Fortunately I Know I Will Laugh About This Some Day

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There are many fears that we have as parents. Fears over safety, health, and our child’s general well-being. I would have to say, though, that one of my worst fears as a mom is over something that I encounter nearly every day of my life: that my child will have to go to the bathroom at an inconvenient time or place. Seriously. The panic that sets in when you hear the words “Mommy, I have to go“–and you know there’s nowhere to go–is unparalleled. This happens to me all. the. time. Somehow they just seem to know the single most inconvenient place to declare a need for relief and I somehow have to magically find a solution. As a matter of example, here is a brief excerpt from our trip to the park today:

Fortunately I had about an hour to kill this morning before we were meeting up with some friends for lunch, so I thought we would stop by a new park for some fun play time.

Unfortunately as soon as we pulled into the parking lot David grabbed his crotch and said he had to go potty.

Fortunately a woman in the parking lot told me there were toilets in a cafe in the park.

Unfortunately the cafe was about 1/4  mile away from the parking lot on the opposite side of the park.

Fortunately I’m a strong momma so I picked up my toddler and ran with David all the way across the park to the cafe.

Unfortunately the restrooms were for cafe customers only.

Fortunately I had a coin in my pocket, so I bought a fruit snack before we rushed into the bathroom to do our business.

Unfortunately we were not at the park to spend all day in the bathroom and a little cafe.

Fortunately there was a fantastic playground back on the other side of the park near the parking lot. The boys had a blast swinging and sliding and spinning and climbing.

Unfortunately our time in the playground eventually came to an end and we had to get ready to leave for our lunch.

Fortunately David said he didn’t have to go potty again before we left, so we started to walk out to our car.

Unfortunately he was lying.

Fortunately I knew where the bathroom was this time, and when he started doing his little potty dance I grabbed him by the hand and started leading him back across the park.

Unfortunately we only got halfway across the park toward the cafe toilets when David stopped in his tracks, looked up to me and said he didn’t have to go potty any more.

Fortunately the front of his pants were still dry.

Unfortunately, the back of his pants were quite brown and stinky.

Fortunately I had a change of clothes for him in the diaper bag that was back in our car.

Unfortunately, the car was now on the opposite side of the park again.

Fortunately I’m a strong momma and I was able to, for the third time this morning, run across the park while schlepping a flailing toddler in my arms and chasing a distracted preschooler all the way back to the car.

Unfortunately by the time we got back to the car to retrieve the diaper bag I really didn’t want to walk all the way back across the park to the cafe again.

Fortunately I spotted a public toilet right across from the playground.

Unfortunately it was one of those super-sketchy public toilets that is a single pod and you have to pay to go inside and then a metal door slides shut behind you and I’m pretty sure meth addicts hang out in them and they are always disgusting and smell like the inside of a sewage treatment plant.

Fortunately I’m a strong momma who’d already had been through enough crazy this morning that the sketchy public toilet didn’t bother me as much as it should have so we went in anyway.

Unfortunately it was just as disgusting as I’d imagined it would be and I had to cover the entire room with toilet paper before I would allow my children to step foot inside.

Fortunately David finished his business on the toilet instead of in his pants.

Unfortunately I’d used up all of our allotted toilet paper making a semi-sanitary environment for my children and there wasn’t enough left to clean up David (remember, it’s a sketchy pay-by-the-minute public toilet with a toilet paper allowance).

Fortunately I had baby wipes in the diaper bag. They did the trick.

Unfortunately while I was cleaning David up with the baby wipes Jacob saw the giant flashing red button that was right at his eye level: the SOS button. He pushed it. Sirens went off. Lights started flashing. The metal door that had been shielding us and our poop-covered selves from the rest of the decent world crashed open.

Fortunately David didn’t even notice that he was stark naked and covered in poop in the middle of a public park. We finished getting him cleaned up, dressed him in clean pants, and walked out of the toilet as if nothing had ever happened.

Unfortunately I lost the last bit of dignity that I had been holding onto since I was in labor with my babies.

Fortunately I’m still alive to tell you this story. I didn’t die of embarrassment or a heart attack or a staph infection from the disgusting public toilet. And in the end, I guess that’s all that really matters.

Unfortunately this is a true story.

Fortunately I know I will laugh about this some day.

The End

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Experiencing Cork City

Jon has become quite the coffee connoisseur over the last couple of years, and item one on his agenda has been to find a quality espresso machine that he can use over here. He’s done months of research on the types of machines that are available so he was just itching to get out to a store and buy one. We decided that this weekend would be “find Jon’s dream machine weekend”. We set out early Saturday morning to downtown Cork where we had a number of recommendations for specialty coffee and kitchen shops to look in.

It soon became quite obvious, however, that this quest was not going to end well. Most stores had no espresso machines whatsoever, and the ones that did carry espresso machines were very high end and out of our comfort zone, budget-wise (we really don’t need to spend over $2,000 on an espresso machine that he can use for two years, do we?). We abandoned our goal of bringing home Jon’s espresso-baby and turned our attention to something more positive.

Since we were already downtown, we decided to make a day of it and do a little sight-seeing. We bought delicious snacks and drinks from a chocolate shop and ate them in this little park:

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Then we crossed the River Lee that runs right through the middle of Cork City:

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We walked up a large hill to Shandon where the famous “Four-Faced Liar” clock stands at the top of St. Anne’s Cathedral:

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When we got back to downtown Cork they had set up a huge street festival for the Street Performance World Championship. They had some really neat street performers for us to watch:

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The boys enjoyed watching the live performances:

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There were also lots of fun activities for the kids to do. David’s favorite? The soccer game where he won a bag of candy every time he scored a goal!

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After we’d had our fill of street fair fun (and maybe a bit too much sun) we went to pick up our NEW CAR!

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I’m super-excited about this new car because it’s an automatic–no more trying to figure out a manual while driving on the opposite side of the (narrow) roads. It was quite the journey to actually get this car. After many days of calling car companies we came to the conclusion that there was really only one way we could get a car here. We are doing a long-term rental on the car because they don’t do leases here in Ireland and we don’t qualify for insurance to buy a car. We had hoped to get two cars, but long-term rental is VERY expensive (our car rental costs almost as much as our house each month!). So, for the time being, we will share the one car. One benefit to having a rental is that we can technically change out the car we have every 28 days if we need to. If this car doesn’t end up working well for us, we only have to keep it for 28 days and then we can try something different. We are also going to buy Jon a bike so he can can commute by bike whenever he’s able. Just one more change that we’ll have to adapt to!

One more change that we’ve been thinking and praying a lot about for…well…as long as we’ve know that we’d be moving to Ireland…is the church community we would join here. Getting plugged in to a Jesus-loving, gospel-preaching church is our first priority, but–as with many things with this move–we discovered that would be easier said than done. There are very few evangelical Christian churches in Ireland. In fact, our city (the 2nd largest city in the Republic of Ireland) only has about a dozen. A few months back we heard about a church here called Calvary Cork from a friend of mine who knows the pastor. We decided to check it out today.

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From the moment we walked in the doors we were blown-away blessed. It’s a small church (50-75 people were there today), but one of the most welcoming I’ve ever been to. Everyone was very friendly and they made us feel right at home. David was able to play in the creche (childcare) during the service (Jacob could have gone, too, if he wasn’t such a cry-baby). David had tons of fun coloring, eating snacks, hearing a short Bible story and playing with lots of sweet little Irish girls (his first response when we picked him up was, “I’m girl crazy!”).

The sermon was great (at least the parts of it I could hear from the baby cry room!). One of the best parts if the whole service, however, was the music. One of the first songs they played was “Grace Alone”, a song written by Dustin Kensrue from our church in Seattle, Mars Hill. We sang this song all the time “back home”–it was so neat to hear this song halfway around the world and worship with these new brothers and sisters who I’ve just met. Really, really cool.

We also had two of our other more petty prayers answered at church this morning. Jon got a great recommendation for a new coffee place that sounds a lot like Philz (his favorite coffee place EVER). And for me: I got invited to a mommy playgroup that meets every Wednesday not too far from our house. I’m really excited to meet some new friends and get to know the people I’ll be living with for the next 2 years!

All in all, it was a great weekend experiencing our new home city. And it really is starting to feel a bit like home.

 

Lessons From A Garbage Can

This is a garbage can.

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It looks like an ordinary, run-of-the-mill garbage can, and it is…and it isn’t. You see, this garbage can has become a bit of an extension of our family. We spend time with it, we care for it and it has taught us many things. This all sounds a bit strange, so let me explain.

Several months ago at church we heard a sermon that challenged us to fix the problems that we found. The message was basically that if you see a problem and it is bothering you, then maybe you should be the one to help find a solution. After all, if it’s bothering you that much then it’s probably something that’s already near and dear to your heart.

The first problem that came to mind when I was listening to the sermon was our park. We have a wonderful neighborhood park across the street from our house that is well-loved and much-used by kids from the surrounding area. There is a playground and a basketball court in the park, so we spend many, many hours there–rain or shine. I know all of the kids who play there and they all know us. I spend so much time there that I feel like it’s “my” park.

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You can imagine my annoyance, then, when I would get to the park each morning to find piles of trash lining the basketball court and littering the fields. How dare these kids come to my park and leave such a mess? Who was going to clean this up? And that’s when it hit me: I was annoyed by this problem because I needed to be the one to fix it.

We had an extra-large garbage can from when we were doing some home improvement projects and I got permission from our homeowner’s association to chain it to one of the hoops in the park. Then we went to work.

I started by gathering together all of the kids who frequent the park and showing them the garbage can and how to use it (I didn’t want to leave it up to chance that they’d actually know how to put their trash in the can). Then I had them all help me tidy up the park. I told them we were going to have a race to see who could get the most pieces of trash in the garbage can in 5 minutes–they all won! (wink, wink).

It’s been about 6 months now since we first put the garbage can in our park. David and I still go to the park almost every day, but now the first thing we do when we get there is collect litter to put in the garbage can. David has taken ownership of the park that he uses so frequently and he enjoys lending a helping hand.

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I explain to David that when we pick up litter we are helping the environment and helping to keep our park safe and clean for everyone. More importantly, though, David is learning that he can solve problems. He can do his own little part to be Jesus’ hands and feet in a world that is full of problems. And, some day, he will find his own problems–and instead of running away from them he will fix them.