mine. As Kaleb and I walked out of the Bass Pro Shop yesterday a man in a pickup truck (yes, we live in the midwest!) stopped alongside us and said:

"Someone needs to take a picture of you two. Seriously, you should be in a catalog or something."

I don't know if the man saw us inside of the store or whether he just saw us walking out of it. I'm not sure if he saw Kaleb delight in watching the fish, point at all the stuffed animals, watch in awe water fell from above us into the pond below. Did he see Kaleb make friends at the checkout or wave "bye bye" to the cashier? Not sure. But for illustration purposes let's pretend he did. (Because honestly my first thought was, really? I am sweating in jeans as I carry a 28 pound "baby" through the parking lot with stuff nearly falling out of my diaper bag!)

Our time there was just a small slice of our entire day, you see. Maybe for those thirty minutes I looked like one of those moms who has it all together. Trust me, I don't. He didn't see me drag Kaleb off the stairs seven times in a row and put him in "time out" until he finally obeyed. He wasn't there as I ran around like a crazy lady trying to track down Kaleb's social security number because apparently I am less organized than I realized. Nor did he see the state of my house after digging through everything before I realized I didn't even have it. And, I'm thinking he didn't know that I hadn't even taken a shower for the day.

You see, sometimes we see others and think they have it all together. We see them laughing together, smiling and enjoying themselves, but we don't always see what else they are going through. It is easy to think, "Oh man, I wish I had their obedient children" or "I wish I had their easy life." But, we all have our own struggles. No one has a perfect life.

Did the man who complimented me mean it? Maybe. (Or perhaps he was just hitting on me as my dear husband so kindly pointed out.) Whatever the intention, I am thankful for the reminder to really enjoy the moments when everything just seems right but to also embrace the trying times as I allow God to shape me through them.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer break is (un)officially over.

Cue the "gasps" soundtrack now. I finally have a new blog post. I figured it was about time, considering the last one I wrote was before we left Holland to head to the States for the summer months.

Fall is in the air, even if it is only mid-August. Windows have been left open at night, leaving a cool aired out house in the mornings. The crisp air reminds me that my summer is nearly over. Kids are returning to school, the school supply aisle in Target is picked over, and thus.... I feel the need to be more productive once again.

Summer was fabulous, we were fortunate to travel and spent a lot of quality time with family and friends. Pictures will come eventually.... unfortunately I spilled coffee on our computer the other day and thus we are dealing with photo issues once again. Oh my luck. Fortunately I had enough common sense to quickly back everything up via Time Machine, so let's hope that it worked.

To ease any curious minds, we do not yet have a job lined up, which is why we are still in the States. We had a couple of offers that fell through, and thus we are back to square one. I have a peace though, that God will provide as He always does. After spending an extended amount of time here two years ago, I am trying to remember to just enjoy each day instead of wishing it away.

In the meantime, I have always thrived on routine. I used to look forward to school starting just so I had a forced schedule once again. Crazy, right? Please tell me I'm not the only one. It is time to start tackling some home improvement projects around here while Kaleb naps. A mirror in the garage is begging me for another coat of white spray paint. ;)

Happy Monday to all, and here's to seeing us in the blog world a little more often!

-Suzanne

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The hard part of this life.

Suitcases line our apartment, photos have been taken down... nothing really remains that proves that we lived here for ten months. That is the nature of this life we live, we move and make an apartment our home and then uproot everything when the season ends. This year in particular though, it seems to be harder than in years past. 

When we brought Kaleb here, he was a tiny infant. We watched him grow up here. He learned to sit, to crawl, to eat solids... he went through so many stages here, in his first year of life. And while I have photographs and videos to capture many of those special moments, it is unlikely that I will step foot inside this apartment again. 

We have finally said all our good-byes, shed our tears, sorted through our belongings.... and now all that separates us from our family at home is an ocean and about 24 hours of travel. We will be home before we know it though, reunited with Kaleb's grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. As hard as it is to say our good-byes, we anticipate a summer packed with fun memories ahead.

By the grace of God we will make it home, in one piece, collapse into our own bed (yay!) and wake up ready to re-adjust to life in the States. To all our friends we have met here.... thank you for your friendship. We will never, ever forget this season of our lives. To friends waiting on the other side of the pond, we can't wait to see each of you!!!

Until we've settled back in the States, 
Suzanne

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We're Back in Holland!

For now at least. :) Kaleb and I arrived home safe and sound on Thursday evening after a getaway to Barcelona to meet up with some friends. This weekend brings the determining games of the finals... will our guys go home as champs or not? I hope so! I will upload pics and blog about our trip soon, but wanted to give a brief update before things get crazy here. We head back to the States on Wednesday already. Where oh where has the time gone?

I can't help but to get a bit emotional every time I think about saying good-byes here. I always remind myself that for every "bye" there is a "hello" on the other side. It does make it easier, anticipating our return to the States, but it is difficult nonetheless... always knowing that a good-bye is around the corner. I suppose that is why the trip we just took, to meet up with friends we met while in Poland, was all the more special. I am fortunate to have met some amazing people in the crazy life of ours, and getting to see them is not something I take for granted.

To Eta and Mo... I loved every minute I got to spend with you and your boys. :) (Even dragging our strollers and babies up and down the metro stairs. ha!) We miss you already!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Moments in Time.

My latest project has included uploading all my photos, those precious frozen moments in time, to Shutterfly so that I could print off hard copies to put in albums this summer. Since it has been quite some time since I have done this (re: YEARS) I had plenty of time to relive experiences in the process. I have so many memories tucked away in my mind, but seeing photos makes them come to life again and makes all the details more vivid and colorful.

I suppose I am in bit of a state of denial at the moment. Denial that my baby boy is nearly ten months old. Denial that I am now 27 years old. (I just considered this yesterday even though my birthday was over two weeks ago.) Denial that we are finally in the home stretch this season... that we are heading home in less than three weeks.

It goes the same way every year. The beginning is an adventure, meeting new people... exploring new faces. And the ending is also the same: bittersweet and seemingly rushed. We are excited to get home to family and friends, but sad to leave here all the same.

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Our little nine month old seems to be getting cuter and bigger by the day.

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He got to try Cheerios for the first time on the day he turned nine months, and boy does he love them. He seems to enjoy anything that he can feed himself, with egg yolk scramble topping his list of favorites these days.

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John's team won the Dutch Cup and have now advanced into the finals. The coming week will be insanely busy with five games in a matter of eight days. I'm not sure who game days wear out more: dad, mom or baby. Poor Kaleb is up way past his bedtime and thus generally more cranky than normal for the following couple of days. It is totally worth it though, to see Kaleb clapping in stands while watching everything going on all around him. My heart melts every time John comes and gives us a kiss after the game.

Autograph anyone?

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The days are getting longer and warmer as we spend more time outdoors, especially on our little deck.

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Easter Sunday was a celebration indeed. As we worshipped with our international church and cheered for those being baptized, I couldn't help but to think of what heaven will look like. We are always fortunate when we are able to find a church over here... but even more fortunate this year to walk into a crowd of familiar brothers and sisters.

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I turned 27 and although John was on the road for a game, we were able to celebrate that morning as a family. I must say, I have quite a romantic husband. He goes above and beyond to make me feel special, and I appreciate him dearly for it. John surprised me with a facial that morning... one hour of quiet pampering. We had an early lunch at my favorite little spot, Bagels & Beans.

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And, he even managed to make me a cake to eat with friends later that evening. Who, by the way, came to celebrate with grilled hamburgers and a delicious meal. I am so fortunate to have such amazing friends here.

The cake? Well, the cake was a "princess" themed one. Because according to John... I am his princess. I am thinking it was one of the only ones he could find here. Hilarious yet oh, so sweet.

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