Happy New Year from the House of Gjertsen!
This Christmas felt very different from last Christmas for me, emotionally. Last year I focused on the Incarnation as the only birth I could depend upon. I grieved for Carolina and what would have been her first Christmas, and vacillated between anxiety and fatalism, wondering whether the baby I was carrying would live. I have Christmas tree ornaments for all my kids, and I had a special area of decorations for my lost ones. I felt brittle and on edge, trusting but fearing, waiting to discover the fate of my pregnancy.
This year, it was all joy! Valor helped us hang ornaments on the tree, so I didn’t even get out James’s most fragile ones. In fact, decorating the tree was one of Valor’s favorite activities of the season, and we continued to add more ornaments using the crafting devotional, Truth in the Tinsel.
Percy loved the tree, too.
At 6.5 months, Percy (aka Bubba) is a hefty, 24-pound dude who is moving into 18 month clothes because of his girth. He spits up less than he used do, but he drools more now, so bibs are mandatory. He sits up like a rock star and loves to grab things. Here he is, next to my friend’s daughter who is 2 weeks older and about half his weight.
He has turned his substantial back upon bottles and embraced the sippy cup. He still nurses 5 times a day, but drinks less volume because he eats solids like a champ. His favorite solid foods (purees I make) are strawberry banana, peach, butternut squash, avocado, black beans, and sweet potatoes. He likes broken up crackers, cookies, and the occasional Cheerio. He can grab the finger foods, but can’t yet bring them to his mouth (he prefers to drop them over the side of his tray).
Percy likes to go outside. If you carry him towards a exterior door, then walk away from it, he wails like it was a breach of contract. He also likes books, of any type. He wants to touch them and eat them all. Newspaper is also in this category. His feet are currently his favorite toy, though.
He’s transitioning from 3 naps a day to 2 right now. On an ideal day recently he slept 2 hours while Valor was also taking his afternoon nap. I had time to relax AND get things done. I felt my life’s horizons suddenly widen and stretch out before me, allowing room for all the wonderful projects I would have time to do. Then the next day I got 30 minutes of quiet. So it goes. The projects will have to wait.
Percy has a gesture that I think is kind of unique (I don’t remember Valor doing it); he holds his arms out to the sides and twists his wrists while opening and closing his fingers. This usually means: I want to eat what you are holding, or Pick me up.
Here he is, caught playing with his shadow:
Last weekend we went to a wedding in an historic church building that was closed over 40 years ago and then partitioned into offices, including one for Planned Parenthood. Then it was used as a storage building for the city, filled with junk. After our church rented the building from the city, our friend Joe led the team of volunteers that cleaned it out and restored it to its original charming appearance. It re-opened as One Harbor Church: Beaufort in October. A picture of redemption.
Three months later, Joe’s bride Rachel walked up the aisle of One Harbor Beaufort, they said their vows, and washed each other’s feet. It was a huge thrill for us that they asked Valor to be their ring-bearer.
He did a great job, although you can’t see much of it from this video due to the bad lighting and the photographer’s head getting in the way! I think he’s either trying to avoid the flower girl’s rose petals, or trying to step on them, I’m not sure which. John got better footage of Valor later during an interlude in the ceremony. I think he’s whispering something about the best man not actually untying the fake rings (painted lock washers, actually) from his pillow.
Although he’s pretty well-behaved in public, Valor alternates between being sweet and loving, and rebellious and petulant at home. What can we say, he’s three. He’s amazing and he’s frustrating. He can add 1, 2, or 3 to any number you give him (and occasionally add any number to 1, 2, or 3—commutative property!), and he can read a lot of words, but let me tell you, potty training has not come easily.
We’ve been working on it in earnest since October. A couple weeks ago I finally became convinced that he could absolutely do what we were asking him to do; he just didn’t want to stop whatever he was doing and go to the bathroom when he needed to. So I started punishing him for wetting or pooping his pants (as well as rewarding him for staying dry and clean). And whaddya know, suddenly he got a lot better at potty training. He’s not had a 100% perfect day yet, but he’s getting pretty close! I’m so ready to be past this hurdle and have a “big boy”!
All this misbehavin’ (and carpet cleaning) has given us ample opportunity to practice the gospel by speaking to Valor at a heart level. He desperately wants to be in charge, but the best thing we can teach him is that he’s not—he’s under our authority, and ultimately God’s—and that’s good news for all of us, because God loves us and wants what is best for us. It’s also given us practice granting (and occasionally asking for) forgiveness, over and over.
We’ll close with a Christmas morning video and some Christmas shots from our celebration. We hope you have a very happy New Year and stay in touch with us in 2013!