Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Our new foreign exchange student...aka the teenage boy

So we are now hosting a foreign exchange student, we've had him since October 25th, and he comes from the land of teenagers.  Seriously, people, this new thing called "teenager" is like having a foreign person in my home.

Now I've always felt fairly secure in my parenting skills, not always encouraged or perfect by any means, but at least feeling some semblance of control as a parent.  This new phase has thrown every confidence I might have gained over the years, right out the window.  All of a sudden my teen boy enters the house and in walk snarky attitudes, forgetfulness, moodiness, face book, girl craziness, and oh, did I mention moodiness??  I thought we'd at least ease into this stage, you know month by month I'd have the wherewithal to tackle these new attitudes one at a time...but it literally happened overnight.  Bam.  I have a teen.

Remember those book titles that you thought "someday" you would have to read?  Those well meaning people who mentioned this book and that as being helpful....well now I'm scrambling around trying to find that long forgotten book list like a woman in the path of a hurricane!

I had one of those moments this morning, where everything I wanted to tell him all these years just died a slow death in my head--and I realized it's time to tackle this new stage head on.  Because even though he is all of the aforementioned things (forgetful, moody, etc.) he is also still my sweet boy who is funny, smart, passionate, and dedicated to making a difference in the world.  I realize it doesn't have to be a negative, uncertain time in my life, and even though we've never walked this path as parents, he's never been a teenager before either.

I want to embrace this phase because I choose to do so.  I want to stay focused on helping my teenage boy make good choices.  And most of all I want to encourage a rich relationship that will last until I'm gone.  So while yes, he still seems foreign to me most days, it's not necessarily a bad thing. :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Winter wife vs. Summer wife

Yes, I admit it...I can easily sum up my life in two separate personas--on any given day I am either the winter wife or the summer wife.  There is no gray area here, no middle ground.  I am one or the other.  I do not ride the fence on any of these points, I'm on one side or the other.  You may be wondering how a woman can be so easily defined, must be heaven for her husband, you are thinking. Though I may waffle between being winter wife or summer wife...I can say with conviction that I'm slowly learning to wear both seasons with grace, mercy, and patience.

Winter wife.
Winter in Lima gets down to about 60 degrees. I hear what you are saying, "Oh poor you, how terrible that you have to suffer so." and I agree, 60 degrees doesn't sound so awful.  However, with an average of 88% humidity, overcast skies 95% of the time, and no insulation in the cement walls of my house...winter wife finds the occasional moment to feel sorry for herself.  Winter wife also admits to wearing hoodies, socks, and fleece pants to bed.  At the same time.  For weeks on end.  I might also add that winter wife does not shave her legs.  It doesn't matter how hot that shower is, the minute the water stream stops--the temp inside the shower drops 25 degrees.  Winter wife begs for a small gas heater.  Winter husband wants to snuggle. Winter wife dreams of tropical islands and sipping brightly colored drinks with umbrellas in them.  Winter wife actually drinks copious amounts of coffee, tea, cocoa, and anything else she can hold in her hands to warm them.  Winter wife gets into bed and pulls the covers over her head to warm her nose.  She adds so many wool blankets to the bed that she finds it hard to turn over, get up, or heaven forbid, rush out to check on the children should a small animal be attacking them in the night.  Winter wife does not want to get up in the night, but suffers through the dark mornings to go for a run a couple of days a week...in shorts.

Now let me present Summer wife.
Summer wife wakes up and rejoices over the fact that the sun will be rising any moment.  She goes for a run anticipating the misty cloud cover because she is sure the sun will be out later.  Summer wife shaves her legs and starts wearing flip flops at the first hint of sunshine...even if her toes are actually turning blue from the cold. Summer wife knows at exactly what time the sunshine (if there is any) will come streaming through the windows in any room (Kitchen around 4pm, Sophia's room around 1pm, back patio between 11-1pm). Summer wife is more apt to agree on afternoon weekend outings to the beach, as opposed to staying home and staying warm.  Summer wife breaks out the sunglasses and wears them to take out the garbage...just because she can.  Summer wife smiles and dreams of tropical islands and sipping brightly colored drinks with umbrellas in them.  Then she makes a large jar of sun tea.  It's close enough.  Summer wife also wears shorts and a tank top while putting up her Christmas tree....did I mention I live in the Southern Hemisphere, while summer husband pines away for a cold day on the slopes. 

I have some summer kids and some winter kids...they appreciate one or the other, but seldom both.  Like their mom.  I know it's all a matter of perspective, and what I'm trying to learn through this self-seasonal evaluation is that regardless of the season, I need to live each day to the fullest whether I'm wearing a tank top or a parka.  Because one will end and one will begin...all year long.

If my mom tells me I'm a princess, then it must be true!

When Jeff and I chose to try for another little Krohn, we were blessed beyond belief to find out it was a girl!  Sophia has been the sweetness to our family, the light in our lives, and the touch of pink that we all needed.  Her brothers adore her and she adores each of them.  She makes us laugh, gives us that little taste of drama, and now I'm not the only one to leave long hair all over the house.

When we were planning for our Home Assignment, I had talked to my Mom and we decided an all-girls trip was in order...and we knew just the place!  Disneyworld!!  We lived, ate, and breathed princesses for 4 days straight and we'll never be the same. :)  I will admit there was a sense of entitlement after the trip was over, and it took a couple weeks to come down from the princess "everyone look at me and spoil me" platform...but it was worth every single princess wave!!

A combo of history AND Hell's Angels?? I think yes!!

From Chicago to Michigan to Minnesota to North Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado....more Home Assignment junk.

What time is it? It's Home Assignment time!!!

In the mission world, what we used to call "furlough" has now been replaced with "Home Assignment"...I'm not sure why the change occurred or if it makes missionaries feel more cozy knowing they have been assigned some time at home, but regardless of the name change, it's something our family both looks forward to and dreads at the same time.

Home Assignment (HA) for us means packing, unpacking, suitcase maladies, tired kids, tired parents, shoes off, shoes on, laptops out, head counting, hungry kids, hungry parents, seeing family, saying goodbye to family, seeing friends, saying goodbye to friends, road trips, swimming in clean pools, Family Camps, eating in our favorite restaurants, grocery shopping for new items, spending exorbitant amounts of money on said new grocery items and favorite restaurants, great teaching time at church, thunderstorms, gaining weight--also from said new grocery items and favorite restaurants, doctor appointments, catch up on vaccinations, dentist appointments, new shoes (we can finally get rid of the ones with holes!), new clothes, new toys, morning cups of coffee with family, dates with the husband, dates with the kids, cousin time, riding bikes, running on running trails, fishing with Grandpa, sadness over saying goodbye to Grandparents, overweight luggage, overweight parents, talking through the goodbyes and the memories, anticipation of arriving back in Peru to our own house, rooms, beds, and friends.

And we do this every couple of years...we wonder why we don't do it more often, and then we wonder why we do it so often.  This cycle of ups and downs--physically, emotionally and spiritually. It's not particularly restful, it's not at all good for our physique, it's not cheap, and it certainly isn't easy. Six weeks is too short, nine months is too long.  Visiting all of our supporters isn't realistic, and only visiting for a couple days isn't fair.

It's a juxtaposition of emotions that, regardless of how it makes us feel each time, is trumped by the way it makes others feel.  This is not for us, as much as it is for our Grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins and friends--people who support us, love us, and want to share Peru with us.  And so we'll do it all over again in a couple of years, this mutually enriching time of sharing, loving, being loved, supporting, and being supported by the people on this earth who mean the most to us.