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.

What my c section taught me about rest (and asking for help)

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The first month or two of Clarissa’s life, I was pretty miserable. She would pretty much only sleep if someone was holding her, which was fun during the day but frustrating at night. Most nights about 3 AM I would question why I became a mom. I remember several mornings, Tim would wake up for work about 6 AM and walk by me in the nursing chair and I would say, “I have not slept yet!”

Then, magically at two months old, Clarissa learned the difference between night and day. By that I mean that she started sleeping consistently from 2 – 7 AM. Once I started sleeping, I was so glad to be a mom.

Some days in the first few weeks, I was really tired and sore so I spent most of the day on the couch watching Netflix with Clarissa and Josie. Other days I felt pretty good so I would vacuum and clean the house. I always overdid it so the following day was usually a couch day to recover.

Going into the end of Tiffany’s pregnancy, I planned to relax more. Tim was planning to be home for two weeks and then Mom was planning to stay with us for a week as well. I wanted to relax and heal the first two weeks and then hopefully do some fun things with Mom before I was home alone with two kids and getting used to our new normal.

I was really tired and sore towards the end of my pregnancy with Tiffany. My belly was huge so if I did a lot of walking, I really felt it and I also had some carpal tunnel. I was still cooking and doing laundry. But Clarissa and I were definitely watching a lot of movies and I was trying to give myself grace for not keeping the house super clean.

After about 44 hours of labor, Tiffany was born by cesarean section. That was not really on our radar. The original plan was for Tim to be in the hospital with me for our entire stay. That didn’t end up being what was best for Clarissa so they left shortly after Tiffany was born. They did not even get to hold her the night she was born.

Since I was on my own that first night, I really had to rely on the nurses to help me. I could get Tiffany out of the basinet when she cried but I couldn’t get her back in to the basinet. But the nurses were great so I would call them and they would swaddle her and put her back in the basinet for me.

The next morning, they did the usual blood work and decided that I needed a transfusion. Apparently I lost a lot of blood during the surgery and my iron count was at transfusion level. There was talk of a second transfusion, but we ultimately decided on iron pills instead.

The first two weeks that Tiffany was home, Tim was off of work. He entertained Clarissa and did the cooking, dishes, and laundry. I basically camped out in our bedroom with the baby and watched TV all day. It wasn’t how I originally envisioned my recovery, but a c section and stairs don’t mix. I went downstairs a couple of times per day to eat, but Tim carried Tiffany up and down the stairs for me.

My mom came for two weeks when Tim went back to work. She took care of the cooking and cleaning so I could continue to recover. She was available to drive to Tiffany’s appointments and to Co op so the girls and I were able to get out of the house some. But I didn’t last very long on my feet anyway.

Four weeks was the first time I was home alone with both Tiffany and Clarissa during the day. I was still really sore and was taking the stairs more so we ended up having a lot of movie afternoons and book snuggles on my bed. Tim took the laundry up and down the stairs for me after work. I started making dinner again. But that was about it for the next two weeks. My pain level actually got worse because I was doing more.

I didn’t start driving again until after Tiffany was 6 weeks old. I did reach a point a few days after the six week mark that I started to feel much better. I went from taking ibuprofen every 4 hours to once or twice per day.

Clarissa and I didn’t start school again until the six week mark either. It took a few days to find a groove with Tiffany. Eventually I learned to wear her while Clarissa and I did school.

Tiffany is two months old now and we are still trying to find our new normal. Thankfully she is a great sleeper. But I do spend several hours per day nursing. So between nursing, trying to give Clarissa attention, and school, I am back to mostly doing cooking, dishes, and laundry like I was before she was born. Thankfully I can drive now, but we wait for the weekend to run most of the errands with Tim.

If I had delivered Tiffany vaginally, I think I would have felt the need to keep up with the housework. I would have asked Tim to help, but not to the extent that I did. The pain level from a c section in addition to my anemia from the blood loss, left me unable to do many things so I had to ask for help. And I learned that people usually want to help you, they just don’t know how so you need to ask.

I am also learning to have grace for myself (and my family) for needing to rest. Sleep and down time are important. I am still only about 10 weeks out from major abdominal surgery so my body is still healing. It will take a while to be completely pain free and have the stamina to be active all day like I could before.

Name Meaning Gifts Review

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Amazing Names by CrossTimber

We think a lot about names and meanings in our house. Both of our girls have specific names for a reason. Clarissa knows the story of her name, but I thought it would be cool to have a gift specifically about her name. I had never heard of CrossTimber- Name Meaning Gifts before this review. When I showed Clarissa the promotional video for Your Amazing Name- Personalized Adventures for Every Name! she was very excited.

In order to personalize a video, CrossTimber emailed me a form to fill out. I was able to send back a letter to Clarissa about why we chose her name, a photograph of Clarissa, and a picture that she drew. After about two weeks, I received an email with a link to Clarissa’s personalized video as well as a pdf of ten pages of activities and name writing practice.

The video is 28 minutes long. I had originally planned to watch the video with Clarissa but ended up needing to feed the baby so she watched it and I listened to it. I really enjoyed the message that God had a plan for Clarissa and really knew her. Benjamin the Pencil says and spells Clarissa’s name several times. I also really enjoyed that there was so much scripture used throughout the video.

The first time that Clarissa saw the video she wasn’t thrilled. She thought the video seemed babyish. I think the main problem was that she was upset about her picture. She didn’t like that the pencil drew on her picture and folded it into a rocket ship. A different day, I was able to sit down and watch the entire video with her. She liked it much better the second time and said it was funny. She really enjoyed Mr. Owl and all of his puns.

I thought the animation was well done for a kid’s video. Clarissa’s first name and last name were both spoken and written on the video several times. Her name was written both in print and cursive, which she isn’t super familiar with. Some of the scripture is written as well. A younger child will not be able to read the scripture independantly. But most of the scripture is also spoken, so they will still benefit from hearing the words.

Clarissa really enjoys receiving mail in real life. She thought it was cool to receive mail in her video. There was a letter to her written by Mommy and Daddy. Mr Owl brought it to Benjamin the Pencil for Clarissa. The envelope had the sender in the upper left corner and also had her full name and address in the middle right, just like a real letter envelope would. I like that it was helping to teach her the way a letter would be addressed. The letter was read with expression and she enjoyed it. I think she would have preferred hearing the letter read in either my or Tim’s voice though.

This would be a great gift for kids eight and under. I don’t think older kids would appreciate the animation. CrossTimber offers several personalized name gifts in addition to the video. You can read about what other families thought of their name gifts here. CrossTimber is also holding a giveaway for a free Amazing Name Video or DVD.

Your Amazing Name - Personalized Adventures for EVERY name! {CrossTimber - Name Meaning Gifts Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

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I heard Kristen Welch on a podcast once. She and her family run a nonprofit called Mercy House that helps pregnant girls in Africa and provides jobs for these women through their Fair Trade Friday program. She has also written a few books. I recently read Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. Kristen wrote this book with her thoughts about how she is trying to do this with her three teenageers and has some great thoughts.

The most convicting thing I read was probably this:

“As uncomfortable as it sounds, parents who want less entitled kids have to be less entitled themselves, and parents who want to raise more grateful kids need to start by living more grateful lives.”

My kids aren’t going to learn to be thankful from watching tv or hanging out with their friends. They are going to learn it (or not learn it) from me. I need to get back to my blessings jar or thankfulness journal and help Clarissa do something similar.

She quotes Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane, “The only thing a child is really entitled to is his parents’ love. Not to keep up with the Joneses. Not a brand new bike or iPad. Just love. Every child deserves to be loved by his or her parents. If a child has your unconditional love, he has the greatest asset in the world. If we as parents can realize that it’s love that our children need most, and not things, we will stop trying to buy our children’s happiness with possessions.”

We all want to give our kids good things. The struggle for me as a mom is figuring out how much is too much. I want to bless my children, but I don’t want them to be spoiled brats either. I want them to be thankful for what they have and want to help others.

Some of my other favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “All children need to be bored… Because that’s when they will discover they don’t need stuff to fill their time. They don’t need a plan for entertainment. They can create their own.”
  • “I believe one of the ways children learn submission to God and doing what He says is by being taught to submit to the authority of their parents. So yes, require it, but do so with love and grace because deep down, I think our kids want rules and guidance and the structure obedience brings.”
  • “The bottom line is this : All the right from wrong teaching, character building, faith instilling, intentional parenting that you’ve made a priority in your home is producing children who do not fit into the mold our society has deemed normal. And it leaves us with children who sometimes feel left out, different, alienated, and even alone. But this doesn’t mean we have failed them. It’s through this kind of struggle that their own faith is forged and deepens and their relationship with us – – bumpy days included– grows. But mostly, it makes them aware of the costs of following Jesus.”

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland

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I was a senior in high school on 9/11. I was in my high school government class when the first plane hit the twin towers. I didn’t know anything had happened until third block when the principal made an announcement on the loudspeaker. At that point, the TVs went on and we started discussing what had happened in New York and the Pentagon.

I didn’t know anyone currently living in New York. I was sad for the people involved but never really stopped to think about all of the repercussions for everyone traveling that day since my life didn’t really change.

I was listening to a podcast this summer where the host recommended the book The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede. My local library had a copy and I decided to check it out. I was so fascinated by this book that I read it in a few evenings.

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland

After the planes hit the twin towers, US airspace was closed for several days. I never stopped to think about what happened to all of the planes that were in the air at that time. Most of the planes heading from Europe to the United States were diverted to Canada. Several of them went to an airport in Gander, Newfoundland.

Gander used to be a big airport. Due to it’s location it was a very popular fuel stop for planes heading from the United States or Canada on it’s way to or returning from Europe during the World Wars. The runways are actually the biggest in the world because of the types of planes that would go through there. With the advance in technology, the airport isn’t used very often anymore because planes don’t need a fuel stop there on their way to or from Europe.

On 9/11 38 of the 250 planes that were diverted to Canada landed at the Gander Airport. There was one hotel nearby that slept about 500 and that was to be reserved for the pilots and flight crews so that they could be near the airport, rested, and ready to go at a moment’s notice once the airspace opened up. The passengers were bused (by school bus drivers who stopped their strike to volunteer to drive them) all over the island to small town churches, schools, and lions clubs. Each flight of passengers was sent to the same location. The population of the island doubled the day the passengers landed.

The people on the island were so hospitable to the passengers on these flights. Everyday citizens brought food, sheets, and towels to the makeshift shelters for these passengers that they had never met. The pharmacies donated the medications that the passengers needed free of cost. The local stores donated things like the toothbrushes, shampoo,and  diapers the passengers needed.

The book is divided into chapters based on each day during the week following the tragedy of 9/11. The passengers arrived in Gander on Tuesday and the last passengers left Monday morning. It chronicles several different people over the different days from a couple who was bringing their daughter home after adopting her from Kazakhstan to a couple on their way home from a trip to Ireland who had a son who was a firefighter in New York City.

I was fascinated by the stories of the passengers as well as how the town interacted with them. One plane was on it’s way from Europe to Orlando and several children were planning to go to Disney World for their birthday. When the staff of the school that those families were staying heard that, they set up a carnival for those kids, complete with a birthday cake and presents so that they still had a good birthday. Several families opened their homes to let passengers come in and take showers. People volunteered to drive passengers anywhere on the island they needed to go to run errands (think buy underware from walmart).

Most families in the book had a happy ending. They were incredibly inconvenienced but their lives mostly remained the same when they eventually made it home. There were a few stories of families who lost loved ones in the attacks but didn’t know for sure until they were home weeks later.