Dear Nathanael (2 Years)

My dearest Nathanael,

Happy second birthday, son!  Two years ago (April 22, 2010), God changed our lives through the gift of you.  We thank Him every day for blessing us with you.  Your enthusiasm for life and your joy in living it are incredibly contagious.  We celebrate with you today, giving glory to God for the gift of your life, and praying that your life would soon be grounded in Christ.

This past year has been full.  We have continued to travel a lot, often for longer periods of time, including Vienna for 12 weeks and Colorado for five weeks!  Watching you adapt and thrive has taught us much about your personality so far.  You love routine.  You seek it out and will create it if necessary.  But you are also incredibly flexible, as long as we help you understand what is happening, hold on to your morning and nighttime routines, and give you confidence that we’ll be near.

You have an incredibly curious mind.  You love to learn about new things, to listen to us describe how something works, and then to tell the story back to us, often acting it out along the way.  And it seems you remember almost any word we use around or with you!  You amaze us with how much you pick up from conversations and how appropriately you respond.

Dad and I have been encouraged by your ability to obey.  You definitely have your times of challenge, and we work through those together.  But you desire to please us and obey and receive affirmation and have a strong and secure relationship.  We pray daily, Alim, that God is using these real lessons on disobedience and forgiveness and grace to open your heart to His forgiveness and grace through Jesus Christ.

You love people.  Though you are cautious at first, once you have time to observe someone, you almost always warm up to them and often miss them for days and weeks later, even months for those friends who have been a part of your life for more than a few days.  You have had significant times with family this past year, and it’s been fun to watch you bond with all your grandparents, aunts, and uncles.  Having lived with Grandpa and Grandma for the past 21 months, you have such a special bond with them that we could never have imagined occurring.  You also connected at a deep level with your Opa and Oma on all our visits, and we love watching your eyes light up when we speak about them or with them.  You absolutely love other kids; in fact, we’ve had to be careful with your energetic hugs so generously offered to other children.  When we tell you we’re going to see other kids, you jump up and down, saying “Yea, yea, yea” and “Babies, babies, babies!”  You also love your Nathanael time, daily getting absorbed in your own endeavors as well as loving time alone in your bed to play with your animals or sing.

You are quite active.  But that is no surprise, hearing of your dad’s active childhood and seeing how you have wanted to go, go, go from before you were even born.  Some of your favorite activities are kicking balls, spinning, running, chasing us, tackling us, hugging, tickling, and grabbing our heads to give us kisses.  And all of this is usually done with lots of loud laughter and giggles. You have an incredible sense of humor, Nathanael, and you absolutely love to tease.

You are a great eater.  Some of your favorites are pastas, smoothies, breads, cheese, pizza, fish, rice, green beans, bananas, blueberries, and grapes.  We had birthday cake a week early for you this year, and you loved it!  Though you weren’t thrilled about getting your fingers dirty and preferred to use a fork.

You have begun talking a lot more in the last month.  You held off from talking for quite a while after we returned from Vienna, but once you began, simple phrases and sentences started coming out, such as our favorite, “I yuv ye.”  You have an adorable “yes” which you love to say in response to questions.  You also enjoy saying “no” quite frequently.  Somewhere along the way, you started calling yourself “Bubba”.  We’re not sure if it morphed from Baby or Buddy, but it’s quite funny to us.  Some of the most common Nathanael-isms that we laugh about in the house are: “Uh oh, Bubba,” and your cute little, “Noooo, noooo” when you’re pretend playing, and “Hummmm” when you’re thinking about something.  Just like your dad and Opa, you have a loud, boisterous, contagious laugh.  It makes everyone near you laugh. 

You love anything with wheels, the bigger the better.  Trains and construction and farm equipment are fascinating to you.  You enjoy building with blocks and legos, and to our delight, you still love your books.  Mr. Bear remains a favorite; he is often seen as your accomplice in play.  You seem to have a huge imagination, often making up your own stories with the Little People or creating exquisite meals with my childhood toy kitchen.  And anything outdoors makes you happy – birds, trees, dirt, sand, rocks, sticks, leaves…

The next year will continue to be one of huge change for us – we fly to Vienna the day after you turn two!  You are excited to move back to Vienna, especially to fly and to ride the buses and trains and to see your church friends again.  You love all the dogs in Vienna and riding in your stroller everywhere.  But we know that you will miss what has become your home here in Kansas with Grandpa and Grandma.  You almost always follow your excitement of moving with questions like, “Will Grandpa and Grandma come too, and will we visit Opa and Oma (and Mollie and Annie) there?”  We pray that God will help you adjust, while also allowing your memories from this past year to remain dear to your heart.

Nathanael Alim, we love you, son! What a joy it has been to watch you mature this second year. Happy birthday!

your daddy and mommy

Some Easter pictures that really capture YOU...
 Either running or dancing or spinning...
 Your adorable silly grin...

Early 2nd Birthday Celebrations

We leave for Baltimore in less than two days.  I am definitely ready to be finished with all the "last minute" details that have to come together to move our family internationally.  Somehow, in the midst of it all, we've fit in some special time to celebrate Nathanael's second birthday with friends and family.  Nathanael loves to say "Happy!"  I think that's what he calls a cake now.  :)

First 2nd Birthday Cake, with the Forsythes
 Nathanael liked the chocolate icing!
A great family photo with the Forsythes
Ready for his birthday surprise
  Second 2nd birthday cake
Admiring the cake
 Just after sticking his fingers in the cake (oops!)
 Really into opening a gift


We love our families!

We are incredibly thankful for special times with our families before our big move to Vienna.  We had a few days to simply be together, full mostly of laughter and little boy giggles.


Catching up

Gregory always teases me that this blog has become an online photo album of Nathanael.  In one sense, it is definitely true.  And I know that many of you like (and even want) that.  In another sense, it's also the reality of the first couple years of being a mom.  It's difficult to give attention to much else outside of caring for the babe and keeping up with work.  And usually, nobody wants to hear about work.

All of that's about the change.  In a few short weeks, we leave for Vienna.  My work will no longer entail packing and preparing and assisting Gregory in the development stage.  It will be all about language learning again!  And I know that I will have some great stories to share with you all from that.  You will have many a laugh at our expense.

But the pictures of Nathanael will continue.  Sorry to all of you non-kid-picture-people.  You will have to sift through the posts if you dare. :)  This boy will continue to take up a large portion of our lives.  And we will continue to praise God for the incredible gift of Nathanael in our lives.

I haven't posted in a month, so I've missed many blogging opportunities.  Here were some of my favorite captured moments...

 enjoying smoothies (especially with something green hidden in them!)
lots of running outdoors
post-nap shot
lots of help in the kitchen
playing with both Mom and Dad's old Little People sets
wearing a backpack (or Rucksack)
playing dress-up with Mr. Bear
helping in the garden
lining up the animals, including Reyna cat