Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mini Family Reunion

Our long flight across the ocean from Frankfurt, Germany landed us here for a layover this afternoon. Any guesses which airport it is?

Does seeing these people give you any more clues?

Yes, our eleven hour flight from Europe landed in Denver for a three hour layover!

Not only did Caleb, Haley and Charlie come to see us, but some other dear ones as well. Recognize any of these people on the escalator?!

That's Dave's mom and dad who came to be with us too! What an amazing treat to get to see them.

We had THE BEST three hours together with everyone, enjoying conversation and a meal together ... and of course, delighting in our five month old grandson, Charlie!

When we saw them in December, we thought that we wouldn't see them again until June. What a gift it was to have even a few hours with them!

This little boy reminds me so much of Caleb when he was a baby that it was like going back in time.

He has beautiful features of his mommy, but that solid little body of his reminds me completely of his daddy! I couldn't believe my arms could have "muscle memory" for 25 years and instantly recall what it was like to hold Caleb as a baby.

Dave said the same thing when he got his turn to hold Charlie!

Those three hours with everyone passed by in a flash - much too quickly! Seemingly all of a sudden it was time to take a picture all together and hurry off to our last flight of the day.

The Lord has been so kind through the years to give us many more times with family than I could have ever imagined. I take each one as a gift, and thank him for his kindness in allowing us these special moments.

"Thank you Dad, Mom, Caleb, Haley and Charlie for making the trip from your Colorado homes to come see us at the airport! That was so meaningful to us. We love you all so much and treasure those few hours we had with you!!"

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Here, There & Everywhere

When I opened the curtains this morning, this pretty view greeted me on the outskirts of Vienna.

But as the morning progressed, the skies were pretty gray, and it was cold and windy. I walked over to the Schönbrunn Palace grounds just to see what they were like at this time of year: pretty bleak!

I'm glad I saw it in the fall when it was absolutely lovely; perhaps my next doctor appointment here will bring me back in spring to see what it looks like then!

One of the things that I've enjoyed about having to come to Vienna more often recently is figuring out the metro (underground) transportation system. It was a mystery to me for a long time! But now that I've learned it, I love it. I can buy a 24 hour pass on my phone, and then go wherever I need to.

In this case, it's 10 km from the center of Vienna, and is definitely easier by metro than a car.

I wish I'd thought to take a picture with my dear doctor. What a help she is to me! Today we made a few adjustments to my medications that I hope will bring even greater results. But in general, she's really pleased with how I'm doing thus far in the process of getting me healthy again.

And I'm really pleased with the level of her expertise! It's comforting to be with her.

With an hour to get back downtown and pick up medicine in a couple of different spots, I stopped for just a second to enjoy this view; how can you NOT stop to enjoy it if you're downtown?!

I accidentally took this photo as I was getting off the metro, heading to the hauptbahnhof (otherwise known as the main train station!).

I made it there with just ten minutes to spare before getting on my train to the airport.

When I originally made my doctor appointment back in November, I thought Dave and I were flying out of Vienna to the States for JV board meeting. But later when we checked ticket prices, it saved us a lot of money to fly out of Krakow.

But that meant that I was going to be in the wrong place for getting on the flight tomorrow!

So instead, I'm taking a cheap flight from Vienna, via Munich, to Krakow.

It's definitely a roundabout way to get to there! I'm in Munich right now, waiting for my flight to Krakow which will put me into the airport at 11:30 tonight.

Dave is already there, having just flown in from Estonia where he spent two days with our JV team. He'll be at the hotel before me, so will go to bed since I'll be there so late.

At least I'll see him in the morning and get to fly with him all the way to San Diego, our first destination in the States this time.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Switching Places

Well this is a switch!

Tyler and Lara (and two sleeping boys!) drove with me to the train station today. Rather than being the ones dropped off to head to the States, they were sending me off on another trip while they stay here in Czech...their home now!

Because they were working on their registration at the foreign police today (registering in the country and beginning the process of getting their visas to live here), they dropped me off early so they could make it back in time to finish what had to be done today.

*Side note: Tyler wrote me later to say that his visa, from all the years of growing up here, was still valid! We didn't expect that. However because that's true, the boys are automatically eligible for permanent residency (something that usually takes 5-7 years before you're eligible). Unfortunately it doesn't apply to Lara, so she has to go through the regular process of first getting a short term visa, and then later, a long term one.

Train stations here, at least in Ostrava Svinov, are so quiet! You seriously could have heard a pin drop in this waiting area. The peacefulness was soothing, as was the train ride across country.

You would have thought it was March or April today by the looks of the sky and the fields. That's what January does to you here...fools you! I can remember the kids being in short sleeves during some Januarys, only to have blizzard-type of snow in Februarys and March's.

But by the looks of some of the garden plots along the way, people are even getting their soil ready to plant. Sure wonder if we'll get a big snow between now and when they really do get their seeds in the ground.

I was traveling down to Vienna today, in order to make it to "my" pharmacy where I get specially compounded medicine to keep me well these days. I made it there ten minutes before closing!

Then I headed out of town to a place where I'll spend the night so that tomorrow I can be at a doctor's appointment in the morning.

It was only 6 PM but the streets were "rolled up" in the outskirts of Vienna as I made my way to the hotel.

This is where I stayed when I came in November for another appointment. When the hotel clerk asked, "Have you stayed here before?" it was nice to tell her that I had! She then pulled my info from their paper file and just had me sign my name.

I kinda feel at home here!

She put me in a different section of the hotel than last time...and it has a view! I don't know what it will look like in the morning, but it's pretty cool tonight.

I sure didn't want to leave the family behind in Czech is so sweet to have all of them close by! But the awesome thing is...they'll all be there when I get back!

And I'm thankful that I can check in with my doctor and continue getting the help I need so I have energy for my grandkids in the years ahead!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Change of Evening Plan

At 5:30 this evening I got a phone call that completely changed my evening plans.

By any chance do you recognize where that phone call sent me?

How about this clue??

Still haven't figured it out?

I'm in Poland. Back at the Krakow airport. With Claire.

Thankfully she came with me as it would not have been near as enjoyable of a trip without her to keep me company.

But why oh why did we make a four hour evening trip to the airport, when there was no one there to pick up??

Because somehow ... and we have absolutely no idea how ... when Dave got to security to pull out his passport (he's on his way to Estonia tonight), my passport was in his briefcase.

That was not a good thing as I leave tomorrow by train for a night in Vienna before a doctor's appointment. Then have a flight to Krakow on Tuesday evening to meet back up with Dave before we head to the States on Wednesday morning.

And if I didn't have my passport, I wouldn't be going anywhere! You really aren't supposed to cross country borders without it. I couldn't check into a hotel without it. And I certainly couldn't fly without it.

We seriously have no idea how my passport snuck its way into his briefcase. It is always in my purse.

Except for tonight!

So Claire was willing to accompany me on that four hour drive back and forth to the airport where Dave had left it in his car for me. I am SO glad he saw it in his briefcase before flying to Estonia, and so thankful he saw it when he still had time to run it out to his car!

"Thanks for being such good company tonight, Claire! This will probably be one of those memories we'll remember for a long time!"

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Enjoying My Kids

Over the past eight and a half years since Tyler first left home for college in the States, it's been very rare to have all three of our kids home at the same time. In fact, it's been rare to have even two of them here!

So having Tyler and Claire in the house this past week has been a delight! I love listening to them relate as siblings, friends, and enjoyers of theology, books, music, art and coffee!

When I've come downstairs to our kitchen each morning, it has smelled like a coffee shop as Tyler, a former barista, perfectly brews up something. Claire is actually good at it too (she had good teachers in her brothers, both baristas!).

This morning they were trying out a Christmas gift that was given to Dave from one of our JV team members. It's a homemade pour-over coffee apparatus!

It just delighted me to hear Tyler explaining it as he worked his coffee magic! And I love that these two are here right now to share life, close up and personal, and of course with Lara, Judah and Asher too.

We're just missing Caleb and Haley to make it complete!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Finishing Nonnie Camp

Waking up this morning and realizing that today was the end of "Nonnie Camp" (my full-time job caring for Judah and Asher this week while their parents were at a JV training event) was actually sad for me.

While it's taken all of my time and energy this week, it's also been such a great privilege to invest in the boys and be a small part of their growth and shaping as little men. I saw it as a high calling with my own kids to pour my heart into them, and now see it that way with my grandsons.

And besides, who would want to miss such moments as this??

NO idea how his hair was all of sudden standing straight up! Totally cracked me up 😂

Giving of myself to these dear boys honestly had me smiling throughout each day during this week.

Sure, we had our moments where it was tough - that's normal!

But there were also SO many times that I felt my heart filled to overflowing that I had this week with them to set the foundation of our relationship, now that they live here in the Czech Republic. It will forever be different because of spending such intentional time with them for days on end.

When Tyler and Lara came home this afternoon, they both commented that the boys seemed to have grown this week. And I think they're right!

Sometimes when you're with kids every hour, every day, it's hard to see those changes. But I actually did notice it in both boys as I looked back over photos from the past week since they arrived here.

And to prove my point, Asher showed off this morning by standing here on his own! Yep, they're growing!

He's just 7 1/2 months old, but makes it look like he's going to take his first steps soon!

With both boys down for a nap at the same time today, I took a moment to give myself a thumbs up for a good week.

I remember Kristi, my sister-in-law, telling me one time that an aunt (or grandma?) of hers used to pat her own hand on her shoulder sometimes and say, "Good job!" UPDATE: it was her mom, Karlene! 😄

When it's day in and day out work, it actually helps to remind yourself you're doing good work!

If you're a mommy or grandma (or daddy, or anyone else spending untold hours with little ones), take those as words from your heavenly Father, who sees you and all the work you're putting into raising good little people. He puts a very high value on caring for these precious ones well!

Tyler, Lara, Judah and Asher will still be here at our house for a bit; they begin the process of moving to their apartment in Ostrava next week, so will be here until they're all moved in.

But I'll only be here at home for a few more days before I'm off again on another trip with Dave. So I'm planning to soak in every last moment of having them living here at our house!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Very Good Trade

Every mommy (and Nonnie!) knows there are certain hours in a day that are better, and worse, than others. This was our worst moment, at 3 PM today. 

Judah had just woken up from a long, two and a half hour nap, but still wasn't feeling well or acting like himself. And Asher is a sympathetic soul so was taking up the cause along with his brother.

But after an hour of this sweetness, Judah began to feel better.

He grabbed my hand and wouldn't let go for a long time...I loved it!

This was Judah at 4 PM.

He was still coughing, but not as much; and the other symptoms from yesterday were so much less.

By 5 PM, a little miracle took place!

He asked if we could go play! And I was more than happy to oblige his wish to go to Papa and Nonnie's room for that. I mean, how much fun is turning on and off the light switch for a half hour??? A lot when you're two years old!

Asher recovered well from his brother's two sad days and wolfed down his beets tonight!

And after dinner, we had a nice long hour in Papa and Nonnie's room playing with all sorts of interesting things. 😂

Isn't it funny that you can have all sorts of toys and what they end up liking the most are doors, keys, shoes and light switches??

I'm almost to the end of "Nonnie Camp", which feels a little sad. Who doesn't love seeing a sweet face like this every day??

But the very special part of this week is that it's actually just laid a foundation for what will be normal life having these two live just a half hour away in Ostrava!

It's been my absolute delight to love, care, nurture and invest in Judah and Asher during this week while Tyler and Lara have been at our JV Winter Academy, and it warms my heart that they know Papa and Nonnie's house now, and have had extended time with me this week to begin the bonding process.

While I missed being there with our team, it was definitely the right trade for me to be at home with the little ones while their mommy and daddy were up there with everyone.

I wouldn't have traded it for anything.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Sick Little One

When Judah woke up this morning crying, I wondered what kind of a day it would be.

Kaylee is never too far away from the boys. She's been a faithful companion this week!

Since it was just he and I for the first half hour, which we spent reading books together, he cheered up and we moved on with our morning routine once Asher was awake.

My morning view as I'm getting them breakfast

Asher made a spectacular comeback this morning after his hard day of teething yesterday. There's a white nub on top that looks like might have been the culprit of pain, so we may see a new tooth soon!

But poor Judah. By mid morning it was clear that the sickness he had before Tyler and Lara moved to Czech last week was back.

Cough, fever, uncomfortableness and a runny nose that looks like it's a faucet. Oh how bad I felt for him as we sat snuggling on the couch.

That led to a flurry of texts to his mommy and daddy about what to do, which resulted in them coming home from the conference to take Judah to a doctor in Frydlant just before noon.

They got in without a wait (praise number one!), had a fantastic experience with this doctor (praise number two) and got medicine they felt good about (praise number three!).

Judah was a bit more cheerful by the time they got home.

While they were out for an hour, Mr Cheerful and I had a great time making faces in the mirror and sitting at the piano with me playing and him singing (kid you not!).

And that cheeriness just continued right on throughout the rest of the afternoon.

But this sweet boy didn't have such a good rest of his day.

I opted to let him take a bath by himself this evening, in hopes that it would be a relief tonight to just be in warm water, playing alone, with me and Asher just quietly hanging out with him in the bathroom.

Forty five minutes of bliss ensued...a subdued bliss, but nevertheless, it was the best 45 minutes of his day.

Asher gets the best brother award for patience tonight (and the fact that he ended up missing his own bath because it was too late by the time I got Judah in bed and fed Asher a bottle). Besides a few sympathy cries with his brother, he was amazing this evening at just going with the flow of a sick older brother.

Because Judah is literally coughing every minute, I don't know if he'll stay asleep or not. So here I sit in the hallway, listening for him until his mommy and daddy get home.

Epilogue of the evening: He did wake up coughing and crying, but only needed a hug and the pacifier to help him go back to sleep. I'm glad I heard him and could respond quickly before it deteriorated.

Now his mommy and daddy are "on duty" for the night, and I'll resume care in the morning.

When Tyler and Lara got home from the conference tonight, I related all that had happened and told them in the end, "There never was a time today when I thought I couldn't handle it or wished I was somewhere else, nor did I ever feel upset or frustrated" (that's truly the grace of God!).

The thought I had, and told them, was actually this: "Though I really, REALLY hate it when little ones are sick, I also know from years of experience that something bigger is going on...and one of those things is the ability to develop endurance. Hard things happen, but if you can see them as part of a bigger picture for your child, or yourself, it helps keep these kinds of hard days in perspective."

I'll be the first to really isn't fun to have a sick child. But at this point in time, it helps to have lived through a lot of these kinds of days with my own kids, and to know that good can definitely come from it. I already feel a new level of bonding with Judah because of how sick he felt today. That's a good thing!

Tomorrow is Day 4 of "Nonnie Camp". We'll see what it has in store for us.