Video games can be good for your marriage

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When I met Tim I was quite arrogant. I overlooked ignored all the things that annoyed me because I thought that once we were married, I could change him. Because he was the only one that needed to change, right?

One of the things that I thought needed to change was his playing of video games. Obviously married men have no need for video games, right? It seemed childish to me. And a waste of time. I didn’t understand why Tim would want to stay up into the wee hours of the morning playing video games. Weren’t there more productive things to do? Like sleeping?

Ten years into marriage, I have a completely different view of video games. I have actually learned to appreciate them. Video games allow Tim to have an adventure, see the world, and learn about different cultures for way less money that it would cost to actually go that place in person. Playing video games can also be a stress relief because he can shoot things or blow things up in a video game without actually being destructive in real life. He can also play online with friends and use a head set so that they are having a conversation while they are playing the game. Tim can keep in touch with some of his friends from our time in Korea this way.

There are a few games we have played together over the years. We spent many hours playing Risk Factions and Guitar Hero early on. It gave us something to do together. Clarissa and I currently enjoy Just Dance

I have learned that women like to talk when they spend time together. Men are usually more willing to talk when they are doing something next to each other. I have heard this described as shoulder time.

Tim and Clarissa have a lot of shoulder time together playing video games after dinner. They call it “Daddy Daughter Time.” And although some people may think that they should be doing things unrelated to screens, I see the value in what they are doing. They are having an adventure together, having great conversations, and making memories. Currently they are playing a game set in Japan and they can see downtown Tokyo and some of the places we have actually been to on vacation.

There are set times in our schedule where Tim has time to game. Usually during some down time on the weekend, after the girls are in bed and after we have had some time together in the evening. It allows him some stress relief so that when he is with his family, he can be more present and happier. So you could say that video games make Tim a better person and are therefore good for my marriage.

I am not saying that husbands should come home from work and just play video games and ignore their families. But I see nothing wrong with video games being a hobby. 

 

Two very beautiful, but very different girls

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When I was a kid, I thought the definition of fair was that my sister and I got the same thing or were allowed the same privilege at the same age. As a teacher, I saw that different children need different things. As a mom, I can’t get over how different my girls seem to be. I am sure that in trying to give each one what she needs, I am going to hear a lot of “That’s not fair!”

Four months in to life with two girls and I can already see so many differences between them. Thankfully, Clarissa and Tiffany seem to love each other very much. Clarissa has already said that “being a sister is better than having a best friend” and I am pretty sure that Tiffany agrees. I pray that as they grow, they will always be best friends.

Their pregnancies had some big differences. But they were both very active the entire time. Labors were long and hard with both and Tiffany’s ended in a c section.

At 7 pounds 2 ounces, Clarissa was born a decent size baby. At her first check up, she was in the 90th percentile in height (20 3/4 inches) and weight. But it was short lived. At her next appointment, she was in the 75th percentile. By her two month appointment, she was in the 50th percentile, where she remained until we moved to South Korea at 18 months. I stopped keeping track after that because the Koreans don’t keep track and I think I did the metric conversion wrong because when I Googled it at 2 years old, she seemed to be in the 10th percentile. At her 6 year check up last summer, she was in the 28th percentile for height.

Tiffany ended up being too large to fit through the birth canal. At 8 pounds 11 ounces and 22.5 inches long, she was too big to fit on the growth percentile charts when she was born. Four months was the first appointment where she is on the chart for both height and weight. She is currently in the 94th percentile for height (25 3/4 inches) and the 98th percentile for weight (18 pounds).

Clarissa had more hair than Tiffany does. Clarissa’s hair was dark when she was born and got progressively lighter so that it was pretty blonde by the time she was two. Tiffany’s hair was lighter to begin with and we honestly thought it looked red. But it looks more brown now. Her cheeks are more pink than Clarissa as well. It will be interesting to see what her eye color turns out to be.

Tiffany knew the difference between night and day from the beginning and would let me get several hours of sleep per night, even in the hospital. I don’t know if that is because I took melatonin during my pregnancy or because she was born at 7:15 PM so she was set up for a better schedule. Clarissa was born at 12:47 AM so we would not have tried to put her down until at least 4 AM. That may have contributed to her day and night confusion.

Tiffany is already sleeping in her crib in her own bedroom and napping during the day. Clarissa did not nap in her crib until about ten months when I sleep trained her, though I will say that I was working part time when she was Tiffany’s age and that her naps were longer than Tiffany’s.

I also don’t remember how old Clarissa was when she started sleeping through the night. I remember for a really long time, she would go to bed at 10, wake up to nurse about midnight and then sleep until about 10. Tiffany’s schedule isn’t completely set yet. She will kind of nap and nurse all evening and then go down for the night sometime between 10-1. Then depending on how many times she wakes up in the middle of the night, will wake up for the day anywhere from 7-10.

Their personalities are very different too. I remember Clarissa being pleasant during the day and wide awake at night. Evenings were rough and she would scream a lot. I had to keep a food log to figure out what the problem foods were.

Tiffany is a very happy baby. She used to projectile vomit a lot. But it wasn’t every day. She was always still happy right before and after. She would throw up in the middle of nursing and then want to nurse again. The doctor said she was fine and didn’t have any allergies. But about a week after I stopped doing dairy, the vomiting stopped.

I think Tiffany is more of an extrovert than Clarissa. Clarissa would let me put her in the swing or her play mat during the day so I could make dinner or clean. Tiffany would not go into the swing until the last month or so. She preferred to be held. She will also last longer without being held if there is music on and a person is within arms reach. She likes to chat while she sits there and plays. She also loves to be in the carrier whereas Clarissa hated it.

Clarissa loved her car seat the first few months. If I could not get her to sleep at night, we would just put her in her car seat and take a drive. She was probably asleep by the time we left the neighborhood and would stay asleep for a while at our new destination. I just had to leave her in her car seat.

Tiffany on the other hand, hated her car seat for the first three months or so. We had to upgrade to a bigger car seat so that she had more space to wiggle. The music has to be on. Her diaper has to be fresh and a full tummy is helpful too. She is starting to last longer in her car seat now. But she still usually gets upset if the car stops.

Neither girl likes drinking from a bottle. Clarissa would eventually if it was warm. Tiffany has not had many opportunities to practice but doesn’t seem to be a fan so far.

Clarissa ate just about everything I put in front of her until she turned two (except green beans). Tiffany is still very young for solids but the pediatrician said we could start if we want to. So far she has not been excited about rice cereal or crackers.

I am excited to watch both girls grow up and be who God created them to be. Whatever that looks like for them. Even if it looks different than what other people think is normal. I would love for Tiffany to be excited about healthy food. But I also hope she will be kind and compassionate like her big sister.

Soaking in the baby life

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I was studying Tiffany this morning and realized that the little black hairs growing on the tops of her ears are gone. I didn’t even notice when that happened. So I thought I should write about my favorite things about Tiffany these first four months so I don’t forget.

Tiffany is a sweet, cuddly, smiley, chatty, active baby. She likes to move and also make her opinions known. When she starts talking, you can’t make her stop. And she can get really loud.

Clarissa is probably her favorite person. Life is just better when her big sister walks into the room. Sometimes she is inconsolable with me or Tim and Clarissa comes over. The tears instantly stop. She thinks Clarissa is hilarious and Clarissa is not afraid to do something crazy in order to make Tiffany laugh.

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I don’t have pictures of all of these things. But I should probably try in case she stops doing them.

  • When I change Tiffany’s diaper, she likes to lay there with her hands behind her head. She often sleeps this way too. Also, she kicks like crazy when I try to change her diaper. This is why Clarissa gave her the nickname “Squirmy Wormy.”
  • When I lean down and get ready to kiss her, she opens her mouth really wide, like she is going to eat my face.
  • When Tiffany smiles, she has a dimple under her right eye.

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  • Her hands are her favorite part of her body. She sucks on her hands if she is tired or hungry or bored… Her hands are usually in her mouth. She even tries to put her hands in her mouth while nursing and while sucking on her pacifier. Sometimes she puts her hands in too far and she throws up.
  • She has a cute way of sucking her thumb. She doesn’t put the whole thumb in her mouth, just the top part to the bottom of her nail.
  • Tiffany would not take a pacifier until we got home from our Christmas trip. Now I can give her a pacifier at naptime. The only trouble is that when the pacifier falls out, I have to put it back in. If it falls out after she has fallen asleep, she wakes up. Her daytime naps usually only last about 30 minutes for this reason. I tried giving her a pacifier with a giraffe stuffed animal attached, but when she played with the giraffe, the pacifier came out of her mouth. Now I give her the giraffe pacifier for her hands and put a normal pacifier in her mouth. Generally at night, she nurses to sleep so she doesn’t use a pacifier.
  • I have yet to be able to tame Tiffany’s hair. It seems curly after the bath and when I brush it down, it does not go completely flat. I originally tried brushing it forward so she didn’t look bald. But really, part of her hair just sticks up. All. The. Time.0127200843d1355197495079266315.jpg
  • She pulls my and Clarissa’s hair every chance she gets. I pretty much live in a pony tail for this reason.
  • As a general rule, Tiffany does not like to be alone. She gets frustrated if I put her anywhere and then take more than a minute to come back. When she was still sleeping in our bedroom, she would not go to sleep for the night until Tim was in bed snoring.
  • Sometimes when I rub her back, she tries to rub the back of my arm.
  • She doesn’t hate the car seat as much now as she used to. I have learned the formula. I have to nurse her within an hour of leaving the house and change her diaper immediately before entering the car seat. The music also has to be on and we can’t sit idle for very long so the highway is preferable to a route with many stop lights.
  • When she was a newborn and she was upset, she would get your attention by saying, “Eh, eh, eh.” Now she has a much wider range of sound.

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Also, Tiffany’s four month check up last week was the first time she was on the growth chart in all areas (she had previously been off the chart in height). She is now 18 pounds 2 ounces (98th percentile) and 25.75 inches long (94th percentile). Her head circumference is in the 97th percentile.

I Go With God Book Review

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Since we decided not to do Homeschool Review Crew this year, I thought it would be fun to try Book Crash. Book Crash lets you sign up to review books. We are all about free books in this house.

The first book we received was I Go With God by Jill Ferrie. I thought my super hero loving six year old would love to read about a  little boy who learns that prayer is a superpower.

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The book started off with a letter that led me to think that I might not agree with everything the book said theologically.

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In the book, the little boy wakes up excited because he is going to a friend’s birthday party. He feeds his fish and then realizes he doesn’t feel well. He prays and does feel better. He realizes prayer is like a superpower. At the end of the story, he prays for his fish who seems to be sick as well.

I have mixed feelings about this book. The illustrations were simple and colorful. So it was fine for a book geared toward elementary aged kids. I liked that the little boy realized that he could pray any time and God would hear him. I think this book would encouage a child to pray. I wasn’t thrilled with the fact that it says “God’s thoughts are angels.” Some of the things it mentions about angels I would say is the Holy Spirit.

Clarissa wasn’t excited about this book. It did, however, bring up some great discussions about prayer and healing in our house.

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When your vacation turns into a history lesson

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We went to Virginia Beach for Christmas for the first time in six years. It is the first Christmas with relatives that Clarissa will remember.

We were there five days so we had some time for exploration. On Thursday, we headed to Fort Story to see the lighthouses. The general public can get on base by showing ID and getting a visitor pass for your car. Tim’s work ID got us on base without all of the extra steps.

Our first stop was to see the Cape Henry cross. When the settlers first arrived in Virginia in 1607, they planted a cross on the beach before heading to Jamestown. There is also a statue for French Admiral de Grasse who was very helpful during the Revolutionary War. We also went to the lookout to see the beach.

Next, we walked over to the “new” Cape Henry lighthouse which was built in 1881 and is still functional today. Across the street is the “old” Cape Henry lighthouse, which you can actually climb. There is an admission cost and you have to be 42 inches tall. You are not allowed to carry children up the 192 steps.

Clarissa really enjoyed our little field trip. Be careful where you step though. We all ended up with small brambles on our pants and shoes, probably from walking through the grass.

On Friday, we headed to Colonial Williamsburg. Tim and I wanted to see it decorated for Christmas and we were honestly disappointed in that regard. But Clarissa really enjoyed seeing the old houses.

The Governor’s Palace had a garden and a maze that Clarissa really enjoyed. She also enjoyed seeing the kitchen. You can only see the main part of the house on a tour, but after five minutes of waiting, Tiffany was losing it so we had to keep moving.

We headed to the art museums because there was an advertised craft event. We did not last there either as Clarissa was bored with the craft. She liked the art museum though. It was fun to see the old furniture and animals.

Veterans and their families can get in to Colonial Williamsburg for half off admission and active duty families can get in free once per year. Another perk to this kind of ticket is the Liberty Lounge. The information lady told us it was kind of like a USO. There were chairs to sit down (and nurse the baby), a bathroom, and hot drinks (coffee, tea, or hot cocoa). It was a blue house next to the Millery.

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Our Story : The Wedding

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We got engaged the same week as my sister and her wedding was three weeks before ours. Add to that the fact that the school system transfered me to a different grade level at a new school on October 1st. Needless to say, we had a very busy fall.

Another couple from our church got married the same weekend. Their wedding was at a different location on Friday night. Some of our musicians were in the other wedding so they could not attend our rehearsal. One of the pastors attended the wedding as well so he left our rehearsal early.

I like to do things very traditionally, but Tim does not. Our wedding day was Saturday, December 19th, 2009. Tim picked me up from my parents’ house about 9 AM and we headed to the church. That gave us about an hour to hang out in the Chapel before anyone else arrived.

At 10, I headed to the dressing room to get ready with my bridesmaids and Tim met up with his groomsmen. My friend Mary (who was 12 years old at the time) did my hair. Jordan (one of my middle school girls) did my make up. I was dressed and ready for pictures about 11 AM.

We were ready for pictures on time but the photographer was late. Sometimes December in Virginia Beach is 70 degrees and sometimes it snows. On our wedding day, there was snow in Pennsylvania and freezing rain in Virginia Beach. The photographer was coming from the peninsula which was flooded so she had to take a different tunnel.

By the time the photographer arrived it was almost noon. We wanted to take pictures before the wedding. Instead of waiting for Tim to see me walking down the aisle, our photographer took pictures of the reveal. I was glad that we did that. When Tim first saw me he said, “Your hair…is curly?” He had never seen me like that before and it took a few minutes for him to get used to it.

We had time to get pictures of the wedding party finished before the ceremony.

Tim’s mom, with the help of some of the youth group moms, set up the fellowship hall for the reception.

I would love to say that the ceremony was exactly how we planned. Or that even though it wasn’t, I just enjoyed every minute. Sadly, that is not what happened and I do regret my attitude about that the first few minutes of our marriage.

My dad walked me down the aisle and gave me away. My friend Mary did a beautiful dance to For My Love. Scott gave a wonderful and hilarious version of our love story and tied it in to the gospel. At the end, right before Pastor Nate presented us as husband and wife, I realized that there was supposed to have been a second song in the ceremony. It was the song that didn’t happen in rehearsal because those musicians were at the other wedding. But Nate said there was no way to bring that song back into the ceremony and pronounced us husband and wife.

So instead of being thrilled to be married, I walked down the aisle to the lobby very angry. Poor Tim. He definitely did not feel loved in that moment. I was so upset about a song.

After the guests had been dismissed to the fellowship hall to watch a performance by my Polish Folk Dancing group, we went back to taking pictures. The musicians did play my song, Chorus of the Saints, while we were taking the family pictures. After they played my song, I was happy and had completely moved on. But if I could do that day over again, I would not be upset about the mistake in the ceremony and just be excited to be Tim’s wife.

The reception was the best party I have ever been too. Tim and I had our first dance. Then I danced with Dad and Tim danced with his mom. My Polish Folk Dancing friends led the guests in several different dances from other countries. Tim wasn’t into the dancing. But I had the best time.

We had a rice krispies wedding cake since it needed to be gluten free. There was also a frozen custard bar with toppings to make your own sundae. There was plenty of other food as well.

After the reception, Tim’s parents had paid for us to spend our wedding night in a hotel. We stayed at the Hilton on the oceanfront. The view was beautiful and it snowed. They delivered champagne to our room, which I dropped, and it pretty much exploded. We had a really fancy dinner of filet mignon because one of Tim’s uncles gave him $200 at the reception and said, “Don’t tell your aunt…”

Our Story: Engagement

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About a month into dating, I bought the book 101 Questions to Ask Before you Get Engaged and we started discussing it. Question 5 was to tell 3 reasons why someone would want to marry you and 3 reasons they would not. Then we started talking about what it would look like to have an August engagement and a December wedding.

At this point, we saw each other a few nights per week after work. We did some kind of activity together on Saturday, went to church on Sunday, and usually had lunch with my parents before I went to Polish Folk Dancing practice on Sunday afternoon.

Towards the end of March, we started talking about engagement rings. Tim asked if I wanted a diamond or something like an emerald or sapphire? I told him that traditionally, the man should pick out the ring. He thought that was silly since I would be the one wearing it.

March 28, we were at the mall walking around and decided to “start” looking at engagement rings. We really liked the setting on one ring with two diamonds and a dark blue sapphire in the middle. But I really liked the lighter blue topaz on a different ring. The clerk at Helzberg convinced us to buy both rings and they could just switch the stones. Tim gave me the other ring as a promise ring until we were officially engaged.

The following week, Tim asked my parents for their blessing to marry me while I went to a meeting for my mission trip to Kentucky. The church I was attending was very conservative and it was common for the man to ask permission of a girl’s father before proposing. Tim thought it was silly but humored me anyway. He asked both of my parents because he thought it was weird to ask just my dad and he wasn’t really looking for permission anyway.

On April 10, 2009, We drove to Pennsylvania to spend Easter with Tim’s parents. I met his parents Friday night. We hit it off really well. They actually reminded me of my parents. His dad loves history and was very hospitable. He asked about me and my family. His mom has a servant’s heart and was ready to make all of Tim’s favorite meals and treats. She was easy to talk to as well and we talked about things like the house and food.

We did a lot of running around on Saturday morning. I knew Tim was planning to propose that day, I just didn’t know any details. So whenever we went somewhere, I kept wondering if he was going to ask me.

Eventually, we drove to Shikellamy State Park because we were planning to go to a scenic overlook in the trees where you could also see the Susquehena River below. But halfway up the mountain we discovered that the road was still closed for the winter! So we had to go back down. Then we went to a park in the marina below.

We walked around and held hands. I kept thinking to myself, “okay this is it,” every time we walked past something cool like a little shelter or a swing. Eventually, we got to the end of the island on this little pier thing. And the view was so beautiful! You could see the mountain we tried to go up, a really cool looking bridge, lots of trees, and the river was beautiful. So I was really excited and started taking pictures of the scenery.

After I had taken pictures of everything, Tim came up behind me, put his hand in his pocket, pulled out the ring and said, “Will you marry me?” And I, like a dork said, “You’re not going to get on your knee?” He kind of rolled his eyes at me, smiled, got on one knee and asked again. To which I replied, “Yes. Of course I will marry you!” He got up and hugged me. And then he gave me my first kiss! We asked someone walking by to take a picture of us together and then headed to the car to call family to announce our engagement.

Sunday we went to church and his mom didn’t know how to introduce me to people. I was her future daughter in law, her daughter in law to be, Tim’s fiance, and Tim’s future wife. All at different times. His Grandma came over for Easter dinner. I also met his brother, an aunt, and an uncle.

On Monday, we drove home from Pennsylvania. We stopped at King of Prussia Mall on the way home. It was huge. We pretty much held hands the whole drive home. Tim must have been sitting at a funny angle because by the time we got to my house his side was really sore.