Friday, October 31, 2014

I gotta write that down...

We told Samuel he couldn't have any more sweet potato casserole until he ate other things on his plate.  In the throes of dinner with so many littles, Samuel took advantage of a chaotic moment and dipped himself a huge serving on casserole.  All the adults at the table looked his way when the spoon clanged against his plate.  With a big grin, he looked up and said, "Now!  How about that!?!"

I made the boys chocolate chip cookies.  Carter took one bite and said, "You may never learn baseball Mama, but you sure can cook!"

(quoted from an Amelia Bedelia book we read months ago)

Samuel, hearing the garage door open: "Aaaaaaaaandi!"
Carter, in a very serious, grown up voice: "Indeed it is Samuel.  Indeed it is."

We got a little mud on a football.  Dejected, Cater stood over it and declared, "Oh no!  It is ruined!"

Carter: Andi, let's blow bubbles now.
Andi: Ok, I'll go ask Mama if that's okay first.
Carter:  Ok Andi. You do that. Be careful with that Mama.

Andi: Carter did you know that you're cute?
Carter: Sure am!

After I reprimanded the boys for playing in bed Carter said, "I need to peepee in the potty, that's why I was playing in my bed!"  As he walked out of his room to go to the restroom, Samuel repeated exactly the same line.  I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that answer was rehearsed.

After hours of Samuel not eating his lunch, I tossed the remnants.  The moment it went in the trash, Samuel exclaimed in total dismay, "Hey!  You threw my lunch away!  I'm hungry!  Will you fix me some food to eat?"

After belting his heart out into his big vacuum microphone: "Ok. Thank you for letting me sing to you. I love you all. Amen."  Drops mic.  Walks away. (Quickly picks up mic again and repeats before anyone can take aforementioned microphone)

Samuel: "Hey, Mama, I just pee peed over there in my seat while I ate Goldfish!"
Me: Samuel! Why would you do that?!?  Why didn't you go in the potty?
Samuel: looking at me in confusion that I thought the question was necessary, "I couldn't leave the table Mama...Carter would have eaten my Goldfish"
And actually, he's probably right.

Me: Carter we are going to church and Caelyn will be in your nursery today!
Carter: yay! Caelyn is my best girl ever!

Andi: Carter, can you ask nicely, please?
Carter: "I don't want to ma'am"

I had to discipline the boys one evening.  I talked to them both and then held Samuel's hand to pull him toward me.  As he got closer, Carter said, "First up, we have Samuel!"

After I said no to doughnuts.
Carter: I'm the doughnut monster. I NEED a doughnut!

Mama: Samuel, could you song a song for Ella to help her feel better?
Samuel: No Mama, I am out of batteries. If you give me new ones, I can sing.

Samuel eating ice cream:
Mama: "May I please have a bite of your ice cream?"
Samuel: without breaking eye contact, slowly sliding the ice cream away from me, "Sorry Mama. The ice cream is too far away from you. You can't reach it."

While looking for a toy before bed time:
Carter: I just found it anywhere I didn't look


I made up an arbitrary rule at some point that the children cannot have gum until they are five.  (Five is now far too close.)  At Grandma's house a few weeks ago, some of her friends came to visit.  As I wrapped something up in another room, the boys came running in with unwrapped gum in their hands, excitedly exclaiming, "I'm five! I have gum! I'm five! I have gum!"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Letters to Carter

Dear Carter,

I love this whole four year old thing.  Your imagination is at epic proportions right now.  You say outrageous things all the time.  Your vocabulary is precocious, repeating all the words you hear around you even when you are not entirely certain of their meaning.  It's remarkable, really, the way you remember words and phrases and repeat them in the correct context months after you last heard them.  It makes for a lot of hilarious quotables from you.

Right now, when you don't get your way, you consistently say, "But Mama, EVERYONE wants me to have cookies right now!" or, "But Mama, EVERYONE doesn't want me to take a nap right now!"  It's like you already understand peer pressure.  Now I'm not sure if you really have an imaginary jury out there agreeing with you, or if you are just throwing it out there to see if it will work.  Either way, you put that phrase to work quite often.  

You are only napping every so often these days, but you lie down and rest every afternoon after lunch.  Some days you sleep, some days you don't, but by lunch time, we all need the break.  I am grateful for your obedience in resting...I still think it is owed me after your first two years of virtually zero hours of sleep.

You memorize books so quickly, know lots of letters and their sounds, and really seem to enjoy the pace of our learning during play.  You understand a lot of simple mathematical concepts and have a real understanding of three dimensional shapes.  Gross motor skills are still your favorite, but you have incorporated lots of pretend play in them, and it is really fun to watch your imagination at work.  While fine motor isn't your main thing, you do love breaking out the watercolors, markers and scissors more often than you used to.  I am taking advantage when I can!  You can memorize the melody and lyrics of music more quickly than I can believe and still really appreciate rhythm, schedules and everything being in order.  You are the best little cleaner I could ever ask for!

You love to help.  You are so responsible about loading dishes into the dishwasher, sorting the clean silverware from the dishwasher into the drawer, loading laundry in and out of the washer and dryer, cleaning up toys, chopping vegetables and anything else you can get your hands on with a butter knife, grabbing diapers and wipes, cleaning the table with a damp cloth, helping Ella with her pacifier, and setting the table.  Everything is still slightly off kilter when you help, but I sure am grateful for your desire to work hard and your willingness to learn new skills.

You are a phenomenal brother.  I am so proud of the patience you show Samuel and the gentleness you use with Ella.  I am so grateful to see you learning to use self control to regulate your emotions before they carry you away, and so thankful to see you really working at hard things instead of just giving up when you can't accomplish something on the first try.  You ask interesting questions, make up really funny stories, and are altogether a boy I am so happy to spend my days with.  Truly, I would want you for a friend even if you weren't my son.

But?  I am so glad you're mine.  Mostly so I can kiss your sweet cheeks anytime I want :)

Love, Mama

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Letters to Samuel

Dear Samuel,

You are the silliest person I have ever met.  You are so funny.  There is something I can't pinpoint that makes you funny just in your very nature.

By the same measure, you are so sweet.  You are crazy, don't get my wrong.  Your two-year-oldness brings a whirlwind of destruction including, but not limited to, toys strewn across every surface, injured siblings, toilet paper unrolled and food scattered.  You are a tornado that is exhausting.  But even in all the chaos, there is something about you that pulls at heartstrings.  You are just so sweet.

Your favorite thing in this whole wide world is to sing and bang drums.  Both are loud, raucous affairs, and you are really probably the only one who enjoys them.  You love the music at church, especially the drums.  Wherever you go, you bang any object you can find on any other object you can hit steadily.  Many things and people have received injuries at your hand, but you sure do enjoy the noise you make.

You are the slowest walker I have ever met in my entire life.  Nothing can speed you up.  You meander through doorways, stroll along sidewalks, roam toward the van, and drift along as you explore outside.  There is nothing in this world that moves as slowly as you, I don't think...until you run away from me.  Your gait is then marked my remarkable speed and endurance.  The irony is not at all lost on me.

You have reached a little conundrum of confusion that I am particularly enjoying these days.  Our video monitor has a feature that allows us to talk to you through the camera.  As we were talking recently about not getting out of bed, you told me, "Yeah, the camera talked to me about that!"  I've realized that you don't know that it is my voice coming through the camera.  I have imagined several fun scenarios to take advantage of with this realization.  I don't know how long this will last, so I have to take advantage before you figure it out!  The best part is watching you jump for the bed when you hear the "camera's voice" in your room.  It's really too funny.

When I am not watching on the camera, you have taken to slipping out of bed when you wake up.  Padding into the room with big smiles and laughter when the adults are awake and appearing creepily next to my bed in the middle of the night when we are not.  It's a habit to break, but your little feet running into the room, face lit with smiles to see us in the morning are kind of amazing.

Your big eyes continue to draw all your compliments.  They are so sweet.  You have this nasaly, squeaky voice and a huge vocabulary.  Your words with your eyes are just really too much.

Puppets are your current favorite.  The middle schoolers at church bring puppets to your nursery every Sunday and have fueled your obsession.  You love to play with puppets, giving me a chance to give them a pat and making them sing, "You cannot come be tired of being good!"

For some reason, you are drooling like a crazy person and eating your hands all the time.  It seems just like teething, though I think all your little teeth are in.  It makes you even messier than usual, and that is saying something.

You have definite opinions about your clothes these days.  Specifically, you want to wear certain shirts all the time.  You call them the "cute" shirts and you get upset when you have to wear any others.  You also love "Alabama, Roll Tide Roll" shirts, so I am seeing this fashion quirk as a positive feature of your personality.

Sweet Samuel, you are the laugh I treasure every day.  You are sweet hugs, slobbery kisses and loud, obnoxious noise.  You are a constantly runny nose and really great quotes.  You are the funniest dancer and the dearest hugs.  You are the best of the cuddles and the biggest of eyes.  You are adventure and silliness, exploding all the time.

You are my son, and I am oh so grateful to be the one you call Mama.

I love you.

4 months

Weight: 14 lbs, 14 oz; 66th percentile
Height: 25.25 inches; 82nd percentile

Carter at four months
Samuel at four months

I want to write so much more than I can right now.  I am thankful that life is full of small people that leave little time for words.  The quandary is that they leave me so full of words and ideas...the little muses.  I just have no time to write them and don't think I will ever remember them all when there is time one day to put them into coherent paragraphs.

So I will write what I can and be grateful for what is recorded.  This is far more than I would have ever captured in a baby book, and I am grateful for the exercise of writing even if hurriedly and occasionally.  Being a mother has certainly helped me diminish my "all or nothing" personality...and I am grateful for that!

Ella is such a dear girl.  She loves her biggest brother so much.  She is still a little frightened of Samuel (and rightly so, poor girl.  He comes at her like a whirlwind) but Carter makes her smile like none other.  He is gentle and takes such, such good care of her.  He loves to help and is so good at making her laugh.  It's fun to see their relationship develop.

As Ella's hair continues to grow, it only gets wilder.  Her hair alone guarantees that I laugh daily.  She has lost a small amount on the sides...maybe.  It's hard to tell because there is so much.  Her hair draws comments everywhere we go and is so much fun to clip bows into.

Ella is typically napping three times a day, but her naps sometimes end up in the Ergo or Moby while we traipse around on walks, park visits, museums, and library time with the big brothers.  She doesn't mind and naps so well there.  I cherish the time toting her, knowing it won't be long before she is down and running.  It feels like I am pregnant again when she is in the carrier, except I can kiss her little head, smile into her eyes and take her off when I am tired.  The best of both worlds, I think.

My dear girl is still pretty laid back, but is starting to prefer me over others.  I am grateful for the bond we share, even though I know we are probably heading into a season where my arms will grow tired of being her only safe haven.  Regardless, it is a short season, and I am grateful to have her to hold in these earliest years.  From the safety of my arms, Ella loves to smile at others and is such a joy to the people around her.  She is happy to still sit with other people at times, and it is fun for me to watch the smiles she brings to others.

(Carter "helping" Ella with her bow)

Ella's coos and "talking" have increased this month, but my favorite development is that I can now make her laugh by "eating her up" on her neck.  I do it hundreds of times a day.  There is nothing better than laughing babies, right?

 Ella still loves to be swaddled at night, but is starting to be able to sit up in the Bumbo during the day.  She still loves her play mat and grabs the little animals when she can focus her hand enough to make contact.  She rolls from stomach to back all the time, and is almost to the point she can roll from back to stomach.  She still needs some strength to be able to do the job, but it is fun to see her trying and practicing.

 When I was little, I would tell Mama that I loved her "more."  She would always reply, "Oh, you have no idea."  I know now, what she means.  It's humbling to experience the dimension of love parenting introduces inside my heart...and understand that is how my parents have felt about me all along.  That there are people in this world that look at me and feel the same rush that I feel when I look in those three sets of big, brown eyes.  What a gift to be loved and to love in this way.  As much as I couldn't quite grasp the affection of my parents before I knew the love of parenthood, I know I can't fathom the love the Lord has for me.  I like that.  The not knowing.  The inability to comprehend it and the way its depth and fathomless stretch reaches across all my past and future.

I don't know what Ella's life will hold, but I pray she one day knows the love of motherhood.  It's such a good gift.  I more deeply pray she will know the love of Jesus and see it's far-reaching character in her own life.  A love like that changes everything, and I pray she will lean into it in a world is most assuredly a hard place to live.

 This dear one.  I am so grateful for her life and that it is intertwined with mine.

Ella: 3 months
Ella at 2 months
Ella at 1 month