Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Saturday, May 24, 2014


How do I begin to sum up a year of joy with this gift from God?  This girl, this invaluable treasure, has sneaked her way into places deep within my heart - places which I didn't even know existed.  She is a dream come true, my daughter, my friend.

I couldn't count the number of times over the past year that I have replayed in my mind the hours and days surrounding Ellee's birth.  Oftentimes if my mind is spinning as I try to settle down to sleep, I'll just begin to focus on her birthday, the utter joy and excitement I felt as she surprised me and started coming early.  Holding Ellee in my arms as I rock her before her naps or bedtime,  I'll think about those early hours with her, just me and her, in the hospital.  She was so tiny, so warm and she made the softest, sweetest baby noises I had ever heard.  She captivated me during those early hours as she still captivates me now.

Within the last month, she has grown and changed by leaps and bounds.  After really fighting her to eat anything besides breast milk, she has finally taken to eating two reasonable meals a day.    She just eats bites of whatever I have for breakfast : cereal, oats, yogurt & fruit or an egg.  Lunch and dinner, though, I make her up some concoction of fresh cow's milk (albeit home-pasturized), fruit, sometimes peanut butter, sometimes pumpkin, and rice cereal.  She eats bites of whatever we are eating as well, but Little Miss Two Teeth has a hard time doing a real number on solid foods yet.  Regardless, I am just thankful that she will actually eat food off of a spoon and has recently started taking a sippy cup.  I have no intentions of weaning her anytime soon, but I feel a lot less anxious knowing she's pulling some nutrition from a source besides me.  She weighs around 20 lbs, so I know she isn't hurting for calories.

Along with her new eating habits, she has developed some new modes of transportation for herself.  She's been crawling for a couple months, but refused to stand up until three days ago.  Even with help, she wanted nothing to do with being on her feet.  I was beginning to fret about why she was avoiding that major developmental milestone, but figured I'd give it a while longer.  Sure enough, Wednesday night, she just started standing up.  Now we can't get her to sit down.  She can climb stairs; she's even trying to cruise the furniture already.  That girl.  She doesn't want to do anything until she can do it perfectly.  It was that way with learning to crawl, now learning to stand, and I bet she'll wait to walk until she can just let go and stroll around the neighborhood.  She's a real stink.

Her vocabulary is exploding!  Just yesterday as I was sitting outside with her on the front porch, she waved at a lady passing by and before I could say anything, she said, "Mme", plain as day.  "Mme" means something like ma'am or Mrs in Sesotho and it's how you greet any married woman.  Ellee can also say Mama, Dada (when she wants to, not often, she's a real stinker), Ky for Kyle, sky, bird, hello, bye bye, night night, bite, bath and yeah.  Of course, bird, bite and bath all sound very similar but in context, it is obvious what she is trying to say.  If I tell her no, she'll often respond with "yeah".  We are so in for it.  On command she can kiss, dance, wave, clap, and laugh.  Her forced laugh keeps us roaring.  I don't know why she's started it, but whenever someone else is laughing, she forces out the most woody-the-woodpecker laugh you've ever heard.  It's hilarious!  She also makes car and plane noises while she plays with Kyle's toys, much to his delight.  We think she's great fun.

For a year I have been singing or humming Edelweiss to my girl as I nurse her before bed.  The words to that song have brought me to tears on numerous occasions because they express exactly what I feel in my heart.  I pray over her, sing over her, wish over her so many things during those quiet, dark hours; my heart is full of hopes and dreams for this sweet child.  Most of all, I pray she will become a God-fearing woman, strong and gentle, caring and honest, helpful, hopeful and joyful in whatever life brings her way.  I pray she will grow into a lovely little girl, and a virtuous woman.  I pray for her future husband and her future children.  It seems so far off now, rocking a sleeping baby in my arms, but I already know the days and years fly by.

Edelweiss, edelweiss, every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me
Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever!

Home from the hospital

Newborn photo shoot

One month old

Two months, dressed up for church

Three months

Four months

Four months

Five months

Seven months

Seven months, dressed up for church (same dress)

We'll pretend like this is nine months, don't actually have a precise picture

Ten months

Eleven months

Eleven months, hanging with Tlotlisang

Birthday eve

One year old!

Happy first birthday, my beloved girl.  Mama loves you!


Monday, May 19, 2014

Guest Room Makeover

When we first heard details about our Mokhotlong home, this room was described as a storage room with very little natural light.  Until I actually saw the room, I imagined how I wanted to re-do it to turn it into a guest room.  Then I saw it.  It really did need some serious work to get it into a cozy state.  Hard work pays off, though, and I am so pleased with the result!

The room is large but it felt so gloomy because it was so dark.  The ceiling was a major issue; in some places it was a bubble wrap type insulation while the majority was a dark brown thick cardboard type material.  The roof was really sagging in about half the room and honestly just needed to be replaced.  I mentioned to our landlord that we'd like to fix it and would foot the bill.  While we were in the US, he and his carpenter guys got in there and took down the existing ceiling and rebuilt it, leaving it higher than it was originally.  Then they painted it white and oh my goodness has it changed the whole room.  Then they primed the walls which were a muddy brown.  When we arrived back from our trip, it was like a blank slate for me to work with.  I was thrilled!

This is the only picture we have of the room before it was redone.  I could just kick myself for not taking a better before picture.

We bought a nice bed with a wooden frame from our friends and picked up a night stand while we were in Johannesburg on our way back into the country.  A while back, I bought a new duvet and throw for the bed.  Right here in Mokhotlong I found up a couple pictures to hang on the wall and some curtains to hang in front of the shelves to hide their mess.  The pictures are of two African women, one with a basket on her head (a common sight in Lesotho) and the other with a child.  I cut and hemmed the curtains and had some extra to make two curtains for the small window.  Hemming curtains by hand is real work, folks.  Having light curtains that can open and close easily helps let in as much natural light as possible.

Trying to get over my aversion to hearts with these cuties I picked up.  They have Afrikaans words on them.

On Friday (our 5th wedding anniversary, romantic, huh?) we painted the walls a light creamy color and put the finishing touches on the room that evening.  I spent Saturday morning on my hands and knees scrubbing the paint drips off the floor from where the ceiling had been painted.  My fingers are still feeling raw from all the pressure I had to apply to get those globs up.  Nevertheless, the floor looks ten times better than it ever has.  A lamp and a rug and a bed heater help to make the room a lot more cozy.  Plus, we put the chimney to our coal stove up through that room so that the heat from it would take the chill off the guest room.  It is actually a fairly warm room anyway because the sun does beat down on the roof in that area during a good part of the afternoon.

It truly looks like a different place now and our landlords (and dear friends) could hardly believe it when we showed them Saturday.  Upon seeing it, they jokingly asked if we could possibly open a B&B together.  I'm tickled pink at how it turned out and can't wait for a guest from far, far away to come occupy it for a while.  Any takers?