June 26, 2011

Packing for Africa and an Empty Box

A year ago this is what my bed looked like:
I was surrounded by Ziploc baggies, dryer sheets and clothing.  Little pieces of paper were fluttering around in the breeze of the fan and I was trying my darnedest to remember to put the cap on the Sharpie after I used it every time so I didn't color on my bedspread.  The scent of lavender in the air was pleasant as I sorted and organized my outfits for the upcoming trip - putting each one into its own bag with a dryer sheet to keep it fresh-smelling.  What I didn't know was that when I returned from Africa I would rebuke those dryer sheets.  I didn't know that I'd leave my (mostly) unpacked suitcase laying open on the sofa in our room for over a month just so I could smell Africa every time I walked by it. 
I didn't know that I would come back missing a vital organ: my heart. 
It's been (almost exactly) a year since my trek to Ghana, West Africa.  (You can start reading day 1 of my journey if you haven't read it yet, then follow the sidebar links to the other days)  I knew going into this journey that it would change my life, but I didn't know the effect would be so long-lasting.  I mean, I had hoped it would be, but (and those of you that have been on short-term missions know) I figured it would wear off after a few months. I felt inside-out-upside-down-turned-around when I came back and I have to say, I still get those feelings a year later.  I can't keep my mind off of Africa. 
I can't stop thinking about Father's House
I can't get these sweet little faces out of my head.
My dear friend (and co-founder of Father's House) is heading back to Ghana in a few days and I thought about sending him with an empty box.  That way he'd have something to put my heart in when he found it there, and he could bring it back to me here in the States.  But I'm not giving him a box, even though I know he would totally take it if I asked him to.  I kind of love that my heart is in Africa.  I wouldn't feel right if it were anywhere else.  So I've tossed the empty box in the recycle bin and look forward to the day my husband gets to visit the place that stole my heart.  And I look forward to the day my son gets to meet the kids that will teach him how to play a mean game of futbal.  And I look forward to the day our family sets off on the journey together, following God's call for our lives. 
Until then, my bed looks like this:
And that makes my heart happy... even if it is all the way across the ocean.

June 24, 2011

As of Late...

As of late Peanut has taken to being a side sleeper.  I think it started with our morning snuggle time in our bed...
Right before I took this picture I was laying next to him on my side and he and rolled into me and wrapped his arms and legs around my arm... like a little koala.  It was adorable and so sweet!
Now he rolls onto his side on his own, or fuses and makes faces at me until I help him roll to his side, and then (usually) promptly falls asleep.  I realized this may be his new exclusive sleep style the other night when I lay him down in his pack-n-play for bedtime and he started crying - he never does that!  So I picked him up to snuggle a little more and he kept crying - very out of character for him!  So I put him back down and he was still crying, so I helped him roll over to his side and in one nanosecond he was out like a light... which wasn't actually out because we keep it on the dim setting all night so I can see what I'm doing when he wakes up to nurse.... but anyway...
Speaking of waking up - the past three nights he's been sleeping for longer stretches of time.  Usually between 6-7 hours for the first part of the night!  He wakes up a couple times in that block looking for his paci if it falls out, but once I give it back to him he goes right back to sleep.  So now he's going to bed around 9, falling asleep sometime before 10 and not waking up until somewhere between 3-5am.  Then he eats and goes back to sleep for a couple hours, wakes up to eat again around 6-7am and then gets snuggle time in bed with me until we both drift back asleep.  We usually get up for the day around 9am, get dressed and head downstairs. 
He still expects his swing time every day - and will fuss if he doesn't get it!  It's very cute and I love that he likes his swing so much.

He loves looking up at the little birdies as they go around the mobile... but eventually I will look over and find this:
... which will last anywhere from 2-4 hours. :)

Yesterday (the 23rd) I got him to giggle for the first time!  It was SO cute, one of those all-out-belly-laughs because I found his ticklish spot!  I love his little face when he smiles big or giggles - it's just SO cute!

He has also been going after his thumb more and more these days - very determinedly!
He still hasn't gotten it since I snapped this photo, but he will settle for his first finger or his fist for a little while until he gets frustrated and asks for paci.  We keep telling him Pacis taste better than fingers in hopes of him preferring the paci.  I'd rather him do a paci for lots of reasons: 1) Once he's more mobile and crawling who knows what will get on his hands - I'd rather he not be sticking those fingers in his mouth! 2) You can wean from a paci, but it's hard to take a thumb away (I should know, I sucked my thumb until I was 4!) 3) A paci is more ortho-friendly... whereas thumbsucking can cause issues with teeth.  Anyway, right now he seems to prefer a paci because he gets frustrated about his fingers, so we'll see how it goes. :)

We've been going to church regularly now and hanging out with friends and it's nice to get back into 'life'.  He does great at church, he usually stays in his stroller/carseat for most of the service and last week he even slept through the entire service!  If he does wake up during church it's because he's hungry, so I just give him his bottle and hold him for the rest of service.  He does a great job!
So far he's hung out with Josiah, Jaxon, Callie, Brooklyn and Tripp - and he seems to enjoy it :)  I know I certainly enjoy the mommy time with April, Charyl and Aimee!  We even went to his first-ever birthday party for little Addie, who just turned two.  He slept through almost the whole party.  :)
This is the only photo I've gotten of him actually 'playing' with a buddy - but this is Josiah, my best friend's 5 month old.
Yes, I'm aware that they don't look like they're three months apart in age, but they are. :)

So that's what's been going on with Peanut as of late.  As for the rest of us... we're doing well and settling into a routine.  I officially resigned from my teaching job, so that feels good.  I know without a doubt that God's plan is for me to stay home with O and watch him grow up rather than going back to work full time and it feels good to be following God's plan.  Yea, it's a little scary on paper, but we know that God's got it under control - He's never let us down before and we know He'll continue to provide!  I'd rather be paid in giggles and kisses anyway.  :)

June 09, 2011

My African Drum

Life as a stay at home mom wasn't what I expected.  It's changed me.  Well, I expected that.  But it's changed me in a way I didn't think it would.  It's changed my rhythm.  I live to the beat of a different drum now.  And I'm pretty sure it's an African drum.

Two months ago I woke up to an alarm, rushed to get ready, headed out the door no later than 7:10am.  On my way to work I would sip coffee or juice and eat a muffin.  I would get frustrated when the person in front of me was going anything less than 5mph over the speed limit.  I daily cursed the fact that the way to work was a 2 lane road with no passing zones, the. entire. way.  And it was "just my luck" when I got stuck behind a school bus, a dump truck, or a slow-poke that was brake happy.  Once at work I rushed to clock in and get things ready for the day.  The day whizzed by (though it didn't always feel like it) with a whir of schedule keeping - 8:15am, check morning work; 8:45, time for reading; 9:45, time for art - and a meeting for me while the kids were away- , 10:30 (already!) meetings just over and now I pick up my kids from art... etc. etc.  When 3:00 struck I rushed out the classroom door and tried my hardest not to sprint to my car (ok, lets face it, I was 9 months pregnant there was no way I was sprinting, but you get the idea).  Then on the way home I would snack on my granola bar and get frustrated at any slow poke that got in front of me - there's NO need to come to a complete stop to make a right turn people!!  Yup, I was that kind of driver.  After all, I had places to go... well, I wanted to get home anyway.  Once I was home (if I didn't have a meeting or appointment after school) I would feed the cats before they started to attack and eat me, then I would set to figuring out what us grown ups would eat, pick up the house, clean the kitchen, make (or order late in the pregnancy) dinner, eat, sit down, watch TV, clean up dinner, head to bed the end.  Gosh, just typing and thinking about all that makes me exhausted. 

I'm glad that my rhythm has changed - I don't know how long my life-span would had it not, now that I look back! 

These days my day looks a little different:
1am - wake up with O for the first time - feed, burp, feed some more, kiss goodnight, lay him back down, talk to God while I drift back to sleep
3:30ish - wake up for round two - feed, burp, diaper change, feed some more, kiss goodnight, lay him back down, talk to God while I drift back to sleep
6-7ish - Round three - feed, burp, diaper, feed.  This time he gets to lay on the bed next to me for some snuggle time.  We lay next to each other on our sides making faces, talking, gurgling and snuggling for about an hour or so until he drifts off to sleep.  I lay there watching him sleep peacefully for a while before I, too, am back in dreamland.
9:30ish - Time to get up - I look over and see a big grin with a tongue poking out.  Feed him, burp him, feed him some more.  Tell him good morning sunshine and sing part of the 'you are my sunshine' song to him.  Lay him down while I get glasses on and throw my hair in a pony.  Time for a diaper change, and getting him dressed, all the while talking and cooing at each other.  We make our way downstairs and he gets some swing time while momma eats breakfast and catches up on emails and such. 
2pmish - He wakes up from his long morning nap in the swing, during which momma was able to shower, clean house and get other things done that needed doing.  Time to eat for O again, then some alert time on my lap.  We sing songs - his favorite is "itsy bitsy spider" - laugh, talk and make faces at each other. 
3:00ish - He's getting sleepy again so I lay him on the couch cushion and lean down next to him for more snuggle time.  I rub his back, talk softly to him and sing him a song or two while he drifts off to sleep.  This is usually when I eat lunch if I didn't get a chance to during his long morning nap.  I watch a TV show or two - the TV's been off up to this point and Pandora is usually playing in the background.  Hubby calls to tell me his ETA, and I start thinking about what to make for dinner.
4-5ish - Peanut wakes up and eats dinner, then gets to hang out with papa while I make dinner for the grown ups.  They talk and play together, and sometimes fall back asleep together.
6ish - Peanut gets more swing time while mom and dad eat dinner together.  He usually falls asleep for an hour or two.
7:30ish - Time to wake up and eat some more, then bath time!  Our night time routine is starting now.
8:30ish - Bath time with mom and dad, we sing and talk to him and he sits quietly in the tub while we wash him up.  Pj's come next then story time in bed with momma.  We read two or three books before saying our prayers and getting a kiss goodnight. 
9:30ish - Owen is in his pack and play next to our bed, awake but sleepy enough that he should nod off soon.  This will be the longest stretch of sleep he takes - usually 4-5 hours long, waking me up around 1am to eat again.  Mom and dad talk about the day as he falls asleep.  Dad stays up reading for a little while while mom lays down right away - those 4-5 hours are precious sleep time!

I love the rhythm our life is taking on right now.  I love how much I talk to and hang out with God now.  I love seeing our little boy grow, change and develop new skills every day.  I love listening to worship music all day long.  I love the overwhelming peace and joy I feel inside and out.
I know it will change, and I'm okay with that.  Yea, we kind of follow a schedule, but it's a natural one, it's not forced.  Yes, some days we will need to be somewhere by a certain time and things will change, but we will cope and adjust as needed.  I'm just so in love with the relaxed nature of my days.  I never, ever thought I would be okay staying at home with O.  I thought for sure I'd get stir crazy and need to go back to work.  But honestly, I have no desire.  I could do this all the time.  I like that my job is to care for our little one and keep the house clean.  I like being on my top game when my husband gets home from work, rather than being tired and grumpy from a long day at work myself like I used to be. 

I'm not sure what I'll be doing in the fall - if I'll go back to teaching, if I'll take a different kind of job, if I'll nanny for a couple kids in our home full time - but I like the season that I'm in right now, and I have this feeling deep down inside that God is preparing us for something... something more, something bigger than we can imagine.  And I like that.

So here's to African Drums.

June 05, 2011

First Things First

One of the amazing joys of being able to stay home with our little O is all the time I get with him... and all the amazing things I get to watch him do every single day.  I. Absolutely. Love. It.  I couldn't imagine missing these milestones because I was at work and he was at a day care or someplace like that.  They're just such sweet, sometimes 'meaningless' in the eyes of others, but nonetheless extraordinary things in the eyes of a mother.  Since I don't have a baby book yet (yea, I'm behind on that, but I'm really picky and haven't found one I like yet) I thought I'd record a bunch of firsts that little O has done in the past week or two - there have been many!!

~ May 22nd - First time to church!  It was a special service that was held outside in a HUGE tent to celebrate our church breaking ground on our property - there's no way we could miss it!  We've been with this church since almost the beginning of its days and it was so exhillerating to be able to witness that front-loader digging the first chunk of dirt outta the ground!  I cried tears of joy... and we were SO sweaty - it was about 95* that day! 
Owen did great, I held him in the sling for the first 30 minutes because he was sleeping, when he woke up he was a big ball of sweat, and hungry, so we headed to the car to turn on the AC and so I could feed him.  We headed back and stood in the shade for the rest of the message.  We would have hung around for all the fun and games afterward had it not been so hot, but we were all sweaty and tired so we headed back home.

~ May 29th - We went to a friend's house for the first time!  It was the first house Owen has been in (besides our own, of course).  We enjoyed a yummy dinner off the grill and some good times with friends.

~ May 30th - Lots of firsts this day!
-- His first mohawk! Momma decided to spice things up after bath time and try to play with that head of hair, and it was so cute!  I didn't even put anything it it, it stayed up most of the day because it dried that way!

-- His first mini-photoshoot!  Okay, so I take pictures of him every day, but this was the first time I actually got out some stuff and 'posed' him.  Wish I would have felt up to doing it sooner, when he was still pliable and teeny, but alas, I was not so these will do! (Thanks for the awesome quilt Great Grandma Helen!)
-- His first 'official' tummy time!  We give him lots of practice holding his head up when he hold up up on our shoulder (like to burp him) or on our chests, but this was his first time officially laying on his tummy (on a blanket made by Grandma Laura)- and all he wanted was to find his fist and suck on it!  :)

~ May 31st - His umbilical cord stump fell off!  I found it when I was changing his diaper around 3:00am... I'll admit, it grossed me out when I touched it.  I may have yelped a little bit and woke up hubby next to me. :)
(sorry, no picture of the stump... eeewwww... plus it was 3AM!)
~ June 2nd - Owen's first time on his play gym!  He absolutely loved looking at himself in the mirror, and he hit the rattle a few times too!  We only spend about 5-7 minutes at a time on the play mat for now, it's a bit overstimulating for him to be under there too long, but he does like it for the short time he's on there!
~June 3rd - His first real bath!  Since his stump finally fell off and his belly button healed, we could finally take a real bath!  He did pretty well for his first time in the tub!
~ June 4th - He rolled over!  Well.. sort of. :)  Every morning around 6-7am after his feeding we have special 'mommy time' in bed.  He gets to lay on daddy's side of the bed (since daddy's at work by then) and we chat, make faces at each other and snuggle until he falls back to sleep.  Well, this morning, he rolled over toward me and fell asleep on his side.  SO cute!  I only had my cell phone to take a picture with, so don't mind the lack in photo quality.
~ June 5th - First time in (normal) church!  We headed to church for the first time today and he did fabulous!  He was awake the entire time, didn't make a peep during worship, just sat in his seat looking at me.  He was getting a little hungry during the message so I took him out and gave him his bottle.  The rest of the time he hung out in my lap cooing and gahing at Pastor Troy's message.  He got startled a couple times when Pastor Troy got all loud and excited on stage, but we explained to him that he'll just need to get used to that, that's just cause Pastor is passionate :). 

That's a whole lotta firsts for just two weeks!  I suppose I'll keep track of the rest of the firsts on here for a while... until I finally find a baby scrapbook that I like anyway :)