Most recently, as most know by now, we found out our second child is another little girl! We were both extremely surprised by this, since we both expected a boy, although, for no real reasons other then "intuition". It is a little weird knowing for this pregnancy, a boy has been "eliminated". Although we knew one of the two genders would have to be. We are very excited to have two sweet little girls running around, especially Aaron! He loves imagining what it will be like having TWO "daddy's girls".
We are naming her Eden Rene', which was the very hard choice we chose between when naming Madison. I'm pretty excited I get to use both names now! Eden is simply a beautiful name that means "delight", while Rene' is my middle name and means "Reborn". So, I guess it becomes something like "A delight reborn" or "A delight that's been reborn".
Aaron's students wanted to be the ones to reveal the gender to us, so anxiously we had the nurse write it down and seal it in and envelope, which we handed over to Aaron's coworker, Meredeth. Later that night they had a great production for us, where they re-enacted the Circle of Life song from the Lion King. It was the most hilarious gender reveal I have ever heard of happening! They acted out all the animals, and of course there was "Rafiki" carrying the basket with a baby. In the end they held up the baby, wrapped in a blanket, and pulled it off to reveal a baby dressed in girl clothes, however, the baby was dropped with the blanket in the process, causing us to die laughing as we discovered our great surprise! It was such a wonderful way to have the students want to be involved in this step in our lives. It really meant a lot to us that they cared that much to create this amazing routine. They ended up with an audience of about 15 other staff who had heard they had something big planned and wanted to come watch. It truly was a celebration! I can't wait to share the story with Eden one day!
Madison is growing and changing almost constantly. It is a crazy concept to me that at 17 months old, she is so independent, fearless, outgoing, even bold. She is truly her mother's child, which I pray she uses those characteristics in a much more God honoring way then I did growing up. I was also my father's daughter when it came to characteristics like this, and I can only imagine now how he felt, raising a small clone of himself. Now I know why we butted heads so much in my teen years, as well as held fast as best friends. I cringe knowing that in her mind, I will be an enemy for a while. It seems to happen with most girls and their moms, but being so similar in personality, I feel as though the teen years will be a mix of the extremes from best friends to enemies, without much middle ground between. I did it to my father, and I can already see the similarities. However, I have no doubt in the long run this will be God's way of growing each of us into his character, and of course, one day, just like my dad and me, she will have a child of her own, just like her!! (I don't say this as the parent's curse, but as the blessing it was to me to have my father, and my daughter.)
As far as skills, Madison's vocabulary isn't english, but I've discovered several "words" she always uses for the same thing. And even though we continue to use the correct words, she replies with her own little language. I'm grateful for finally picking up on it! Communication is getting so much easier! I've also discovered a pretty good ability of hers for following simple directions. I hadn't really tried to use them with her until recently, and was pleasantly surprised when she followed them. I'm not sure if she may have been able to do this sooner, but it's another great discovery. With it, however, has come the discovery that she knows the word "no" in context, either verbally or shaking her head. She will definitely let you know if she doesn't want to do what you have asked, which isn't always ok, depending on the request of course. I still feel extremely unequipped and unsure of discipline for tantrums and bad actions. I think I'm learning a little as I go, but I'm constantly running into walls and feeling unproductive, leaving me to give up, which I try not to, but the feeling of helplessness or failure in teaching my child can be a constant feeling on some days, leaving a frustrated mommy and daughter when daddy gets home. Not such a good thing.
Aaron's students are going through their "phases", which is fun and exhausting to watch! Everything was pleasant and perfect for about a month, and then came the realization that they are stuck with all these personalities for 8 more months! A lot of the surface getting along began to dwindle as personalities clashed when they didn't feel like putting up with little quirks of others. For the most part they have worked through this and are now learning to live honestly as well as sacrificially together. Of course, this isn't smooth or perfect and probably won't ever be for some of them, but they are doing well. The retreat season has slowed down for them and classes have picked up, which both they and Aaron love. We've had some great experiences thus far, but this is already getting long, so I encourage you to check out the walkabout blog, which has a link at the top of this page. You can find videos and blogs from the students and Aaron, and keep involved in how their journey is going.