{Mommy Journal} Monkey Vocabulary

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When you’re a mommy, and 95% of what you do is spend time caring for, playing with, and enjoying your baby/toddler, you think there’s no way you’ll ever forget all the adorable little things he does and says. But then you do.

I’m so glad for what I’ve been able to write down, but wish I’d written more! This is a simple post to share with you and help me remember what Caleb’s vocabulary looks like these days. He says more, but these are the recognizable staples I can brainstorm right now. :)

Daddy
Mommy
Puff
Bick (book)
Wa-wa (water)
Mick (milk)
Yuck
Wow
Hi
Yeah
No
Emma
Nana (Banana)
Caw (car)
Daw (dog)
Kit (cat)
Baw (ball)
Uh-oh
Up
Bay-Baw (baseball)
Oop (hoop)
Baby
Wuck (walk)
Baff (bath)
Muh (more)
Bye-bye
Gock (clock, sometime socks)
Ish (George, as in Curious George)
Eees (cheese or shoes)
Ay-baw (rainbow)
Essh (glasses)
Ack (snack)
Bop (Popsie)
Nannie
Ama (Grandma – although this varies slightly)
Ampa (Grandpa – also varies each time)
Eat (street)
Ess (stairs)
Onk onk (honk honk)
Beep
Bup (button)
Bee (bird)
Knock knock

{Marriage Journal} A Baby Is Not An Escape

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Here are a few thoughts I drafted one month before Caleb was born, but never posted. 15 months later, I’m convinced more than ever that a solid marriage is the best foundation from which to begin adding children to the mix! =) 

Andrew and I are bursting with excitement to meet our first child sometime in the next several weeks. It’s truly a day we’ve talked and dreamed about for years, and it’s finally here.

Goodbye, Just Us

Saying hello to this beautiful new season of life called parenting has meant bidding farewell to an equally amazing time as just the two of us, and that makes me sad. Andrew is my very favorite person and best friend, and no matter how much one-on-one time we are blessed with, I could always enjoy even more. I’m never tired of his company, and when he is at school, I look forward to his return all day long. Sometimes we can’t even wait through his 20 minute commute and one of us calls the other when he’s out of class so we can start talking while he drives. =)

This is not to say that we do not sin against each other, behave selfishly, hurt one another’s feelings, have conflict, and hit bumps in the road, because we do. But thanks entirely to the grace of God, our relationship is characterized by unity and camaraderie. He has enabled us to establish the habit of keeping short accounts, so that matters of conflict are addressed quickly and willing forgiveness is granted regularly. This makes for an imperfect but oh, so sweet friendship. Praise God!

Hello, Parenthood

The natural progression of life is to start having children sometime after your wedding, and that’s a very good thing. But I think it would be easy to seek this “next step” of parenting as a means of escape from the monotony of a marriage that has become at best boring, or even downright unhappy.

Escape is never the right reason to begin having children. Adding babies to an unhealthy marriage is a sure way to make that marriage even worse. I cannot imagine navigating just the challenges of pregnancy with a husband I’m not close to, let alone trying to raise a little person(s) together. That sounds like the recipe for disaster.

If you happen to be someone currently married and pre-babies, I would encourage you not to crave that “next step” as a way to restore excitement or add a new distraction to your life. It may be wise to evaluate your relationship with your husband and take purposeful steps to help it flourish. (This is always a good idea, regardless of your season of life.) Pinpoint where you are sinning or slacking off in your marriage and ask the Lord to change you from the inside out and grow you into the wife He has called you to be. Communicate with your husband and work together to strengthen your friendship. Of course, all our people problems can be traced back to where our hearts are at with God, so this area of our lives must be addressed first.

Having children should be a joyful step that married couples decide to take as one happy unit. I don’t know this first hand yet, but I have observed that parenting is a team effort and should draw dad and mom closer to one another as they learn to lean on God through brand new challenges and responsibilities that children bring.

You’re Already a Family

Instead of thinking of “starting a family” as the morning you get a positive pregnancy test, think of your wedding day as that moment. You are a family, just the two of you. Soak up this precious season of life as “newlyweds” (even if it’s been years) and build into your friendship with your husband. After all, when the kids are grown and gone, you’ll be right back where you are now. If your littles were your escape from “just the two of you”, that doesn’t sound like a happy way to enter the “empty nesters” phase.

I know there are countless stories of unhappy couples having children, and God using parenting as a tool to refine the marriage and bring the husband and wife closer together. All is certainly not lost when babies are added to a rocky marriage. Praise the Lord! But it is ideal to work toward that healthy relationship before the kiddos come along, so consider how you might do that now. Never view a baby as an escape; instead ask the Lord to create a marriage you don’t want to escape from.

Does Your Husband Buy You Flowers?

IMG_8751One of the many things I’ve learned from being married is that no two marriages will look the same, nor should they. Our culture paints idealistic cookie-cutter pictures of romance and love, but reality is often far from what we have seen in movies or read about in books. (By the way, I’ve found that reality is different, yes, but far deeper, richer, and more wonderful than the culture’s portrayal of it.)

Romance is one of those words that can encompass a million different things, but often gets squished into a few ideas: flowers, a candlelight dinner, hand-in-hand walks on the beach at sunset, etc. Those are all romantic and special ways of showing one another love, but romance can mean so much more!

Andrew is, in general, not a flower-buyer. He is not one of those guys who will randomly stop by the grocery store on his way home and pick up a bouquet of roses “just because” more than once or twice a year. This has never been a “hard” thing for me, but I have teased him over the years about it because he predictably buys me flowers on Valentine’s Day.

The summer I was expecting Caleb, I was dealing with a really difficult situation related to my apartment management job at the time. I left home in a puddle of tears for an errand. When I returned about 45 minutes later, Andrew was just washing the last of a huge stack of dirty dishes in my kitchen. I started crying again because it meant so much and it was such a relief to come home to a clean kitchen. (Dishes hang over my head like no other chore!)

“I was going to go buy you flowers,” Andrew explained, “but then I thought that washing the dishes would mean more to you, so I did that instead.”

In that moment, I realized that every time he voluntarily washes the dishes for me or speaks my love language in another way, it is like his “version” of bringing home flowers. Not only does it take the same thoughtfulness and love, but it really does mean more to me than flowers. I don’t particularly love flowers for the flowers’ sake. What I love is that they mean Andrew has thought about me and chosen to do something to tangibly convey that love. But he does that in a million other ways that are actually even better (to me) than flowers, and when I recognize that, there is no room for jealousy when I hear about a hubby who brings home bouquets on a regular basis.

I drafted this post about a year-and-a-half ago, and finally publishing it today ironically comes on the heels of a surprise bouquet of flowers from Andrew after a hard day. But the message I hope to convey is the same.

Don’t let the world’s definitions of love and romance make you miss out on the ways your spouse is already showing affection. Never play a game of comparison, and wish your hubby would be as romantic as your friend’s is. Observe and appreciate the “unconventional” ways he romances you, and treasure the reality that your marriage is uniquely yours, and your husband is uniquely him. He may not buy you flowers, but I’ll bet you can find his thoughtfulness in a hundred other gestures, if you’re just willing to stop and look.

 

{Mommy Journal} Sign Language

I’m neglecting to write down so many things I want to remember about Caleb! He’ll be 14 months on Friday, and he is more and more fun every day. One exciting thing to watch develop is his sign language. It’s been so helpful that he can communicate certain things with us, but it can also be very frustrating when it seems that he’s trying to sign something and we don’t know what it is! He has learned these signs from Andrew and me, but over the past three months or so he’s watched very limited Signing Time, mostly just when we have been sick, so a few of his signs have probably been reinforced through that. Here are the signs he knows to date:

more/please (one sign for him) =)
all done
hurt
banana
cracker
thank you
milk
bath
tree
outside
touchdown (okay that’s not really a sign)

He just started signing “outside” today so we’ll see if it sticks. Sometimes he relapses and forgets a sign. He did that with “thank you” for a long time. I’ve been working on “drink” forever but that has not clicked yet!

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{Mommy Journal} The “Yes” Cupboard

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I have gleaned a lot of wisdom from experienced mothers throughout this journey thus far. I’m so thankful for God’s design of older women who can mentor and counsel and advise as we first-timers stumble along. I thought as time allows, I would start sharing little parenting tips that have been passed along to me.

An older wise woman in our Bible study, who has several of her own (almost) grown children and currently nannies little ones, strongly recommended having a “yes” cupboard in the kitchen: one cupboard that Caleb was allowed to get into and do anything he wanted with.

“You want him to be in the kitchen with you, don’t you?” she pointed out. “So designating a cupboard that he is allowed to play in is a great way to encourage him to ‘help’ you.”

DSC_0676This was around the age of 8 months, and although I liked the concept, I was skeptical that Caleb would understand the difference between the “yes” cupboard and all the other “no” cupboards. But I gave it a try, and sure enough, through training, Caleb learned within a couple of days which cupboard he had the green light on. He had already been taught that all the cupboards were off-limits, it wasn’t difficult to show him that one special cupboard was his to enjoy.

Now, he frequently joins me  in the kitchen and goes straight for his cupboard. I keep the pots and pans, a rice cooker, and a basket of bottle accessories in it. He usually pulls everything out and makes a racket, plants roadblocks for me to maneuver while cooking, and creates memories that I’ll treasure forever.