Monday, February 27, 2012

Valentine's Day.

There are times when familiarity is comforting. Perhaps it is because in this lifestyle I don't have too many constants. So, the little things often become more comforting than they ordinarily would be. Right now I am sitting on the coach next to my husband with the NBA All-Star game playing and it just feels comfortable. Sure, we are watching it one day late, in Polish, with sub par videography, but nonetheless, it feels normal. Even the pack of "black five" cookies (a.k.a. fake oreos) we just finished up seemed normal. (And yes, you probably guessed right... there are five per pack. What clever marketing.)

All this leads me to Valentine's Day. No matter where we are in the world, we try to celebrate. Valentine's Day isn't hugely popular in Europe, which is actually quite nice as things are absurdly overpriced. I still remember John bringing me two dozen beautiful roses the first year we were married. I am not sure who was more excited, John thanks to the good deal he got, or me because I had never received two dozen roses before, let alone on Valentine's Day.

Holidays in general are comforting to me though- they come every year and each year evoke memories of holidays past. They are familiar to me, even if every year does look a bit different depending on where we are living.

This year was a two day celebration. John had the day before Valentine's Day off, so we celebrated with dinner that evening. John, bless his heart, had scheduled a surprise visit to the spa, but I opted for a trip to the salon instead. (Sitting up for an entire massage just sounded more awkward than relaxing, but it was definitely the thought that counted.) We both ended up getting our hair cut at the same time which made for an interesting scenario as Kaleb patiently watched us getting our hair shampooed from his stroller. Later, John said he looked over at Kaleb, who wasn't making a sound.... and he had little tears rolling down his cheeks. Sweet boy was too shy to make a peep but ended up being perfectly content once he was given some goldfish crackers to snack on.

I know I am biased, but I find my boys to be oh so handsome.


Celebrating with a toddler in tow may not have been the most romantic of dates, but it was special nonetheless, with each of his little smiles reminding us of just how blessed we are to have welcomed this little guy into the world together with another on the way.


John was sweet and brought home roses after his practice on Valentine's Day. One rose for each Valentine's Day we have celebrated together, which happens to be 13. I am one blessed lady.


It is hard to imagine that twelve years ago a nervous junior in high school appeared on my doorstep early on Valentine's Day morning with three red roses ready to take me out to breakfast before school started. Who would have known back then what this journey would hold... only God, that is for sure.


Kaleb was old enough to start a new tradition this year: decorating sugar cookies. He just kept getting the shaker stuck on the frosting.


So, I put them on the plate... until he discovered he could eat them. He was so happy eating the sprinkles that I didn't even bother letting him try the cookie. One day he will realize what he is missing out on, but for now he doesn't seem to care, does he?


Familiarity can be found in a number of places. The grocery store worker that you know speaks English, seeing someone you know in a shopping center (which is rare for me over here), or feeling welcomed at the local cafe. We discovered this quaint little "literary cafe" around the corner when we first arrived but kept procrastinating our visit as we explored other places. Now I wish we would have frequented this place long ago as Kaleb is only getting harder to contain these days.


I think it is all a balance. Exploration versus comfort. There are times when we need to step outside of what is comfortable as it stretches us and makes us more aware of the culture around us. There are other times when it is nice to find something that later become familiar territory. Valentine's Day was memorable for so many reasons this year. It was the perfect balance of trying a new fancy restaurant one night while I surprised John with one of his favorite meals the next night. And honestly? Our dinner "in" was just as special as our dinner "out." Really, it is just special to be able to celebrate, no matter how, or when, or where.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My newest nephew.

My sweet little nephew, Jadon, entered the world less than one week ago.... keeping us all waiting in suspense for just over two weeks after his due date! We are overwhelmed with joy, and I find myself wanting to call every hour just to check in and see how he is doing. (No, I haven't actually do so as I remember how exhausting those early days are and how everyone wants to meet baby!)

His perfect little features leave me wanting to reach through the computer screen to hold him. His little reflexes and squeals make me oooh and aaah. His tiny little fingers and toes remind me just how precious these little bundles of joy are- how God perfectly designed each one. I look at Kaleb and then look at Jadon and find it hard to imagine that Kaleb was ever so tiny. (And by tiny, I mean nine pounds at birth- they were about the same birth weight!) Jadon is just such a beautiful baby boy, and I couldn't be a prouder aunt.

I have six nieces and nephews on John's side already, so I am not new to being an aunt. But, I will admit being an aunt this time around is so much different. I don't think it is because I love my nieces or nephews differently as I want to love them all the same. I think it is because of this: every time a baby is born so is a mother. Watching my own sister become a mommy is a such a treasure. Seeing the love on her face for her son is beautiful. Relating to her on this new level is so special to me. Not only am I a proud aunt, but a proud sister.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Never ending snow days.

It has been snowing here.... nearly every day. And sometimes we get a little cabin fever so we find new things to keep Kaleb entertained. The other day we spent a good 20 minutes playing with photobooth. Kaleb just kept saying "mor" when I tried to stop, so we kept at it.

This one has to be my favorite:

Photo on 2012-02-08 at 04.22

Of course, I love the sweet ones as well:

Photo on 2012-02-08 at 04.17 #3

Photo on 2012-02-08 at 04.26

Please tell me other mamas find similar ways to pass time. I think more than anything it is nice to find a good excuse for your busy toddler to sit on your lap for more than two minute intervals!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Endless Kisses.

You know what else I will never tire of? My sweet toddlers endless kisses. The best kisses are the ones unasked for, because even though he can't say, "I love you mommy," I feel as if he is saying just that when he opens his mouth and leans toward me with this bright gleam in his blue eyes.

We took our little guy to the pediatrician here in Poland yesterday for some catching up on his immunizations. He was actually quite friendly with the doctor and nurse until they wanted him to stand on the scale to measure him, then he proceeded to melt down fast. Laying him down to measure him didn't do any good as he was longer than the tool they tried to use. In the end we got him to stand still by giving him a cracker and they said he measured in at 92 cm (36.2 inches), but I am not so sure how accurate that is. He would literally be off the charts if it were (as in an inch over the 98th percentile), so I am thinking it is not.

And then came the shots. Poor baby. He didn't mind them much when he was an infant. But the past two visits have been brutal. The nurses was so sweet with him though, letting me cuddle him in between shots and letting him sit on my lap the entire time. In the end he got his two stickers and was just fine. We went to the mall to buy some blueberries as a treat (they are not easy to find here!) and to let him go on some rides and he was as happy as could be.

Which brings me to today. The endless kisses. The sweet cuddles. He just needed some extra love today as he was running a fever from the immunizations. While I don't like to see him not feeling up to par, I must admit that I do enjoy the extra cuddles, the extra time spent reading books, the extra kisses. I am thankful that I get to be the one here to love on him and to pray for him. You know what else I am thankful for? The five minutes that I spent reading him some Psalms this morning and for every time he said "moa" (more) when I would stop. Sweet, precious moments for sure.

Mommyhood isn't always easy, in fact it is exhausting at times. But one tilt of the head and smile or kiss reminds me of how much joy there is in this great task God has granted me. In those moments, it doesn't matter that half of the bath water was spilled (or rather dumped) on the bathroom floor or that most of dinner ended up on the kitchen floor. In the end I won't remember the messes, but I will always remember the sweet kisses.... especially the ones I didn't ask for.