Thursday, September 17, 2009

Life at Five Months

Stephen celebrated his 5-month birthday while we were in Montana. As you can see from the photos below, he has gotten really good at pushing himself up when he is on his tummy. He is quite proud of this achievement and just loves it when we show our excitement and enthusiasm (as we were doing when Rusty snapped this pic). He is also rolling over a lot more. Our days of leaving him lying on a bed or a couch are numbered!

Interestingly, since Stephen has mastered the art of rolling over, he has decided that he prefers to sleep on his tummy. After several nights of putting him to sleep on his back and waking up the next morning to find him on his tummy, I gave up. I now put him to sleep on his tummy, and the neat thing is that now, if he's still awake when I lay him down in his crib, he will put himself to sleep sucking his thumb. I don't remember Alex putting himself to sleep at such a young age, but he was never a tummy sleeper, or a thumb sucker for that matter. Hmmmmmm.

Stephen is also starting to babble a lot more and will try to carry on a conversation with anyone who pays attention to him. He is getting closer and closer to being able to sit on his own. He has the strength to sit unsupported... now, it is just a matter of balance. With his increased upper body strength, I have been able to switch him to the hip-carry position in the sling. It is easier for me to get him in and out of it, and he seems to like it better, too, now that his feet dangle down.

He is the sweetest, most low-maintenance baby ever. I have a feeling, though, that the "low-maintenance" part may change with his increased mobility!

Happy baby

Sweet baby

Mischievous baby (Is this face a portent of things to come?)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chime In: Traveling with Kids

We have done our fair share of traveling with little ones in tow since, well, pretty much since we became parents. It is not without its challenges; however, we are very blessed to have two very good travelers. They have their moments, but then again, we all do. After sitting in a car or a cramped airline seat for hours on end, even grown-ups can get cranky!

I confess that before our survey trip last summer, I purchased a bottle of Children's Benadryl with the intention of using it as a sedative (if necessary) on the long international flights. Luckily, I never had to use it as most of our flights were overnight, and Alex slept pretty much the whole way. But I have flown enough in my lifetime to know that there are few things more horrible than being stuck on a plane for hours on end with a screaming kid, whether you are the parent, or just a fellow passenger. So I had it in my arsenal, just in case.

Road trips are a little different, since you can set your own schedule and stop and get out of the car when you need to. A real lifesaver on our Partnership Tour has been a cheap portable DVD player we purchased on Craigslist before we left Michigan that allows Alex to watch videos in the car. And, although Rusty and I typically avoid MacDonald's like the plague, the PlayPlaces are a great way for Alex to burn some energy after we've been in the car for several hours. When we have a long day in the car, we will usually let Alex play while we eat our food, and then he eats his Happy Meal in the car after we leave. It maximizes the time we spend there and means we don't have to fight with him about eating when he would rather be playing.

With Stephen along, we have to stop every 3-4 hours so I can nurse him. Rusty will usually gas-up (even if we still have a fairly full tank) and take Alex to the potty (even if he says he doesn't have to go) just to minimize the amount of stopping we have to do. Sometimes, he will go on the hunt for a city park where Alex can play while I'm nursing Stephen. Or, he'll pull over at a rest area where he and Alex can throw frisbees for a few minutes.

So, fellow parents -- what are some of your tips and tricks for traveling with small children? What works and what doesn't when you're on the road or in the air?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Partnership Tour: Portland to Helena

We are winding down the Partnership Tour -- by this time next week, we should be on our way back to Nashville. Our time in Portland was a real whirlwind of activity. We blocked out a few days for family time with Ronda, Robbie, and Johnny. The rest of the time, we were spending time with friends and extended family (my grandmother and cousins as well as some of Rusty's cousins all live in the Portland area), taking care of some business related to Rusty's mom's estate, and visiting with churches and missions committees about our plans for Angola. Fundraising in the Northwest is especially difficult right now, due to the economic downturn as well as Cascade's recent closing. However, we are getting the word out; now we will wait and watch God work -- after all, he is bigger than all of the limitations we perceive.

Although we enjoyed our time in Portland immensely, it was a crazy busy time since both Rusty and I know so many people and have so many connections there. We were almost glad to get back on the road again! We left Portland a week ago Tuesday, stayed the night in Vancouver, WA with our friends the Onsomu's, and on Wednesday, headed west to Coeur d'Alene. We stayed Wednesday night with old college friends Ben and Christina Heater and their kids and were able to visit with some folks at the Dalton Gardens Church of Christ about Angola.

On Thursday, we drove to Helena, Montana. We have enjoyed the last few days here with Uncle Roy and Aunt Margaret Ramsey, former missionaries to Kisumu, Kenya and teammates of my parents. It has been fun reminiscing about the past with them -- the other night, we even watched some of their old family movies! There are not many people anymore that I can connect with when it comes to my childhood in Kisumu, so I have enjoyed that aspect of our time with them.

For Alex's part, he has enjoyed the experience of four-wheeling! The other day, we took their two ATV's up into the hills near their house. Rusty and I rode one, and Uncle Roy and Alex rode the other one. (Aunt Margaret stayed back at the house with Stephen.) We had such a great time and saw some gorgeous scenery. Alex keeps asking when we are going again!

This past Sunday, we presented about Angola to the church in Great Falls on Sunday morning and the church in Billings on Sunday night. Then, on Monday, we drove back to Helena, stopping to visit friends David and Alison Ellis in Bozeman (David and Rusty were at Harding Grad together). We will be here in Helena for another week, and then we'll begin the long journey back to Nashville. Please continue to pray for us as we travel and fundraise!

Note: I have been meaning to post some pictures of our team time in Colorado last month. Teague, however, beat me to it. Rather than post many of the same pictures on my own blog, I'm linking to her post here. For Facebook users, Katie uploaded a bunch of pictures there as well.