Tuesday, August 2, 2016

How fast time flies!!

Well, Noah is already 4 1/2 months old...and I haven't blogged about anything beyond his birth! And I never did do a Joshua update like I had hoped! (But that is a goal of this post!)

We're all doing pretty good these days...finally in a pretty good groove, but as I say that, there are still days like the other day where I swear the boys conspire together to take turns being clingy and extra needy and take terrible naps! That morning Noah was in rough shape, not eating well, not sleeping well, and just generally not happy with the world, but we made it to my glorious joint nap time (where both boys are sleeping at the same time!). Then Joshua woke up crying about an hour earlier than he usually wakes up (normally happily!) and was just out of sorts and nothing would make him happy...he couldn't communicate what he wanted and I think he really didn't know what he wanted so he was really frustrated! Anyway, I ended up having to stop feeding Noah and have Joshua sit in my lap, read a few books, then cooked dinner with him in the carrier on my back! It was really weird because he never wants to be in the carrier and he usually never wants to snuggle more than 30 seconds but for some reason, he was extra clingy! But, thanks to Bobby's extra help, we made it through till bed time!!

Days like that make me really thankful for the "normal" days! And it could have been worse...I could have been alone with TWO clingy boys! Recently God has been doing a lot of work in my heart, helping me to genuinely enjoy being a mom, and truly serve my family. There's still a LOT of work to be done, but I really feel a difference in my heart and I've been a lot more thankful and grateful. I don't really know why, but I just feel extra blessed...extra aware of how "good" I have it, with two "normal", healthy boys, who are great sleepers. There's so many moms out there with children who have special needs, have no help, and have terrible sleepers...and keeping that in mind has really helped me be more grateful.

Anyway, on to the updating...

Noah is sleeping through the night and has been for about a month now (though last week we had a bit of a regression for an unknown reason!)...it's amazing what a difference that makes! He eats pretty well (pretty easily distracted though and hates nursing with a cover!) about every 3-3 1/2 hours. I think he's average weight. I don't have his stats at the moment, but I think he's pretty close to the same as Joshua was as far as weight and height which would put him in the average category I believe. I always wanted chunky babies, but I guess that's not in the cards for me! ;) He does have some pretty good arm rolls though. :) He naps 3 times a day for about 1 1/2-2 hours (sometimes more, sometimes less) with the occasional cat nap between dinner and bedtime. He rarely manages to stay awake longer than 2 hours max!

He's what I would consider an easy-going baby, and deals well with the chaos of life with a two year old big brother pretty well! When he's upset, it's almost always because his diaper is dirty or he's tired...and he doesn't hold back letting you know he's upset! He loves watching Joshua and Daddy play and I think he's looking forward to being able to get in on the action! The last week or so, if he can stay awake long enough, he's been joining in on Joshua's pre-bedtime snuggles with Daddy and Joshua sits there and holds his hand...it's the cutest thing ever and makes my heart just melt! 

He loves putting anything and everything he can get his hands on into his mouth and actually gets frustrated when he can't get something in his mouth...like his O-ball! I thought he might be teething, but still no evidence yet. He seems to be our little extrovert...he absolutely loves when you get close to his face and just talk to him...he talks right back to you and gives you the biggest smiles! Super interactive!

We have suspicions that he is going to crawl a lot earlier than Joshua did...he is constantly moving and never in the same place we leave him in when we put him on the floor or in his bed! He's already poised to start scooting soon as he looooves tummy time and sleeps on his tummy too. I think I'm going to have my hands full soon! (J didn't 'officially crawl' until he was almost a year old, though he had his ways of getting around! He hated being on his belly, but he did sleep on his tummy too)

Joshua is in love with the movie Cars these days, and he rarely goes a day without watching either the first Cars or the second one. (These days he likes the second one better than the first) We've gotten him several different matchbox cars of the characters and he adores them! They have changed my world too in that he actually plays by himself now! He will often play with them in the kitchen while I'm doing the dishes or cooking and almost always has a least one in his hand throughout the day. I love seeing how excited he gets anytime he sees something with Lightening McQueen on it! He has the eyes of a hawk when it comes to spying McQueen! They have Cars things here, but I suspect not as much as North America so I can only imagine how fun taking him shopping with us will be when we're there! ;) and as every parent knows, it sure will be hard to resist giving in to him and buying him all the Cars memorabilia because it is so fun making him so happy! ;) Yesterday when I got him up he remembered that I told him he could wear his McQueen shirt the night before and the first words out of his mouth were "QUEEN DAY!!!" (Translated to "I get to wear my McQueen shirt today!") He calls McQueen "Queema" or "queen" and Francesco is "Sir CoCo"!

He is a pretty...well, how shall we put it...selective? eater. He loves Macaroni and cheese and french fries. And breakfast every morning is Peanut Butter toast! Anything else is a pretty big struggle...but sometimes he can be convinced to eat something if he gets to eat it with crackers ;) it's been hard for me, but I'm realizing more and more how normal this is...and just keep doing my best to offer him a variety.

He's starting to talk more (aka repeat EVERYTHING!) which has been fun. It is so amazing to watch him learn and understand more and more things...kids are fascinating! One of my favorite things he says is "I love you" which comes out more like "I youuu"! :) 

We've had a pretty quiet summer so far...hotter than usual and super thankful for air conditioning in this lovely humidity! (And in spite of running the a/c without holding back, our electric bill was shockingly low, encouraging us to throw away any guilt for running them so much because it's just not worth it to "suffer" in the heat. I don't know about you, but I am absolutely useless when I'm hot...tired, grumpy and miserable to name a few attributes that come to mind!

I've dipped my toes back into language study...pray for me!! I still have some requirements (mostly related to religious language) to complete in order to move out of my "full time language student" status, and our goal is to come as close to finishing as possible before we go on furlough in November, so I've got my work cut out for me. 

I think that's all I can think of as for updates. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but since I've been writing this blog post for about 2 weeks now, I think it's better to just publish it now!

For fun, here are Noah's monthly pictures...

And for even more fun, here's a comparison picture of J and N at 4 months :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A more uplifting post...

I have good news.... I'm feeling a little better these days! Yes, I still have the occasional overwhelmed meltdown here and there, but God has really been teaching me and pressing on my heart to keep looking to Him for help and strength and to enjoy these two precious gifts He's given me even in the hard times. Over and over in the last few days in multiple places (books, blogs, veteran parent friends, etc), I'm being reminded that these days with my babies aren't going to last forever and I need to soak them up. Yes, these days are hard, but in the blink of an eye, my boys are going to be all grown up and these newborn/two year old days are going to be just memories.

I have to share this video about soaking up your little ones while they're still little... I know it's everywhere and you've probably already seen it, but I have to share it anyway just in case you haven't seen it. Warning...if you're a mom, it will probably make you cry, no matter how old your kids are!


I also recently came across a blog about the first 3 months of motherhood that I thought was super well written. She really expressed a lot of what I've been feeling and I think it should get passed around. It was really validating for me and my crazy post partum emotions and it came to me at such perfect timing. I can no longer say that no one ever talks about these things! 

You can find it here

Thanks for the encouraging words that some of you took the time to write...it meant a lot. I know it was a 'in the heat of the moment' post, but I am glad I wrote it and I am thankful to have this 'outlet', knowing that it helps me reach out to my virtual support network! ;)

Now, off to enjoy my boys!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Raw, honest moment...

Can I be a real for a minute? Can I make a confession? I don't love the newborn days.

Sure, I love the squishy snuggles and the sweet smiles and little chuckles as they dream, but there's a whole lot that goes on behind the scenes of newborn days that I feel like no one ever really talks about...but I'm going to. Because I need to get it off my chest tonight as I'm fighting back tears while my gracious husband tries to calm our 'screaming-his-head-off' little bundle of joy.

I know this is my second time around, but I'm just as overwhelmed as I was the first time around by the number of judgement calls and decisions you have to make regarding when to feed and even how to feed, how to calm, when, where and how to put to sleep, how to establish a routine, how to teach good sleeping patterns and teach the difference between night and day...what to do when your baby is inconsolable and you've tried everything you can possible think of to try to get your baby to stop crying. Newborns seriously cause me to doubt my abilities of being a mom, especially when I can't tell the difference between their cries like all the books tell me I will be able to, or when the sound of my own babies' cry causes me to want to flee the scene for as long as possible...

I've never quite felt as helpless as I do in these moments and I hate it! He's crying out in pain from tummy issues and I've tried every trick in the book to help him out, but nothing's working. I don't like having to wonder if I'm the cause of his tummy issues, because of something I ate. He isn't like this all the time, but this is the second night in a row like this. I wish some days we could fast forward a few months to the smiley, interactive baby stage.

I feel like a bad mom for all those confessions. Am I the only one who feels this way?! (Don't get me wrong though...I love my babies with a fierce love words can't even describe!)

Can I also say that being a parent is hard. There's no denying that! I feel like reading all the parenting books and blogs out there and all the babysitting/auntie experience you can get just doesn't prepare you for having your own kids. 

Today was another 'one of those days' in our house. Plenty of ups and downs...more than I care for. Started off with a baby that woke up at 5am and would not go back to sleep. Not fun. Played a repetitive little hide and seek game with a Lightening McQueen magnet book with my sweet almost 2 year old little buddy and loved hearing his priceless giggles and his "again?!" every time we went through our little routine. (Meanwhile little guy is sleeping soundly in his swing next to us) Super sweet. Got some major over-due organizing and put things away while a thoughtful co-worker came over and played with J while little guy continued to sleep. Yes!! Watched Cars with my little buddy while I fed little guy and stored away his sweet little expressive face in my never-want-to-forget-this memory box. Happy heart. Little guys' schedule is kinda off so my vision of sneaking in a nap for myself fades...and after two days in a row of having both boys sleeping in their own beds at the same time for 2+ hours, my streak is over. J literally screamed his way through nap time and refused to sleep today...and little guy also took longer to go to sleep than usual and required being held most of the afternoon. Nap battle followed up with dinner battle.

I should clarify that dinner in itself was on of those up and downs...made some real progress with getting J to feed himself...at last!! Then he decided to start flinging his spoon around and gets dinner all over the floor. And required a bargain with number of bites to get his yoghurt and cookie 'reward'. Grrrrr. And all this occurring while little guy decides he doesn't want to be put down so that we can eat...

Sigh...thank heavens it's not bath night!

Ah, bed time at last...not so bad with J. Merely escaped a meltdown and managed to turn out the light with no tears. Yes! Time for little guy to eat...again. Successful feeding, sleepy baby returned to bed for the evening and we finally get to crawl into bed. Or so I thought. While I went downstairs to console myself with a little chocolate and decaf iced coffee, little guy decides to wake himself up and spit up in his bed and decide he's not going back to sleep...and that's where we are now, almost 2 hours later. I was starting to lose it so Bobby took over and I am still hearing the occasional scream downstairs...

And, as I was typing, over the monitor, I heard whimpers from J so I went into his room and asked him what was wrong...but got no response and found out that he was sound asleep and must have been dreaming! Glad to have dodged that bullet, but seriously, when it rains it pours right?! And, just for humor's sake...there's a mosquito in our room that has bit me 3 times now...but I just got rid of him!

Anyway, whether that seems like a rough day to you or not, my point is, parenting is hard...and exhausting. And I'm tired! I know everyone says the days are long but the years are short and all the 'time flies' proverbs from veteran moms are true...but can I just say today was hard. And I can't wait for it to be over...but it won't really be anytime soon because I've got a newborn to feed every 3-4 hours tonight that may or may not go back to sleep in between feedings. And tonight I'm 'flying solo' because Bobby has a 7am prayer meeting tomorrow and needs to sleep...and speaking of that, I need to go relive him so he can go to bed.

I know some day before I know it I'll be looking back at these days and just smiling at the exhausted desperation seeping from this post, and I'll be an empty nester wondering where the years went, but it sure is hard to be thankful for days like today. 

But I think deep inside I am. I know I prayed for these two precious gifts for a long time and wanted nothing more than to have the experience of being a mother...and God gave me the desire of my heart and blessed me with two fantastic little boys. I can't wait to see how He will use them for His glory in this world. I know He's already using them to refine me and conform me into His image...through days like today! I'm thankful He is with me every step of the way, and I know He hears my desperate cries tonight. I have much to be grateful for.

Not sure what my purpose in writing this post really was (hopefully I don't regret it!)...maybe it'll be encouraging for someone else to hear that I don't love the newborn days like everyone else seems to, or maybe it will end up discouraging someone from having kids!!?? (I hope not!) But, it feels good to get that all out, and process the day I had today. Reminding me to cherish the good days, even the normal everyday days...if those ever happen again! ;) 

Thanks for sticking with me.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Noah's arrival

Noah Benjamin Baden came into the world on April 5th, weighing in at 7lbs 4oz. 😊 Although I've had most of this all written out since just a few days after he was born, for some reason it's taken me a month to get his birth story posted! (And, I never did get that Joshua update written!)

We got all checked in on Monday he 4th, and had a pretty quiet day...Had a non stress test to make sure everything was looking ok and had surgery prep. We had a talk with the anesthesiologist, going over how things would happen the next day and we got a little surprise...at my last checkup, we had confirmed that I would be getting an epidural and would be awake for the surgery, just like when Joshua was born. But, when the anesthesiologist came in, he started talking about giving me a general anesthesia...meaning I'd be asleep during the surgery. Obviously we were a little surprised by this, because I really had my heart set in being awake to be able to see Noah right after he was born, knowing that I wouldn't be able to for the next 24 hours. The anesthesiologist was the same man who put me asleep when I had my gallbladder taken out so his reasoning was that a general anesthesia was safer than an epidural because among other reasons, he knew that I didn't have any reactions or anything last time.

But, that news was really hard for me to hear and in spite of my best efforts to hide my feelings from him, halfway through our conversation, he told me that because he could see it was really important for me to meet my baby, he agreed to try an epidural first (3 attempts) and if that didn't work, he'd do a general anesthesia instead. I was thrilled to hear that and really appreciated his accommodation!

Tuesday morning was quiet...got an IV and then we just waited for 1:00 to roll around!

Tuesday pm- wheeled into OR at exactly 1:00. The anesthesiologist  attempted an epidural for about 40 minutes but had no success. The nurses were very helpful and sympathetic, but everyone kept saying I would be able to see the baby tomorrow which made it harder not to cry. I was awake until right before surgery started as they didn't want to make the baby sleepy, but I started to wonder if I was going to be awake when surgery started...I was relieved when anesthesia kicked in so fast ;)

I felt real peace while I was in the OR and wasn't really nervous...I was praying it would work to get the epidural, but at the same time I felt kind of like maybe God was using this as an opportunity for me to grow...and let go of my desires and give this over to Him and allow it to be a testimony for Him. I really didn't want to make the anesthesiologist feel bad because I know he was doing his best and was looking out for me, but I am not sure I communicated that very well with the tears that came after he told me it wouldn't work. I wish I could have told him I was really ok, and to please ignore my tears! He was so kind and gentle and spoke enough English to help me feel at peace and again I really appreciated his efforts to accommodate my wishes.

The anesthesiologist is actually an acquaintance of ours (his wife is an English student) and he felt so awful for not being able to do an epidural, but we were able to talk with him afterwards and let him know that we were completely fine about how things turned out and did not want him to feel bad because we know he tried so hard.

I remember waking up, but not being able to talk or even really open my eyes...everyone said surgery was finished and everything was fine. The tube in my mouth was really bothering me and I think I woke up before they really noticed and took the tube out. They asked plenty of questions that I could barely respond to which was frustrating...I felt like I was pretty aware of what was going on around me, but didn't have to ability to communicate because I was so groggy! Thankfully I was at least able to nod and shake my head. I remember getting wheeled out and knowing Bobby was with me, but not being able to let him know I knew he was there. (When I had my gallstone surgery, I was so out of it I don't remember waking up at all...I woke up back in my room long after everything was all done, but nothing in between!)

 The Doctor and nurses knew how badly I wanted to see my baby and really went out of their way to wheel me into the nurses station and past the nursery so I could see him, but I couldn't open my eyes wide enough to get a good look because he was far away...they recognized that and got me closer (apparently moved some desks around just for me!) and I was able to look at him! And right when I got wheeled up beside the window he turned his head with his eyes wide open and looked right at me, as if to let me know everything was ok. It was one of the most precious moments of my while life and it was the moment I needed to get me through the next 24 hours of not being able to see him. It was definitely a gift from God that I will never forget! I will always be so grateful for how the staff went out of their way to accommodate the one wish that I had not wanted to compromise on.

The rest of the day was pretty much a blur...I tried to sleep as much as I could and wasn't in too much pain. This time felt so different because all the nurses and the doctor kept telling me to let them know whenever I was in pain because there was medicine! I think when I had Joshua, I was basically in constant pain, and didn't really have much sympathy (which is actually kind of a long story behind that one, but I won't go into it) 

One funny thing I almost forgot was that they were playing 'music box' music in the OR and right before they put the mask on me to go to sleep, I heard Brahm's Lullaby (I think that's the name) where it says 'lullaby, and good night...' I just thought that was so funny and don't want to forget that!

We are pretty much in shock of how different this recovery experience has been from Joshua's birth. There's multiple different factors, but one of the biggest I think was knowing what to expect this time (somewhat anyway!) I knew that if I could just make it through that first 24 hours, I'd get to see my baby and everything would be ok! My sister who works on a mother/baby ward told me there's a night and day difference between moms who have scheduled c-sections and moms who have emergency c-sections...and I can totally see why, having been on both sides now! My recovery has been a lot faster and easier this time even though I was expecting it to be a lot worse. I am kind of in shock at how little pain I've been in...mostly just discomforts. I was able to walk around on the second day and after just two or three days, I wasn't on any pain meds! (Not to say I was pain free, but it was very tolerable, low pain, lessening every day)

Nursing is going ok...it's hard to remember this is a whole new thing for Noah and I need to be more patient. In a lot of ways I feel like a first time mom again, having forgotten how to do a lot of things and lacking confidence in my abilities to provide good care for my baby. His biggest issue has been waking up to eat...he is a sleepy baby!! I never thought I would mind that, but boy it makes feeding him complicated. He doesn't eat enough from me because he almost instantly falls asleep, so he got supplementary formula while he was in the hospital, but now he's exclusively nursing. Still not 100% perfect (I say that because it still hurts when I know it's not supposed to), but it works.

My parents left yesterday after having had them here for 3 weeks :( Just our first day by ourselves and I'm already wondering how we're going to ever be able to make it through a day without a meltdown (mostly mine!) J did great with our co-workers who looked after him for us while I was in the hospital and with my parents over the last few weeks, but today I can tell he's feeling the same gap we do! He's been pretty whiny and really working hard to get our attention which is hard when both of us have things we need to get done and when there's a screaming baby to deal with as well. I know God will help us through this 'season' but I sure do wonder how we're going to make it! Functioning in very little and very broken sleep is not my forte and I hate how it affects my attitude and my patience.

Anyway, enough worrying and complaining...this is hard, and I'm allowed to feel that way, but I know I'm not the first person to have 2 kids!

Life is busy and exhausting, but we are blessed and I will just have to keep reminding myself this won't last forever and I only need to take things one day at a time!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Baby "Zip!" Update...

Well, I have officially managed to go without writing a single blog update through this pregnancy!! (Poor second baby!) ;) Thankfully I have written a few notes in his medical book and been pretty good about taking bump pictures (more than I will post) so all is not lost! (And yes, this baby is a boy!)

Shortly after we found out about this baby, we were asking Joshua what we should name his brother and he signed 'banana'! So since then, this baby's been called baby Banana! And, due to recent frequent inquiries about the name we've officially chosen but are keeping a secret, we've taught Joshua to say 'zip!' and move his finger across his lips whenever anyone asks him what the baby's name is! I have to humbly say, it's pretty adorable!

Everything's gone very smoothly (and quickly!) with this pregnancy and it feels like a breeze compared to the various bumps along the way we had with Joshua. I've been blessed with pretty easy pregnancies both times and I'm so very thankful! I have only had minor discomforts/complaints. My limited mobility and difficulty rolling over in bed and limited lung capacity and a few rib kicks he and there is really the worst of it these days...and general third trimester exhaustion. Everything's been as it should be at my checkups...baby's head down (not that it matters time time around as it will be a c-section anyway) and apparently measuring big. (Joshua did too, but he was less than 7 pounds)

I'm a little hesitant to open this can of worms, but I will anyway...Here is Japan, it's standard that once you have a c-section you will always have c-sections afterwards. I have mixed feelings about that, but knowing that I don't really have any other options, I've accepted it. In some ways I think it's harder this time now that I've already had a c-section, and have a pretty good idea what to expect as opposed to last time where I went into it knowing nothing.

Two of the hardest parts for me (besides the physical recovery) is the fact that Bobby is not allowed in the operating room, and after a quick introduction after the baby is delivered, I probably will not see the baby again until the next day. We haven't had the full run-down on this hospital's procedures (it's a different hospital from where I had Joshua) so I don't know all the details yet but we did read that when I want to see the baby the nurses will help me (I guess maybe move my bed to the nursery or something?) but I'm still struggling to accept the way things are done here in those areas. Joshua did fine with going back and forth between bottle and nursing, so we are praying this baby will be the same.

Again, I hesitate to write about these things because I feel like people are going to suggest 'standing up for my rights' or however you want to say it, but we don't really feel that's appropriate in our situation. We have made the choice to have this baby in Japan and even though things are done differently than we might be used to, we want to be a good testimony and it's really not culturally appropriate to demand things be done our way...and besides, babies are delivered and cared for this way every day and have been for years...and turn out fine! It's really an area for me to turn over to the Lord and practice submitting my desires and my will to Him.

Oh, I guess one other 'complaint' I have with this pregnancy is how hormonal I've been feeling!! I don't remember it being like this with Joshua, but the last couple of days in particular, I have had ridiculous mood swings and lots of lows and crying over silly things (although some maybe not so silly...like processing the fact that things are not going to go as I desire them to go while I'm in the hospital, as well as fears about Joshua's adjustment to this new baby). Poor Bobby and Joshua have had to deal with a crazy pregnant woman! I suspect Joshua's been picking up on my feelings and he's been a little 'off' the last week or so.

Anyway, I think that's about it for a pregnancy update. I think I need to do a separate Joshua update another time because I sure do have lots to say about him and tons of pictures! So, stay tuned for that! (Maybe now that I've written that, it will happen this week!)

Oh! Guess I should mention that this baby's birthday is April 5th (at 38 weeks and 3 days)! I get admitted to the hospital on the 4th and will have surgery the next day in the afternoon! (Another example of how things are done differently here!) 

Thanks for sticking with me! :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book Review

Long time no post...I know!

My silence is being broken thanks to a wonderful book I had the privilege of reviewing before it was released (in exchange for my honest opinion). I started following a blog (http://onethingalone.com) a few months ago and have really appreciated the author's insights and wisdom, particularly related to being a Christian wife and mother. So when the opportunity presented itself to review her upcoming devotional book (that I would get a PDF copy of for free!), I jumped all over it!

I really liked how it was laid out...designed to be a 4 week (5 days a week) study with very short readings. It was the perfect length for me (short, but still containing substance) in this season of raising a toddler (and growing a baby) and I also really appreciated the response section at the end of each reading that contained further Scriptures and practical applications.

Since I had to read it through rather quickly, I am definitely looking forward to reading through it again, at a slower pace and really interacting with the response part in particular. I know it will be a really encouraging refresher to my quiet times, especially in the busy season I are coming up (more on that hopefully soon!)

Be sure to check out Asheritah's blog and this new devotional ASAP! You can find the paperback or kindle version on Amazon here.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Holding on to Memories

Well the other day I sat down to write a little post all about Joshua and what he's been up to, but just a  few minutes before I was about to finish, I ended up losing everything I wrote...and I was too tired and frustrated to write it all over again that day so now I'm going to attempt to recall everything I wanted to write!

I've been so terrible about keeping a record of things Joshua's been doing and milestones he's reached. I think we've got all the 'major' ones, but there's a lot of little details that I've unfortunately already forgotten!

But, with Joshua's 15 month birthday approaching, I want to sit down and get some things recorded for memorie's sake!

(One of his favorite places to hang out!)

Joshua is like a little sponge these days, learning so much so quickly and he understands SO much of what's going on around him! I absolutely love watching him grow and learn...it's fascinating! I've been trying to teach him some sign language and it's really fun! He catches on very quickly and it's given us a glimpse of just how much he understands in spite of being in able to communicate! 

The other day when I was feeding him, it was quiet but the birds were chirping. While he was eating he looked at me and signed bird, all on his own without me prompting! It was the first time he had signed it by himself after I had been teaching him for a few weeks. It blew my mind and really opened my eyes to how much he understands!

When I worked at day care, I knew I wanted to try using sign language with my kids because it was so cool! And now it's really fun to watch him learn and communicate! I bought a Baby Einstein DVD way back then and Joshua is currently enjoying it now :) We haven't done a lot yet, as I still have some more learning to do (YouTube is so great!) but some of the ones he knows are:

Daddy (he's holding out on Mommy both in sign language and words!)
Milk (that was his first one...I'd been doing it for weeks every time he nursed and finally one morning when we got him up, he furiously signed milk with both hands...and has ever since! Guess he was hungry!)
Sleep (his version cracks me up...I should take a video!)
And he has his own sign for his Papa D that he does every time we say his name or talk on FaceTime!

We're working on:
Please (he does it, but doesn't quite understand when to use it yet...'more' takes precedence!)
Drink ( I don't think he understands thirst yet so he hasn't really been doing that one yet)
Eat (he says "Mum! Mum! Mum! every time we sign/say eat or when he gets his eyes on a snack but doesn't sign it)
Thank You (he usually nods his head Japanese style and blows out his nose as he nods when we ask him to say thank you in both English and Japanese) 
All Done (he takes his bib off instead of signing all done!)

(I love seeing him 'get into' his books these days, flipping pages and chattering away)

We often listen to a Christian kid's praise music station and the 'Zacheus' song is a favorite of mine because I do a few actions with J. A couple months ago that song came on and before the words even started, he looked at me and started 'wagging' his finger like I do for the part that says 'Zacheus, you come down from there!' Once again, my mind was blown!

He's also recently started clapping when he hears the word clap in songs without prompting!

He has a favorite Japanese TV show called "Inai, Inai, Baa!" (Peek-a-boo). He loves one song in particular and knows some of the actions to that one too and will do them right before the characters do!

The channel that this show is on is unfortunately kind of unreliable and will often cut out. The other day it cut out in the middle of his show and he picked up the DVD remote that he plays with and very intentionally started pressing buttons and looking up at the screen, trying to fix it! I guess he was imitating me and how I always try to change the channel and try to get it back on when it cuts off!

He's recently started playing peek-a-boo by himself and says a hearty 'baaa!' when he "appears". He usually knows where his eyes, ears, nose, mouth and toes are when we ask him. He holds up one finger when we ask him in Japanese how old he is, and he raises his hand when we "take roll", calling his name. 

He also loves to play in the water and loves bath time and pool time.

He has really turned a corner in his eating these last couple of days. I still have to mix everything with yoghurt for his main meal, but he's recently been more open to trying almost everything we eat. Even if he spits something out the first try, he will often take a second bite and decide it's not so bad. Our most recent victory has been bananas! For the longest time, he would dramatically gag anytime we offered him banana or put banana in anything, but now he actually likes it! We're thankful because bananas are cheap here, unlike all other fruits! I'm so thankful for this answer to prayers and have officially stopped crying and worrying about his eating habits! ;)

He's gotten past the inability to stay awake for more than 2 hours at a time (finally!!) and has been on a really good schedule the last couple weeks getting in some good, long naps! 

He is just so much fun these days and he brings us so much joy!

(First trip to the hot springs with Dad!) funny story about that...Bobby was super nervous that J would decide to pee or poo in the water, but thankfully as far as he could tell, he didn't! But, that night when he came home and we gave J a bath, he pooped in the tub for the first time!! B said if that had of happened before his trip to the hot springs, he probably never would have taken him! ;)

But, we do have our moments of frustration when he can't communicate what he wants...or doesn't get what he wants. I feel like no one ever really talks about how much frustration thee is in this stage of development...both for parents and the child. I'm thankful that signing is helping with that, but it only goes so far! Discipline feels like a hairy subject because I know he understands a lot, but I can't seem to figure out just how much he understands in the area of discipline so I fear being too hard on him, beyond what he can grasp...so, I'm praying for wisdom in that area!!

(All dressed up for the Hirao festival!)

He's still not walking yet...but loves to cruise on the furniture or with the help of someone's fingers. He's only stood by himself once for about 10 seconds a few weeks back, but hasn't tried since! He's getting braver with only holding on by one hand and sometimes uses his belly for support against the furniture instead of his hands so I have a feeling one of these days he's just going to take off and hit the ground running...and my life will never be the same! ;)

His "lovey" is his sleep sack! I tried giving him a lighter blanket for the sake of it being easier to transport and wash, etc, but for whatever reason, he holds on to his sleep sack every time he gets sleepy! He also has a stuffed monkey named "Squishy" from his cousins and aunt and uncle in Canada  that he sleeps with and plays with in his crib. When we ask him where Squishy is, he always looks around and finds him!

He recently started giving us hugs when we ask for them...we say "hugs!" In a big exadurated voice and stretch out our arms and he'll stretch out his arms and lean forward. I love that and can't wait for him to start being more affectionate! He has for a while now been giving us 'smoochies' when we ask for them...aka big wide open mouth slobbery kisses!

He's currently cutting one, maybe two molars, but seems to be handling it pretty good...better than I would anyway! He's had 4 on top and 4 on the bottom for quite a while now.

He loves pinwheels! (The rainbow things on a stick that twirl in the wind) Our neighbor had some in his garden for a long time but put them away when a typhoon was coming but never put them back out for some reason. Every time we went outside, J would point and twirl his finger to get us to take him to see the pinwheels! Finally the other day Bobby broke down and bought one for him and it was worth every yen for the smiles he gives us while he plays with it! He bought a cheap one for him to play with and a "nicer one" for our garden for him to look at.

He knows our routine pretty well...after eating dinner he signs 'bath' and when we sit down to eat he puts his hands together to pray (but only for a second!). At bedtime after Bobby reads the Bible story, J will usually put his hands together to pray then too. And after that he points to our "goodnight board" where we have pictures of our families and say goodnight to everyone. 

I think that's all for now. I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting, but oh well! Hope you enjoyed the update and pictures...sorry once again for being such a terrible blogger! I still intend to write a post on his first birthday...that was 3 months ago!!

(Oh, and as a random side note, I just discovered that the draft of my last blog got saved after all...after I finished typing this one out!! Oh well...it was good to see what I forgot and add that in!)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Thailand February 2015

Well, it's about time, but here comes the long awaited Thailand trip post!!

This February, we were required to attend a training for Christar in Thailand. In spite of Christar often having conferences and meetings in Thailand, and Bobby having been with Christar for about 9 years (I think), we had never been to Thailand! We'd heard plenty a story from our co-workers about their adventures in Thailand, so to be honest, we went into this with much reservation! Every person we talked to that had been to Thailand ended up getting sick while they were there, so having to deal with that while taking care of a 9 month old was not too exciting! (Plus having to try to make sure he didn't get sick either!) Neither of us really enjoys travel, and even though you'd probably never guess it from the career we've chosen, we are not very adventurous!! 

We survived the trip ok...let's just say I hope I don't ever have to fly with a 9 month old ever again!! It was very different from his 5 month trip where he slept so much and was a lot les mobile! He did ok, but it was a long trip for both of us. We chose to do an overnight flight that was about 5 hours I think (plus two one hour flights on each end) hoping that with it being night time, Joshua would sleep better. We didn't get a whole lot of sleep, but like I said, we survived! (But arrived pretty exhausted!) J really enjoyed interacting with people in the airports, and as usual, he attracted a lot of attention! 

On the way home, in front of us there was a little 2 or 3 year old boy traveling with his mom and he got sick at least 3 times (including a few times all over his poor mom!) and in spite of his screaming each time he got sick, J slept right through it. I felt SO bad for that poor Mom and was praying for her the whole time!! It was a good reminder to me that things could always be worse!!

We arrived two days before the training started so it was nice to have that adjustment time. At first we were a bit surprised by the place we were staying (it was less luxurious than we had pictured...or what the website pictured I should say!) I feel guilty saying that though because it really was a beautiful place to stay. By the end of our stay it had really grown on us.

Anyway, in the first two days, we managed to get in on a chance to ride an elephant!! We had a good time, and it's now something I can cross off my bucket list, but we probably won't ever do it again. I won't go into details as to why though. Joshua seemed to really enjoy the rough rocking motion and slept in the carrier most of the ride!

We had a really great time getting to interact with so many other families in the same stage of life as us and share our struggles and joys together! We got to reconnect with some of the people we did our (my) initial training with back in the States before and after I joined Christar so it was especially fun catching up with them. The training itself was pretty good...it was refreshing to hear English teaching from the Word and worship in English (although I missed out on a lot of that because of J's schedule). 

There was childcare provided and there was a great couple looking after the little ones! That was a real blessing to me and J seemed to really enjoy it at first. Toward the end of the week though, he was pretty ready to spend more time with Mommy and Daddy! (And I'm pretty sure the couple looking after the babies were more than ready for their break too!!) There was a boy about 6 weeks older than J, a girl about a month younger than J and a 1 year old boy so J got plenty of playtime! He was the only one who couldn't crawl though so sometimes he got a little overwhelmed when they all decided to come over and play where he was playing (and climb on top of him!) it was really fun for me to see him play with other babies his age because we don't get a lot of opportunities to do that here.

J had his first swim in a pool and LOVED it!! Even though the water was pretty cold, he didn't seem to mind at all! As a side note, I have to say that experiencing a baby's "firsts" is one of my favorite parts of being a parent! Watching a baby discover new things and explore the world around them is really fun and it really stirs up a lot of thankfulness in my heart!

After the training, we had a week of family vacation, staying at the same place we were at for the training. (again, neither of us wanted to venture out to a new place, especially since J had adjusted so well to where we were!) it was really refreshing to have that down time and process things we had taken in the previous week, and just enjoy hanging out together! We didn't really venture far from the resort and didn't do much sightseeing but we did spend a day at the zoo/aquarium because it was SO amazing! We had gone with everyone as an "outing" in the middle of the week to break up the training, but it was so big that we just had to go back!

Some would probably call us crazy for the lack of exploring we did, but for both of us, our idea of vacation is staying put, with no agenda! I'm so thankful we are the same that way because we were both able to get the refreshment we needed and we were both happy!

I think that's pretty much it, so now I'll just let pictures do the talking...

Where we stayed

We were so thankful J slept so well while we were there!

J's second elephant ride! ;)

Petting a giraffe was also crossed off my bucket list!!

Daddy even got to go to Pizza Hut!!

Bobby doing some serious negotiating with the taxi driver on the way home from the zoo ;) This guy gave us the option to pay him extra and sit in the air conditioned cab with him instead of the open back seat!

J LOVED the staff at the hotel restaurant...and they loved him! On one of our first nights there, the waiter held J and walked around the pool/ restaurant with him so we could have a quiet dinner together!! That meant so much to me and I was so thankful! We got spoiled with quite a bit of babysitting time while we were there and even got to go "out" on a date one night while our supervisor sat in the room with J while he slept! We just went to the restaurant at the hotel and had milkshakes, but we also played a fun conversation game that got both of us talking a lot (not usual for us!) and it was really fun!

So this laying by the pool dream I had before we got there was just a little different than I pictured...somehow I forgot to factor in that we'd have a 9 month old baby to entertain while we were there! ;) but, it was still a relaxing treat for just a few minutes here and there!

And to close, here's some glimpses to the beauty we were surrounded by...

We won't be rushing back to Thailand anytime soon, but in spite of our fears going into this trip, we ended up having a really good time and none of the three of us got sick!! I'm really thankful we were able to do this. It was a much needed rest for our family and we made a lot of special memories!