Friday, February 28, 2014

Three and a Half Years {Riley}

I don’t even know where to start with this post. Six months have passed since Riley turned 3 and SO much has happened. Bear with me while I ramble on and on about my firstborn for a bit.

Riley now weighs 35.6 pounds and stands about 41 inches tall. He mostly wears 3T clothes but can still fit into some 2T stuff. He wears a size 9 shoe.

He went through a phase when he didn’t want to drink his milk or eat very much, but he’s recently started pigging out. I think he’s growing. He still asks for sausage and cheese and pickle at most meals (although he does eat lots of other things), and he loves to snack on gummies, fruit strips, cheerios, and raisins.

He’s doing great in school, although he still complains about going. (More school updates next week.) In the beginning of the year, he was really whiny when he got home in the afternoons, but he adjusted to a shorter nap time fairly quickly and is now often super hyper when we get home.

He’s fully potty trained now, but he does still have the occasional accident at school, mostly because he doesn’t want to stop playing outside. He had lots of accidents the first month of school, often coming home in different pants and shoes. He would also race downstairs and into our room when his bladder would wake him up in the middle of the night, yelling “Mama! Daddy! I have to pee PEE!” That was a nightly thing for a couple of months but has luckily stopped. He holds it until the morning now.

He started saying “don’t let me” for things he doesn’t want to do, instead of “don’t make me.” Don’t let me take a bath, Mama. Don’t let me drink my milk. So cute.

Starting in mid-October, he sounds out what words start with: duh duh door, tuh tuh truck, etc. He knows his letters SO well. Ms. Amanda also teaches them alphabet chants for each new letter they study every week, and he loves those. (“Great Grandpa Gregory, grew whiskers to his knee. They grew around and round, they grew down to the ground.”)

When prompted with the first word, he can recite his nightly prayers all on his own. Lately, though, he has been wanting to say the school lunchtime prayer when he goes to bed, even ending with, “Now you may eat.” And then he says “Amen…..A-Riley, A-Rory, A-Mama, A-Daddy. Funny kid.

He makes up words constantly and has even somewhat developed his own language, which Kenny and I have taken to calling “alien.” We tell him all the time, “Sorry, we don’t speak alien.”

He still loves the color green (and also yellow). He still loves trucks. Any trucks. All. The. Trucks. He is hardheaded and stubborn just like me. He doesn’t always listen but he certainly has his own defined opinions about things. He is loud. He is rambunctious. He is really good at making messes in no time flat. He loves dirt but insists on wiping his hands and mouth 637 times during dinner. He is scary smart. He loves reading books at night before bed. He loves playing with his brother and is very sweet with him, most of the time.

Three and a half years old.


We love you so, so much, Riley-bean!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Behind the Scenes

As I mentioned on Monday, we had another family photo shoot in City Park with Elizabeth of Little Fish Photography. Aunt E, Uncle Jeff, and Kate took pictures with her last July right before Kate’s first birthday, so I decided to give her a try.


We loved Elizabeth! She’s young, she’s fun, and she was great with the boys, doing all sorts of silly things to try and coax some smiles out of the wonk potatoes.


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Nola and Nopsi were also there to help make the session go smoothly (doing their best to get the boys to smile, keeping an eye on our stuff, and occupying the kiddos when they weren’t in pictures). Nopsi brought along his own camera and captured some great behind-the-scenes shots of our time with Elizabeth.

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I threw a few props into the car in case we wanted to use them in some of the photos (chairs, blanket, and bubbles), and we ended up using the two little chairs in a bunch of the shots of the boys. Don’t worry; Kenny was right next to Rory the whole time.

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Two of my favorite moments actually happened while the boys were perched on those white chairs: 1. me acting like a fool dancing around behind Elizabeth in an attempt to get Riley to smile (I believe Nopsi videoed some of my performance) and 2. Rory falling off his chair and Kenny (thank goodness) catching him at the last second before he faceplanted into the grass. Oh my.



Even though I had been prepping him all week about what we were doing on Saturday, Riley was a bit of a pill. I was armed with pumpkin candy corn and Skittles but he melted down a couple of times. However, he still found ways to be silly, which will hopefully make for some cute pics.


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We were also lucky enough to see the train pass by during our session. The second he spotted it, Riley was ready to abandon posing for pictures and jump on for a ride instead. Luckily, though, we were just about done.

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Elizabeth told me that the session had gone so well that she had probably gotten what she needed in the first 30 minutes. But since we were with her for a full hour, she felt certain I would be getting a higher number of shots than usual. Fingers crossed that comes true! I of course will post a picture-heavy recap of the official photos once I receive them from her.


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After we were done, we packed up, said goodbye and thanks to Elizabeth, and headed out to get some lunch. The six of us went to Velvet Cactus, sat outside on the patio, and enjoyed the gorgeous day.


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Thanks so much for making us so comfortable and relaxed, Elizabeth. We enjoyed meeting and working with you!

Monday, February 24, 2014

25 Rules for Mothers of Boys

I stumbled across this list on another blog, and I decided it was too good not to share with y’all. The original post was written by Tabitha of “Team Studer” back in November 2011. Riley was 14 months old, and Rory wasn’t even a thought in our minds.

But here I am now, mother to two wonderful boys, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just need to keep reminding myself of Rule #12 and resolve to follow it without complaint.



After a mostly fruitless search for “rules” for mothers with sons (and a particularly hard momma day), I was inspired to write my own list to remind myself of what’s important, especially during those days that being a mom to an ever-squirming, ever-curious boy is both challenging and exhausting. Granted, my list will not be conclusive and may not be entirely uncontroversial. So agree, or disagree, or take with a grain of salt - but I hope to inspire other moms who are loving, and struggling, and tired, and proud, and eager to support the boys in their lives. You are the most important woman in his life, his first teacher, and the one he will look to for permission for the rest of his life. From "Can I go play with them?" to "Should I ask her to marry me?" It’s a big job, but as the mumma, we're up for it.

1. Teach him the words for how he feels.

Your son will scream out of frustration and hide out of embarrassment. He'll cry from fear and bite out of excitement. Let his body move by the emotion, but also explain to him what the emotion is and the appropriate response to that emotion for future reference. Point out other people who are feeling the same thing and compare how they are showing that emotion. Talk him through your emotions so that someday when he is grown, he will know the difference between angry and embarrassed; between disappointment and grief.

2. Be a cheerleader for his life.

There is no doubt that you are the loudest person in the stands at his t-ball games. There is no doubt that he will tell you to "stop, mom" when you sing along to his garage band's lyrics. There is no doubt that he will get red-faced when you show his prom date his pictures from boy scouts. There is no doubt that he is not telling his prom date about your blog where you've been bragging about his life from his first time on the potty to the citizenship award he won in ninth grade. He will tell you to stop. He will say he's embarrassed. But he will know that there is at least one person that is always rooting for him.

3. Teach him how to do laundry.

...and load the dishwasher, and iron a shirt. He may not always choose to do it. He may not ever have to do it. But someday his wife will thank you.

4. Read to him and read with him.

Emilie Buchwald said, "Children become readers on the laps of their parents." Offer your son the opportunity to learn new things, believe in pretend places, and imagine bigger possibilities through books. Let him see you reading...reading the paper, reading novels, reading magazine articles. Help him understand that writing words down is a way to be present forever. Writers are the transcribers of history and memories. They keep a record of how we lived at that time; what we thought was interesting; how we spoke to each other; what was important. And Readers help preserve and pass along those memories.

5. Encourage him to dance.

Dance, rhythm, and music are cultural universals. No matter where you go, no matter who you meet - they have some form of the three. It doesn't have to be good. Just encourage your son that when he feels it, it's perfectly fine to go ahead and bust a move.

6. Make sure he has examples of good men who are powerful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrity.

The examples of men with big muscles and a uniform (like Batman) will surround your son from birth. But make sure he also knows about men who kick a$s because of their brains (Albert Einstein), and their pen (Mark Twain), and their words (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), and their determination (Team Hoyt), and their ideas (The Wright Brothers), and their integrity (Officer Frank Shankwitz), and fearlessness (Neil Armstrong), and their ability to keep their mouths closed when everyone else is screaming (Jackie Robinson).

7. Make sure he has examples of women who are beautiful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrity.

The examples of traditionally beautiful women (like Julia Roberts, Princess Jasmine, and Faith Hill) will surround your son from birth. But make sure he knows about women who are beautiful from the inside out because of their brains (Madame Marie Curie), and their pen (Harper Lee), and their words (Eleanor Roosevelt), and their determination (Anne Sullivan), and their ideas (Oprah Winfrey), and their integrity (Miep Gies), and fearlessness (Ameila Earhart), and their ability to open their mouths and take a stand when everyone else is silent (Aung San Suu Kyi).

8. Be an example of a beautiful woman with brains, determination, and integrity.

You already are all of those things. If you ever fear that you are somehow incapable of doing anything - remember this: If you have done any of the following: a) grew life b) impossibly and inconceivably got it out of your body c) taken care of a newborn d) made a pain go away with a kiss e) taught someone to read f) taught a toddler to eat with a utensil g) cleaned up diarrhea without gagging h) loved a child enough to be willing to give your life for them (regardless if they are your own) or i) found a way to be strong when that child is are a superhero. Do not doubt yourself for one second. Seriously.

9. Teach him to have manners.

Because it’s nice. And it will make the world a little better of a place.

10. Give him something to believe in.

Because someday he will be afraid, or nervous, or heartbroken, or lost, or just need you, and you won't be able to be there. Give him something to turn to when it feels like he is alone, so that he knows that he will never be alone; never, never, never.

11. Teach him that there are times when you need to be gentle.

Like with babies, and flowers, and animals, and other people's feelings.

12. Let him ruin his clothes.

Resolve to be cool about dirty and ruined clothes. You'll be fighting a losing battle if you get upset every time he ruins another piece of clothing. Don't waste your energy being angry about something inevitable. Boys tend to learn by destroying, jumping, spilling, falling, and making impossible messes. Dirty, ruined clothes are just par for the course.

13. Learn how to throw a football.

Or how to use a hockey stick, or read music, or draw panda bears (or in my case alpacas), or the names of different train engines, or learn to speak Elvish, or recognize the difference between Gryffindor and Slytherin, or the lyrics to his favorite song. Be in his life, not as an observer but as an active participant.

14. Go outside with him.

Turn off the television, unplug the video games, put your cellphone on the charger, even put your camera away. Just go outside and follow him around. Watch his face, explore his world, and let him ask questions. It's like magic.

15. Let him lose.

Losing sucks. Everybody isn't always a winner. Even if you want to say, "You're a winner because you tried," don't. He doesn't feel like a winner, he feels sad and crappy and disappointed. And that's a good thing, because sometimes life also sucks, no matter how hard (as moms) we try to make it not suck for our kids. This practice will do him good later when he loses again (and again, and again, and again, and again.....) Instead make sure he understands that - sometimes you win - sometimes you lose. But that doesn't mean you ever give up.

16. Give him opportunities to help others.

There is a big difference in giving someone the opportunity to help and forcing someone to help. Giving the opportunity lights a flame in the heart and once the help is done the flame shines brighter and asks for more opportunities. Be an example of helping others in your own actions and the way your family helps each other and helps others together.

17. Remind him that practice makes perfect.

This doesn't just apply to performance-based activities (like sports and music) but also applies to everything in life. You become a better writer by writing. You become a better listener by listening. You become better speaker by speaking. Show your son this when he is just young enough to understand (that means from birth, folks - they are making sense of the world as soon as they arrive), practice trick-or-treating at your own front door before the real thing. Practice how you will walk through airport security before a trip. Practice how you order your own food from the fast food cashier. Practice, practice, practice.

18. Answer him when he asks, "Why?"

Answer him, or search for the answer together. Show him the places to look for the answers (like his dad, or grandparents, or his aunts/uncles, or his books, or valid internet searches). Pose the question to him so he can begin thinking about answers himself. Someday, when he needs to ask questions he's too embarrassed to ask you - he'll know where to go to find the right answers.

19. Always carry band-aids and wipes on you.

Especially the wipes.

20. Let his dad teach him how to do things.

...without interrupting about how to do it the 'right way.' If you let his dad show and teach and discover with your son while he is growing up, someday down the road (after a short period of your son believing his dad knows nothing), he will come to the realization that his dad knows everything. You will always be his mother, but in his grown-up man heart and mind, his dad will know the answers. And this will be how, when your son is too busy with life to call and chat with his mom, you will stay connected to what is happening in his life. Because he will call his dad for answers, and his dad will secretly come and ask you.

21. Give him something to release his energy.

Drums, a pen, a punching bag, wide open space, water, a dog. Give him something to go crazy with - or he will use your stuff. And then you'll be sorry.

22. Build him forts.

Forts have the ability to make every day normal stuff into magic. Throw the couch cushions, a couple blankets, and some clothespins and you can transform your living room into the cave of wonders. For the rest of his life, he'll be grateful to know that everyday normal stuff has the potential to be magical.

23. Take him to new places.

Because it will make his brain and his heart open up wider, and the ideas and questions and memories will rush in.

24. Kiss him.

Any mother of sons will tell you that little boys are so loving and sweet. They can be harsh and wild and destructive during most of the day. But there are these moments when they are so kind and sensitive and tender. So much so that it can cause you to look around at the inward, reserved grown men in your life and think, 'what happens in between that made you lose that?' Let's try to stop the cycle by kissing them when they're loving and kissing them even more when they're wild. Kissing them when they're 2 months and kissing them when they're 16 years old. You're the mom - you can go ahead and kiss him no matter how big he gets - and make sure he knows it. P.S. - This one is just as important for dads too.

25. Be home base.

You are home to him. When he learns to walk, he will wobble a few feet away from you and then come back, then wobble away a little farther and then come back. When he tries something new, he will look for your proud smile. When he learns to read, he will repeat the same book to you twenty times in a row, because you're the only one who will listen that many times. When he plays his sport, he will search for your face in the stands. When he is sick, he will call you. When he really messes up, he will call you. When he is grown and strong and tough and big and he feels like crying, he will come to you; because a man can cry in front of his mother without feeling self-conscious. Even when he grows up and has a new woman in his life and gets a new home, you are still his mother; home base, the ever constant, like the sun. Know that in your heart and everything else will fall into place.



P.S. – We had another family photo session, this time with Elizabeth of Little Fish Photography, on Saturday in City Park. Look for a recap of that sometime soon!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sleepy Sprout, Part Five


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And, last but not least, two Sleepy Beans.

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Have a wonderful weekend, y’all!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Little Updates: Mealtime

Hi Mama. I think I might be ready to try this whole eating thing again.


Are you watching? Here I go!


I think I got it…..


…..almost there…..


…..yes! Did you see me, Mama? I ate a Puff all by myself!


And you know what?


It was pretty darn good. I think I’ll have some more.


Success! Little by little, he is getting better at eating. He is doing really well with Puffs and Cheerios, so I try to offer some to him after every meal so he can practice, practice, practice that pincer grip. And he still likes holding big pieces of things (like apple and carrot, pictured below), but he’s also starting to work those teeth of his, so it’s not really safe to give him things whole anymore.

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However, he has very recently become much more open to trying new things. We went out to lunch last Saturday and he ate an entire French fry. Awesome. Then the next day he tried a few small pieces of edamame. Terrific. A couple of days after that he actually stood next to me at the coffee table while I ate my breakfast and accepted lots of bites of bagel and banana. Stupendous. And did the same thing the next morning and the next morning and then shared my chipotle chicken chili later for lunch. UNBELIEVABLY WONDERFUL.


Of course he also decided to throw up mashed potatoes another day at lunch, so it’s not a perfect process.

But I am so proud of him for trying.

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