Saturday, March 21, 2009

Global Friendships

All I can think of is that ridiculous Boys2Men song, "It's so say goodbye..." since we said "see you soon!" to our very dear friends, the Lyles family. Monday was a good and tough day at the same time. We spent the whole day helping to finalize their packing, make last minute purchases, clean the house, and say goodbye to their Jacksonville abode. They left on Tuesday and arrived back in Addis on Wednesday. I, of course, cried when I put the kiddos to bed that night and they asked if we were coming back with them. I'm crying right now as I'm remembering how sweet it was when Jackson said, "When will we see you again?" And I said, "In about 5 or 6 months, we are coming to visit." Then he replied, "That's a long time."

They are family to us, and we love them so dearly. There's just something about living life together overseas like that. We literally lived in the Lyles' house about 3 different times during our term. It was so often that Jackson just assumed we are "family," and we certainly are. The lines become blurred, and you just realize that God created us to live together in community, surrounded by our "family," which is certainly our Kingdom family.
Here we are with Jenn and Riley-bear, at Jackson's last biddy ball game. Jenn was with us during the entire birthing experience ( the delivery room, holding my legs as I pushed for hours!), right up until I had the c-section. Then she was so sad to miss out on Walker's big entrance into the world!
There's proud coach James B. with the Walk-man.
When we first lived with the Lyles in Addis in 2006, Caleb would sit at the dinner table and make the biggest mess I've ever seen. Somehow, his entire dinner would end up smeared all over his forehead and cheeks. Now, he's quite the funny man. And Jackson has grown so tall and handsome.
Caleb kept wanting to pick Walker up and carry him, so I told him it was no problem if he could sit with him on the sofa. Walker didn't seem to mind either.
Jenn said that Jackson is always asking how Walker is doing when he hasn't seen him in a while. Hopefully he will remember to ask about him in Addis too! He's so good with babies. He had a great time entertaining Walker on the floor.
We joke that Riley is Walker's "older woman." She will be 2 in just a few weeks, so she has a little time on him, but not too much. Good thing arranged marriages aren't so uncommon in Ethio.
Riley thinks Walker is one of her baby dolls. She kept trying to hold him and pick him up, and she loved giving him his paci when he dropped it (note her own paci is in place too!).
Somehow, Walker looks more like a Lyles' kid right now, with the blond hair and blue eyes!
This was such a special treat! Justin and Allison, some of our dear friends from AA, are also in the states for a few months, living in Kentucky. We got to see them at a conference here in town with their 13-month-old, Lilly. She is adorable! She was only 3 months old the last time we saw her (when we visited AA last year). It was great to be together and catch up. It felt like old times for sure.
She looks just like her daddy! It was awesome getting to visit with Justin, Allison, Lilly and our friend Andy, who was in from Texas. We missed getting to see his new little man, Nathan, who is just a month older than Walker. Hopefully we'll get to see Andy and his whole family when we visit AA in September.
After a little encouragement from some of our friends, we decided it was time to finally try out the rice cereal! And we are SO glad we did because Walker loves it! He acted like he's been eating from a spoon his whole life (all almost 6 months of it). It was really funny to watch him lunging toward it.
He definitely thought the texture was weird at first, but then he was all about it. He would NOT let go of the dang spoon!
This is the look of...are we really done? I was hoping for some more! I knew we had to try out the cereal when he kept staring at us while we were eating. I think he had been patiently waiting for us to try for long enough. Next, onto veggies and fruit...yay!
My parents bought Walker this "Johnny Jump Up" bouncing thing, and he loves it! He is hilarious in it. Apparently, Matt had one as a baby and loved it too.
We had a couple more random cold days a few weeks ago, and I had to show off the doggy hat. It's so funny! Somehow, I don't think Walker finds it as amusing as we do.
After a day of helping the Lyles get ready to head home to Ethio, Matt and Walk-man crashed on the floor. It was precious. Sadly enough, we haven't seen much of his good sleeping patterns lately. We found out on Friday that he has an ear infection, which explains why he has been crying for hours during the past few nights. We hope he's on the way to getting better...for his sake (he's been in pain, which is sad), and for ours (we are so sleep deprived that we are walking zombies).
We also got to visit with some more dear friends who were in town from Ithaca, NY. Jenny and Dan (I'm sad I didn't get Dan's pic this time) are expecting their first little boy this summer, and we are so thrilled! I've known Jenny since the 7th grade. She was in my wedding and I was in her wedding, and she and Dan are very special to us. It was great getting to talk with them about parenthood (you know, we are so experienced at this point, ha ha ha). She's also an adorable preggers! Can't wait to meet little Andrew Joseph in July. Walker will have another little friend. Jenny and I were talking about how cool it is that they will be so close in age.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Constant Chaos (But in a Good Way!)

I often wonder how in the world people balance having multiple kids with work and everything else that goes on in life. So far we have one 5-month-old who is the best thing that's ever happened to us, but I really can't imagine trying to do all of it with more than one kiddo! I've heard lots of experienced parents say you forget all that right around the time you decide to have another. I guess all the folks around us with two or more kids are proof of that!

What I've learned so far is that you somehow find time to do things like wash and prepare bottles, changes diapers, feed a little mouth, pack diaper bags, play and read baby books, wash and fold tiny clothes, and countless other activities in addition to the other "normal" stuff. Okay, so maybe my house isn't nearly as clean as I would prefer and the word "organized" has left my vocabulary when it comes to my home, but it's certainly worth it. And I've realized that spending time with people--family, friends, our church community--is more important than having the cleanest house.

I know we are very fortunate because first of all, we have so much wonderful family surrounding us and they all help us take care of Walker. I really do thank God for that. Walker is also a really good baby, which makes it possible for him to come right along with us with all of the responsibilities we have in ministry. He has his little fits ("drama like your mama"), and we usually just end up laughing at him through those. But I guess it's pretty neat for us having Walker do what we do because that's what life is like for families living in Ethio as well, so we can't imagine it any other way.

I've also been reflecting on how fortunate we are to get to work together every day. That's how it was for two years, so it just seems normal. So I've been thanking the Lord for blessing our family by allowing us to work and minister together as a family. I try to remind myself of that every time I am exhausted and wonder how in the world we are going to fit in everything we need to do. I try to remember Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Just have to remember it's all about Him, not about us.

Okay, enough of my personal reflection time. I really wanted to share some awesome pics my friend Jill took of Walker last weekend. Jill also took the really cool preggers pics of me and Matt before Walker was born. We have been getting together on Sunday nights to run in preparation for the River Run on March 14. We both really want to run it (it's a 15K), but I'm getting nervous. I've run it two times before, but that was a couple years ago and certainly before this last year of being preggers and then having a little one. I'm still working to get rid of those preggers pounds, so running is much different than it used to be. We'll see what happens!