Friday, January 20, 2017

Big Green Tractor

It’s been raining Noah’s Ark style in Houston lately which is a big fat bummer. Not only does it sourly effect my mood but Forest is a kid who literally NEEDS a physical outlet. I think even more than the typical boy, Forest’s physical needs outrank his peers. He thrives when his gross motor skills are in play and loves to be outside, even doing something as simple as running or splashing in puddles. 

Because of this we’ve always gently suggested that our parents buy him ride on toys that he had to actually propel himself. My parents obliged for his 3rd birthday by buying him his first pedal bike and we all know how that turned out. 

Total obsession. 

For Christmas, my parents didn’t ask for my advice or permission for what they got Forest. Instead a John Deere tractor showed up on our doorstep courtesy of Amazon. It was quite a feat to keep this hidden from Forest until Christmas since it’s big enough to warrant it’s own spot in the garage. It’s so hard core that it comes with it’s own radio and off-road capabilities. Needless to say, Forest has been over the moon with his new tractor and I have been as well. 
Even at full speed (which let’s be honest, is the only mode Forest drives in), I can keep up with the tractor as long as I power walk whereas on bike rides I am always in sprint mode. 
So despite my original ‘only self-propelled ride-on-toys’ stance, now I find myself trying to sell the tractor versus the bike for our neighborhood excursions. 

The sun has come out today for the first time in a week and the next few days look gorgeous, so I am sure both modes of transportation will get some mileage after being so cooped up the past few days. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

New Year Check-In

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! Happy New Year! Happy everything. Wishing you all a healthy and drama-free 2017. I have many New Year’s resolutions, one of which is to blog more. Having some difficulties with internet speed here lately which means uploading pictures takes a bajillion years. Honestly, I am having dial-up flashbacks. So we’ll see. Other resolutions are  to organize the house and donate/purge all of the stuff that isn’t loved or useful. Just because we have a big house doesn’t mean we need to fill every nook and cranny of it. The STUFF is stressing me out. 

Today I asked Forest which toys he would like to donate and he said ‘All except the Thomas and Friends characters’. Harsh. We probably won’t be that extreme but will definitely be cutting back. I honestly find that he becomes more engaged and plays more independently when he has LESS toys to choose from. Keep it simple and all that.   

I am currently reading 31 days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way by Sarah Mae. 
31 Days to Clean - Having a Martha House the Mary Way
I just love the title of this book. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Mary and Martha were a pair of sisters within Jesus’ inner circle. When he popped by for a visit, Martha was going nuts trying to do all the things that needed to be done- cooking, cleaning, setting up a guest room, etc and Mary simply dropped everything to sit at Jesus’ feet for a chat. I can just about imagine the eye roll and grumbling that I would have elicited if my sis was slacking on her responsibilities in that moment, and sure enough Martha complains to Jesus that Mary should be helping out more. Jesus instead admonishes Martha saying that Mary has prioritized correctly. (I'm paraphrasing. If you want the whole biblically accurate spiel it's in Luke 10: 38-24.)

But we can’t just neglect out house-making duties. The dishes DO need to be washed and the clothes NEED to be folded. But after hosting Christmas for Jonathan’s family I felt convicted that sometimes I did those things at the expense of quality time with family. That I stressed and fretted over food prep and clean up and that the anxiety and pressure I felt made those around me feel less like welcomed guests and more like a burden. 

So how do we find a balance where we can get everything done around the house and provide food for everyone while still having time and energy to be present and pause for those we love? I have no stinkin clue. Hopefully this book will give me a few tips on how to accomplish this because it’s truly one of the big struggles of my “occupation". 

In other news, we decided to finally phase out the pacifier about 10 days ago and Forest hasn’t napped since. Way harsh. Jonathan insists we stay strong but the overtired tantrums and hyperactivity make me feel so tempted to just re-introduce it. At least until he drops naps on his own. He was already on the precipice but the paci-extraction pushed him over the edge a little prematurely. 

I know, I know. *Everyone* says a paci past age 3 is ridiculous but I’ve never actually been that stressed about it. The more I read, the more it seems like the long term damages are really not that extreme as long as they drop the habit by 4/5. That could be another 12 months of sleepy-time bliss. 
Are the effects of chronic sleep deprivation (he's sleeping about 2 hours less per day than he used to) better than the possibility that he may need braces (75% chance he'll need them either way)? He's totally fine speech wise and hasn't had an ear infection in nearly 2 years. What am I missing? What's the big deal for him to use a paci to fall asleep? Guys I totally felt outside pressure to snatch it and I feel like it went against all my instincts which makes it hard to stick to my guns when he is currently NOT napping for the ninth day in a row.  

But alas, 10 days in, I’d hate to turn back and have to start from scratch later. He said he’d sleep better if I got him the book ‘Llama Llama Red Pajama’ but since I’m currently resolved to get rid of stuff and not replace it with more stuff, I just don’t think that’s the golden ticket to nap time. 

Well that’s enough rambling for this week. Here are some pictures from our Christmas celebrations. 

Forest was SO excited to have his cousin at church.

He even bought her a donut:)

Swim trunks on Christmas. Ah, Houston. Also, this big boy is just grazing on a veggie tray. Such a grown up.

Boxing day morning,sharing all his new trains.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Third (and Fourth) Time is a Charm

Forest was 13 months old the first time he met Santa, and I don't believe a baby has ever been more terrified. 

Flash forward 12 months and he wasn't getting anywhere near that strange bearded man. He clung to me marsupial style as I leaned him in for a photo op. 
This year he possessed at least some form of rational thought, so with a little prep we were able to talk up Santa enough for him to actually willingly walk up to him and voluntarily sit on his lap. It helped that Santa was visiting the library just down the road and that there was no line, so it being a familiar environment with little time to panic certainly helped. 

We also told him to think of a Christmas wish list because Santa would probably ask him what was on it. Well this got him thinking about Thomas & Friends which is the fastest way to get him to come out of his shell. He mumbled to Santa that he wanted Toby and I clued Santa in to the fact that this was a train from Thomas and suddenly Santa was talking Forest's ear off about Thomas characters. Poor man accidentally said Bertie was a helicopter to which Forest gently and shyly corrected him: "I think he's a bus....". 
So even though I marked this in my book as a successful encounter with Santa, we still didn't get a smile out of F. 

However, looking at the camera and not sobbing was a huge improvement. Later that week Santa was returning to the library for a special story time so we decided to go meet him again. This time Forest repeated that he wanted Toby AND he even gave a (very small) smile for his photo op. 

Cha-ching! (Also Cha-ching that the only item on his xmas wish list is a 10 dollar non-battery operated toy for his train tracks. We threw in a train shed and a Thomas puzzle for good measure. Stay simple and sweet my dear train-obsessed boy.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cool Rider

Yesterday, just 6 weeks after his 3rd birthday, Forest learned to ride a bike. Like a for real, no-training wheels bike. And though Jonathan and I would like to think he’s some sort of phenom, this trend of younger cyclists seems to be gaining ground. 

We first heard of it when Forest was around 18 months and hopped on a balance bike at a friend’s house. A balance bike is a toddler size bike without pedals. The jist is that toddlers simply learn to balance first, pedal later. Our friends told us that they’d heard of kids going straight from a balance bike to a pedal bike, skipping the training wheels step altogether, right around their 3rd birthday. 

We were intrigued but put it out of our minds until one of Forest’s best buds was given a balance bike for his second birthday. Since we always went to the park with this friend and Forest was always asking if he could ride and sharing/taking turns was pretty tense, we decided to get him his own balance bike for his half birthday when he turned 2.5. He took to it much more than the scooter that was gathering dust in the back yard and within a week or two was coasting down hills with his feet up. 
He even got featured on Schwinn’s Instagram feed for being so stinkin adorable. By the time he was 2.75 he was just a blur and he rode his balance bike to the park nearly everyday with me jogging alongside. 

Soon he was bored with just going fast down hills and started incorporating jumps and stunts into his bicycling routine. We figured it was time to up his game and planned to get him a pedal bike for his 3rd birthday. Well when my far-too-generous mom caught wind of this, she offered to get it as his birthday present from Nana and Pops. 

We got to researching the best bike for a toddler coming from a balance bike and learned of the Woom (pronounced ‘Voom’) line. It was way more expensive than I ever envisioned a bike for a toddler could be, but the website "Two Wheeling Tots" insisted that a bike is not a toy, it’s a vehicle, so basically- don’t buy a toy. Well I fell for that logic hook line and sinker and my mom and dad went along with it (perks of having an only child) and later that week a giant box with the most adorable bright green bike inside showed up on our doorstep. 
Since my parents were in town for F’s birthday, they got to witness the big reveal of his first real bike. 
We immediately  took him out for a test drive and I don’t know what I expected to happen- him magically just start pedaling away I guess- but he basically just treated it as a balance bike and was too distracted by the bike’s bell to concentrate on anything else. 
The next few weeks were a deluge of visitors and traveling and so we’d take the bike out for a spin in 5 minute chunks here and there and he got to where he could stay upright for a few feet before wobbling but just didn’t seem motivated all that much to ride the thing. 

Shortly after Jon left for Angola, I pulled a muscle in my back and couldn’t help to stabilize Forest on the bike so we decided to give it a rest until daddy got back. He was pleased as punch to go back to his ‘blue bike without the pedals’ again. When Jon returned from Angola we decided to let him have another go with the green bike, fibbing to him that his blue balance bike had a flat tire. 

We got about ¼ of a mile from the house with him refusing to pedal and just coasting on his bike as if it were a balance bike. We didn’t push the issue because we wanted him to be comfortable and not hate learning. We tried to convince him to try pedaling but he just didn’t seem interested. Then a cyclist came by and we pointed out the pedaling motion he was making and suddenly it just clicked. He wanted to try! And by golly within 60 seconds and with a push from daddy he was off. 
He even made a turn onto our street all by himself. By that afternoon he was racing down hills (Lord help us). 
He still has some difficulty going up hills and taking off without a push from us but I’m certain it won’t be long before he’s keeping up with the elementary kids in the neighborhood. He always looks longingly at the gang of grade school boys that play kickball down the street and when he rode by them yesterday he said ‘I’m riding a bike! I’m big!’ so I think he views bike riding as his ticket into the big boy club. It’s certainly a step in the right direction. 

And even though it’s becoming more common for 3 year olds to tackle this milestone, we are still bursting with pride over our little guy. What an awesome rite of passage, no matter the age! 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Family Photos by Cortney Russell Photography

Forest's birthday is perfect timing for getting family pictures done in time for Christmas Cards. This year we hired Cortney Russell and actually did a separate photo shoot for his birthday featuring his art theme and then did another portion of the shoot where it was the four of us. This year may be the last year Samson gets to be in our pictures (though I said that last year so I'm not counting him out! That little pup is proving all his vets wrong.) I thought Forest would finally be cooperative since he's mellowed out considerably lately, but both he and Samson were totally naughty and made our photographer work for her money. 

The art idea was super cute and got Forest to stay still, but unfortunately he took it so seriously that he couldn't be bothered to look up at the camera much.