Yes, that's right. "Baby" Stephen is officially a toddler now. He had been taking a few steps here and there for awhile. But he required a great deal of praise and encouragement to do so, and usually preferred just crawling everywhere. However, around the first part of May, he really took off and started walking all over the house. I just love the stiff-legged zombie walk that babies do when they are first learning! I'll try to post a video soon.
Stephen is also talking quite a bit. Most of it is just baby babble of course, but there are a few words he says quite clearly -- ba (ball), caca (cracker), sheesh (cheese, which we've decided is his all-purpose word for food), jush (juice), uh-oh, mama, and dada. He does the baby signs for "more" and "all done," waves bye-bye, and has just started giving big, slobbery kisses on the cheek when prompted.
We are pretty much done nursing. Weaning has drug on longer than I would have liked because Stephen had a little trouble learning to drink cow's milk. He refused it for the longest time until I started putting a tiny bit of chocolate powdered drink mix in his cup (not trying to make chocolate milk, just trying to sweeten it a tad). Once he was drinking that well, I weaned him off the chocolate powder. Now he tolerates the milk, but I think he still prefers juice or water. If I can get him to drink one cup a day, I'm happy -- I figure he's getting calcium from plenty of other sources.
At the beginning of May, we finally got around to celebrating Stephen's first birthday (over a month late, but he's too young to know the difference!). We waited until the rest of our team arrived in Portugal, so the other children could be a part of the celebration. We had a breakfast party with chocolate chip banana muffins, fresh fruit, chai, and coffee. In lieu of gifts, everyone brought a small item for Stephen's baby time capsule, to be opened on his 18th birthday. We did something similar for Alex on his first birthday, and wanted to continue the tradition. Stephen also got a couple of sets of Duplos from his Nyanya and Babu, as well as a cool ride-along train.
I enjoy watching Stephen achieve all these new milestones, but at the same time, I find myself feeling a little nostalgic, mostly because I wonder often if Stephen will be our last. We haven't yet decided if we want to try to have anymore kids. It's funny -- I always said I wanted at least 4 kids, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if having a large family is really practical, considering our lifestyle. I know plenty of missionary families who have several kids, and they make it work... but Angola is so danged expensive. More kids means a bigger house (housing is the biggest line item in our budget), and also more expensive furloughs. It's already going to cost a small fortune to bring our family of four back to the U.S. every three years. I shudder to think of what it would cost if we had to pay for 6 tickets rather than 4.
So, the conversation about family size is one we have often right now. I remember a day back in January, when, probably in the middle of packing some awkward baby item, Rusty came marching upstairs and informed me that I needed to decide right then and there if we were going to have anymore kids, because if we weren't, we didn't need to take all this baby "junk" (he used a stronger word) to Angola. To which I replied that I was in no state to make that kind of decision right then. And anyway, as far as I'm concerned, you take the stuff with you as insurance, because we all know people who said they were done, got rid of all their baby gear, and then, "Oops, we're pregnant again!" If we don't have anymore kids, we'll give our baby stuff away in Angola to people who need it.
Rusty thinks it would be cool to have a baby on every continent we live on (Asia, North America, Europe, Africa). I think he's out of his mind. Truly, if I end up pregnant while we're here in Portugal, trying to learn another language, without maternity coverage, I think I might just have a nervous breakdown. However, I wouldn't mind having another baby once we are settled in Angola. But I think I could also honestly say that I would be just as happy if our family just stayed the size it is. I just want to do the best job I can with the two precious sons the Lord has already entrusted to me rather than worrying about when / if I'll have anymore.