Road Trips with a two-year old

I haven’t been near my computer in over a week for two reasons. 1) My power cord died and I couldn’t find a new one here for a while (but I ended up getting one given to me for free! Score!) and 2) we took a road trip and were away for a few days. Overall the road trip was fun but it was also very tiring. We drove 8 hours there (it’s only 500 km but because of the roads, frequent 50 zones with speed bumps and police stops it takes a good 8 hours) to visit a friend. We were there for 3 nights, 2 days and then drove the 8 hour trip back to Dar es Salaam. But it wasn’t just the driving, see we of course, took along our little guy (he’s approaching two and a half). This isn’t unusual for us – we take him everywhere. He was a world-traveler at 6 weeks when we took him to Kenya from Canada to visit family. He is literally two weeks old in his passport picture. And truthfully he’s always been quite a good traveler, even as a baby. Maybe he just got used to it. And for the actual driving part he maintained his good reputation on this trip, but then something crazy happened. Somewhere between when we left and the next morning after we’d arrived, someone took my beautiful, easy-going, happy toddler and replaced him with a crying, screaming, temper-tantrum throwing, terrible TWO-YEAR old. I don’t know whether it was the traveling, lack of sleep or his cold (which is the NEVER ending cold – he’s had it for weeks now) – but he was definitely not himself.

Everything was the end of the world our first day there. He dropped his truck. Tears, screaming, throwing himself on the floor (slightly dramatic I think for a dropped toy – but I KNOW – he’s two). And he decided he didn’t want to walk anywhere ALL DAY. Now you have to understand carrying him for a little bit wouldn’t be that bad except he’s not a dainty little kid. He’s HUGE. He’s easily the size of many three-year olds. He’s heavy! You try carrying around (not piggy-bagging mind you, no no, he didn’t want that) a 33-ish lb toddler on a two-hour walk around town! Not fun. (I must admit my husband did most of the carrying, he’s stronger and also has more patience than me which was a good thing that day).

Ugh. Just thinking about that day is exhausting. But we made it through, managed to keep him up all day and he konked out early that evening and had a good 12 hour sleep. Consequently he was much happier our second day there. We also borrowed a carrier thing (I don’t know the technical term – see photo below) the next day which made our hike/walk MUCH easier. I thought we would have trouble getting him to stay in it without complaining, but he seemed to like being carried around – what a life! I wish someone would carry me around in something like that.

Trip to Iringa June 2013 106

Anyways, with the crazy grumpy-ness of day one behind us, day two was great! We went on a couple hikes in different places around Iringa and it was beautiful. A nice change of scenery from the sand, crowds and craziness of Dar. We also had a great visit with our friend who is teaching there. (So thankful she put up with Ez’s screaming for the better part of day 1 – although it’s not like she had much of a choice).

Trip to Iringa June 2013 247
Just to prove I carried him for a while!

Trip to Iringa June 2013 118
Beautiful view from the top of where we hiked to just outside Iringa Town.

All I know is this road trip has made me very apprehensive about our upcoming trip to Nairobi to visit my husband’s family. We are going to drive (flying is ridiculously expensive) and it’s not 8 hours but 14-15 to get there! All I can do is pray, drug him with gravol and hope for the best! Hopefully his cold will be gone by then at least!

So why do I do this? Why do I take my two-year old on crazy long road trips? There are several reasons really…

1. I have no money. (Flying is usually not an option, too expensive)
2. Leaving him behind, while tempting is not really an option either.
3. Just because I have a kid doesn’t mean I can now never go anywhere ever (and if it does, I just refuse to accept that!)
4. I feel like in the end it will be good for him to travel, to have different experiences, even as a little kid – to see new places, meet new people (hopefully I don’t lose my sanity in the process).
5. Traveling is just kind of built into our lives. My husband is from Kenya, I’m from Canada, we live in Tanzania. No way to escape it!

So I just needed to vent, but the traveling will continue. It’s just the way our lives are and most of the time I love it! And I suppose he’s been so good with the traveling all of his life, he’s about due for a bad trip.

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Someone who wants to…

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“In the end there doesn’t have to be anyone who understands you…there just has to be someone who wants to.”
– Robert Brault

I came across this quote today on Pintrest and it really hit me. Realizing this small truth could save me hours of being angry, bitter, sad, misunderstood, lonely and a host of other similar emotions.

Sometimes I think we (I’m assuming it’s not just me, if only to make myself feel better about it) have extremely high, often unattainable expectations of our significant other or even other family members. I admit that I do. I’m letting HIM off the hook – officially – in writing! But it’s the truth. I have a wonderful husband who while not perfect of course, does an amazing job of loving me and TRYING to understand me. I admit that it’s not an easy task (to understand me) – most days I don’t even fully understand myself, so how can I expect him to? But I do. I have expected him to “just know.” To know what I want, what I am feeling, what I need – magically – without me saying a thing! How unrealistic when you think about it! He is multi-talented but he’s not a mind-reader. When I truthfully and honestly sit down and think about what I expect – most of the time that is it – I expect him to read my mind. No wonder I end up getting upset when he doesn’t know what to say because he doesn’t know why I’m upset because I won’t say anything because “HE SHOULD KNOW!” It sounds like complete foolishness! I’m setting him up to fail I’ve realized today.

While it’s true that we are from very different backgrounds (we’re about as different as you can get – black and white literally – HAHA, from across oceans, completely different cultures, etc.), the truth is no one – no matter how similar to you or how long they’ve known you or any amount of sensitivity they have – no one is a mind reader. No one will completely and without fault understand you at every moment of every day of your life. It’s just not realistic. So why do we put such crazy expectations on our partners? I think that the desire to be understood at least for women, is strongly connected to how we feel loved. We feel loved when we feel understood. When our partner takes the time to really understand our feelings, thoughts, dreams, fears. And this is not a bad thing to want! Not a bad thing for our hubby’s to aspire to 😉 – but at the same time we (I) need to realize that the real significance lies in him WANTING to understand me. He may not get it right all of the time – in fact he won’t – because he’s human. But the fact that I have someone who WANTS to understand me is what’s special. And that’s where the truth of this quote hit me. I have that! I have someone who does want to know me compeltely (good, bad and ugly) and wants to understand me, tries to understand me. And in the end, that really is what matters. So today instead of being angry or bitter or sad about what “he doesn’t get” I am choosing to be incredibly grateful for a man who loves me unconditionally and who WANTS to understand me and strives to do so every day. ❤

Potty Training Progress at Last!

I am very excited to report that Ezra seems to be getting the whole potty training process. While I admit that I was ready to quit after he went through 6 pairs of underwear in less than 4 hours on the first day — I am glad we stuck with it. Two weeks into our full-time potty training endeavor, he seems to understand the process and is excited when he does well and “keeps dry dry” (his words).

Yesterday we hit a milestone – his first full day (completely – since he didn’t go to daycare and therefore didn’t where a pull up) with absolutely NO accidents! He kept his underwear dry all day and went successfully on the potty; he even told us a few times when he had to go! So consequently I am a very happy mommy.  Potty training is no easy task and I was fully prepared that he might not get it yet (he’s two and four months and sometimes it takes longer especially with boys I have heard). However I am thrilled that he is doing so well! Of course he still wears diapers at night and pull ups at daycare for now, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel – no more diapers! (That is until we decide to have another little munchkin and start all over again! LOL) But hopefully in between we will get a short break from changing diapers and at the very least I will not have two in diapers at the same time, which I am very grateful for. To all the moms who did more than one kid in diapers at the same time – BLESS you! You’re AMAZING!

You never know how it’s going to go before you start, so I am so grateful that for us it’s been a fairly typical not-so-horrifying experience. I am happy that Ezra has been able to learn at his age, while it might be earlier than some he’s a big boy (two and a bit but looks well over three) so the sooner the better! You can’t place a number on these things. Every child is different; some kids are ready to go before they’re even two, others can be almost four before they really commit to the potty-going. I guess as parents we have to learn to go with flow a little bit and realize that they WILL go on the potty EVENTUALLY.

Very happy that our “eventually” seems to have come now. And while I know there will still be accidents and he’s still new at it, at least the foundation has been laid and I know he’s ready and he understands. Hoping that this will be the beginning of many more “accident-free” days!

*Celebrate the small victories!*

Blob

I feel like a big blob lately. Partially this is because I have a head cold and can’t breathe or think, but it’s more than just the cold. It could be the heat, living in Dar it’s very hot and humid and it tends to make you feel lethargic, but I think it’s more than just the heat. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve spent the last almost two weeks at home potty training, so my life has been about rushing Ezra to the potty every half an hour and cleaning up accidents. While all of these things alone seem like good explanations and put together they make an even more compelling case for my blob-like feeling, I still can’t help but think there’s got to be more to it than a cold, the heat and potty training.

We have been in a little bit of a transition period, not officially yet, but definitely in our thoughts about what’s next for us. We have been in Tanzania for almost a year and a half now and we have been in the middle of trying to figure out “where do we go from here?” (You see our original term was for a year and then we extended to two years, which we always thought we would). But as we have been thinking about next steps for our family, things have become a little blurry. We’ve been through many options, all good, and while we are becoming more and more certain about what we want to do next, nothing has been confirmed yet, so we are still kind of in limbo. Nothing’s official. Nothing’s for certain. Maybe that’s why I find it difficult to focus and concentrate – because I feel unsettled. I would like to settle down somewhere, anywhere – and feel like we are staying put for a decent amount of time (not forever, just a little longer than a couple years).

All this being said our time in Tanzania has been and continues to be a great experience for us. We have learned so much and we’ve grown together. I think I am just getting “antsy” to know what’s next. I’m like this of course, I like to have a plan, to know what’s going on ahead of time, so it’s not surprising I am feeling this way, nonetheless it’s tiring. I find it both exciting and draining thinking about all of the possibilities in front of us. Exciting because there are many and they are good and we have several doors open, but draining because, well, I just want to KNOW already! As the days go by I feel like I go through about a thousand (slight exaggeration) different scenarios but don’t know which one will become reality. I suppose this is all part of the journey. So I will continue pushing forward. And I’m sure I will feel much less blobby? blob-ish? blob-like – when I have significantly less snot in my head blocking my thinking capabilities. 
It’s days like this when I have to go back to one of my favorite Bible verses and remind myself, even though I’ve heard it a million times…

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

When I remember these words and this promise, I remember that it’s not up to me to figure it all out, God already has it figured out, I just need to trust Him and learn to be OK with the waiting part. I’m a work in progress, but aren’t we all?

POOPED!

*Note* I wrote this on Friday and then WordPress or my computer or both were having issues and I wasn’t able to post. The “good” news is I’m STILL tired (and actually have a cold now) so this posting is still relevant. 😉

Hello all!

I apologize — I have been “away” for a while now and haven’t kept up my writing commitment. It has been a very busy week or so. We did a whirlwind trip to Nairobi for an event – 4 days, 3 nights – 2 whole days of which were spent driving there and back! I don’t want to be in a van for a VERY long time. My back is still recovering. It was an overnight event we went for, so between the travel time, and the overnight event…it was about 4 nights in a row for me of less than 4-5 hours of sleep! If you know me at all, you know this is just not acceptable! I’m not one of those people who can run on such little sleep so many days in a row…I was so tired by the time we got home – though I was excited to see my little guy! (This was the first time we’d left him for longer than one night – he did fine, I’m not sure how I did – I survived). Then the last few nights Ezra has been sick and up half the night, and then yesterday morning he woke up at 4am and decided he didn’t want to go back to bed! So I never really got a chance to recover from the trip! So all this to say, I’m exhausted! I’m hoping that this weekend will be restful, since next week is going to be another busy one, with my hubby teaching an evening class EVERY night of the week 6-9pm!

To add to my exhaustion I thought it would be a good week to start serious potty training! HA! I took the whole week off, and didn’t plan anything, but to stay home with Ezra and train. He’s been going consistently on the potty morning and evening but we hadn’t made the jump yet to underwear. It’s actually gone fairly well (at least from what I can tell based on other moms’ stories). The first day was super tiring – he went through 6 pairs of underwear in 4 hours and I was about ready to forget it! But the second day he redeemed himself and my hope in him getting it, by only having two small accidents. So this is where we are now: he’s wearing underwear all day, and pull-ups for nap (when he has one) and night time. He’s doing pretty well for a boy his age I think. He’s 28 months, but he’s BIG for his age, looks more like 3 years. He is mostly keeping dry – he’s having a couple accidents a day, but is slowly starting to get the whole process. I am being really diligent in taking him to the potty OFTEN, like every half hour or so. Otherwise he gets distracted and won’t tell me he has to go. He HAS told me a couple times, “potty!” then actually gone successfully so that’s been encouraging. I feel like in a few weeks time, if we stay consistent, he will be trained during the day. I’m not worried about the night that can take a while.

So it’s been a tiring week, but also a good one. I’m looking forward to the weekend. I hope to be writing more often again now that I’m slowly getting my beauty sleep back up to where it should be 😉

Safari Nzuri

Katie in Tanzania

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