Thursday, November 1, 2012

September 2012

Fall is family season here. As the weather cools down and the leaves begin to turn, we find our Florida family members migrate north to escape the heat for a while and visit. This month was no different. We were blessed to be visited by both David's brother Brian, his wife Amy and their son Zachary and my Mom. There were way too many photos from each trip to do them justice here, but these two are my favorites from each visit:
Caleb giving his cousin a ride on the train.

Granny kisses!

Fall also brings extra yard work to prepare for winter. Over Labor day weekend, we weeded a large flower bed that had gotten out of control. Caleb filled up his big sandbox bucket and took load after load to our yard debris pile for us. I think he may be ready for his own small garden patch next year!

Caleb's language has really been developing hand in hand with his play times. It's inspiring to see first hand why play is such an important part of child development. One day, Caleb said "green block" as he chose one to "cut" my hair with. He likes to make the "Bzzz" sound of clippers. Then, later when I was swinging him in the tree he wanted to swing high enough to touch the leaves. He kept trying and asking "touch, touch". When I said I couldn't push him high enough he kept asking for "daddy, daddy". So precious.


He also began "reading" books to himself this month. He did an especially great job reading the Pat the Bunny book! The minibook inside was the most amazing part. He opened it up said "tock, tock, tock" on the clock page, "BIG" (for the soooo big part), "nummy" for the food, and "shhh" for the sleep. I can't believe we're already at an age where we can both sit on the couch and be reading different books.

Caleb has been learning to share mommy this month with an adorable little boy, also named Caleb who I'm watching 2 days per week. It's definitely been an adjustment for him.We've seen a few new-sibling-on-the-scene type regressions like wanting to chew on everything or be fed with a spoon. Still, I think he also secretly likes having a baby to take care of. He loves to bring Baby Caleb puzzles and toys to play with. After a few days of having little Caleb over, my Caleb looked at him, pointed, and said, "Buddy!" It was priceless.

This isn't actually him acting like a baby. That's a "banana" he's eating as he sits around the lego table he asked mommy to build. He's using the single duplos as "people". I love his imagination!

Two Calebs. Buds.
For my part, I have really enjoyed having two little ones to snuggle with. I was definitely intimidated by watching two, but for the most part, it's been easier than expected. It's amazing how much confidence two years of parenting experience has given me and Baby Caleb is one very happy, chilled out little guy. It's made me even more excited for the day we add a second Gainey, either via birth or adoption.

Caleb said his first prayer this month. He always asks the two of us to pray at each meal and at night before bed, but one day, he wanted to pray too. So, in repeat-after-me style we helped him pray, "Jesus. Thank you. Amen." Simple and from the heart.

Like any house with a toddler in it, we have our ups and downs. Like most toddlers, Caleb thrives on routine. He loooves to know what's coming and know what is expected of him. He tends to stick to routines very rigidly, which is typically nice for us as parents. For instance, we recently started putting him to sleep with a blanket. We told him he needed to stay under it to keep warm. He loooves his blanket, and once he's under you'd think it was a lead-weight immobilization device. He doesn't stand up again until we come and get him. He falls asleep faster and we're going to save on the heat bill this year! Score for Mom and Dad.

On the other hand, that same rigidity can create some challenges. Not all the routines he sticks to are ones we create. For instance, he got into a night time routine of running away when David said it was time to get undressed for bath time. Being the first time rookie parents we are, we thought it was cute at first. A little game of chase before tub time (all the seasoned parents are snickering). Now, it's a full blown battle to make the transition from dressed to naked. Our usually compliant guy got in the routine of disobeying and now he's having trouble breaking out, even though it's clear he doesn't like how things are going either. We've been working on it and it's slowly getting better, thankfully for us all!

At the very end of September we celebrated David's birthday with funfetti, wonderful friends and minigolf. I still want to pinch myself every time I really stop and think about the wonderful man God has blessed me with. It's easy to take each other forgranted. I'm so thankful for birthdays, anniversaries, and all the other times that make us stop and really think about the joy the other person brings to our lives.

Best Buds

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Just One Letter

About two weeks ago, we got some sad news in the mail. Remember my friend Mugendi? His family decided to leave the Compassion International program unexpectedly last month. After 3 years of practically perfect attendence at the Child Development Center and even more letters than usual exchanged this past year from both of us, Mugendi suddenly stopped attending. I could have never imagined how sad I'd be to receive this news. There really is a Mugendi shaped hole in my heart.

Compassion gave us all the answers they could. The staff isn't really sure why Mugendi's family is leaving the program. It could be that they need Mugendi's help around the home or in the marketplace or simply that as he's gotten older, he's chosen to no longer participate. Typically, at least 2 home visits take place to attempt to remediate the situation before a child is removed from the program roster so we feel confident that every appeal has been made that can be.

On our end, there's only one thing left to do. We get to write a "final letter". Assuming his family hasn't moved by the time it arrives, it will be the last piece of mail delivered to him from us. From what we hear, he'll likely keep it for at least the rest of his childhood, along with our other letters. That's weighty. There are so many things I wanted to write more about when he got older, and now...I have one letter.

One letter to tell him what a special young man he is. One letter to remind him that he is made in the image of God, that poverty is not what defines him. One letter to share scriptures I hope he never forgets. I wrote that letter this afternoon, tomorrow I'll put it in the mail, and in all likelyhood that will close Mugendi's chapter in our life.

Compassion offered to match us up with another young man Mugendi's age in Tanzania, but we aren't ready. Both of us fervently hope that Mugendi will be one of the 10% or so who return to the program after a brief hiatus. I am however, slowly accepting the fact that this may not be the case and, if not, would love to sponsor another child again. I know we'll probably choose our new child the same way we chose Mugendi.

We sorted by "longest waiting child" and looked at photographs until one spoke to us. Today, just to see how many children are "longest waiting" (waiting for sponsorship for more than 6 months) I did a quick search. I was astonished to see that 29 children have been waiting over a year for sponsorship. They are mostly from Indonesia and Honduras.

Likely, these children are in the same situation Mugendi was in when we became his sponsors. They've signed up to be part of a newly opened Child Development Center and are just waiting to be sponsored. They may already be receiving services like food, education and spiritual formation or they may still be waiting. I don't know. What they are definitely not receiving are letters of encouragement and caring.

If you'd like to consider sponsoring one of these children, just follow this link:

If you want to read more about why I'm a big fan of the work Compassion does click here:

It takes 2-3 months for mail to travel to Mugendi's village in Tanzania and 2-3 months for reply to make it back here again, so don't expect any rapid updates!  While I mourn our loss of connection to Mugendi, I know God's plans in his life are much bigger than one American family. I have complete confidence that "he who began a good work in [him] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

August 2012

Parenthood makes you say and do a lot of things you never could have imagined saying or doing. Here are a few from my month:

-Explaining to my toddler that daddy (his hero) eats broken muffins (and watching him devour the previously tragically, inedible muffin)

-Eating after my toddler. The thing I said I would never. ever. do. Yes, I have joined the ranks of moms who think, "I can't waste that entire muffin! It's only got 3 slobbery bites missing!" I've even lowered myself to unscrewing the lid to his water sippy and taking a swig or two on really hot days at the park. What has happened to me?

-Coming up the basement stairs to find my toddler holding two pieces of something, crying "broke! broooooke!" and suddenly realizing he's holding the two halves of the "child proof" door handle that is supposed to protect him from opening the basement door and hurtling down the stairs onto a slate floor. Nice.

Other random acts of adorableness:

Caleb has starting calling his stuffie Grover "buddy". It's sooo precious to watch him take him into the high chair or read to him saying "buh-dee!, buh-dee!"

In fact, this has been the month of two syllable words. They've included: "yeh-woah" (yellow), "double" (as in him trying to repeat me saying "double trouble" so funny!), and "muh-nee" (money).

He's become mommy's official kitchen helper on Saturday mornings. When I compare it to these precious moments, sleeping in seems over-rated : )

Caleb loves to practice "writing".
I wrote the one that actually looks like a letter, but the other marks are his.

Practicing correct pencil posture.

As much as I love seeing Caleb interested in "academic" things like writing, I treasure even more getting to watch his imaginative play develop. He spent almost 30 minutes playing with boxes of pasta one day!

Setting up his "house"

Standing inside it

Lining them all up

"I've got them right where I want them..."

"Ah-BOOM-Ba!" (as Caleb would say)

Caleb is also starting to enjoy dress up. My parents kept a well stocked dress up bin for me, which I loved, but he seems to be doing just fine with things around the house for now : ) Something to think about in the near future though!

First brain freeze! David and I were giving him sips of a smoothie at Panera. Just as I was about to warn David I thought Caleb needed a break, Caleb turned bright red, grabbed his head and let out a big yell. He recovered quickly and of course, had no idea the smoothie was the culprit and began demanding more. It was sad, but also a little funny too ; )

Another food first: Sloppy Joe! Shout out to Papa on this one : )
Recently, when I give him a choice between "time out" or "obey" he's been replying, "Bay! Bay!". He still only obeys about 70% of the time he claims he's going to, but it's a big improvement over immediately saying "GUNG!" (his word for "yes"...don't ask me why, because I don't know!) to the time out.

Colors clicked this month! It started with blue and yellow and, once he understood those concepts, he mapped on several more rapidly! He can recognize and say the words (in a toddler, but understandable fashion) for the colors: blue, yellow, green, black, brown, orange and purple. White and pink are recognized but not spoken. He won't even attempt to say red. Why? Again, no idea!

As Caleb's comprehension has continued to increase, we've begun reinforcing his Sunday school lesson throughout the week. So far we've read/sung/talked about the Parable of the Lost Sheep, The Parable of the Lost Son and the Lord's Prayer. He's beginning to understand that the Bible is a book about Jesus (not about sheep, despite his love of making the "baaaaa" noise : )

Last night, after David finished praying, Caleb was talking about our prayer time ("Mommy! *folds hands* Daddy! *folds hands* = Mommy and Daddy prayed). It seemed like the perfect moment to help expand his comprehension of what prayer is. So I said, "Yes Caleb, Mommy and Daddy prayed. Who did we pray to?" I didn't expect him to answer, but after a long minute of obvious deep thought Caleb yelled out "Jee-Juh!" Yes, son, that's right, we pray to Jesus.

Doing a morning devotional with Daddy
On the last weekend in August, we headed to the small town just north of us for the annual Corn Festival. It was huge! We only walked half of it and I was ready for a nap afterwards. We did the usual festival things- found some crafty gifts for friends and family, ate fair food and topped it off with homemade vanilla iced cream topped with peaches. The later was Caleb's favorite part. He has no shame screaming "Ice! Ice!" for ice cream : ) I love getting to make these special memories with my guys!
There were just a few people...

Old fashioned icecream churns!

"I want some of that you guys!!!"
Right after this, David had a 3 day trip that we expected to be no big deal because it was so short. It was however, the first trip that Caleb was able to realize, in advance, that daddy would be gone for a few days. We've always explained it to him, but this time he understood and made it clear he was not happy. After much reassurance, and a wonderful library book called "When Daddy Travels", we got through it. A month later, he still asks if daddy went to work in his car or got on a plane (using the noises for kinda have to speak toddler to understand him...).

All-in-all it was a great month, but there's no doubt about it, our little guy is growing up fast!