Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Three Months Later

I came to the good ol' blog to see when the last time I posted was. It didn't seem possible that it was December 31, but I guess the blog posts don't lie. 

I tried to remember how it could be possible that I hadn't blogged in three months. I know it had been intermittent posting before that, but three months! Good grief!

The more I started to think about it, the more I realized why that might have been the case. Then I remembered moving. And how stressful my job has been. And suddenly it didn't seem so unbelievable.

These three months haven't all been bad, though. We had lots of snow days that were fun for the boys -- at our old house and at our new house. We've gotten settled into our new home, and the boys are looking forward to when the pool at our apartment complex opens in May.

Probably the biggest news, though, is that as of this week, Christian was offered and accepted a job at a church in Columbia. He will be the pastoral assistant for now, and he will start at the end of April. After 3.5 years of seminary, most of which saw neither of us with a reliable source of income, the blessing of this is hard to put into words.

My job will likely be over at the end of May (it is just a contract position), so at least for the summer, I will be home with the boys. The month of May will be a big transition as I slightly scale back hours at work while also getting back into stay-at-home mom mode. Christian has done most of the laundry, cooking, and cleaning for the past 7 months, so I hope those things are like riding a bike in that I haven't forgotten how to do them.

I have to say that I'm excited. I've now been on both sides, and I'll admit that the greenness of the grass definitely depends on your perspective. I can empathize with stay-at-home moms who feel like they're stuck at home in monotony, but I can also empathize with working moms who feel like they never get enough time with their kids. There are so many sides to that issue that I could probably help write a book on it at this point (though I'm certainly no expert!). I am hopeful that my experience will help me be more sympathetic to mamas I meet in all walks and seasons of life.

 Then there's the whole transition to having a husband in ministry. While I won't yet officially be a "pastor's wife," I've never been in a position like this in terms of Christian having an official pastoral role at a church. I will be honest and say I feel supremely under-qualified. That said, Christian bought me this book on the Kindle and I've really enjoyed it so far. On one hand, it is really encouraging. On the other hand, the seriousness of the calling on Christian and our whole family has become even more weighty. We truly aren't worthy.
Our boys are growing up. They are going to preschool four days a week now, and they love it. Stephen turned 4 in January, and Cohen will be 3 in just a few short weeks. I haven't had a baby in a long time, and now I don't even have a toddler anymore. We have had exactly three diapers in our house for about a month, the remnant of a package we never finished when Cohen decided to start wearing underwear at night. It's kind of hard to wrap my mind around.
They still love superheros, although Stephen has added "super transformers" to his list of favorite things, and Cohen has decided that calling himself "Super Batman" is far superior to plain old Batman. They generally play together really well, and the other day, Stephen said, "Cohen is my friend. He's my treasure."

The future is bright and hopeful, and we feel abundantly blessed.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year In Review

Has it been a whole year already? I know everyone always says it, but where has the time gone? 

 We started off 2013 with Stephen's third birthday. The superhero obsession had begun around Halloween 2012, but his birthday party was a good excuse to go crazy with it. Stephen began loving Thor, then moved on to Iron Man, and now considers himself a fan of basically every superhero ever invented.

 In February, we spent a lot of time at the park in between having a great babysitter come and watch the boys while I worked and Christian was in school.
 In March, I turned 27! 
 In April, we spent some time at a little fair near my parents' house and also celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. 
 In May, Cohen turned two and we enjoyed all the nice weather!
 In June, we spent the summer enjoying more time as a family... including in the kitchen.
 In July, we welcomed a new member of the family--my nephew, Austin. We got to spend some extra time with his big brother Van (shown here), and Stephen gave him some tips on how to be a good big brother. Christian turned 27!
 In August we took our yearly trip to the beach. Christian also started a new job as music director at our church.
 September was a big month. The boys started going to preschool three days a week, and I started working full-time. 
 Halloween only exacerbated the superhero obsession. Cohen became a full-fledged Batman fan, which continued well through the end of the year.
 The weather was unseasonably warm this winter, so even in November we were spending a lot of time outside.
 The year ended with Christmas and a whole lot more superhero stuff. Christian also graduated from seminary, an accomplishment 3.5 years in the making!

What a blessing this year has been! So many changes, but the Lord has seen our family through them all, large and small. We look forward to experiencing grace upon grace in 2014.

Happy New Year from the Crouches!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Below are transcripts of actual conversations we have had with our son.

*while he's wearing a shirt with a bear on it*
Me: "Come on, silly bear."
Cohen: "I Batman."

Christian, putting him in the car: "You are my sweet little boy!"
Cohen: "No, I Batman!"

Me: "Who are my two favorite sons?"
Cohen: "Deeven and Batman."

His speech therapist, trying to get him to identify himself by name, got only, "Batman!"

*pouting on his way to the breakfast table, I tried to make him laugh*
Me: "Why are you such a sad little monkey?"
Cohen, still crying: "I Batman..."

A friend from church didn't quite believe us when we said he only goes by Batman. He was being a bit difficult and didn't want to answer when we asked what his name was, so Christian finally said, "OK; I'll just call you Cohen." He immediately responded, "No! I Batman!"

I was taking off his Elmo pajamas after breakfast, during which he had gotten oatmeal all over himself. I said, "Are you Elmo the Oatmeal Man?" He quickly said, "No, I Batman da Batman!"

I have to admire him for never breaking character. It's seriously impressive.

Also, last night we went to a local Halloween festivity and saw a boy age 8 or 9, wearing the same Batman costume as Cohen. I pointed him out excitedly to Cohen, thinking he would think that was really cool that they had the same costume. Instead, he seemed incredibly confused -- there's only one Batman, right?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day Three: South Carolina {31 Days of Writing}

After two deaths in our family while we lived 24 hours away from anyone in our extended family, my parents decided to move us from Michigan to South Carolina after living in Michigan for only about 18 months. We packed up and made our way south across the United States.

At this point, I was still homeschooled. My parents were planning to put me in public school the following year, when I would be in eighth grade, which in Michigan had been something to which I was looking forward. I had made friends at our church and would be going to school with them.

But in South Carolina, I knew no one. I was 13 years old, in the most awkward stage of almost everyone's childhood, and I had just gotten an expander put on the roof of my mouth that left me incapable of pronouncing my own name properly (I couldn't say the "ee" at the end of my name).

Eighth grade was, in a word, miserable. I made one good friend, and had a few other allies, I guess you could say, but it was incredibly painful. We haven't made a decision about how we will educate our boys, but I'm hoping maybe by the time Stephen is 11, middle school won't exist anymore, because I don't know many people who make it through unscathed.

High school, though, was a different story. We were all small fish in a big pond, and everybody found their own niche, their own group, their own place to be safe. I'm sure there were some people for whom high school was also miserable, but thankfully, I was spared the worst of it. I was in an honors program that kind of kept us out of the mainstream population, which is probably the biggest reason why I didn't feel like a complete dork all of the time. From my point of view, my classmates and I were all the same. (From the perspective of the rest of the school, I'm pretty sure we were all complete dorks, but I was mostly oblivious to that.)

High school was life for me, like it probably was for most people. I thought everything mattered so much.

Next year will be my 10-year high school reunion. Guess what? All those things I thought mattered in high school haven't mattered at all. Time brings perspective.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day Two: The Beginning + Memories

I was born in Gainesville, Florida, in the spring of 1986, the firstborn daughter of an almost-22-year-old college student and a 24-year-old insurance underwriter. As a child, my parents always seemed old, of course, but having had my own firstborn child at age 23, I can look back and see just how young they were. Even now, 27 years later, I compare the age of my parents to my friends' parents and there is almost always a noticeable age gap.

I don't remember it at all, but we lived in a few different apartments before we moved into a house when I was about six.

In kindergarten, my parents made the at-the-time revolutionary decision to homeschool me. Not many people were doing this at the time, and my parents' reasoning was that there had been some scandal at the elementary school I was supposed to attend. They weren't making a long-term decision; it was just until they moved into a house in a better school district.

As time went on, though, they just decided to keep going.

Eventually sisters came, one by one, each four years after the other. My mom homeschooled my next-youngest sister along with me, even as our youngest sister toddled around underfoot.

We moved, and moved, and moved. From Florida to Tennessee to West Virginia to Michigan to South Carolina, all before I turned 13 years old.

I was homeschooled all the way until we moved to South Carolina. We joined different homeschool groups and got involved in different extracurricular activities depending on where we lived, but the majority of my memories growing up involve being at home with my parents and sisters.

I remember trips to the library in the middle of the day, checking out as many books as I was allowed to.

I remember years of piano lessons, recitals, concerts, master classes.

I remember summers spent at my grandparents' house in Florida, traversing the state and visiting all the major theme parks.

I remember snow for six months of the year, building a snow tunnel in our front yard, sledding down hills in my dad's lap.

I remember having a picnic in the mountains of West Virginia with my Nana, my mom's mom, and wondering why everyone seemed so sad. And my mom telling me later that she had a brain tumor, and she probably wasn't going to get better, and she didn't, and I never saw her again.

I remember my dad coming home from work in the middle of the day as I read through an American Girl catalog at the dining room table. The sounds of my mom screaming from upstairs as he told her that her sister had died in a car accident. I remember deep, deep sadness.

I remember joy, though. Summer memberships to pools in the summer and camping trips in the spring and fall.

I remember never worrying about what we did or didn't have. Looking back, I think there were many times when we were struggling financially, but at the time, I didn't pick up on it. My parents shielded us from all of that, and I never doubted their ability to take care of us.

I remember security. Assurance of love, even when I'm sure my parents were struggling. An awareness of God, and eventually a knowledge of him, and ultimately a love for him.

As I've grown older and heard stories of my friends' childhoods, I realize that I was blessed beyond measure. There is so much that I did not experience that others did, and so much that I did experience that others probably wished they had many times over. I know there were times when I felt deprived or annoyed at my parents, but hindsight is always 20/20, and when I look in the rearview mirror right now, driving down the path the Lord has put me on, all I see is love.