Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sick & Maple Leaves

This weekend I came down with one of those sicknesses that's just debilitating. Swallowing anything is pure torture; my throat is so painful. Nights have been riddled with feverish chills and overheating and then shivers again. And, Owen had the very same thing. He's woken up every hour for the last few nights.
Throughout my time as a mother, I have only been sick a handful of times. After this weekend, I am again reminded how hard it is to be a mama and to be sick. It's much easier to run around like a busy bee, snuggling on the couch, wiping snotty noses, and get the boys what's needed for them to feel better. It's a totally different thing when they still need you and you have very little to give.

It just so happened to be the most gorgeous October weekend, with the peak changing of the leaves, here in Southwest Virginia, and I missed a dear friend's baby shower (that I planned), and a few fall festivals. What can you do?

Fortunately, the beautiful maple tree in our backyard showed it's beautiful colors and reminded me of the blessings right here, right now. Lying on the swing each of the sick days, staring up at those gorgeously yellow and orange leaves, made even the worst hurt subside for a few minutes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"I love you, okay?"

 Before life keeps barreling by, I want to do a post on our Ian Forrester. Over a month ago now he turned three years old. THREE YEARS OLD, people. And, do you know what I realized? I don't necessarily want life to be frozen or to stop because life right now is so good. Three is hard, you guys. Don't get me wrong. Three is much different than two, but three is also so, so fun. And I've been promised by a few mamas that it just keeps getting better.

He's always in motion, this kid.

What's so great about this age? Thanks for asking. I'll tell you :)

He's started making his toys interact and talk to each other. He's moved from piling them all on top of each other and saying that they are "playing rugby" to having them interact, chat back and forth, and still "play rugby," among other things. If you want a window into how you interact with your child, just wait until they hit this age. He uses the polite, kind words as well as the rushed, busy words. It's one of the most fascinating and amazing things to listen to him play on his own. Sometimes I just park myself right outside the door to the room he's in and listen to his toys interact.

Another favorite is catching him reciting the words from a book we've read a million times. Recently I caught him reciting the wolf's lines to The Real Story of the Three Little Pigs. It's so funny and impressive to listen to vocabulary words beyond his age come out of his little mouth, with inflection and prowess. Seriously, it's amazing.

His imagination has been so fun to watch unfold! I loved watching him parade around the house in this get-up one day.

He's gotten more chatty about what he's done at PMO or in MOPS and how he interacted with the other kids. It's hard sometimes because he doesn't have answers to questions I have, so I mostly just wait until he decides there's something on his mind. It's then that I can step into his world and his thinking. Good practice for when he's older, I imagine. In this way, boys seem to be different than girls (and I learned that also at the conference I went to).

Naptimes are SO easy these days! Today he had lunch and while he was eating his I was fixing mine. He came to me and said, "Mama, I am ready for my nap now." Without delay, I stopped what I was doing and followed him to the bedroom to start his bedtime routine. Welp, if you insist, little one... ;)

In the way that naptimes are so easy, bedtimes have been MUCH harder. We hit age three and bedtimes became a battle of wills. Between needing a banana, an extra drink of water, his blanket pulled up, the light on or off, music on or off, etc., etc., etc., it was a serious challenge of patience. And I will admit that I failed more than I excelled at keeping patient. I am hoping that we've turned a corner, since it has been going better lately. Whew. Parenting is not for the faint of heart, that's for sure.

PUZZLES! This kid loves a good puzzle. It's so fun to watch him work, trying multiple pieces without getting frustrated. Some puzzles become like old friends to him. He does them over and over again, explaining what he is looking for or which one is needed next. Yesterday he did a puzzle of Noah's Ark (Thanks, Gramee & Grandpa!) and told me where to put each one. When we were done, he said, "Good job helping me with the puzzle, Mama!" Such a sweetheart.

For a day (tops) we were a concerned that he felt insecure in our love for him because he would (and still does) say, "I love you, okay?" But he's not asking permission, he's just saying it and wanting a response. To which we always respond, "We love you, too." I hope I always remember his sweet little voice saying it, usually followed by a darling hug and a kiss. This boy. He sure knows how to melt us.

We recently went apple picking and then we went and got a few bushels of seconds apples. Ian likes to help process the apples. And by that I mean that he likes to use a butter knife to cut up an apple for himself. It's wonderful! He's a HUGE fan of the apple chips(!!), apple butter, and apple sauce we've been making.

Ian adores his brother with a love that astounds me daily. I cannot imagine a better relationship between these two in this phase. It's so relieving to know that Ian can be trusted with Owen. Owen's facial expressions and giggles are his most joyful when Ian plays with him or interacts with him. It's just the best. May it only grow!!

He can be caught reading books to himself often, these days. I got a new set of library books while he was at PMO and as soon as we got into the house, he sat down and rifled through each one from start to finish, perusing each page. Books are almost always lying on the floor in his room and in the guest room, where we have books available to him. They are on the floor because he does drive-bys throughout the day, sitting to read a book or two (or more!) before moving on to the next thing.

Ian's getting to the point where he can do tasks on his own for long periods of time. This doesn't happen all of the time, but it is happening more and more frequently. He can put all of the blocks away without needing my help or the motivation of having someone help him. Sometimes just the promise of getting to do the next activity or have a snack is all it takes.

Almost every day he bikes to the mailbox. It's so fun that he's able to drive his own little vehicle. Right now he's only been on the tricycle, but it may be time to break out his bike with training wheels soon. He loves biking and you can tell that he's quite pleased and proud of his ability to propel himself forward. He also bikes down to the playground down the street when we go.

Ian's starting to understand, reiterate, and follow some rules. Sometimes he states, "Now Mama, you need to hold my hand when we're in the road." Yes, yes we do! Another rule he follows is looking both ways at the stop sign before crossing the street. I am blanking on others right now, but we're learning together.

He's wearing size 3T and starting to wear 4T, because we don't have a ton of clothing in these sizes. Ian wore size 24 month for so long and then I think I blinked and he breezed through 2T and straight into the next two sizes.

Yesterday we had his 3 year appointment and he's just staying right on track... such a tall lad! At 3 years, 1 month he is 41 inches tall and in the 98.13%. He's grown 4 inches this year, since he was 37 inches at his 2 year appointment. He weighs 38 lbs and is in the 92.98%. Since his height and weight are equally proportioned, the doctor said that his BMI of 15.89 and in the 46.82% is great! She said to keep doing what we're doing. Woo!

Ian's still a great eater, eating most vegetables and almost all of the same foods as us. There's the occasional meal that he will refuse to eat, like the baked apple stuffed with sausage and celery and apple and whatnot that we had last week, but this seemed a reasonable thing for a toddler to refuse. And it doesn't happen very often. I have my fingers crossed, don't worry.

His favorite toys continue to be his animals, although I would argue that playing with Owen (and Owen's toys) is, by far, his favorite past-time. He also enjoys the robots, his new lego train, puzzles, building with blocks, playing with his swing outside (getting pushed "way up high!"), and playing with Leif. He likes to "cook" next to his stumps that Papa and Grandpa hauled into our yard.

But, of course, wrestling with Papa is still the absolute best. Whether it's in a pile of leaves, or learning how to scrum in the middle of the living room, or rolling around on the bed, he's always game for some one on one time with his Papa. It won't be long before there are three of them doing this! Someone save me.

Parent's Morning Out (PMO) continues to be such a wonderful place for Ian. He adores his teachers and the activities they do there. This year, especially, he seems to be taking in much more of the interpersonal interactions that he did last year. It's so fun to be able to hear about what's important to him as it comes up on the car ride home and throughout the week.

At this point, he's still not interested in potty training. The pediatrician was comforting & reassuring in telling us that we are doing the right thing, waiting on him. We'll see!

He's cracking jokes, telling stories, and learning a lot about how to play with other kiddos. There's so much to learn in this life, isn't there!? From zero to three, it's incredible how much they change, grow, and learn. Life's remarkable and even more so when you follow the life of a baby turned toddler turned child.

He keeps us on our toes, pushes us to places we never knew were possible, and continues to teach us so much about joy, grace, and love. This journey will never be dull and it will never be slow-paced. When his feet his the ground in the morning, he seizes the day with more gumption than anyone I've ever known. I cannot wait to see what's in store for this three year old, but I can wait. I'm going to cherish each day of this adventure as it comes. So grateful for you, Ian Forrester!!!

We adore you, darling THREE YEAR OLD!

Ian Forrester, thanks for letting us come along for the ride. 
Your exuberance, determination, and laughter bring far more than we ever could have imagined into our lives. We are so proud to call you our son. And ever-grateful for our front row seats in your life. You are going to move mountains, sweet boy.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

7 & 8 Month OWEN!!

I am so shocked to announce that this sweet baby boy is TWO THIRDS of the way through a YEAR! How could this possibly be? How could he be this old already? And yet, I truly cannot fathom how we survived without him in our lives.

A friend commented that she could not imagine life without Owen and it made my mama heart skip a beat. It's so sweet to have friends who adore and love on my children. It made me breathe a deep sigh of relief and still makes me smile to think of it. The power of another's words never ceases to amaze me.

A LOT has changed in the last two months. Yes, two months!! This mama hasn't even done his seven month post and it's already time to do his eight month one. By seven months he was sitting fairly confidently and had one tooth. "Bababa" and "dadada" were his favorite sounds. He continued to LOVE people who smile or interacted with him-- which is everyone! 

In his eighth month he went on a plane for the first time and did it like a pro! He traveled with me and my friend, Anna (the friend who said the sweet words), to Milwaukee for a conference. He flew like a champ, slept like a champ, nursed like a champ. HE IS A CHAMP. 
 He's cut is second bottom tooth quite recently and therefore had a stuffy nose and been a little fussy, but overall he's a very contented baby.

The biggest news is that he has started army crawling wherever he'd like to go! He's not always wild about having to crawl far, whimpering for someone to come and get him, but if he's determined, he'll get there!! WE'RE MOBILE PEOPLE. And it's all happening just a little too fast ;)
 His little trademark is the way he scrunches up his nose when he's happy. I mean, it's just so adorable!! Gosh, he melts me.

 He's just like the rest of us.... most content when he's outside. It's so fun to watch him explore just the space around him and find so much to hold in his hands and manipulate. I've also been intrigued all over again to watch him taste-test and discover that he doesn't want to swallow or have these items in his mouth. I remember this from Ian, too, but it's incredible to watch it happen all over again, by allowing him to explore the world around him... he's learning what he does and doesn't want to consume by trying for himself, not having me dictate it for him. Although, it is a whole new ballgame when there's an older brother "helping" him learn what not to eat by removing things from his hands and mouth. Life's all about learning, eh? ;)
 For the most part, these pictures truly depict Owen David. Happy, content, calm, observant.... joyful. Today a mom of adult children said that when children are babies you see a pure form of who they truly are. I thought that was so wonderful... Owen, what a beautiful soul you are.

 People keep commenting on how his hair has grown in. That's what happens when you are just so blonde, I suppose!! He's always had hair, but I suppose it's gotten to the length that people can really tell it's there. It's thickening out, perhaps. I just love his little hair-do right now.
 And obviously I cannot decide which pictures to cut, but I know that years from now I will want to see EVERY SINGLE PHOTO. Although I do promise that I already paired them down a lot. Each one will trigger something of his smell, a memory, his touch.
 "What you talkin' 'bout?" He's got so many great expressions. If only we could know what he's really thinking...
 But I'm sure the jokes would be on us ;)

 I will say that this month has also brought on his separation anxiety. If he sees me leave the room or notices that no one is with him, then he gets very upset. If he sees me leave, he always gets upset. If other people are with him and he doesn't see me leave, then he's content for hours. Out of sigh, out of mind. I had forgotten that separation anxiety could start so early and so this came as a bit of a surprise to me.
 It's also a very sweet stage of bonding because it shows how much he understands our connection. When I come into the room or pick him up after one of his realizations, he leans in for a deep hug. If I've left him in the nursery during MOPS or church and he sees me after an hour or two, he turns from content to desperate and whimpering until he's safe in my embrace. I am so grateful that he's happy during the time I am gone, but I am so enamored by his clear bond and need for his mama.
 Isn't he just so cute??!! Dimpled knuckles have me all heart eyes over here.
 In these pictures there's a tint of red in his hair...
 Here he had just gotten a bit upset, so you can see the tears hanging within his eyes. And in his mouth you can see his one protruding tooth, but there's one more to the left of it just starting to jut out that isn't depicted in this photo.

 I don't normally post photos of my kiddos upset, but here is what I was talking about above... in mama's arms, leans in for a hug, and the world quickly returns to alright again.
 THOSE CHEEKS. So kissable.

 Happy boy!
 After taking a meal to a friend, we returned home to find Papa in the yard, so we spent time outside again. And I snapped a few more pictures... couldn't resist this sweater vest and those salmon pants!

 So, so, so much to love in this little boy.
 And his crinkled nose.
 His personality is just starting to explode!

 He loves watching his brother.

 Those blues just keep getting bluer, if that's possible!!

Oh, Owen David, you are such a delight!

Happy 8 Months, Owen!!!
You are so lovable and bring light 
into the lives around you.

You love: ARMY CRAWLING, chatting and bantering with whoever will listen, sitting and playing with leaves and sticks in in the backyard, jumping in the jumper and playing with Ian, sleeping in sleep sacks, when Leif comes to visit you, your sheep toy, giggling, being worn in the carrier, chewing on a raw carrot, and eating sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, eggs, and avocados.

You despise: riding in the stroller and when mama leaves the room.