Friday, May 25, 2012

Caleb: 23 Months

 In one month we'll be the parents of a two-year old! Every time I think I'm finding my rhythm with this whole "parenting a toddler" thing, something else changes. It's a challenge I love though. It may not be all sunshine and roses, but I love, love, love getting to know Caleb more each day. God is using him to teach me so much!

What update would be complete with out a list of his new words? "Mine", "Boo-Boo", "Mow", "Yum Yum!" (for food he wants), "Nyn, Nyn" (onion), "Cheese" (He says it for photos and for the food haha), "tea" (nope, he hasn't had any yet, but Daddy likes it so it must be good!), and of course his very favorite..."Nyo, Nyo" (aka: No! No!).

This last phrase has been a bit of a challenge, especially over the last week of the month. Caleb is learning that words have power (a good thing, since it's making him want to say more of them!), but he has really been testing out his ability to control others and be defiant. I definitely think his need for control was exacerbated by David being gone for two weeks. We'll have to see if it levels out again when daddy returns or if it's just another sign of being almost two years old!

Other News and Cute Stories from the Month

Picked some spinach from the garden, served in chicken wraps for dinner. Caleb kept signing "spin". We're not sure if it's because I put it in the salad "spin"ner or because it was "spin"ach, but either way, it was adorable!
He's very interested in the garden

Apparently, if you dip it in ketchup, he will eat it. At Red Robin he'd eat steak if David let him rub it in ketchup. Don't tell the chef...

After noticing a piece of broccoli wedged in his teeth, I realize we need to make an attempt at flossing. I've always said, "I think I'd rather try to floss a grizzly bear's teeth.", but was pleasantly surprised. I flossed daddy's teeth first, and then Caleb couldn't wait to try it too! Mission accomplished : )

Caleb's new thing is running around the yard popping bubble with his tongue. He waits until they land on the damp grass, hikes his tush into the air and gives them a big lick. Kind of disgusting, but hilarious to watch! He comes up with all sorts of interesting games these days. Running from his toy train to tag the door and running back, running back and forth between the clothes line poles tagging each end, hiding behind the hanging laundry and running out to tackle his unsuspecting mom, pretending the hose is a balance beam. I'm amazed how many games he comes up with, especially in the yard!
Popping bubbles the more conventional way
He's getting better at playing games and taking turns in general. One of his favorites is what I call "The Sidewalk Game". I draw shapes, letters, animals, etc. on the side walk and say, "I spy a..." and he goes and stands on the picture I name. I will definitely give this game the credit for helping him learn his colors. I drew 4 different colored cats and he loved standing on the right color cat! It might be time to get some more sidewalk chalk so he can learn the rest of his colors, lol.
"The Sidewalk Game" in action

How 23 Month Olds Have Fun!

Is that my child climbing that high with no assitance? Eeep!
He still thinks laundry baskets are fun though

Play-doh. My rainy day BFF...

Does this even need a caption? "Attack!!!"
Caleb with the Lilacs

 How 23 Month Olds Grow Up Too Fast!

Check out those curls! Can you believe this kid was practically bald a year ago?

A view from the back

Caleb finally got his chicken pox vaccine this month. He was one of the 1 in 25 that get the rash, of course : ) Most of it was lower down, but this one crept up to his tummy.

First day in his size 6 shoes!

I love my little banana eater!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Us!

As always, David and I spent some time this anniversary reflecting on the past year- how we've grown, how we want to grow more, all the things we're thankful for about the other person. It feels like we just got married yesterday in some ways, but I realized I was already beginning to forget how we celebrated each anniversary. Here's a quick photo recap:

May 16, 2009
The day that started it all

May 2010 
 We picked up lunch and Panera and took it to a nearby state park. We walked by a stream, I rested on our picnic blanket to ease my back pain and we imagined what it would be like to be parents. 
David sneaking in a kiss to my chubby-bunny cheeks
All the weight was worth it. I'm about 5 weeks away from meeting Caleb in this photo.
May 2011
At this point, we were now veteran parents of an 11 month old, had moved to Florida and then back to Pennsylvania again for David's job. We'd almost gotten the boxes unpacked when David needed to travel for work again. This time, for just a week and I have to admit, just like our Florida trip, it ended up being pretty sweet : )
The view from our hotel on Baltimore's historic inner-harbor

I didn't have to cook or clean (much) for a week

I met our amazing friends, Drew and Melissa for the first time. They offered to watch Caleb for us one night so we could go out to eat for our anniversary. Little did we know then we'd be using the swap system for date nights for the next year, or that Melissa would completely take over watching Caleb while I had pain clinic appointments because she's amazing!

Somehow, we managed to not get a photo together the entire month of May. This is from a date we took while still in Florida.

May 2012
 I'd say this year was both the hardest and the easiest year of marriage yet. Hard dealing with my chronic pain issues, but easy because we've learned to love each other so much better! We celebrated the ups and downs with an overnight away in DC. We enjoyed the city, our (uninterrupted!) time with one another, ice cream and sleeping in...although not in that order ; )

Getting off the Metro at Union Station

First stop, the historic DC post office and museum

The Capitol Building

Together on the National Lawn after spending some time in the American History museum.

I love milestones and traditions. I love reminiscing and looking back. I love planning for what is to come. I'm so so thankful for every year we've gotten to spend with one another. I'm thankful for a husband who challenges me, encourages me to grow, prays for me and loves me unconditionally. Thank you so much to all the friends and family who have celebrated, encouraged and been there along the way!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

On Not Getting What I Wanted for Mother's Day

A couple weeks ago, one of the blogs I read asked moms to leave a comment about what they'd like for Mother's Day. As I read through the responses most wanted time with their family, a morning to sleep in, a clean house or a combination of all three. I'll admit, my first thought was, "To have clean drip pans on the stove."

The more responses I read though, the more I realized that everyday is like Mother's Day at our house. David knows there are a number of household chores that I find physically painful and is always careful to make sure they're done frequently. He mows our grass, takes out the trash, mops the floors, and scrubs the tubs. We share the responsibilities of loading the dishwasher and vacuuming about 50-50, mostly because he's awesome not because I find those 2 things physically difficult. He also completely takes over Caleb's care from the time he gets home until Caleb goes to bed at night.

Somehow, despite all the responsibility David takes on, he still calls me "the glue that holds our family together." Even though there is so much I can not do, he values me. He treasures the intangible contributions I make to our family and considers that tangible ones a bonus.

What I ended up realizing I really wanted for Mother's Day was to be physically able to be the Mom I want to be. I'd love to clean the house from top to bottom for once and let Caleb wrestle me to the ground and crawl all over me while David rests on the couch.

Instead, I was presented with three beautiful watercolor prints I had admired, told how beautiful David finds me and what a great mom I am, and got big snuggles from my two favorite boys this morning. My heart longs for more self-sufficiency and productivity, but instead I get to experience grace. Thank you, to my wonderful husband, for being the hands and feet of Jesus in my life. I love you.

Mother's Day 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How Many Years Does it Take to Grow Hope?

As I've followed the blogs about Tanzania this week, I have to admit, a part of me has been disappointed. There has been much written about the great need there, but where are the Rosa stories? Where are the stories about sponsored teenagers who want to sponsor children one day? Where are the stories about teenagers like Hanna (our sponsored child in the Philippines) who feel certain they will be able to use the education they are receiving to send their younger siblings to school? In other words, where is the fruit of the hope that Christ brings in Tanzania?

As I thought about this, the answer became clear. It's still growing.

Compassion has been working in the Philippines for over 40 years. The 2011 bloggers went to one of the most established centers in the country. Many of the centers the Tanzania bloggers have been visiting are less than 2 years old. As this blogger so aptly pointed out: Hope is Slow.

Although Compassion has been at work in Tanzania since 1999, most centers are located near Arusha. Centers near Mwanza, like Mugendi's (which opened in 2009) are young. They are quickly earning the love and trust of their local communities, but like any relationship, it is a process. Both groups of bloggers are sharing the same message- the great need Compassion addresses and the beautiful effect that giving hope has on a community, but in differing ratios.

Today the Compassion Bloggers head to Arusha, the more established area of Tanzania (though I'm not sure how long the Center they'll be visiting has been open) and I'm looking forward to reading more stories. I'm trying not to let myself go numb to the needs in these communities as I pray God would help us to live more simply so we can help others to simply live.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Best Letter I've Ever Received

This is Mugendi.

This is Mugendi's mom.

And this is the story of the best letter I've ever received.

First, a little background information. David and I started sponsoring Mugendi through a program called Compassion International almost 3 years ago. For those who aren't familiar with Compassion International, its a child sponsorship program that provides food, healthcare, education and spiritual formation to the children it serves. Compassion works through local churches in various countries who are interested in becoming child development centers.

Other than making sure our support arrived, responding to letters a few times each year, and trying to remember to pray for someone I'd never met, our sponsorship didn't impact my life much. Until this week last year.

Last year, several of my favorite bloggers wrote for Blog for Compassion's trip to the Philippines. Even though the culture is very different from Mugendi's I was captivated by the stories they told. All of them were incredible, but I've added links to the 3 that impacted me most:

Like this one about this woman whose kitchen is flooded 9 months of the year who still finds time to volunteer at her child's compassion center: Rosa's Story

Or this one about Compassion's incredible financial accountability: Ever wonder where your money goes?

Or this one about how would my heart and actions be different if Mugendi was literally my neighborImagine If...

Take the time to read just one.

God used these stories to help break David and I's hearts for the needs of our overseas neighbors. We decided to sponsor an additional child, commit to writing them both at least monthly, pray for them and send a family gift to Mugendi's family.

A family gift is an additional amount above the normal monthly sponsorship that benefits the entire family. Families might buy housing materials, livestock, seeds, or anything else that might be needed.   When you send a family or birthday gift through Compassion, 100% of it goes to the child/family and nothing is taking out for administrative costs. The child development center staff works with the family to help determine what items are needed/wanted. We waited and waited to see what our family would choose to do.

Last week, a letter arrived, thanking us over and over again for our gift. Mugendi's family was able to buy fruit to sell at their stand in the market. Seeing the smiles on their faces (this is the first photo we've ever received of Mugendi smiling) was priceless.

I think sometimes, when we're faced with the reality and scale of poverty in the world, it paralyzes us. We wonder if our drop in the bucket can make a difference. God doesn't ask us to solve global poverty. He does ask us to recognize all we have is a gift from him and to be faithful with it. When I look at how comfortably we live, as others struggle to live at all, and I know our family isn't there yet.

If you're looking for a way to give of your time, love and finances and share Christ, I definitely recommend Compassion. Whether or not you feel called to that, I encourage you to follow the Compassion bloggers this year as they go to Tanzania, May 6th-11th. Mugendi lives just north of where the bloggers will be spending most of their time in another city that borders Lake Victoria. I can't wait to peek inside what his daily life is like.

The button on my sidebar will link you to all the writers, but if you can only follow one of them, I recommend Shaun Groves..  If you have any questions for me about sponsorship or Compassion, I'd love to tell you more.