Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 21, 2015 - Sweet Aya Karen, One Year Old

I knew this day would come.  And it is a joyful one, for sure.  Aya Karen is 1-year-old!  Even though a part of me feels like I am grieving for the passing of our baby days, I will just focus on telling you how awesome Aya is and what a nice day she had today.  

Two weeks ago Aya was weighed and measured - she is 50th percentile for weight and height.  Woo hoo!  Grace didn't weight as much as Aya weighs now until she was 2 years old.  Noah was 14 months old.  So even though we called her "peanut" in her earliest days, she is actually our chunkiest little monkey.  On all developmental fronts she is a total super star - except for that darn night-time sleeping. Minor little detail there (but after 365 nights of getting crap sleep, we are REALLY ready for her to get the hang of it!).  

These days Aya is loving her baby dolls and her books.  When playing with her, it is all about the books and the babies.  It's incredibly sweet the way she hugs and kisses her babies; once I asked her if we should change the baby's diaper and she went and brought me the box of wipes.  No joke.  If she brings you a book to read and you do not immediately have her in your lap to read it to her, she gets pretty mad! She'll also bring me my phone and say "Hi", which I take to mean "let's call someone on Facetime!"  Once she even brought Kristoffer a bowl and spoon when she was, apparently, hungry.  She has a few sign language signs to help her communicate ("milk" is her dominant sign!) and clearly says: Mama, cat, baby, hi, hej hej, and (sometimes) bye bye.  She always says "a-go" when she wants something and tries to say other things as well like Far and Oliver.  On her own, she says "num num" when she wants food (usually whatever I am eating).  Like I said, a total rock star.

Something that has surprised us about Aya is that she wants NO HELP from us when it comes to walking (or other things, now that I think of it).  Lots of babies walk for awhile holding on to their parents' fingers (you know, giving the bent over parents a terrible backache!) or holding their hands.  She wants nothing to do with that!  She is a good, confident walker...completely on her own!  She gets really mad if you try to help her in any way. She is super fast crawling up the stairs and especially loves crawling backwards down them now...and she teases us (literally smiling and laughing...sometimes pointing!) by standing at the top threatening to walk down them forward-facing.  EEK! 

Aya's "old" loves remain: music, water, siblings, nanny, small animals.  A newish love is: her father!  Not that she hasn't always loved him, I'm sure, but if he is around at all she just really wants him now!  It's adorable and, dare I say, he is loving it too. Sadly, though, Kristoffer is away for work this week so wasn't home to celebrate Aya today.  We all missed him (mostly, this weepy Mama...but he really dodged a bullet on dealing with my hormones today, I would say!) but hope he gets a good idea from the  few 50 pictures below, of how his youngest daughter spent her special day.  

I suspect most pictures are self-explanatory, but there are some captions below to help along the way.

All ready the night before...

6:15 am...the big kids WISHING the birthday girl would wake up!
 Finally, we could hear her babbling in bed...so they barged in singing "Happy Birthday to you..."

 A morning speaker phone call with Far...

 Morning play with her favorite books and babies...

 First time finding helium balloons in Dar (or Nairobi, for that matter!) - they were expensive so I didn't go TOO crazy, but the kids were so excited for "Real" balloons!
 Aya and her best friend, Oliver
Thinking about sharing her new toys with her (7-weeks older) buddy Miles

 A small birthday party with good friends!  Aya was the center of attention!
 She loved the jewelry box Noah painted for her...
(to house the bracelet Grace made for her...which she broke immediately upon opening! Oops!)
 But she did not love when I stopped her from eating the paint off of the box....
(cue: it's my party and I'll cry if I want to...)

 Aya's Giraffe "cake"...before she got her spots!
(Aya seems to really like giraffes so her siblings insisted on this cake.  Grace told "If you type "giraffe cake" into your phone, then please let me look at the pictures.  I'll tell you which one Aya wants."  It was a little bossy, but that's kind of how it played out!)

 The big kids put spots on the giraffe...

 Noah might be in love with his friend Maya...
(oops, forgot a tail!)
 Happy Birthday sung in 3 different languages!

 Not only a chocolate cupcake, but apple juice for the first time!  
What a birthday treat!
 The post-party bath time was possibly her favorite part of the day and this is totally my favorite picture...she put that teething necklace on herself and was "dancing" around!
Clean and happy - the Birthday Girl! 

To Aya, I would like to say this:  On my third trip around the block with an infant, I feel I was way more tired than I wanted to be and did not have the energy that you deserved.  I'm really sorry for that. But I hope that even if you could feel my exhaustion, you could also feel that my love for you and the joy you have brought to my life and our family have trumped that exhaustion at every single moment. It has been delightful watching you grow and change this year and I know that this is truly only the beginning.  You have an amazing, beautiful life ahead of you. You are absolutely the cutest, funniest, most clever little girl.  I adore you.  I love you.  I wish you the happiest of birthdays, my sweet girl.

Love always,

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15, 2015 - Belated Easter

Better late than never?

This might go down in history as the least documented family holiday we've ever had.  Literally.  And what was documented was done so quite poorly. Our Canon camera battery died and I couldn't find the charger (of course) and then some water got under the screen of my iPhone case (which I didn't know) and I couldn't get it to work (you'll notice a picture below of me holding my phone in such a way - I kept sliding or typing and nothing was happening! ARGH!).  Sigh, this was a bummer because it was Aya's first Easter.  

But the kids woke up to the Easter Bunny having visited.  The Easter Bunny was pretty tricky this year (the kids didn't like that SO much) and, in fact, there weren't soooo many eggs to hunt for because maybe the Easter Bunny's shipment of plastic eggs did not arrive to Tanzania via courier as expected.  But anyway...the morning was nice and we got ready for a big brunch with 4 other families that we hosted at our house.  I missed going to church, as I do.  

The brunch was supposed to be pot-luck and super casual - both of those things came true.  It was also just a bit louder than we expected, but honestly, what were we thinking?!  13 adults, 8 kids and 3 babies!  LOUD!  But it was fun and nice to be with our "Dar family" for the holiday to make it seem less like every other Sunday.  I was super nostalgic for last Easter which happened right after Kristoffer, Grace, and Noah arrived in Boston and with my family and was the day before Aya's birthday.  I was pretty much unknowingly in labor that day - I was super uncomfortable, and yet I remember it as a really great holiday.

So anyway, with our brunch bunch we also did an Easter egg hunt outside and Grace and Noah decorated a fantastic Easter Bunny cake (no, it did not look like the one on Pinterest, but had WAY more character...don't you think?).   It was a nice day!

No more holidays to look forward to until 4th of July.  By hook or by crook, we are determined to somehow be in America for it this year (first time in 6 years!).  Can't wait for that!