Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Niece!

We are now the proud aunt and uncle of our first niece! Abigail Marie was born to Kim's brother, Andrew, and his wife, Sarah, on Friday night. Abby weighed 7 lb. 14 oz. and was a full 22 inches long! She's beautiful! We've loved admiring her long fingers and pretty hair in the pictures we've received, and we can't wait to meet Abby in person in a few weeks! We praise God for the gift of a healthy baby girl to Andrew and Sarah and for protecting Sarah during the delivery, too!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A couple of random pics ...

 Matt had the fun idea to have the members of our small group participate in a little contest. We each had to list the 8 countries that we thought would get the most medals in the Olympics. We gave symbolic awards to each medalist: Matt F. (bronze medal - sunscreen), Jonathan (gold medal - popcorn), Julie (silver medal - garlic press).
 Kim has always wanted to try freezer paper stenciling, an idea that her friend Aliceson told her about a while back. It was super easy, and the finished product (for our goddaughter's birthday) turned out nicely. I just printed a design on the computer, cut it out onto freezer paper with an exacto knife, ironed the freezer paper stencil onto the t-shirt, and painted on fabric paint. Voila! A decorated t-shirt. This could certainly get addicting.

Fun with our three-month-old

We love that Ryan gives us lots and lots of smiles each day!

He's also laughing more often, especially when we tickle his tummy or neck.

He is starting to think that games like Peek-a-boo are fun.

He is starting to bring everything to his mouth to explore.

He thinks "the baby in the mirror" is SO funny and interesting!

He has started to grab onto the dangling animals in his activity gym.

Our current challenge with Ryan is trying to teach him to take a bottle while Momma is tutoring. (Any suggestions??) Daddy is a patient and loving teacher! :)

We love you, Ryan! :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fun with our three-year-old

I have to admit, there are many things that I LOVE about three-year-olds ... their enthusiasm and excitement about life, their funny sayings, their crazy mix of dependence and independence, their ability to do lots of new things ...

Here are some of the things Ian has been up to lately:
First off, a funny story ... The other day,  Ian was trying to get his battery-operated tool light to light up by turning the switch to the on position. In frustration, Ian says, "It says N-O! Why is it not working??" Ha ha. :)

A few days ago, we tried a fun activity that I had seen on the AWESOME Imagination Tree website. I placed 7-8 of Ian's small plastic toys into a plastic container filled with water and then froze it. I told Ian that he needed to figure out a way to get the toys out of the ice. He first tried a spoon, then the back part of his toy hammer.
When those didn't work, he used his wooden mallet. By this time, the sun was also helping out and the mallet starting breaking up the ice. He thought this was amazingly fun!

We also experimented with using water to get the ice to melt more quickly. Eventually, Ian was able to get all of the toys out! But since he was having so much fun playing with ice, we got out some cubes for the excavator to move around.
In the middle of Ian's experimentation, Grammy called. Ian told her all about what he was doing, and she asked if he knew what would happen if he used Momma's hairdryer on ice. Of course, Ian was excited to try it! What fun!
Later in the day, Ian was interested in choosing his own toys to place in the plastic container, adding water, and helping to put the container into the freezer. It was exciting to check the freezer the next morning to see it all frozen!

One day last week, we went to the Woodlands Children's Museum. We had a good time, but Kim realized how tough it is to take a preschooler and infant anywhere like this by herself. Especially when Ryan needed to nurse, it was tricky to figure out how to feed Ryan while still supervising Ian, who was contentedly bopping from one exhibit to the next. Next time, we'll plan to invite another momma and her kid(s) to come with us to have another set of eyes to supervise! :) It's always interesting to see what Ian will enjoy the most while we're there. For the first time ever, Ian really wanted to get all dressed up as a fireman before playing on the firetruck.
He was also really interested in driving the pretend car.

One day this week, we had chicken tetrazzini for dinner. Ian thought it was hilarious to share noodles with Momma or Daddy by each starting on one side of the pasta ...
... and meeting in the middle with a kiss!

Ian continues to love his time with Ryan, who he affectionately refers to as "Little Brother," "Little Moo," "Ryanel" (rhymes with Lionel), or "Ryan David." Here, Ian shows Ryan about all the features of his activity gym.
Ian still loves participating in daily tummy time.
Ian thought it was great to see Ryan in the Bumbo seat, and Ryan loved watching Big Brother from the seated position.

A friend told us about a water balloon set that was on clearance at Walmart that included a special hose attachment for filling water balloons. It WAS a perfect way to fill up water balloons, but mainly Ian enjoyed that the attachment allowed him to be completely in charge of the hose spray. :)
The next day, Ian happily volunteered to spray off some really great plastic bins and drawers that we found on someone's curb. In the process, he discovered that there was a lot of mud along the grass.
What fun! :)
This week, we read a really cute library book called Suppose You Meet a Dinosaur: A First Book of Manners by Judy Sierra. In the book, the girl eats banana chips. Ian was curious about what banana chips were, and so I tried to find a recipe on line to make our own. I found a really easy recipe that involved cutting bananas, dipping them in orange juice, and baking them on low heat for a couple of hours. Ian thought it was really fun to make the chips, but he wasn't a big fan of the chips themselves. Perhaps we didn't cook them long enough, as they weren't all that crispy?? We'll have to try it again!
Below, Ian (and Momma) performs Ian's current favorite song ...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy three-month birthday, Ryan!

Where did this past month go?!? Ryan is now three months old and getting more fun and interactive by the day. His big grins (especially right after a feeding or long nap :)) make our hearts melt. He coos a lot and gets a very serious expression on his face when having a back-and-forth “conversation” with someone. He makes a funny laughing sound, especially when his tummy or neck is tickled.

Now that he’s three months old, Ryan can mainly hold his neck up on his own. He’d much prefer to sit up in someone’s lap or be held upright so that he can see what’s going on. Often when we’re laying him back, he’ll attempt to sit up. He drools a lot and likes to blow spit bubbles, too. Ryan loves putting his fists into his mouth and bringing his hands together.

Ryan continues to be a good sleeper, though he’s awake much more of the day than he was in the first two months of his life. He usually takes his 3-4 naps a day in a moving swing or in someone’s arms. As soon as he starts his tired cry, we’ll swaddle him up, give him a pacifier, and hold him until he falls asleep … almost instantly! J His nighttime sleep is stretching out more and more. He goes to bed at 8:00 and generally wakes up twice – around 2:00 and 5:00 – and then is up for the morning around 7:00. Momma is looking forward to getting an uninterrupted night of sleep in the months to come but is thankful that Ryan is such an efficient nurser. Sometimes the nighttime feeding sessions are only 20 minutes long! During the day, Ryan still is hungry about every three hours.

We’d still definitely describe Ryan as being easygoing, mellow, and just plain “easy.” Though he does have fussy evenings here and there, he’s generally predictable and content. He does have SOME opinions, though. Ryan doesn’t always like being in the car, particularly since he will NOT fall asleep in the car anymore. So, if we’re driving during a typical naptime, he’ll cry until we reach our destination (making for some very LONG-feeling car rides :)). And tummy time is only okay for a short period of time … after that, he’ll let us know he wants to be turned over to his back. :)

The biggest highlight of the month was seeing ALL of our family in Billings, MT – including Ryan and Ian’s new (twin) cousins, Jaden and Cody. Ryan took many naps in the loving arms of aunts, uncles, and grandparents! What a treat!

Ryan enjoys to spend some time each day in his bouncy seat (with his legs kicking!), on a blanket on the floor (with his legs kicking!), and outside.  Most of all, he loves being held … and we love holding and cuddling our little blessing.

Below are some pics taken just before Ryan's three-month "birthday." All photos are courtesy of Tanya Alexandra Photography. (See more pics on her website.)

What about the others in the family?
Matt started school last Wednesday. His faculty is thanking the Lord for a record-high enrollment this year. He has been enjoying getting to know the new faculty members. Earlier this week, he went to the freshman retreat at a nearby camp so he could get acquainted with the new freshmen as well. He especially loved watching the students navigate a challenge course together. Matt (and Kim, too) loved watching all of the Olympics on TV during the past few weeks.

Kim has resumed tutoring for the fall.  It has been fun to get back into this role, although she’s still trying to learn how to juggle everything. She will work with 10 students (grades 4-9) this year, primarily in math. She’ll tutor three hours each night on three nights a week. She and Matt planned in a strategic 30-minute break in between sessions so that Kim and Matt can work together to bathe both boys and put them to bed. So far, Matt has been doing an excellent job of watching both boys while Kim tutors. Kim has gotten braver about taking both boys to playdates during the day – as well as hosting some playdates at our home. Kim has been enjoying reading The Hunger Games trilogy and is looking forward to renting the movie now that it’s out on DVD.

Ian has a newfound interest in puzzles and is getting better about putting them together by himself. Lately, he’s also been enjoying throwing and catching a ball with Daddy or Momma … and he’s getting much better with aiming AND with catching the ball most of the time. Shooting baskets is also fun for Ian … especially if he can “use the backboard”! We can get Ian to do most anything (wash his hands, come to the table, get his shoes on, etc.) by making it a race. Ian loves to ask questions … especially “Why?” questions. We like asking him “why?” questions, too, and crack up at some of his complicated explanations. Sometimes he’s right on. “I think the acorns on the street are squished because the garbage truck has strong wheels and they ran over the acorns and squished them.” Sometimes he’s way off. “The pick-up truck has those red lines on the back because a train went through the water in the gully and the water was red and it splashed up onto the back of the truck.” He still absolutely adores Ryan. One day, while Kim and Ian were reading a story about two friends, Kim asked Ian who one of HIS good friends was. Without hesitation, Ian said, “One of my good friends is Ryan.” So stinkin’ cute!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Is it the end of summer already??

 It's hard to believe that school is starting up again in just a week and a half! Too bad the lazy days of summer can't keep going ... :) It's been such a blessing to have Matt home earlier each evening and all day on Fridays. We'd keep Daddy home with us every day if we could! We thank God for the fun that we've been able to have together as a family this summer, and we'll just have to be more creative about finding family time throughout the school year!

Here are some of the things we've been up to since getting home from Billings a couple of weeks ago, in no real order ...

Right when we got home, we received a really cool package from Kim's cousin Marcie. She included supplies and directions for various fun activities Kim and Ian could do together! Isn't that super thoughtful and creative?? We haven't done all of the activities yet, but here are a couple that we have ...

Ian thought it was really fun to be able to spray the window with water and then attach foam shapes. When he was done, he asked if I thought the shapes would still be hanging there the next morning. I said that I didn't know, but he could try it and see. The first thing he wanted to do after waking up the next morning was look at the window. "They're still there!" he excitedly exclaimed, even though about half of them had fallen to the windowsill.

Another fun activity was stringing Fruit Loops onto yarn. Watch Ian's technique in the video ... hilarious! :)

One night, Matt noticed that there were two frogs just outside our back door. Ian had just gone to bed, and since he was still awake, we asked if he wanted to see some frogs. Of course, he agreed! He kept saying, "Frog! Frog! Frog!" and giggling as they jumped around and out of his hand.
On one car ride, Ian fell asleep while on his "computer." So cute!
Ian has been very excited lately about painting. Here, he was experimenting with putting various things in and through the paint ... paper towel rolls, trucks, cars, and a roller.
Ryan loves his Daddy!
One morning during Ryan's nap, Kim and Ian had fun playing with water in the backyard.
Ian got to make his first banana split. He loved it (as if we had any doubt).

Last Thursday, our family went to the downtown Houston Children's Museum. They have free family night each Thursday from 5-8 PM. Since Ian is too young to appreciate many of the exhibits, we thought it would be nice to go while it was free instead of paying $9 per person. Apparently everyone else in Houston also thought it would be a good night to go to the museum. It was CRAZY busy! Nevertheless, we were still able to have a good time (though we plan to ONLY go to free family nights DURING the school year from now on!) :)

Ian loved the water exhibits!
(random side note ... thanks for the cute shorts, Amaloo ... and the cute shirt, Jenn!)

Daddy and Ian enjoyed their silly reflections in the funky mirrors.
Ian thought the obstacle course was pretty cool.
Probably Ian's most favorite activity, though, was this musical-instrument-sort-of-thing where the dropping balls hit chimes that created melodies.
Kim found a kindred spirit at the museum. After laughing about our matching nursing covers, we had a great time chatting!
Ian raced his Lego car down the ramp (which was MUCH too steep for any vehicle to actually stay on the track). He didn't seem to mind picking his car up off the floor each time.
"shopping" at HEB
checking out at the cash register
Vet Ian
Ryan is getting a little more tolerant of tummy and back time on the floor. Here he is laying on a beautiful quilt that Kim's Aunt Jeanene and cousin Marcie made. The back has really cute puppies that Ian loves. :)
Our friend, Lauren, and her baby Lillie (two months older than Ryan) at church.
Lauren and Kim with Melissa and her baby Cate (born one month after Ryan)
Ian enjoyed using some fun new stampers.

As always, Ian loves helping in the kitchen. He was thrilled to be able to be in charge of the cookie scooper and actually did a pretty good job with it!
One afternoon, Ian got to experiment with shaving cream. Boy, was this ever fun!

Can you guess what activity we tried right after the shaving cream?? Hint: It involved a HOSE!! :)

Our small group decided to commemorate the Olympics (which we've been having a blast watching each night! Have you?) by having our own small group Olympics.

penny toss in the pool
Daddy carry-all-your-offspring-and-hula-hoop race (Matt F. and Riley, Tim and Christopher/Mackenzie)
Zach/Zane and Kyle/Caleb

a video of Matt and Ian racing Jonathan/Nate/Anna

This was Ian's first running race (are you proud of his form, Uncle Andrew?? :)) We had to explain to the kids which direction to run and how a "race" worked. Ha ha! None of them was interested in who won. They all just wanted to touch the crepe paper finish line and kept asking to do it again and again. Who needs fancy games when just plain running is just as fun?

baby Lillie takes a dip in the pool
Ryan got a medal for his participation in the Olympics
so did Caleb and Ian
Ian is still attached to this party favor we got at Zane's party almost two months ago. Ryan thinks it's pretty cool, too. (Ian still loves to "participate" during tummy time. This time, Ian chose a beautiful afghan that Kim's Aunt Mary and cousin Brielle crocheted. Isn't it lovely?)

We had our friends Eric, Carrie, and Melissa over for dinner. Melissa was very sweet with Ryan and did a good job holding him!