Thursday, February 21, 2013

Seven Years of Grace

Last week Grace turned seven. Seven! Seven is starting to feel like a big number, like a big grown-up girl, like she is emerging from the world of being a little kid into graceful girlhood. She is our full-of-grace Grace.

Seven candles for our big girl

Rob was away in Haiti for her actual birthday on Wednesday, as well as her birthday party on Friday. We missed him but we managed to have a fun time celebrating anyway, and then we had yet another birthday celebration the day he got back when she opened her presents and we had one more round of cake and singing. We had her birthday party this year at one of those indoor bounce house places and invited friends from school and church and just around town.

Grace's 7th birthday party

I do so love a fun invitation. I love beautiful cards and lovely paper products and invitations and such; these were designed by a helpful, nice seller on Etsy and then I had them printed on postcards. We did a pretty big party this year (again? I seem to keep throwing these giant birthday parties) because it seems like a good age to still have big, inclusive parties with both boys and girls, and also because it didn't change how much the party was going to cost to invite a ton of kids. I imagine we will be shifting toward more intimate parties as she gets bigger and more immersed in her own social world, but I was full of joy this year to see her run around with a gaggle of friends of every type.

I feel a lot of shifting in what it means to be Grace's mother, and even writing about her here feels like something new to navigate. This post on Grace's birthday is my 300th blog post and writing here feels different now than it did when she was a baby. I've seen other mothers who write online say they aren't going to share as much about their children as they get older, and I will admit that I didn't quite get it and maybe rolled my eyes. I am starting to feel the same thing, though; it becomes more obvious with every passing day that Grace is her own person and her story is all her own, not mine.

Time for cake!

Who she is today is less wrapped up in who we are together as a mama/little-person pair. We made each other in a very real way, she shaping me no less than I have shaped her, but she is striking out in the world, a world that I think should be staggered by how empathetic and smart and beautiful and amazing she is. Her usual partners for walking to and from school happened to all be unavailable one day this week so we decided she could walk home by herself (well, actually, with the mass of other children walking home along the same streets, but by herself in that none of them were charged specifically with walking with her). She has her own voice and her own future and her own hopes, and I am so happy to get to be here in the thick of who she is becoming.

Grace in mid-air

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sending Someone

Foggy morning walk

We are getting ready for Rob to leave on Saturday for Haiti. He'll be gone for 10 days and will spend his time doing medical training for local medical staff. I am excited for him to go, but of course there is the specter of extended solo parenting. He'll be gone for both Grace's actual birthday and her birthday party next Friday, as well as Valentine's Day, so you can see how I'm really suffering for the gospel here.

There is a city in Haiti called Gonaives, and there is a slum in a trash dump outside Gonaives called Jubilee. We have a friend (who we went to church with here in Salt Lake) who moved to Jubilee about a year ago. Her name is Grace and she is a nurse; in Salt Lake, she worked as a pediatric neurology nurse at the children's hospital and now she runs a primary care clinic in Jubilee. The clinic is part of a holistic effort in Jubilee to transform the community that includes a school for children, a trade school for adults, clean water, and so forth. Our church here is involved in a long-term relationship with Gonaives and Jubilee and this year a handful of people are going on this trip to do medical training and otherwise serve the people there in various ways, the local Haitians and the Americans who live there full-time. Grace and another nurse work at the clinic along with a handful of local nursing assistants; they are the ones who Rob and the other medical people from Salt Lake are going to be training. If you're interested in seeing what life is like is Jubilee, you can read Grace's blog; if you're interested in keeping up with the group Rob will be traveling with, they are going to update this blog while they are away.

Rob has gotten vaccines and sprayed his clothes with anti-mosquito stuff to fend off malaria while I have pondered how exactly I am going to take a shower while he is gone. (Ideas? I seriously cannot wait until Lewis will sit still and watch TV for 20 minutes while I get ready.) Rob has put together training on the immune system and pediatric development and so forth while I have pondered catching up on Downton Abbey while he is away. Rob is packing shorts and T-shirts and it will more than likely snow while he is gone. He will eat Haitian spaghetti and I will make vast quantities of macaroni & cheese for the kids. He is going and we are sending.