Monday, February 21, 2011

     Seven weeks into parenthood and Brian and I find ourselves in the place that so many new parents must experience; feeling more and more confident each day as we learn the cries, smiles, and noises of Caleb...until he does something to completely surprise us and remind us that we are utterly inexperienced at this world of parenting. The time really has flown by and we love watching Caleb learn and grow so much each day.  He's able to pay attention to faces, smile at us, and hold his head up on his own.  Each day brings a new discovery of this great big world for Caleb.
     After two weeks at home with me, Brian returned to teaching and took on the job as the only teacher for the six students we have here.  That was enough to keep him busy; meanwhile I was staying at home being kept equally busy by my one little guy.  Last week I was able to come back into the classroom in the afternoons to help Brian out.  Caleb has been a good sport about it by sleeping through most of school.
     A few weekends ago we borrowed a car and took a 5 hour road trip to Bamako, the capital of Mali.  While we were excited to get out of Koutiala (we haven't done much travelling at all this year) this was not just a trip for fun - we were on a mission.  We had to go to the US embassy to apply for Caleb's citizenship and his passport.  Caleb slept the whole way there despite the frequent driving off the side of the road as we passed large semi-trucks that took up more than their share of the road.  It always makes me hold my breath in anxiety as we pass by these truck bursting forth with all sorts of cargo - crops, boxes, food goods, animals, and on top of it all- people- packed in, perched precariously, and clinging to whatever is beneath them as the monster truck sways and tilts in the wind. We spent one night in Bamako and enjoyed our first real hamburger in 6 months. Our mission at the embassy was successful and we hope to soon get back all of Caleb's paper work, including a passport with a picture of a 4-week-old, floppy headed baby, who is gazing off into the corner.  
Road trip to Bamako!

Going for a walk
     Our days now are a strange mix of constant business and the continuing refreshment of not having a lot to do.  That is to say there are always diapers to be changed, a baby to feed and cuddle, teaching to be done, planning for the next day. But there are no sports teams to coach, professional development meetings to attend, or restaurants and movie theaters to frequent.  We occasionally take walks around our neighborhood and always laugh at how a 10 year old child can maneuver a herd of 10 long horned cebu through a pasture using only a tiny stick, then yelp out in fear and run at the sight of our dog Sierra on a leash. Neither of us ever imagined going on a neighborhood stroll and passing donkies, chickens, pregnant dogs, groups of boys playing soccer barefoot in the dusty fields, and women walking while carrying huge bundles on their heads and often toting 2 year olds on their backs.
     I'll leave you with those images and wishes for a very happy Valentine's Day.  Brian and I decided to forgo the Valentine's Hallmark Cards and fancy restaurants and just enjoy the melted chocolates that made their way to us on an apparently difficulty journey from kind hearts in America. But don't fear - the romance is not lost.  Thanks to our frequent loss of electricity we've been enjoying more than our fair share of candle lit dinners this year.

Lots more pictures over here on facebook (public link):