Saturday, August 29, 2009

Keeping it real

I realize that my kids will probably read all this stuff that I write about them one day and after that last post I feel like I should do some clarification so they don't get the wrong idea. Gus does cry sometimes. Ford has worked hard to earn the nickname "The Hornet" and Claire is sometimes so whiny that I want to dunk my head in a bucket of cold water to escape having to endure one more whiny sentence. So there, kids, you are sweet and smart and funny but you are also real kids and some days you wear me out. But I wouldn't trade it for the world and I love you.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Sweet Kids

What a fun summer it has been with these three. It has flown by with all the excitement of welcoming Gus into our family and getting settled into our new way of life with three little ones. Sometimes I feel like an octopus trying to do 8 things at one time but I'm thankful for my experience as a waitress and a nurse that has made me somewhat of a master multi-tasker and that makes my life possible. Here's some updates on the kids for those interested . . .

Claire is 3 1/2 now and just a doll. She and her Daddy have a slobbering love affair going on :) that is fun for me to watch. She loves to just stroke his face and tell him how much she loves him and he calls her his "sweetie" and yearns to spend time with her. They are planning a date for sometime in the near future and she talks about it all the time. Claire is bright and thoughtful. She and Ford have really hit a stride in their relationship where (most days) they play together nicely and I get to hear giggles and laughter and silliness coming from her room where they like to play. She loves Gus and tells him so about 20 times a day. She is a huge help - getting me diapers, finding a lost paci in the back seat, pretty much whatever I ask her to do she does with a smile and a loving heart. She loved gymnastics and ballet this summer. I can tell she has gotten stronger and more flexible since she started both. She has also finally learned to pedal a bike. It took forever but she finally has it. Since we are starting homeschool in Kenya I thought I would start building in some time each day to have some school time. To my surprise she is really excited about me being her teacher because she "wants to be with me all the time . . . forever". I know she won't always feel that way so I'm relishing in it now. We spend some time each afternoon after the boys are down for their nap doing some "school papers" (workbook pages), starting her handwriting curriculum (Handwriting Without Tears - awesome) and reading. Her not me. Yep she can read. I know, she's 3. She just knew all the letters then she knew all the sounds then she just started sounding words out and asking me how to spell everything. Now she reads little books. So fun! She is excited about moving to Kenya and asks me a lot of really thoughtful questions about it all the time. I show her as many pictures as possible so she can have a mental picture of our new home. I also kind of promised her that we would get a dog and a bunny (Rhett doesn't know this yet - I guess he will now) I think I can sell him on it because I hear we need a dog as a security system and a bunny is a great pet for a 3 year old - it just hops around our yard and eats our scraps. We will deal with when a big bird of prey swoops down and takes Flopsy away when and if that happens. The other day I had to tell her that her grandparents wouldn't be at her birthday party in Kenya. This obviously made her very sad and she said she didn't want to go. She told me instead she wanted to go to "that place where they grow pineapple and there are no snakes". I asked her "Hawaii?" Her response "Yeah - Hawaii - that's where I want to go!".

Ford . . . oh sweet Ford. He hasn't changed much since the day he was born. SWEET. Just a pleasure to know and be around. He is very tough and playful and boyish but yet still tender and gentle. He is so loving (minus a few hairpulling episodes with his sister). He loves to play outside and cries and cries and cries when we make him come in. He loves to throw balls, or rocks, or sticks or whatever. He loves to jump off of just about anything too. His vocabulary is increasing everyday. He says cute things like "I wanna EAAAATT!". He doesn't know the words to his favorite songs (Twinkle, Twinkle; ABCD; God Our Father) but he knows the tune and makes up the words as close as he can as he goes along. His favorite book is Good Night Moon. He could find that mouse on every page the second time we read it. He keeps a few books in his bed and I will find him in there long after bedtime just browsing the pages enthralled. He welcomes Rhett or me home with a huge, running, arms wide open hug and a "Mooommmmyyy! or Hi Daddy!" in the cute way only he can say it. He says good bye to everyone with a big kiss square on the lips. He tells us when he has a poopy diaper (holding off on training until we make our move). He eats everything and loves cookies. He falls asleep at precisely 1pm every day and sleeps until 4pm. He goes to bed again at 7pm and wakes up at 730 am. You can set your clock by him. He has almost learned his colors but he calls pink "Claire" which I think is pretty cute. He also points out letters and calls them all "E". He has no idea we are moving to Africa - how much can a 22 month old understand about that? But I think he will be pretty psyched about it once he realizes all of the outdoor potential.

Gus is almost 4 months old. He is a carbon copy of my other two babies - really delightful and fun. He eats well, sleeps well and is really adaptable. I'm trying to let him settle into a routine but it's a challenge with these other two in tow and all that entails. There have been few naps in his cradle and many, many naps in the car seat and swing. Hopefully as school starts after Labor Day I can let him get at least two of his naps in his bed around the carpool schedule at school. We will see. Gus is full of smiles and makes lots of cute little noises. We are currently battling out whether or not he is going to suck his fingers (his preference) or a pacifier (my preference). He only cries when he gets too tired and other than that just kind of hangs out with us! He has rolled over a few times from front to back which I think is earlier than my other two. I don't know how much he weighs right now but he looks very healthy to me. Verdict is still out on his eyes. We thought blue in the beginning but now I'm not so sure. Rhett is hopeful he will pull through and have brown eyes like him. I'm hoping for a sweep with blue - we will see! He is dearly loved by all of us and has been the perfect addition to our family.

I've composed no less than 5 mental blog posts in the past few weeks. I just can't get them down. My parents are here for a visit for the next several days so maybe I'll be able to catch up!
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Babyland General

We took a quick road trip this weekend during a whirlwind two days in Athens and drove up to Cleveland, GA - home to Babyland General and the Cabbage Patch Kids. What a fun place! I have such fond memories of this place as a little girl when I adopted my Cabbage Patch Kid fresh from the patch. Claire had a great time too. Very little, if anything, has changed in all of these years since I was last there.
Meet Cate Elizabeth - the newest member of our family (and yet another thing to pack for Africa ;) She is just adorable and Claire is a wonderful little Mommy to her. She chose one with brown eyes since all of ours have blue and Daddy feels left out being the only one with brown eyes in our family (although I'm starting to think Gus might be switching over to the brown team - we will see). Claire feels bad that I don't have a brother or a sister so she said that Cate could be my sister. So sweet. We saw several "Cabbage Births" during our visit. I laughed out loud when the "doctor" said he was giving Mother Cabbage and "easy-otomy" during the birth. I guess you can find humor is such things after you have birthed three babies!
For those of you unfamiliar with the whole Babyland General concept this all might sound kind of strange. Picture a hospital with a nursery, NICU (yes, real isolettes), a bathing/weighing area behind a big glass window and various other arragements of Cabbage Patch Kids (as school, playground etc.) Every so often they announce over the intercom that Mother Cabbage is in labor and everyone runs to this big tree where a doctor comes and assists in the "birth" of a Cabbage Patch Kid. They do an ultrasound during the birth process and if the TV screen is pink- girl and blue, well you know. I remember after the kid was born being able to yell out names to name them but today the ones born were already claimed so the little girls got to watch their very own CPK being born then name it themselves. We chose to adopt one from the nursery with a hard head and a slightly lower pricetag. We still got a great birth certificate and Claire got to name her. She chose "Cate" - I asked if she wanted to spell it with a "K" or a "C" and she chose "C". I've always liked it spelled that way so I was glad. I think Elizabeth is in honor of "Emily Elizabeth" of Clifford fame.
Ford stayed behind with Pa Pa to play ball and swing outside. He wouldn't have appreciated it but Gus was a fun compainon for our day and can check it off of his places to visit. Overall a very fun day with lots of memories for Mommy too!
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Thursday, August 13, 2009


We have spent the last 4 days here in Boone, NC at Samaritan's Purse HQ doing orientation for World Medical Mission. It has been a really fun time meeting other people in the post-residency program as well as some other international field staff. We have learned lots of new abbreviations and acronyms :) and have been introduced to the incredible ministry here at "SP". Seriously, this is an amazing operation. SP has several different branches of ministry including one of the best and most comprehensive disaster response programs in the world. If there is any sort of natural disaster Samaritan's Purse is there - usually first - to help. There is also Operation Christmas Child - you know the shoe boxes collected around the holidays. It may seem kind of silly but wow - these shoe boxes of gifts go all over the world and open many doors to ministry and discipleship. There are a number of other smaller ministries and projects going on all over the world and of course there is World Medical Mission which is the organization of which we are now a part. The main purpose of WMM is to send physicians short term (a few weeks to a few months) to mission hospitals all around the world to supplement or relive the staff there. In addition, the Post- Residency Program sends physicians to serve for two years directly out of training. We are SO thankful to be apart of this ministry. The people we have met this week- post residents, families and all levels of leadership at WMM and SP are just wonderful and so encouraging. I will link our blog wilth some of the post residents soon so you can stalk them and read about their journeys as well. The people and families we have met this week are going to Ecuador and three different hospitals in Kenya. There is another orientation group next month with more folks headed in different directions!
So one of the many expressions that has been added to my vocabulary this week is "on the field". Example: "If you need anything while you are on the [mission] field let us know and we will help you". What does this mean "on the field"? When I hear "field" I just automatically think of a sports field. Actually the mental picture I get is of the Clarke Central High School (my alma mater) soccer field at night with the lights on (I played a few games there while I was in high school). Anyway, I got this mental picture and starting day dreaming of us getting prepared to get "on the field" to play in this really important game . . .

Right now we are kind of on the sidelines getting warmed up - getting our equipment sorted out and fitted properly, reviewing the plays, stretching and assessing what is going on in the game. Our coach, Scott, and water girl, Mary Elizabeth (hee hee) are making sure we have what we need and doing some last minute preparation as we prepare to take the field. (Scott is the PRP director and ME is his assistant). We are asking some of the other players on the side lines about their game plans too.

But wait there are more than just the players and coaches at the game! There are lots of people that make it possible for us to play. The fans in the stands make it financially possible for us to play with their ticket sales and consession stand purchases and the game would seem odd without their applause and cheers. If we get knocked back on our heels during the game the crowd can spurn us on with shouts of encouragement or cheer when we make a goal! There are also the people we can't see that are making the game possible like the guy in charge of the lights and field maintenance. These people are like the support staff that do the invisible and often thankless jobs in missions like travel logistics, guest house hosting, hospitality, accounting or other important jobs like IT or biotechnology which are essential to the success of our mission - without them we wouldn't have a surface to play on and we couldn't see what we were doing.

So here we stand on the sidelines finally ready after a lot of practice and preparation - admittedly a little anxious but also really excited in a "butterflies in my stomach" kind of way. We are ready to get "on the field" with other missionaries who are doing this thing! We are waiting for the coach to send us in and as we take our first slow steps onto the field we are keeping our eyes on the Captain of the team who has already gone before us. We are looking to Him for direction. Not only is he the Captain of this team - He created this game and knows how to play better than anyone. So we look to Him to guide us and teach us as we play. He promises that He won't leave - He will be there guiding us every step.

OK, I know at this point my analogy is getting pretty silly and theologically weak but it was just a flash of a picture in my mind today! I don't really have any great pictures of anything this week but I'll try to snap a few tomorrow and share them with you. After our orientation wraps up tomorrow we will be headed back to the Shirleys mountain home for the weekend where we will be reunited with Claire and Ford before making a stop at Rhett's brother's home in Georgia for a few days then heading back to the 'ham. Time is FLYING by. We are anxious to get to Kenya but we also have so much going on here and so many things to look forward to before we leave. By the way, still no bites on our house so please continue to pray for us. We have lowered the price a bit and are hoping that will generate some interest soon.