Monday, March 23, 2009

17 months and King of the World

It's hard to believe Ford has only been around for 17 months. It seems like he's been here in our family forever. I know I keep saying that but it is true! I'm blown away by how fast he's grown from a little baby to a little boy. Was I warned that the second child grows up so much faster? If that is the case Little Baby number #3 will seem like a blur.

I wanted to write a little bit about Ford just so you can get to know him a little bit better and I can remember some of the details of this precious age. So at 17 months he is a "man of few words" very much like his Daddy (which I assume will mean he will be a man of many words when it comes to discussing theology and politics . . . time will tell). He knows the essential words for a toddler boy like "more" and "ball" and although not words he does a mean elephant noise and a fish impersonation. He gets crazy excited when he sees birds and dogs and gives them both a kind of barking elephant greeting. He calls Rhett "Da" which Rhett really likes because it is a special name just between them. Maybe one day Claire will stop talking and give him a chance to chime in but I doubt it. She is constantly teaching him - poor thing he's going to have two Mommies - "Ford, can you say 'May can I have some more, please?'" (which is how she politely asks for things).

He is very bright and has a lot of common sense which will take him far in life. I can send him on little errands all around the house and he knows exactly where things are to get them for me or where to take things I ask - quite helpful actually. He likes to help with laundry and unload the dishwasher (well he did when we had a dishwasher I'm assuming he will pick back up where we left off). He is always right behind me helping me clean or fold laundry or any other little chore I'm involved in. He also gives the best open mouth kisses ever and is very affectionate. He will just come up and give you a big ole hug and kiss then take off again.
Ford loves to read books with us and by himself. His favorite is "A Dog Needs a Bone". It was the ONLY book I could read to him for quite sometime. He has now branched out a little bit and enjoys old favorites and new stories alike. He is quite coordinated and can put on his shoes (crocs) by himself. He loves to wear shoes - any one's shoes. It is a common sight to see him in Claire's pink crocs or my flip flops. He has been eating with utensils for several months now and insists on having a fork at all times. He is the only child his age I have ever seen who asks for a napkin and wipes his mouth, hands and table during meals. He can also throw a ball like no body's business. At first we thought it was just us thinking it but in every nursery we have ever left him someone comments "He can really throw, can't he?". He's been throwing -hard, fast, with perfect form and pretty darn accurately - since he could sit up. We let him throw anything he wants except food :) We figure it is an investment in his college education and I would be worried about him getting in trouble in preschool but his preschool is going to be in our backyard in Africa so we are OK there. HA!

He is a great eater. Favorites are strawberries, steak, french fries (sad but true - oh well), scrambled eggs, yogurt, he LOVES bananas, ice cream and any other "special treat". He drinks a cup or two of milk a day - not a big deal to him which I'm glad. He happily tries most things even if it is just a touch to his tongue before saying no. He likes to dip just about anything in ketchup - if I can keep him from eating the ketchup with a spoon first. He is a typical toddler who meets his requirements over several days or a week so some meals he's not very interested and others he eats more than me - which is, ahem, a lot.

In other news he has recently started poo pooing on the potty! Yes you read that right - feel free to roll your eyes :) He is very interested in all things potty and is pretty much a personal potty assistant knowing each step of the process and is right there to hand you paper, try to wipe your rear and flush for you. So a few weeks ago we started going to the potty when he showed "signs" that he needed to go and what do you know . . . success! I just say "Ford lets go poo poo on the potty!" and he takes off running towards the bathroom trying to pull his pants down! Boys going on the potty is a little more complicated than girls - if you don't know I'm not telling you. But once I figured out what I need to do to prevent a mess we were in business. He has gone probably about 75% of the time since we started. All my new European doctor friends are so proud and supportive. It seems as though potty training at this age is quite normal to most people in the world and I even found out that 50 years ago in America about 95% of kids were potty trained before age 2. I'm not saying we are there yet, obviously, but I'm just trying to make my case that it's not that strange. So time will tell . . . it sure would be nice to get another one out of diapers!
It is so interesting to see Ford's relationship with Claire. He really does adore her. They are getting to the age where they are really interacting and having fun together. Nothing like hearing them laugh together in the bathtub or when they are supposed to be napping. It is also very "interesting" to have one child understand the fine art of sharing and another one be oblivious to it. This is where I think having multiples would be easier - everyone is on the same playing field. It's hard to explain to Claire that Ford doesn't understand and it's difficult to get a 17 month old to share or play together. Sigh. It is so good for both of them though and I know their hearts and spirits are being molding by each other. In order to combat his older sister Ford has come up with a few tactics that he knows are effective. 1. Her Bunny. He knows Bunny is her "special" and he has been known to grab the bunny and run a few times wreaking havoc and accomplishing his goal. He was in a hair pulling stage for a while but that has been over for a while. So now he has moved on to #2: screaming in her face. I know it sounds strange but this is what he does. Basically he irritates her, she gets upset with him which ticks him off so he looks at her (getting as close as possible) opens his mouth big and wide, closes his eyes and lets out this high pitched scream. Which sends Claire into a tizzy and accomplishes his goal once again. Here's the problem . . . it's hilarious. He contorts his face and pulls his voice up several octaves and just lets it go. I try not to laugh at him because it is very cute in only a way that a one year old can be while trying to diffuse the situation with now two screaming children. So there are ups and downs with sibling life but oh what a tender heart this boy has - especially for his sister. Here's an example . . .

The other day they were arguing over "the bus" a very favorite toy in our house. They both love to load up the school bus with various Little People and other small figurines. This day the argument started over a Dora figurine that Ford was loading on the bus. Claire wanted Dora and started in on all the reasons why she should have her - she is a girl, she is my special, Ford likes Swiper and Boots better yada yada yada. Well Claire started crying and having a fit so she got sent to her room. Rhett happened to be home so he went in to "try to talk her down" and Ford went running into her room after him. He ran up to her bed and tried to pat her back as she cried then ran out into the living room grabbed the Dora and ran back into her room and handed it to her. I cried. Literally. I sat there with my mouth open and had tears running down my face. How sweet was that? I was amazed that he had complete understanding of the situation and knew what to do to make it better. I also laughed thinking that the days when Claire's tears were effective in manipulating him were numbered but for now he saw her hurting, knew what he could do to make her feel better and he did it - happily. So sweet. A tender soul indeed.
Ford and Rhett are alike in a lot of ways I'm learning. They are also both quite adventurous and like to climb and jump. I think it is hilarious to see Rhett for the very first time in his whole life see possible danger aside from the fun in such things. It only took 30 years and having a little boy of his own to come to these realizations so I can assuming it will be the same for Ford. In the mean time he is one tough little boy. He runs and falls and bumps his head and just gets right back up and keeps going. Like Rhett says "He's one. He falls down. It's just part of it. He seems to know that". Sometimes he will just come up to me patting his head and I give him a little kiss or word of encouragement and off he goes. He just wanted me to know he bumped his head. I have to keep my eye on him because he will climb up a ladder or move furniture around to climb up and reach things in no time. He's not wild and unruly at all he is just has this quiet sense about him and trying to figure things out - and sometimes that means doing things that will give Mommy gray hair! I try to just let him go and encourage him to have a wild little heart but sometimes he even surprises me . . .

The other day we were at a restaurant here in Lima and like a lot of family and fast food places here they had a large indoor play area (nice). Rhett went in with the kids while I went to the ladies room. When I met them in there Rhett informed me that this play area was designed for American Gladiators and aside from the ball pit it was a little intimidating. He was coaching Claire up the rope web thing so she could get up the three levels and through the tunnel to the gigantic slide. I decided to take Ford and let him climb around on the exit of the slide since there weren't any other kids in there with us. He disappeared into the tunnel while I watched Rhett and Claire try to master the second level ramp and rope pull which necessitated Rhett sitting mid way to help her. All of a sudden I see Rhett's mouth drop open (literally) as he looks to the top level where the tunnel comes from the slide and finally says "Well, hi!". I hear a laugh and I look up to see Ford's little head sticking out. Y'all, he climbed UP that slide! What? Can you appreciate how tall that thing is in the picture? It was crazy. He laughed and smiled at us then headed back down. We heard some knocks and bumps mixed with laughter as he tumbled down the slide - ending up in a giggly mess at the bottom. Just to make sure we knew it wasn't a fluke he went up again a few minutes later. I know Rhett was proud (as I was too) but we couldn't get over it. It think it became apparent to him what a little adventurer we have on our hands. He fell asleep in the taxi on the way home. Making it to the top of the world twice in one day will wear a little guy out.

So that is him. Our kind hearted, adventurous, precious little boy. I've been wanting to do a recap for a while now and I'm so glad I finally took the time to do it. This is one of my favorite parts of blogging. It is an awesome record that I know I would otherwise not take the time to write down. So if you hung in through all of the stories and you aren't a grandmother thanks for reading. We love you sweet little Ford and can't wait to see the man that you become!
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Date Night

On Saturday night we took one of our very generous friends up on their offer to babysit and headed out to a really unique restaurant here in Miraflores, Huaca Pullcana, that we have been wanting to try. It is set among some pre-Incan ruins so as you dine on the large veranda you look out at the ruins all lit up. It was very beautiful and different.

The food was really great too! We did an appetizer course that let us sample 4 different appetizers. From L-R 1. crab cake balls (there is probably a much more descriptive way to describe them but that is what they were) - very good, 2. shrimp stuffed crab claws - good 3. some sort of shrimp in a sauce - the best 4. Cuy with a polenta cake and vegetable garnish (if you've been paying attention you will remember that cuy is guinea pig). It was so yummy at the other restaurant that we decided to get it again here. It was a little tougher this time but was still good. I had sea bass that was fantastic and Rhett went for the rock fish which I think he really liked (I was too busy scarfing down mine to know honestly!). I picked a dessert for us to share and it was just sort of OK. It was a common Peruvian dessert of a hard shell filled with dulce de leche which has it's own special taste. I'm not a huge fan and wish I would have gone for the chocolate option now but I was trying to step out of the box a little bit.
Here I am in the resturant looking out at the ruins (31 weeks).
Here is Rhett chillaxing in the ruins. It was a wonderful date night with good food and great conversation - the only thing missing was good wine. I've been pregnant or breast feeding for so long that I've almost forgotten what good wine is so it wasn't missed although those Pisco sours that everyone here are sipping on do look pretty interesting :) We have had so many wonderful opportunites and experiences on this trip. Rhett has learned SO much at the course and has really enjoyed being back in "school" again. He says this is the highlight of all of his medical education (which has been a lot) so I think that sums it up pretty well. As far as the kids go this has just been amazing for each of them. The world just got really big for them and for that I am grateful. As for me I am so thankful to have this experience at this point in my life. I'm grateful to have seen a new country and experienced big city living for the first time (I can do without all of the noise, honestly). God has shown me some weak areas that are going to be hit harder when we get to Africa so I'm thankful for that realization (self discipline and organization - which I knew were weak areas before but have just been amplified in this situation).

So now we are in the home stretch. One more week here in Lima then off to the jungle then the beach before coming home. I have decided that one of three things is going to happen first in the next three weeks 1. Our children are going to outgrow all of their clothes and shoes (seriously Ford is working with slim pickins at this point) 2. We are going to run out of money 3. we are going to go home. We have a lot to look forward to here before we get home but also a lot to look forward to when we get home so I'm torn. Just trying to live each day and embrace one of my favorite quotes "Wherever you are be there fully" - Jim Elliot.
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2 casualties

We have suffered our first two losses on our extended trip to Peru. The first is Rhett's backpack. Not that big of a deal admittedly. The waterproof lining started flaking out of the inside and getting in all of his stuff so he had to chunk it and head to the local Wong store to pick up a new one. Not as cool as the former North Face one but it will do. We bought that one on our trip to Maine when we got engaged almost 7 years ago. It's nice to see some material things not lasting as long as our commitment to each other :) The only reason I even mention the backpack is because I find it interesting that his fancy smancy North Face bag just barely got him through half of medical school and residency and MY Charbon's backpack that I bought in 7th grade (circa about 1990, I think) is still going strong. Bear with me- this is for all the Athens folks who have the same bag sitting in their closet . . .

These backpacks were all the rage at Clarke Middle School back in the day so being the teeny bopper that I was I had to have one just like everyone else. That backpack took me through the rest of my days at CMS (where it went nicely with Umbros and Vuarnet T-shirts and later with Duckhead shorts and Polo shirts) and was a with me all through high school (and complimented flannel shirts, torn jeans and cowboy boots). It even saw me off to college at UGA (where I wore mostly jeans and date night T-shirts, I think). At some point in nursing school I lost my loyalty and bought a super cool North Face bag that was SO in. I really do like that bag and it has gone around the world with me (it has some extra features that made it excellent for traveling - my Charbon's bag is more of a school bag). But for this trip I needed a more streamlined version that could pack up easily so North Face stayed at home and Charbon got to take it's place. It's amazing really how long it has lasted. Is Charbon's even still open for business in Athens? Thanks for going down memory lane with me . . .

The second loss was much more significant to our team effort here . . . The Phil and Ted's went down. I know, I know, I have raved about this stroller and now this happened! It was user error - let me explain. I keep a little hand tire pump in the back of our car at home to pump up tires on various strollers (I have a lot of strollers) since the temperature changes in the car cause the air to go down sometimes. About a week before we left the plastic on the pump broke and it leaked so badly that it wouldn't work. I put on one of my endless to-do lists to pick up a new pump for our trip since I assumed we would need it at some point. Well, it never happend and we ended up here with our fantastic stroller and no air pump for 2 1/2 months. It was just a matter of time. The tires started to get low and it became harder and harder to push. I didn't use it for almost a week while waiting for a solution from my dear husband. I even managed to ask about one in a store (at least I think I did) and came up empty handed. So one day I was feeling like walking to to the park near the beach and decided I had to take matters into my own hands so I pushed the kids across the street to a gas station and found the air hose. It was this huge trapeeze looking contraption that was unfamiliar but air is air right? So I put it on the tire and I hear a loud hiss and the tire was flat. I assumed I had just opened the valve enough to let the air out but had not fit it properly to get the air in. So I put it on again and pushed down hard to get a good seal (just for a second!). The air definitely went in that time and the tire got HUGE. I tried to put it back on to open the valve and let some air out but it was too late. BANG!!!! I think people standing on the corner hit the deck. I got a lot of ugly looks and stares because obviously I looked ridiculous. I took some shrapnel to my leg, Claire was screaming because I had terrified her and here I go with my gimp stroller - riding on the rim of one tire- back to our apartment trying to figure out the whole way what we were going to do without a stroller.

So now Phil and Ted is folded up and parked in our hallway where it will now go directly to the checked baggage area with our other bags for the trip home. I am now a proud owner of yet another stroller (just a little umbrella stroller) that will help us manage for the rest of our time here. Claire has to walk but oh well it will toughen her up a little bit right? We will also have a barely used umbrella stroller for sale on April 4th if you are interested.

Here are some pictures from the park today . . .

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Magical Circuit of Light

On Saturday night after our long day at the zoo we decided to make a trip to the Magical Circuit of Light that I've been wanting to go see. Let me preface all of this by saying that I have no idea how to take pictures in low light. I just put my camera on the function with the little moon and hoped for the best. Sometimes it worked sometimes not so much.

This was the coolest thing! It was a HUGE park just full of amazing fountains and water features. One of the most popular was the tunnel above. I've seen shorter lines for Space Mountain! Of course everyone is stopping to take pictures inside like we were so I can't complain. The sign said that there had been over 4 million visitors to the park . . . I think a million were there with us that night! It was packed but so much fun. We walked around and saw all the fountains and lights then waited for what ended up being a spectacular fountain show set to music with lasers and the whole bit. It was similar to the Bellagio in Las Vegas if you've ever seen that show.
The neat part of this park was just how big it was and how many different fountains there were. It was so unique and unlike anything I've ever seen. What a great idea! I just love parks and this one was just fantastic. I think someone should show Birmingham's Mayor, Larry Langford, this park. I'm sure he would build one in the 'Ham (he's a big spender). Don't you think it would help with Birmingham's bid for the Olympics? What . . . you didn't know B'ham was trying to get the Olympics - oh yes! Anyway, I digress . . . here are some more pics of the fountains and our evening there . . .

Daddy and Claire watching the show. Didn't you love sitting on your Dad's shoulders when you were little? It is the by far the best way to watch a parade and a sad day when you don't claim that seat anymore.

It is hard to believe how fast our time is going here. We have less than two weeks left in Lima! When our time here is done we will take off for the jungle for 5 days where Rhett will finish the course then we will go to the beach for several days before heading home. We were originally going to go out to a jungle lodge for a vacation but our plans were complicated by my pregnancy and malaria risk (you know- normal vacation complications!) so we decided the safest thing would be to head back to the beach where there is no malaria and better access to health care in an emergency. So those are our plans . . . still lots to do here before we leave. I've given up on Spanish. I can manage well enough with what I want/need to do and that is all I can do at this point. I've set my sights on Swahili and I'm hoping it is easier for me! As Claire says . . . Ciao!
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A day at the zoo . . .

On Saturday we had a great family outing to the Parque de las Leyendas - Lima zoo. It was actually a lot better than I thought it might be. Some of the habitats were really nice but it looks like they ran out of money when they got to the big cats. There were lots of lions in some pretty small cages who didn't look too thrilled. Anyway, it was a nice albeit hot day and we enjoyed all being out together.

We laughed at how many alpacas there were! It reminded me of when I went on safari in Kenya and was really excited to see zebras and took like a thousand pictures the first day as our guides encouraged us there were much more interesting things ahead. I was content and quite excited about seeing the zebras and didn't really understand. I finally realized they were right and by the last day I was barely looking up at zebras. Same with the alpacas at the zoo. At first we were really excited and then realized how many of them there were at almost every turn and although they aren't something we see at home we got over them pretty quickly!
Look at how big my little man is getting! He is such a good sport about everything - just happy to be along for the ride. He is so flexible and easy going . . . just a pleasure to have around. He is so low maintenace too - whether it is sitting in a regular chair in a restaurant, trying new foods, drinking just about everything without any sort of sippy cup, sleeping in a regular bed, climbing in and out of taxis . . . he is game. We are amazed by him daily and so proud of him. As long as he gets his Hippo and his paci at bed time he is good to go :)
"Let me guess . . . another alpaca???"
Daddy and Claire checking out a huge Galapagos turtle!
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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Machu Picchu

Rhett is home from his very memorable trip up into the mountains to Cusco and Machu Picchu. As I mentioned before the altitude in Cusco is nearly 11,000 ft and that is no good for little buns in the oven (and a really good way to meet your baby early) so the kids and I stayed behind at home in Lima while Rhett went to see one of the seven wonders of the world. He was there for several days studing high altitude medicine and doing rounds at the hospital in Cusco. Here is a view of the city of Cusco . . .

Machu Picchu is actually at a lower elevation than Cusco. It is a pretty good distance away via bus and train so at 3:30 AM they boarded a small taxi bus that took them to a train station where they headed down to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is actually closed during the month of February which turned out working to their advantage since it meant a lot less backpackers trying to get one of the few hundred spots available each day to get in. They hiked up to the top of the mountain (sorry don't know the name but I'll try to find out and revise it later) and had a beautiful vantage point down onto the ruins. This is what they saw as the clouds broke from where they were waiting . . .

That peak behind Rhett is what they climbed earlier and from where the other pictures were taken looking down onto the ruins. Obviously this was no trip for me pregnant or the kids at all so it was a good thing we stayed behind. Rhett is planning a return trip when he and the kids can hike the Inca Trail together (I wasn't mentioned in his future plans - perhaps I'll just meet them there and skip the whole hiking part :)

He said it was beautiful and amazing . . . obviously. A very cool place that a lot of people want to go and never get to so for that he is very thankful. It was good to see that little adventurous spark back in his eyes from days gone by. I know it can be tough for guys to be in a mundane rut of work and home and they (at least my husband) really needs to get out and stretch his wings outside with a little adventure every once and a while. He has a little lighter step this week and I'm happy to see him so refreshed.