It hit me the other day how much my life has changed since the last time I lived in the US. Four years ago, John and I lived in a tiny apartment, drove a Geo Metro (its outside metal only three sheets thicker than tinfoil . . or so I heard!), lived on a very tight budget since we were both full-time students, and of course, the obvious one, had no children.
Now I could almost be the poster person for "suburban mom." I drive a minivan (THANKS to Brad and Amy), strap my kids into carseats, go to play at the park or the zoo rather than going to movies, since it's more fun (and easier!) for the kids, and . . . well, I guess we still live in a small apartment. We still try to stick to a budget, but have a bit more flexibility, as is evidenced by the Blue Bell ice cream in my freezer--an unheard-of treat in our previous life. [To all you Texans out there: Ok, so maybe you had something to brag about. That Blue Bell is pretty good! Though I think it still rivals my all-time favorite, Blue Bunny Ice Cream made in LeMars, Iowa, the Ice Cream capital of the world, from Iowa cows eating Iowa corn! Blue Bunny's Homemade Vanilla is excelente!]
Since this is my first time experiencing what it is like to have kids while living in the States, all I can say is that it feels a bit surreal. Is this really me, driving around in a minivan and taking my kids to the zoo, playing with other kids in their backyards and going for picnics? Weirdorama. Somehow it doesn't feel real yet. Maybe that's because we're going back, and so I know we'll soon be saying goodbye to the minivan, the swingsets, and the zoo, and saying hello to taxis, busy city streets, and a foreign language being spoken around us again.
A friend asked me today at lunch whether I was ready to go back to Asia yet. I told her that though I'm eager to spend more time with our families this summer, I've already felt a few tuggings on my heartstrings back to our friends, work and life in Asia. I guess that's a good thing; our calling and work are there so maybe Father is helping me feel somewhat prepared for going back.
On another note, something major is changing in Clara Anne's life. Many of you know that she has loved to suck her thumb, starting at about 4 or 5 months old. She would cry, spit out her pacifier, and then suck her thumb contentedly. She usually sucks it two important times: when she is soothing herself to sleep and when she is a bit shy/scared/insecure. We asked the dentist about this at Clara Anne's two-year appointment, and she said she thought it was ok for Clara Anne to keep sucking it, just that she should stop when her permanent teeth were starting to give in. I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that would be years away and probably she would stop on her own before then.
But John read some research recently that indicated the thumb sucking could have an adverse affect on her permanent teeth even now (and it's true that her baby teeth are somewhat "bucked out" from it) and so he wanted to put a stop to it. He ordered something online from a Swiss company that is safe, but horribly bitter and sour tasting, to "paint" on her thumb. It lasts for 48 hours! The package came in the mail yesterday morning, and so yesterday at lunch John put it on her thumb. I am surprised and happy to say that Clara Anne has so far been deterred by the nasty stuff--I have only seen her attempt to suck her thumb once since then!
The only problem has been that she has had more difficulty falling asleep without the aid of her beloved thumb. She still has blanket and Doll to keep her company, but today I had to lie down with her to help her relax and be comforted so that she could fall asleep. Hopefully soon she will learn better how to relax on her own, without her thumb, so that she can get to sleep quickly after going to bed.
We've been talking about how only babies suck their thumbs or pacifiers, and so now that she is a big girl she doesn't need her thumb anymore. She seems proud to be a big girl, and was especially glad to get some candy this morning after the whole morning without any thumb sucking. I will have to watch out, though, concerning finger food--the taste of that stuff is so potent that eating with her fingers can make her food taste bad. Last night she began to eat some string cheese, but then said "I don't like this cheese" and refused to finish it. Thinking she was just being silly, John popped it in his mouth and then discovered that it tasted strongly of the nasty stuff. Yuck. That's enough to deter anybody!
So I guess the saying remains true: The only thing that stays the same is that things are constantly changing. But we think this change is for the better, both for Clara Anne's teeth and for her maturing process. Good Job, Clara Anne!