How do I say "Welcome Home" in Spanish?

Well, as I mentioned in my previous post, the past couple of weeks have been mostly picture-less. For good reason. We have been super busy and Mommy has been super tired. Because I didn't really want to announce it to the whole world, I didn't mention that Matt was on a mission trip to Chincha, Peru (about 2 1/2 hrs outside of Lima) for almost 11 days. Back about 5 or 6 months ago, our church announced that a group would be traveling to this area to share God's Word and also to help build a church/school in the area destroyed by an earthquake a couple of years ago.

It was at that time when Matt told me he wanted to go. He strongly felt like God had laid it on his heart to make this trip. I was both super excited for him but also nervous. The longest I had ever been without him was for about 4 or 5 days with his offshore trips. And never with "toddlers". But who I am to question God's call on his life? (Although believe me, I prayed and wondered if this was the best timing for our family - ha! Just being honest!)

Yet, my trip to Brazil a couple of years ago changed my life in so many ways - and I wanted him to have that experience. So we made the final decision that he would go (provided that something didn't happen emergent wise with Q and her surgery date). Well, God completely came through and about a month before departure, we got word that her surgery would not happen until September. Whew!

And off he went --- with tears in my eyes but excitement in my heart (for him!), I sent him off early one Monday morning. And so began my little taste of a long period of single mommy-hood. The first few days were rough -- Quinn was teething big time and was up all night one of the first nights. Ughh. But I employed a couple of babysitters for sanity, and was able to get at least a couple of hours to myself for a couple of evenings and have some "girl time" with a couple of my closest friends. That weekend, my mom & Steve came down to provide some much needed relief and I was able to go do some grocery shopping, take naps, and just relax without having to keep eagle eyes out everywhere for toddling babies.

While he was gone, I was able to catch up on some much needed work in the evenings so I could play with the babies during the days. For the first few days, it was nice to not have to cook every night, but then I actually started to miss it (what??!!). But I love to cook. I like the process. And Matt does an excellent job wrangling the children so I can have my time in the kitchen and be alone with my thoughts and pinot grigio. But when you are cooking for just one adult, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  The babies will eat most of what we eat now, but I lacked the energy to make stuff. So they ended up eating a lot of those pre-packaged pot roast things (still good for you, though!) and rotisserie chickens and casseroles. I am not so much a casserole person, so I ate a lot of turkey sandwiches and cheetos for dinner.

But here's the thing --- it was hard. I am not going to lie. It's especially hard when I can't go anywhere with my little buddies without some major advance planning. And it's HOT. Almost too hot to take them anywhere. So then, I have to get a sitter to go run mundane errands - and that costs money.

Yet, how fortunate are we? If I wanted to get a sitter, I got one. If I need family to come in town, they came. If I wanted to have a girl's night, I could. There are so many single parents out there that don't have the resources. And they do it day in, day out -- and for a lot longer than 10 days. And they probably work a full-time job in the meantime.  I don't know how they do it, but I have such respect for them.

And it was all brought home when Matt was recanting a story from the airport at Houston. He saw a woman sitting alone in army fatigues. He always makes it a point to go up to our men and women in uniform and thank them for their service. Anyway, in conversation, he discovered she had just returned from a year deployment, leaving behind her children for that period of time. I can't even imagine that type of sacrifice. I was immediately ashamed that I felt my situation was "so tough". In the grand scheme of things, 11 days for my husband to go and be Christ's Hands and Feet, is nothing. Totally doable. And next time, I hope my heart is even more grateful that he can go do it. Or maybe it will be my turn :) and he can stay at home. Yeah, that sounds good!

Of course though, we missed our Matt terribly. I missed adult conversation at night. The babies missed their daddy returning home everyday at 5:30pm. They missed their wrestling matches with him and their tickles. They missed Daddy's baths (because mommy doesn't do it like Daddy!) And I just, quite frankly,  missed my best friend.

Now he is back and life has somewhat returned to semi-normal. He went back to work the day after he arrived home, but was off on Friday so we have had a relaxing couple of days just playing with babies and catching up. Last night was date night and it was great to finally hear about his trip in an adult setting without the background noise of screaming (happily most of the time) kids.

Speaking of kids --- they are just rocking and rolling. I've mentioned, oh, once or a hundred times, how hard we have worked to get Q to gain weight. I was really, really depressed last month because she had not gained one ounce or grown a single centimeter since her previous measurements (we have a dietician who comes to the house monthly to do all of that). Then, with vacation drama and sippy cup transition and daddy being gone, I was scared to death for the measurements this month. But little girl blew us all away - totally caught up from the "bad month" - and went from 16lbs 14oz all the way to 18lbs 2oz -- and grew about an inch too! Amen and Praise God! Guess all of that avocado I've been shoving in her has been working. The child just LOVES avocado. Given the price of avocados these days, I wish she would be more keen on a little bit cheaper high-cal food, but avocado it is. Champagne tastes, just like her momma when it comes to food :) She'll probably eat sushi at 2 years old as well. ha.

Ryan is growing like a champ too and is starting to be more confident with his standing and stepping. Just a couple of weeks ago, he would refuse to push Quinn in her Thomas the Train for more than a few steps. Now he takes her all over the kitchen and hallway. Too fun. Quinn enjoys riding most of the time - but sometimes she gets irritated with the pace and wants to go faster! He is quite the little mover and shaker (I may have mentioned that before? Who knows? Mommy brain) and actually does it on the beat. I nearly died in the car the other day when we were listening to KSBJ and he started clapping along and then just raised his hands for the rest of the song like he was praising God. :) He is also becoming more confident at Little Gym. The first couple of times, he would mostly just sit and grin and clap. Now he takes off in every different direction (usually opposite of his sister) and wants to try everything. He may not LOVE everything, but he does it, and then offers up a grin after he does his trick. He loves to somersault and hang off of the bars and very often will put his head on the floor at home with his butt in the air so I can flip him over.

Quinn, not surprisingly, is a huge fan of the Little Gym --- she does every trick without hesistancy and just belly laughs. Then she will just put on this look of concentration and move onto the next place she wants to conquer. I really have to keep my eye on her though - she is EVERYWHERE. Luckily, a lot of the moms are really good about keeping an eye for her too and will grab her if she is heading to something a little more dangerous. I still keep my word that she will be the first child to end up with stitches. No fear, that girl. At home, she is walking up a storm - I mean, not getting up and going walking, but taking more and more steps between Matt and I, or between the couch and me when he's not home. She is stubborn and always wants to balance herself and then she is off and going. Yesterday I think we counted about 12 steps between us and then she just flings herself into our arms and wants to do it again. I am consistently amazed at her energy. She just keep going and going - and then wanted to do her "gymnastics" too. So much fun. And even better for Mommy to wear them both down so they take great naps!

And we are proud to announce we are BOTTLE FREE. We had a funeral/celebration for all bottles and nipples yesterday after they had gone 5 days or so without wanting one. We were fortunate enough that they chose to like the really, really cheap ones, so we didn't even think about saving them for the next one (yikes, not anytime soon on the next procreation though!). So bye, bye bottles. Bye, bye bottle warmer. Bye, bye Mommy washing a million bottles a day. Now I just get to wipe trays and refill sippy cups all day - oh and feed 3 meals and 3 snacks, but I'll take it!

So, pretty long update, but that's what's happening around these parts. Hope to get some of Matt's Peru photos uploaded soon for y'all. And we also just got back their 1 year pics so those are coming too. Finally, less words and more pictures!!!

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