November 2014

Caleb starts practicing his “l” sound. One morning, he says “llama” perfectly. David and I applaud, but secretly, I’m not ready for his baby lisp to be gone.

(Caleb officially perfected the “l” sound in May 2015. He has to slightly over-pronounce it to do it though, which is almost as cute as the lisp. Still not feeling ready for him to be such a big boy…)

Caleb is starting to think through a lot of big concepts. We checked out a book about various types of vehicles from the library (actually we check out about 10 of these every trip. Caleb always tries to convince me he doesn’t need other books, but ends up enjoying them all ;) ) and Caleb pointed to a page with a dump truck on it.
C:”What’s that black stuff coming out the end?”
Me: “It’s exhaust from the engine.”
C: “I don’t understand how exhaust gets from the engine *points to front of truck* to here *points to smoke at back of truck*. There must be a pipe.”
Me: @_@ “Wow, that’s really insightful buddy.”

Caleb has also started showing new levels of empathy. During the last big yard work day of the year, I managed to get a rose thorn lodged deep in my thumb while pruning. I asked David for help getting it out since it was in my dominant hand. Caleb brought me a toy to hold, held my hand and rubbed my back the whole time. Heart completely melted.

November also brought our Thanksgiving trip to Florida. This year it was with David’s family and we all had a wonderful time making memories and enjoying being together:

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October 2014

I only wrote down two little anecdotes from the month:

Caleb has an imaginary friend now. Or perhaps I should say friends. He calls them “the kids”. As in “I was just telling the kids about…” or “The kids want to…”, etc. It’s really cute. Sometimes they reflect his wants, but more often he acts as their teacher or parent. Such a cool developmental milestone!

(“The kids” continue to make appearances from time to time, but have never become daily companions. So adorable when they show up though!)

Caleb and a little friend were in the back seat when his friend said,

Friend: “It looks kind of purple outside.”
C: “It’s not really purple. That’s humidity. That means there’s teeny tiny water drops in the air. But they aren’t going to fall until we take the clothes of the line and put them in our house.”

It cracks me up the words he picks up on and registers in his mind!

Other than that, my folder full of photos tells me October was a busy month with visits from Nana and Papa and our friends the Merolas, not to mention pumpkin patching and Halloween:

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September 2014

First Day of K4:
IMG_5629On Caleb’s first day of school, he asked me who will be his teacher when he turns 5. He’s been so excited about starting preschool again, I was almost nervous to tell him:

Me:”Well, I think it’s going to be me.”
C: “You?!?!”
Me: “Yeah, I think you’re going to be homeschooled like the B family. Does that sound nice?”
C: “Homeschooled?!? I’m so excited! This year it’s Mrs. F’s turn to teach me, and next year it will be your turn Mommy!”

So, I guess he’s excited about homeschooling too. Hooray!

We also went on another camping trip, this time, much closer to home in Cunningham Falls, Maryland. It was a fun weekend trip with great friends.

IMG_6190 IMG_6239And last, but certainly NOT least, Granny came for a visit!

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August 2014

Reading back over this one was so much fun for me. I can’t believe how much he’s learned this year in preschool!

One of my goals for the summer was helping Caleb learn the number “16”. When he was 2, he learned to count to 20 from a sesame street song, but missed the number 16. Since he was only 2, we were so proud we didn’t think to correct such a minor mistake. However, the missing number still “stuck” 2 years later!

So, while David was on a work trip one week, I asked Caleb if he’d like to surprise Daddy by learning the number 16 while he was gone. To my delight, he thought that was a wonderful idea. I put up this chart and we counted together at almost every meal. By the time David got home, he could do it as long as he was looking at the paper.

Just before Caleb started preschool, we were playing a game, and as Caleb was counting up his cards at the end, he counted to 22…perfectly! No prompting from us at all! I’m so proud of him!

I was also curious where he was at with learning his uppercase letters. We played a few letter games over the summer, but nothing formal or consistent. I did try to focus on the 6 he was having the most trouble with (M/W, K/X, Y/V…usually reversing one for the other). I was so excited to see he has 25/26. I told him he is really close to learning how to read (something he is *extremely* excited to learn how to do).

A random funny from the month:

Caleb: “Have you seen Doug?”
Me: “Who is Doug?”
C: “My little red helicopter.”
Me: (pointing to it) “Why did you name him Doug?”
C: Actually Harold (his other helicopter) named him since he was once in his belly.”

Well, that explains things, now doesn’t it? :D

We also took our first big family vacation to Acadia National Park in Maine. It was an absolutely incredible experience I could write a book about! Caleb was at the perfect age to appreciate the beauty of the place. He loved that we camped for 6 days, the lobster boat ride where we saw seals and bald eagles and hopping, billy goat style, all over the top of Cadillac Mountain. His favorite part though? The island has a free bus system and he loooved riding it. He asks every single time we go camping now if there is a bus. LOL.

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July 2014

July was another challenging month for our family. A few days into my parents visit, we got the call that David’s grandfather was not doing well. As the last living grandparent between the two of us, who we both adored, it was hard to hear. He passed away a few days later and my parents were able to stay with Caleb while David and I flew down for the funeral. It was a special time of remembering a wonderful man. One of his arrangements was to take us all out, one more time, at his favorite restaurant, the Seinyard. Grandaddy grew up on St. Andrews Bay and we’d heard many stories of his childhood there while we sat around eating fried fish and shrimp together. It was special to be there with David’s entire extended family. We were also able to see the plot of land where his home was and the Bay he loved so much. I still miss him and often catch myself thinking, “Oh no! It’s been too long since we’ve talked to Grandaddy!”

David and his brothers and the Seineyard.

David and his brothers and the Seineyard.

With his wife, whom he loved and missed so much.

With his wife, whom he loved and missed so much.

David and I at the bay at the site of Grandaddy's childhood home.

David and I at the bay at the site of Grandaddy’s childhood home.

Shortly after returning from the funeral, just before going downstairs, Caleb says, “Mommy, can you hold me?” Knowing he was still feeling shaken up from having us leave for 3 days for Grandaddy’s funeral, I obliged. As we reached the bottom he hugged me close and said, “You better hold me now, because when I’m 10, I’ll be all grown up and I’ll be too big for you to hold me!”

Caleb seemed to understand that Grandaddy died as much as a 4 year old can. He was sad, but we took out pictures and talked about memories. Still we see little glimpses of him continuing to process things as time goes on. As we were getting ready to go one day, I ran back up for something I’d forgotten. After a few minutes Caleb asked David, “What’s taking mommy so long?” David said he wasn’t sure. Then Caleb said, “Do you think she died?” We’ve talked a lot about life, death and eternity (on a 4 year old level) and we talked some more that morning. It’s definitely a heavy thing to watch him process, but I’m glad he feels safe to bring it up as often as he needs to.

June 2014

The June post is usually one of my favorite ones to write. Summer here is so beautiful and this year was no exception. Our month was full of strawberry picking, ice cream making, creek wading, park playing and, of course, a very special 4th birthday party!

IMG_3521 IMG_3529 IMG_3568 IMG_3570IMG_3827This year, June was also the month I found out the likely cause of my secondary infertility and the word “Endometriosis” dropped into my life and cast a shadow on every day that came after it for weeks and weeks. Emotionally, I was crushed. I’d known fertility issues ran in my family, but after conceiving Caleb relatively easily early in our marriage, those worries seemed far behind me. Even though we’d prayed, as we started trying to add a child to our family nearly a year before, that God would only bring a pregnancy to us if it was indeed good (given that I still deal with lots of chronic pain) I assumed I knew His answer. I was wrong.

I left the doctors office that day with a face so swollen with tears I’m sure the shocked women in the waiting room assumed something much worse had happened to me than merely a diagnosis. I felt sad every morning when I woke up. I felt overwhelmed by needing to make a choice about surgery (necessary to confirm the diagnosis and for treatment). Taking my prenatal vitamin suddenly felt like a slap in the face. I prayed that God would help me see this situation through his eyes. I searched scripture and communed fellow sufferers who rooted themselves in Him. I read A Grief Observed by CS Lewis. And although his pain was a very different one from mine, I found two quotes that stopped me in my tracks:

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.”

“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”

I learned in June that there is a difference between obedience and agreement. God hasn’t asked me to agree with Him that this is the best path for me. He’s asked me to have faith and obey him as I walk it. And I responded to that about as well as Caleb responds when we tell him he can’t have dessert after breakfast. It felt unfair and I wanted everyone around me to know how unfair it felt. But that thought was the wave that slammed me into the Rock of Ages again and again.

If there is no God, and evolution and natural selection are the only things governing the continuance of our species, then I have no grounds to call this unfair. I have faulty genes that probably shouldn’t be passed on anyway. This is nature’s safeguard. If there is a God, and he is what I believe God to be- all powerful, all wise and all loving- then he will always answer my prayers in the way I’d wish them to be answered if I knew everything He does. And beyond that, everything I have is a gift from Him anyway and my calling endometriosis and infertility “unfair” is as ridiculous as a 16 year old who is angry he got a toyota instead of a porche. He hasn’t done a thing to earn either, so who is he to be angry over what a benevolent giver decided was best?

Now, I realize the fall has affected our bodies, and I’m not saying there can’t or shouldn’t be legitamite mourning for that. Trust me, I still take part in that sorrow each and every month. During those times, I find myself drinking in John 6, possibly now the most tear soaked page in my Bible. The people have just seen Jesus feed 5,000. They are hungry. They want that physical miracle so bad they can taste it. But Jesus has something better for them, if only they will reach out and receive it, “I am the living bread that came from heaven…” Every time I take communion, I partake in the miracle that never fails to show up. Christ died for me and “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Not all the things I want. But all the best things. All the things that I would pray for if I could see what He sees and know what he knows. Slowly, He has pried my fingers off the dreams I held so dear and set me free of the anger and sadness I’ve held onto these past few months. There are still things that trigger those emotions and I have to remind myself of truth all over again. But day by day it’s an easier journey.

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And in case you’re a regular reader and wondering if I jotted down anything from our normal life that month, I found this gem when I finally had the courage to open this month’s post again:

On Father’s Day morning, I was the first up (for the first time in 4 years…) but, knowing I still had to make breakfast just slipped on my bathrobe over my PJ’s rather than getting into my church clothes. When Caleb stumbled out of bed and into the room, he took one look at me in my very simple, shin length, matronly robe and untamed hair and said, “Mommy! You look beautiful! Are you going to wear that beautiful red dress to church?” It was completely precious. Right now, I am his standard of beauty. Not magazines photos, or television ads or billboards. I wish I could capture that forever for him.

April/May 2014

As predicted, when the weather warms up, I find myself spending a lot more time away from the keyboard and a lot more time out making memories. I did jot down a few things from the past few months to share though!

Although the milestones aren’t as obvious now here are some things almost 4-year-olds can do:

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They can put away the silverware

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Build a blanket fort without any help!

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Help Daddy cut the grass

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Pick radishes

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Take care of their very own tomato plant

A Few Stories from Spring…

Caleb is really starting to wonder about future events in a way he couldn’t before. “What would happen if…” is the beginning of many sentences around here these days. In April, he asked me in a very concerned voice: “Mommy, what if the library runs out of books?” Apparently he imagines that citizens are flocking to their library on the same day, checking out books by the dozens. If only :) I love this little boy…

In April, he mastered putting on all his clothes by himself. He had still been working on the ever-tricky shirt up until now. It’s definitely simplified our morning routine even more!

I also saw Caleb’s social development really expand this month, he now has many special friends of all ages from the librarian and his Sunday School teacher, to an older girl in our small group and of course a few friends his own age. I love hearing him talk about them and ask if they will be at different places we go. As an only child with a stay at home mom, we spend a *lot* of time together, so seeing him develop close relationships outside of me was a big and exciting milestone for us!

As many of you may have seen on facebook, the young woman we’ve been sponsoring through Compassion International no longer needs our support due to her dad finding a good job! I explained this to Caleb and asked if he’d like to help pick out a little boy or girl his age to help and write letters to. After showing him the 15 or so pictures of children born in June 2010 looking for a sponsor, he reached his conclusion in just minutes. He looked and the pictures and before I could say a word, he pointed to a child from El Salvador who had been waiting for a sponsor for over 6 months and said, “That’s the little girl I want to help.” and then ran out the door to play. David and I have sponsored 2 children and we have agonized over who to pick each time. Our first sponsored child was from Tanzania, and Hanna, who just graduated, was from the Philippines. David has actually been to El Salvador on a missions trip before, so it was really neat to me that Caleb chose this particular little girl. We’re looking forward to getting to know her.

In May, Caleb finished his K3 program for the year. We had this precious conversation before pre-k closing ceremony:

Me: So, I asked you a question at the beginning of this year, and since it’s the last day of preschool, I wanted to ask you again. What do you want to be when you grow up?
C: Hmmm, I need to think about that a minute mommy.
Me: Ok, sounds like a good thing to put some thought into.
C: Yeah…(thinking)…I want to be…Daddy when I grow up! Did Jesus hear me?
Me: He did
C: Will he make me into Daddy?

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First Day of Pre-K

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Last day! Same shirt completely unintentional :)

 

Homeschool Conference 2014

Let me start this post by saying: I dread telling people we’re homeschooling.

I worry people will assume a certain set of reasons why we’ve chosen this path (most of which are unflattering stereotypes that don’t represent most of the homeschooling families I know). So let me start this post with a disclaimer that I think there are HUGE benefits to both homeschool and public school. We may not do this forever, but for these early years, it seems like a good fit for our family.

With that being the current plan, I packed up my trusty backpack I’ve been using since I was 15, and headed to my very first homeschool conference with two older, wiser mom friends, which definitely added to the fun and inspiration level of the weekend. It was encouraging, exciting and kind of like trying to drink from a fire hose. Here are my top 5 takeaways in no particular order:

1. Hands-down, one of my favorite parts of the weekend was getting to look through all the curriculum I’ve read reviews about. If you’re considering homeschooling, I *highly* recommend attending a conference for that reason alone. I was amazed how quickly I was able to rule out some programs that were not a good fit for me as a teacher, despite many people loving them. Now the next step will be to see how they work for Caleb.

2. Going along with that, I loved that I went the year before I need to buy curriculum/make choices. It was so freeing to check out everything with no pressure to buy. I did end up picking up a gently used copy of “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”. It looks basically identical to the America Reads curriculum I did with students when I was in college. We’re definitely not ready to use it yet, but at least when he asks, “Can you teach me how to read?” I’ll be ready : )

3. Even though I lean towards a certain educational philosophy, I really enjoyed hearing speakers who follow a different lean. Most teachers (home or otherwise) pull from several philosophies because each one has strengths. It was great to hear some of those emphasized that I might not be exposed to in my usual reading and I definitely took away some ideas I want to apply, even now, in our home.

4. It got me really excited about homeschooling. Seeing so many other families (and more Ergos than I’ve ever seen in one place before in my life!), hearing speakers who are passionate about effective teaching/learning, and talking to my mom friends who have been there/done that was incredibly encouraging.

5. Speaking of those who have been there done that, one of my big conference take aways was actually outside the realm of curriculum/academics. I heard from so many people that weekend: “Don’t be so focused on getting it all done that you forget to enjoy your children and their childhood. Take time to build memories, work on life long habit/skills, go on field trips.” Again, something that was meaningful for me to hear even before we “officially” begin.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I’m already looking forward to going again next year : )

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This seemed like a good place for a random piece of Caleb art. Notice they’re no longer just heads with tails ; ) I will never stop being amazed by how much he changes each year!

 

 

When Mother’s Day is Hard, He is Faithful

Figuring out what to write about not being able to have a second child is hard. It’s more of a coffee shop conversation thing than a blog post, you know? There’s so much on the interwebs about infertility, but I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t find it hard to talk about. It’s just so raw.

On top of that, I’ve already been blessed with one child, which may make it hard for others to understand why it’s a big deal or, worse, wound someone who is struggling to have their first child. So there’s that. It’s a complicated topic.

So hello, draft number 7? 8? I’ve tried to write on this topic. I already wonder if you’ll see the light of day. Starting paragraph 3 by personifying you is not a promising start…

But I did want to write because I know this holiday, like so many others, is hard for those who have experienced loss. Whether the loss of a dream (like me), the loss of your own mother or the loss of children, holidays have a way of reminding you who *isn’t* there.

In previous years, I’ve tried to cling to the people I do have, my own wonderful mother is still alive and able to talk on the phone with me about her next visit and my incredible son is here to cover me with snuggles and love. There is tremendous joy in those things and I am so so deeply grateful.

But at the end of the night, after the phone calls are made and the last kiss has been given, I sit down and see photo after photo of friends my age who have completed their 2-3 child family in the time since we’ve had Caleb, and suddenly that comfort feels a little hollow.

I’ve noticed in these days leading up to Mother’s Day this year that I feel different. We’ve now not only walked through 2+ years of preventing having another child due to my chronic pain, but seeing God answer the prayer, “Lord, if, and only if, it is good, grant us another child.” with, “No, it is not good.” for nearly a year. As the months pass, I find myself trusting that my Heavenly Father truly does know what is *good* in a deeper way than ever before.

Not because I can list out a bunch of earthly reasons that I can see (though I can see a few) but because He did not spare his own Son for me, while I was yet His enemy. He’s already loved me, already given me the gift I most needed- Himself. I can trust that when I ask for bread, he does not give me a stone.

Don’t get me wrong, I still cry over what isn’t almost every month. I journal and pray and pin sad art prints on pinterest (on a private board). But I feel sure in these times that God does indeed keep track of all my sorrows and hold all my tears in a bottle, numbered. I know that no pain, no infertility has come into my life that has not passed through his inspecting, loving, fatherly gaze and I am truly able to say, this Mother’s Day,

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been,Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”

 

March 2014

This month was full of lots of fun mini-milestones that make my mommy-heart smile. Caleb learned to spit in the sink (and *only* in the sink…) and graduated to big boy toothpaste, he got his first letter in the mail from a friend his age after missing a day of pre-k because of croup, knows most of his letters/letter sounds and learned how to button his own buttons! He was beaming with pride when he showed me how he can button himself up, just like Daddy :) It’s hard to believe that this month last year he was taking his first nap in a big boy bed and just beginning to potty train. It’s been a big year!

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I was even prouder of a different milestone this month, which happened during a visit from our dear friends. They also have a 3 year old son, who remembered (and loved) Caleb’s big stuffed giraffe from his last visit here. He asked to sleep with it. Although Caleb is generally good at not being overly possessive of his toys, giraffe has become a special buddy since their last visit, and not something I would feel comfortable forcing him to share, but I did want to give him the opportunity. After explaining how special it would be to his friend, Caleb brought him the giraffe himself! Elias was delighted and I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder.

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Winter held on through most of the month, but we did have a few warmish days. We used one of them to take a family walk through the neighborhood. Caleb asked to ride his bike, which, if you’ve seen the hills in our neighborhood, you know is a big request for a little person to make. David carried his bike past the hill of doom we live on to a side road where it would be safe for him to ride and Caleb rode his bike on the road for the first time. He was so happy and proud. He loved riding and looking at the rivers of melting snow trickling down the hills. After our walk we came home and made popcorn and hot cocoa, one of our favorite winter treats. It was one of those days that was perfect for a million wonderful, small reasons and will probably still be etched in my mind when I’m a little old lady :)

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