14 months

Are all 14 month old baby/toddlers equally enjoyable and frustrating? Seriously, just say what you want, kid. And no, you can’t hold the iPad/pot of boiling water/bleach/knife/my eyeball.

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I have a love/hate relationship with this age. He’s totally delightful and interesting. It’s wonderful to watch him learn new things and say new words. But goodness. I am not enjoying having cups of water and peas thrown at my head. And he’s never going to have any friends if he keeps pulling hair. (See this look. He’s trying to figure out how to rip my hair from my head.)

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What’s new with Fredo? He has 14 teeth. He can say the names of his nanny and our housekeeper. He loves them SO much. He loves playing ball and cars. He can identify the following toys: car, ball, monkey, bear, chicken, dog. He loves playing in the dirt and going for walks (both on our back or walking himself). He takes good naps. He loves looking at books. He dances using his feet and waving his hands. He likes to climb.

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We are quite smitten with this little pumpkin. (Go Hoos!)

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Gisenyi

First I have to thank everyone who sent me such lovely birthday greetings! I was quite overwhelmed by the texts, calls, emails, and FB posts. I felt very loved. I celebrated by going to the bank, changing money, grocery shopping, and buying internet credit. Just kidding…sort of. I did do all that, but BB also took me out a lovely dinner where the wait staff sang me a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday.

We also had a fabulous weekend in Gisenyi with a few other families. It was probably our best family vacation yet! Freddy is at the perfect age to enjoy the sand and the baby pool.P1040690 P1040703

Gisenyi is on Lake Kivu in the north west part of Rwanda, on the DRC border. Across the border is Goma and North Kivu, DRC, which are notoriously dangerous places due to many different warring groups, but it’s (relatively) stable right now and Gisenyi is quite safe. It’s beautiful to look across the lake into DRC and look north and see the volcanoes.

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We feel incredibly blessed to be able to live life in such a beautiful place. While we slept, we heard the waves crashing into the shore. It was a lovely end to my 31st year, and I think I’m ready for what the next year has in store.

Dreams

I think I’ve been breaking the rules about number of serious issue posts on a blog. I’ve been in the serious for a while. So I’ll try and lighten it up a bit over here today.

Freddy is amazing. He walks, he runs, he throws things (food, toys, phones), he says “dog” and “no.” He has two molars and two more coming in. How did we get this kid??

The Rwandans are all saying I need to get busy and get him a sister. Since they don’t usually have 12 hours to sit and listen to a lecture on my life story, God’s timing, and the way that my plans are worth less than toilet paper, I usually just tell them to talk to God about it for me.

Remember those days? When I was in middle school, we used to have sleepovers and plan our weddings. We had these journals with very specific details about the groom, wedding party, music, food, honeymoon destination, our house design, and the names of our children. I usually went back and forth between two possible grooms. One of whom remains a friend and has a wonderful wife and family. My friend Steph would always marry the same person and guess what?? She’s actually married to him! My other friend just got married this past weekend, but not to my father, her chosen groom of middle school.

We really really thought those dreams were all going to come true. I can still picture the cut out from the Marshall Fields magazine of the wine colored bedspread for the master bedroom. And while Steph did marry her sweetheart, I’m pretty sure they don’t live in a 9 bedroom mansion in Colorado Springs with a jacuzzi (but if you are reading this and you do, please invite me over!!).

The way my life has turned out has been much better (overall). I never dreamed about the suffering, but the joys are much greater and much more lasting than a honeymoon to England (although, that would still be a nice trip. Maybe for an anniversary?). Sidenote: what kind of 11 year old girl dreams of a honeymoon to England? Must have already been deeply in love with Jane Austen (and a huge dork).

My friend Simone joked the other day that she pictures me on a perpetual vacation while living here, and she’s not totally wrong. My life kind of is a vacation. I live with all the comforts of the world in a quiet, safe home with my beautiful family. And it’s always sunny and 80 degrees! (Sorry Chicago.)

So, I’ll continue to dream a little because it’s fun, knowing that what God has planned is much better than my dreams.

Our Story

Last night we had to tell “our story” in our couples small group. In leading up to the night, we spent some time going through the highs and lows, telling stories – some of which I wish I didn’t remember! I struggled with how to tell the story.

Not all of our story is pretty. Some of it was downright ugly. It’s all too easy to fixate on those moments. I have this desire to make our story be something that it’s not. I want to cover the mess and make it a storybook romance. But then it wouldn’t be true, and it wouldn’t be real.

Maybe it’s actually more romantic and beautiful with the mess. We are two real people with real baggage and real sin. And yet we have come together and had some of the best times of our lives. We’ve taught each other how to love, how to fight, how to forgive, and how to trust. We are a work in progress, but looking back, we can see so much progress.

We were young, naive and imperfect when we got married. Now we are old, stubborn and still imperfect. We thought we knew what love was when we stood in front of the people and said I Do.

We know now that love is so much more than romance and passion and fun. It’s fighting for the other person when they’ve lost the will to fight. It’s being a safe place when the other is scared and lost. It’s giving grace when you just don’t want to because you know you are right. It’s forgiving the other person for not being perfect. It’s learning to love the other person’s faults and shortcomings. It’s laughing and being silly. It’s creating your own family. It’s long road trips and getting lost. It’s loving others together. It’s moving to another country where you only know each other. It’s grieving together and rejoicing together.

I don’t mean to be dramatic. Most of our marriage has been A+ material. We have a ridiculous amount of fun together, and we really like being around each. I love my sweet husband more than anyone else in the world (Fred is a really close second, but he pulls my hair and pukes on me so….).

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers out there.

 

 

KigAlo

We just finished up a beautiful holiday season here in Kigali and an almost three-week visit with my parents. They travelled from the frigid Chicago weather to sunny, warm Rwanda. A new snowbird destination, perhaps?

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My parents are rock stars. My mom hates travel, especially flying. So the fact that she was willing to spend over twenty hours one way on a plane is a sure sign of how much she loves me (really, Fred).

Fred’s favorite game is peek-a-boo, and he will play with anyone – real or not.

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We met them at baggage claim, and when my mom came out and saw Fred (and me too?) she started weeping. It was one of the sweetest moments that everyone in baggage claim had ever seen. Fred promptly bit her on the face.

We spent 18 days seeing Kigali, visiting clients, worshiping God, talking talking talking, and playing with Fred. It was (almost) pure bliss, and I’m so sad they are gone! (Note: BB may have a slightly more moderate view of said bliss, but this isn’t his blog.)

We attended a friend’s church in Ndera, and BB decided to accompany the choir. Dad spoke, but I was too slow to get the camera out! The first time he was ever brief with words. 🙂

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We celebrated Fred’s first birthday with chocolate cake and vanilla frosting (from scratch!). Mom patiently iced the cake and did the lettering. P1040146

Fred was super spoiled by his doting grandparents. They took him in the mornings so we could sleep, and they played with him non-stop. But the best part was that they got to see him start walking!P1040127

Fred got his first Cubs baseball…which the dogs promptly destroyed.P1040083

My dad is a kid-magnet. He loves kids. He loves playing with kids and making them laugh. Large groups of kids wanting attention are in no short supply in Rwanda.

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They watched Fred for a night so BB and I could go to Sorwathe tea plantation – one of the most beautiful places in all of Rwanda! We drank lots of tea, went on a tour of the factory, and SLEPT. It was fabulous.

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We feel so blessed to have had this special time with them. While it’s hard to be far away and not see family as often as you would like, only by moving 8000 miles away would we have spent 18 uninterrupted days together! We love you soooooo much, Mom and Dad!

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Happy Birthday Fred!

Yesterday was Freddy’s first birthday. It’s hard to believe this was one year ago:

IMG_0240My sweet little peanut baby.

Dear Fred,

We call you Fred, Freddy, Frederick, Frederico, Fredo, Munezero. You are always happy. Everyone comments about how you smile and laugh all the time. Even when you do get a little upset, you are easily distracted.

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Your favorite game right now is peek-a-boo. You are always ducking under the table and popping up. You even play peek-a-boo with your Little People toys.

You love mommy, daddy, your grandparents, Auntie Claudia and Gorethi. You light up when you see your family on FaceTime. You clap for everyone. You dance when music plays.

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You generally like all food, but these days, you also love dropping it to the floor and watching it fall. You weren’t so sure about that birthday cake.

Baths and swimming are fun for you. You like to splash and eat the water.

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You take two naps a day. You still wake up a lot at night. You start the night in your crib, but you eventually move into our bed. You wake us us by your sleep gymnastics – rolling and doing the worm while you sleep. You are constantly head-butting us, and we awaken to you smiling and pulling our hair.

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You love to go on long walks on our back. You like to smile at the people. You like to watch the dogs and play outside with dad.

You crawl so quickly and walk all around the furniture. You’ve just started taking a few steps on your own.

You are still a great nurser! You love to nurse all day and all night. We’ve gotten pretty good at it over this year.

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Most importantly, you are a blessing to your dad and me. We still pinch ourselves and can’t believe you really exist. We’ve never felt as much joy as we do when we look at you, snuggle you, talk to you. You are becoming an independent little boy, and it’s scary to me, but at the same time, I just love watching your grow. I love seeing your personality develop and how you bring so much joy to the lives of other people.

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Thanks for giving us a great first year.

Love,

Mom

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The Sample

The end of the story is that we got the urine sample.

We took Freddy to the Belgian doc at the Belgian embassy on Tuesday afternoon. The awesome folks at IJM gave us a ride. The visit was great – very thorough – but it was straight from a PBS documentary on health in Africa. Just one small room with the doctor. No waiting room, no nurses, no receptionist. I now know how to say nasal congestion in French. I still have no idea how to convert pounds to kilos or Farenheit to Celsius.

The doctor diagnosed an infection but wanted to check his urine. He sent us home to collect a urine sample. Apparently you can purchase from a pharmacy a small baggie that you tape over the baby’s unmentionables and leave it in the diaper. You try and explain that to the pharmacist in Kinyarwanda (the language here) and let me know how it goes. I can save you the trouble – the ladies burst out laughing every time someone gestured to or mentioned the baby’s nether-region.

So, we were left with a DIY project. Alas, no Pinterest board for this one. Thus began the vigil of stripping Freddy naked and holding a cup, waiting for the flow to come. For the last six months, until Tuesday, every single time you took off the boy’s diaper, you were guaranteed to elicit a sample. The boy likes the fresh air.

We dipped his toes in cold water and warm water. We tickled him. We talked about running water. Nothing. Dry as this Rwandan weather we are having.

With the 4 pm Wednesday fast approaching, we were getting desperate. I read online that babies pee a lot in their sleep. He fell asleep, we took off the diaper and waited. I gave up and sat down for lunch with our roommates. At around 1:00 pm, BB sticks his head into the dining room and holds out the cup. He did it!

For anyone out there who wants to know the secret (since I googled this question, maybe someone else will to). If you want to get a baby boy to pee, just drip a little cold water on the tip of his p***s while he’s sleeping. Works every time.