"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

You Might Be a LaLa If. . .

This was the highlight of my day!  I texted Krissy and said, "Send me a picture of my grandson, please!"  And she sent me this.

Either he has caught his momma's cold, or his personality has changed a bit these last days.  He is now a bit fussy.  A bit fussy and completely adorable, says his LaLa!  (His momma agrees!)

He has an appointment with his doctor tomorrow, which means he is coming to Bismarck, which means he is stopping at LaLa's house!!!  Sigh.  I will be very glad to see him and his momma.  It is hard for me to not have them here where I can take care of them a bit; and at the same time, I am thankful they are doing OK.

And yet tomorrow can NOT get here soon enough!

It has been a crazy, crazy week.  We are trying to cram a weeks worth of work into a couple of days so we can head to the lake.  My kids have been rock star helpers.  I am in awe at what one momma and a couple of kidos can accomplish.  I am so proud of my helpful kiddos - and I am so very excited to unplug for a few days and soak in the sun, my kids, and my husband during a long weekend at the lake.  Enjoy the weekend y'all!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mataya at 15 Months

 Somewhere between 12 and 15 months Mataya has gone from lazy baby to crazy toddler.  It is astonishing!  At 15 months (and 10 days), she is busy, busy, busy!  She is the first of our kids that I have ever classified as BUSY.  It is new and fun and sometimes challenging! She follows the big kids everywhere.  She adores the trampoline.  She has figured out a way to wedge herself against the netting so that she can stay on the tramp even when the big kids are jumping like crazy.  She lopes circles around it when it is her turn to do a "trick."

She has a billion teeth - 14 to be exact, with another eye tooth almost through.  And in the midst of all the teething, she has taken to biting my shoulder.  What started out as teething relief has become a naughty habit.  When I am busy talking to someone, she sometimes clamps down on my shoulder. . . hard. . . and then belly laughs when I pull her away.  She does a similar "trick" with Sierra and Brenna's hair.  The belly laugh makes it hard to get mad; however, the pain keeps it real.  When we put her down, she is usually ready to say "sowwy" (sorry) and cuddle sweetly.

Although always on the go, Mataya LOVES books.  She begs us to read all day long.  I LOVE IT!

She also loves to play with cars.

She does not love the pool, but she does love her water table.

She does her best to tell tales with her words and gestures.  She cracks us all up many times a day.  Yesterday when Sierra called her a stinker she grabbed her diaper and said "Poo Poo?"  The she laughed and laughed at her joke.

She sleeps all night, every night - and she is down to one long afternoon nap.  Score!

She knows most of her body parts. Counts to three.  Loves to dance - "Ring Around the Rosey" is her age appropriate dance of choice.  And can never, ever get enough of her paci.

She has incredibly expressive eyes.

She has become quite outgoing.  She yells "Hello!" to strangers in the store.  Asks her Grandpa to take her to see the horses.  Drags all the toys in her toy box to whom ever our guest happens to be.  She no longer hides on my hip - but seeks out smiles and interaction.  

Outside is her very favorite place, and I suspect she will adore our weekend camping trip!

Oh I love, love, love her.  Her energy, enthusiasm, and sweet, sweet explorer spirit makes every day sparkle.  She is such an amazing treasure.  I just adore watching her personality unfold.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Brenna the Baby Whisperer

It was a less than stellar weekend.  We spent it working on projects long ignored.  I would have been more content at the lake.  Thankfully the lake is in my not too distant future!

The bright spot in my weekend was BRENNA!

Brenna is my right-hand.  And sometimes my left-hand too!  Like her Grandma Donna, Brenna is an amazing helper who notices what needs to be done and graciously does it.  This summer she has become Mataya's best friend.  She is patient and kind and gentle with her tag-along baby sis who can not get enough "Nenna!"

This evening when Brenna cried for her "Nenna!" - Brenna decided to try the ring-sling.  Mataya was in snuggly-sister heaven.

She (and I) are very spoiled!


Friday, June 26, 2015

Early Morning Runs

Each time my alarm goes off I feel WAY to exhausted to get out of bed - but once I am up, have my shoes laced on, and walk out the door to the crisp morning air, I am so thankful for the moment.

Some days I AM too tired to run.

On those mornings, I walk.  And I am OK with that!  I have come to a place where I respect my body more than ever before in my life.  If I am tired, I give thanks for all that the previous day and night held.  I give thanks that I am capable of walking and for a few moments of solitude before the crazy of the day begins.

Some days I trudge - which some may consider a jog and others may call a waddle. And I am OK with that!

And once in a while, I run with 40-year-old abandon.  40-year-old abandon is much less impressive than the 17-year-old abandon of my son. . . particularly my version of 40-year-old abandon, but no matter the speed or grace moments of joyful abandon must be celebrated.

(In my case privately!  Very, very privately!  There are many reasons that I run at 5:45 AM, my family's schedule is but one of them!)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Best Part of Mataya Waking Up

 Some of my favorite moments each and every day happen while Mataya wakes up.  As she is waking up, Mataya wants to snuggle. . . and snuggle. . . and snuggle.

I confess, there are moments when it is hard for me to sit.  (I think I have mentioned that I am a recovering task-master.)  I HATE that.  I detest that there are moments when scrubbing floors or folding a load of laundry seems more important than holding my baby.  It is so very silly.  When or when will I grow up?!?


But the moments when I am most ME, I sink deep into the couch and soak in her baby smell, run my fingers through her sweet, sweet curls, trace circles on her little back, and breathe prayers of gratitude for THIS gift.  THIS precious gift of time that will soon be gone.

Too soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bampa and Gamma's

I have been waiting months and months to hold these two simultaneously.
 I joked that we should title the photo "Dietrich's go Duggar!"

I adore moments with Wyatt.
And Mataya loves him.  She wants to hug and kiss him.  She also wants momma to put him down and play only with her.  And when Brenna holds him. . . that is a NO-NO!  Brenna is Mataya's favorite person lately.  She was not impressed when HER Brenna held the baby, no matter how cute he is.
And he is very, very cute.

Krissy and I gave him a bath.  The she styled his curly hair into a mohawk.  Oh, my. heart.  He is beyond precious.

He is also the most content baby I have ever been around.  Even when we stripped him naked and gave him a sponge bath, he did not cry.  He never cries.  Krissy watches carefully for his hunger cues, and she feeds him the moment he is ready. Nursing is going so well that he had gained an ounce by the time he was three days old.  Wyatt likes to cuddle.  He likes movement.  He likes to sleep.  He complains about nothing.  It is simply amazing.
 Krissy and Wyatt rode with me to Grandma Donna's birthday party this evening.  Both babies plus Brenna fit in my middle seat.  How cute are they?

It was a beautiful evening to be outside.  No wind.  No bugs.
And all sorts of things to explore at Grandpa's house!
 Joshua riding bike in his cowboy boots and soccer shin guards cracks me up!
 We all enjoyed looking at and petting the horses.
 Mataya loves to see the horses, but is still not too sure about touching them.
 Jay has taken to picking up Mataya and tossing her into the air.  She loves it.  She walks up to him with her arms up and a smile on her face.
 Sierra was remembering when this 10-12 year old cat was her kitten tonight.

It is interesting to be with Sierra this summer.  She is feeling old.  She relates to adults more like an adult than a child.  She loves it.  
I love how she shares her heart and discoveries with me.
When I told Mataya we were going to Grandma and Grandpa's house, I added that Grandpa has horses.  Mataya yelled "NEIGH!!!!"  Then I told her that Grandma has a swing.  And she yelled, "WEEEEE!!!!!"  after which we both giggled and cheered.  Her sisters joined her for a party on the swingset.

Summer evenings on the ranch. . . life does not get a lot simpler or more beautiful than that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Zoo Play

 I had a busy day planned.  The lawn needed mowing.  I had bills to pay, dinner to make, and several errands to run.  Chad asked me to deliver lunch to a job site North of town, etc. . .

On days like that slowing down for an hour or so to play with my littlest children is a challenge.  I am an all work and no play kind of a girl.  But, I am working on it. . . so when Joshua asked to go to the zoo, I said yes!

Joshua, Mataya and I slipped into the zoo while Brenna slept and Sierra was at summer school.  His request was simple.  He wanted to ride the train and play in the zoo playground.  We had not had time for either of these things the other times we were at the zoo this year.  I added a request to take a peak at the baby monkeys.  Joshua was not totally convinced.  He had plenty of energy to play in the playground, but he was not sure his legs could handle the short walk to the monkey cages.  :)

I convinced him.

And then he convinced me to check on the tigers.

In the end, we had an awesome 1.5 hours at the zoo, and the parts of my to-do list that did not get completed waited.  And the universe did not collapse.
Train ride!

There are very few items that make my to-do list that I will remember 15 years from now.  I am learning that ignoring it can be the very best way to make room for memories to be made.

Joshua and Mataya walking through the zoo, hand-in-hand, was not on my to-do list - BUT it is a moment I plan to hide in my heart forever.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Voluntary Art!

Every morning, before he can do anything fun - like TV, IPAD, computer, play outside, go to work with daddy, etc. . . Joshua has to do his "homework."  His homework is pretty simple.  I dictate words for him to write.  He can choose how he wants to write them.  We have done sidewalk chalk, shaving cream, watercolors, and regular paper and pencil so far this summer.  After he writes his words he can choose whether he wants to write one sentence or read a book.  Writing is his definite weakness.  His math skills are pretty good.  His reading is OK.  His writing and art skills. . . need a little boost.  Like most things we are not great at, he detests writing and art!  Never, ever in the history of his life in America has he volunteered to write, draw, paint, or color.

Until today!

Today he wanted to write a sentence.  He wrote "Jone (Johnny) is dum (dumb)."  He always tries to get a reaction.  My reaction was, "I had a different sentence in mind.  I was going to suggest you write 'Baby Wyatt is cute.'  I figured that way you could learn how to spell your nephew's name."

He responded, "OK!  And I will paint a picture of baby Wyatt, too.  Then I can give it to Krissy when she stops."

And He did!!!  With a smile!!!

He even used multiple colors.  You have no idea how HUGE this is!  (Truly!)

The orange is baby Wyatt in his crib.
 The rest is adding colorful details because his teacher said that is what you do with art.

Baby Wyatt, you have absolutely NO idea just how significant this artwork is!  Your Uncle Joshua loves, loves, loves you, baby boy.  A whole lot.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015

 The highlight of this Father's Day was having ALL the kids and our grandson home for a bit.

All my favorite people on one couch makes me very, very happy!
We spent the day being LAAAAAAZY!

The kids made breakfast - pancakes, scrambled eggs, fruit, and sausage.  They also cleaned it all up!  Daddy is usually the breakfast chef, so that was a treat!  While the kids cooked, Chad and I went for a 2 mile stroll and jumped on the trampoline with Mataya.

After breakfast, Sierra and I took a nap in the sun while Chad and the others watched a movie.  We showered and watched another movie.  I made our family's favorite green chili chicken enchiladas for supper.  We ate early and enjoyed some super sweet baby snuggles when Krissy and Devin and Wyatt stopped by!

Uncle Joshua is a baby holding pro.

He had a loooong wait for his turn.  He is at the bottom of the pecking order, and I insist on a turn in-between each of the kids.  I insist it is one of the privileges that come with  being his LaLa.  Krissy laughed and her siblings complained. A lot!
 Mataya thought the baby was really something.  She wanted to be right by him.  She was thrilled when she saw he had a paci too!  She thought she should have her blankey because he had his.  Her sisters thought she was jealous.  I thought she was more curious. . . I guess time will tell who is correct.

Krissy very patiently let Mataya check out her son.
Auntie TayTay gave him a sweet kiss.
Auntie TayTay gave him a precious snuggle.

And then Auntie TayTay poked him in the cheek.
Her actions are age appropriate, but not so sweet or gentle!  She just does not have the motor skills to be gentle yet!  He will be good for her.  He will teach her to be gentle.  She will make him tough.  In the end it will be a sweet and very unique relationship.

The evening was cut short when a storm approached and Krissy, Devin, and baby Wyatt left in a rush to beat it.  There is never, ever, ever a dull moment around here - and that is the way I like it.  My home bustling with the energy of our family is a great blessing.  I am thankful for each crazy moment.

And today, we are all especially thankful for the movie-loving, motor-head, ever-joking, always-dreaming, deeply-loving, and Jesus-seeking man that heads our home.  Chad, you are loved and appreciated so very much.  Happy Father's Day, my love!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Forever His LaLa

 Krissy was induced at midnight on June 19.  And in case you wondered, knowing your daughter is in labor is nearly as hard as being in labor yourself.  I spent the whole day praying and fidgeting.

At 6:00 PM Chad and I were heading out on a dinner date with friends.  Krissy's labor had been progressing very slowly all day, so we figured that dinner would be a good distraction.  I asked Brenna to snap this photo as our last before we were grandparents.  I had been teasing Chad that I was really not sure how I felt about kissing a grandpa.  It is kind of a gross thought, not?!?  ;)

We jumped in his jeep and before we were out of the driveway, my phone rang.  Called ID said Krissy.  My heart stopped.  I did not think baby could have arrived.  At 4:30 she was only at 5 cm.  I was expecting news of a c-section.  But, Praise Jesus, I was wrong.

Her next teary words, "So, do you want to come meet your grandson?"  will be forever hidden in my heart.

My very first baby just had a baby.

Krissy is a mommy.

A mommy!
She named her son Wyatt John Hanson.
Both John and Hanson are significant to his daddy's family.
And at the moment he looks just like his daddy.

Except for his feet... his feet look just like the long slender feet all of my babies were born with.

 He weighed in at 7 lbs 15 oz.
He is 21 inches long.
And he has a crazy amount of light brown, slightly curly hair.
 Krissy and Devin allowed us the honor of meeting him within an hour of his birth.
Krissy was exhausted and very beautiful.
Baby Wyatt was wide awake.
 LaLa loves you baby boy.
Always and forever, no matter what!
I even gave Grandpa a minute to hold him.  Just a minute though!

Grandpa looked him in the eye and said, "I am going to take you hunting and fishing and spend every minute I can with you."

This morning, Krissy allowed her siblings to come and meet him.
 His Aunties are in LOVE.

Sierra said, "Being an Auntie is so much different than being a sister. I didn't know I'd love him this much."
 Uncle Josha was NOT happy when he had to share.

Precious Wyatt,

I am so happy that I have held you.  I have snuggled you.  I have called you by name.   I have smelled your sweet baby smell. You are a miracle, tiny one.  Know you are loved.  Always loved.  And know that your LaLa will be praying for you every moment of every day.  Welcome, precious baby.  Welcome.

(Because of a big thunderstorm and tornado last night, Chad and Jamison had to work today.  They had a building that had to be secured for a customer, so Jay has yet to meet his nephew.  Poor Jamison is always last to meet babies it seems.)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ethiopia Photo Wrap-up 2015

I spent last night going through all the photos on Chad's phone.  I attempted to send the photos of the kids whose sponsors we know to their sponsors.  Today I "file" the photos of our kids here where I hide all my treasures.
 This is my mom weighing Firku.  It is his first year in the sponsorship program, so he had a full medical work-up.  He is a very outgoing kiddo who took it all  in stride.

 I LOVE this series of photos of Ayelu because they show a bit of personality and spunk!  He was very withdrawn (and most likely terrified the year I was there).  Seeing him looking more like a goofy seven year old makes my heart happy.  

According to our paperwork Ayelu is just a month older than Joshua Gubs, but he is much smaller.  Joshua wishes they could play futbol together.

 Dibora is also new to the program.  She was not quite the class clown that one might call Fikru, but she did great in all the chaos of the week.  It is easy for us to forget that these little ones have had almost no exposure to white skin.  Dibora spent a long time one day sitting at Chad's feet and feeling his hairy legs.  Ethiopian people have very little body hair, so she was fascinated.  Veins and sunburns similarly fascinate these kidos. 
 Fikru and his momma, Martha
 Fikru, his dad, Samuel, and Jamison

We are so thrilled to have connected with the family of Fikru.  He is the only of the 6 kidos we sponsor whose families we have met.  It is so special for us to have seen Fikru's home and personally connected with his mom and dad.  It is incredibly encouraging to see how loved this nearly 6 year old is.

 As you can see, all the kids loved this Bible lesson.  After hearing the story of David and Goliath, they made these "slingshots" out of a cup and a balloon.  Their "rocks" were mini marshmallows.
Like the photos of Ayelu, I adore these shots of Serawit.  In them she looks joyful and uninhibited.  

Serawit is 14.  (I know.  She looks 11.  Kids stay young longer in ET.  I envy that a bit.) Prior to sponsorship, she had not attended school regularly.  She is only in grade 4 - but she IS in grade 4.  Education is her best chance out of poverty.  More importantly, education will keep her off the streets (many, many girls her age are forced into prostitution).  Seeing her play and laugh makes my heart so very happy.
 The children loved looking at the photos saved on cell phones.  I have been thinking about that.  You can learn a lot about someone based on the photos they have saved on their phones.  I bet the kids at Jemo knew quite a lot about each traveler based on the photos they saw.

(In the picture above, I love that Jamison is showing off Mataya.)
I adore this photo of my tall son.

He says his favorite part of the trip was sitting on the ground surrounded by kids.  Seeing the evidence makes my heart sing.

(You may notice that I have no photos of Yididiya.  That poor peanut was terrified.  She cried most of the week. She, at not quite 5, is the youngest of our sponsor kids.  I can only imagine how frightening white people, weird words, and medical experiences were to her.  Poor, poor baby girl.)
The guys had a 5ish hour lay-over in DC, so Lyle, Chad's dad, stopped by and took them out for breakfast.  After surviving a 16 hour flight, fresh air and a familiar face along with American food was such a blessing.

And that is the end of the story . . . for now.

I am prayerfully planning a trip with Brenna and Sierra and my mom sometime next year.  I have been prayerfully planning a trip back to Ethiopia since I landed in DC a little over 2 years ago.  Sigh.  While I hope and pray that 2016 is finally my year, I remember anew "Many are the plans of a man's heart BUT it is the LORD'S PURPOSE that will prevail." Proverbs 19:21.