Little Update

A lot has been going on in the Taylor household these past months and time is just flying by.  We’re in the throws of our last 2 months in Ethiopia.  I get a lump in my throat every time I think about it.  We’re closing out our time with Water is Life and are looking forward to moving back to the U.S for a new season.  There are a lot of unknowns in our future…where we’ll be, what we’ll be doing, but from the moment we made the decision to pack things up here, we’ve had this extraordinary peace. We’re looking forward to what God has in store down the road…a little nervous, but mostly excited.

We’re making the most of these last months here in Awassa.  Every day I love this town and these people more and more…which doesn’t bode well for the inevitable goodbyes.

Ben’s been traveling a lot, which has given me the time and incentive to really invest in my relationships with other women in town.  I looking forward to the day when I’m not home alone quite so much, but in the mean time, I spend most of my days wandering the streets of Awassa with Elaine in tow and having coffee at friends’ houses.  I’m incredibly blessed to be surrounded by women that welcome me into their lives and love on Elaine while Ben’s away.

Here’s a little glimpse of what’s been going on in our lives over the past 2 months or so.

Elaine celebrated her 1st birthday with a big bash. She loved being the center of attention and waddled around in her traditional Ethiopian dress.

We also had a visit from some Carolina friends.  Greg, Abbie, and Ashley came out for a quick whirlwind taste of Ethiopia.  We loved having them here!

These ladies below were two of my dearest friends here in Awassa.  They both are back in the US now, but I’m not sure I would have survived my years in Awassa without them!  Those goodbyes were hard to say. I’m already looking forward to coming back for a visit!

 On September 11th we celebrated the Ethiopian New Year.  Hello, 2005!  This holiday is a big deal here and we celebrated it with good friends and lots of food! We made three stops and filled up on our doro watt allotment for the year.  It was delicious!

Elaine is growing and changing and keeping us on our toes.  She’s learned how to escape from the house and twice we’ve found her outside digging in the garden and playing with the hose.  She’s figured out how to open the gate on our porch, thanks to Mac’s demonstrations, and she now prefers to wander the yard solo.  Thankfully we live in a gated compound, but I seriously have to get her under control before we live in a place where a baby wandering outside alone isn’t so kosher.  She eats like a horse and is never ever still.  Her napping skills are still atrocious, but she’s taken on the habit of sleeping in till 9, so I can’t complain.  She loves guava, which is good, because that’s all that’s in season right now, and she can down 2 avocados in 1 sitting. She is the sweetest companion and I love spending my days with her.

Yesterday we celebrated my 27th birthday.  Ben was home, and made sure it was a special day.  He even whipped up his famous fried chicken and sweet potato biscuits.  I almost felt like I was back in Charleston.  I’m so glad he was home to celebrate. I felt very loved…and didn’t have to change one single diaper.

The meskal flowers were in bloom just in time for my birthday.  I love this time of year.  Ben hired a man to sneak into the “airport” (which is really just a fenced off field of grass) and pick these.  I’m a lucky lady:)

Our internet is t.e.r.r.i.b.l.e these days.  If this ever loads it will be a miracle.

Love from Awassa!

Advertisements

And then she was One….

Sweet little lady. You are one now. How did this happen so quickly?

All of a sudden we have a little girl in our home. You’re not a baby anymore. I can see it and hear it and a part of me wants to slow down the clock and the other part wants to speed it up because I know it will only get better.

Your mannerisms are emerging and everyday you do something that wows us. We see so much of others we love in you.

When you wrinkle your nose when you laugh, I see your dad. (I also see him when you spaz out and body flop on the bed.) You inherited his face…in a wonderful way. But I hope his incredible patience and kindness grow in you too.

Every once in a while, I see a glimpse of myself in you. When we close the refrigerator door and you put your head on the ground and sob, deeply, every single time…I laugh. That is all me. Sorry.

You are quirky and strange and dance to your own beat. You love reggae, like your mama, berries, like your papa, and to be held and loved, like all of us I suppose.

During the course of a day I can see hints of your grandparents and your aunts and even your cousin and I love that you can’t escape this crazy legacy you were born into.

And every once in a while, I can see your namesake, my Nina. When you cover your mouth when you laugh, I see her.

As much as you are of us. You are your own. You are independent and feisty. You are determined and easily embarrassed. You love strangers well and they love you.

But even more than you are your own, you are His. You are His beloved and as parents, we rest in that.

“Beloved Daughter of my heart,the joy of God be in thy face, the joy to all who see thee, the circle of God around thee, angels of God shielding thee.” ~CoMMON PRAYER

 

Happy Birthday Elaine Finley Taylor

Miss·Elaine·eous: 10 and 11 months

Seeing as I didn’t lug a baby book halfway around the world with me, I don’t really have any documentation of Elaine’s life besides this. I’ve never been good at remembering dates. I have to ask for Ben’s birthdate every time I fill out a form at the airport. I’m terrible at it. I am in awe when I talk to moms that can recall the day their babies started crawling or eating solid food or gave up their pacifiers…and their babies are now full grown adults. I can’t even remember how old my baby is currently. I told someone she was 9 months old yesterday. False. She’s almost 1. Yikes.

All that to say, this whole miss.elaine.eous thing has been very helpful, I’ll feel like one of those stellar moms that can remember everything. Until I realize that I haven’t written anything in the last 3 months and it’s all one big blur of baby.

But let me give it a shot…

Elaine is now one teeny, tiny, talking, walking machine. She is on the move and she loves it. She’s a slower walker than she is crawler, so I’m enjoying that part. She gets a kick out of walking and does it best when she has a golf ball in each hand.

She may be walking, but she’s a walking baby…not a toddler. Wishful thinking? She is still so small.  She weighs 19 lbs. Which apparently puts her in the bottom 10%. But she still has rolls so I’m guessing she’s just petite and healthy.  In America she had a growth spurt and outgrew all her 3-6 month footie pjs.  She was 10 months old.  Come to think of it, maybe it’s just because all her clothes were put in a dryer for the first time and shrank…or maybe it was the pounds and pounds of blueberries she ate every meal.

Just before Elaine got to the 10 month mark, she took her first solo steps. We were pretty excited…until I remembered that I would be flying alone with her to the US. Thankfully she took a very encouraged hiatus from walking for a few weeks so I didn’t have to chase her down the aisles of the airplane.

I feel like each stage of her life is more fun than the last. She can play the whole “how big is Elaine?” game (or as we call it “touchdown Carolina!”) and has just learned how to give kisses. She can sign “more” and “all done” although her preferred means of communication is total meltdown. She has started imitating us which is a fascinating, and somewhat scary, thing.  The other day I was smacking my gum and sure enough all afternoon Elaine smacked on her imaginary gum.

She’ll also pick up anything that resembles a phone, put it to her ear and say “Hi”, pause, then fake laugh. It cracks us up.

Now that her hands are free when she walks, she carries around this little zebra pouch (thanks Aunt Carol!) and puts anything round she can find into it. Hours of fun.

She also loves sitting on things. People, boxes, Mac. But her favorite thing is her booster seat when it’s on the ground. She’ll sit there and pretend to read. She looks like a little old man in her La-Z-boy. Oh, man. We love her so much.

Miss·Elaine·eous: 6 months

Considering that my last post was about a Christmas party and we’re now deep in 2012 and Valentines has come and gone, I should probably step up my game on here.

Elaine is well past her 6 month mark and I breathed a sigh of relief when that milestone whizzed by.  She can now wear sunscreen, eat food, and take malaria meds.  Somehow I feel like some of the pressure of keeping her alive is off of me, but at the same time I’m also more exhausted than I have ever been.

As I type this she’s sitting on a mat beside me, singing to a throw pillow with a big cheesy grin on her face.  It doesn’t take much to entertain this little ham.

This past month has been one of the more difficult ones for me.  Trying to figure out sleeping routines, solid food, and mobility.  This girl can m-o-v-e.  As frustrating and sleep-depriving as this past month has been, it’s also been one of my favorites.  She balances her absolutely terrible nighttime routine with being a gregarious, lovable, easy-going baby during the day.  If she’s awake and not crying she always has this huge cheeseball smile on her face and I love it.  I mean, how can you not?

Ethiopians love her and her gummy grins just egg them on.  If I go to the grocery store or a restaurant it’s not rare to have her whisked away and oogled over in the kitchen or backroom.  Sometimes they ask, but most of the time she is just taken.  I’m not gonna lie, I’ve even gone to church just to have a break from Elaine because I know she will removed from my arms the minute I walk through the door.  I often have to hunt her down when I’m trying to leave somewhere as she’s usually up to no good with one of her loyal fans.  As much as I love her ability to go to others so well, I also love that Ben and I are her favorites.  She can pick us out in a crowd and she squeals with excitement when our eyes meet.  Too much cheese?  Ok.  Moving on.

This month has marked all kinds of milestones that I have completely neglected to write down anywhere and swore I’d remember…but have already forgotten.

She has started eating food and, surprise, surprise, she’s a fan.  I could go on and on about my love affair with making baby food, but I’ll hold off for now.  Surprisingly she loves zucchini, squash, and green beans, and isn’t really a fan of bananas or avocados (which we have coming out of our ears over here).

Elaine has also mastered the art of sitting and can now pull herself up to a sitting position.  After her nap I can usually hear her talking to herself and when I go in she’s sitting up flipping through pages in one of her books.  This little lady is 6 months going on 30.

She has also become a pro at crawling backwards, and has started going forward just a bit.  Yesterday she was showing off by pulling herself up to a wobbly standing position…without any help.  Slow down, woman!  I was enjoying the immobile stage.  If she’s like her dad, she’ll be walking in a few months.  Now that is a scary thought.

At the risk of being redundant, these moments are just flying by.  These have been the hardest and best days.  I have never felt as unprepared for any role in life as I have for motherhood.  I have a degree in Child Development.  I majored in babies.  But I can’t remember a single thing when it relates to my own.  The majority of the time I feel like I have absolutely no earthly idea what I’m doing.  I don’t know if these are normal feelings or if they are exacerbated by the fact that I’m figuring this whole thing out in the middle of a third world country, a billion miles away from my family and the closest Target.

But somehow in the midst of all these feelings, God has given me great joy in the fumbling.  I find myself on my knees much more often, praying over mosquito bites and fevers and tears. And I am so thankful that I’m not doing this alone.

And a few more photos from the past month or so…

Mac Love

 

Telling a very animated story to cousin David’s picture.

Ellie’s 2nd Christmas & Other Celebrations

Our lucky girl has already celebrated 2 official Christmases and one New Year’s day in her first 4 months of life.  December/January is packed full of festivities.  Here in Ethiopia Christmas is celebrated according to the Orthodox calendar on January 7.  (We’re also only in the year 2004- so technically Elaine is -8 and Ben and I are still in our teens- well maybe not technically, but still, how strange is that?)

So we celebrated the start of 2012 and Christmas 2004 all in one week.  Who needs time machines when you live in Ethiopia?

For New Years we had some North Carolina friends, the Posts, from Addis come down for the weekend.  It was relaxing and refreshing and a great way to start the year.  They were so patient as we badgered them with parenting questions.  Their kids are so well behaved- and cute to boot.  We tried to soak up all their advice.  Meanwhile Elaine was thoroughly doted on by their daughter Kiki.

The Post fam

Hike up Mount Tabor over Lake Hawassa

Elaine also got to meet her little boyfriend, Levi Hall.  Laura and Brian Hall live in Langano, about an hour up the road from us.  Laura and I were due with our babies the same week and shared pregnancy notes over here.  Levis is the cutest little thing.

After the New Year’s celebration, we hopped right into Ethiopian Christmas.  We got to celebrate with two great families- the Grays that live in Soddo (where my grandparents lived many, many years ago) and the Swarts that live down on the Omo River near Kenya.  We had 6 adults and 6 kids running around the house- never a dull moment.  Elaine loved the excitement and even got her first mouthful of hamburger (whoops) and had her giraffe stolen by a monkey. TIA.  Ben and I don’t get a lot of time with people around our age and it was so nice to just relax and laugh and speak as fast as we wanted to.

Grilling out with the gang

We also got to celebrate with our co-workers and neighbors at two different gibshas (feasts).  The meals were full of doro watt, dulet (goat intestines) and tripe (more innards).  My stomach does not get along with other stomachs very well.  But the doro watt (spicy chicken stew) I love!  Elaine got passed around and loved on and was on cloud 9.

The men and the kids…lots of kids!

My sweet friends Liya and Tsehay and our babies.

Sometimes I’m just blown away by the community God has lavished on us.  Who knew that out here in the middle of Ethiopia we would find such good friends.  As a new mom I am so aware of how lonely this journey could be out here- And I’m so, so thankful for the women that have come alongside me for this season.  Seriously.  It blows me away.

Happy New Years, Friends (a wee bit late).  Love from Ethiopia!

 

Miss·Elaine·eous: 5 months

Over breakfast Ben and I were marveling that Elaine is only 5 months old.  It feels like we’ve had her in our lives for ages.  She is the sweetest thing around and we are completely taken by her.  I feel like a stuck record when I say she is changing so stinkin’ much.  Especially right now.  Everyday we’re obsessed with her latest expression, sound effect, or trick.  We think she’s pretty brilliant…genius even;)

A little look into her latest quirks and talents…

She sucks her big toe like there is no tomorrow.

She can sit up all on her own.

Rolling over is a piece of cake.

She can beatbox like no otha.

She is ticklish like her mamma.  And her laugh makes us crack up every time.

She loves the wind and sticks her tongue out and belly laughs when it hits her.

She loves to pull on macs ears, eyes, whiskers..whatever she can get ahold of. (and he takes it like a champ)

Bath time is a big messy, splashy, event…and she loves it.

Ahh, are all babies this cute?  Here are a few shots of her latest month of life…

Parenting just gets better and better.  Those early months are great, don’t get me wrong, but there is something so relieving about getting past that newborn, fragile, what-the-heck-are-we-doing stage.  We can just take a breath and enjoy her- and celebrate the fact that we have kept her alive for five whole months!!  Hallelujah!

The Nanny

Elaine has a new nanny these days.  He’s dark and handsome and is very attentive to her every need.

Sometimes I think he’s going to eat her, but so far so good.  I just pretend not to see the kisses he plants on the top of her head when she’s sitting in her bouncy seat.  Her hair is permanently slicked back.  Ok, that’s gross.  I should probably put a stop to that.  But’s it’s cute, no?

He’s gets so concerned when he hears her cry.  Maybe a little too concerned.

And he loooves her squeaky toys.  He thinks it’s his job to take Sophie the giraffe out to her natural habitat in the backyard.  And apparently it’s my job to sanitize her daily.  Or maybe I should try training him.  Yeah right.

They are two peas in a pod.  They both whine when they don’t get attention, get excited over squeaky noises, love me unconditionally (Elaine loves Ben too-but Mac has more of a healthy fear of him), and provide us with endless hours of entertainment.

They are quite the pair.