Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Decorating for Christmas

 It was so fun including Ian in every Christmas decorating step this year.  By far, Ian's most enjoyable decorating task was assembling and trimming the tree.  You should have seen how excited our three-and-a-half year old was when he and Momma were separating the branches based on size (above).
 "It goes right up there, Da!"        [Yes...Ian now generally refers to me by using                                                                           my two-letter name.]
 Ian quickly learned the technique for placing the individual branches.  We estimate that he placed about 90% of the branches on our tree this year.
 Ian thoroughly enjoyed being up high enough to place the tree topper.
 Ian was my light-checker-assistant.  Once we placed the white/clear lights on our tree, Ian and I decorated his bedroom with a few strands of colored lights.  Needless to say, he asks for these strands to be plugged in each night as he is falling asleep.
 Momma and Ian worked together to hang all of the ornaments.  We were impressed with Ian's attention to detail with this task, and he stuck with it until the very last ornament was in place.

Ian loved placing the pieces of the nativity scene on top of our piano.  You may also notice the Advent box that is on the piano just past Ian's left hand.  Our pre-schooler has absolutely loved opening the correct door on this box each day as we count down to Christ's birth.  Kim and I love decorating our home for Christmas, and we are thrilled that we will have little helpers assisting us for years to come. 

Ryan is 7 months old!

 Ryan loves "helping" with laundry and is happiest when he has a sock or washcloth in his hand (or mouth!).
 Despite his expression here, Ryan thinks swinging is awesome ... whether in our backyard or at the neighborhood playground.
 We love our sweet seven-month-old! :)

Our littlest man has reached the seven month mark! We forgot what a delightful stage this is. Ryan keeps getting more and more fun!

You can almost see the gears turning in Ryan’s head as he takes it all in. His favorite way to learn continues to be putting everything in his mouth. He also loves exploring gravity by dropping things off his high chair over and over and over! He doesn’t yet know to look over his high chair tray onto the floor; he just thinks things keep disappearing!

Our mellow fellow continues to be very social. The sight of other babies or kids makes Ryan flap his arms and kick his legs excitedly. He giggles heartily, especially at big brother Ian’s antics, animal noises, tickling, or games like peek-a-boo. He is very vocal and often makes his loudest noises right in the quiet spaces during church services. :) He will readily smile at anyone who talks to him. (Most people still comment on Ryan’s pretty, abundant hair, though many friends are now mentioning how much lighter – or redder – it seems.)

Ryan isn’t complaining as quickly during tummy time sessions, but he’d still much prefer sitting up. He’s a very stable sitter and can reach WAY out for toys (almost getting on his knees like he’s going to crawl) and still come back to the sitting position. He also seems interested in standing up and has seemed to TRY to pull himself to a standing position (though he’s not nearly strong enough and just “hangs” onto shelves or other higher objects as he tries to pull). A few days AFTER we had Early Childhood Intervention come out to evaluate Ryan, he started rolling over from his back to his belly. :) Interestingly, though, even without being able to roll over, the Early Childhood evaluators  weren’t at all concerned about his gross motor development! In fact, in all areas but one Ryan was between the 6-10 month developmental level … right on track. The area that they were most concerned about? His eating!

The evaluators were surprised to hear that Ryan isn’t interested much at all in baby food. No matter what we try (rice cereal, oatmeal, avocado, applesauce, sweet potatoes, peas, pears, bananas), Ryan will generally keep his mouth tightly clamped, turn his head to the side, and/or start crying. He will seem averse to food on a spoon before even trying it! The food that we do manage to squeeze into his mouth will usually come right back out, sometimes after he seems to gag on it! We’ve even tried finger foods (like puffs), but, though they end up in his mouth, he doesn’t know what to do with them from there and ends up just spitting them out. We’re guessing that our 20 lb., 3 oz. baby is getting plenty of breastmilk and that he’ll start eating other food in his sweet time (just like he rolled over when he was ready J). Since their services are free (or almost free), we’ve agreed to receive assistance from the Early Childhood Intervention system. An occupational therapist will come out twice a month to offer suggestions for helping us teach Ryan to eat. Someday, as Ryan is sitting down to a big steak & potatoes dinner, he’ll laugh about not wanting anything but milk as a 7-month old! 

Not much fazes our easygoing baby, though he hates getting his nose wiped and seems to be working on getting some teeth. He’s drooling like crazy and biting down hard on things! Ryan has gotten much more agreeable during evening tutoring sessions and rarely cries for Daddy anymore. (Yay!) He still is very aware of where Momma is and will crane his neck to find her if he hears her voice.  Ryan is still very pleasant no matter what the day brings – whether we’re at home or at church or running errands or going to activities for big brother!

A highlight of the month was spending Thanksgiving with Grammy, Papa, aunts, uncles, and three cousins in Albuquerque. Ryan (and Ian) traveled very well on the 14-hour drive there and back, especially since Momma or Daddy was stationed between the two carseats in the back seat. :) It was fun to see Ryan interact with his other baby cousins!

Some of Ryan’s favorites include his exersaucer (especially spinning around), lift-the-flap books, plastic rings, knocking over his stacking cups, his baby musical instruments (maracas are the best!), bead necklaces, and tags or strings of any kind. He loves being carried and will put his finger in Matt’s ear if Daddy’s carrying him or clutch Kim’s hair if Momma’s carrying him. He also likes to pull on any shiny earrings or necklaces Momma is wearing.

We thank our God for helping Ryan to learn and grow each day, and we can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store in the month to come!

Monday, December 17, 2012


 We were so happy to have the chance to go to Kim's parents' house in Albuquerque for Thanksgiving. After a rough start to the trip with a dead car battery and Kim having to jump the car on her own (since Kim and the boys picked Matt up from a teachers' conference in Austin on the way to NM), the rest of the trip was very smooth. The boys were excellent travelers throughout the 14-hour trip each way! The key was having either Momma or Daddy in the backseat between the carseats to provide entertainment. :)

The best part of the trip, of course, was our time actually IN Albuquerque. There was never a dull moment in the house with four babies and a preschooler! How exactly did we spend our time together, you may ask??

Well ...

We played outside

Ian was VERY excited to have the chance to rake leaves, jump in them, and completely bury Momma. :)

 Ryan had never experienced fall before. He was a little unsure of the crunchy leaves at first.

After tasting them, though, he decided they weren't all that bad! :)

we ate lots of good food!

Kim's mom and dad fixed an amazing Thanksgiving feast!

Ryan wasn't too sure about the sweet potatoes we served him.

Kim's parents treated us to some of our favorite Albuquerque restaurants -- Dion's pizza and Tucano's Brazilian Grille!

Ryan and Abby snoozed their way through lunch ...

We spent A LOT of time playing on the floor! :)

Aunt Sarah knew just how to make Ryan smile. What a fun aunt!

Some of the most memorable times were watching the cousins interact with each other!

Papa and Ian liked having marble races in the marble roller.

Aunt Sarah and Ian made a really long line of marbles!

Uncle Jason plays with his boys (Jaden-left, Cody-right)

 Ian loved building with his new Tinkertoys (thanks, Uncle Jason & Aunt Amy!)

We held and rocked babies!

 It was so fun to see our niece Abby readily smile and laugh!

 like-father, like-daughter morning hair style! Hilarious! :)

 We didn't get a Matt-with-both-twins pic this trip ... probably because Matt gets the Best Photographer award! He captured so many fun moments on the camera! Kim loved holding both boys and learning about their emerging, different personalities. What cuties!

We took lots of pictures!

Whenever we're together, we always like to get a whole-group shot. This time, we also attempted to get individual family shots for our Christmas cards and a picture of Grammy and Papa with all of the grandkids. With this many kids, it turns into a hilarious ordeal to get pictures!

Surprisingly, we had just one diaper explosion, but Abby did a great job of keeping her outfit all clean! When he saw others getting their cameras, Ian wanted a picture of HIS camera, too!
 We actually ended up getting some decent family pictures amidst all of the not-so-great ones!

And here's why ... we had people hooting, hollering, dancing, and jumping to get the babies to look and smile. :)

Don't the kids look adorable in their matching Christmas outfits from Papa and Grammy?? I think Cody gets the "most photogenic" award! That little sweetie (far right) was smiling and looking adorable in about 90% of the pictures!

We learned from each other!

Sarah brought along some of her preschool resources to share with Kim. Here, Sarah gives Kim a crash course in "Handwriting Without Tears!" It's so nice to have a preschool expert in the family!

 PT Uncle Drewski taught Kim and Matt some things they could do with Ryan to motivate him to work on pre-crawling skills.

Grammy taught Ian all about how to make a Light-Brite picture.

Now that we're all parents, it's fun to brainstorm ideas and share tips with each other. Amy and Jason continue to amaze us with how easy they make it seem to juggle twins!

 And, no trip would be complete without Andrew teaching us something about electronics! Here, Drew helps us get our new (Black Friday) tablet all set up.

 We smiled and laughed a lot!

Ryan on a new quilt from family-friend and super quilter, Jan!
 Ryan was giggling like crazy with Aunt Amy! Seems like she might have some experience with little boys ... :)

Isn't Abby adorable!?!

We admired our nieces and nephews!

Our favorite niece is so strong!
 Don't you wonder what sweet Jaden is pondering here? We love our Godson!
 You can't NOT smile when you see Cody! What a cutie patootie! :)

We celebrated Christmas together!

Ryan liked eating his gifts before opening them! Ian wanted to play with his gifts immediately!

We had just-adult time, too!

... though apparently we were all too tired at that point to take many pictures. :) Here is a random pic of us trying out Mom's paraffin wax on our hands. Our hands were so soft afterwards! We also played some games including Stone Age!

Mostly, we just plain loved being together!

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for spoiling us and taking such good care of us and our boys while we were together! You are fantastic hosts and anticipate our every need. We always love coming home and being with you and can't wait to spend time with you again soon! :) Love you!