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It is beautiful here. It’s hard not to feel at peace when walking these shores. Though my mind may be prone to wander at any moment (packing! moving! expenses! conferences! inspections! finding a house! limited internet!), a walk along these shores to dinner is enough to remind me to breathe, be in the moment, enjoy. Relax. I’m trying very, very hard.

It’s a queer world I’m living in – an unshackled prisoner in the most beautiful of prisons, forced to slow down and enjoy my children, made to cook nary a meal nor wash a dish; all the while longing for the doldrums of packing and eager for the tedium of house hunting with a limited budget.

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a quick update

We left for Michigan on Sunday.

Our house went on the market Monday.

Our first offer came in Tuesday.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Thank you for your continued prayers. Please pray for more safe travel, and for God’s strong hand as we make decisions about counter offers and timing.

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Moving On

It is with a tumultuous mix of sadness and joy that I am sharing with you our next steps: Jason has accepted a new position with InterVarsity in Kalamazoo, at our alma mater. We’re going home!

We prayerfully seek to sell our house and move in early summer. (If you know anyone in our area who is looking to buy a house, please do send them our way.)

It will be very difficult to leave the community and church that we have grown to love. God has done great things in our lives during our three years here, and He has given us friends that we can’t yet imagine leaving. Yet leave we will, as it is clear that He is leading us in a new direction. We are excited for what is to come, but the reality of leaving (both the practical details and the emotional upheaval) has not quite sunk in yet.

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After many rainy hours in the car (I think we drove through seven different storms!), we’re back home, safe and sound. Amazing how it felt both strange and familiar at the same time. After five weeks, I suppose that’s to be expected.

Our grass has grown–hurray!! But it was not cut enough while we were gone, so it’s needing a little attention. Boo.

Things are generally very cluttered and still not unpacked, since we just returned, but I’m okay with that tonight. I just want to sit on the couch and not pack or unpack anything. In fact, I just sent Jason on a water and (healthy, additive-free) ice cream run.

How am I feeling?

  • I’ve had some somewhat scarier pregnancy-related things happen this past week. I will give more detail after I’ve seen a midwife on Thursday and sorted things out. At this moment, the baby is kicking in my belly again, and I’m reassured.
  • According to the scale at my parents’ house (we don’t have a scale at our house), I still haven’t gained a pound. I’ll be interested in what the scale at the birth center says. I’ve always said that I don’t mind if I gain 50 pounds or 10, as long as I’m eating the best quality & variety of foods possible, with 80+ grams of protein, and avoiding junk. Unfortunately, with five weeks of menus that were totally out of my control, my intake has not been the quality or quantity that I would like (too much refined, white stuff, especially sugar, and not enough veggies or protein). So less-than-stellar food intake + no weight gain = slight concern on my part.
  • My uterus has spread out more. Since 12 weeks, it has grown up rapidly toward my belly button (stunning me with twin thoughts again), then slowed the upward growth a bit to take the time to fill out sideways. The same thing happened in both of my previous two pregnancies. I don’t know why it surprises me. It is a combination of the way my body is and the way my baby lays.
  • I have had to pee much more frequently these past few days. Frequent urination is not one of the pregnancy symptoms I typically experience until later on in gestation.
  • When I first started feeling strong, sustained, consistent movement (15 weeks), it was on the right side. Today, it is on the left and front.
  • Maya and Ellery enjoy giving the baby impromptu hugs and kisses. It is very sweet. Ellery, especially, cannot kiss my belly without also hugging it. The two go together, of course.
  • Maya continues to talk about twins. I don’t want her to be disappointed, so I try to casually mention that I’m pretty sure there’s just one in there. My mother, who has a typical Asian grandmother’s interest in both boys and twins, hasn’t helped any. She keeps bringing up both topics to Maya and asking her what she thinks I’m having–one boy, one girl, two boys, two girls, one of each…
  • Today, I’m not sure if it’s a boy or girl. We have been referring to the baby as “he” more often than not. But both Jason and I embrace male pronouns as gender neutral, when appropriate, so that might not mean anything.
  • I’ve been having frequent headaches. I think had this symptom in both of my other pregnancies.
  • I get heart palpitations about 3-10 times a day now. Not rapid or heavy heartbeat, but rather the kind with the flutter or punch in your chest (PVC), probably a premature heartbeat. Sometimes it takes my breath away or makes me cough. As far as I’ve been able to research, this is harmless to both baby and me. If it bothers me enough, I can ask for medication to manage it, which I will not do unless I find out that I need to for the health of the baby. My brother-in-law, the cardiologist, advised me to get a monitor so the cause of the palpitations can be discerned. I will ask my midwives for further advice on this.
  • I’m more easily tired and irritated lately. I try really hard to avoid both, especially the latter.
  • I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed tonight!

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Things remain a bit difficult with our sweet Maya. She has good days and bad, and is mostly herself. There are just these episodes once or twice a day that leave both her and her parents feeling totally out of whack. We think she’s having difficulty with transitions and goodbyes, especially since all of this started during our trip here in Michigan. She’s a very social and loving person, and is typically energized by relationships. Here is an example of all of the goodbyes she’s had to make in the past 4.5 weeks:

1 – All the students and staff she met during CFW #1
2 – All the students and staff she met during CFW #2
3 – All the students and staff she met during CFW #3
4 – Grandparents (set one)
5 – Cousins & family
6 – Multiple friends & families in our old city
7 – Grandparents again (set one)
8 – Aunts & Uncle
9 – Grandparents again (set two)

I won’t go into more detail, in order to protect her privacy. But it is helpful for me to record and share my general emotions and parenting roller coasters as I encounter them. God is with me always, even when things are tough. I do find myself desiring a more direct answer to my prayers right now–that is, what do I do to respond to this tough situation with my oldest?

If you have a child (especially an older child–Maya is four) who has acted out in response to change or goodbyes, I would love to hear your input. Of course, all respectful comments from anyone (regardless of child’s age or parental status) are always welcome.

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Two things I’m remembering as I thaw out.

  • Last night, the girls and I left at 4:30 p.m. to join Jason at his staff party. This drive is normally 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic. We arrived at…7:00! Rush hour, the first big snow, and the Steelers game formed a might triumvirate that, strangely, would not be defeated by my getting frustrated and angry. Huh. My disposition improved greatly when I heard this from the back seat:MAYA: (singing) If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!
    ELLERY: (claps)
    MAYA: (singing) If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet!
    ELLERY: (stomps feet on seat)
    MAYA: (singing) If you’re happy and you know it, shout, “Hurray!”
    ELLERY: (tentatively) Huh-way?

    How could you not be happy, and know it, listening to that?

  • This morning the girls and I took an impromptu trip to the zoo to see the polar bears, finally on exhibit. WOW! It was cold! We expected cold, but it was cooold. The girls were bundled up rather well, and Ellery was in a wrap on my front with my warmest, hugest mittens on her feet and legs, and we were fine. If we hadn’t made pit stops at the monkey house and the aquarium, I’m not sure we’d have made it, though!For the record, the polar bears were beautiful. And they weren’t fazed at all by the weather.

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What made us decide to go on staff? Well, it’s certainly been a process. We’ve known since we got married that a suburban life with a stable engineering job wouldn’t be our permanent future (though it’s cushy being here right now). We even live in a cul-de-sac and have a minivan! But Jason has struggled with his call since before he graduated from WMU. He just figured he’d finish his degree with gusto and be the best engineer he could until God told him otherwise. But we’ve been praying about next steps for a few years, and IVCF seemed to make the most sense. Jason wants to pursue graduate studies, but isn’t sure where or what or how. Working with college students is very strategic and important work, and giving back to a ministry that gave so much to us is also a plus. It’s a good transitional position–serving God with IVCF until the next step becomes clearer. And the next step could still be InterVarsity–who knows?

God has uniquely prepared us to work with the students at Carnegie Mellon. It’s an extremely competitive school, with a lot of engineering and arts students. The school really focuses on preparing the students for their career, and Jason has 5 years of solid work experience in a field that many students at CMU are heading toward. We got on so well with the students and staff during our visit. The city is also a place we’re excited about. It’s unique, in that it’s made up of many, many neighborhoods. Many of the neighborhoods are very culturally and socioeconomically diverse. The city is very large, but it seems like the citizens of Pittsburgh have embraced their own little neighborhoods and made small, tight knit communities. We were told many times during our stay that we just had to come live in one neighborhood or another–people love their communities, and they don’t hesitate to invite you to come live there!

We look forward with anticipation. We can’t wait to get out of a suburb and into a city (or the country, if a nice country place was affordable–just not a suburb). We find ourselves in an interesting place–me only 24–and we’ve settled into a life that many long for and maintain for 40+ years (college degrees, married, have a child, own a house in the suburbs, stable job, two cars, family relatively close by). For others, our lifestyle would feel just right. For us, it feels a bit off.

Fund development will be challenging. It always is with families though, isn’t it? We barely make it now, since I stay at home. But God will provide – even the extras. We lament about poor Maya’s lack of toys too often! We’ll pray for God to provide her with either an active imagination or nice donors. =) We’re considering selling our house ASAP and moving in with my parents. Jason would be driving an hour (one way) to work, then fundraising in the evenings and weekends. Nuts! But we’d save buckets of money, and it would get us moving even faster. I love my folks, but I don’t think we could handle living with them forever!

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