Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fun February outings

 Just catching up on some blogging ... :)

Our family always looks forward to the annual Touch-a-Truck event in The Woodlands. We've gone each year for the past four (or maybe five??) years, I think. Both boys were excited to climb into and explore the trucks. Early into the event, Ryan got startled when another child honked the garbage truck horn when Ryan was walking in front of it. For quite a while after that, Ryan wanted to be held instead of climbing into the trucks.

 So, Ian took a turn "driving" and honking the horns of various trucks and vehicles.

 Ian's favorite vehicle, though, was the Life Flight helicopter that landed on an adjacent field.

 Ryan was perfectly content playing under the toy tent with small vehicles that reminded him of cars and trucks he has at home.
 Right before we left, Ryan was willing to pose with a police pick-up truck ...
 ...and to climb on a trailer!

Another day in February, Ryan, Nathan, and I joined Ian and his class on a field trip to Atkinson Farm strawberry patch. It was a chilly day, so the kids were all bundled up in their coats, mittens, and hats.

Kim, Ryan and Nathan (in the Baby Bjorn) with Aliceson and Sammy
 The kindergarten boys were first up on the hayride. Mr. Atkinson himself gave a guided tour of their farm.
 He told us which crops were growing in each field,
 and he even picked a few veggies to show the kids what they looked like right off the plants.

 The kids were really interested in the tour,

 and they loved passing around various vegetables.
 Mr. Atkinson enticed the cows to come near the hayride trailer with some weeds.
 He used the donkey's teeth as an object lesson to convince the kids of the value of brushing their own teeth!
 After the hayride, each child got a strawberry container labeled with his or her name and got to fill it up with huge, ripe, delicious, juicy strawberries. (The farm hadn't even opened to the public yet, so the berries were abundant!) Both boys had so much fun picking (and eating!). What a fun morning!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What's new with Ian?

Our little kindergartner is growing right up! We still don't hear all that much about his days at school, but we know he loves going. He wakes up eager to go to school, and usually the "good thing" he shares at the dinner table is "going to kindergarten." We hear most about recess time (he likes playing soccer or imaginary play games like Wild Kratts or Angry Birds) and centers time (he usually chooses the Lego center, building (with blocks) center, or the computer center). He looks forward to Wednesdays when boys can play on the ipads during rest time. And we also hear about Ava, a little girl in his class he has a crush on. We're thankful that Ian is overall a very obedient boy at school (he's only been reprimanded a couple of times ... once when he tried to kiss Ava on the playground!) and that he gets along well with his classmates. We're proud of how well he can read and how much neater his handwriting has gotten as the year goes on. At the beginning of the year, Ian would come home from school most days exhausted, slightly grouchy, and on the brink of tears if anything went wrong. Now, we don't usually see this tiredness happen until Thursday or even Friday.

Ian is definitely in a very silly stage. He loves regular jokes, knock-knock jokes, bathroom humor, and making up his own jokes (usually involving some sort of rhyming words). He'll do almost anything to try to get Ryan to laugh.

At home, Ryan and Ian usually play very well together. Ian generally comes up with the ideas, and Ryan readily goes along. Ian has the ability to make almost anything seem fun or interesting to Ryan. Somehow Ian is almost always able to convince Ryan to trade toys with him, even when the object that Ian has is broken or not as interesting as the one Ryan has. They love playing trains and cars together, building things from Duplos or wooden blocks (usually garages or other structures for their vehicles) and playing "monster hide" (where they hide in the dark closet with flashlights, looking for monsters). They also like to play "pet store" where they each play the part of an animal and Momma or Daddy has to buy them and bring them home. Ian usually plays the part of a kitty or dog. They enjoy bath time together and most enjoy playing with vehicles and watering cans. The boys look forward to reading books together each evening before bed and both still ask Momma or Daddy to tell stories about "Sally the Bad Listener."

Ian also loves being a big brother to Nathan. He proudly introduces Nathan to his classmates and cares for Nathan tenderly. He likes to give Nathan his pacifier or talk to Nathan sweetly. He loves making Nathan laugh by tickling him or playing peek-a-boo with him.

It's fun to see Ian's mind at work. He has a great memory and, like his Daddy, an especially good knack for remembering people's names. He is very interested in how things work and loves plugging things into a power strip (his lamp, CD player, chargers) to see them operate. He loves the snap circuits toy we got him at Christmas and is easily able to build (and experiment with) the circuits. He's a willing helper with anything involving tools -- changing batteries, adjusting the height of our kiddie picnic table, etc. He also will help with almost any task in the kitchen, especially if involves getting to sample a baked good at the end.

Ian is definitely a perfectionist. He doesn't like to do things if he's not successful right away. Trying to ride a bike with just two wheels is still very frustrating to him. He loves games but will often try to modify the rules if he's worried that he's not going to win. He doesn't like being wrong and will tell us, "That's what I said!" if we correct a word that he misread in his home reader.

Some of Ian's favorite things include robots, anything involving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Nerf guns, anything that's operated with a remote control, playing games on the Wii or tablet, building stuff from Legos or K'nex, and eating pizza, popcorn, ice cream sundaes, and hot chocolate as often as we will let him. He loves running races (some of his classmates call him "Flash"), riding his scooter, catching bugs/frogs/lizards, and digging holes in the dirt -- but he'll often choose playing inside over outside at this stage. He likes counting down the days to upcoming events and telling us the things that he wants for upcoming birthdays or Christmas (a stuffed snake is at the top of his birthday wish list currently). He also likes painting, coloring, and cutting. When he gets to choose the game for family game night, he'll often make up a game where we each have to build something and describe the features to each other or one where we're working together to "defeat the bad guys."

Ian is an intelligent, funny, kind, handsome young man who we love so much! It's fun watching you learn and grow, Ian! 

Below are some pictures/videos from a little skit Ian's class did. He played the role of Kangaroo Keeper in "The Glum Princess."

What's new with Ryan?

Ryan is getting very close to being three years old ... what a fun age! We love seeing Ryan's little personality emerge and watching him interact with others, especially with his two brothers.

Ryan is a very thoughtful little boy. He naturally wants to help and is great at anticipating people's needs. If Momma's in the shower, he'll ask if she needs another can of shaving cream (which he can find in the linen closet and bring to her). If he hears Daddy saying that he's leaving for school, Ryan will try to drag Daddy's backpack to where Daddy is. He loves pushing his own (small) cart at the grocery store and helps Momma to choose produce and other items off the shelf. He will help with chores if we ask him to but does prefer to play independently if we give him a choice. (At this age, Ian would always choose to be doing dishes or laundry or whatever projects we were working on instead of playing.)

Ryan is also very resourceful. He will usually try to solve his own problems ("I'll be right back!" he'll say), even if it means getting out a stool so he can reach somewhere high. He will often get his own snack (whether or not it's snack time) and get his own drinks of water or milk from the fridge.

We still call Ryan our "sports announcer." He's super chatty and narrates most of what he is doing. While we can understand a high percentage of his running commentary, it's a little hard for some others to. Ryan can say most letters except the "l" and "r" but has a hard time pronouncing a few others (like "f" and "s") when they're at the beginning of a sentence. So, "fish" is "wish" and "four wheeler" (our personal favorite) is "woah-we-oh." He speaks with enthusiasm and about two octaves lower than his peers.He cracks us up with many of the things he says. One morning, our devotion talked about scrolls. Kim said, "You might not know what a scroll is." "Yes, I do," Ryan said with a drawl. "Sca-ro-uhls live outside and eat acorns." He is a social kid (remembering names of new friends long after Momma has forgotten them) and enjoys dropping Ian off and picking Ian up from school, partially since he loves talking with Ian's teacher and aide.

Another nickname we have for Ryan is "little hoarder." The kid carries TONS of things (often a Halloween bucket filled with vehicles or trains) with him everywhere. It does come in handy if we get stuck somewhere and need something to do, and thankfully he keeps pretty close tabs on them. He likes to sleep with lots of vehicles in his bed as well.

Ryan will take any opportunity to be outside and would probably live out there if we'd let him. He loves dirt, sand, puddles, swings, his Cozy Coupe, and his trike (which he can now pedal). He's a pretty agile and athletic little boy and can easily climb the rock wall on our swingset. Recently, we let him start driving our motorized "pink Mustang." He was sort of a maniac driver at first but has really gotten the hang of steering now and looks so proud whenever he is driving.

Ian is definitely Ryan's best friend. Ryan looks up to Ian and will usually follow Ian's rules, go along with Ian's ideas (good or bad!), and give up the toy he was playing with if Ian wants it. Usually, the boys get along really well and laugh a lot together -- especially if they're talking about bathroom words! Sigh. Ryan does like to tattle on Ian or other friends if they are not following the rules. Ryan does talk about other friends from church or small group, especially Sammy, Ethan, Elise, and Ellie. Ryan loves Nathan, too, and is getting much better at knowing how to be gentle with him (though we're still working on personal space ... ha!) Ryan loves to talk to Nathan, make him laugh, and read him stories.

Ryan is still a pretty patient and easygoing fellow. He's pretty self-aware and will tell us when he's hungry, tired, sad, or mad. Now that he's approaching three we're seeing more temper tantrums, crying, and screaming when he doesn't get his way or something doesn't seem fair to him. His opinions sometimes change very quickly, and he's territorial of his toys. Mainly, though, he is compliant and willing to share and will do almost anything if we can turn it into a race.

Ryan is definitely growing up. He is able to sit still for much longer periods of time and even listen to a whole stack of books in a row. He knows the words to many songs and has known his colors for many months. Ryan loves Sunday school and happily (& mostly accurately :)) answers all of the teacher's questions. He knows almost all of his shapes and is just starting to be interested in his alphabet letters. He can count to 20 most days (probably since that's the number we count to when we play Hide and Seek). He's starting to be able to do some simple 12-piece puzzles. He has been potty trained during the day since shortly after he was two, and recently we've been able to keep him in "big boy underwear" overnight as well. Yay! For a few months, Ryan has been sleeping in his "big boy bed" (the bottom bunk) and actually stays in bed until 6:00 each morning thanks to one of those handy color-changing clocks. He still willingly takes a nap each afternoon and sleeps between 1-1.5 hours.

Ryan still doesn't look forward to going to the church nursery when Kim has Bible study, but he does well there and doesn't even cry. He also dislikes going to bed in the evenings and will do anything to delay bedtime (drinks of water, using the bathroom, wanting to find a certain toy to sleep with, etc.).

Some of Ryan's favorites include stories about Sally-the-bad-listener, anything sweet (especially Caramel Delight cookies, candy, and ice cream), watching videos of his cousin Abby or himself, and watching shows like Caillou, Curious George, Thomas, and Chuggington. He's beginning to like games -- especially Elefun, Hullabaloo, hide-and-seek, and "Are You Sleeping, Mr. Bear?" He eagerly anticipates our family game nights each Sunday. He also loves pretend play games like Pet Store and Monster Hide and dressing up like a ghost by wearing one of Daddy's undershirts. He continues to be obsessed with trains and vehicles. He knows the names of most of the Thomas the Train characters and vehicles that we own.

We think our handsome, long-haired, tender-hearted, fun-loving little boy is amazing. What a gift from God you are, Ryan David!

an "obstacle course" that Ryan and Momma created inside when it was cooler outside in January
an interview with Ryan in January or February

playing on a sidewalk chalk train city
One of Ryan's friends had a real train at his birthday party that gave all of the guests a ride around the neighborhood. How fun! :) I think we rode three of the four rides it gave.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Nathan is 5 months old!

We can't believe that our little guy is already FIVE months old! Almost daily, friends or fellow parents from Ian's school comment on just how big (and how chunky :)) sweet Nathan is getting! He now weighs almost 18 pounds.

Nathan is getting more fun and more interactive by the day! He smiles and laughs often. His big brothers can elicit the heartiest giggles, especially when they play peek-a-boo with Nathan. He squeals and coos when others are talking to him and flaps his arms and legs when he's excited.

Nathan is getting more control over his body. He can easily roll over onto his tummy when we place him on his back (though he hasn't yet gotten the stomach-to-back roll). He can grab objects and bring them to his mouth. (He puts EVERYthing into his mouth and bites down hard. Based on how much he's drooling, it seems like his first tooth should come in awfully soon!) His neck is getting more stable while he sits in the Bumbo seat. Nathan is getting very strong, especially when he's trying to fight falling asleep or being in our arms a certain way.

in the Bumbo seat

Nathan is VERY aware of what's going on around him. He cranes his neck to watch people and activities around him. He'll cry when he's laying on the floor and he notices Momma leave the room for a few minutes. He wants to be held facing out so he can watch what's happening.

Toward the end of the month, our "little chaperone" started going to sleep a little earlier than his typical 10:30 or 11:00 bedtime! Daddy and Momma were happy to get a little couple time in the evenings again. Nathan still wakes up to nurse a few times a night but goes right back to sleep. He takes three or four short (30-45 minute naps) and is usually very pleasant while he's awake. Being in the carseat seems to be a "sleep cue" for Nathan. One or two of his naps each day usually happen in the car. He still nurses every 2.5-3 hours during the day.

Some of Nathan's favorites include: plastic links, crinkly books, rattles, water bottles, and his toes. He likes the activity gym, being held, and watching his brothers. He doesn't like the bouncer quite as much as last month, as he'll often try to roll out of it or arch his back when we put him in it. Nathan loves seeing himself in the mirror and gives himself HUGE smiles. He loves bath time and splashing and doesn't mind when his head gets all wet. He also liked trying the outdoor swing for the first time this month (with a towel helping to keep him propped up).

You're getting more adorable, more fun, and more wonderful each day, baby Nathan! We can hardly remember life without you, and we love you so much!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Nathan at 4 months old

 On March 16, our littlest man turned four months old! He continues to be a happy, friendly baby who generally goes with the flow. Like most babies, he's a little fussy in the evenings (especially since he's had some congestion this month) but is pleasant throughout most of the day. He smiles readily.

Nathan likes to coo and "converse" with anyone who is talking to him. He was happy being passed around to various friends and family members when we traveled to Michigan for Matt's dad's retirement celebration. Nathan giggles when he is bounced or tickled or when someone makes a silly noise. He drools a lot and enjoys blowing spit bubbles, too.

Nathan is looking less and less like a baby. He can hold up his head easily, and he keeps his hands unclenched. He can sit assisted for short stretches while in the Bumbo seat. He's starting to get a little pudgy -- with rolls on his thighs and arms. :) At his four month check, Nathan weighed about 16.5 pounds (68th percentile) and was 25.25" long (50th percentile). He continues to eat well and very efficiently. He still working on sleeping through the night, but he will take several good naps throughout the day.

It has been fun to see Nathan start to become mobile. He is almost rolling over both directions but especially from his back to his tummy. He will often rotate around in a circle while lying on his back. He can intentionally grab onto certain objects while laying under his activity gym.

Nathan has been chewing on his hands a lot this month. In fact, he even got a little blister on his pointer finger from all of the time it spent in his mouth. For a few days, we put socks on his hands to protect his finger -- though it certainly didn't stop him from putting his hands in his mouth.

Nathan is aware of what's going on around him. He enjoys being held facing outward so he can see the action. He'd also prefer to stand on our laps instead of sitting or laying down.
Some of his favorites include smiling at "the baby in the mirror," pulling people's hair (especially Ryan's), and being entertained by his older brothers. If he can't be held (his favorite), he'd prefer to be in his bouncer on underneath the activity gym. He likes being "worn" in the Baby Bjorn while we're out shopping. Nathan loves bath time and does lots of kicking and splashing while he's in the water.

We love you, sweet Nathan Paul!