A lot has happened that I want to take the time to write about: our celebration Sunday welcoming back our family and the Smiths, how the kids have been dealing with our return, how Greg and I are processing this time. But today, in the midst of my ongoing “look for a job, call and email lots of different people” saga, I wanted to share a story that spoke to my heart the other day.
Cohen has asked me more than once when we are going to go back to our house. I know from questioning him that he is referring to our home in Peru. It is weird for them, because they left before Greg and I sold e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. out of that house. The picture in their mind is just how they left it, everything still in its place. He is also really funny when he asks, “Are we going to stay here forever?” It’s been weird living in a place like visitors for so long. But on one afternoon walk, I explained to him that we would be moving later this year to a completely brand new place, and we would live in our own apartment or house. He thought it was really neat that we would have our own house again.
This week has kind of been a big week for us. I am applying for many different jobs: writing cover letters, answering supplemental questions, scanning and uploading documents. But the other thing is that we will learn whether or not we make it into Fuller housing this week. We have been on the waiting list since this past fall, and the word was that we would find out the first week of May. Fuller housing would be so convenient for us since we only have one car right now. Greg would be on campus, and I could use our car to commute to my job (that I hope to have). It’s also cheaper than the surrounding apartments that we have looked at renting. We really want to hear the news that we got in. It would also be one less headache for us to worry over if we just knew where we were living. But…
We may not get into Fuller housing. It might be one more headache to worry over. It might be one more thing that I have to… have faith that God will provide. The story I want to share is a story that features Cohen praying. On this past Monday, he said the prayer before our lunch and he also prayed before our dinner. He thanks God for everyone sitting around the table. He thanks God for his bicycle and his school, but this past Monday he added something new. And I don’t even think he is aware that this is the week we find out.
“God, thank you for our new house.” There it is. So simple, but so beautiful to this momma’s heart. Cohen knows that we will move to a new house. There is no doubt in his mind that we will move to a new house. What is his attitude? He has never seen this house, but he is already thanking God for it.
Faith like a child. I want to be like Cohen when I grow up. I want to be thankful for my new house.
One thing that experts say is good for expats to do before leaving one of their “homes” is to make a list of their favorite places and plan a “last” visit in order to say goodbye. My kids will return to the states with their Pop and Gram on December 28. We have 29 days left to say some goodbyes. It is a good thing that some of them overlap.
The boy. Our sweet, Cohen Timothy. You entered the world as an Arequipeño looking like this…
You will leave as an Arequipeño looking like this…
You couldn’t be more excited to go to Pop’s farm in less than a month. You have no clue what is about to take place.
You cried that Manuela wouldn’t be at the house the last time we returned to Arequipa. You are upset when you don’t get to say goodbye to her when she leaves for the day. When we dropped Etelvina off after spending the afternoon with her, you cried that she wouldn’t come to the house to spend the night. (Ha!) You have such a tender heart, and you have won the hearts of two Peruvian grandmothers for sure. You will miss them so much, but you are so young, your memories will probably only be captured by the pictures we have taken, and believe me, I have taken plenty. 😉
I still thought it would be fun to ask you about your AQP favorites. You have completed an entire year of preschool all in Spanish with your 3 year old class. We are so proud of you. You will change so much by the time we return for our first visit back.
Places to visit:
the playground close to our ASA house
the café (unfortunately, it shut down a few months back)
Foods to eat:
Ají de Gallina
chicken enchiladas (apparently AQP style)
apples and strawberry/vanilla yogurt
What is one of your favorite memories of living in Arequipa?
What is your favorite Arequipa dish?
Ají de Gallina
What will you miss the most about living here?
Daddy and Mommy and Manuela (you apparently understand that we aren’t going with you in December)
What are you most excited about moving to the states?
the playroom (Pop and Gram’s) and playing with bicycles and basketballs outside and their playground castle
Another last for this year: the last Independence Day celebration in their school this morning. The preschoolers presented the three regions of Peru: La Costa, La Sierra, and La Selva. The primary grades told the history of Peru with little skits. I will let the pictures speak for themselves…
Cohen was a shark. The three-year-old class (or the first part of them) dressed as sea animals. Cohen almost couldn’t see out of his costume.
Maggie’s class represented the Selva (the jungle). They did a jungle dance, and then they sang “Es Mi Peru” as a class.
Ana was a soldier. What is hilarious is that I got her the wrong costume. She was the only “soldado” (soldier) with a gun. Ha!
Cohen and his condor craft. The condor is the national bird of Peru. Many tourists travel to Arequipa so that they can visit the Colca Canyon and see the condors flying.
The primary grades singing “Es Mi Peru.”
The ending was the school making a loop around the neighborhood. It was so sweet seeing Ana holding hands with her school BFF, Haslee. Here they are saying “Viva Peru!”
Looking up the hill at the volcano. Our house is two houses from the school.
It is hard to believe that you have gotten to be such a big boy. We are planning your 3rd birthday (a bombero party–pictures to come) party, but the 19th is THE DAY. We will have a mini-celebration with our teammates on your special day. I made sugar cookies and peanut butter bars to celebrate.
Here are some of the pics I have taken of you recently…
Cohen Timothy, we adore you, little one. You have matured so much in the last few months—starting school was a big part of that. You are go-with-the-flow most of the time. You love being outside on the patio riding your bike or out in the sandbox getting dirty.
We really need to set you up with play-doh. We don’t have any currently, and you have found some of the play-doh toys to play with. You tell us, “I am playing ‘adobo.'” Adobo is a famous Arequipan dish. 🙂
You love cee-wee-ul (cereal). You could eat it for every breakfast and every dinner I believe. You are usually the first to wake up in the morning. I will find you playing with your cars in your room or in the playroom, and the first words out of your mouth are, “I want some ceeweeul, please.”
You call most everyone by name correctly. But one of my favorite names that you mispronounce is Areli’s name. You call her “Ah-lah-lee.”
If you get to choose a show to watch, you ask for “Thomas the Train,” “Go Gabba Gabba,” or “Monster’s Inko” (Monster’s Inc.!).
You sleep super well at night, and you no longer take afternoon naps. We find you to be pretty cranky on school days, so it is no surprise that your napless afternoon leads to a 7 pm bedtime.
I have plenty of pictures to blackmail you one day. Most of them involve princess dresses, tutus, and purses. You might be receiving some costumes for YOU so that you don’t have to only use your sister’s stuff to play with. 😉
You have shown your stubborn streak and your defiance in the last few months. You are learning to test the waters. These occurrences have gotten less and less. When you are mad, you like to show you are super mad. But when you are loving, you are super loving. I guess that makes you a passionate little boy. I prefer sweet Cohen, though.
Cohen, we love you. This is your last birthday in Arequipa. You were born here, and we will never forget the first 3 years of your life spent in this beautiful country. You may not have many memories because you are so young, but we pray that the memories are kept alive in these photos. To our little Arequipeño, el príncipe de la casa, ¡Felíz Cumpleaños!
Cohen hasn’t had his hair cut since before our trip to the states (August). It was Greg’s job to have it cut, and if you know his daddy… he doesn’t mind the longer hair. 😉 Here is Cohen from just recently:
Well, today is New Year’s Eve. I came home from the grocery store to find this little boy:
He was so proud of his new look. He said, “Look Momma! (and pointing to his head of no-hair) MY Judah!”
He loves his cousin Judah. When we were home, he got to spend a lot of time with his older cousin. Judah had his haircut as all Bills boys for the summer months… a buzz cut. We are in our summer months, and Cohen now has his summer buzz cut… his daddy’s decision.
Cohen talks about Judah often. I thought I would post some pics of the two of them from our last furlough.
Nathan and Jenni, I have a feeling that these two would be an absolute disaster together if they lived close to one another all the time. For now, Cohen will just have to depend on Skyping his cousin while sporting “My Judah” on his head. 🙂
We had a long lay-over in the Dallas airport on our way home. They have these really great carpeted areas with equipment to climb and play on and plenty of space to run. The first area where the kids played, I see Ana stand up on the plane in the middle of the area with all the other kids (mine and strangers) around her. “Okay!” she announces in a loud voice, “Now we are going to play a game, but you can only speak in Spanish.” I immediately called her name, and she came running over to me. I explained that we were now in the USA, and she couldn’t expect other kids to be fluent in both English and Spanish. Ha!
Fast forward to playing in another area in different wing of the airport… Ana finds a new friend wherever we go. Lo and behold I see her playing with a new friend that looks about 4 years old. I observe that she is chasing this little girl who is one of the “Three Little Pigs” and Ana is the “Wolf.” (My kids have recently taken a liking to the old classic Disney cartoons of the Three Little Pigs on Netflix). I motion her over to me. “Ana, you can’t play games like that with just anyone. A lot of little kids are scared of things like wolves. Can you pick something different to play with her?” Ana thinks for a moment, “Oh yeah, Mom. Like princesses?” I agree with her and say that it is a great idea to play princesses. Ana turns to the little girl, and this is what I overhear AG saying, “OK, you can be Snow White, and I can be the witch.” (me: head in palm) Ha!
We had been aware of our furlough dates for quite some time. I, of course, shared the plans with the kids and later regretted it because they asked for 6 months solid, “How much longer until the United States, Momma?” They were also aware that we were going to “the farm” aka “Gram and Pop’s house” for the first part of our trip. So “When are we going to the US?” changed to “When are going to Gram and Pop’s house?”
When we were finally in our first weeks of being in the USA, one Wednesday night at church my little Maggie was so worn out. She had played on the farm all day, and she was ready to go home and go to bed. We were in the church lobby area when she looked at me, and said, “Momma, I really want to go back to the United States.” It was at this point that I realized she equated the United States to “Gram and Pop’s house.” Ha!
I returned 2 weeks early so that I could attend my best friend’s wedding. My mom so graciously kept my kids for 3 extra days so that I could go see my best friend, spend some quality time with her before the wedding, and be there child-free. I was so excited to see them when they arrived with my parents to the actual wedding. Cohen is my little boy with two older princess-loving sisters. He is very aware of princess lingo. I was so excited to show Jeannie, the bride, my little boy that isn’t so little anymore. I took him up to the bridal chamber and when he saw Jeannie, he immediately commented, “Momma, look! A “PIN-SESS!” I thought that was so sweet.
The funny came toward the end of the wedding. After the ceremony, eating, visiting, and dancing, it was well past my kids’ bedtime. Jeannie and Siran were making their exit in front of the building where the reception had been held. As we were walking around to the front as a family, I noticed Cohen was very sleepy-eyed. He looked up at me and said, “Momma, I tired. No more pin-sess. No more pincess.” Ha!
Ana Grace, last night you read the Bible story to the family. Your reading is getting better and better, and as you read, you even like to point out how you would have written a sentence differently. From the eyes of a momma that teaches reading comprehension, you make me so proud! You complained of not being able to go to sleep (maybe too much Inka Cola at house church?). We told you to go up to bed and try to sleep. An hour later we were hearing a voice talking. I went to check and see which child was “sleep talking.” You had turned your bedside lamp on and were reading aloud. The story I got to listen in on was “Are You My Mother.” We are so proud of you, sweet big sister.
Maggie Kate, you love to get away with not working. We are having to learn how to discipline you in this area since it isn't fair to your big sister. Your teacher told me that you are more advanced than the other kids in many areas of learning, but you use an excuse that I hear too often. You say, “But I am not big enough. I am not 5 yet.” You use this excuse when you don't want to do work or homework. You are a little stinker! But that work ethic didn't show in your memory verse this month. You memorized (with much ease, I must say) your verse in Spanish. Every day you would quote it aloud to whoever would listen. When it came your turn yesterday at our celebration worship, you spouted it out in front of everyone with ease. My goodness, it makes us proud. You are a big girl! And I cannot wait to see all of those “smarts” used for the glory of God.
Cohen Timothy, my little love bug. You are at such a precious stage, and it will break my heart when you no longer want to hug and kiss me as much as you do now. You are fascinated with moving vehicles, and you love to say the word of a vehicle you hear over and over and over until someone acts excited with you. 🙂 You are sure to place your cars and trucks into a purse and then put your purse in a backpack when we go out of the house. You are talking so much, and it is so fun to be with you every day in this stage. You also quoted your memory verse yesterday in front of everyone. When by yourself, you say, “Jesus… dijo… camino!!!” and then you clap for yourself. This morning you lined up all of your chairs, and said, “Thomas Train!” Your sisters would have been putting their babies to sleep at that age. I also don't want to forget that you love to say our visitor's name, Catherine. But you say, “Cafrin.” So cute! We are so proud of our little boy, and we love you so much.
April 19 is your birthday. I am writing your post late, and I plan to write your big sister’s birthday post after this (her’s will be more than one month late!). And that, my son, is a sign that life is just a bit more full with three little people instead of two and most definitely one. I have quite a few pictures to post here. I hope to shed light on you as a two-year-old by describing what is going on in these pictures…
It is hard to believe that you have gone from this little face on Day 1…
to this cute little 2-year-old face this month…
Here is a little bit about you:
1. You LOVE anything that has wheels, and you especially love the sounds they make. You ask every day if you can “Play” (draw out the “ehhhh” in that word) which means the sandbox. You will spend hours out on our little patio shoveling sand and moving your dump trucks around (your Xmas present). It was very appropriate that you had a “transportation” theme for your birthday party.
2. You are showing the true colors of a “Terrible Two” here lately. Neither of your sisters ever threw fits so this is a new arena for us. You tend to throw punches when you don’t get your way, scream out when you don’t get what you want, and you are a pro at body contortion so that it is hard to hold you. We are working on that. You spend way more time “in your room” because of this, and I have a feeling you will be having more “stern talks” from your daddy and momma than your sisters needed. You look really cute in this little shopping buggy, but I have come to despise them. You throw a fit going into the store if I don’t put you in one (they don’t hold very many groceries), and the one time I put you in one (here), you r.e.f.u.s.e.d. to get out when it was time. Let’s just say we have had our share of times when I was “that mom” in the grocery store and Plaza Vea. You are VERY passionate about your wheels.
3. You are my little buddy. I have chosen to grocery shop on Sunday mornings so that you can stay at the house with big sisters and Daddy. But you are my shopping buddy on Monday mornings, Wednesday mornings, and Friday mornings when I stroll you to the café. Ana isn’t usually with us, but this is your get-up: the stroller and your little sombrero (the hat Ana wore at her very first jardín).
4. You are the stereotype for “boy.” Nature definitely wins the argument, because we have not encouraged the things you tend to like. As your Daddy reflected the other day, not only do you love things with wheels, you prefer “chucks” (trucks) to “carrrrrrz” (cars) and you prefer “chactoors” (tractors) to trucks. No one has taught you these things. You just know. But having two big sisters still gives you a sweet, gentle side. It is a common scene to see you pushing the stroller around, cooking in the play kitchen and bringing me something “Hahhhhhhhttt” (hot), or pretending you are going to the market with your purse and cellphone.
5. You annunciate the ends of words so well. If a word ends in a consonant, you pronounce it very clearly. I know your Aunt Katy (the speech path) would enjoy listening to your speech development. You are talking more and more. My favorite short phrases that you say right now are “Ahh-own-no” (I don’t know) and “Top itt!” (Stop it). Our favorite word that you say is milk. You sound a little bit like a cow and ask for “Mee-ehhllll-kkk.” Ha! You also speak a lot more Spanish than your sisters did at your age. You are home every Thursday by yourself with Manuela. She has taught you so many words, and you respond correctly in your actions when she asks you to do something in Spanish. One word you act on very quickly is “baile” (dance). You shake it like a real latino. Manuela takes credit and is very proud of you. You have also just recently come up with a breakdance move where you spin on the floor off of your hands. 🙂
6. You love “bahhls” (balls) and to “tump” (jump). You have just recently been getting some air on your jumping, but it has to be one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Your mother can be heard giggling a mile away when you are showing off your “tumping” skills.
7. You are still taking a mid-day nap (around 2 hours) and you sleep from 7 pm to 7 am. You are a fantastic sleeper and every baby-sitter that puts you to bed tells us that you are super easy to lie down. Your routine is still paci, blanket, and monkey, but you have started going to bed with a few trucks lately. We have not transitioned you to the big bed (your sisters were sleeping in big beds months before turning two) because you are too good of a climber and you just won’t stay in the bed (we tried one night). I am happy with you being in the pack-n-play for now. You can reach the plug to your fan and the switch to the lamp, so there are many late nights that I come in after you have fallen asleep to plug the fan back in and turn the lamp off.
8. You have this thing right now where you act like a cat. If we say the word “cat” you transform. You get down on all fours, meow, and answer in a high-pitched cat voice. Many mornings I come in to get you out of bed and I pick up a cat instead. It is very helpful when you desire for me to chase you. All I say is “hey there little kitty-cat” and you transform and crawl over to me. Ha!
9. You treat Ana like a second mom. You go to her when you are sad or want to be comforted. You ask her for help. You treat Maggie like your twin sister. You guys fight, hit, and bicker with the best of them. But you also love chasing each other around in laughter.
10. You love getting a hold of “lellows.” I am not sure why you call “markers” that, but you throw a fit when I catch you with one that your sisters leave out. You think you are so big when you get to color with markers.
11. You are affectionate. You have no problem with the Peruvian greeting and good-bye of kissing someone and hugging them. You say so many of the Peruvian names. Your favorites are “Dita” (Anita), “Vina” (Etelvina), and of course, “Lela” (Manuela).
12. You LOVE Manuela. You run down the stairs when you think you hear her coming in. You show her all of your trucks, lining them up in the kitchen for her, and you always want to eat breakfast with her (even if you have already eaten). You prefer “pan” (the Spanish word for bread) like a true Peruvian. Again, she takes great pride in teaching you these things. She planned to come to your birthday party (which is huge because she usually won’t come to activities I invite her to on her day off), but she ended up being sick. But the next day she worked, she brought you a complete set of tractors with a trailer. You love them, but not as much as she loves you. 🙂
Here are some pics from your birthday party. We invited all the boys from the church, but the Peruvians couldn’t make it. You had an all kids-gringo party…
Cohen Timothy, what a joy you are. You are not our little baby boy anymore. We love you, and I want you to know that your momma treasure all of these things in her heart.