Monday, January 25, 2016

Our Firstborn (A long-overdue update)

I'm not sure if you knew this already, but we are just crazy about this little dude. In three weeks, give or take two weeks, he will be a big brother. We are soaking up as much of him as we can, savoring the moments, and I wanted to get one more post in of his latest goings-ons before our baby comes. It's been a while since I've shared his latest sayings and developments.

This age is so, so unbelievably fun!! His language abilities astound us daily. He continues to love to help in any way, be it emptying/unloading the dishwasher, loading or unloading the washer & dryer, bringing new hay to the chicken coop, feeding the chickens, putting his toys away, putting his laundry in the hamper, and many other things.
That said, he has also become quite emphatic with his use of the word, "No." He has become more opinionated and is able express exactly what he wants or needs. In some ways this has made life much easier, while in other ways it's certainly been a challenge.

His feelings get hurt, he gets frustrated, he doesn't like correction, and he'll separate himself or hide. While it appears that he's pushing us away, normally it's a cry for some one-on-one time with either myself for Jim. We go to him, or he comes to us, and have a conversation acknowledging his feelings and ask if he'd like some time by himself, a hug, or for us to stay with him. Normally he requests a hug, which turns into a little cuddle.
Ian is growing more and more independent with his play and for longer stretches of time. Today I cleaned for most of the morning while he played contentedly by himself, checking in every now and then. During Jim's commute from the clinic to the VA hospital, we chatted on the phone about noticing the direct correlation between how much time he's had one-on-one focused attention to how much time he'll play on his own, with his own motivation.

Lately, his favorite toys are his animals and the barn, his trains, and the castle blocks from Christine and he's also wild about puzzles these days!! We love watching his imagination run with these open-ended toys. In the pictures below he created a lion (left) and PMO (right). PMO meets in a church that looks almost exactly like his interpretation!!
 SLEEP! Glorious sleep. Ian is sleeping through the night!! It's wonderful and amazing. And soon we'll have a newborn and we'll be deprived of sleep again. For now, it's absolutely wonderful. He goes to bed easily around 7:30 and gets up between 6:30-7:15, usually. He consistently naps around 1 PM for about an hour and a half.

We have a solid routine of reading two books, turning on the sound machine and turning off the light, singing songs, hugs & kisses, turning on his music, and then blowing three kisses before walking out the door.

Normally Jim gives him the bath (if he's home) and then we all read books together, Jim leaves while I sing songs, and then we have some time to ourselves. It's been a huge blessing these last few months. Last night I was out and Jim was able to put him down without any trouble. This is a great age.
 The first snow we had only proved to be a light dusting, but I just love this little family photo of us. Currently we have about a foot of snow on the ground, so this pales in comparison.
 These animals travel to the bath and back out. He's crazy about them. They almost always end up in a line like this around the tub.

Baby Dale & Ian

 Ian continues to love to play with Leif in the backyard and to observe our chickens and rabbits. Leif is certainly the most interactive and accessible. He will throw the ball for Leif and then walk up to him and hug him until he drops the ball again. Then repeats the process. It's sweet.

Leif also is very patient with Ian when he's inside the house, too. Ian can climb all over him while he's lying down and he doesn't seem to mind. What a relief to have such a gentle dog.
 Due to the imminent arrival of our baby, we've been having lots of conversations about him/her. We've talked about how mama and papa will go to the hospital and how Ian will stay home with Äma to sleep, play and eat food.... "But Mama & Papa come right back." Yes, we always come back because we love you so much.

We've talked about how the baby might cry and how we'll have to figure out if he/she is hungry, tired, or needs a diaper change. We've talked about where the baby will sleep and set-up the bassinet in the pack-n-play. We've unpacked the baby's clothes, blankets, and toys.

One day he asked me what our baby will eat and we discussed that it would eat Mama's milk. He was holding his baby doll at the time and I asked him what his baby would eat and he stopped and said, "Hmmm, my baby eat sweet potato." Very nutritious!!

His baby has needed much more care and attention during the last couple weeks. She needs to be fed, drink water or milk, changed, and, most of the time, she needs to sleep in the baby's bed. One day she came outside with us to take care of the chickens and he stated that she needed a hood. Considering that it was about 14 degrees F outside, she certainly did require a hood. What a good little Papa/big brother.
 Ian's been very affectionate lately, with many "I love yous" and hugs and kisses. Sometimes he requests that he'd like to "Hold Mama." This means that he wants to give me a hug from behind. Normally he wants to sit behind me on a chair or on the couch and wrap his arms around my shoulders. It's just the sweetest.
 This past weekend we got a foot of snow and Jim didn't have to go to work for three WHOLE days. It was wonderful. The snow was just a little too high for Ian to truly enjoy because he had to hold my hand to get anywhere without falling multiple times, but he was a trooper. My favorite thing was when he'd fall down in the snow and then assure us with an, "I'm okay!!!" Haha! Glad to hear it, little man.

Post-snow fun snuggles.
 Here, Ian had just played in the snow again and was sipping his first hot cocoa while watching Papa dig both of our cars out of the snow.
Here are some of my favorite things that Ian's said recently. I'm sure there are many more that I haven't written down, but at least I've captured a few here:

One day we were heading somewhere in the morning and the sun was shining brightly in both of our eyes. From the backseat of the car I heard a soft, sweet suggestive voice say, "Maybe we need to get our glasses on?" Haha!! I laughed out loud. Yes, that's certainly something that would help!!

Another one of my favorite things he says happens in the car. He says, "Oh hey! You see it!!!" and it's normally followed quickly by a "It's right dere, dis way" with a point of his finger and extension of his whole arm. It's so fun to talk about things that we are seeing while we are driving and I love that he has things he'd like to share with me, too. When we see a cement truck he says, "Dere's a truck. It go round and round!" Adorable.

A common phrase is "I need...." Most of the time it's very sweet and innocent, but occasionally it can come off as quite demanding. We've been working on changing the phrasing and adding please, when applicable. It is probably most used when he wants to play with Papa. He says, "I need Papa fall down!" This means that he wants Papa to come down to the floor and wrestle with him. Oh, the jovial brawls those two get into....!

He also really likes to say, "I need Papa run. Papa run!" They do laps around the house and Ian is getting really skilled at changing directions and "faking" Jim out. If it weren't for Ian's loud stomps and constant giggling, Jim might have a bit more of a challenge on his hands. Ian is so fast around the corners in our house! It's impressive.

Or, this weekend we heard this a lot: "I need Mama and Papa play in the snow." Don't mind if we do! And he kept telling us, "It's snowy everywhere!" It sure is :)

Since he played so well independently today, I took advantage of it and got a lot of cleaning done around the house (nesting much???). After his nap I knew I wanted/needed to get him outside for a bit to enjoy the snow.

I asked, "Do you want to go outside?"
"Soon. I play with my animals."
A while later, "Now are you ready to go outside and play in the snow?"
"No, I want to play with my animals. One minute."
Waiting longer, "Do you want to play in the snow now and take food to the chickens?"
No, one minute. I will play with my animals one minute."

And then finally it was time to go outside and play in the snow. Time to get dressed in his full get-up. I never realized that he was understanding these concepts of time, but apparently he has figured them out.

We ended up having a lovely time outside. We walked down to the playground where he enjoyed clamoring up the steps in his bulky, warm boots, going down the slide, landing in the snow, and then doing it all over again.

Life's about to change drastically for our family and, in some ways, I've had to mourn the fact that Ian won't get my full attention. But I have moved through those emotions and am just getting so excited to meet and hold our dear baby, learn if it's a boy or a girl, and watch Ian become a big brother!!

I can't imagine growing up and life without my own siblings. Life would have been entirely different without them. They were/are my constant playmates, challengers, biggest fans, and biggest critics. We had to learn to be best buddies for entire summers at The Pinery, with no other kids to play with day in and day out.

We want these gifts for Ian and this baby, too. It's not always easy having a sibling, but it shapes us for life and they are the only ones who know who you were and truly are, and where you came from.

Call us crazy, but we're ready for the next adventure ;)

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