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Friday, May 29, 2009

Family Time

Uncle Christopher: “I can’t believe I’m holding a real Avent Magic Super Sports Cup! And in hot pink none the less!”
Rhianwen: “Where has this guy been?”
Alden: “That skunk looks like he’s about to pee on me.”

Well, he’s been in Seattle. Which is why it was so special to see Uncle Christopher for a couple of days. Rhianwen patiently waited for him the day of his arrival and kept wanting to sit in the chair closest to our front door so that she would be sure to see him when he got there. Finally mommy was able to convince her that the time would be better utilized by playing, eating supper, and hanging out with Chris’ dreadless friend Matt (of whom Rhianwen wondered aloud “Is he going to bring his icky hair?” since he had graced us with a showing of the dreads after his cut a while back.). Matt did indeed bring his icky hair and left a choice piece in Uncle Chris’ bag to be found by him later with much disgust.

Nanny Kim, Grandpa, and Uncle Skipper came up for a double visit to spend time with Uncle Christopher and us. We had a fabulous time. Of course, we had to spend most of it in the backyard on or around the swings.

Shockingly, a family picture was suggested…who heard of such a thing on mommy’s side of the family? Daddy’s…we take family pictures as a rule and lots of them. Lighting is discussed, backdrop is discussed, timing and placement is discussed multiple times throughout the process. Pictures are reviewed, and if the baby isn’t looking, we start all over (attitude and time permitting). This family picture however, was slightly simpler with the exception that we needed a potty break after assembling down on our bridge and before any shots were taken. Despite our attempts, the camera found it impossible to catch baby’s eye. He’s much more interested in the creek.

Pretending to fly like the ladybug on Uncle Christopher’s hand.

Then daddy left for a trip to GA while we stayed home and felt the desolation of an empty house without company. Okay. It wasn’t that bad! We actually had some fun reconstructing the Eiffel Tower in our living room and being successful in that activity following it up by playing Madeline. Rhianwen, who has been taken with the NHL playoffs in our paper decided to suit up to rival any professionally designed uniform.

When she showed dad she said she had to bend her toes to get into her skates. He thought it sounded uncomfortable, but as any fashionista could tell you style over comfort is always a must.

Funny time in our house:

Rhi, finding some scissors on the kitchen table: I’m going to cut Alden’s sock!
Mom: No no no! Are you crazy?!
Rhi: Yes, I am.

Rhianwen’s last swim lesson was this past Saturday. She can float on her own, blow bubbles on her own, and jump in under the water all on her own. Now, if she could just learn how to get from the bottom of the pool back to the top with her head out.

We’ll probably put her in another group of lessons that are more advanced later this summer. We are very happy with the progress and fun she’s had with these first one. She actually met all of the goals that they were teaching, and I think Wally had a blast helping her learn.

An evening enjoyed at DQ.

Alden, desponded and dejected, wondering why he can’t have any of that glorious- looking pile of stuff.

We’ve begun reading a verse from the “real” Bible at mealtime (not a Bible story book but the real thing). Thinking back on it, I guess we should have been doing something like this a long time ago, but I’m glad we’ve started it now. I had expected Rhianwen to be bored and disinterested, but she actually reminds us to read a verse and even tries to pick one out. Once we did the Romans road which has the verse Rom. 3:23, Rhianwen recognized the number pattern and has asked for other references with that pattern for example: Romans 5:25 or 8:28 etc. At first, I had said we couldn’t just choose something randomly, but Daddy very wisely suggested we read what Rhianwen chooses and what mommy chooses too. Amazingly, she manages to pick awesome verses. I guess Romans is just one of those books that is loaded. Daddy suggested we expand Rhianwen’s horizons by informing her that there are other books in the Bible than just Romans. But she often will insist on “Paul!” meaning, start at Romans 1 and read. Fun times.

Friday, May 22, 2009

So Ya' Think You Can Dance

Alden's just been getting into everything. Mommy's attempts at distraction are pretty much futile. He'd rather be eating dirt, plants, paper, climbing into and onto things he shouldn't be, and playing with outlets. He's been a FUN little cutie though too. He's started imitating. He loves playing with the Little people bus and saying "Brrrrrmmmm. Brrrrrrmmmm." while he drives it (dad showed him how to do that). He also is saying "Amn. Amn." at the end of mealtime prayers. It's so adorable!

e'd rather be finding tools and digging through weeds than playing in the kiddie pool.

Not Rhianwen. Although she does enjoy the "BIG" pool better.

Our little toofy teefer.

Enjoying the treehouse/fort.

This next month is going to be busy. I'm feeling really overwhelmed. Mommy needs a lot of prayer.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Now that Alden has mastered walking, it's on to new and exciting feats of daring.
He's also been a sweet little guy and loves to try to feed mommy his graham crackers, brush mommy's teeth, and hold the phone to mommy's ear for her to talk.
Wally took his MULA week this past week (Mandatory Unpaid Leave of Absence). No, he isn't under investigation for crimnal activity. It's just a company wide requirement for their workers. We enjoyed having him around but of course, it was an insane week of tasks and surprises and traveling. We got our countertops in, had tree people come to give quotes, helped pull off a nursing home visit with playgroup (sadly no pics from that), celebrated my birthday, tried to get our house treated for termites but discovered we had to find out where our well was thus beginning an epic series of telephone calls that led to no information, and went to Uncle Averett's graduation. 
The nursing home visit was amazing! It was at a memory care facility. We had many kids ranging from 3 months to 4 years old and around 20 residents gathered in a room about the size of our family room (small!). We had a story/signing/singing time followed by balloon games, and the kids did GREAT. It took no time for them to warm up and in fact we had a hard time containing their enthusiasm in some cases. I've been wanting to do something like this for 2 years, so I'm so happy it went well. We hope to do it on a quarterly basis and vary the activities. 
Since my birthday was on the same day as the nursing home visit and as the day that the counters had to be torn out, it wasn't a huge celebration. But that's how I like it anyway. I don't really like being in the spotlight. Rhianwen had a fun time shopping with daddy and insisted that she get a purple birthday card for mommy. They carefully selected one meeting the criteria but upon opening it, Rhianwen said, "Oh. This is not a birthday card. It doesn't play music!" at which point the search began anew for a musical birthday card. Here we are enjoying her final selection:
Then it was off to Clemson for a 3 hour graduation. There were highlights: Averett graduated and we got to do the CLEMSON FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT cheer in Littlejohn with Rhianwen (awesome). 
Yep, Alden was there.
The happy graduate.
Death Valley did our kids in.
We came back to Grandmama's and Grandaddy's and had fun visiting with the fam and trespassing on a good friend's farm to show the kids their horses and to swing on their swings and hammocks and to hang out on their dock (be careful what you offer....we'll make ourselves right at home!). :) 
The horses are a little scary to the kids. Every time one breathed on Alden he kind of squinted and almost cried; then they stole his graham cracker. Rhianwen took a lot of convincing to get near enough to feed one. 
Back at home enjoying a fairy pop-up book from Nanny Kim.
On her way to pick some lettuce for supper.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I apologize for the LONGness but not for the CUTEness

Alden with his favorite book. He'll look at it instead of trying to tear it, eat it, or throw it.

We've taken a few giant leaps around here. Alden has started talking AND walking! You may say, "NO WAY!" but it's true! At first we didn't believe it either, but then mommy finally convinced daddy that when Alden was saying "Dun dun dun dun." in his booster seat at meals, he really meant it! When we started acknowledging it, Alden rewarded us with big smiles instead of moving on to the "I've had it with you guys. Now I am going to scream to make it clear" phase of supper. Even so, we often won't be sure that's really what he is saying since mommy and daddy have very different views about how much Alden should put in his tummy, but it is so cool to see him trying to communicate in our language and seeing his little face light up when his point is understood.

He ALSO has been testing the limits and getting into everything. But most of the time it seems more of a game than anything else. He'll try to get into the trash can and we'll say, "Alden..." and he'll turn to us and say "Nuh nuh nuh." with a little impish grin on his face (Translated: No, no, no.). We'll say, "That's right. No no." and he'll just move on to something else. It's so ADORABLE it's hard not to smile while telling him no. (No, he's certainly not perfect and if he's determined to do it, he won't listen...turning over on the changing table is one fight we never win without having a tantrum-head).

Sibling friendship has been another really enjoyable development that I hope will continue to grow. Now that Alden is interacting more on our terms, he also seems to play better with Rhianwen. I made a tent in her room the other day, and they both LOVED playing in there together for a couple of days.

Tent fun.

Getting Alden to walk was on mommy's and daddy's agenda this month. Little did we know that it was on Alden's too! Saturday, I had just been at a birthday party with him where I had been talking to a friend about when I thought he'd walk. I gave him until the end of May (I had been noticing that Alden was starting to stand without holding on to things). When we got home, Alden just took off and walked across the kitchen and down the hall! Guess he was listening! He gets this little smile on his face because he knows he's doing something exciting. He still likes to crawl and cruise but if we put him down from our arms he'll often stand instead of sit and walk to where he wants to go.

And here is video footage as proof (facebookers, you have to go to the real blog to see it):

And this one's in response to Aunt Clara's request:

Rhianwen's been doing her own exciting things like learning how to float on her back at swim lessons and coasting on her balance bike (a very scary thing for mommy who anticipates many scrapes. None so far). She also likes picking out her own clothes and hair bows and has learned how to match colors. However, she may not get the idea that a smidgen of pink in her shirt does not necessarily mean that everything else should coordinate with it instead of the predominant color. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. But we try to give her freedom.

A favorite outfit of hers.

She finally got the guts to hold a caterpillar...I convinced her it wouldn't bite.

Mommy's also decided that she's big enough to start some craft projects. We made a fairy the other day out of ribbons and a wooden candle cup. Rhianwen painted her nose and mouth all by herself! She loves playing with her and let her hang out on her light where the ceiling fan spins the fairy around. It must be fun to watch at naptime.

Fairy Elisabetta (named by Rhianwen after her Great Aunt no less). 

Silly songs are a constant request in our home. If it weren't for mommy's sanity, they would be playing all day long and daddy would be singing them all day long. He was singing this one the other day:

"It's my job and I like it fine. No one has a better job than mine."

Rhianwen interrupted and said,"Not really. Somebody else has a better job than you."

Wally responded, "Who?"

Rhianwen said, "Mommy!!!"

Recently we've been trying to figure out ways to teach our kids positively about God. Obedience is such a focus in our house that sometimes it shuts out other aspects of life. All along we have been trying to explain motivations of the heart to Rhianwen, but it's been really hard to make it something understandable. I had been talking to a friend and to Wally about rewarding good behavior and what that is supposed to look like in relation to obedience and to encouraging proper motivation. How do you prevent encouraging good behavior for the wrong motivation? I don't want my kids to behave well b/c they expect a reward or b/c they want to avoid punishment...that would be obeying for a purely selfish motive. It would be teaching them to be self-serving. At least that is what it seems to me.

I think I can see using an "incentive system" for teaching new concepts. For example, if I introduce the concept of setting a good example, then when I notice Rhianwen doing that (even if she doesn't know she is) then I would tell her what she did and use the chosen activity/tool as a way to
cement that behavioral concept into her head. But I think would not want to use it after she clearly understands the concept and our expectations.

Later, if I see that on a given day she has had a fabulous day in a certain area, then I could choose to reward her, but she shouldn't be owed a reward for good behavior.

On the flip side, I don't really want Rhianwen's main objective to be to obey in order to avoid discipline. I'm not really sure how to avoid that attitude, but I'm hoping talking to her throughout the day about God's love, planning, provision, and beauty will help her see that obedience is part of the method that He has provided us so that we can live life fully, joyfully, and gratefully.

Balance is SO hard.

Our cuties.

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