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.