Tuesday, February 24, 2015

River Is Five

It's true.  I am in denial, but not posting about it, isn't going to change anything, so I guess I better suck it up.

New mommies beware.  Your little one will go from this...

To this....

Before you can blink!

Take a lot of pictures while they are small.  Not just so you can remember what they looked like, but also because they start giving you major attitude about photos when they get a little bigger.  I worry that people think I favor Ash, since I post so many more picture of him, but I promise, it's just to save myself a fight, should I try to sneak a photo of River.

River has matured so much in this last year.  I could not be more proud of him.  He started off the year a little rough.  He was having anxiety about a lot of things; the order you said good night, hearing people say goodbye, what side of the sidewalk you passed him on, etc...  We experienced quite a few mega-meltdowns as a result.  We didn't know if he would outgrow them, if we should cater to them, to ease his anxieties, or if he would be better served by us being super strict.  Long story short, after lots of patience and talks about thoughts just being thoughts and they have no power over you, he is completely fine.  Thank goodness.

He could not be more excited to start school.  He has quite a few friends born before the September 1st deadline that already started school and he kept asking me when he could go.  I kept answering, "When you turn five."  I should have thought that through a little better, because I found him in his room, rummaging through his dresser, on his birthday and when I asked what he was doing, he said, "Picking out clothes for school tomorrow."

He loves, loves, loves playing Clash Of The Clans.  We purposely have not invested in video games, because I don't want to fight that battle, but Bear had a village and was part of a clan with people at work and we thought it would be fun for River to help strategize a few of the battles.  Little did I know, River would take over the village and it would consume him night and day.  He wakes up desperate to check on it and goes to bed "replaying" all the battles for me.  It's good and bad.  I love watching him have fun and advance in his playing, but I feel like policing screen time has become my main job as a parent and that is no fun.  Can we just go back to the days of checkers?  Anyone, anyone???

River is still super competitive.  If he won't eat, I say I'm going to finish my food first and suddenly he is chowing down.  If he won't get in the car, I make it a race and suddenly, he is zooming by me.  He is getting better about not always needing to be the winner, or getting to go first during an activity... I said better, not great.

Football is his jam.  He goes into hyper-drive whenever our neighbor kids knock on the door to ask him to play.  I usually catch him just in time to force him to put on shoes.  My little Chiefs fan is no longer and now he loves his daddy's Dolphins, but he tells me the Chiefs are his third favorite team... hey, as long as he's not a Bronco's fan, right?  He watched the Superbowl intently and continues to give me play by plays of the entire game.  His memory for details is ridiculous.

He only has a few of his toddler habits left and I don't have the heart to correct them.  He says, lesterday, instead of yesterday and it makes my heart happy, because it's one of the few words he pronounces the same as when he was two. When he talks about his Clash of Clans village, he says billage.  He also still sucks his thumb and I know the time for that to end is coming soon, but man alive, it is going to be bittersweet when he stops.  The first photo I have of him was of him sucking his thumb in my womb.  It was such a comfort to him and a blessing to have the ability to self soothe.  I might be the only mom to cry, because her kid STOPS sucking his thumb.  Oh well... sappy is my middle name.

His favorite color is green and is favorite number is 18.  He will watch any sport on TV and loves to be contradictory, so don't let him know who you want to win.  I learned this the hard way when my Royal's were in the World Series.

If he gets in trouble and I yell at him (which I swear I never do), he will breakdown and want me to hold him.  The worst thing I can do, when he is in trouble, is make him go to time out by himself.  He might be so mad at me, bawling and feeling hurt by me, but he still wants me to hold him.  It isn't in a manipulative way either.  It is pretty humbling and has caused me to do a lot of research and soul searching when it comes to the classic reward/punishment paradigm of discipline.  I don't have any answers, but I feel like he's causing me to ask important questions.

My heart skips a beat, when he asks me to snuggle, which thankfully he still does.  I've never been one for etiquette and I fully plan to continue this long past the time society deems it appropriate.  I can't imagine not snuggling my little man.

River learned to read this last year, does daily lessons with us and an on-line preschool.  He will be one of the few kids whose first day of school is Kindergarten, but we know he is prepared.

Some of his favorite expressions are "What THE heck!", (Yes we've lived in Utah too long.) and "Aye Aye Sir!", when you ask him to do anything.  Ashy Boy copies him now and I swear there is nothing cuter than little boys saying the Aye Aye Sir.  He also asks, "Do you want to see the replay?" about everything he does.  Lucky me.  I get to see every football game twice.

He is pretty reserved and takes a while to warm up to new situations, but can be surprisingly bold at times, like when he bares his testimony at church, in front of 100 adults, or tries to join in a football game with boys twice his age.

His brother is his best friend and though he has outgrown using Ash's baby foot for comfort, he is happiest making his brother laugh.  It is not hard for him to do, because River's laugh is infectious and rings in the air like sleigh bells.  His mega-wat smile is sure to cheer anyone and should my boys fight, as all brothers do, River is quick to give "gentle loves" by patting Ash's shoulder.

He notices and cares about what people are thinking, or feeling.  He wants to know why they are sad, or why they yelled.  He is very aware and compassionate... unless fighting over a toy, or something.

He asked some tough questions about dying this year and while that conversation deserves a post of its own, the reason he cried the hardest when he found out that everyone dies, was because he did not want Ashy Boy to die.  He said Ash was too little and too sweet and it wouldn't be fair.  Oh, how tender his heart is.

He loves his Kindermusik class and he likes to make up silly songs and if he can't remember a word, he'll substitute it with poop, or fart.  He is becoming more vocal in his class and also at church and I am excited to see his confidence building.  He wants me to put him back in swim lessons and misses being in the water.  He remembers, from a year ago, that he was supposed to start the blue class and he reminds me constantly.

Lowe's Build and Grow projects were a huge part of our life this last year and he was not happy when we missed one of the projects.  The first note he wrote by himself said, "I love build and grow, even though mom made me miss the dragon one."

He was able to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time and see the Redwoods.  We were up in Northern California, on a blustery day and you could not pull this child out of the Ocean.  He loved the waves.  He also saw Devil's Tower and Mount Rushmore for the first time.  His favorite part was keeping track of  the number of the trail marker we were at.  His love of numbers, orders, charts, etc... is something so foreign to me.  Ha ha... but he really does love it.

I could go on and on.  Yep, I am one of those moms, but I will end with this... I knew I would love my children, but what never ceases to amaze me is how early on in their lives they have become so fun and interesting and entertaining to be around.  Don't get me wrong, I still need my occasional adult time, but who knew that you wouldn't have to wait for your kids to grow up, before you really just enjoyed each others company and sense of humor.  I love you River Lucas Bear and I am so very grateful you are mine.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Because Love

It's hearts and the color pink and everything I said I would never do, but hey...Sometime's you need a little Sugar!  Happy Valentine's Day to my Soul Matey.  Ours is a simple love story, but it is also my favorite.  Thanks for riding this crazy train with me and for choo, choo, choosing me over and over again.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ash Is Two

I know, I know... this is old news, but I have another boy, having another birthday in a little over 24 hours and even another boy, having another birthday 24 hours after that and I don't want Ash's 2 year old update to get lost in the mix.

Ash at two is spunky, goofy, stubborn and beyond empathetic.

He always notices what mood I'm in and will grab my face between his two chubby hands and ask, "Why are you crying, laughing, happy, sad, "fustated", etc.."

He might not have walked until 19 months and 1 week, but the boy has been talking our ears off all year long.  He says everything.  He picks up new words instantly and uses them correctly in sentences after that.  I forget his speaking so well is a little unusual, until other moms with kids his age comment on it.  Sometimes they worry a little about their kids, but I assure them Ash had plenty of extra learning time, since he did not so much as touch his feet to the ground for an entire year longer than their children.

If he's happy, he says "That so fun." about everything and if he's not getting his way, "You so mean."  Needless to say, I get called mean a lot.

He is in a hitting phase right now and I have repeated hundreds of times in the last few weeks-"Ash, you may not hit.  Hitting hurts.  If you are frustrated, use your words and tell River why.  If you choose to hit, you choose time out.  Understand?  Now what happens if you hit?  That's right, you go to time out.  Now what should you do instead?  That's right, tell River why you are frustrated."  Blah Argh... Let me tell you why I am frustrated.  This does not seem to be working.  Maybe after a few more hundred times???

Despite what I said about the hitting, he adores his brother.  He is on team River all the way.  If River is in trouble, he tells me "Brother is sad.  Why brother crying?  You so mean."  I love their loyalty to each other.  I love that they genuinely enjoy each others company.  I love that tears are short lived, forgiveness comes quickly and laughter abounds when they are around each other.  Ash idolizes River and wants to do whatever his brother is doing.  I love hearing him call River "Brother".  It is so sweet.  A prayer was answered when Ash was born.  Babies are not easy for me to come by and I desperately wanted River to have a friend to travel through life with.  It makes my heart happy their love for each other is so strong.

Ash gets around great now.  His awkward toddler run is to die for.  He swings his arms side to side and his hips side to side in opposite direction.  He climbed ladders before he crawled, or walked and once he got a little help from ankle braces needed to stabilize his overly flexible ankles, he was moving in no time.  (Before the braces, you could bend his feet up and back towards his legs and his feet would completely lay flat against his shins.  No wonder he was afraid to walk.  He had no stability at all.)

He loves his kitty "NO-Dull". (Noodle)  He loves laying flat on the ground beside him and putting his arm across Noodle's back.  Noodle tolerates it pretty well and no matter how many times Noodle runs away and hides, Ash's love never falters.

  He yells "AMEN" at the top of his lungs after prayers and runs around not listening when we read scriptures.  He needs to get water, or throw something away every ten meetings during Sacrament meeting and cries for a minute when I drop him off at Nursery, but always has a huge smile on his face when I pick him up.

He adores his Kindermusik class and smiles the entire time, trying to copy the sign language the instructor is doing as fast as he can.  His favorite is when they pull out the parachute, but he refuses to listen to the music and wave it gently.  There are only strong hurricane waves from this little guy.

When he turned two, he was still waking 5 times a night and nursing back to sleep.  It was a combination of his love of nursing, lack of other self soothing techniques like binkies, bottles, blankets, thumb sucking, Bear working nights, sharing a room with his brother and us living in an apartment.  Crying it out was practically impossible and he had no idea how to get back to sleep without nursing... nor was he interested in learning.  I am beyond thrilled to report that in the month since he turned two, we traveled to Colorado and used my friend Becca's spare bedrooms to sleep train him and he is now sleeping through the night, but really... who cares about him... I AM SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!  Hallelujah!  He goes to bed at 8:30 pm and wakes up between 7 and 8 am.  It's not quite as stellar as River's sleep schedule, but it is consecutive and consistent and miraculous and wonderful!

He goes to sleep with a growing army of miniature babies.  It started out with the kitten we call Kiss Kiss and he calls Kee Kee, that used to be River's.  Then grew to include the dog named Hugsy that he calls Doggy, which he acquired from Primary Children's Hospital's Surgery Day.  Then a tiny duck he named Duck Duck joined the pack in November when his friend Collin gave it to him and last to join the crew was a baby kitten he named Little Kitty (pronounce Yiddle Kee Kee) that I think he stole from Becca's daughter when we were sleep training, but I wasn't going to report him, maybe Little Kitty was our lucky charm.

He makes me laugh 100 times a day.  Once, he belched loudly at church during the closing prayer and then announced "I fah-ted!" (farted) even louder.  I laughed so hard I had to leave the chapel.  He has no shame and delights how irritated it makes River that he mixes up his bodily functions.

I love his smile.  I love the way he crinkles his nose and shows his teeth when he is really happy.  I love how much he loves his birthday and how he has told me everyday since, "It my birthday."  I love that he would stop in the middle of whatever he was doing and run to our Elf On The Shelf and say, "Hi Sparky." and that he has asked me over and over again, "Where Sparky?" since Christmas has come and gone.

There is a million things I have forgotten.  I kept promising to write them down as they happened and I failed, but this post is already too long.  I'll leave you with this- Ash Phoenix has our hearts.  He has us all wrapped around his chubby little finger.

Happy 2nd Birthday my little love!

Drops the mic and walks away...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Happy 40

Most people plan on getting married for forever. My parents were pretty sure it was going to last two weeks. It wasn't always easy and sometimes it was downright impossible, but with love and the Lord's help... they are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary today. I could not be more proud. There aren't award shows for this kind of achievement, but you get something even better. You get a wonderful life, filled with love and the miracle of seeing something you started with a simple promise, continue to grow to the eternities. Thanks for loving us, loving each other and being willing to do hard things. Sorry I don't have more pictures of you guys as young-ins, but did life really start before me? I love you both so much!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


I took the boys to McDonald's.  Ash had his two year well child visit and there happens to be a McDonald's, with their unmistakable golden arches that work like homing beacons on small children, right across the street from our pediatrician's office.  After deflecting chants of Donalds, Donalds, Donalds the entire visit, I caved and we went.  Seriously, someone with more money than me, please start a chain of healthy restaurants that have a play land?  Please?

Anyway, we were having a grand o'l time-The kids rocking that play land like champs and me, quietly obsessing over how many french fries is too many french fries, when out of nowhere a little boy, slightly smaller than River, so I am guessing about four, kicked Ash right in the face.  That's right.  Out of nowhere!  Ash wasn't blocking him.  There were no toys involved.  He just happened to be the smallest kid at the play land and looked the most kickable I guess.  I  ran over to pick  Ash up, but before I could get there River let out a mighty roar!  "Don't kick my brother!!!  It hurts!!!"  His face was flushed and his fists were clenched by his sides and his whole body was shaking.  Then he just yelled, "AHHHHH!!! I AM SO MAD!"  I helped Ash up and grabbed River tight, and just let him breathe into me for a second.  The other boy fled into the arms of his very embarrassed grandmother and they quickly left.

When everyone's heart rate returned to normal, I began putting their shoes on and two moms came up to River and told him they thought he was awesome for protecting his little brother.  He shut down the way he always does when he gets a compliment.  It really embarrasses him.  Then when I tried to tell him how proud I was, he told me, "No.  Don't say that."  So I let it drop, but I just wanted to write down how proud I am of him.  He was brave and acted quickly.  He was not passive and his mighty yelp got the attention of everyone in that play land.  He could have hit that boy.  He wanted to so bad.  It took every once of impulse control he had, not too.  All the adults would have thought it pretty justified too, but he didn't.  He was assertive, not aggressive and that is a hard path to choose.  Look how many adults can't do it.  We either say nothing and complain later, or completely over react.

I am a fighter.  It's taken my whole life to calm my temper and I promise you, I would way rather hit somebody, than tell them, "Stop!  I don't like it when you do that."  When I finally learned I shouldn't be hitting, I thought my only option was too squash my feelings, walk away and complain about the unfairness of it all later, but it is not true.  Assertiveness is a skill and it can be learned like any other, but no one is teaching it.  It is hard teaching skills to your kids that you don't personally possess, but maybe, just maybe, if I keep trying to teach them, I'll finally learn something myself.