Archive for January, 2017

Project 52, Week 32, Part Three: Living in Lovely Leithöfe!

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

It’s time for Project 52, Week 32, Part 3!

1997_02 18 Me at Burg Nanstein

32 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I’m taking one year of my life and blogging about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 32 — June 14, 1996, to June 14, 1997.

But, boy oh boy, am I ever going to have to start editing myself! So far, I’ve done two posts about the year I was 32, and I still haven’t gotten half done, and just barely got to Germany! Sigh. If I want to finish the year in a week of blogging, I’m going to have to leave out a lot of the castles and sights and try to give the big picture.

Last time, I’d gotten us almost through November, which ended with Steve’s 32nd birthday. We had our landlady Silke and her girls, ages 3 and 5, down to share our cake.

1996_11_30 2 Steve's Birthday

They were very interested in Steve’s tuba!

1996_11_30 3 Tuba

But the super significant thing about Steve’s birthday that year?

Now all the ages of people in our family were odd powers of 2!!!

Tim’s age was 2 = 2 ^ 1.
Josh’s age was 8 = 2 ^ 3.
Steve and I were both 32 = 2 ^ 5.

!!! I know! Thrilling, or what?!

This (of course) never happened again, once Josh had their 9th birthday. (The next year, all our ages were odd multiples of 3, which always happens the year after your age is an odd power of 2, but it’s not nearly as rare for our whole family. In fact, just last year, I was 3 x 17, Jade was 3 x 9, and Tim was 3 x 7.)

But back to moving to Germany…

On December 1st, we visited Castle #2, Burg Falkenstein.

Burg Falkenstein is only about 20 minutes from Sembach Air Force Base, and ended up feeling like “our” castle. It became our favorite place to take visitors when they just got off the plane. It’s a little castle, but the view is beautiful. And close by. And no admission charge. It’s just there. There’s also a restaurant just up the road from the castle, though I don’t think we discovered it just yet. Oh, and the road to the castle has a 25% grade, so I was always glad that Steve was driving. But fortunately, you can drive to the level of the castle and don’t have to walk up the hill to enjoy the view.

So here’s “our” castle, Burg Falkenstein, the first time we visited it on December 1, 1996. (This is probably the ugliest it ever looked — still very beautiful.)

1996_12 1 Burg Falkenstein

1996_12 2 Burg Falkenstein

1996_12 3 Burg Falkenstein

1996_12 4 Burg Falkenstein

1996_12 5 Burg Falkenstein

1996_12 6 Burg Falkenstein

1996_12 7 Burg Falkenstein

1996_12 8 Burg Falkenstein

1996_12 9 Burg Falkenstein

1996_12 10 Burg Falkenstein

1996_12 11 Burg Falkenstein

1996_12 12 Burg Falkenstein

1996_12 13 Burg Falkenstein

On December 5th, we got our household goods and Josh started 3rd grade at Sembach Elementary School.

1996_12 15 Moving In

1996_12 16 Moving In

1996_12 18 Unpacking

I think it was the very next day, a Friday, that both kids came down with a fever. Timmy got a super high one and burned it out within a day, but Josh didn’t have as high a fever and was sick long enough to miss some school the next week. Steve made a special trip to the Base Exchange at Ramstein to buy a video for them to watch. I think it was Toy Story. We’d found our TV and VCR, but we hadn’t found our videos yet. (The folded up bed in back is loaner furniture, which got removed on the 11th.)

1996_12 17 Sick kids

Remember how I’d been trying for a white Christmas ever since 1990, when we left California? Whenever we went back West for Christmas, they’d get snow at home, and whenever we stayed home, we wouldn’t get a flake during Christmastime. But this year, all that changed. Here’s how I put it in the Address Change Letter I wrote the following March:

“And, yes, at long last, we had the White Christmas of our dreams! It snowed on the 23rd, but on Christmas Day there was not a cloud in the sky, and the view from our house was breathtaking! Thanks to an ice storm on the 22nd, the treetops really did glisten, as if coated with diamonds. It was incredible. We went sledding both on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, simply walking up the hill behind our house. They say that they haven’t had a white Christmas here for 8 years, so again, we feel that this was a special treat from the Lord. We’re glad that wherever we go, He still watches over us.”

Some Christmas pictures:

1996_12 22 Snow

1996_12 23 Snow

1996_12 24 Christmas

1996_12 25 Christmas Snow

The glistening treetops:

1996_12 32 Glistening

1996_12 33 Christmas Snow

1996_12 28 Christmas

1996_12 29 Christmas

1996_12 30 Christmas

1996_12 31 Christmas

In the afternoon, after some sledding, we visited Marie-Laurence and Sam Sikaly, who now had newborn Joel as well as Elise.

1996_12 34 Marie

Marie’s Grand-mere was there, who only spoke French. Elise “only” spoke French and German. Marie, of course, speaks excellent English. We played an interesting card game with English, German, and French all used.

1996_12 35 At Marie's

That first Christmas was when Steve and I bought each other a cuckoo clock, complete with a German band of musicians in front.

On December 28, we went to another favorite castle, Castle #3, Schloß Heidelberg. I love Heidelberg’s Castle, because it’s got picturesque ruins and a beautiful view, but it’s also got luxurious parts still and even parts that are still used today. And there’s an American base in the town of Heidelberg, so they give castle tours in English.

The day we went to Schloß Heidelberg, the temperature was in the single digits Fahrenheit. The Germans were going on about how COLD it was. We didn’t think too much of it — days like that always came along in an Illinois winter. Well, it wasn’t until about our last year in Germany that we ever experienced weather that cold again! And the next time, we were complaining right along with the Germans. Brrrr!

(Interesting to me, I also visited this castle later on one of the very hottest days I ever experienced in Germany, about 102 degrees Fahrenheit. I think I actually prefer single digits.)

Here are pictures from that very first visit to Schloß Heidelberg, Castle #3:

1996_12 36 Heidelberg

1996_12 37 Heidelberg

1996_12 38 Heidelberg

1996_12 39 Heidelberg

1996_12 40 Heidelberg

1996_12 41 Heidelberg

1996_12 42 Heidelberg

1996_12 43 Heidelberg

1996_12 44 Heidelberg

Josh is posing below the statue of Joshua:

1996_12 45 Heidelberg

1996_12 46 Heidelberg

The green thing is a heater, which was on:

1996_12 47 Heidelberg

1996_12 48 Heidelberg

1996_12 49 Heidelberg

1996_12 50 Heidelberg

1996_12 52 Heidelberg

1996_12 54 Heidelberg

Well, I’m going to have to stop going day-by-day, or it will take me the rest of the year to finish the year I was 32! Now, I just realized that I missed scanning the film from several months of 1997 — beautiful months, too! So perhaps that will help restrain me.

Let me quote again from the letter I sent in March 1997:

“Steve has already been to England, Eastern Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, and he played at many of the Christmas markets in this part of Germany. For our tenth wedding anniversary, we took a bus tour to Paris, where, to quote Timmy, we saw the “Awful” Tower. Paris was wonderful, but the bus was indeed awful. Anyway, we figure that one of the great things about living in Europe is that we really don’t have to do our sight-seeing with tour groups. All the weekends in February were beautiful, and we spent them “castling” and hiking. As a family, we’ve now visited 12 castles or palaces, including Heidelberg and some along the Rhine. There’s something magical about spending a Saturday roaming over an 800-year-old ruin! And they’re all over the place! We won’t run out of hiking trails either.”

So now I’m going to *try try try* to restrain myself and just post some of the pictures I do have scanned.

I have to show this one! At the Louvre, Steve told Josh that if they could get their head between the pyramids, they’d become super smart! Then this exact spot was important in the book The Da Vinci Code.

1997_01 7 Louvre

I was so excited to find a street named after a mathematician across the street from Notre Dame!

1997_01 16 Rue LaGrange

From the “Awful” Tower:

1997_01 19 Eiffel Tower

At the L’Arc de Triomphe:

1997_01 22 L'Arc de Triomphe

Snow was on the ground the entire month of January! (The longest it was ever on the ground during our ten years in Germany!) When Aunt Kay sent money for Christmas, we decided to buy a German sled.

1997_01 23 Snow in Leithoefe

1997_01 24 Snow in Leithoefe

1997_01 25 Snow in Leithoefe

1997_01 26 Sled

1997_01 27 Sled

1997_01 28 Snow in Leithoefe

Our landlady had a costume party for Fasching:

1997_02 1 Fasching

1997_02 2 Fasching

The house had wonderful window ledges for Timmy to drive cars off:

1997_02 4 Cars

And, okay, more castle pictures, since I’ve already cut them down to size for the blog. These are from when we went back to Burg Nanstein, Castle #1, above Landstuhl, which was closed the evening we first touched it. We went back on February 1st.

1997_02 5 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 6 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 7 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 8 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 9 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 10 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 11 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 12 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 13 Me at Burg Nanstein

1997_02 14 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 15 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 16 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 17 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 19 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 20 Me at Burg Nanstein

1997_02 21 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 22 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 23 Burg Nanstein

1997_02 24 Burg Nanstein

Okay, NOW I’m going to try to post fewer pictures. (The above, I’d already selected before I’d realized I was overdoing it.)

Here’s one from a hike in our woods by Leithöfe:

1997_02_07 Hike

Oh! And another significant Castle! Castle #6 was Altenbaumburg, above the village of Altenbaumberg. (I’d counted Versailles and the Louvre — once the home of kings — as castles.) Altenbaumburg had a restaurant, and it was only about 20 minutes away from Gundersweiler, where we moved in 1998. So we visited many more times. Again, cool ruins, beautiful views. And this one also had hiking trails leading away from the castle, which we explored for a bit.

1997_02_22a 1 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22a 2 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22a 3 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22a 4 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22a 5 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22a 6 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22a 7 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22a 8 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22a 9 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22 2 Altenbaumburg woods

1997_02_22 3 Altenbaumburg Woods

1997_02_22 4 Altenbaumburg woods

1997_02_22 5 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22 6 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22 7 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22 8 Altenbaumburg

1997_02_22 Altenbaumburg woods

On March 1st, we took our first climb to the top of our own hill. This later became a regular after-dinner tradition. A game of Monopoly Jr., a walk to the top of the hill…

1997_02 28 Our Hill

That’s our house, the white one right in the center of this picture:

1997_02 20 Our House

1997_03_01 2 Galgenberg

1997_03_01 Galgenberg

Here’s our town’s sign:

1997_03_01 3 Leithoefe

And the front of our house:

1997_03_01 4 Leithoefe

We visited Castle #7, Burg Berwartstein, on March 2, 1997.

1997_03_02 1 Berwartstein

1997_03_02 2 Berwartstein

1997_03_02 3 Berwartstein

1997_03_02 4 Berwartstein

1997_03_02 5 Berwartstein

1997_03_02 6 Berwartstein

More Castling on March 8 — First Castle #9, Burg Neuwolfstein:

1997_03_08 1 Neuwolfstein

1997_03_08 2 Neuwolfstein

(This one is to show how tall I am, filling the doorway!)

1997_03_08 3 Me at Neuwolfstein

Then Castle #9, Kyrburg:

1997_03_08 4 Kyrburg

1997_03_08 5 Kyrburg

1997_03_08 6 Kyrburg

1997_03_08 7 Kyrburg

1997_03_08 8 Kyrburg

1997_03_08 9 Kyrburg

1997_03_08 10 Kyrburg

1997_03_08 11 Kyrburg

A few from Leithöfe:

1997_03 1 Spring in Leithoefe

1997_04 1 Timmy

1997_04 2 Timmy

On March 12, 1997, we took our first car trip along the Rhein! We touched another castle that ended up becoming a favorite — but that day it was closed by the time we got there. Castle #10 was Burg Rheinfels.

1997_03_12 Rheinfels

And Castle #11 was Schönburg (“Beautiful Castle”):

1997_03_12 2 Schonburg

1997_03_12 3 Schonburg

1997_03_12 4 Schonburg

It’s probably just as well that I didn’t get the rest of my Year 32 pictures scanned. There are rolls and rolls. I do have this set in photo albums, and there are many that are truly gorgeous. Clearly, I’m not able to restrain myself from posting them. Here are the castles we visited:

Castle #12, Ebernburg, after Schönburg, also on March 12, 1997.
Back to Castle #10, Burg Rheinfels, on April 4.
Castle #13, Burg Reichenstein, April 4.
Castle #14, Burg Lichtenberg, April 11.
Castle #15, Hohenburg, May 3.
Castle #16, Burg Breitenstein, May 17.
Castle #17, Burg Spangenberg, May 17.
Castle #18, Burg Meersberg, May 31. (We met Darlene here!)
Castle #20, Neuschwanstein!!! June 1.

And that brings us up to my 33rd birthday!

You can see that it would have taken me hours longer to finish this year if I’d still had all the pictures. Neuschwanstein! Leithöfe in the Springtime! The Partnach Klamm by Neuschwanstein! So much more! (I will scan them eventually and post them on Facebook, so my friends will get to see them.)

But one thing I do want to say about our move to Germany: A few years before, someone had suggested writing down your dreams for yourself. So I’d written down some wild dreams I didn’t imagine could ever come true until maybe I retired. Well, I counted up, and I remember now that NINE of those dreams came true when we moved to Germany. I don’t remember all of them, but some were:

1. To quit teaching.
2. To have more time with my family. (We used to play Monopoly Jr. after dinner, then go for a walk up our hill with its glorious view.)
3. To live where it’s beautiful. (Wow! That was the most incredible view I’ve ever had. It fed my soul.)
4. To travel to Europe again.
5. To learn other languages. (Well, one.)
6. To be able to go hiking right from my doorstep. (The crazy thing is, since then, I’ve never lived where I can’t do that, but that was the most far-fetched one of all when I first wrote it down. Not something you can do where I grew up.)
7. To write a book. (Now that I wasn’t teaching, I finished writing my first children’s book! I really finished it!)

I don’t remember what the other two were. I never dreamed of getting to touch castles! But let’s just say that I felt that God had given me so many desires of my heart.

The funny thing about moving to Germany — many other band folks hated it. Now, the band commander was reportedly verbally abusive and awful to work for. So it was harder on Steve than on me. But Steve and I had a private joke about a couple we knew who hated it in Germany and wanted to go back to Scott AFB, which we were so glad to leave. When we saw a beautiful sight that seemed prototypically European, like passing a cathedral or quaint shops or a beautiful view, Steve would say, “Doesn’t it make you wish you were back at Scott?” And we’d laugh together.

Project 52, Week 32, Part Two: Moving to Germany!

Friday, January 27th, 2017

It’s time for Project 52, Week 32, Part Two!

1996_10 13 Stairs

32 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I’m taking one year of my life and blogging about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 32 — June 14, 1996, to June 14, 1997.

However, for at least my first few years in Germany, I think it’s going to take more than one long blog post to cover each year. Two nights ago, I covered June through September, 1996, as we said our farewells to many dear friends before leaving. I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish the year tonight. What I should do is drastically summarize. But I’m having so much fun looking at castle pictures and remembering the joy of coming to Germany — I think I’m just going to indulge myself in memories and keep going with this however long it takes….

Castles, you say? I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet that when we first found out we’d be moving to Germany, we were worried about how Jade (then called Josh) would take it. Josh didn’t like change. When we’d gotten rid of an old junky table and bought a new one, Josh had cried about the old table. How would Josh deal with such a big move?

Well, Josh’s second grade teacher told them there’s a statue of the Bremen Town Musicians in the town of Bremen. And I told Josh, “They have castles in Germany!” Their eyes lit up.

And that’s when we decided to collect castles. We decided that we could only count castles we actually touched. Eventually, we made more rules. It had to be at least a hundred years old. It must have a name. But we’d count castles, palaces, and fortifications, given those conditions.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Picking up where I left off in October 1996, we were making our last preparations to move away from Illinois. I recorded a lot of the details in my calendar.

We sold our Honda Civic — the one that had broken down in every major city in America but finally had a recalled part that would supposedly work — on October 2, 1996. (That was the only new car we ever bought, and one of the worst cars we ever had.)

On October 3, Steve broke his wrist when he fell off his bike. Not great timing, but what can you do?

On October 4, my Dad came to visit for a few days. (He probably had some business out there.) He’s always so good with little ones!

1996_10 1 Grandpa

1996_10 2 Grandpa

October 14 was the Columbus Day holiday, and we took Josh’s best friend Trevyor and went hiking at Knobelich Woods. (I don’t remember where that was at all, but that’s what it says.)

1996_10 3 Hike

1996_10 4 Hike

1996_10 5 Hike

On October 18, our first shipment left. I think these were the things we’d want soonest, and they’d go by plane. I don’t remember what we chose. Maybe coats and winter gear, dishes, and what-not.

On October 19, Darlene came to visit for a few days! We took her hiking at our old favorite, Carlyle Lake. And now we had someone to take a family picture for us! The fun thing about that time is that our family was evenly spaced — we were all about a foot apart from each other in height!

1996_10 12 Stairs

1996_10 9 Carlyle Lake

1996_10 10 With Darlene

1996_10 11 Josh

1996_10 14 Darlene

1996_10 15 Darlene

On October 23 the Packers came, and we moved into Billeting. On October 24, they took our stuff away.

1996_10 6 Moving

1996_10 7 Moving

1996_10 8 Moving

1996_10 20 Moving

We took a trip to Rockford to see my cousin Karen and her family. She was sad, because she knew when we came back to visit, we wouldn’t visit Illinois. (She was right about that, I’m afraid.) It was super nice to get to know her during our years in Illinois.

Here’s Timmy with her youngest.

1996_10 21 Delaportes

A couple of other cousins came over, and we had (as we thought) a bunch of boys, so we took some pictures of all the boys.

1996_10 22 Delaportes

1996_10 23 Delaportes

From there it was pretty much hanging out in billeting and going to good-by parties and dinners.

1996_10 16 Billeting

We still read to the boys at bedtime.

1996_10 24 Billeting

1996_10 25 Billeting

1996_10 26 Billeting

We took Josh and Trevyor on one last visit to Chuck E. Cheese.

1996_10 17 Chuck E Cheese

1996_10 18 Chuck E Cheese

1996_10 19 Chuck E Cheese

And Halloween happened while we were in billeting.

1996_10 27 Halloween

I don’t remember who drove us to the airport. But this was our last day with the Honda before we gave it to the buyers.

1996_10 28 Billeting

1996_10 29 Timmy and the Car

Then, on November 3, 1996, we left for Germany! Here are the kids in the airport:

1996_11_3 Airport

We arrived in Frankfurt Airport at 7:30 am on Monday, November 4, 1996. If I remember right, two band folks picked us up, so as to get all our stuff. Maybe Jody Pratt? Maybe Steve’s sponsor, Bruce Bender? Or maybe just Jody? The memories are vague. I think I rode with Jody, and I do remember that we saw our first castle, Burg Neuleiningen, from the Autobahn. Then Bruce had Steve go straight to work! The kids and I took naps and were far, far the better for it.

Then that night, at about 3:00 am (Germany time), a fire alarm went off in the hotel on base!

Steve had more presence of mind than me. I was just focused on getting the kids out, but Steve thought to bring a blanket with us. We didn’t have winter gear. It started to snow while we were waiting for the all-clear!

The USAFE Band at that time was based in Einsiedlerhof, near Ramstein AFB. But they were planning to move to Sembach AFB, about a half-hour away, in a few months. So we stayed in billeting on Ramstein, but looked for housing near Sembach.

Our time in Ramstein billeting was somewhat dreary. Lots of things went wrong. I didn’t start Josh in school, because they were going to end up going to school at Sembach. We did find an apartment by Saturday, but we stayed in billeting until November 26, when we could get our first shipment of stuff. And we used loaner furniture from the base office set up for that purpose.

We did have quite a lot of people we’d known from Scott AFB who welcomed us. I see “Dinner at Jodi Pratt’s” on the 7th and “Miranda Stanaford’s 2nd Birthday Party” on the 8th. In fact, it was a much, much less lonely move than the move to Illinois had been 5 years before. There was a lot of community spirit between the band families in Germany, because everyone was far from family (not just us).

On November 10th, after we’d bought a used car the day before, we drove to Frankfurt and saw Marie-Laurence, Steve’s friend from Biola! Here’s Steve with Timmy and Marie’s daughter Elise.

1996_10 30 Marie's

We had to get creative keeping the kids entertained in billeting!

1996_10 31 Billeting

1996_10 32 Billeting

1996_11 1 Billeting

1996_11 2 Billeting

1996_11 33 Billeting

1996_11 37 Billeting

Meanwhile, we were busy with paperwork and bureaucracy, paperwork and bureaucracy. But I see that November 14th was our first trip to a German bookstore — and I bought an edition of Momo, by Michael Ende, in the original language (German)! I also bought a book for Josh and Timmy about Flecki — Eric Hill’s Spot! And I bought my first hiking map. Hiking trails marked out for the entire area! I used that map our entire 10 years in Germany! When I first bought it, it was so much fun just to pore over. And that was when I first saw the symbols for Castles and Ruins dotted all over the map!

And on Saturday, November 16, we touched our first castle! Castle #1 was Burg Nanstein, a castle overlooking the town of Landstuhl, close to Ramstein, and even closer to the American military hospital. We got off to a late start, but followed the map and found it — and it was closed! I think it closed around 5:00 pm, though maybe it was 4:00. It gets dark very early in Germany in November (as far north as Seattle).

1996_11 34 Burg Nanstein

Somehow I had forgotten to bring a jacket at all. Steve let me use his.

1996_11 35 Burg Nanstein

We could get into one outer ruined tower.

1996_11 36 Burg Nanstein

On Sunday the 17th (two weeks in Germany), Steve went on tour with the band to England, and everything fell apart for me.

It started out not too bad. I went to church that day at Faith Baptist Church, an American church near Ramstein, and had lunch with two other left-behind spouses, Connie and Alex. But then my phone in billeting quit working, so I couldn’t call Steve or anyone else.

The next day, it snowed!

1996_11 38 Snow

Remember, though — we hadn’t thought to bring snow gear in our airplane luggage for Germany. The same day, that car we’d bought broke down.

They did get the phone fixed — apparently we’d needed to let them know we were still there. And I borrowed a car from a band family, and I guess took our car in to get repaired. I made arrangements to have our first shipment come to our new apartment on the 26th.

Oh, that reminds me — while I’m talking about what went wrong is maybe not when I should mention that we decided to rent the very first place we looked at! And it was at a great price, and it was gorgeous! We’d been told over and over that apartments in Germany are smaller, but it had three bedrooms and was spacious and we loved it. Anyway, you’ll be seeing multiple pictures of Leithöfe….

Back to the comedy of errors — On the 21st, the car I’d borrowed got a flat tire! So I worked with the Kathy Huggins (whose husband was also on tour) to get it replaced. The world was cold, slushy and dark while this was going on.

Okay, I see I got our car back on the 22nd and got cash for the security deposit and dropped that off on the 24th. I remember getting lost on the way there. (German signs don’t use North/South/East/West, but just tell you which town the road leads toward. So you need to know the map. Hard to do while you’re also driving.) I’m not sure why I had the Huggins’ car again (some other disaster with mine?), but on the 25th, their car had not one but TWO flat tires! It turned out that the wheel rims were bad and were letting out air. I was involved in helping them get that fixed.

But on the 25th, Steve got back, and on the 26th, we moved in to Leithöfe, Germany — and everything started going RIGHT!

We had a garage. This is looking out our kitchen window.

1996_11 39 Leithoefe

And here’s the field behind our house.

1996_11 40 Leithoefe

Well, that’s a long enough post for now. I only got through a couple months, but the next post will cover settling in to Germany.

Project 52 – 32, Part One: Farewell to Illinois!

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

It’s time for Project 52, Week 32!

1996_08 Passport Photo

32 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I’m taking one year of my life and blogging about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 32 — June 14, 1996, to June 14, 1997.

The year I was 32 was the year we moved to Germany! However, I’m writing this after working the late shift — so I don’t think I’ll be able to cover the whole year tonight. I will instead see if I can cover the months from June through October, as we said good-by to Illinois.

Last week, I covered the year we found out we’d get to move. We were ready to leave Illinois, and very excited about the adventure.

The first pictures from that year are more of my adorable children. That was the time that Timmy decided if he closed his eyes, I couldn’t see him or take his picture. Of course, I think the aggressively-closed-eyes pictures are cuter than ever!

1996_06 1 Closed Eyes

1996_06 2 Closed Eyes

1996_06 3 Closed Eyes

1996_07 1 Closed Eyes

1996_07 3 Closed Eyes

And my last day teaching college math was July 24, 1996! I’d been teaching Calculus 3 for summer school — 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Monday and Wednesday nights. I wrote in my journal on the 22nd: “This is the week! The week a new epoch in my life starts — when I actually won’t be working for at least 4 months! A dream come true.”

The fact is, I’d wanted to stay home with my kids since they were born — but we couldn’t afford it. We were hoping that the extra money Steve would get in Germany — for Cost of Living Allowance and higher housing allowance — would make it possible for me not to work. But since I couldn’t teach Fall semester, we had more than three months of living in Illinois with me not working. Yes, every time we had a military move, our finances took a big hit. (This will always be true when both spouses are working. You can’t get a job instantly. Though I have to admit, it was close to instantly when we moved to Illinois.)

The other thing I was dealing with then — alas, the whole time I was not working outside the home — was mysterious very bad joint pain. It would happen in waves, but was quite severe. I’d also get waves of lethargy, so I wasn’t feeling great at that time, and was annoyingly unproductive.

I finally found out more than two years later that it was from the Inderal I’d started taking as a migraine preventative. Since the joint pain didn’t start until I’d been taking Inderal for six months, that never occurred to me (or my doctor). We did tests, and I came out borderline for rheumatoid arthritis — but it looked like it was probably lupus. (It did, in fact, turn out to be drug-induced lupus.) So that was something hanging over me, starting that summer after I turned 32. (And when I stopped taking Inderal a couple years later, it completely went away. So that was indeed the problem.)

That summer, Josh played Little League baseball. They had a tendency to stand in the outfield and look at flowers, but I think they had fun.

1996_06 6 Baseball Player

1996_06 5 After Baseball

While Josh played, Timmy played in the dirt by the field.

1996_06 4 After Baseball

I love this picture. I’m not sure why we had some candy bars. But Steve had put them in a high cupboard. One day I found Timmy in the following pose. Note the stool he’d brought over to achieve his goal! And the downcast eyes of one caught in the act.

1996_07 2 Guilty!

And Colleen, my roommate from Biola, came to visit us with her parents! We took them to the Gateway Arch.

1996_07 4 Colleen

1996_07 5 Gateway Arch

Alas! This was the last time I saw Colleen. She’d already had surgery and had a brain tumor removed. But it did grow back, and she died the following spring, on March 18, 1997. She was 33 and a half years old and an amazing high school English teacher. Very, very sad. Yes, I believe she’s happy in heaven. But I’m still sad that her potential for touching lives here on earth was cut short.

Then we started planning to see people in the States before we moved. At the end of July, we visited my brother Randy and his wife Cherita, with a stop at Fantastic Caverns on the way.

1996_07 6 Josh Cave

After visiting Fantastic Caverns:

1996_07 7 After Vacation

Then we visited Randy. He’s a truck driver, and let Timmy take the wheel!

1996_07 8 Randy's Truck Horn

1996_07 9 Randy's Truck

1996_07 10 Timmy Driving

Our next stop was the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum on Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri. We were there on a truly glorious day.

1996_07 11 Mansfield

1996_07 12 Mansfield

1996_07 13 Mansfield

1996_07 14 Mansfield

And the day after we got home was Timmy’s 2nd Birthday!

He loved his new bubble mower so much!

1996_07 15 Birthday Mower

1996_08 4 Bubble Mower

He also got a Tickle-Me Elmo.

1996_08 6 Smile

1996_07 16 Timmy's Birthday

My adorable children:

1996_08 1 Smiles

And Timmy’s favorite thing to do around that time (and later in Germany) was to drive cars off that small file cabinet and watch them crash on the floor. There were dents on the floor where they’d land.

1996_08 2 Cars

Steve’s family visited, and we went to the St. Louis Zoo.

1996_08 8 Zoo

Gramp E. with all his grandchildren:

1996_08 16 Gramp E

At this playground, Karli thought it was the greatest thing to pour the little rocks on her own head. They were incredibly dirty that night.

1996_08 11 Tunnel with Karli

1996_08 12 Rocks on head

1996_08 13 Playground

1996_08 14 Rocks

And we fed the geese at Scott Lake:

1996_08 15 Feeding Geese

Timmy and Karli’s car seats were next to each other in the car, and they squabbled a lot. But after we dropped them off at the airport, and Timmy found out Karli wasn’t coming back, he burst into tears.

1996_08 20 Under the table

This was from a trip to Six Flags. I’m sure Timmy believed he was really driving the car.

1996_08 17 Driving

Then we took another trip to Chicago.

While we were there, the band had a performance somewhere where there were tanks we could climb on.

1996_08 1 Tanks

1996_08 9 Tanks

1996_08 10 Tanks

1996_08 5 To Chicago

On August 27, Josh began 3rd grade! They would not finish it in Illinois.

1996_08 3 First Day of 3rd Grade

Here are my kids’ Passport Photos! The cutest passport photos ever!

1996_08 18 Passport Josh

1996_08 19 Passport Timmy

And then at the end of September, Kathe arrived for a visit, with her husband Joe and son Tim!

1996_09 6 Two Tims

1996_09 17 Reading

1996_09 18 Reading

We went to the Transportation Museum on the 24th. Both the two-year-olds were enthralled.

1996_09 19 Train Museum

1996_09 20 Train Museum

1996_09 21 Train Museum

1996_09 22 Train Museum

1996_09 23 Train Museum

1996_09 24 Train Museum

On the 25th, we went to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

1996_09 1 Gateway Arch

1996_09 2 Arch

1996_09 3 Arch

1996_09 7 Arch

1996_09 8 Arch

On the 26th, we went to the Science Center. This is the bridge over the freeway.

1996_09 5 Science Center

On the 27th, we visited the Magic House, a sort of heaven for small boys. My Timmy had a peak experience, which he remembered for years.

1996_09 4 Magic House

1996_09 9 Magic House

1996_09 10 Magic House

1996_09 11 Magic House

1996_09 12 Magic House

1996_09 13 Magic House

Josh got inside a bubble.

1996_09 14 Magic House

1996_09 15 Magic House

And the final day of their visit, we played on the playground before taking them to the airport.

1996_09 16 Playground

1996_09 25 Playground

1996_09 26 Playground

And that’s all I can post tonight! I’m still a month away from the day we left for Germany, but it was a very full month. Like I said, we were trying to see everyone and everything before we moved across an ocean.

Project 52 – 31 with Adorable Children

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

It’s time for Project 52, Week 31!

1996_03 9 Me holding Tim

31 weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I’m taking one year of my life and blogging about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 31, June 14, 1995, to June 14, 1996.

The previous year, our second child Timothy was born after a pregnancy finishing up on bed rest and a very difficult labor. I didn’t bounce back quickly, what with starting to work again when Tim was 3 weeks old and, I see now, plenty of postpartum depression.

But around the time I turned 31, my journal sounds a little less frantic. I did teach summer school that year, which meant 8 hours per week of classes instead of 4 hours per week, so essentially working full-time for a couple months. Hmmm. That’s probably why there’s not much at all written in my calendar or journal for June and July 1995. (The entry that sounded so much calmer was before summer school had started.)

I’m going to try to just summarize this year, but I have a whole lot of cute kid pictures to share.

My journal does say that this was the time — before he’d quite learned to talk — that Timmy threw amazing, head-banging temper tantrums. What can I say? He was precocious. But those did get better a few months later when he started talking and could tell us what he wanted. And my goodness, he was cute!

We went on a short vacation to southern Illinois that summer. This picture cracks me up, because it’s so typical of my kids at that age. Jade (then called Josh) was quietly reading a book, and Timmy was getting into something, exploring!

1995_07 0a Hotel

We went hiking, trying to find “Old Stone Face,” and I almost got heat stroke.

1995_07 0b Vacation

The next day looking at these Cypress trees was nicer.

1995_07 0c Vacation

1995_07 1 Vacation

At the end of July was Timmy’s First Birthday!

1995_07 2 Timmy's Birthday Cake

1995_07 4 Timmy's Birthday Cake

1995_07 5 Timmy's Birthday Cake

My kids were cute at this stage!

1995_07 6 Timmy Glasses

Josh was 7 years old and losing teeth!

1995_07 7 Josh Tooth

1995_07 8 Hugging

1995_07 9 Smile

1995_07 10 Smile

1995_09 1 Upsidedown

1995_09 2 Puppy sweater

1995_09 3 Smile

1995_09 4 Glasses

Of course, most precious are the ones of Josh with Timmy.

1995_09 5 Reading

1995_09 6 Reading

1995_09 7 Missing Teeth

I’m not showing nearly all of the messy eating pictures!

1995_09 8 Messy Food

Stacking cans was a favorite activity. (My Mom was the one who taught me to keep cans in a low cupboard because they make great toys.)

1995_09 9 Stacking Cans

And in October, Kathe and Darlene came to visit! Kathe brought her son Tim, who is 6 months older than my son Timmy.

1995_10 3 With Kathe and Darlene

Rub-a-dub-dub, Two Tims in a tub!

1995_10 4 Two Tims in the Tub

1995_10 5 Kathe Reading

1995_10 6 With Darlene

For Halloween that year, this time Timmy was a clown, and I bought Josh a cell phone costume that really rang. They wore it a few years, and loved to make it ring after saying “Trick or Treat!”

1995_10 Halloween

In the Fall, we again went hiking to find Old Stone Face, and this time we found it! (We’d walked right by it that summer in the heat.)

1995_11 1 Vacation

1995_11 2 Old Stone Face

And again this year we took pictures for our Christmas cards at Carlyle Lake.

1995_11 5 Christmas Picture

1995_11 6 Carlyle Lake

1995_11 7 Carlyle Lake

1995_11 8 Carlyle Lake

Timmy still enjoyed stacking cans:

1995_11 3 Stacking Cans

1995_11 9 Stacking Cans

I had to include one picture with Timothy screaming. He was climbing over Josh, trying to get at the computer. Look how patient sweet Josh is being!

1995_11 11 Screaming

We went to Aunt Kay’s for Thanksgiving again:

1995_11 13 Aunt Kay

1995_11 12 Aunt Kay's

Just more sweetness:

1995_11 10 Smiles

1995_12 1 Toothless

While they played video games, Josh used to give Timmy a controller that wasn’t hooked up!

1995_12 2 Video games

Along about this time, the possibility came up that Steve might get to transfer to the USAFE Band in Germany. So when we drove out west for Christmas, we knew it might be our last trip in awhile. We saw lots of friends and family. I’ll show some of the pictures that came out the nicest.

Gramp E. and Gram E. welcomed us warmly to Phoenix.

1995_12 3 Gramp E

Cousin Karli and her parents were there, too.

1995_12 4 Karli in wagon

1995_12 5 Josh

All the grandkids so far!

1995_12 6 Grandkids

1995_12 7 Pots

1995_12 8 Christmas

Our next stop was my sister Becky’s house in Encinitas. They took us to the beach.

1995_12 9 Encinitas

1995_12 10 Beach

1995_12 11 Beach

1995_12 12 Burying

1995_12 13 Beach

My parents and some siblings and cousins came down as well.

1995_12 14 Encinitas

1995_12 15 Christmas

This next picture reminds me of two stories about Timmy and cars, which he loved.

We were driving into San Diego from Phoenix, and Timmy was getting really fussy. Well, then we turned onto an 8-lane freeway and were suddenly surrounded by cars — and he was amazed and overwhelmed. He’d never seen so many cars at one time in his life!

At Becky’s house, Timmy really loved Michael’s bucket of cars. He wasn’t talking a lot then, but he was pulling the cars out of the bucket one by one and saying “Caaaaar!” with each one and setting it down.

I noticed what he was doing and commented on it, and the next car he pulled out was the Batmobile. This time, he said, “Ooooooo!”

It’s my cousin Carmen talking to him in the picture. Timmy could say her name!

1995_12 16 Cars

1995_12 17 Smile

With various family members, including my Aunt Linda and cousin Kristi:

1995_12 18 with Buhlers

A trip to the Botanical Garden in Encinitas gave us some nice shots.

1995_12 19 Botanical Garden

1995_12 20 Botanical Garden

Megan, Megan, already a rebel!

1995_12 21 Botnical Garden

1995_12 22 Botanical Garden

1995_12 23 Botanical Garden

Becky was expecting her fourth child, Kristen, in the Spring.

1995_12 24 Botanical Garden

And we spent more time in Phoenix before we drove home:

1996_01 1 Phoenix

1996_01 2 Phoenix

When we got back, it was back to teaching Statistics and Calculus (2 nights per week, 4 hours per night). Steve was also taking classes still, 2 nights per week. Because of my job, he got very cheap tuition ($2 per unit) at Belleville Area College, and ended up finishing an Associate’s degree in Computer Science before we left Illinois. I was never quite sure why he didn’t try for a Master’s degree, since he already had a Bachelor’s degree in Music. But I believe he is now working in the computer security field, so perhaps it was just as well. And it did make my job more valuable. Though it doesn’t look like we got too many evenings together.

I guess when babies get where they can reach the top of their heads, they like to put things there:

1996_01 3 Cheerios hair

1996_01 4 Bucket Head

1996_02 4 Drum

But this was the stage where anything Josh could do, Timmy wanted to do, too. Josh always liked to pose for pictures with their thumbs up. Timmy thought he was doing the same thing, but it was an odd twisting of his hands with fingers up. So cute!

1996_01 5 Copying

1996_01 6 Copying

1996_01 7 Copying

1996_01 8 Copying

1996_01 10 Copying

1996_02 1 Copying

1996_02 2 Copying

1996_02 3 Copying

1996_03 1 Copying

1996_04 1 Thumbs Up

But my absolute favorite picture of Timmy imitating Josh was this one below. We always prayed with Josh at bedtime. You can see Timmy trying to figure it out:

1996_03 7 Praying

Josh was also the age when a towel after a bath becomes a cape.

1996_01 11 Super Josh

1996_01 12 Super Josh

1996_04 9 Super Josh

Just more fun:

1996_02 6 smushed nose

1996_02 7 cart

1996_03 3 Pooh

1996_03 4 Couch

1996_03 6 Hide and seek

1996_03 8 Dry bath

1996_03 10 Cardboard box

Josh turned 8 years old in March and had another Chuck E. Cheese party.

1996_03 11 Josh's Birthday

1996_03 12 Josh's Birthday

1996_03 13 Knex

We went to Aunt Kay’s again for Easter.

1996_03 2 Easter

1996_04 1 Easter

While we were in Chicago, we visited the Sears Tower:

1996_04 5 Sears Tower

1996_04 6 Sears Tower

1996_04 7 Cars with Aunt Kay

Timmy still really liked to jump on Josh.

1996_04 12 Rockford

And more simple fun:

1996_04 8 Duplo

1996_04 10 Hamper

1996_04 11 Hamper

1996_05 1 Super Sofa

1996_05 2 Bouncy horse

In March, we’d found out that yes, we’d get to move to Germany in the Fall. I was so excited about that.

Although I believe in enjoying where you are and what you do — I was very pleased to get to quit teaching. (I’m an introvert and don’t like getting up in front of a bunch of strangers who don’t really want to learn math and having to be their adversary and test them.)

I was very pleased to get to leave Illinois. (My friends and family were far away. I really do prefer the coasts. We’d been there 5 years, and that seemed awfully long.)

I was very pleased that I’d get to stay home with my kids. I didn’t know how long that could last, but Steve did get a Cost of Living Allowance in Germany that might make up for losing my job when we moved.

And — Germany!!!! I’d spent 6 weeks in Austria back in 1986, and I’d fallen in love with the German language. And Europe itself. And I was just so excited.

Here’s part of what I wrote in my journal on my 32nd birthday:

“It’s my birthday again today! I’m 32! And I’m happy. 🙂 Lord, it’s going to be an exciting year for me. I am thrilled about moving to Germany. And the rest of my life is going well. Steve and I are deeply in love; class is going smoothly; Steve is finishing his AAS degree; I’ll get to quit teaching soon; Timmy & Josh are lots of fun; my photo albums are meaningful; and I hope to get going writing soon. I am so happy about all that You are doing for me now, Lord.”

1996_06 1 32nd birthday

1996_06 2 Blowing Candles

Project 52 – 30 with Baby Timmy, Part Two

Friday, January 13th, 2017

It’s time for Project 52, Week 30, Part Two!

1994_10 4 Carlyle Lake with Me

On Tuesday night, I was happily writing Project 52, and my computer mouse broke. Tonight my new mouse arrived from Amazon, so I’m finishing Week 30, my reflections on being 30 years old.

I’ve been thinking that using my calendar from 1994 is getting me bogged down in detail. So my plan was just to summarize the year briefly.

But then I started looking through pictures! I had a new baby that year! Both my children were so adorable! So there are going to be lots of pictures in this post, but I’ll try to keep from going on too long!

Last time, I covered Timmy’s birth at the end of July. I had 3 weeks off before I went back to work — but I only taught one class that Fall, Calculus 3 from 6 to 8 pm on Monday and Wednesday nights.

And that makes me think how nice it was that at Belleville Area College, they gave me the same class to teach over and over! I’d been teaching almost 10 years by now — and that was the first that I really got in a routine with a class. It was so much easier than preparing new classes each semester. Now, this was partly because this was the longest I’d stayed at any one school. But still, at BAC, I was more quickly given consistent classes to teach.

I still wasn’t crazy about teaching, but I did manage to enjoy it, and I think I did a good job.

Mind you, I’m not a natural teacher. Not at all. I’m naturally good at doing math — but that makes it a little harder to teach it well. I don’t quite understand how it can seem difficult to people. It’s all so logical and beautiful! I also always, always wrote tests that are way too long.

My favorite student in all my years teaching came about that time. She was a 14-year-old high school student taking Calculus 3, because she’d run out of math classes she could take at her high school. It’s not a surprise she was the best student I ever had at a community college. And she enjoyed Math as much as I did. And when I showed the class some beautiful thing, she thought it was beautiful, too, instead of just thinking I was weird. And sometimes she’d show me some cool mathy thing, and it just made me happy to have her in my class. Because honestly, community college students don’t often take math classes because they love it.

Now, my favorite class to teach was probably Intro Statistics — because that’s practical math. I liked bringing in real world examples that related. That class was usually full of earnest nursing majors who thought they weren’t good at math, but who worked hard at it and usually did quite well. Teaching night classes, I tended to get lots of adult students — and they were great students. But they didn’t necessarily like math.

Anyway, when I went back to teaching 3 weeks after having Tim, I only taught Calculus. And it was getting where I didn’t have to do too much preparation, so it was a real breather and meant more time with my baby. (It was hard on our finances, since I’d taken the summer completely off when I’d planned to work twice as hard. But such is life.)

And what fun to have this sweet baby!

1994_07 7 with Me

Jade, then called Josh, was now 6 and a half years old and was a doting big sibling. In fact, looking back at that year, I remember how I would walk Josh to school with baby Timmy in his stroller. All the little girls also walking to school would stop and coo over the baby. The boys, not so much. But Josh would coo over the baby. I thought it was because this was their baby brother. Anyway, it’s all the more plausible that Jade was a girl all along. Not that a boy can’t be a tender and kind big brother. But if Jade was a girl all along — well, it fits.

Anyway, Josh was a wonderful big sibling.

1994_07 5 Big Sib

1994_07 6 with Josh

1994_08 1 Josh holding

1994_09 2 with Josh

Here I’m reading Josh The Horse and His Boy, by C. S. Lewis, at bedtime.

1994_08 2 Reading books

We had lots of visitors that year. I’m resisting posting pictures of every visitor, but you’ll see the ones who brought babies with them. Steve’s parents came early on. My Mom even came, bringing my youngest sister Melanie.

The church ladies at Faith Alliance Church threw me a baby shower, now that I was off bed rest.

1994_08 4 Shower

Josh started 1st grade!

1994_09 1 Josh 1st Grade

That Fall, we went to Carlyle Lake to take family pictures with the pretty trees in the background. The only trouble was, we got there as the sun was going down. But I still like this sequence:

1994_10 1 Carlyle Lake

1994_10 2 Carlyle Lake

1994_10 3 Carlyle Lake

1994_10 5 Carlyle Lake

And now I think I’ll just post pictures of my cute kids. I got a lot of time with my sweet children that year, and that was wonderful.

1994_10 6 Timmy

1994_10 7 Stroller

1994_10 8 Me and Josh

1994_10 9 Hiking

The looks on their faces in this one cracks me up:

1994_10 10 Faces

1994_10 11 Smiling

1994_10 12 Talking with Josh

1994_10 13 with Josh

Here’s Josh blowing dandelions at Scott Lake (just a couple blocks from us on the Air Force base).

1994_10 14 blowing dandelions

And Steve carved a pumpkin with Josh again:

1994_10 20 Halloween

Timmy was a baseball player for Halloween:

1994_10 21 Halloween

The finishing touch was some black paint under each eye:

1994_10 22 Halloween

Josh was a clown again. I loved the way it made his smile enormous and infectious:

1994_10 23 Halloween

Here’s Josh on our back porch with a double rainbow:

1994_11 1 Josh with rainbow

More just nice pictures:

1994_11 2 Cuddling

1994_11 3 Smile

My sister Becky and her family came to see us over Thanksgiving. Timmy had just begun sleeping through the night, so then having visitors meant I still wasn’t feeling real rested. But it was great to see them!

I love this picture of Aunt Becky meeting Timmy!

1994_11 4 Aunt Becky

And lots more pictures with the Friese family:

1994_11 5 Frieses at Science Center

1994_11 6 Me and Becky

1994_11 7 Frieses

1994_11 8 Megan

1994_11 9 Michael

1994_11 10 Jason

1994_11 11 Sillies

1994_12 1 Megan

1994_12 3 Michael and Tim

1994_12 4 Sillies

Timmy’s not smiling quite as big by this time!

1994_12 5 Smothering

Just more pictures of my cuties:

1994_12 2 Me and Tim

1994_12 6 Cuddling

Then came Timmy’s first Christmas:

1994_12 7 Tree

We spent it at Aunt Kay’s in Chicago. She gave Josh a big cuddly sweater from Ireland.

1994_12 8 Aunt Kay

I don’t see any snow pictures from this year. But that makes sense! We didn’t go to California over Christmas, so of course Illinois didn’t get much snow!

More cuteness:

By this time, babies used an “Exersaucer” rather than walkers (like Josh had).

1995_01 1 Saucer

Josh could still fit in Daddy’s tuba case!

1995_01 2 Tuba Case

Timmy got his teeth all out of order, getting outside ones first, and on top. He was still really lopsided.

1995_02 1 Toofies

I think I wrote about this trick when Steve first did it with Josh. Before a baby can walk, they balance nicely on one hand, if you’re strong enough. Steve only did it over the sofa, but the babies didn’t fall.

1995_02 2 Balance

Reading the Little House books at bedtime.

1995_02 3 Books

1995_02 4 Bath

Those eyes!

1995_02 6 Bath

All those baby milestones! Now sitting up:

1995_02 7 Sitting

Josh took this picture!

1995_03 1 Out front

1995_03 2 Out front

1995_03 3 Hugging

And now we learned the charm of letting Chuck E. Cheese do all the work of a birthday party! Josh was 7 years old!

1995_03 4 Chuck E Cheese

We had another celebration at home and made cupcakes to bring to school:

1995_03 5 Birthday

We dressed them up for Easter. So adorable!

1995_04 1 Easter

1995_04 2 Easter

1995_04 3 Easter

1995_04 4 Easter

Timmy was quite round by this time.

1995_04 5 Cuddling

More balancing:

1995_04 6 Balance

1995_04 7 Balance

This one cracks me up because of the book title. When Timmy was born, we told Josh to be gentle with the baby. But we forgot to tell the baby to be gentle with Josh! By this time, Timmy simply loved to jump on Josh. Eventually, we had to tell Josh to defend themselves.

1995_04 8 Monster

Crawling!

1995_04 9 Crawling

Being together!

1995_04 10 Together

1995_04 11 Together

1995_04 12 Playpen

Steve’s parents came, and brought his sister Stephanie — and her new daughter Karli, three months younger than Timmy.

1995_05 1 Gramp E

Karli could do a great Cabbage Patch face!

1995_05 2 Cabbage Patch Karli

With all their grandkids! (Though they got one more, David, a couple years later.)

1995_05 3 Grandkids

Standing!

1995_05 4 Standing

This picture is fun because he’s playing with a toothbrush.

1995_06 1 Toothbrush

And he did learn to walk before his first birthday.

1995_06 2 Standing

My Dad also came to visit. He has always loved to read to little ones.

1995_06 3 with Dad

And this picture makes me happy.

1995_06 4 with Dad

So I think that’s all I’ll say about that year. Looking back, it was a happy year with my children. Of course, at the time, it wasn’t so simple! There are plenty of difficulties all wrapped up in being a mother of young children. But to this day, I’m so thankful for those children.

Edited to add: I just read through my quiet time journal from that year, and Wow! I had a bad case of postpartum depression. And lots of conflict with Steve. I wondered many times if we would last. And we didn’t talk about the conflict. I talked about it in my journal, but we never did talk it out. I fantasized about leaving so he would appreciate me.

It’s sobering to me — because I didn’t remember that at all until I read the journals. I was overwhelmed trying to keep up with everything and my babies, and didn’t feel like I could do it all. Steve was taking classes at Belleville Area College to get an associates in Computer Science. He was able to get tuition of $2 a credit because of my working there — which made my work more valuable than just the pay.

But now I look at it and see the seeds of resentment between us. We didn’t work those things out. I would always conclude talking about it with something like, “I know Steve really loves me.” It never ever dawned on me that we really would get divorced one day. I was completely committed to marriage, and I thought he was, too. After all, he was a Christian! And divorce is wrong!

But somehow, we never learned to come back together. I do record that I felt bad when Steve volunteered to be on loading crew so he could leave sooner on a 2-week tour. That hurt. I’d been dreading his trip, and he was looking forward to it? Did he want to get away from me? Well, maybe he did, even way back then.

But we still definitely had good times. When we went to Germany in 1996, that brought us together. For awhile.

Looking at it now, I hope it will be different if I ever marry again. How to keep that root of bitterness from growing between us? I think I’ve learned ways to forgive. But it does take two to keep a marriage going, and you have to both want to. Maybe it is not so bad this happened. It seems the roots went further back than I had realized.

Anyway, looking back, I’m glad the joys of that time are what stuck in my mind.

Project 52 – 30 Years Old, and a New Baby! – Part One

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

It’s time for Project 52, Week 30!

1994_07-1-about-to-pop

30 weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I’m taking one year of my life and blogging about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 30, June 14, 1994, to June 14, 1995.

As I mentioned last week, I began the year I was 30 pregnant, on bed rest, and on terbutaline trying to slow down frequent early contractions.

But turning 30 is a great occasion for a party, and it was also a wonderful time to see my friends from church who’d been bringing me food. Steve threw me a lovely party and folks came to me.

1994_06-1-party

1994_06-2-cake

My calendar says I had some visits the week after my birthday. Rob Dalton, my friend from Lakewood First Baptist, the church I attended in high school, was in town on a business trip and stopped by (since I couldn’t go to him). I remember it was great to see him.

A couple days later, the de Rivera family — our friends from Biola, from Los Angeles, and from Philadelphia — came to see us and spent the night.

1994_06-3-de-riveras

June felt a little like I was ensconced in luxury, holding court, with beloved friends coming to me!

But — the next day was another trip to the hospital — and Steve left for a trip with the Brass Quintet to Seattle for a week. I’ve got notes that every day while he was gone, ladies from the church brought me lunch and dinner. My neighbor and church friend Penny took Josh while I was in the hospital that first day. (No more delaying the trip for my contractions! They were too common now.)

I had two more trips to the hospital while Steve was gone. They weren’t overnight, but my notes say those three hospital visits lasted 4, 8, and 6 hours. Typically, they’d hook me up to an IV and give me fluids and IV terbutaline. At least I think that’s what went on. Anyway, they’d hook me up to a monitor, verify that I was having contractions, and give me drugs to try to slow them down. I went in when they were only a few minutes apart.

Okay, Steve got back on July 2nd and did the VP Fair Parade in St. Louis. On the 3rd, I went into the hospital at 8:30 am and was kept overnight. At that time, I was 34 weeks pregnant, so the baby was getting bigger and in less danger. But it was confusing because I was having lots of contractions.

No more hospital visits, just lots of doctor appointments the next week. On July 15, I hit 36 weeks and then on Monday the 18th, they took me off bedrest. My notes after that talk about going shopping and working on bedrooms. I think we moved Josh’s bedroom and got the baby’s room ready.

When I went off bedrest and off the terbutaline, my contractions did keep going. My calendar says I went into Labor and Delivery and sure enough, the contractions were 3 minutes apart. And they sent me home. I wasn’t dilating. So I wasn’t sure when I was supposed to come in. There were times when they were 2 minutes apart, but they weren’t doing anything.

Finally, on July 29, my water broke! No question about it, I went in and this time they didn’t send me back home.

Labor started well enough. Though I was annoyed that they had a policy not to give any drugs at all until you’ve progressed to a certain point. (With Josh, it was after I got drugs that I really started progressing.) Again, this time I progressed better once I had an epidural. But then it was time to push, and I pushed for 2 hours, and it turned out his head was turned to the side and he was stuck.

Steve had a really bad moment, because he saw the doctor get worried, and the baby’s heart rate drop. (I was oblivious.) They called in an OB/Gyn doctor from the next room (my doctor was a family practice doctor) and he used forceps and got the baby out.

For the record, any anesthesia had completely worn off by this time, and they wouldn’t give me more because I was pushing. And let me just say that it HURTS when they use forceps to take a baby out of you.

Oh, the other notable thing about that night was for the pushing part there was a shift change of nurses, and there were only men in the labor and delivery room. (Only in a military hospital would this happen, but they did have lots of male nurses.) At one point when I was pushing, I said, “It hurts!” and trying to be compassionate, a nurse answered, “I know,” and I looked around and saw only men, and I said, “NO you don’t! None of you knows!”

(I don’t know why that struck me so hard at the time, but I ended up leaving on a comment card that you should always have at least one woman in a labor and delivery room!)

But the end result made it all worth it, and on July 29, 1994, Timothy Ronald John Eklund was born!

His poor little face was hurt from the forceps, and that first night one eye was stuck open and one eye stuck closed because of a pinched nerve from the forceps. But those all healed quickly.

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I was happy happy happy when the baby was born and that awful labor was done. Steve started crying. He had honestly thought he was going to lose me or lose Timothy.

[A couple months later, I came home from teaching to find Steve crying. He’d been watching E. R. and those manipulative writers had written an episode where a woman dies in childbirth. That was the night Steve told me that he’d been afraid he would lose me or lose Timmy. That was when he told me that he’d seen that the doctor was afraid. And this is how I know, beyond any doubt, that at that point in our marriage, my husband still loved me deeply.

That’s also when Steve decided that he didn’t ever want me to get pregnant again. I checked with the doctor, and though it was likely that I’d have to go on bedrest again if I were ever pregnant, the turned head and forceps delivery was just a fluke that probably wouldn’t happen again. But still, it was an awful scare for Steve, and he didn’t want to go through that again.]

By the next day, Timmy was already looking better.

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Ready to go home! Newborns in a car seat always look so small!

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And — my cordless mouse just quit working. And I can’t seem to fix it. And I really don’t enjoy using the trackpad on my laptop, especially when trying to manipulate pictures. So — I’m going to call this post Part One and try to finish talking about the year I was 30 later in the week.

Project 52 – 29 – Baby’s Coming!

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

It’s time for Project 52, Week 29!

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29 weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I’m taking one year of my life and blogging about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 29, June 14, 1993, to June 14, 1994.

Coincidentally, the day I’m writing this is also the 30th anniversary of the day I got married. In case you’re wondering, when I was 29, our marriage was still going strong, and I had no reason to think that would ever change. I see by my 1993 calendar that on June 19, our friends the Keaheys watched Josh while Steve and I went on a date! We saw the movie “Dave” — still one of my favorite movies.

The year before had been surprisingly stable, as I mentioned last week. Stable enough, that I started hankering for a baby. A baby when we felt ready for one! But come on, I was almost thirty — we didn’t want to wait too long! My thinking was that if I had the baby at the start of summer, I could take the summer semester off, and teach fall and spring….

That summer, I was teaching Calculus 3 6:00 to 10:00 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Well, look at that! Now that I found old calendars, I realize that I dated some pictures incorrectly. Although we did go to Wisconsin and see Grandma Eklund shortly after we moved to Illinois, the big Eklund Family Reunion happened in July 1993. So the pictures I posted of that in Year 27 were in the wrong place, and that’s why Josh looked bigger!

My calendar shows we were busy, busy. Josh was taking piano lessons. I was doing things with friends, mostly from church. Oh look — I wrote down that was when we finished reading Runaway Ralph to Josh. We had transitioned from three books at bedtime to three chapters at bedtime. I think we usually traded nights between Steve and me, but we read different books. I think that was about the time that Steve read the Little House books all to Josh.

In early August, we visited Aunt Kay in Chicago again.

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We also visited Jody and Craig Sunken, friends from New Jersey who were now living in Chicago.

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We went to the Lincoln Park Zoo.

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And we stopped to see the Rauseos, too.

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I don’t remember the occasion, but the next week, Kathe came to visit! And let’s see — by that time she was expecting her firstborn, who would be named Tim. I ended up choosing the same name for my next child (They were six months apart.) But that wouldn’t matter — It wasn’t like they’d ever live near each other!

It looks like Animal Concentration was something we played with guests at that time!

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Hmmm. Kathe brought Josh a book with a dog named Tim in it.

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And we took Kathe to the St. Louis Science Center. Have I raved about the Science Center yet? I so loved that St. Louis had a fabulous Science Center and a fabulous Zoo — and they were both free! So we could drive to St. Louis and spend a couple hours and see cool things — and we didn’t have to feel like we had to spend the whole day to get our money’s worth. It’s such a wonderful concept. (Hmmm. Now the Smithsonian’s available, but I don’t go there as often. Though to be fair, the Smithsonian is much harder to get to and doesn’t have free parking.)

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And that Fall, Josh started Kindergarten! I walked with them to school and back through the base and past a cornfield. It was half-day Kindergarten. Their teacher was Mrs. Schieppe. She was wonderful.

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Also that Fall, I began coaching the church’s Quiz Team! It was all about memorization. The kids memorized I Corinthians and II Corinthians and the quiz questions were taken straight from Scripture. I have long been a believer in Bible memorization — It does you good in spite of yourself! So I agreed to coach the Quiz team. We’d go on trips about once a month to other churches in Illinois to compete.

Here are the kids on the team:

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Here’s a sweater I knitted for a friend’s baby:

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And that explains it! That picture I posted of the first sweater I knitted for Josh was in the wrong year. (It was on the roll with the Wisconsin Reunion.)

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So it really was after cross-stitching a blanket for Megan that I realized how much nicer it would be to knit things instead of cross stitch. Because you wouldn’t have to frame the results. It turns out it’s also much easier to do while you’re doing something else — like watching a video or reading to your kid (when they hold the book). With knitting, you don’t have to look as carefully at where you put your needles. I never looked back.

Fall semester, I was teaching Calculus 3 and Intro Statistics, both on Monday/Wednesday nights. Still busy, busy.

One thing I loved about our base housing in Illinois was the sweet gum tree out our window. That meant we had to rake leaves.

And that meant time with an exuberant 5-year-old.

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Josh dressed up on Halloween as a clown again. Halloween was Sunday, so base trick-or-treating was on Saturday. Our church had an alternative to Halloween party, but since that was on Sunday, we went to both! Josh won the costume contest with their great big grin.

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I wrote a Josh quote on my calendar on that Saturday. “This is the best day of my life. But then, I’ve only lived 5 years, but hey…”

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Shortly after Halloween, a sad thing happened. On Wednesday, November 3rd, Steve left for a trip to March Air Force Base in California. He took our camera with him, since they were going to stop at the Grand Canyon.

Now, the college where I taught, Belleville Area College, had a “Kids’ Club” that students and teachers could use. Now that Josh was in Kindergarten, they were old enough to go to Kids’ Club, and I didn’t have to find a babysitter when Steve was out of town.

But that night, when I finished teaching at 10:00 pm, I was going up the stairs in our apartment holding my books and hurrying Josh along. I think I was holding one of Josh’s hands. I know I was anxious to get both of us into bed, since Josh had school the next day.

And Josh tripped — and hit their face on a step — and cut their face open right below their eye.

We went to the Emergency Room, and Josh got 8 stitches. (It reminded me of when I got stitches when I was in Kindergarten. Oh, looks like I didn’t write about that in the Kindergarten post.) Josh was a great sport and held still when told. They fell asleep while the stitches happened. I was something of a wreck.

Naturally, this happened on the very day Steve had left for a 10-day trip! And Steve had taken the camera, so no pictures of Josh’s impressive black eye.

Here’s how it looked months later:

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The next day I let Josh sleep late, and they made a dramatic entrance to Kindergarten.

Some time that Fall, we had another fire next door! It was a Saturday, and we were sleeping late. I heard some noise outside, and looked out and saw a fireman all in his gear — in our backyard! When we went outside, they were putting out a fire in the downstairs apartment on the other side of our building! (We were on the top right as you look at the building. This was the one on the bottom left.) They hadn’t thought anyone else was home! I was pretty mad they hadn’t gotten us out!

Since they were planning to build new base housing, they just left the burned apartment and the one above it empty. They probably didn’t require them to clean at all, so after they moved out, we had two empty and not clean apartments next to us.

That year, we went to Aunt Kay’s for Thanksgiving again.

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And — that was the year I met my Uncle Duane’s family. Uncle Duane was the only one of my Dad’s siblings who didn’t live on the west coast, but in Rockford, Illinois.

Here are Uncle Duane and Aunt Vanie:

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Here I am with my cousins Karen (bottom left) and Terry (top right):

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And here are our kids:

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I thought this one was funny because their heads all look alike!

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Josh was still taking piano classes and had a recital in December.

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The teacher had the kids doing songs together with drumsticks and rhythm. She explained to us how to make a Christmas tree costume for the recital. It was cute!

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Here’s Josh performing:

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For Christmas that year, we drove out to Phoenix, stopping in Colorado Springs to see Sam Powell, our friend from Biola, and his kids:

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We went to Four Corners:

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And saw the Grand Canyon:

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We saw Gram E and Gramp E in Phoenix, and that was the Christmas when we told them that we were expecting a baby in August! (Remember how I thought I’d have a baby at the start of the summer? Well, we managed to hit a due date of August 12. That was right in between summer and fall semesters. Why not? I’d teach both semesters!)

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And went to California. Here’s Baby Megan (Becky’s third child) and Dave at the Hatch house:

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We spent some time at a park by the sea with the Friese family:

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We got to Ruth’s house again. Jennifer and Susan met us there. I’m pretty sure that Jennifer was expecting her first, Carl John, at that time.

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We went to Disneyland again. This year, Ruth and John went with us.

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Josh was now old enough to pose for pictures when they hugged the characters they loved so much.

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More time with the Frieses:

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I like this one of the three kids playing Monopoly. You thought Josh was precocious playing Monopoly at 4 years old? Take a look at Michael here!

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Here’s Megan being adorable again:

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And then….

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And the whole Friese family!

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So we had a wonderful trip. Back home, we did get a few snow days that year.

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I have a note that on January 25, I heard the baby’s heartbeat!

I like this picture. I was a member of Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club, and I suspect I took this picture when we had just received The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, by Eugene Trivizias. I laughed so hard! It’s still one of my favorite picture books.

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And a little bit late, I finished knitting a blanket for Kathe’s baby, Timothy. Kathe prefers natural fibers, so I chose a cotton yarn. And it was so soft to knit, that got me started on my own run of knitting with cotton.

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On Josh’s 6th Birthday in March, I still hadn’t discovered the wonders of letting Chuck E. Cheese do all the work. We had a party at our house.

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The little girl on the right in the cat costume in the picture below was quite a talker, and didn’t like anyone to top her. When Josh told them all that on the next birthday in our family, his Mom would be THIRTY, that sweet little girl said, “Well, MY Mom’s going to be EIGHTY!”

What really cracked me up about that was the other kids, including Josh, all bought it! They looked very impressed. The girl’s mother actually looked to be about twenty.

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Steve’s Mom always sent us an egg-coloring kit at Easter. Steve, who had more patience for such things, was usually the one who colored eggs with Josh.

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So — Things were going according to plan. I was teaching Calculus III and Statistics again, two nights per week. I took Josh to Kids’ Club when Steve was on trips. I didn’t lose my headaches for that pregnancy, but everything was going pretty smoothly.

On May 10, we saw an Annular Solar Eclipse. We took Josh out of Kindergarten early. It was a bright sunny day, and we got a great view of it, with special viewers. I thought it was really cool the way the shadows of leaves all had little bites taken out of them.

On May 11, we went to Chuck E. Cheese. (I have no idea why. Maybe that’s what sent me over the edge.)

On May 12, I gave my Final Exams. Ready for about 3 weeks off, then I’d teach a full load for summer school — two classes, essentially full time (8 hours teaching per week). That way I could afford to take a half load in the fall after the baby was born.

On May 13, I went on an overnight trip with the Quiz Team.

I haven’t mentioned it yet, but somewhere along the way, I learned that Monosodium Glutamate, MSG, gave me awful stomach cramps. Back in my college days, I’d finally figured out that MSG was why I always got a headache after having canned soup or a frozen meat pie. But by this time, I got bad stomach cramps.

Now, I never intentionally ate it, but there was usually something suspect when I had this problem. My mother-in-law liked to use cream of mushroom soup in casseroles, and that could do it, for example.

Well, we had a potluck meal for lunch on Saturday May 14, where the Quiz Meet was happening. Perhaps that was the problem. But anyway, we stopped at McDonalds on the way home. It also may have been the vanilla shake I drank — but after we’d eaten, when we were almost ready to go, I had to duck into the bathroom with awful stomach cramps.

The other Mom who was on the trip with me was a nurse. She said you could tell if they’re contractions if your stomach gets hard. Hmmm. It felt pretty hard to me.

Well, by the time I got home, I just wanted to go to bed. Steve told me that Josh had a really bad mosquito bite, and had had a fever at bedtime.

In the morning, I took one look at Josh — they were covered with spots. Definitely chicken pox!

And I still had stomach cramps. I called the hospital. They said the only way to tell if it was contractions or not was to come in and have them put on a monitor. It was contractions. I was at 29 weeks.

That was Sunday. Steve was supposed to leave that day for a trip with the brass quintet to Chicago for a week. They waited to leave until the hospital had gotten my contractions to slow down. I was supposed to go home and take it easy.

I woke up that night at 2 am with contractions 2 minutes apart.

And — remember how we had two vacant apartments on the other side of a wall? Well, that night I discovered that we had giant cockroaches. My scream woke up Josh.

Now — remember, Josh has chicken pox. It’s the middle of the night. Two church families have said they’d take Josh if I had to go to the hospital again. The family across the street had not had chicken pox, but the mom insisted that she wanted her kids to get it while they were young. I hadn’t meant to ask her, thinking I’d go with the family who lived 20 minutes away and had had chicken pox before.

I managed to stall until almost 5 am, but then I called the hospital. They said I should get there as quickly as possible. So I panicked and took Josh to the neighbor across the street. (It was SO nice of her to volunteer! I don’t think her kids did end up getting chicken pox from it.)

So — they admitted me and tried to get the contractions to stop. Steve’s work was nice. After he played the National Anthem at a Cubs game that day, they brought another tuba player off his vacation and Steve got to come home. And they let Steve take care of Josh all week while I was in the hospital the next five days.

Of course, they couldn’t visit me, because Josh had a really bad case, with spots in their mouth and their ears.

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I must have graded my papers in the hospital. Remember how the Final was the day before the Quiz trip? At first, I still hoped to teach that summer — but it was not to be. I got put on bed rest and told to take Terbutaline (to stop contractions) every 4 hours around the clock.

My church really stepped up. People brought us food twice a week. I got a whole lot more time with Josh than I would have gotten that summer if I’d been teaching full time.

It would have been just lovely — ordered not to do housework, able to do nothing but lie around and read and write — if I hadn’t been worried about the Baby. Though they assured me that he would probably survive if born that early, but we were trying to keep him inside as long as we could.

I had a couple more overnights in the hospital. One happened when I slept through my alarm and missed my terbutaline dose. I really was having contractions that whole time. After awhile, Steve started joking that if I was admitted a dozen times, I should get a free t-shirt.

Oh, I should have mentioned that the first, five-day hospital stay, I stopped any caffeine, because the contractions scared me — so naturally I got a vicious migraine. And then they started doing construction with a jackhammer outside my room! (I’m not making that up.)

But Steve was wonderful, taking care of me, taking care of Josh. Later, when I was closer to delivery, I told Steve that people were really saying they admired how I’d handled the bed rest. He said, “It’s a dream come true for you!” And he was absolutely right. Again: Ordered not to do any housework. People bring you meals. All I could do was lie around and read and write and play with Josh. (I did get tired of the Sonic the Hedgehog song.) No, it was all much, much harder on Steve than on me.

And — my 30th birthday was coming up! I couldn’t possibly be surprised, but since I hadn’t been able to go out and see people for a month, Steve threw me a party, and people came to me.

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And more about that next week!