Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dear Zeke: This is the Week

Baby boys,

When we came home from Ethiopia, you were used to lying on your backs. While you found plenty of ways to entertain and be entertained, you weren't very mobile. Gabe could roll over and scoot pretty efficiently, but Zeke not so much. In the 7 weeks we've been home, you have taken off! Gabe has gone from rolling and scooting to bookin' it across the floor with his strong army-crawl, and most recently to "for real" up-on-your-knees-(they-say-it-means-you-can-read-someday) crawling, and pulling up, and standing! Zeke has gone from laying on his back all the time to rolling over, (and then over and over), pivoting, tummy-time, pushing up with his arms, holding up his head, and now independently sitting! Next on the agenda for you, Mr Z, is crawling. It is quite possible you are going to be my kid who hates to try anything he hasn't already perfected. (You balked tummy time when it felt new, and you balk Dad and I holding your cute lil self in crawling position, too.) But you are SO close!

Mommy and Daddy will love you the same whether you crawl this week, just lay, or somersault around here, but I want to tell you the new experience just around the corner for you is exciting! When you get the hang of crawling, you are going to love it. I have a feeling you're ready, so let's go for it! Here's to one nudge this week, and the many nudges you may need in the future to get out there and try something new. Zeke - this is the week!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

"No" (. ? !)

Gabriel has come to understand what “No,” paired with Mommy shaking her head means. He frequently takes off, army-crawling across the floor in the direction of a “No-no” item. When he arrives, he looks up at me expectantly. When I say, “Gabriel, No. …No. ….Gabe, no.” He will stare at me with his big eyes open wide, weighing the decision, and then he’ll turn his little repentant self away with a big grin and head for me while we celebrate his good decision. …Except for the times when he makes the other choice. (Then he grips the no-no item tight while I chase him down.)

Cary and I don't think Zeke has fully caught on to the concrete idea of yes or no, right or wrong. When he’s splattering rice cereal all over his head and hair, and I say firmly, “No,” he just smiles and carries on. We’ll wait for him to show he understands, and clean up a lot of messes in the meantime. The only times Zeke exhibits signs of conviction are in the middle of attacks on his brother. Those times, when I call, “Zeke!” he sometimes jumps, like he’s startled he's been caught. When I call, “Zeke, no.” He pauses his attack, turns to look at me, and grins like I understand the fun in donkey kicking or smacking your brother’s head.

A catalog of our favorite "No" items and activities: 
-Pulling up on the coffee table to reach Mom's camera or computer (Gabe), most likely because of the panic it causes her
-Pulling open the drawers of movies that could smash little fingers (Gabe mostly likes to put his hand on the handle to get a reaction and practice his decision making...)
-Sitting behind Mom while she changes brother's diaper and pulling out as many wipes as humanly possible in 30 seconds. *A new favorite as of this morning*
-Smacking our brother in the face until Mom says "gentle," and we pat nicely. (The hilarious thing is both brothers do this, and both brothers allow this offense against their face while waiting for Mom to intervene.)
-Pulling items out of brother's hand (Recent addendum: if the item is dropped, it's fair game. I'm raising boys here.)
-Donkey kicking our brother if ever he accidentally passes through the kicking zone (Zeke)

These days there is a lot of creative playing. We've started to practice taking turns, finding new uses for the same toys and even better, making toys out of things Mom and Dad never knew were so valuable. Mischief has it's place, but these boys are smart and good natured. Watching the wheels turn in their heads is a great full time job. These two are too much fun.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Zeke vs Lion

Zeke has become fondly attached to this lion, given to us by a sweet band student. Since she gave us 2 stuffed animals, that leaves the lamb for Gabe. (That's right, our children play with the lion and the lamb.) Cary's first video footage taken of Zeke was the first night of wrestling matches between Zeke and his lion. It's a somewhat spastic event with limbs and lion hair flying everywhere, and he LOVES it. My son wrestles lions for fun. What can I say? He's a Mighty Man.


Who's Roaring Now?

Monday, April 8, 2013

More Help Around the House

There are lots of new house projects for getting things stored securely or up off the floor where busy babies can't get to them. We bought some shelves to house our movie collection, and Cary, who's used to doing assembly projects himself, got a helper he could not turn away. (Even when he tried.)

Gabe, the Handyman

 Examining the materials Dad's chosen

 (Wishing Dad would just let him do it)

 Finally Dad lets him join the team


 Assembling the final project!

Z and G's First Easter

Zeke and Gabe,

We made some special memories last weekend - our first Easter together. We went "home" for Mommy and Daddy, and got to spend time with ALL the grandparents and great grandparents! On Easter Sunday, Daddy liked dressing you in the sharp button downs and sweater vests Grandmarmy bought you. After a big breakfast and egg hunt at church, we sat down for the service. You were very curious, and liked joining in with coo's and sounds that had plenty of room to resonate, and made lots of people smile. Eventually, Daddy had to take boisterous Gabe to the fellowship hall. Mommy's favorite moment was getting to hold Zeke during his first communion before Zeke got so distracting she had to take him out too. :) Mommy's had so many sweet moments with Jesus during communion in that small, warm sanctuary. It was sweet to get to hold you Z, and share prayer time with you as you watched us take the bread and juice that remind us of what Christ did in His love for us, and how death has been conquered, our joy made complete. 

Our Best-Ever Easter Basket

 Your First Easter Egg Hunt

Special Time with Your People


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Counting Cost (And it Hurts)

We had a beautiful Easter weekend. Beautiful, like the sunshine and upper 60’s weather we had on Saturday… Beautiful, like the many times Jesus’ resurrection came across the lips of the people around us with insightful perspectives about His love for us… Beautiful like the hearts of the friends we’ve been fortunate to spend time with.

Saturday, I had the most idyllic day of maybe my life. On our first visit home as a family of four, Saturday afternoon I found myself in my Mom’s kitchen, babies upstairs napping, husband, dad, and younger siblings playing softball in the back yard, sounds of that best kid laughter drifting in with the breeze through the screen door. I was cooking with my mom (or, rather… sitting on the counter talking while she cooked and let me take sample bites of the best-ever crock-pot macaroni and cheese). It was a taste of heaven. And yet, until I get to heaven, there will always be something the Lord is refining in me, some of it painful work to be done in my heart. As I shared some observations of late with my mom, she verbalized the truth I was mulling around in a big dose of clarity.

Recently, the Hill family has been blessed by friends. Well - that's actually a big fat understatement. We have been showered at all stages of our adoption process by generous and thoughtful gestures from friends, church members, and strangers alike. It's an adjustment to be on the receiving end of so much generosity, so much sincere kindness. It's so humbling it's almost hard. But what has had me floored for the past few days started with some of the friends who have been part of all of this support raising, gift-giving, food-bringing goodness. And then some.

Two couples in our lives have supported us, used their creative gifts to benefit our family, made thoughtful gestures at opportune times... What caught me off guard recently, is that they followed all of that up. After supporting us, giving a gift, being part of preparations, sweet welcoming parties, these people went out of their way to serve us again. And it has broken me.

On a quiet morning while I was playing on the floor with my babies, I got a text asking me what Starbucks drink I would like to have delivered to my house - just to be dropped off for me on the porch.

I can give no logical explanation here - this friend has served and loved me well already. My house is not on her way to... anywhere. I never mentioned Starbucks or coffee or a rough day or needing anything. This little act of kindness came out of nowhere, and as it had to be out of her way, I can say for certain, that it cost her.

The wake of the question marks that special treat sent rippling through my head left me seeing so clearly, that Jesus didn't ask me to care for (take meals to, pickup sweet little things for...) my brothers and sisters when I was already headed that direction or they sort of hinted or I knew it would just be fun for me. He asked us to lay down our lives for one another. Serving one another His way COSTS us something, and I think I've cheated myself, and my dear brothers and sisters, out of a lot of opportunities to love the way Jesus called us to. I've tasted it, and it's good. And it's left me... broken? Yes. In a good way.

On a beautiful day over Easter weekend when some friends of ours could have been doing anything, they drove out to visit us, to share with us a gift for free that they are usually paid for doing. These people, too, have already been a part of getting our boys home, shared in our excitement, and just recently wowed us with a thoughtful gift for the boys. While we were loading the boys into the car, they told us to pop our trunk, and dropped a huge box of 720 diaper wipes inside. They said they'd seen them at a wholesale store and were sure we could use them. That's when it hit me... After already serving someone the way they had already served us, I would not have done that. I would have reminded myself of the things I'd already done for them, and I would have said, ENOUGH. I would have counted that extra cost too great. (And I'm disgusted at that painful self reflection.)

It's funny that after receiving huge gifts of support, expensive baby items and meal deliveries, it was a Starbucks drink and diaper wipes that sent my heart over the edge. But ya'll, these items COST their givers. And that's what pricked my heartstrings. I knew without a doubt, that these most recent acts of kindness came with a cost. I am all for lending a helping hand, being part of special projects, etc, but when those things actually cost me something (a favor after a favor, an expense after I’ve already contributed…) the truth is, my heart is reluctant. And in the shadow of people whose hearts just aren’t, I’m hurtin’.

Because we are in community with people who have tasted Christ's love, our lives continue to be filled this way: spontaneous trips out of town to cook and clean for us and love on our babies, coming by for hours on a weekday to clean the floors in my house... At the moment I can't think about it without sobbing. I have seen clearly my own heart, and it is lacking. But I have people around me loving me the way Christ does, and it is GOOD. I want to be that kind of friend. That kind of giver. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." -Mark 10:45. I am so grateful that my God won't leave my heart the way it is, that He will faithfully continue to make me more like Him. And I'm grateful for the servants and friends He's placed in my life.

Zeke and Sweet Potatoes

In the Hill house, we are transitioning from formula to solid foods, and the boys are loving them. When I eat the nutritional things moms eat, (like double stuffed oreos), they watch me and make "om-nom" faces to indicate they'd like in on my treats. The thing is, they have not mastered chewing, so we'll have to keep working through peas and apple sauce and sweet potatoes for awhile. (Oh, and please don't message me - I promise not to feed them oreos for a long time. Although... once, unbeknownst to my mom, I was given coca-cola in a bottle. I'm convinced it's why I have such a sweet tooth these days. I digress.) So we're working on keeping our fingers out of our mouths while we eat, and the general chewing concept, with our eyes on the cheerios/crackers prize.

Now: Zeke and Sweet Potatoes. 

Please bear in mind, I fed him with a spoon.


Gabe, who normally takes all responsibility for messes, was kind of appalled at the scene: