I know, I know. I'm getting pretty bad at updating this blog now. I have some pictures I'll try to put up soon. How time flies!
I survived the week without Dave, thanks to my mom who wore Eli out! We had a blast while she was here, but it went by so fast! Each week has had it's own struggles and challenges and we've risen to them, at times just barely!
My son. What can I say about my sweet little boy? He's amazing. And he's all boy, that's for sure. He climbs, jumps, crashes his cars on anything. He "falls" on purpose and his knees are pretty scratched up from it. He loves to be tickled and tickle back. And to be startled. And loud noises. And being loud. And he's fascinated by cars. Just today he watched part of the NASCAR race with Papa.
He's been wearing his braces everyday for the past couple of weeks up to 10 hours a day. And his night braces all night. I feel bad for him, but I know it's for his best. We went to see his physiatrist last week. He was very impressed with how much Eli has improved both with and without his braces and told me he suspects Eli's recovery will be a 3 year ordeal. Next step is orthodics that go up to his ankles, then slowly down to just inserts in his shoes, which are for the long haul. He commented on how much Eli has grown and how his language skills are really developing. Truly amazing to me, too.
We had a few weeks that Eli wouldn't go outside...not sure what that was all about! He would say "Momma, cold outside. Stay inside." Then he would fight me to go outside. Until one day, the leaves fell off the tree and Papa went outside to gather them. We threw him (not literally) in a pile of leaves once and that was all it took to keep him outside! He's still a great big help in every area that I let him. I try to include him in as much as I can because he really seems to thrive off of being a big boy helper. He even helps Papa at night with his night braces!
I'd say the funniest thing that's happened in the past few weeks involves an oil change. Eli LOVES to be with Papa in the garage in the evenings...I'm already loosing him to cars! Papa let Eli help him change the oil in our Astra. Apparently Eli watched the whole thing, and Dave pointed out the oil pan, and showed him the oil draining. They came inside and Dave said "Eli learned that oil is hot." I kind of cringed a little inside, but knew Dave wouldn't let Eli hurt himself. Dave had dipped his finger in the oil and "Ouched" so Eli knew not to touch it. Then Eli proceeds to dig out the car that looks like Papa's and show me where the oil pan was located. He loves his Papa, what can I say!
Six months. Can you believe it's been 6 MONTHS since we've been home? Boy, oh boy. I can't believe how much he's changed both physically and emotionally in that time. When someone else picks him up, he looks for me and holds his arms out for me (that even happened with my mom!). We still cuddle every morning, and after every rest is over, although that's starting to go by the wayside (Eli's doing). He remembers his family (Bop, Grandpa Stobie, Grammy Karl, Sammy, CJ, and Aunt Wendy, Uncle Tony, and, of course, Uncle Alex) and his friends...well really Ben and Jake who have become known as Ben and Ben ;)
We've had our "growing pains" as a family in the past few weeks, too. There have been a lot of changes in our lives. First of all, I've moved in to a children's leadership position with BSF. It's taking a lot more of my energy and time than I had anticipated, but God has provided all I've needed each week, so I'm sticking to it. It also involves a change for Eli. He stays later with me on Monday and Tuesday mornings. It was a real challenge at first. Secondly, I've secured a role in our church's Christmas production, which will start taking more of my time later this month and in to the next month. Because of this, my cleaning schedule, grocery schedule, etc has been changing...I can't do it all on Fridays anymore! So that means Eli's schedule has been changing. The last change is that Eli really hasn't been napping. I put him down every day for an hour and call it a rest. I let him take several of his cars in bed with him, and sometimes he doesn't sleep. We're in the transition of him not needing a nap, but I will still insist on a rest until he's in school full time. That means that he's a bit of a grouch in the afternoons, which means I don't get much accomplished because I'm directing a grumpy child.
Our challenge has been to balance Dave's need for alone time with my need for social time. Motherhood can be a very lonely place, especially when we don't have family here to help out. I became really frustrated with this a few weeks ago and turned to a friend for help. Her words to me were the same that my mom has been saying to me for years, just in a different way. She said to me "Natalie, remember that your ministry is to your husband first, then your child. You don't want to be sitting across from a stranger 20 years from now, do you?" No, that doesn't mean I neglect Eli in any way in which he needs me, but instead I must prioritize my husband's needs.
I guess that hit home with a lesson we'd been studying in BSF. We're studying the book of John this year. One of the stories I've heard a million times is Jesus at the well talking to the Samaritan woman. He and the disciples had been walking for a while in the desert and they were hungry and thirsty (probably tired, too). The disciples went to the town for food while Jesus rested. Yet when this outcast, this sinful and immoral woman came to the well, He made time for her and was satisfied not by this earthly water, but by doing the work God had sent Him to do. This is a really hard lesson for me to learn because, even in the Christian circle, there are all sorts of books that talk about taking care of yourself and getting what you need and setting boundaries (all good things in and of themselves). But I've learned that my sole (and soul) satisfaction should be in Jesus, doing the work He has called me to with excellence, not in people or socializing. Right now, in this time, God is challenging me to give up my social life, which isn't easy!! And I'm still struggling with it. But, with time, I'm getting better at shedding some of the selfish, unnecessary stuff I think I need, but really don't.