Monday, January 27, 2014

dear aleni, for your fourth

Dear Aleni,
No surprise here... I'm late writing your birthday post. Things have been crazy for momma and daddy this last month or so, but I am so happy to find a time and place to write you for your fourth birthday.

To tell you the truth, you turning four is hard for me! I feel like you are so huge now! Where did this baby go?



On the other hand, you are just so much fun. You are one of a kind. Your dramatic view of life and passionate retellings always cause your daddy and I to exchange quiet smiles.

3 has been a blast. It has been a gradual shift--from you being fiercely independent and struggling to allow others into your "territory", to an openness to new friends, sharing, and being part of a group. I love that my girl who has never been one to linger and snuggle now seeks out moments to share her love and hugs. I love that my girl is learning to truly feel empathy for others and remorse for making wrong choices. You are growing up... and you are growing up well!

Here are some things you say that make us giggle:
-"Bahm-loon" for balloon
-"Shah-berry Yortcake" for Strawberry Shortcake
-"Chicken nudge-its" for chicken nuggets.
-"Orsey" for horsey.
-"Bee-nana" for banana.
-"Dora Explor-ya" for Dora the Explorer.
-"I feegot" for I forgot.
-"Slush" for flush.
-"Yiss ok!" for it's ok.

You are a very busy, active girl! You are SO good at finding ways to keep yourself occupied, even if it's something sneaky. ;) You love things with a lot of tiny pieces, and you like rearranging things. You are crazy good at puzzles and like to help out with "big people jobs" (like mopping the floor).

You've got a strong sense of style. ;)

Your favorite color is blue; your favorite things are black horseys, rainbows, castles, princesses and little doggies. Your favorite foods are hot dogs, goldfish crackers, bananas, quesadillas, cheese sticks, spaghetti chicken nuggets, noodle soup, corn & peas. You just had a little growth spurt and are now in 4T clothes.

You love to explain and re-explain things. You are a storyteller who likes a captive audience and a dramatic finish. A typical story might go like this:
You freeze, eye-brows raised, finger to lips: "MOM!", you whisper loudly. "I have an idea! First, I go to the orsey place. Then, I go with my abuelo to ride the horsies again and again and I am not scared. But then," and here, you've reach a louder pitch, and your brow furrows with concern, "It's a mean horsey and I fall down, down, down to the ground," Here, you dramatically lower yourself to the ground, rolling around for emphasis, "And I cry so much because it hurts so baaaaad." You have decided a bad ending is usually a better ending ("Aleni, did you have good dreams last night??" "No! I dreamed monsters and bad dinosaurs!"). :)

You are a brave, wild and adventurous girl--as long as you don't feel like you are being watched. You are often lost in enjoying the moment, to look up and find people watching you... and then you are very embarrassed.

At a concert recently, this was seen. At the end of each song, everyone would clap--at which point you'd jump up on your chair, raise your arms and yell, "Woohoooooo!" Unfortunately, after one song, you didn't notice that no one clapped, so you jumped up and yelled "Woohoo" to a completely quiet auditorium. All your bravery melted away in a second as you jumped down and hid under the chair.

You don't love having your picture taken, and you don't like me to look at something you're doing (like a coloring) until you are all the way done.

You are becoming a thoughtful and considerate girl, and we love to see that in you! We also love your funny sense of humor, your energy and your strength!

We love you so much, darling girl! Happy 4th!
Love forever,
Daddy & Momma

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Too Small to Ignore"

You know I love to share a good thing... and, this latest read is just that--GOOD!! :)

"Too Small to Ignore" is written by former president of Compassion, Wess Stafford. It has truly been one of the most amazing books I have read lately, revolutionizing the way I think about children, missions... and poverty! To be honest, when I first saw that a man that had worked for Compassion wrote a book about children--I thought, "This is going to be an obvious read: Sponsor kids."

Instead, the book takes you on an intimate journey through the Wess's life, from growing up in a primitive tribe in Southern Africa, to boarding school, to living in the US... He offers a valuable and unique perspictive on the things dear to his heart: namely children and poverty--or better said, children in poverty.

Although I am a person who loves children, and one who has lived in a third-world country... I was blown away by some of his insights, and it totally made me understand things even about Rey or about the culture I was living in while I was in Mexico.

The author is heart-broken that the church today does not see what a treasure children are NOW. He says too often we just kind of "put up" with childhood, bear with it until it's over: "When the child is grown they are a valuable asset to society"... keeping the child on the sidelines.... while Jesus--more than once--states that children are very important. Just as they are--being children.

Wess stresses that he believes the root of poverty is fatalism-- "I don't matter.There's nothing special about me." That was a profound thought to me, and bore true the longer I thought about it. Which, Wess says, is why the GOSPEL is the perfect antidote to poverty! "When a poor child comes to understand that God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, knows her name, that God cares deeply about her, that he knows how many hairs are on her head, that he etched the unique design of her fingerprints, that he gave her a unique and delightful way of laughing, and that he sent his own Son to die on the cross to save her, that leads to an epiphany that changes, everything. 'I guess I matter after all!' "

I took pages and pages of notes from his book, and I won't bore you with all the morsels (or spoil it for you)... But, here's a quote I loved: "A child may be born into poverty, but poverty is never born into the heart of the child." He spoke of giving up, of loosing the want to dream, as being the greatest poverty.

Also, Wess talks long about the many rich lessons and life-perspective he gained from growing up in his tightly-knit African tribe--many of which I want to try to weave into our way of family from now on.

I could seriously go on and on.. but, I won't. Just go get it! Oh--and as if it needs to get better--Wess asked that all author's royalties from the sales of his book be given back to Compassion International to further their work... so, it's really a win-win! :)