Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ryan is 2!

It’s hard to believe that Ryan is two already! He’s at such a fun age of learning – seemingly learning something new every day!

It’s been most fun to observe Ryan’s growth with language! He’s talking up a storm. It seems like he went from saying just a few words to speaking in long phrases and sentences in just a few weeks! It’s interesting knowing what he’s thinking about and fun to hear his connections. He likes to report on things that he sees as well as copy things that he hears us or Ian say. He’s also very interested in people’s names. He knows all 12+ names of the Thomas the tank engine trains we have, and he wants to know the name of EVERY character in EVERY book we read. He’ll say, “What that name?” and point to a picture of a random character he sees in the book. Ryan knows his colors and sort of has the idea of counting, though he’ll never start at one. Instead, he typically counts “3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.” And, when we ask him how old he is, he’s always either “3” or “5” – never 2!

Ryan is a sweet, tender-hearted little boy. He loves to help and be involved. In fact, he’ll say, “Ryan help!” if he’s worried that we’re going to attempt a task without him. When he hears us say we need something, he’ll go to get it right away – even before we've had the chance to! He really wants others to be happy, and it bothers him when they’re not. When he sees a character in a book crying or looking sad, he’ll point and say worriedly, “He sad!” or “He crying” or “No one to play with!” A few weeks ago, Ryan threw a stuffed bunny into the fireplace. Kim showed Ryan the black spots on the bunny and said that the bunny was sad to be so dirty. Apparently, this really resonated with Ryan. A few hours later, he brought the (still dirty) bunny to Kim and said, “Bunny happy!”

Even though Ryan is very eager to please, he definitely has his streak of “terrible two.” He gets a smile and mischievous look on his face as he’s testing a known rule. He also likes to yell or become a limp noodle when he doesn’t get his way – or when it’s time for teeth brushing or giving him medicine. He’s already the master of trying to delay bedtime and always has a long list of things that he needs (a certain toy, a drink of water, to be covered up again, etc.) right before Momma or Daddy leave the room (or right afterwards).

We jokingly call Ryan our little hoarder. He rarely takes one or two toys around with him. Instead, he tries to carry heaping armfuls of vehicles or have US carry ten or more toys downstairs or upstairs so he can have his whole collection along. We’ve repurposed empty diaper wipe containers into carrying boxes for all of his stuff. J Sometimes, it seems like there’s hardly room for him to sleep in his crib with all of the things that he’s asked to “sleep with” him.

Ryan is definitely more independent than Ian was at this age. He doesn’t mind playing by himself while we’re doing the dishes or other tasks. (Ian would’ve preferred to be at our feet or helping us with every task.) Ryan is usually okay with other people babysitting him as well, though lately he has become a little more clingy and tells us “no nursery!” when we go to church. Ryan also tries to solve some of his own problems. Since Ryan is the early riser (waking well before 6:00 most mornings), he’ll often get hungry before the rest of us do. He’ll often bring a plastic bowl and the bag of Craisins from the pantry to us, asking us for “a snack” before breakfast. He also loves to carry around our short step stool so he can reach things that he otherwise couldn't.

We still get lots of comments on “how cute” Ryan is – especially his long blonde locks. We don’t have plans of cutting his hair short anytime soon. It’s especially cute seeing Ryan twirl his hair with one or both hands while he plays. Ryan is just over average (60th percentile or so) for both height and weight – a few inches shorter than Ian was at this age.

Ryan wants to be doing whatever Ian is doing and just adores Ian. He’ll copy things that Ian says and is almost always up for whatever Ian suggests doing. Even though Ryan isn’t always the best at sharing his toys with peers, he’ll usually be willing to give up any toy he’s playing with if Ian asks for it. It’s fun to see their friendship developing and watching them actually playing together (not just side-by-side). “Looking for monsters” (going into a dark closet with a flashlight) is one of their favorite games to play together. It was precious hearing Ryan cheer for Ian during Ian’s soccer games by chanting, “Go, E (Ian), go!” or “Go, yightning (Lightning), go!”

Ryan continues to be obsessed with trains. He loves attaching magnetic trains together in a long line and pulling them along train tracks or any smooth, long surface (like the kitchen table). He still loves vehicles, too, and has recently become a fan of getting into Momma & Daddy’s big, jetted tub (without water) and encircling himself with various vehicles around the perimeter of the tub. He also loves being read to, sweeping with his little broom, and wearing anyone’s shoes he can find lying around. (“I Daddy” he’ll say if he’s tromping around in Matt’s shoes.) Ryan also loves simple games like “Are You Sleeping, Mr. Bear?,” “Hide and Seek,” “Elefun,” and “Hullabaloo.” We also jokingly say that Ryan will be our future gymnast, as he LOVES to "Tarzan" off the exercise bike in our room. 

Ryan’s favorite place to be is outside. When we talk about our “good thing and bad thing” from the day over dinner, without fail, Ryan’s good thing is, “play ouwide.” He loves splashing in the water table, playing in the sandbox, swinging for LONG periods of time, looking for bugs under rocks, pushing his Cozy Coupe, and pushing his trike. He also loves going on walks in his stroller and looking for dogs and cats along the way. He LOVES dogs, always wants to pet them, and doesn’t mind if they lick him. He has loved having Ace in our house while Jon and Chelsea live with us, and Ace has been very tolerant of all of Ryan’s affection.

We laugh about our worries early on about Ryan not eating table food. He’s a much better eater now. Though he still doesn’t really prefer meat, he’ll eat lots of other things. Fruit is his favorite food group (especially berries & grapes), and he also loves pizza, tortillas, green beans, pancakes, Cheetos, fruit snacks, and anything sweet.

Ryan is obsessed with babies or children smaller than he is. He loves to “hug” and touch babies – sometimes causing them to topple over if we don’t catch and redirect him in time. He likes to pat Momma’s tummy and say, “Baby in there!”

We love Ryan’s happy, energetic, easygoing personality! He’s a smart, friendly, lovable little boy, and we can’t wait to see how our Lord will use him in the months and years ahead. We love you, Ryan! J
with his whole line of cars along our kitchen table

chasing a squirrel "ouwide" (outside)

It got away! :)

okra printing paintings

Ryan always spends the most time at the train table when we go to the children's museum ....

...though dump trucks and shopping carts are big hits, too!

riding in the fire truck

"washing dishes" at the children's museum. It really bothered Ryan that he couldn't get anything to come out of the faucet even when he spun the knobs.


Ryan enjoyed opening his birthday cards, especially ones with Thomas on them. :)

Ryan immediately wanted to drink out of the new water bottle Uncle Jon & Aunt Chelsea gave him!

New dot painters from Uncle Jason, Aunt Amy, Jaden & Cody!

The Thomas "tent" from Uncle Andrew, Aunt Sarah, and Abby was an instant success, too! Both boys can fit in it very nicely.

birthday pancakes for Ryan

On Ryan's birthday, we found a train table at a neighbor's garage sale. Talk about a perfect birthday gift!

Ryan loves "riding" the exercise bike by making the pedals go down, but his favorite thing to do is swing like Tarzan from the handlebars to get off the bike.

Ian is 5!

How in the world is Ian five years old?!? The time has gone SO quickly. We feel blessed that Lord chose us to be Ian’s parents! We continue to be amazed by his quick mind and touched by his sensitive heart.

So, what’s Ian like now that he’s a whole hand old?

First off, he’s very eager to learn. He asks a gazillion questions, especially wanting to know what various words and phrases mean. He also likes to make up his own far-fetched explanations for things, often involving the item in question “exploding” at the end of the explanation. Part of his 5-year-old curiosity involves testing the rules, finding loopholes in them, and wanting to know WHY each rule is in place.

He still likes to build things -- with blocks, straw connectors, or anything – and then have his picture taken by his creation. He also likes to build contraptions (often “machines” from long strings and various things he finds around our house) that have some sort of a job. He loves operating anything electronic, whether the computer, Wii, CD player, tablet, or cell phone.

Ian seems to have a mind for numbers. He loves telling us what time it is on his digital watch and knowing how many minutes/hours/days until certain activities. He asks us to make him “math sheets” with simple addition problems and will ask US math problems, too. (“How much is two 10’ s and 100?”) He loves counting by 2’s and 10’s.

Ian also has shown a recent interest in reading.  He is so proud that he can read VERY simple (level 1) readers that include short phonetic words and sight words. He enjoys writing cards to others and even typing emails, too. He’s very curious about words in his surroundings and will often spell us words while we’re in the car, wondering “What is THAT word?”

He loves to help.  His favorite “chores” include dusting and vacuuming. He’s taken a huge interest in helping care for Uncle Jon & Aunt Chelsea’s dog, Ace, as they are currently living with us. He’ll eagerly feed Ace, give Ace his medicine, put Ace in his kennel, and take Ace on walks (wanting to hold the leash the whole time).  Ian is also willing to help with whatever Momma is making in the kitchen – especially if it is something sweet and Ian can sample it or lick the bowl. J

Ian has a very sensitive heart. When Ryan is upset, Ian will think of toys or activities that Ryan might like or try to distract him. He gets along well with peers and is very friendly and chatty around kids his own age (even those he doesn’t know). He’s shy and quiet around most adults – even ones he does know (like his teachers and Sunday school teachers). While he is usually more of a follower, Ian has his fair share of ideas and opinions while playing with others. He cries easily, especially when he feels like things aren’t fair or according to (his) rules. He wants to make others happy and loves praise.

He’s getting more and more independent. He enjoys playing by himself and doing the majority of his personal hygiene tasks all by himself.

Ian loves games and says that one of his favorite activities that we do as a family is Family Game Night. He’ll often request “Hide and Seek,” as he’s great at finding places to hide in our house. He likes tag-type games like “Are You Sleeping, Mr. Bear?” as well as board games including “Set,” “Cootie,” and “Guess Who?”

Our friends often comment on how tall Ian is. He’s in the 95th percentile for height and the 80th for weight. It finally seems like he has “caught up” with his quickly-growing body and is getting more coordinated. He likes to hit baseballs that Daddy throws him (Momma’s aren’t nearly accurate enoughJ), shoot hoops in our toy room basketball hoop, and ride his bike (still with training wheels) and scooter. He enjoyed playing on his first blast ball (like t-ball) and soccer teams and has recently said he wants to try out basketball next. Swimming lessons seemed to really “click” with Ian this year, as he is now able to swim the length of a pool and even take some breaths while swimming.

Some of Ian’s favorites include water of any type (pools, bathtubs, hoses, puddles, or storm drains), cats (especially a cat named “Calvert” that we almost always see on family walks), and art projects (including painting and coloring). He enjoys singing & doing the actions to songs, being read to, and doing word puzzles & the children’s bulletin at church.  Ryan is certainly Ian’s best friend. Ian adores Ryan – even though he often tries to negotiate to obtain whatever toy Ryan is playing with -- and loves it when Ryan imitates him. Ian loves pizza, pickles, any kind of sweets, Cheetos, broccoli, berries, pancakes, and corn on the cob.

We love our creative, clever, serious-minded, friendly little boy and can’t wait to see what God has in store for him in the months and years to come! J

making okra-print flowers

breakfast in bed in his birthday ... he specifically asked for a donut and bacon for breakfast

Ryan wanted to join in, too :)

Ian opening his birthday gifts, including this bike horn from Uncle Andrew, Aunt Sarah, and Abby
Ian requested going to the frozen yogurt bar for his birthday, though his treat was more candy and toppings than yogurt ... ha!

Ryan liked his treat, too


trying out his fun new straw connectors from Aunt Beth and Uncle Andy

Blast Ball award ceremonies

Ian's blast ball team - Ian, Julia, Ty, Natalie, and Austin

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ian's Bike Birthday Party

Ian LOVES riding his bike. As soon as we mentioned the possibility of having a bike party for his birthday, Ian was hooked. He thought it was so cool that his friends could bring their bikes to the party! We let him choose five friends to invite. He chose three friends from his preschool class (including two girls) and two church friends. We had Ian's party the day after Ryan's -- on a Sunday afternoon.

Getting Ready
Once again, we were so blessed to have Grammy and Papa around. It was a little harder to get motivated for the second back-to-back party. :) Grammy helped Kim think through the bicycle cake. We copied a design that we found on Pinterest -- I think an old Family Fun magazine idea. It was very simple.

Ian was actually a VERY good helper for his party, too. He eagerly cut out all of the bike "traffic signs" that we hung around the cul-de-sac.

Grammy and Ian worked together to line the driveway with bike flags that Papa and Grammy made from colorful scrapbook paper, wooden skewers, and a stapler. It looked very festive.

Papa and Matt worked together to brainstorm just the right bicycle obstacle course.

Ian thought the "bike wash" (made of cut plastic tablecloths hung from a broom handle) was especially fun.

This "tunnel" (made from pool noodles suspended from a hockey stick) was also fun.
Of course, Ian was more than willing to test the course before his friends came.

Ryan wanted to help, too!

Papa created a bike "parking lot" for the guests.
Grammy organized the license-plate-decorating station by putting the foam stickers inside muffin tins. (Genius!)

The Guests
And then ... PARTY TIME! It was fun seeing each guest's bike and helmet as they arrived.


Caleb L.

Caleb B.



all the bikes parked in their parking spaces

Activity #1: Decorating License Plates 
The kids were very excited about decorating their own foam license plates. Prior to the party, I had cut out foam rectangles, hole punched the top (so that we could put zip ties through and attach them to their bike basket favors), and found the letters for each child's name. We gave the kids some basic directions and showed them some of the foam sticker options. They immediately got right to work!

They needed help removing some of the adhesive backs, but overall could do this project by themselves.

The finished products turned out so cute ...

... and so unique!

Activity #2: Riding in the Cul-de-Sac and Obstacle Course
As soon as the license plates were done, we told the kids that they could ride around our cul-de-sac for a few minutes. (Our neighbors were all so sweet -- some even parking on the street leading up to the cul-de-sac and walking to their houses so we could even use their driveways during our obstacle course.)

The kids eagerly rode around,

and they especially enjoyed testing out the "bike wash" and tunnel.

After a little while, we gathered the kids together and had Ian demonstrate the obstacle course for his friends.

We tried to include some bike AND non-bike riding portions, like shooting baskets in a neighbor's driveway,

zig-zagging through cones,

launching a stomp rocket,

and zipping down driveways.
The kids seemed to enjoy watching others finish, too.

Activity #3: Decorating Bikes
Since it was a pretty hot and sunny afternoon, we took a water break and came into the shade for a while. We showed the kids our "bike decorating bar" full of supplies for decorating bikes -- jingle bells, handlebar streamers, spoke beads, straws that were sliced down the side so they could fit over spokes, crepe paper, balloons, pipe cleaners, etc. The kids took their job to decorate their bikes VERY seriously. They worked for a good 20 minutes or more on this activity and many probably would have worked much longer. It was fun to see their unique ideas.

Here's Kinnley with her completed bike! The bikes all looked so festive as we headed to the neighborhood park together.

Activity #4: The Park
Five of us adults donned fluorescent parking vests and accompanied the kiddos across the street to the neighborhood park. (Grammy stayed back at the house with sleeping Ryan and got all of the food set up.)

We brought the bikes onto the tennis courts ...

... and let each of the kids take turns being the leader in follow the leader.

Then, we played a round of Red Light, Green Light. Kim flipped a paper between red and green while saying the words, and Matt was the policeman with a whistle. In typical preschool fashion, they took this game very seriously and did NOT want to be sent back to the starting line. They all stopped immediately when seeing the red sign. Once during the game, Matt blew his whistle "just to see if it's working", and one of the kiddos (with a guilty conscience, I guess?) turned around and started heading back to the starting line. Of course, no one was really sent back! They seemed to really like this game.

After a juice break, we gave them a little bit of time to play on the playground before biking back to our house.

Since our two-hour party was right in the middle of the afternoon, we just served cake, ice cream, and some of Ian's favorite snacks -- fruit (strawberries and grapes), popcorn, Goldfish, and fruit snacks.

The kids enjoyed chatting,

and then I read them the book Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen -- a cute book that we had each child sign as the "guest book" for Ian's party. (By this point, Ryan was finally awake ... missing most of his nap the day before on his party day made for one tuckered out little boy!) :)

Presents & Favors
Then, we moved into present time. The child that brought the gift helped Ian to open it. Ian got some really thoughtful and fun gifts!

At the end of the party, Ian handed out favors to each child -- a bike basket (a modified Easter basket with Velcro to attach to bike handlebars), a water bottle, a bike bell, and candy. While we were at the park, Grammy had also attached each child's license plate to the front of the bike basket with zip ties.

Ian is truly blessed with wonderful friends! It was so much fun celebrating with them and watching them all have fun biking together. We love you so much, Birthday Boy! :)