{Israel recap} Day 1: to turn out that last light

Remains from Herod the Great's palace at Caesarea Maritima
Remains from Herod the Great’s palace at Caesarea Maritima
Original floor from Herod the Great's palace at Caesarea Maritima
Original floor from Herod the Great’s palace at Caesarea Maritima

Today was a happy day. Honestly, just the prospect of having the car and being able to go out and buy Christmas decorations temporarily erased the thought that my husband was gone. I had this funny mental image of myself holding a cardboard sign that said in sloppy black marker, “Will trade husband for car.” (I’ll never understand my mind) Apparently I chose flippancy as my way of dealing with Paul’s departure on day one.

I did realize how important it would be to not lose my car key. Going to try very hard to give extra attention to putting it where it belongs.

While the little girls slept, Hope and Sophia and I cut little triangles of scrapbook paper to make Christmas banners. Then we made banana bread, which is always a hoot.

At bedtime the girls went to sleep fine. We’d been able to maintain a happy, upbeat tone all day.

I wanted to go to sleep and probably could have except that I had to prepare a craft for the next night at AWANA. When that was complete, I began trying to go to bed.

It’s hard to turn out that last light. After everything was ready and I couldn’t bring myself to do anymore, I realized…this is going to be hard. Thirteen nights like this. And this is only the first.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

{Israel recap} Official introduction: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband goes on an amazing study trip to Israel)

Hello dear friends, family, and readers! I hope that you all are doing well on this lovely day.

Unfortunately, my computer screen is not behaving; fortunately, I’ve been wanting to rerun the Israel series (since it occurred before I had told most of you that I was doing this).

Starting today, I’m going to rerun all of the posts. And hopefully by then I’ll have my computer working again. If you want to see a few other related posts to the Israel trip, you may check them out here and here.

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Hello and welcome to my first series: staying home alone with four little girls (while my husband goes on an amazing study trip to Israel.) For fun, I’ve included pictures from Paul’s trip. Israel is a truly beautiful land.

Caesarea Maritima
Caesarea Maritima

This series begins on the day that he left, after working until six o’clock the previous night, spending the evening with the girls, deciding to start packing at 11:22 pm, running to Walmart at midnight, and finally going to bed… oh, about two.

I possess a strange set of emotions; most of the time they kick in way after the fact. I’m saying this because I really had no idea how I was going to react to him leaving. Would I cry? Be scared? Try to remember every detail of his face in case it was the last time I saw him? Not feel anything at all? Act tough? Act wimpy? What would the girls do?  

Two weeks before he left, I went through several days of wondering if I was going to survive. Like literally, survive. He’s gonna die; or I’m not going to make it; or something… I’m pretty sure life as I know it is over. 

Thankfully, with the next week came some hormonal straightening out and I began feeling nothing. This is cool. We’re going to be fine. It’ll be so fun to have the car (for the first time in months). 

I began to wonder if something was wrong with me for not feeling more sober or anxious about it.

Planning my grocery list and menu for the week he would be gone gave me the first feeling of true nervousness in my stomach. All right; so I am normal. And yeah, this is going to be okay, but it’s also going to be hard and sad and lonely. 

When Paul got home from work the night before he left, the sadness hit hard. That’s it. There’s nothing between him and this trip now. 

The theatre at Caesarea Maritima
The theatre at Caesarea Maritima

I loved the girls reactions to him when saying good-bye on the morning he left.

Hope began truly crying, “You’re going to be gone for such a long time!”

Sophia smiled at him excitedly, “Are you coming home for lunch?”

And what did I feel? Excitement for him. I’m sure some mental compartment noted that him going down the stairs that last time meant I would be on my own for two weeks, but all I could think about was how much he was anticipating this incredible opportunity.

So there you have it. The next post will start with our first day on our own (while Paul got stuck in airports for hours, had flights canceled, gates changed, and ate a lot of Five Guys.)

Day 11: exhaustion setting in

Caves in Arbel
Inside the caves in Arbel
Caves in Arbel
Caves in Arbel
Rock climbing up Arbel; I want to do this!
Rock climbing up Arbel; I want to do this!

A few things have surprised me during this time of taking care of the girls alone. First that it’s been… relatively easy. At least a lot easier than I thought. Second, that Gracie seems to be missing Paul the most out of all the girls. Lastly, I’m beginning to be exhausted. The thought of that possibility never occurred to me.

Apparently there’s been a physical and emotional drain that I haven’t noticed because everything seemed to be so normal. I thought I was doing well going to bed and resting all night. But it’s not good for woman to be alone; or least this woman.

Come to think of it, this is how I felt the first week Paul returned to work and seminary after the summer. I had gotten so used to him being around, to sharing the load of work, and (most importantly for me) to feeling the emotional support of not being alone, that back-to-schooltime was a shock.

Again, I cannot help but think of single moms or parents who do this every day, all year.

Our pace is definitely slowing down during the day because of me, but we’re still trying to keep up the “fun.” So far it’s working minus Gracie being a little off.

Counting the days ’til he gets home? Not yet; I don’t think I could stand it.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 7: I need you

Day 8: An answered prayer

Day 9: Letting others be there for you

Day 10: the weakest link

Day 9: Letting others be there for you

Inside the main gate of Caesarea Maritima, built during the crusader era
Inside the main gate of Caesarea Maritima, built during the crusader era

There I was, Sunday afternoon, with a decision to make.

Eat with friends? or eat by ourselves?

Sounds simple, but for me it’s not.

The afternoon before I had texted my friend E to see if she had plans for after church. Her text back was not what I was looking for: D is actually off work tomorrow and we’re eating with N and K since we haven’t seen them since before Thanksgiving, but you’re welcome to come!

Not a fan of being the third wheel. Especially when said third wheel is a mom with four kids eating with two other couples and only one of them have a (singular)  sweet little baby.

All right, being honest here; I had agonized about it all Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. I didn’t want to go; but, I did. They were my friends. Not just my acquaintances, my friends. But without Paul, I’m all kinds of shy. The excuses my mind came up with were numerous: they could go somewhere more fun or closer to where they live if we didn’t go, maybe the girls would be misbehaved or I’d spend the whole time taking them to the bathroom and leaving the others at the table, and on and on.

It really was ridiculous.

But now I was walking down the nursery hallway from picking up the girls and they were all waiting for me. How could such a small, simple decision make an adult woman want to melt into the ground?

I went with them.

And I was super glad I did.

The girls were so good; and it felt so good to just be the person that needed some encouragement and support  and to be okay with that.

Goodbye ever-lurking independence. Goodbye odious voice of insecurity. Goodbye you nasty monster pride. All of you, I will see again; but for today you were defeated.

Hello to the other side of friendship. Hello to being okay with the fact that you have four kids and your life doesn’t quite look like everyone else’s. Hello to letting others be there for you.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 7: I need you

Day 8: An answered prayer

Day 8: An answered prayer

Church of the Beatitudes
Church of the Beatitudes

I do remember praying before I went to bed the night before that God would somehow give me the strength and joy necessary to take of the girls the next day. Everything had been going so well, and then with the news of the shootings I felt all my physical and emotional stamina just caving in.

I woke up not feeling great, but determined to do my best regardless of my feelings. The girls all woke up early, except Hope, and they were pretty much ready by the time I heard my phone ring.

It was a long, weird number and I strongly suspected that Paul was on the other end.

I answered, smiling before I even heard his voice. But the smile after I heard his voice probably made the other smile look like one of Gracie’s scowls.

What he said hit me out of nowhere. After hearing the news about Connecticut, he said he needed to talk to us. He? needed? to talk to us? But you’re in Israel – the coolest place ever!

Why was I surprised? Of course I know how much he loves us. Of course I know how close he is to the girls. He would have had all the same thoughts and feelings that I had.

It was so good to talk to him. It was amazing to watch the girls excitement as they held the phone and talked to their beloved Daddy. It was so familiar to hear his excitement and love as he talked to them.

God could have answered my prayer in many ways. But He chose to give me strength and joy through my very favorite person, Paul. And once again, I was terribly excited for him that he was in Israel; and completely okay with taking care of the girlies alone.

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At dinner Gracie asked, “Where’s Daddy?”

“In Israel!” I replied.

“No,” she disagreed, “he’s at school.”

This was the first time that any of the girls had expressed concern over his whereabouts.

When thinking of how to best handle this time of them being away from him, I had thought about watching videos online of Israel or having some sort of countdown where we would eat candy out of a jar for every day he was gone and watch the amount dwindle. In the end, I did none of these things. The girls were handling it famously. They knew where he was and it felt best to just carry on and try to occupy ourselves with fun things.

It was interesting to me that Gracie had been the first to ask about him, sensing that it was weird that he was gone. Everything was fine, but I wondered what this second week would hold.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 7: I need you

Day 7: I need you

Driving by the plain of Bethsaida, near the sight of the feeding of the five thousand
Driving by the plain of Bethsaida, near the sight of the feeding of the five thousand
Synagogue at Chorazin
Synagogue at Chorazin
likely spot for the Sermon on the Mount
Near to the place of the Sermon on the Mount

If you’ve been reading my posts about the other side of the Israel trip, then you know that yesterday’s shopping trip ended up to be sort of stressful.

However, determined to have all the fun that we could have, I scheduled another shopping trip with another friend to another favorite place of mine: Goodwill. (Love to look at high-end places; buy at less than high-end places.)

Well, this trip did present me with another episode of stress; but the ending was much happier.

My girlies went with me and we were all ready and excited. My plan was that I would have the youngest sit in the child seat of my shopping cart; and my friend (who is so awesome and loves my kids) could push my two-year old in her cart. The older two do really well staying with me and I knew that they would have fun looking through stuff with us.

Hello Goodwill: bye-bye shopping cart idea. Goodwill doesn’t have carts!! At least this one. Just one more reason why I like Salvation Army better.

Anyways, it was cumbersome to carry the baby around and look at the same time, but we were not dismayed.

I ended up with some really great finds which actually felt like really small steps towards some of my goals for my home. I so want to be able to decorate my house and make it beautiful without spending much. This was really the first time that I felt like I found stuff (even looked in the right places) to start accomplishing that.

Here are my finds: Gorgeous brown sheet, bright yellow table cloth, yellow fleece scarf, gray sheet and pillowcase with white stripes, and my very favorite a sunshine mirror! All this for fourteen dollars and change.

I’m not even going to begin to tell you what I hope I can do with these, but if I ever get around to it, I’m sure I’ll be proud as a peacock and let everybody know.

When I got home, I got a text from my neighbor saying that she was so heartbroken about what had happened in Connecticut. What happened in Connecticut? I got on my computer and found out.

How trivial my thrift store finds seemed now. How could I have enjoyed such a fun, carefree time with my friend and kids when parents just like me were having their hearts ripped out?

It wasn’t okay that Paul was gone anymore. I needed him, and I needed him now. Somehow I made it through the rest of the evening with the girls. After they went to sleep, I sat on the couch in a news-induced stupor wondering if something like that would ever happen to me.

It was late when my resistance gave in and I finally went to bed.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 5: It hit me

Springs at Dan. This is where the Jordan begins.
Springs at Dan. This is where the Jordan begins.
Spring at Dan
Spring at Dan
IMG_1296
So lovely. No wonder the Danites asked to settle in the north.
IMG_1293
Paul took this picture just because he knew I would like it. What a sweet husband.

It’s official. I’m lonely. And I miss Paul really bad.

How hard it must be to lose a loved one. As I sat at the table after the girls were in bed, the house was so quiet. But I could remember him walking here, sitting there, making noise; they were all just shadows of memories though, because he’s not here and won’t be for a while still. How would it feel knowing he would never come back?

Good to know I miss my husband.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…