Tag Archives: kids

Our kids need prayer too

The hardest part of our imminent training isn’t the number of books we have to read, or the number of papers we have to write, or even fitting those things into our daily routine.  It isn’t the prospect of being in class again (it’s been a long time!) from 8:00 to 5:00 every day.  No, though all of these things are a real challenge for us and are testing our ability to manage stress with patience and determination, the hardest part of the training we’re about spend the better part of a month doing is the reality of being parted from our children for 3 1/2 weeks.

We have no doubt that the family that has offered to watch our kids in our absence is going to be amazing with them.  The kids are so excited to be living with Adam and Sarah, it’s almost annoying that Helena asks us every day how many more days there are before she gets to move in with them.  Actually, all 4 of our big kids don’t seem to mind at all that their parents are going away for a few weeks.  If anything, they’re really excited about it!  To be fair, we’re pretty sure that Evangeline (4) is excited because she understands that we have to leave her for a few days so that we can come back and then leave again with her so she can go and see SNOW!  She’s very goal-oriented right now.

No, the one we’re actually worried about is Cosette (2).

For the 13 years that we’ve had kids, we have only left them twice for overnight stays without us: our very belated pseudo-honeymoon to Wisconsin and our 2-week exploratory trip to France (note: they stayed with their grandma where there is SNOW).  Other than a few isolated sleepovers, our kids see us every day.  Thanks to the flexibility of home-schooling, self-employment and also working for a church that valued the importance of family, our kids haven’t had to be apart from their parents but for short periods of time during the day, either with childcare workers that they know well, or in school (when they’ve been in school).  Admittedly, there were also times when leaving our children with these qualified and trusted workers ripped our hearts out; when our kids made it very obvious that the only acceptable place for them to be was with us; that, in spite of the good times they had without us, we were forcing them into something against their will.  We recognized that this was the way the world operates, and that kids turned out just fine going to childcare all around the world, so our kids should be fine too.  But this never sat well with us.  We hated the way our kids looked at us, their wordless pleas for us to stay or take them with us.  We hated ourselves for putting them through that, all the while trying to rationalize how normal, how natural (?), it all was.

But overall, we’ve been very fortunate as parents, and we believe our kids have too, that we haven’t had many instances where they were forced to be apart from us before they’re ready.

And then there was last Sunday.  The worship services at both the church we belong to and the church Jeremy plays the piano for recently changed their service times so that it has become impossible for us to go to church together as a family (something we hope to remedy soon).  So Jessica wrangled our 5 kids into the car and to church, and, deciding that it was time Cosette try out the nursery, she encouraged her to go through the little pint-sized door under the check-in counter.  Cosette is the most compliant of all our children.  She will do things when asked even if she really doesn’t want to, and doesn’t show us that she’s upset until we have her in our arms and she holds onto us for dear life and cries silent tears.  This happens with the most simple things, like when we have friends over and someone asks is they can pick her up, or worse, just picks her up without asking.  Instead of letting everyone in the neighborhood know what she feels about it, like her big sisters before her, she’ll allow it and just put up with it and then run to her Mommy or Daddy and cling to us when it’s over.  You can imagine how worried this makes us as parents.  As challenging as it is to have strong-willed, opinionated and expressive children, that is exactly what we want them to be.  So with Cosette, until she’s ready to stand up for herself, we really have to watch her body language to try to discern if what she’s agreeing to is something that she really wants to do or if she’s just being compliant.

Back to last Sunday.  Cosette reluctantly goes in to the nursery when her Mommy points out that they have Legos in there (her favorite toy right now).  Jessica then watches her for a few moments on the little security monitors they have set up outside of the nursery and observes that her little Cosette is just standing next to the wall, not engaging.  Troubled, but confident that her little girl will warm up to her surroundings, Jessica goes to hear an outstanding sermon.  About 45 minutes later, she returns to the nursery only to see that Cosette is still standing in the same spot next to the wall, and when she gets called out to join her mother, she runs to Jessica, wraps her little arms tightly around her neck and breaks into sobs.  The rest of the day, she never left her Mommy’s side, and appeared, as best as we can describe it, depressed.  Naturally, we felt terribly guilty about this, wondering if anything happened in the nursery, wondering if she just can’t handle being apart from her parents right now, terrified with how she’s going to deal with the next few weeks.  Maybe she was just coming down with something and wasn’t feeling well – the next 2-3 days, she was congested and not acting like herself.  But maybe it’s something deeper.  With the 20 words or so that she’s mastered, she’s incapable of telling us what the matter was.

Fortunately there will always be at least one sister with her while we’re at training.  For the 3 days she’ll be in Houston, it’ll be with all of them, and then when she’s with us in Illinois, though she’ll be in childcare for a good portion of every day, it’ll be with Evangeline.  Maybe that familiar face will be enough for her to cope with her separation from her parents.  We’re hoping so.

Please keep little Cosette in your prayers, and Evangeline too, as the novelty of snow may not be enough to keep her from missing her parents during the day.  Please pray for the childcare workers that will looking after them, that they would be a great fit for our kids.  Pray for our big kids enjoying time away from their parents, until they start missing us.  Pray for Adam and Sarah, that God bless them with the energy and wisdom to truly enjoy having a house full of kids.  And lastly, pray for us, the worried parents of 5 wonderful girls that they will miss very much.  Because as stoic as we may appear, we are going to miss them like crazy.

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Merry Christmas from the Martin-Webers!

True to our long-standing tradition, we went out for breakfast in our PJs and Santa hats on Christmas morning.

 


A word from our family

And now it’s time to drop everything you’re doing and enjoy a couple minutes of fun family times with the Martin-Webers:


Day 5: Nostalgia hits like a summer storm

Maybe I’m waxing poetic because of the ominous skies outside.  Stormy weather for the next few days is predicted, whereas yesterday was actually clear and hot, reminding me a lot of… Houston.  Ironic, I suppose, that we set out on this drive in the middle of a heat wave; hoping for a little relief from the Houston heat, we’ve discovered that it’s just as hot everywhere else – or maybe it’s just fair.  To be clear, I’m not feeling nostalgic on account of the heat reminding me of Houston!  No, it’s because we just rolled into the tri-city area where Jessica and I spent our first few years of marriage together: Kankakee, Bourbonnais, and Bradley.  And stormy skies always remind me of summer wind and lightning storms in France, walking through the park in the evening, listening to the wind in the trees, feeling it cool my skin and blow through my hair while the trees swayed, it was energizing, exhilarating.

We hadn’t been back to the Kankakee area in about 8 years, and the skies had that surreal tumultuous look indicative of a storm brewing; the kind of impossible sky I’ve seen in famous paintings that make me shake my head in disbelief: these kinds of skies don’t occur in real life.  Only, they do.

We had planned on meeting up with old friends, Tracy and Wayne, for a pool party that afternoon, but they had to cancel, and maybe it was for the best, as the rain started falling hard and cold and would have put a damper on our party, for sure.  But we didn’t bring our swimsuits for nothing.  The hotel we stayed at had a nice indoor pool that the kids and I enjoyed later that evening.

But more than the weather, it was the familiar sights that really brought us to that nostalgic place.  Driving into town, conversation shifted completely to sentences like:

“hey I remember that place”

“Is that where…?”

“That’s where Ophélia was born”

“Up there is where we used to go to church”

“There’s our favorite pizza joint.  It’s still there!”

“Hey, didn’t that used to be…?”

The girls didn’t think it was near as amazing as Jessica and I did.  The day was filled with quick jaunts down memory lane, including paying a visit to Ophélia’s first ballet studio, “Dance in the Light.”  It would be impossible for me to do justice to the wonderful quality of the day here in this post.  I just can’t figure out how to capture it, and I suspect I would just bore you with all the details I would want to cram in – just like the kids’ disappointing reaction to our excitement and delight.

In the evening, Jessica was invited to a La Leche League meeting by a friend that used to be her voice student and who used to babysit our kids.  All grown up with a baby of her own, she thought it would be great fun to invite the founder of “The Leaky Boob” (the online breastfeeding support community Jessica started a little over a year ago) to come and join the evening’s activities.  From what I heard, Jessica, Cosette, Soleil (our friend), and the LLL ladies all had a great time.  Meanwhile, the rest of the kids and I enjoyed some splash time in the hotel pool, followed by a pleasant surprise on the TV: Wall-E!  One of my favorite kids movies.


Day 4: New friends, Old Friends and Krispy Kreme

Many weeks later, I’m finally making the time to continue the Martin-Weber Chicago trip saga.  Oh, dear memory, don’t fail me!

In the last post, I mentioned that our friends owed their limited mosquito population to the abundance of tree frogs inhabiting the lavish local forests.  We were tempted to implement the same method in Houston.  But a draught will do the trick too.  Not much rain this year, so not many mosquitoes either.  But of course it comes at a cost.  Wildfires.  Not in Houston so far, but widespread throughout Texas.  God help those fighting the fires, and those who are in the path of the wind-driven inferno.  And please send us rain.

After our late night catching up with Don and Becky, it was a lazy morning, and then a wonderful day of rest in their comfortable home.  We did go out in the afternoon to meet a friend for the first time at Barnes & Noble, which was the perfect opportunity to pick up a few books for the kids too.  They had already read through the pile of books they had brought from home.

In the evening, Becky had arranged for all of us to get together with the worship team from their church for an impromptu worship jam session.  Deciding to walk to the church, we had to brave a field of weeds and wild grasses which reached up past my knees, and even higher on my girls!  It was a real feat of bravery after the jam session when it was dark and the critters were more active!  I carried Evangeline both directions.  Chasing after baby frogs proved to be very entertaining for our 18 month old, Cosette.  We love that she is as-0f-yet completely fearless of bugs and critters, a notion that goes against the very fiber of her parents’ being.

The evening started with pizza, and Don, the most devoted hot sauce aficionado I know, inspired me to drizzle some of his special sauce on my pizza slices.  So good!  I get tired of the simplicity of my girls’ taste when it comes to pizza.  Uninspiring plain cheese pizza.  But, drip some spicy sauciness on it, and it takes on a whole new life!  Thank you, Don, for reminding me that sometimes, what you need in life is a bit more spice!

The kids ran off to play “peg-your-neighbor-with-a-light-weight-ball,” a game that is surprisingly addicting once you give it a try.  I tore myself away from it to join the grown-ups on the stage, and while the kids continued to get along great with their new friends, Becky got us going on her guitar with old favorites we did back in our Illinois days.  Don took his position on the drums, Jessica grabbed a mic, I was steered to a keyboard (the acoustic piano was a bit removed from the rest of the group), and the rest of the party jumped on other mics and a bass guitar.  In no time, we were jamming like we’d been doing it for years.  It was such a great way to get a bit closer to God and each other.  This went on for some time and Jessica and I got to share a couple of our hymn arrangements as well, and when everyone felt that it was time to wrap it up, we had the opportunity to make a brief presentation about our mission work in France.  Thank you Becky for your spontaneity – we really enjoyed that memorable evening.

Evangeline and Cosette hanging with new friends in the church pulpit!

Driving around in Southern Illinois, and even Eastern Missouri, something about the landscape, the hills, rolling waves of green trees and yellow fields, and a difference in architecture – with seemingly more personality, stronger, darker, older – all these things and more combined together to strike a familiar chord inside me.  A comforting, nostalgic, stilling melody that whispered “home” to my soul.   I hadn’t been sure anymore, but there was no doubt left: we are Northerners.

I’m not sure why I originally included Krispy Kreme in the title of this post, because I don’t think we had any doughnuts that day, but do I really need an excuse to mention utter perfection again?