Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ryan the Toddler

Evidently the medical definition of a toddler is a child who between 12 and 36 months of age (at least according to the online medical dictionary I used and we all know if it is on the internet it HAS to be true ;), right?) I know I always thought of it as a young child who is new at walking. That seems to be a popular definition, again according to the infallible sources of the internet. Either way, Ryan is now a toddler.

It took him longer than his brother, but not by much. Justin was walking a few days after his first birthday. Ryan is going to be 13 months old in four days. If I were learning to walk and had Justin constantly running around me, I would be a bit cautious too!

Ryan has been cruising forever. He has been confident in standing in the middle of the room. The walking just wasn't happening even though he loved to stand. He even loved to stand holding things. Here he is playing peek a boo.

Sometimes I swear that he is teasing me. I would try to get him to walk to me and he would get down and laugh. I just hope that he isn't as stubborn as his mother or we are in trouble.

Well today he was walking 7 to 10 steps in the playroom. He did it multiple times. It was so cute to watch how excited he looked. I finally clapped and said yay and then he went all limp noodle. I couldn't catch him on video. Finally, FINALLY I did. I wasn't the best walk of the day, but it is the one I got.

I am sure that before long I will wish that he weren't walking. It is only the start of more trouble.

And, speaking of trouble, how is this kid? Terrible twos has been replaced by Three year old from hell? It does get better, right? I shouldn't complain. Justin is normally a pretty good child. I think that makes it all the harder for me when he has a meltdown. Obviously in this case he is overtired and frustrated. Doesn't mean he is fun to deal with.

Sorry for all the video clips. Now that we are in Africa I figure I better keep Grandma up to date! Skip over them if you want. Don't feel badly. Sometimes I even find them a bit dull, but I figure better too many than not enough.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Christmas Story According to Justin

When you have a 3 year old, the birth of Jesus has a rough time competing with Santa and presents. Kind of an abstract concept. I bought the Fisher Price Nativity set thinking that it might help a little in the whole explanation of the Christmas story. Certainly it would bring some excitement into Justin's life. I mean more Little People and animals can't be a bad thing!

Not as interested in it as much as the Santa stuff, but he seems to get some of the basics. He has told the story in his own words a few times. I have learned some things from his accounts.

1. There wasn't enough room in the hotel and if they went in the hotel it would go ka-pow and explode everywhere because it was way full.

2. The wise men liked to sing a lot, mostly "dum de dum de dum" as they walked along.

3. On the way back home, one of the wise men stepped on some icy ice and he said "whoa" and fell down.

4. The presents were heavy so Mary and Joseph had to help lift them.

I wish I could remember all of the interesting things Justin threw in the story. I finally got him to consent to being recorded. Unfortunately the recorded version was not my favorite. He gets a bit camera shy and needed a lot of prompting. Tiny kept getting in the way too. Oh well. I imagine that when he is older he will enjoy watching it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Spirit of Giving Through Regifting

This year we have taken a new approach (at least for us) on the idea of regifting. We have been here in Namibia for less than a month. There are all sorts of expenses associated with moving into a new home. We have been stocking up on food basics (flour, sugar, salt, spices, pretty much EVERYTHING!), cleaning supplies, pool toys :), outlet adapters (I HATE the stupid plugs here), bath mats, door mats, and a million more little things that add up. Everyone thinks of Africa as a cheap place to live, but let me tell you Namibia is NOT a cheap place at all. So anyway, our focus is on getting the things we need to try to get settled in.
BEFORE we came out here, we also spent a lot of money on things like a wii and some games, a bike for Rob, some food from Costco, toys for the boys, clothes, upgrades to Windows 7 and some other software, and heaven only knows what else. It isn't like we haven't bought anything. Some of the things could have been Christmas presents if we had waited.
So now Christmas is going to be here in a couple of days. The boys are taken care of, but Rob and I did not buy anything for each other. My mom and dad got us some things from our Amazon wish list (Thanks, Mom!), but other than those three gifts we have nothing under the tree. No big deal for us, but I suddenly worried about what Justin will think. Big three year old that he now is, he might actually be upset about that. He doesn't let a thing get by him. This is where the regifting comes in. I found some earrings and a bracelet in my jewelry box that Rob will help Justin wrap up for me. I grabbed a book, swim goggles, and a new comb from one of Rob's unpacked boxes and Justin helped me wrap those up yesterday. My sister sent me a book that she just finished reading and I will have Rob give that to me. (You don't mind, do ya Mer?) I need to grab something small that I can wrap for Rob from me. Justin and Tiny each have a present to give to each other too, but theirs are actually new things.
Silly, it might seem, to wrap things that we already own. Rob and I really don't care. I mean do you think he will be excited to get the goggles he bought before Justin was already born? Well, he might be if he forgot he had them, but that isn't the point. Justin was so excited to wrap something up for his dad. He will be thrilled to see Rob open the present and oooh and aaah over it. I guess in our regifting the real present we will receive is seeing the smile on Justin's face and enjoying the excitement of our kids. Cheesy, perhaps, but true.

Friday, December 18, 2009


We got the tree decorated. Justin was able to help put things on the lower branches. Ryan was able to take things off of the lower branches. It became a race to see who was faster. My busy little boys! Justin wanted to climb on a chair to reach higher, but we nixed that and forced him to stay within his reach. Parents can be so mean. The first ornament on the tree was one that Justin made at the Embassy Christmas party. He was so proud of the ornament. It is, well, let's just say that it is a treasure because my 2 year old made it. I don't think we have to insure it or anything. He had so much fun with his "project" too. My mom got him started on the idea of doing projects. Projects can be a variety of things involving glue, paint, markers, crayons, etc. I need to be better about getting projects for him to do. It isn't like I don't have anything. A lot of my teaching stuff is here and I have several things that Justin can do. It just gets to be a pain with Tiny helping all the time and Justin needing help but not wanting to have help.

Okay, back to Christmas. Yep, in that picture Tiny has something small in his mouth. Justin makes it nearly impossible to keep things even close to baby proof. Actually, since Tiny is over a year now I guess it is 'toddler' proof. My baby is so big! Ryan loves to stick anything and everything in his mouth except when I want him too. He will eat ants, paper, rubberbands, and the like, but will turn up his nose at new foods. Why is it that kids do that? Don't say that those things taste better than my cooking. At the Embassy party, Justin was a bit shy of Santa. When the gifts started coming out of the bag, Daddy was able to persuade him that maybe approaching Santa was not such a bad idea. It took awhile, but Justin did warm up enough to get his present and talk Santa's ear off. Probably better when he was shy. Ryan, on the other hand, was very different. He cried even getting near Santa. The picture of me with Tiny and Santa was the happiest Tiny was during the whole Santa time. Isn't it strange? I know it is common for small children to be afraid or shy of Santa, but my kids are generally so outgoing and love everyone. Justin was already blabbing about Santa non-stop, yet seeing him in the flesh was another story. Probably even stranger than kids being afraid around Santa is the need we parents feel to push our kids onto the lap of this stranger (don't we usually say DON'T go to strangers?) and try to get a picture. What are we thinking? Beats me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ryan at 1

Not very exciting, I know, but if I don't put it here I will forget.

At 12 months:
your child is 22.7 pounds, and that is
at the 45th percentile for weight.

your child is 32 inches, and that is
at the 95th percentile for height.

-Cruising well, standing on his own, and (unfortunately) an EXCELLENT climber, but not walking yet.
-Day before first bday took two steps and then a full body lunge to Mommy.

-Ravenous Beast! Wants to do it himself and have it look like everyone else's food.
-Signs eat and want, otherwise screams or points

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Leaving Idaho for Washington DC

November 20, 2009

We needed to get up at 3:30 in the morning so we could get to our 6:15 flight out of Spokane. Ryan decided to get up at 1:00 AM. Great. I really needed an extra early start to a long day. With my parents helping out, getting to the airport and checking bags was not a problem. Getting through security with my two boys, two carry on bags, a car seat, a stroller, jackets (snowing outside and you never know what it will be like on the plane), and liquids is enough to wear me out. Justin is able to get his own shoes off and on, so that is one helpful thing he can do. He wanted to help push the gray plastic bin along too. Sweet, but not as helpful. We got through and put back together again. United does NOT let people with young children board early. That meant I had to wait until seating group two. I am capable of carrying all my things and dealing with my boys, but it is difficult. Someone offered to carry my stroller.

On the plane, the flight attendants were friendly, but not helpful. Perhaps they don’t like one adult traveling with two small children. I only had TWO carry-ons. One was a small backpack and the other a small bag. We are talking under the seat kind of carry-ons. The airlines RECOMMEND that you have a seat for infants and use a car seat, so you would think that when you do that they would be helpful. Nope. I had to lug it clear back to my seat and buckle it in while balancing Tiny and keeping an eye on the ever-friendly Justin. The flight was uneventful, which is good. Justin announced that he could see Denver and that it was going to be a great day.

Off the plane with the car seat, carry-ons, and kids. Someone saw me reaching for the stroller and helped me get it set up. I loaded up Justin (Tiny rides in the ergo baby carrier. I had a hard time shelling out $100 for a baby carrier, but I have loved it and have not regretted it.) and put one carry-on over the stroller handles. That meant wearing the backpack on my back and throwing the car seat (in a travel bag) over my shoulder. We had a little over two hours to kill. Now I can get around, but it isn’t a lot of fun to carry all that stuff and navigate. My plan was to find a play area and camp out there for awhile and then change diapers and get food before we boarded the next plane. Can you believe that an airport the size of Denver’s does NOT have a play area? Great. Justin and Tiny both wanted to burn off energy and there are only so many appropriate ways to do that.

Justin wanted to go up and down escalators, which was a no go. Can’t do that with a stroller and a bunch of junk. Then he asked me where Grandma and Papa were. Oops. Even though we had talked about the trip, he somehow hadn’t realized that they weren’t with us. I thought we were going to be in for a major problem, but he accepted that they were back home. He was excited to see Daddy again so I focused on that. I couldn’t find anything that Justin wanted to eat. We got a McDonald’s happy meal for him and Tiny to share. Tiny ate more. Justin was thrilled with the toy—a nerf blaster of sorts. Great airport toy, something that fires darts. I told a little white lie about needing Daddy’s help to put it together (and then Justin showed me that he knew how!) and told him how it might get lost or broken if we used it before the hotel. Diaper changes went smoothly enough and we headed for our gate.

The boys were active, but stayed within a small area and left other people alone. Many friendly looking people commented on how I had my hands full. One woman offered to carry the stroller to the gate for me and get one of my carry-ons to my seat. When they didn’t ever call for people with small children, she even went up to ask. Nope, they don’t care. Go ahead and bump people’s arms as you go down the skinny aisles with a hungry baby and a huge car seat. We got to our seats and a man held Tiny while I got his seat installed. A couple sitting across from us said that they had three small children (visiting Grandma) and knew how difficult travel could be. They offered to help. They ended up sitting with Justin when I had to change Tiny. They also helped with the car seat, a carry-on, and a sleeping Justin when it was time to get off the plane. They were very nice. Another woman brought us the shoe Justin managed to lose somewhere along the way.

Justin expected Daddy as soon as we got off the airplane. I was glad to find Rob waiting at baggage claim so Justin didn’t have a complete fit.

It was a long day, but made easier by the kindness of strangers. So next time you travel, if you are able, help out someone who looks like they can use an extra hand. Don’t just say you will help if they need, be specific so they know you are sincere and what you feel comfortable doing. Offer to wait in line to buy their food or to save them a table while they get it. Volunteer to hold/watch a child so a mom can use the airplane bathroom without taking a dozen “helpers” with her. See if you can carry a bag on/off the plane. Let the woman with the screaming kid get in front of you in line. It is amazing how much small things can help. I have been very blessed in my travels and have been able to get through hard times a little easier because others were willing to help. And, the next time you are inconvenienced, you are allowed to be annoyed, but remember it could be worse.

Outsmarted by the Kids

I got Tiny a couple of sippy cups, which he seemed to really enjoy. So did Justin. I don’t really want Justin to use sippy cups because he is almost three and does not need them. He does have a couple of sigg water bottles that he can tote around with him. He likes those. So does Tiny. In fact, Tiny LOVES them. They are spill resistant, but not spill/leakproof like the sippy cup. Tiny ends up making a mess. Not so bad at home, but on the go or in hotels he can get wet enough that he needs a new change of clothes. Tiny now rejects HIS cups and wants only Justin’s. Sigh. I decided to ask Justin to drink out of Tiny’s cup. A few minutes later, guess who was interested in his sippy cup? That’s right; Tiny just wants whatever his brother has. Now Justin doesn’t want to give Tiny back his cup. Back to the drawing board.