Crazy Vacation Stories: Mexico Edition

When Jack was two years old, we took him to Mexico for a beach + adventure trip. Sitting on a beach is my ideal vacation. But Jeff needs almost constant activity, so we had a variety of things planned that made both of us happy. And Jack was along for the ride.

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Jack is asleep in this picture, hence why Jeff is stabilizing his head.

First up, swimming with whale sharks. Not quite as dangerous as it sounds, since they only eat plankton, but they are the size of school buses. When I booked the whale shark tour from home, they said no children were allowed. But since we offered to pay for him, and convinced the tour company Jack would be no problem, they agreed.

Next I asked our pediatrician what to do to avoid Jack getting seasick. He suggested a small dose of Benadryl before we get on the boat. Sounds easy enough.

We boarded the boat and the benadry knocked Jack out. He sat asleep on Jeff’s lap while the boat motored out to find some whale sharks. The idea is that once you find a whale shark, two people at a time get in the water and swim with it for a few minutes. Also, since whale sharks are wild animals and unpredictable, this all happens quickly.

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Whale Shark = Size of a School Bus

Finally we find a whale shark and Jeff and I are up first. The boat captain picks up Jack, who is still sleeping, and hands him to another female passenger. I tried to protest that Jeff and I go separately so one of us is with Jack, but the boat captain assured me Jack would be fine because “she’s a lady. She take care of baby.” Oh, that settles it. I hollered to her “his name is Jack” and jumped into the water.

Jeff and I got our three minutes with the whale shark, and got back on the boat as two other girls jumped in. Then the whale sharks were gone. You were supposed to see many of them while they’re migrating so that all the passengers had a turn to swim with them. But since they disappeared, we drove around in the boat searching for more whale sharks.

Hours passed. Then the boat ran out of gas. We are floating in the middle of the ocean. [This is a true story.] Eventually another boat pulls up and takes the passengers from our boat who hadn’t swam with the whale sharks yet. That leaves the two boat captains, two Australian girls, Jeff, Jack, and me. Floating in the ocean.

Another boat pulls up and begins towing us back to shore. By this point in the trip, Jack’s Benadryl has definitely worn off and we’ve run out of ways to entertain him on a small boat. To make it worse, the bobbing up and down over high waves mixed with the exhaust fumes of the boat towing us, is causing Jeff and I to feel seasick.

We are both laying down while half watching Jack who is eating some raisins. Nothing quite wakes you up and removes your seasickness like hearing your husband say to the toddler, “Did you just put a raisin in your nose?!”

The obedient, well-behaved child, who has never even thought of putting anything in his nose, chose this time to try it. We are being s l o w l y towed back to land, but no land is in sight at this point. We ask the captains for a first aid kit, hoping there would be some tweezers. How do you say tweezers in Spanish? They ask if we need a bandaid. Umm no.

Next the Australian girls in their 20s. One has nothing with her. The other digs around her purse and at the very bottom, where you have crumbs and old hair bands and gum wrappers, finds a paper clip. “Do you want this?”

A quick look at our circumstances reveals no better options. Jeff straightens out part of the paper clip, intending to stab the raisin. I hold Jack’s head still… although the boat is bobbing in the middle of the ocean… Jeff goes for it and thankfully we successfully remove the raisin. (Cue the choirs of angels)

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Here is an example of watching Jack closely 🙂

We certainly could have had a dire medical situation on her hands, especially considering it still took us hours to get back to shore. The rest of the boat ride is a bit of a blur. I’m pretty sure we didn’t take our eyes off of Jack and gave him no small objects. Needless to say he learned his lesson.

As for the boat running out of gas, and the tour taking twice as long as planned, I think we got a small refund. At least we had our three minutes with the whale sharks.

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Jonah: More than a Fish Story

Jeff took this picture in Sydney, Australia on our honeymoon and it has been hanging on this wall for almost eight years. Despite being a high traffic zone in our house, and us opening and closing the doors nearby multiple times a day, this picture has never been crooked. Until two weeks ago.

The details are a little fuzzy in my mind, but it probably involves one or two children not getting out the door as fast as I planned. So, being the rational, Godly woman I am, I slammed the door shut. Very hard.

“Do you do well to be angry?” God asked Jonah.

“Do you do well to be angry?” God asked me.

For two weeks that picture has been crooked. No matter how many times I straighten it each day, it’s always crooked. One day I asked Jeff if he had some poster putty to fix it. “It’s so weird that the picture is crooked now,” Jeff said. Yeah, so weird…

I confessed my sin to Jeff. I think he rolled his eyes. I immediately felt regret for slamming the door, but I had a two week crooked picture reminder that my anger doesn’t accomplish anything.

How many times do I have the boys in their car seats and realize I forgot my keys, or sunglasses, or water? I’m just as guilty for making us late as they are. And does it even matter if we are a few minutes late?

After Jonah was swallowed and vomitted by a fish, he finally obeyed God and told the people of Ninevah that God was going to judge the city. The people repented. They changed their ways and called on the Lord to not destroy them. And God had mercy on them. He relented from His anger and showed them mercy. But Jonah… He wasn’t happy about it all. He was angry. Angry about a plant that provided him shade but then died. Angry that God sent him to Ninevah, only to show mercy to them. Angry that he couldn’t choose who received God’s favor.

Do you do well to be angry? It’s not worth a crooked picture frame for weeks. Or worse. Take a breath. Be thankful for the mercy God shows you, and start showing that mercy to others.

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20

How Pregnancies Wrecked My Body

I put the boys down for a nap, opened the mail, and excitedly found my Fitbit had arrived! I promptly put it on my wrist, grabbed the little instruction booklet, and laid on the couch. 

In my defense, this was the treasured “nap time” when one child sleeps and the other stays in his room for at least 3 minutes before I have to entertain/threaten/bribe him to give me 10 more minutes of alone time. Second, we spent the morning running around a kid play place where I crawled through tunnels, down slides, pushed Parker in a tractor, and all sorts of activity since the 572 friends we asked to join us couldn’t come, and I promised a fun day for Jack (he earned it with a rewards system I implemented… Maybe another post).

So I laid on the couch, Fitbit on my wrist, reading the manual. Then Fitbit was like “A little less conversation, a little more action please.” Turns out the thing only counts steps when you take the steps. I know, crazy.

I bought the Fitbit with birthday gift money, hoping it would give me some motivation to get back in shape. Over the last six years my body has been through a lot. 

  • 4 pregnancies: 20 weeks, 41 weeks, 6 weeks, and 38 weeks. That’s a total of 105 weeks – more than 2 years!
  • Delivered 3 babies, only got to bring 2 home.
  • Gained 15 pounds, lost 15 pounds. Gained 50, lost 50. Gained 40, lost 20.
  • 16 weeks on bed rest, flat on my back.
  • 2 surgeries to keep babies inside me
  • 9 months of inactivity: no running, no chasing a toddler around, no lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk.
  • Not to mention all the emotions that accompany these challenging pregnancies.

Six years ago I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. These days my body hurts from normal mom life: carrying a baby and chasing an energetic 4 year old. Instead of running laps on a track, I’m often driving laps in my car where the boys seem to most enjoy sleeping.
After bed rest and delivering Jack, it took my body about 15 months before I felt normal again. It’s been 11 months since Parker was born, but I feel stuck. Tired after long, but good days at home with the boys, I don’t want to work out at night. But I look at the energy of my husband and children and think I want to be there. I want to do that. And I don’t want to struggle through it.

Instead of finding temporary comfort in an evening catching up on Netflix, I’m hoping Fitbit can help me pursue long-term comfort as I get my body back. I know the road might be long, but I like the clothes in my closet and I want them to fit again. And I want to climb some mountains.

Why I Announce Pregnancies Early

If you missed my Facebook announcement, I’m pregnant! For a few weeks we’ve been sharing the news with family and friends as we see them. And some of them have been sharing it with others. And that is great because this little life deserves to be celebrated!

I’m only 9.5 weeks, but feeling nauseous frequently, which isn’t fun but is a good pregnancy sign. Some people wait until 12 weeks when the first trimester is over to announce their pregnancy. They wait until they’re out of the “danger zone” of when miscarriage is most possible. But why? To avoid some kind of embarrassment of announcing, miscarrying, and then having to explain it? While I don’t think that would be embarrassing because miscarriage isn’t anyone’s fault and usually has no reason. But it isn’t easy to explain the situation. It’s uncomfortable if you run into a friend at the store who heard the first announcement, but not about the miscarriage, and starts to ask about the pregnancy.

But I can’t think like that. I choose to cling to hope and trust God’s plan with this life. I’ve missed the chance to celebrate two precious lives while they were still with me. When I was first pregnant with Caleb we were going to wait until I went to the doctor at 10 weeks. But just before that happened I ended up in the hospital, learning I was almost 20 weeks pregnant, and that I would deliver the baby that day but he wouldn’t survive. That was the tearful phone call our families received. Even though we are thankful for Caleb’s life and celebrate him now, we didn’t have the chance to celebrate him while he was alive.

We announced being pregnant with Jack around 8 weeks at a family party. We certainly benefitted from having so many people love, support, and pray for us and Jack throughout that pregnancy. But most of all we loved celebrating that little life growing inside me. We loved being excited with everyone about what would come. We cherished every day we had with him safely in my womb.

When I had a miscarriage at Christmas we were about to make the announcement when I started bleeding. While we hoped things would be ok, we decided to wait until we knew before sharing the news. Unfortunately we lost that baby at just 6 weeks and missed another chance to celebrate that life while he was with us.

So, fourth time around now, almost as soon as we knew I was pregnant we told our families. We celebrated. We prayed. We already love this little one. We are thanking God for another precious miracle and trusting Him to keep this baby safe and healthy inside me until His perfect timing to deliver.

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

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Joy and Sorrow

On Christmas Day Jack was supposed to walk into our parents’ houses for gift opening and share a special announcement on his tshirt: Big Brother. But he never got the chance. A few days earlier I started having some problems. Doctor appointment, blood work, and several days of waiting, revealed that I was having a miscarriage. In the days of waiting, however, I waited in silence. Only Jeff and I knew that I was pregnant. I was still hoping that everything would be ok and that we could joyfully, happily announce this new baby.

Through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, while everyone around me celebrated the birth of a Baby King, I wondered if the baby, who was only 6 weeks in the womb, was still alive. The season of advent is all about anticipation of a Savior, when I was waiting for results and answers. Would Christmas Day, a day of great celebration, turn into a day of mourning for me? Does it have to be one or the other?

Because of the birth of a Baby in Bethlehem – Jesus, the One who saves, because He is Immanuel, God with us, I can have comfort even in sorrow. I can find joy even when mourning because the God who is with me is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Even though I was only 6 weeks pregnant, I had hopes and dreams for this new baby. I was excited for Jack to have a sibling, for us to have a new little baby to hold and love. Things could go on without anyone knowing about this 6 week old life that was inside me, but I think it’s important to share. Every life has value and should be celebrated. At least 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, but it’s often not talked about. Then if it happens to you, you might feel alone or ashamed, as if it’s your fault. But it’s not your fault. Usually there aren’t answers as to why miscarriages happen.

I share my story with you to celebrate the baby. I’ve thanked God for this baby and for the blessing of being pregnant three times – a blessing many women don’t get. It’s a strange thing to have more children in heaven than in my arms (read about Caleb here), but it makes me look forward to heaven even more.

No matter what challenging, sorrowful, or questioning time you are facing, it doesn’t have to be separated from hope, joy, and peace. The Baby in the manger came to save you, to be with you, to bring you peace even in chaos, joy even in sorrow, and hope even when you despair.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 1 Corinthians 1:3-4

Halloween: Love It. Hate It.

IMG_4966Love: creative, home-made costumes.
Hate: scary, gory or store-bought costumes.

Love: kids coming to my door, conversations I get to have, giving out their favorite candy, making them smile for a moment.
Hate: it’s impossible to estimate how much candy to buy. Sometimes we run out and I give the last kids granola bars and mints leftover from my baby shower. Other times (like this year) we have a bucket of candy left.

Love: creative, fall-themed decorating.
Hate: scary, evil decorations, fake gravestones, things I have to try to explain when Jack asks about it.

PIMG_4969eople, please at least remove the fake gravestones from your decorations. Why promote so much death? I have a real gravestone with my son’s name on it. It’s not something you want.

Satan came to kill, steal, and destroy – things which sound a lot like Halloween costumes and decorations that are popular. But Jesus came to bring life. Life to the full. (John 10:10)

In everything we do, let’s bring life. Let’s show the world what life with Jesus looks like.