Saturday, December 12, 2009


Some moms make mommying appear to be natural, effortless, and easy. You know those moms who leave the house with the diaper bag completely intact for every possible baby disaster, including diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes, who don't consider it mandatory to lose keys/checkcard/cell phone or some other vital in an outing, who are dressed in clothes that they fit in before they were pregnant and have matching jewelry on, who not only keep up with the baby book, but have current pictures in picture frames, and a scrapbook of ridiculously cute everything-their-baby-has-ever-done memories.

I am in a different group of moms. I am the mom who asks the above-mentioned-mom for wipes in the parking lot of a restaurant because I don't include them in the bag (the DIAPER bag-whose very name is dedicated to the whole diapering scenario). I am the mom who comes back in to ask the cashier if I happened to leave my keys/checkcard/phone/etc./etc. in the store. I am the mom who has frequently carried my child pantsless in church, Lowes, Walmart, and Chilis. (He left the house with pants, I promise!) I am the mom who just wore my first pair of earrings in two years. I am the mom who is proud to have pictures up in my house at all, intends to frame more current pictures, actually bought scrapbooking stickers and pages about two years ago, and can't commit to the baby book firsts.

I always heard moms talk about their babies' first words, or first steps, and I saw a seemingly unthreatening list of firsts in my own baby book. I was excited about that list to mark all of Ryder's milestones with proud dates and stories and looking at Cody and saying, "Oh, look, it was his first smile."

However, the first smile came and went, and I didn't identify it, much less get pictures of it. Of course I saw him smiling, but I never knew if it were intention or intestinal, and surely only actual meaningful smiles were to be recorded in the baby book, so the smiles started being more consistent and they turned into laughs, and it was so gradual that I never could pinpoint a first. His first babble was dada, but did he mean Cody? So, yes, in Ryder's baby book by the simple entry "First word," there is this explanation about his first babble being daddy, but his first word that I knew that he KNEW what he meant was "gogga" (which meant dog), and I finally knew that he was meaning dog when he connected "gogga" to patting his leg, which is sign language for dog. And then I don't know when he started walking. He was taking steps, and then he was taking a few more steps, but how many steps does a baby need to take to actually be "walking." However, I was very thankful for the few listings such as "first hair cut" that were completely objective and identifiable, but it seems there were far too few of these kind of firsts. So, needless to say, instead of exact dates, Ryder's baby book list of firsts is full of approximations and abouts.

However, as I watched Rudolph with Ryder last night for the FIRST time (identifiable) and played in the snow with him for the FIRST time (identifiable), I realized there were some firsts I didn't want Ryder to have. Rather than FIRSTS, I want him to have ALWAYS. I don't remember the first time I heard the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den from our Bible story book (with pictures!), I feel like it is a story that I have always known. I don't remember the first time I sat in Daddy's lap and ate Rice Krispies with him, but I remember it as part of my childhood. I don't remember the first time I rode a horse, but I remember always loving them. I don't remember the first (and last) time I painted my walls with ketchup, but MY momma sure does.

I realize that I'm not waiting for Ryder's firsts, but rather we're busy building Ryder's always.
As he grows up, he won't remember the Christmas he was two, with the ornaments all at the top of the Christmas tree, and Aprilia, Ryder, and I all snuggled on one side of the couch, as he watched Rudolph for the first time; it will just seem to him as if he always knew the story of Rudolph. He won't remember learning "Trust and Obey" because he will have been singing it all his life. He won't remember his first letter to identify and write was W, but his Momma sure will. He won't know that I expected him to "no like snow," and was surprised to see him running through it with Aprilia, just happy to be outside; he will only be excited at the fun and wonder of a snowfall. I am so thankful for the Always that I had from my childhood, and so grateful for the opportunity to create those Always with Ryder.

Ryder's baby book may include stories of the nice lady who lent us some wipes in times of desperation rather than an exact and concise record of those milestones, but I am so grateful for my first of being a Mommy, and my Always of loving such a wonderful, precious, beautiful little boy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Quirky Child: List 1

Quirky Developments of the Last Two Weeks:

1. Ryder now insists upon washing his hands before naptime or bedtime. He has a very good memory, and since he began insisting upon the hand washing, he has not forgotten once, even if we have just taken a bath. Someone said how sanitary it was as long as it didn't turn into a compulsive disorder. My professional opinion: It is neither an attempt at cleanliness or a compulsive disorder, but rather a delay-bedtime-for-a-little-longer-with-something-Mommy-can't-reasonably-object-to disorder.

2. Ryder now can climb out of the bed himself. He still sleeps in his sweet and nice pirate crib with his bumper pads, and he is so, so easy to put to bed now (assuming we have washed our hands properly :) In the morning, he wakes up sweet and happy, and I love to listen to his conversations with himself or the chorus of "Trust and Obey" or a song he has made up, such as the chart topping favorite "Sticker on the Door." I have been wary of the day when I would hear him climb out of bed, and be free from the cage of the crib. It came last week, but not as I expected. I went up to get Ryder after taking a shower while he talked and sang, and Ryder said "Ryder get you up. Mommy not get you up." I watched as Ryder puts one leg over the crib, balances on the top of the rail, says, "Ryder has to be very careful," lowers his legs to the mattress, and then lets himself out of bed. This is now how Ryder gets up, except today he said, "My get you up" in recognition of Oh Wow!'s speech patterns.

3. Ryder can now draw squiggly, wobbly, funny Ws. This would not be quirky, except for Ryder's history with the W. He now can identify all (uppercase) letters of the alphabet, and he knows all their sounds, however W is the only letter that consistently makes him laugh. I really wish that I had let him be a W for Halloween.

4. Ryder was so excited to go to Joe and Jonie's for our Thanksgiving dinner with our family. Cody got to come home from Indiana, and we weren't having to travel; it was really a pretty perfect day. Ryder asked if we were going to Joe and Jonie's and I told him we were going after naptime, so he says "I go night night," and he runs upstairs, climbs in his crib, and I hear him fake snoring over the monitor. A few seconds later, he says, "Mommy come get you up. We go to Joe and Jonie's." Of course I go up, and Ryder climbs out of bed, and we play some more before real naptime, then a wonderful evening at Joe and Jonie's with Mom and Dad, Granny, Papa Bear and Gigi, and our cousin Caitlin.

5. Ryder has changed his prayer stance. He now holds his arms above his head and clasps his hands. He is very committed to this new stance, so much that as he was praying in church last Sunday, he left one hand above his head, moved the other one to get a cracker, put the cracker in his mouth, and then returned his hand above his head. Of course, when Kyle and Kellee were with us at Joe and Jonies, we all prayed for dinner in Ryder stance :)

We've really been missing Cody, and we'll be so happy for him to be home. Ryder and I, and even Aprilia, have been well taken care of by family and friends since Cody has been gone, but now Ryder and I are waiting for Cody to get home with us!

(Photo by Denise's previous prayer position.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Conversations with Ryder

It's no secret that I prefer older kids to babies. Ryder and I (and Aprilia) are often alone at nights because of Cody's work schedule. We really miss Cody, but I don't really feel alone now that Ryder is getting older, and is no longer a little baby. I love sitting at the table with him while we eat supper and playing games and coloring together. Of course, these are things we also do throughout the day, but during the day when Cody is here, we are out a lot. Sometimes I feel that for a stay at home mom, I don't do very much staying at home!

Tonight Ryder was eating his blueberry applesauce (and it was almost finished), and he begins the following conversation:

Ryder: I don't like applesauce.
Mommy: Well, that is a surprise since you've eaten ALL of it.
Ryder: I like yogurt.
Mommy: I know you like yogurt, but we don't have any right now. It's all gone.
Ryder: I stay with Papa Bear and Gigi? (Seemingly changing the subject.....
Mommy: No, you're going to stay home and play with Mommy tonight.
Ryder: You go to the store.
Mommy: Why does Mommy need to go to the store?
Ryder: Get some yogurt. (The subject wasn't changed; I just didn't realize it was all a plan. I didn't know that two year olds made plans.)

Some of my favorite conversations come from asking about his day, whether I've been with him or he's been visiting grandparents or friends. I love seeing what he remembers and what he thinks is important about the day's events.

After quilting last week, I got in the car, and Ryder asked, "We going to Chat noo ga?"
I said, "No, we're going home." (I didn't even know he KNEW the word Chattanooga, much less would say it unprompted by anyone).

I rolled down my window and told Jonie what he just asked, and she said that Camden had just asked her the same thing.

I guess I should have been clued in then that my two year was quite ready to make plans, because apparently he and Camden had a discussion that Jonie and I were not aware of. I would guess the next part of the plan would be Toys R Us and ice cream :)

I love waitingforRyder to surprise me during our conversations. I always heard how amazing it is to watch children learn, but I never really got it until Ryder. But there is so much that I never really got until Ryder, and I realize that more and more each day.

Top: Ryder loves putting his hands in his pockets. We were getting ready to go visit grandparents for Halloween, and Denise stopped by for a visit and short photo session. Thanks, Denise!
Picture by Denise Skelton (
Bottom: Ryder with his hands in his pockets at the pumpkin patch.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Procrastinate by Making Lists

Things I'm Behind On:

  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Dusting
  • Vacuuming
  • Replacing old pictures in frames with more recent ones
  • Exercising (just ask Aprilia!)
  • Dieting (ha!)
  • Filing Coupons
  • My quilt
  • Organizing my closets and cabinets
  • Christmas shopping (not that I'm actually behind yet, but I'm sure it still applies, and this way I won't be behind on adding to the list later :)
  • My blog! However, I love my blog because I have no mandatory posts, no due dates, no grades, so I am only behind because I have so many things I want to write, but due to above considerations, I have not made it to the blog yet.
Things I'm not Behind On:
  • Kisses from Ryder
  • Stories from Ryder
  • Hugs from Ryder.
I may spend some time waiting for Ryder that I could be spending on the never ending laundry pile or coupon clipping, but those smiles and laughs and Eskimo kisses are too precious to be put in the "things I'm behind on" lists, so other blog posts, I am thinking about you and will give you time soon!

Thanks for the picture, Denise! (

Sunday, October 11, 2009

From Wiggles to Words

26 squiggles on paper. That is how reading starts. At some point those squiggles begin to turn into letters that turn into sounds that turn into words that turn into sentences that turn into pages that turn into stories, and experiences, and characters that become part of us from early memories of reading "Llama, llama Red Pajama" to writing in the barn with Charlotte,to solving mysteries with Nancy, to crying with Billy for Old Dan and Little Ann, to fighting fate with Romeo, and all the other loves, and losses, and lessons that we are given by the magic of books.

Ryder's entry into deciphering the magical squiggle code began months ago when he first started making sounds. He would be mostly accurate in telling us what sounds the letters a, b, f, m, p, and s made before he could say too many words. He then started being able to repeat the letters of the alphabet...well, almost. That sweet, precious baby voice would mimic us as we asked him to say A, then B, then C....all the way to W, and then....

he simply would say "no." He would pick back up with W, finish the alphabet, and clap and say "Yay!"

Soon the "W no" became the W wiggle. The other 25 letters of the alphabet were repeated dutifully, but the W had no words, just a wiggle. So of course, our favorite letter was W. We knew one day it would stop, just like "upbo" simply became "up" or like the dancing every time he heard music phase faded out, but we really, really loved the W wiggle that fit our quirky litte baby pretty perfectly.

We were at Papa Bear and Gigi's house the day the W was firt spoken. On our way out, they were asking Ryder to say all his very cute and sweet words, and he was repeating them to the general delight of us all. We were so excited to hear our brilliant baby (all the grandparents totally agree that he is brilliant :) repeating words, when Papa Bear said, "Say W," and we all expected to laugh at the wiggle, but it was trickery and deception. There was no A, B, C, or even T, U, V requested. All out of context, Ryder was asked to say W, and....... HE DID. He said it. He said "W."

We heard that W, and we didn't know what to say, but we also didn't have a chance to say it, because Ryder IMMEDIATELY said, "No, No, No, NOT W!.....X, X, X!!!" Whew! Our sweet, precious baby wasn't saying sounds as vile as "W" after all; he was simply tricked.

However, that trickery opened the door to more W sayings. We would still get our wiggles, but sometimes, he would say "W," much to our disappointment. Now, the wiggles are all gone, and they are replaced by perfectly unfunny and completely correct pronunciations of the letter. It happened so gradually that I can't even say when the wiggles stopped.

The other day, Ryder came downstairs carrying a letter. (He has all 26 foam bath letters in his bathtub. I know that a responsible mom should only place a few letters in the tub at a time to not create such a mess, but that are just so bright and colorful, and the bath just looks like so much fun with all the letters, a few ducks, a couple of balls, a bath book, and a few other toys. And Ryder does love baths :) . He said, "Look, Mom. I got a W." And sure enough, he did.

So Ryder recognizes W now, and will frequently point it out when we read. His favorite bath letters are the two Ws (we have 2 Ws and 0 Ms apparently). This morning in Bible class, he was patting the Bible, and singing the song, and points out the W in the words "New Testament" on his Bible. All the girls in the room agreed that he is brilliant (of course, that was my mom, Mrs. Kimmy, who LOVES her Sunday school babies, and Ryder's friend Maggie, who was also all agree is brilliant, and me, so it's not exactly a tough crowd to convince of brilliance in our babies :)

Then, Mrs. Kimmy holds up the Bible words for the lesson, and Ryder reads the words:

Yes, I said "reads" and not repeats. But maybe he was tipped off by something Mrs. Kimmy said in talking about the words.

Ryder asks to do it one more time, and since it is only Maggie and Ryder in class today due to the family retreat, Mrs. Kimmy has time to show them again. This time she shows the words without any prompting words....
and Ryder reads them again.

When she gets to Mary, he says, "a W!" And then we explain the concept of M not being W. Then he says "a Y!" Mom encourages him, "Yes that is a Y, but what does the word say?" and Ryder says, "Mary." What did we expect him to say....nothing and just wiggle?

Wednesday night the toddlers will take turns reading the words again, and I don't know if Ryder will read them again or not, but I do know it is simply amazing how much and how fast these babies learn.

It is a daunting, scary, overwhelming thought that I am going to be responsible for Ryder learning that 26 squiggles turn into letters that turn into sounds that turn into words that turn into sentences that turn into stories, but actually I may just waitforRyder to teach me how that process happens. He may just say, "Mom, it starts with a wiggle, and ends up a word." And I will think he's brilliant, and beautiful, and funny, and I'll be remembering a sweet baby smile, and a funny baby wiggle, and a story of why my forever favorite letter is W.

(Thank you for our pictures, Denise!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oh Wow!

When Jonie and I were growing up, my family called me Kris most all of the time. Kris isn't much of a nickname when your name is Kristy, so I've never really thought much about it. Jonie did though. She went through a phase, or perhaps several phases, where she decided that she was going to be nicknamed Jo. The thing she didn't understand about nicknames was that you can't force a nickname; it has to happen, naturally, almost accidentally at first, and then even if a nickname does begin, it's hard to tell what names will then cling to that person forever, perhaps even taking over the person's real name. At any event, fate was kind to Jonie by forcing her to just be Jonie, since she grew up to marry a Joe (and a very wonderful Joe at that).

Fun nicknames are undeniably interesting though. You meet a person with an interesting nickname and you know they automatically come with a story, an adventure, an alternate identity, a rebellion against their birth certificate. Okay, so maybe that's a bit over the top, but nicknames do usually provide interesting stories.

Ryder will call himself Ry Ry and answer to it, but that is a nickname that deserves little explanation. Carter (who is a year younger than Ryder) is called Car Car, and also deserves very little explanation,although I did love how Ryder would say "Car" and sign it (waving his hands like they were on the steering wheel as taught by the My Baby Can Talk dvds) whenever he would talk about Carter.Camden is often called Cam, but he also has a nickname that warrants not only an explanation, but a story.

Camden is eight months older than Ryder, and when Ryder was just a few months old, Camden's favorite expression was "Oh wow!," and it was said with such enthusiasm and a wonderfully cute facial expression to match the sweet, exciting baby voice that of course, we would create situations (not very hard to do) to elicit the comment. The expression stuck for a long time, and Ryder got older and older and started babbling some on his own. He was saying a few words, and we thought it was so cute that he was saying "Oh Wow!" just like Camden. We were so amazed at how much he was learning from Camden, and that certainly hasn't changed. (I'm hoping that Camden will teach the whole using the potty business to Ryder :)

Gigi (known as Fay when she is not being referred to as Mom or by her grandmother name) was at our house one day when Ryder was just about a year old, and she asked if Ryder was calling Camden "Oh Wow!" I stopped and looked. We have a picture of Camden in the living room, and Ryder was looking at it while saying "Oh wow." Surely not, though, right??? Yes, Ryder had stopped saying dada, and had started calling Cody, Papa Bear (otherwise known as Cody's dad, Rick, or Bear-a story for another time), and my dad "mama." Yes, Ryder said upbo, instead of just saying up. Yes, Ryder would constantly hum "mmMMmmmMM" as he ate his food, but to have named Camden "Oh Wow!" was just, well, pretty unbelievable and very, very strange. But we began testing Gigi's theory. We showed him pictures and asked who that was. We would ask "Who is this?" when we saw Camden, and sure enough, his name, according to Ryder was consistently "Oh Wow!"

Soooo, well, now we realize that Ryder is just very quirky, and calling Camden "Oh Wow!" just really seems pretty normal. We sing Happy Birthday Dear Oh Wow!, and we have conversation such as, "That's not Ryder's drink; that's Oh Wow's drink." We know we don't hit Oh Wow!, and we like going to Oh Wow!'s house, and it isn't even strange anymore.

Ryder will now call Oh Wow! "Camden" sometimes.(haha...I put it in quotation marks, like Camden is not really his actual name), but he still calls him Oh Wow! much of the time. I hope Oh Wow! is one of those nicknames that stick. It is pretty impressive for your name to be Oh Wow! How could you not be fun, and interesting when the very words that name you are Oh Wow!, and when your name, by definition and necessity includes an exclamation point?

The latest update on the story came today when Jonie told me that Camden was at a friend's birthday party yesterday, and a lady there asked him his name, and he said "Camden ....and Oh Wow!" There are no word to describe the awesomeness of that, and I think no words are needed. Of course, Jonie had to explain to the lady why Camden had just said that, but for me, I just think Camden is awesome enough to be Oh Wow! without explanation at all!

(Pictures left to right top to bottom: 1-Oh Wow! and Ryder playing at our house recently. 2-Oh Wow! and Ryder when we bought our house in Cleveland in October 2007. 3,4-*Denise's photo session with the boys at my parents house when Ryder was about 3 months old. I LOVE the crying one, and I love how sweet Oh Wow! is holding Ryder's hand. 5- *Denise's photo at my parents on Halloween 08 with the cutest lion and bat ever! 6-Ryder and Oh Wow! had just gotten haircuts. It was Ryder's first one right before his first birthday. 7-This toy box was a gift from Geneva. It holds lots of toys, or two very cute little boys. 8-Ryder and Oh Wow! share Ryder's birthday cake at Ryder's 2 year and Carter's 1 year birthday party. 9-Car Car, Oh Wow!, and Ry Ry hanging out in the play room last month.)


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Learning by Example

I love to hear Ryder talk, and I get plenty of opportunities to hear him because he talks all the time, whether someone else is around to hear him or not. The most amazing part of Ryder's conversations, however, are the things he tells us that we haven't directly taught him. I stay home with Ryder, so I hear and see most of his daily activities, but he still manages to surprise me with new songs, new words, new expressions that so far, I can usually tell where he picked it up from. Sometimes, however, I am amazed at the source of his new knowledge.

Ryder's first communication was inspired by Aprilia. Although dada was Ryder's first recognizable sound, dog (although pronounced gogga) was the first word that we were sure he knew the meaning of. He loves Aprilia, and Aprilia tolerates him wonderfully. He steals her toys, climbs over her while she's sleeping, takes attention from her, and she endures it all patiently. She is a wonderful dog, and I think that even more so after seeing her with Ryder. I love watching them play together, and I love going on walks with them. Ryder holds her leash, but she really is the one leading Ryder. It works out well because he has fun, she gets a walk, and she helps keep him focused and moving in the right direction. I know it looked pretty comical to see our first walks with the 65 pound dog, followed by the toddler holding her leash, followed by the Mommy holding the leash of the backpack on the toddler. Aprilia and I were quite a team, as she kept him moving forward, and I held on to him to make sure he stayed out of the road. Now, Ryder no longer wears the backpack, but Aprilia still keeps him moving at a desirable pace and in the right direction.

Aprilia does have her quirks, like the rest of the family, but most of her behavior is normal for a dog. She very rarely barks, but if she sees people or dogs outside the window, she will stare at them and growl. She doesn't bark, and I've never noticed her doing this if we're all outside, and I consider it normal behavior for a dog, and never really thought much about it. However, I began noticing it more when Ryder would be standing at the window beside her....also growling at the neighbors as they walked on the sidewalks through the neighborhood. But Ryder doesn't have the social grace to only growl inside the house. Nope, if he's outside and a neighbor walks by, then it's likely that my beautiful, sweet little son is going to emit a low toned growl at the neighbor. And if I ask him what he's doing, then he will say, "I growl, Momma, I growl." I have always heard that kids learn quickly, but seriously, does that have to apply to learning social interactions from my dog?

This has been going on for a while, but tonight we were at Cracker Barrell, and Ryder was playing and screamed. I told him not to scream, and he said, " Ryder not scream, but Ryder can growl?" I wasn't really sure about what he said when I said "Yes," (which is incidentally, a very, very bad Mommy move. Never say yes if you do not fully understand the child. If you have to answer when you don't understand, then always, always go with no), at which point Ryder is growling in middle of Cracker Barrell. While I suppose growling is preferable to screaming, I'm pretty sure that social standards don't encourage the growling of toddlers. I suppose I will have to explain to Aprilia that she needs to be a better example of good manners to Ryder because we never know what new surprise waiting for Ryder will bring.

(Top photo taken by Denise at Ryder's 1 year session.
(Bottom photo taken by Cody when Ryder was about 6 months old)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

No pee pee in choo choo train: A lesson in self-discipline

A list of items I do not buy at the store: ice cream, cookie mix, cake mix, icing, cheesecake (mmmm, oh wait, I'm not really talking about cheesecake, moving on...), chocolate, cokes, brownie mix, doughnuts. In reality the list should be longer, but that covers many of the basics I avoid. Why? Because I have no self-discipline when it comes to having these wonderfully bad for me items accessible without having to: get in the car, load up the baby, look for coupons for the item, buy the item, come home, make the item, clean the dishes.......

So we all understand that being self-disciplined is a desired trait. Teachers, preachers, coaches, parents, and bosses everywhere can tell us the advantages of a person being self-disciplined. We can understand those advantages, and most of us work to achieve higher levels of self-discipline in different areas of our lives: consider the New Year's Resolution.

Ryder has recently been working on self-discipline. He begins by verbalizing the problem. I heard him in his bedroom talking and his self conversation went like this, "Ry Ry no go in road. Noooooo. Ry Ry go in road, get 'pankin.' Get time out, yaaa. Ry Ry no hit Oh Wow. No hit frends...Oh Wow frend....I hit Oh Wow, I get 'pankin' and time out" and so on. (Oh Wow = his cousin, Camden)

He also transfers problems to different situations. I have told him while changing his diaper, "Don't pee pee in the floor." The other day, we had his Thomas the train tent up, and we changed his diaper in the tent, which was great fun. I take his diaper off, and he says, "No pee pee in choo choo train." Now I have never said to not pee pee in the choo choo train, but Ryder is correct, and not peeing in the choo choo is a pretty good rule to live by.

After verbalizing the problem and understanding the consequences, Ryder puts the consequence into action. Twice now Ryder has gone to Cody, crying, and told him, "I get in time out." Neither Cody and I have told him to go sit down, that he was in time out, but he runs to the couch and sits down. He tries to stop crying, says, "Ry Ry no cry," and then asks "Can I get up now?" We do use time out as a discipling method, but as new parents, we are a little unsure how the time out method is supposed to work when the time out is self inflicted by the child.

Ryder also realizes that part of self-discipline is making sure you are held accountable even if no one sees the action. Ryder came downstairs tonight and tells me "I threw it in the porry (potty)."
Mom: "What did you put in the potty?"
Ryder: " I put game in the potty."
Mom: "Ryder, you are supposed to put things in the potty. If you threw something in the potty, then you are in trouble."
Ryder: "I'm in trouble."
I go upstairs and see his stacking rings in the potty, so here I come back downstairs to spank Ryder, and discuss how it is not appropriate to put toys in the potty.

Ryder goes back upstairs and we laugh at our funny little boy. Then, repeat above scene, replace game with "remote." (It was an old remote that stays in the playroom, well is supposed to stay in the playroom when it's not in the toilet).

I guess self-disciplining is not perfect, but it sure is an encouraging thought. I hope to hear over the monitor in the morning, "No throw toys in the porry....noooo...throw toys in porry, get 'pankin,' get time out..."

So while Ryder practices not going in the road, pee peeing in the choo choo, and keeping his toys out of the potty, I will practice NOT looking in the cabinet to see if I can find some chocolate, and I will NOT think too long about how much I love the milkshakes at Shake Shak, and I will be happy to be waiting for Ryder to teach me so many, many new ways that I can be a better person as Ryder goes about simply being his sweet and nice, funny, quirky, precious, precious little self.

(The picture is from last Christmas after getting the train tent from Papa Bear and Gigi. Oh, how so much changes in a year!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Out for a Stroll" featuring Aprilia

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Photos by Denise Skelton: She'll give you something to blog about!

Credit for this picture is given mostly to my wonderful friend and talented and creative photographer, Denise, to my sweet and amazing dog, Aprilia, to my very patient husband, Cody, and to Wesley who helped keep a supply of treats ready for our session(s) with Aprilia. If Denise can take such fun pictures with Aprilia, imagine what she can do with your kids!

Oh what a fun time this was!
This picture can always make me laugh, and two and a half years later, it is still one of my favorites. I am planning an Aprilia post later, but I also wanted to give a thank you post to Denise because I have used and will use her beautiful photos in my blog as long as she allows me to. The Aprilia post is coming soon, though, before our life changes with the addition of Cody's canine partner in November. It's possible that I may need a written reminder of how wonderful Aprilia is and how much I love her as we attempt to add another dog to the family!

(No children or animals were harmed -or at risk, the stroller is empty, and Ryder was safe in my belly-during the taking of this photo.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ryder's Interpretation

Ryder has always been a happy baby; happy, but quirky! When we took this picture, Ryder decided that he did not want to sit in the grass. If we waited for Ryder to resolve his quirks, we may never get a picture. Therefore this picture shares a similar expression with pictures of Ryder sitting with Santa and the Easter bunny.

Ryder was showing Denise around Papa Bear and Gigi's house, and they have this picture in a collage frame in their bedroom. Ryder pointed to it, and said, "Ryder got a spankin'." Denise, who took the picture, and I tried to explain that baby Ryder did not get a spanking, and he was just mad about sitting in the grass. I'm pretty sure our explanations did no good, and Ryder is convinced that the only reason he would be crying when he was sitting in the grass outside with Aprilia is because he had gotten a spanking.

Ryder's interpretation of this picture was so sad to me! Much sadder than when I actually have to spank him. I would love to know Aprilia's interpretation of the picture. I'm sure she shared Ryder's sorrow as she patiently waited for us to let her up and away from the screaming child. All the sadness, but this Mommy still LOVES this picture!

( Photo, and experience, courtesy of wonderful photographer and friend, Denise Skelton.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday Morning Blessings

I never thought that I would be wearing green plastic beads as part of my Sunday attire.
I never thought that I would be wearing my wedding band on my left hand, and a giant, sticky, ooey, mess of a bright blue ring pop on my right.
I never imagined that my Sunday morning to do list would require assembling a 30 pound bag, or two.
I never thought that I would feel like I had really listened well when I could remember two out of three sermon points.
I never thought it likely that I would get so excited when I saw the title "Trust and Obey" or "Jesus Loves Me" when I turned to the announced song.
I never knew how important it was to clasp your hands in prayer until I saw those tiny, fat fingers laced together.
I never thought that in a sermon preached on my favorite verses, the most touching moment would be when the wiggly, squirmy, messy, blue mouthed child would turn in my arms to smile at me because he recognized the story that the wise man's house stood firm.
I never imagined that worshiping my God with my son in my arms would be the blessing, the encouragement, and the joy that it is. I never knew that Sunday morning blessings would be found while I was waiting for Ryder.

My God blesses me beyond the measure that I can ask or think, and for that, I am so humbly thankful.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:19, 20 KJV)

(Note: I am leaving out the sentiments of the early Sunday mornings when I had a baby that was fighting sleep, a Momma that had gotten even less sleep, multiple outfit changes for baby, momma, daddy, and maybe even others because of spit up or other baby gifts. I am leaving out that on those mornings, I sometimes questioned the importance of being at services when I felt like my focus was so empty. I am leaving out how nervous I was about being able to keep my baby consoled and quiet, how I dreaded having to take him to the nursery, where I was sure he would want to go every service and just play, and how at some point, I finally became confident in my ability as a mother to soothe my child. Of course, there have been times that I have had to visit the nursery for feeding, or visit the lobby for "discussions," or that I have left and returned with a child minus his pants because of a faulty diaper. There have been moments that I have longed for a prayer to be a minute shorter or for us to be able to stand up a second sooner. I left all these things out, because I realize now that all these concerns I expected, but the blessings that would override these concerns, those I did not expect, not at all.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

From my Mother's Arms

Ryder and I love to watch the window of the world that we can see from our front porch. We sit on our wicker chairs behind the purple petunias with a bowl of watermelon, a truck, a ball, a book, and Aprilia lying in the sun and watch as neighbors walk dogs, bitraktors ride past, and sometimes friends come by to chat. One of the highlights of porch watching is mowing day. Our neighbor across the street has a lawn service come with a big truck and trailer, fully equipped with a large mower, weed eater, and leaf blower. Of course, I never understood the excitement of mowing day until I experienced it with Ryder.

During our porch time, Ryder is usually playing ball on the sidewalk, telling me that "Ry Ry no go in road," telling me about the bruddin, bruddin traktor that he hears, giving the flowers a drink, running to sit down for a second and get a bite of watermelon, going to pet Aprilia, and then start the process all over again, but as soon as he saw the lawn truck last week, he climbed up in my lap, and watched as the lawn mower starting mowing the yard. However, suddenly this week, he was very cautious about the lawn mowers and would not move from my lap. He talked all about the lawn mower and watched with complete attention all from the safety of his mother's arms.

Ryder is certainly not fearless, but sometimes his fears are very odd. He is not at all afraid of climbing all over our 65 pound boxer, but cats need to be observed from a distance. He wants the huge horse to come to the fence, so he can pet her, but under no circumstance should he be expected to touch the bunny who is pressed up against the cage. His toy parrot was carried around until he suddenly became scary and had to be carried home in the bag, out of sight, and Ryder "no liked bird" until after the next day's nap when he woke up to hug tweet tweet who is very sweet and nice.

Sitting on the porch with Ryder in my lap watching the lawn mowers, I realized how much I hope Ryder will always experience the world from the safety of my arms. Now I physically hold him in my arms, letting him watch and get used to something new, letting him ask questions, and learn from a safe place about what is going on in his world at the moment. And I know that even now that I'm grown, I still experience the world from the safety of my mother's arms. My mother spent her time teaching my sister and I to make good choices, to not be fearful, but to be cautious when faced with new challenges. She somehow managed to instill in us confidence in ourselves that we were able to create a happy life for ourselves, and make it through times that were hard, that we were talented in some areas and in others would need to ask for help.

Two years ago, Mom and the rest of my family came to greet Ryder as he came into this world, and to help me as I became a mom. I gave birth to my son with my family around me. Cody had to pick me up and help me take a shower, my sister help nurse Ryder for me until I was able to get him full, Joe is my brother in every way he could be and was in the hospital with us after having shoulder surgery, Camden was there to see his best friend through the nursery window, my dad made sure that I always had water or food or anything else that he could possibly give me, Rick and Fay brought flowers and worked so hard to have Ryder's nursery finished with a painted palm tree and Gigi made curtains when we came home, so many friends came to visit and bring laughter (even though that was painful) or called, and sent messages, and remembered me in much needed prayers, and in labor I was once again experiencing a world changing event from the safety of my mother's arms, and from the arms of the family that had grown around me through my marriage, my family of Christian brothers and sister, and my friends.

I hope that as Ryder grows and no longer can be physically safe in my arms, that he will always have a confidence in himself, the wisdom to make good choices, a family that surrounds him with love, and that he will live his life with the same security as he feels now sitting in my lap watching the world from our front porch, knowing that at any moment he could return to the safety of his mother's arms. And no matter how big he gets, how independent he thinks he is, how strong and tough, I will always be waitingforRyder to greet me with the hug that physically returns him to the momentary saftey of his mother's arms.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I No Like Sand!

Ryder I am
I am Ry Ry

That Ry, Ry, that Ry, Ry
I do so love that Ry, Ry!

Do you like sand wet or dry?

I no like sand wet or dry, I no like sand, I'm that Ry Ry.

Would you like it here or there?
I would not like it here or there. I would not like it anywhere. I no like sand wet or dry. I no like sand, I am that Ry-Ry.

Would you like sand with Mama?
Would you like sand with a llama?

I would not like sand with Mama, and I could not like sand with a llama. I would not like sand here or there. I would not like sand wet or dry. I no like sand, I am that Ry-Ry.

Would you like it with Jonie?
Would you like it while eating macaroni?

Not eating macaroni, and not with Jonie. I no like sand wet or dry. I do not like it, I am that Ry-Ry.

Would you like sand with Joe? Would you like it, yes or no?
No, no, not with Jonie, and not with Joe. I no like sand, I say no!

Does the sand make you sad?
Maybe you would like it with Dad?

Oh, the sand makes me sad. I couldn't like it even with my Dad.

Car, Car likes sand, and Oh Wow does too.
Would you like sand if Papa plays with you?

Not with Car, Car, Not with Oh wow,
Not even with Aprilia if she said bow wow wow

Papa will play with me, but not in the sand
Papa will play with me on solid land

So you don't like sand, not at all, you don't like sand wet or dry?
NO! I don't like sand wet or dry, I no like sand, I am that Ry Ry!

You don't like sand, so you say,
Try it, Try it, and you may,
Try it and you may I say...

Yeah, well, that didn't work either, Dr. Seuss. The conclusion of the matter this year was Ryder "no likes sand." He did, however, learn to tolerate it with the help of the magic shoes Gigi had gotten him from the dollar store :) Camden and Carter, however, loved it. More pictures and posts later. This post inspired by one of Ryder's favorite books "Green Eggs and Ham" and just for fun! So now, we will be waiting for ryder to like playing in the sand!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Only Sweet, Nice, Cute, Well-Mannered and Polite Pirates Allowed Here!

No pink. No lace. No flowers. All BOY stuff. I was so sure I was having a girl. that from the time we knew we were having a baby until the very day of my ultrasound, I called my baby Ella. I went looking for her furniture with Jonie at Children's Fair in Chattanooga, and I loved the set that had subtle flowers along the edges. I also found the most beautiful light pink and white and lace (and impractical and expensive) bedding called "Ella" in one of the beds. It just never really occurred to me that I could REALLY have a boy.

It didn't take long to get excited about a little boy that I was sure would look just like Cody (I'm not a very perceptive mother-to-be, since although some people say that my not Ella child looks just like his daddy, he does have my blonde hair and blue eyes). But this BOY room was hard to get excited about. Even though I love baseball, sports, trucks, and tractors can really only be so cute, right? I knew I wanted his room to be blue, and I love animals, so I decided I would decorate with Safari animals, specifically lions. Unfortunately, no one else important, and by important I mean the makers of baby bedding, thought a blue themed lion bedding was such a great idea. I could find safari bedding in green and yellow, or featuring elephants, but not what I had in mind. I am no decorator, no party planner, but I had my heart set on this non existent bedding.

Now totally focusing on boyness, Cody and I went shopping for bedroom furniture, and I had not even mentioned the beautiful convertible crib, armoire, and changing table with the flowers. We found some that we liked and we looked at different bedding. We hadn't decided on anything when we went to Children's Fair and looked. Cody (who cares little about furniture) stops in front of the most beautiful armoire with subtly engraved flowers, and says, "It looks like this could take you to Narnia. This is my favorite." It was the furniture I had LOVED for Ella, and I was so excited that I could also LOVE it for Ryder! After many attempts to convince ourselves to be practical and buy a nursery set that was on sale and that was still really, very pretty ( but one we could never love after the Narnia flowers),we gave in and bought the Narnia flowers (not the official name of the furniture, by the way :) Cody also saw the Pirate bedding that I had told him about, and he really liked it. It was not lions, but it was pieced with beautiful blues and reds, polka dots, and swirls, and sweet little child pirates with birds and a boat, and I soon fell in love with it.

Camden (and now Carter) had a beautiful nursery, with sophisticated blues and browns, and whimsical little monkeys, and Jonie made the comment one day, "How funny that we used monkeys and Camden is a little monkey that just climbs everywhere." Sweet and funny for her, but what about my son and his room full of pirates! Was I predicting Ryder-the-pirate's future to pillage and plunder and to exhibit all manners of not sweet and niceness because of my son's nursery theme? I am mostly reasonable, so I think not, but just in case, I have a disclaimer for my beautiful boy's room that says, "Only sweet, nice, well mannered and polite pirates allowed in here." I spend time waitingforryder as we play with trucks, and balls, and trakTORs in this boy pirate room, and I think it may be just as cute and whimsical as unicorns and pink flowers.
(It also turns out the lion theme was not all lost as I found this noble lion to befriend my cute, sweet, well-mannered and polite pirates! :)

Pictures: (1) Ryder's room in Columbia. Papa Bear painted a palm tree and got a parrot for the wall, and Gigi made his curtains. (2) Ryder reading "That's not my Pirate" given to him by his friends Wesley and Denise. (3) Taylor Gobble holding Ryder at the filming of American Idol tryouts for the teen spring formal. (4) Ryder and Camden searching under his bed for no telling what kind of hidden treasures. (5) Camden with "Pengy" and Ryder with Lion sitting still momentarily for a picture.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

One Book, Then Night Night

No more rocking the baby to sleep, although sometimes he will now ask to rock and "sing song," and often request the song he wants to sing, and usually sing along.

No more tiptoeing up the stairs carrying a swaddled baby as carefully as a wrapped bundle of dynamite, for fear of explosion when peace is so desperately needed, although sometimes I still carry Ryder in feeted pajamas up the stairs, even though he can walk up them on his own.

No more laying the baby down to hear him crying all alone in his big room while I listen and then worry when he stops crying that something is wrong, although sometimes when I lay him down, I will sit and listen to his night time conversations via the baby monitor.

Now, my most favorite night time ritual of all, in Ryder's words, is "One book, then night night." But Ryder knows his momma, and he knows that "one book" can easily turn into several because as long as he's sitting in my lap, finishing the lines, and asking for another book to be read, his momma is going to read to him. And no matter how late it is, how many books we have already read, or how tired momma is, Ryder knows I can't refuse reading my favorite book to him, and he will ask "Read 'Llama, Llama' Momma?" And then Ryder gets two kisses from his momma before saying prayers and going to sleep.

Ryder's current favorites:
Llama, Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Green Eggs and Ham (he calls this one Sam :) By Dr. Seuss
Great Day for UP by Dr. Seuss
Cool Time Song by Carole Lexa Schaefer
I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
Good Night, Sweet Butterflies
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Doggies by Sandra Boynton

Books, to the reading child,are so much more than books--they are dreams and knowledge, they are a future and a past.
-Esther Maynell 1940

Happy is he who has laid up in his youth, and held fast in all fortune, a genuine and passionate love of reading.
-Rufus Choate

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Blessed,and Blessed, and Blessed Again

Supper with Ryder:

  1. We FINALLY are all seated at the table, with plates of food, drinks, eating utensils, napkins, and all necessary sauces.
  2. Ryder: "Got to Praaay."
  3. Daddy: "Yes, do you want to say the prayer."
  4. Ryder: "Uh-huh; I put my poon right here" and he lays his spoon on the table.
  5. Begins prayer: "Oh (or Heavenly? not really sure) Father, thank you (words left to be interpreted by the Holy Spirit) food (more words) Amen.
  6. Mommy and Daddy praise Ryder for saying the prayer, and everyone takes a bite.
  7. Ryder puts down spoon, "Got to praaay," and he folds his hands up close to his eyes and prays again.
  8. Mommy and Daddy laugh at their sweet little boy.
  9. Another bite.
  10. Yes, you guessed it, another prayer : )
Our humble hamburger helper was the most blessed of all meals. And it's not like you can tell your almost two year old that you've prayed ENOUGH, so we bow our heads and are so thankful to be waiting for Ryder as he blesses our meal and our lives again, and again, and again.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What's in a name?

I was very pregnant: Huge feet that look like cabbage patch dolls-you know, puffy, round, with a few stitches to define toes; having to wake up and move yourself just to turn over in bed; not realizing you won't fit through the aisle because of the massive belly that precedes you everywhere...I had a great pregnancy, but even a great pregnancy is anything but comfortable :)

I was living in Columbia, away from friends and family. I was happy, but I missed Murfreesboro and Cleveland, and I was not finding a great love for living in Columbia. Misery (other than general puffy feet/can't sleep/need help getting out of a seat misery that goes along with even the best of pregnancies) was prevented by my wonderful husband, my almost perfect dog, Cody's amazing parents, Lucas and Lana, and the church at North View.

I no longer had an email address. My friends were scattered, my physical activity more laughable than usual, and I had to make up my own email address. I sat at the computer, and typed. No stress on coming up with a fun, witty name, I use Aprilia. Beautiful and uncommon, it was perfect, and apparently, someone else thought so, too. So as I tried several different versions, and none of them worked, I knew what I was doing. Making an email address, going to the grocery store, making a trip to Cleveland, no matter what I was doing, I was always, always waiting for Ryder. And although the username of Ryder was taken in various forms, no one else seemed to be waiting for him like I was.

I was so proud of my email address, and sent Denise an email, which is I'm sure, who pushed me to create a new one in the first place. Well, Denise and Cody, who I'm sure was tired of me using his. And she says "Oh no! You're not going to be pregnant forever, how did you make that your email?"

But I am. I waited for Ryder to be born. I waited for him to start sleeping through the night. I waited for him to start taking food that my body did not have to manufacture. I waited for him to speak, to walk, to hug me first, and I will forever be waiting for the next smile, his newest quirk, his first morning words because I am so blessed to be Ryder's mother and spend my days waiting for Ryder.

Climbing on Donna's Bandwagon

One of the teachers I worked with at Blackman and admire greatly for her forthrightness, wit, storytelling abilities, and efficiency started a blog this summer, which I was more than happy to read. In July, Donna encouraged everyone to start a blog. It is now August, and I am attempting to climb on the blogging bandwagon, but I am a very slow climber. I have almost backed out countless times simply because of the fear of the technology, and the mental stress that I know important decisions such as font color or type will cause me. However, with Donna as my fearless blog leader, I will press on, but I will sit on the back of the bandwagon for now, so I can jump off if this technological world of fonts and color and words and pictures overwhelm me, and return to my life of refusing to eat green eggs and ham, or trying to stop all this llama drama, as I spend my days waitingforRyder.