Saturday, August 1, 2015

Two much to handle

The Baby is officially two. I suppose we can stop calling her The Baby now ... but no. Let's not get carried away with ourselves.

Photo Credit: Nonnie

She loves to "drive" (and turn on the flashers, windshield wipers, radio, AC, etc.)
Joci's been singing "'appy bir'day" to herself ever since my own birthday, so naturally when it was time to actually celebrate HER, she got all serious face on us.

The most amazing (and elaborate) birthday card ever from Nonnie and Poppie!
My parents were down for a few days so we could all go to Jared and Kylee's Big Fake Wedding. (More on that at another time ... I think.) So thankfully, we were able to utilize Marmie's cake decorating services. Joci loves owls (probably second to ladybugs, but that was last year.) One of her favorite books is Peek-A Who? She also has an owl puppet from Ikea that she loves. And "whooo-whooo" is her favorite animal sound. So naturally, we chose an owl cake for her birthday.

If you're looking for owl birthday ides, may I suggest Pinterest? Because, in our usual style, we just had cake and a few presents and called it a day. Perhaps, one of these days, I may actually throw my kids a "real" birthday party. But for now, we'll all content with just a simple celebratory gathering.

Good thing the big brothers were there to help with the blowing out of the candles.
You know what's great about 2 year olds? They don't ask for anything for their birthday. (Not like those 5 and 6 year olds who start telling me "I want this for my birthday" the day after their previous birthday.) And with 3 older siblings, Joci doesn't NEED anything. So I got her a board book that I wanted.

And although I try to steer away from noisy, plastic toys (we get plenty of those from other family members), I'm really, REALLY getting tired of Joci messing around with my laptop (or 'puter, as she says.) She is constantly crawling up on the table (or desk or counter) and doing this one thing that she does that makes all my desktop icons pop up in a slightly transparent state so that I cannot complete a single task without accidentally clicking on a program icon and opening up some new program. And I have yet to figure out how to undo it. Believe me, I've tried googling the situation in all sorts of ways. Apparently, my kid is the only one in the world that knows how to complete this unnamed action on a Macbook. All that to say, we decided to get her My Own Leaptop. (Sidenote: I just found the exact same one at Goodwill yesterday for a fraction of the price. Grrrr.)

Marmie and Poppa "took the cake" with an adorable owl outfit (that she insisted on wearing all the next day) and this way cool Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas Waterpark Play Table. Joci doesn't yet enjoy playing in the kiddie pool (who would with two big brothers?!?) but this way she can get in some water play without getting entirely wet (in theory, again--two big brothers.)

When you ask her for a picture, she starts running towards the camera saying "Cheeeeese!!"

And finally, since she doesn't really need anything, but there are so many small kids like her that do, I decided to order her a digital print through The Morningstar Project. This foundation has absolutely captured my heart these past few months. If you happen to notice tears in my eyes while staring at my phone, it's probably because I'm looking at one of their Instagram updates. In short, they exist to help abandoned and needy children with severe heart disease in Uganda and China. Children like Joci, and children whose hearts are much, much worse than Joci's.

We call it her "birthday poster."
But there is one big difference between these children and Joci. When we found out about our baby's Atrial Septal Defect, the big question was "When do we get the surgery?" For these children, it's IF they get the surgery. Because when there's barely enough money coming in to keep food on the table and a roof over your head, thousands upon thousands of dollars for heart surgery may not be possible.  So then what?

Her latest game--"Where my hands go??"
Over the past year, my heart has been really stirred for the orphans and needy children. It would seem that now that I'm done focusing on babies of my own, my thoughts have turned to the babies that don't have a mama's love. I've got some big dreams, and I've been praying some big prayers, and I don't know where God is going to lead us, but I know I want to do SOMETHING.

Photo Credit: Nonnie
But in all my praying and thinking and researching I've learned something new: not all orphans are unwanted. Some just need something more than their parents can give. Some need open heart surgery, and their parents are forced to choose between keeping their child, and watching them suffer, or giving them up to a system that they know will provide the care they need. And that should never be.

Sometimes I think back to 18 months ago when we first got Joci's diagnosis. To that day I sat and cried in the doctor's office--the clean doctor's office, just minutes down the road from my beautiful and comfortable home, where we discussed our surgical options with no regard to cost, with a pediatric cardiologist that was fully paid by my husband's job. I had no idea.

And that's why I love Morning Star Project. Because I have seen the transformation in my daughter these past 4 months. Today I have a two-year-old that is, quite literally, too much to handle. No object is too high for her to climb. No kid is too big for her to confront. No rock is too heavy for her to attempt to lift. And no treat is too hidden for her not to find.

This girl is so full of life it overflows--a life that, given different circumstances, might not have been so full. A life that I never, ever want to take for granted. And a fullness that I want other parents to experience--skin so pink, thighs so chunky, legs and lungs that can run without abandon, and a spirit so full of hope that no dream is too big to work towards.

That's one brave daddy to let a potty-training, underwear-clad 2YO sit on his belly!
These girls add so much color to our life!

A sample of what it's like to put this girl to sleep!

I thank God for that. I thank God for her. Happy Birthday, Jocelyn!

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