Thursday, February 27, 2014

Touch-a-Truck 2014

I think that this might be the fourth time that Ian has attended the Touch-a-Truck event in the Woodlands. This year, he had a birthday party on the same day, and we asked him if maybe we should just skip going. "No!" he insisted. "Let's go BEFORE the party!"

We were guessing that, as much as Ryan LOVES vehicles on an everyday basis, he'd think Touch-a-Truck was the best thing ever. Not so much. I don't know if it was mainly because he was just tired from waking up at 5 that morning or that the crowds were a little intimidating, but Ryan didn't want anything to do with most of the vehicles. He was content to just be in Matt's or my arms the whole time and only expressed excitement about the big sandbox. Maybe next year will be Ryan's year to love it ... At least Ian loved the event as much as ever!

The vehicles were basically the same as previous years ...

the fire truck,

We snapped this picture in the moment before Ryan ripped off the hat and screamed, "NO!"

the digger,
the ambulance (complete with a get-a-fake-wound station),
a tractor,
recycling trucks (on which the LOUD air horns were, of course, the BEST part),

monster trucks,

and even a special landing by the Life Flight helicopter!
At the end, the boys enjoyed their time in the huge sandbox.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What's new with Ryan?

Our littlest man is quickly approaching the 2-year-old mark. He's at a precious stage, actively exploring the world with all of his senses, playing at top speed, and charming us with his smile, sense of humor, and sweet personality. Of course, getting closer to two means that Ryan also has his fair share of meltdowns and tantrums (both the limp-noodle variety as well as the arching-the-back/throwing-objects-across-the-room type). But we love him to pieces!

These days, Ryan runs more often than he walks ... and doesn't fall or stumble nearly as much as he did even a few months ago. He's getting braver and more agile about climbing onto chairs, tables, benches, beds, you name it ... but he does exhibit some caution. He'll often ask for help coming down from places he climbed up. He's also especially cautious around ants ... he's been bitten by fire ants one too many times. Now, he'll say "ant, ant!" and refuse to get too close!

As active as he is, Momma is thankful that Ryan likes to sit and cuddle for short periods of time -- especially if there's a book involved. He loves to bring us books and back up into our laps, "asking" if we'll read to him. It's especially precious when he'll bring a book to Ian, wanting Ian to "read" to him. He becomes very attached to certain library books and will ask to read the same library book many times in one day. Some of Ryan's favorite books include The Happy Man & His Dump Truck, Dig, Dig, Digging, Rufus & Ryan, his mini books, the Thomas book that plays music, and the Cars, Trucks, and Things that Go (Goldbug) book.

a recent library book obsession that he insisted on taking into his crib at naptime

Ryan will also sit still for increasing periods of time to complete little projects. He likes to put together peg puzzles. He likes to attach magnetic train cars to each other and then pull long lines of them along. Recently, he's patient enough to put together a few wooden train track pieces before getting too frustrated. He'll spend a long time pushing train cars along train tracks.

Ryan doesn't seem to be as wary of strangers as he was even a few months ago. He's eager to say "hello" and "bye-bye" to almost anyone. He has been doing well in our church nursery during Sunday school time and doesn't cry anymore at drop-off or pick-up time. He did well with high school babysitters we've had recently -- even at bedtime! Yay! :)

He definitely likes things to be neat, clean, and orderly. All on his own, he'll often pick up one activity before moving onto the next. He'll eagerly help when we tell him it's time to pick up toys. He even likes lining up his cars while he's playing with them.

We were laughing recently about how we, at one point about a year ago, were worried about his (lack of) eating. Now, Ryan eats heartily! Fruit (especially strawberries & blueberries), pancakes with "rup" (syrup), and vanilla ice cream are some of his favorites, though he'll try a wide variety of food. Meat is still is least favorite category of food. As of a month ago or so, Ryan is officially weaned -- and is now sleeping all the way through the night like a champ! Whew! Next step: getting him to sleep past 5:00 or 5:30 many mornings!

It continues to be most fun hearing Ryan's verbal skills develop. It definitely seems like he's learning a new word or two every day. Some of these words may be decipherable only to Daddy, Momma, or Ian since we hear them consistently in context. :) Ryan is starting to put some words together -- like possessives ("Daddy's car or Ian's cup), requests ("more blueberries" is a common one), or basic commands (at least 50 times a day, "Momma play!" or "play outside!"). He recognizes and calls by name Elmo, Dora, and multiple Thomas train characters. He knows the names of many different types of vehicles and gets SUPER excited when we see an "up-pa" (pick-up truck), "duh-duh" (dump truck), "ex-uh" (excavator), "bus," or "wee-oh" (fire truck) while we're out and about.

Ryan has started to be able to finish familiar phrases ("Ready, set, GO!", "1, 2, THREE!,") as well as the final lines of familiar songs and rhymes (like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"). He tries to chime in on certain letters (like G, P, S, X, and Z) while listening to the alphabet song. He's also able to fill in missing words from familiar stories -- like Dig, Dig, Digging. His favorite songs include Wheels on the Bus, Tractor, Tractor, King of the Jungle, Stand on the Rock, and Jesus Loves the Little Ones Like Me, Me, Me.

Ryan's sense of humor is developing. He loves to joke around with us, pretending to hide behind his hands (and wanting us to ask "Where IS Ryan?") and pretending to call all of the food items on his tray "grapes" and then smiling broadly and saying, "NO!"

It made Momma laugh when Ryan took this pot out of the drawer and climbed right in!

Ryan continues to be obsessed with small cars. He most always has at least two (but usually more like 5 or 6) vehicles in hand. He wants multiple cars in his crib with him when he sleeps. Ryan's favorite activities include playing in the sandbox, pushing vehicles indoors or outdoors, climbing the playset ladder, swinging, dancing, playing with the CD player, and storing things in his push vehicles' trunks. He absolutely loves babies, though sometimes gives them a little too much attention. He was VERY interested in an 11-month-old at the mall play place recently and first tried to pull her hair and then took off her socks. Needless to say, she wasn't as enamored with Ryan as he was of her. Ha ha!

Ian is definitely one of Ryan's favorite people! Ryan goes along with just about anything that Ian suggests -- even "trading" the object that he's playing with for something else that Ian offers. Ryan is getting relatively good at taking turns and understanding that certain toys belong to Ian. (You might say he understands his place as a second-born. What a sweet boy!) Ryan is always curious in what Ian is doing and loves imitating his actions and words. Though they have times of squabbling over toys or invading each other's personal space, they generally play together very well. That makes their parents' hearts very happy! :)

We thank our Lord for Ryan -- for his playful, sweet, and loving personality -- and for the joy he brings us!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Blast Ball

We had never heard of "blast ball" until a mom of one of Ian's classmates told us about it! It's like t-ball except that the kids only run to first base (which "honks" when you run over it) after hitting off the tee. There are only 4-5 players per team. It sounded like a GREAT first opportunity for Ian to try out an organized sport ... especially since all 4 other players on his team are in his preschool class, and Natalie's mom is the coach!

Ian was excited to go to his first practice last Saturday. Here he is throwing a ball to his teammate, Ty, while Ryan plays in the dirt.

After throwing one or two balls, Ty and Ian decided that playing in the dirt might be more interesting, too.
Matt helped to get Ian's glove all set.
The first thing Ms. Ashley worked with the kids on was fielding the ball. Here, they practice the stance when catching a rolling ball.
Next, they practiced throwing.
Then, onto catching ...
Ms. Roxanne, Ms. Ashley, Ian, Ty, Austin, Natalie, Julia
More fielding ...
Next, came Ian's FAVORITE part ... hitting the ball!
Ms. Roxanne helped him to get the right stance,
and then Ian whacked the ball off the tee!
He ran to the base! So much fun!
"Thunder" came in for their team huddle before practice was over!
Next Saturday will be this handsome blast ball player's first game! Gooooo, Ian! :) We'll always be your biggest fans!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Our "New" Home

When we got back from Christmas vacation, we were met with an unexpected surprise ... a pipe underneath one of our master bathroom sinks was dripping steadily. Multiply that by the 10 days we were gone, and you've got yourself a big mess!

Not only was the bathroom tile covered with water, but the carpet in our master closet was also saturated.
When a water mitigation team came over, we also discovered that the water traveled almost five feet high in our drywall, saturated many baseboards, and even leaked onto our entryway tile. For 8 days after returning from our trip, the mitigation team had heavy-duty fans and dehumidifiers running. Boy, was it noisy ...
... and not to mention, chaotic! We had to unload the contents of our closet into our master bedroom. Thankfully, we were able to sleep the next month or so in our guest bedroom. (And since we had just been on vacation, we could just live out of our suitcases for a while longer ...)
At first, we unloaded the contents of our under-stair storage closet (which was also filled with water) into our entry way. When we realized that getting rid of the water was not going to be a quick fix, we took a lot of this stuff into the garage.
Crazy how a little water created such a huge problem! We're so thankful for home owner's insurance! They covered the water mitigation team and all of the repairs after we paid our deductible. Most of the repairs were nothing exciting -- drywall patching, painting, new baseboards, and replacing some wood that wouldn't fully dry out.

But the silver lining of all of these water issues was that, since the water leak caused the entry way tiles to become "unbonded," we got brand new tile in our entry way. Ian watched with interest as the guys pounded on the tile with sledgehammers. He asked if he could get his hammer and help the guys!
He loved watching the tile crack as he hammered it!
After a Ian took a few hammer swings, Ryan, Ian, and Kim watched the rest of the demolition process from afar. :)
Here's the "after" picture ... We LOVE the new tile!

We also had the tile guys continue their work in the dining room,

laundry room, and kitchen. It's so nice to have a continuous floor covering now!
And the other "bonus" of the water issues was that, in having to rebuild the vanity where the leak was, we also got brand new (granite) countertops. What an upgrade from our (old) cultured marble ones!
We also picked out some new bronze hardware -- faucets and cabinet/drawer pulls.
Now, all that's left is getting our carpet replaced. This is the one home improvement project that we were actually planning to do this year. We hope to get the new carpet installed in our living room, bedrooms, stairway, and hallway in the next week or so.

We wouldn't wish water leaks on anyone. It's certainly been a crazy, chaotic past seven weeks. BUT ... it could have been MUCH worse. (We've since heard horror stories of leaks that happened upstairs while people were out of town. Our downstairs leak didn't cause nearly as much damage as that would have.) And, now that we're past the mess, it IS nice to have parts of our house look brand new!

Now you'll officially need to come visit us to check out the changes yourself! :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Aunts & Uncles!

We were thrilled when Matt's Aunt Jane and Uncle Don (from Oregon) asked if they could come out for a visit! (By the way, our answer to that question will ALWAYS be a resounding "YES!" to any of our dear family and friends.) Don and Jane have the distinct honor of being the first of any of Matt or Kim's aunts/uncles to come visit us in Texas. We made the most of the three days that we had together!

Their flight arrived into Houston on a Friday afternoon, though, unfortunately, Don's checked bag didn't make it along with them. After we apologized for our cold weather, we enjoyed a meal together at home! Uncle Don and Aunt Jane started playing with our boys right away! Aunt Jane read Ryan a bedtime story!

Right after breakfast on Saturday morning, Uncle Don got recruited to help build a wall!

Even though our Texas weather was chillier than most February days here, we enjoyed some time outdoors. We took a walk around our neighborhood. Ian insisted on getting off his bike to get a closer look at a house we've been watching go up. We were even able to go inside the house and admire all of the progress! It was fun to figure out which room was which.
Before getting home, we stopped at our neighborhood park!
While Uncle Don, Matt, and the boys played outside a little bit more,

Kim and Aunt Jane started making fish soup for lunch.
The boys enjoyed more play time. Uncle Don and Ian built some vehicles.
Aunt Jane (who is a piano teacher) gave Ryan some complimentary lessons :),
followed by looking through books together.
After rest time, Matt was excited to show Uncle Don and Aunt Jane where he works! He gave a quick tour of CLHS, and then we headed to downtown Tomball. We've always wanted to see what their Second Saturday Family Nights at the station were all about. It was a fun (though small) festival. We'll definitely check it out again and bring some friends along with us.  Ian enjoyed riding a horse,
but Ryan wanted to get OFF before the horse even started moving.
Ryan got his first lesson in lassoing cattle.
Then Ian tried his hand at roping steer.

We got to see a model train in the station ...
... and then we got to climb around on the train car.

Ian and Ryan enjoyed the kiddie games that the Tomball High School students were running, though Ryan couldn't understand why he couldn't take the race car along with him. :)
We were so excited that Don's suitcase arrived to our house late Saturday night while we watched the Olympics! He was a trooper making due without it for the first half of his visit! :)

Somehow, we didn't take a SINGLE picture on Sunday, when we enjoyed worshiping together, showing them around our church, enjoying some Texas BBQ to celebrate our senior pastor's installation, and then some more hang out time -- chatting/watching Olympics/and relaxing!

On Sunday evening, we got a BIG treat when Matt's Uncle Doug and Aunt Mary (now residents of Tyler, TX, in their RV) came to visit, too! They earned the honor of being the second aunt & uncle to visit us in Texas. :) Aunt Mary, a grandma of 7, immediately went upstairs with Ian to get a tour of his room and the toy room. Ian loved showing her his favorites. Matt fixed us some yummy fajitas for dinner, and then we enjoyed an evening together!

On Monday morning, Uncle Don and Aunt Jane left with Uncle Doug and Aunt Mary to head to Tyler.

What a fun visit with both sets of aunts & uncles! Thank you SO much for coming to see us. Thank you for spending time playing with our boys, being interested in our lives, and being such fabulous guests! We love you! Come back and see us any time!