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,

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.

grandpa summer 2011

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.

grandpa & kaleb

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.

grandpa with kaleb

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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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?


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!


Mommy, what are we doing?!?!


Okay mommy, now I am really confused!


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. :)