Sunday, March 29, 2009

Anna's week...

The most notable occurrence this week for Anna was - She gave her first talk/speech today in Primary. Her topic was on family. We practiced it a few times this week for her stuffed animals and each time Anna would say something like, "Everyone is staring at me, mom." OR "I'm a little bit shy. I'm done." OR "I need to tell the kids (stuffed animals) to quiet down and listen please." So I wasn't quite sure how today would go in front of everyone. Anna was not shy one bit! She spoke loudly and clearly, looked at everyone, and hardly needed any prompting from me. I was so proud of her!!! It went something like this:
"I love my family. Here is a picture of my family with my mommy, daddy, Benjamin, and me. Here is a picture of mommy and daddy when they got married in the temple. Then Heavenly Father sent me to my family. I like to sing with my family, play games *showed picture*, pray, have Family Night, go camping, cook *showed picture*, watch movies, read scriptures and dance with my family. I also have grandmas, grandpas, aunties, uncles and cousins. I love all my family. I am thankful Heavenly Father sent me to my family."
What. A. Sweetie. I think it was pretty impressive for a 3 year old. The picture above is of Anna with some of her visual aids. Oh, and it's funny that she mentioned "go camping" because that is something we haven't done yet with Anna, but plan to do this summer. Obviously she's looking forward to it if she already considers it one of her favorite things to do with her family.

Anna making cinnamon rolls this afternoon.
Okay, so how do we all feel about bribing? Normally on Sundays we do a slow cooker meal to eat as soon as we get home from church. Then we make a dessert when we're done. We don't usually have desserts, but Sundays we do.
So, Anna often gets up during Primary (the kids class at church) to come over and talk to me. I'm in there too because I play the piano for the kiddies singing time. Also, she sometimes gets sucked in to various activities around her. I have started telling her these last few Sundays that if she sits quietly during primary, and stays in her seat, then we can make a treat together when we get home from church. It has worked like a charm! This week I also tied in the whole "being brave while giving your talk" with it. Anna had apparently forgotten that she was already helping me make a treat every Sunday. In all other situations (except potty training) I am not a reward with treats kind of parent. But it just happened. Anna is such a helpful, caring, kind, sweet, giving girl all on her own, with no treat incentive, so I don't feel too bad about it. There is a part of me that feels a bit guilty. What if this spirals out of control, and I just start bribing her for all good behavior, and her natural sweetness is gone forever and ever and ever!?!??!?!?! Fine. I'm overreacting. I'm just going to keep doing it as long as it keeps working. And I won't introduce anymore new bribes....for now. :)

Tuesday this week, Anna wanted to dress for summertime shown in these adorable pictures above. It was only in the 50's that day, but I completely understand her being anxious for real summer weather. The last picture again shows that Anna will take any opportunity she can to practice balancing. I'd also like to take a second to point out that this is an outfit that Anna wore last summer too. It seems like it fits exactly the same, only the capris are shorter because Anna has shot up a bit over this last year. I often mention how adorably chubby, cheeky, squishy, etc. my kiddies are, but these pictures show that all good things do come to an end. Well, Anna still has her sweet cheeks, but she is thinning out. I assumed it would happen eventually, it just kind of snuck up on me. All of the sudden she's looking more and more "grown up." Sigh.

Finally, a picture of daddy reading Anna a bedtime story sometime this week. Anna was kind enough to "allow" Ben-Ben to participate too. We typically have story time one-on-one with our kids, but sometimes we get rushed and combine them. The boys look happy in this picture, and Anna looks like she's been gypped.

Ben's Week...

The most notable occurrence of the week - Benjamin took his first steps on Friday!!! He is definitely still a way off from being a full blown walker, but he's taken his first steps. He loves, LOVES trying to walk. Ben-Ben gets so giddy and proud of himself. He prefers to walk to his mommy; that is when he is most successful and excited about it. I know, I know, a mama's boy...I love it. (Sorry the video is sideways, just wasn't thinking...and we didn't capture some of his best attempts.)

Of course, Benjamin's week is filled with many meals. In this picture there are many little pieces of food, but we've discovered that Benjamin eats best when we give him the food whole. (Well, not grapes or other things that are the perfect size for choking.) He even had slightly spicy chicken enchiladas this week.

Here Ben was caught in the act. Do you see how proud he is of his destruction? And this shows only a tiny fraction of the havoc he can wreak in less than a minute. It's impressive; I'll go so far as to describe it as awe inspiring. I love the way my sister-in-law, Meghan, described her almost one year old as a tiny tornado. It's so true! I just wonder what is going on in Ben-Ben's head during moments like these. I imagine it's something like this, "Okay, I've pulled down all the books and have succeeded in ripping a few pages out. Now quick, on to the lamp. Yes! I've reached my quota of pushing it over for the 100th time today. Not bad Rayhorn, not bad at all. I've better hurry and find my mom's keys and hide them in a spot she will least suspect. Done! Now, don't slow down, race to Anna and swipe whatever it is she's playing with. Ah, success! My mission is complete..... for now....." Just a stab at Benjamin's thought process. I could be wrong.

Finally, Benjamin tried on some summer wear too. With his bald head and fair skin, he is going to need lots of protection from the sun. We never had to worry about it too much with Anna because she never burned, just like her mommy. But, we have a feeling it will not be the same with Ben. For the record, he really isn't that bald anymore...he is getting a nice patch started on the top of his head. It's just hard to tell since his hair is so light. Oh well. I did buy some product for him to help spike it up and draw attention to his hair growth, but I've only used it once. Next time I'll be sure to take a picture.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Celebrating The Irish In All Of Us...

This week we celebrated our Irish heritage. The kid's Great Great Grandpa Blower would be proud. (Ethan's Grandma Ellene Parr's father immigrated to the states from Ireland.) Anna reveled in our Saint Patrick's Day festivities. She didn't even know a holiday was coming, but she is always ready to celebrate. Here are a few things we did: discussed some of the basics of Ireland/St. Patty's day, dressed in green of course, pinched daddy when he got home from school because he forgot to wear green, made green rice krispy treats (Anna thought this was hilarious), played hide the leprechaun's gold, and listened and danced to some Irish music. The hat Anna is sporting in the first picture was given to her last year by Grandpa Chuck. Thanks again grandpa!

Ben wore green today too, an NMU t-shirt. Here he is showing off his chub-tastic legs and waiting on some lunch. I discovered this day that Benjamin is not a fan of rice krispy treats. The second picture shows the face he makes when he does not want to eat something. It is impossible to get anything passed those lips; they are sealed up tight!

We played outside after Ethan got home from class. Such a beautiful day...temperatures made it into the 70's. WhooHoo! Ben loved exploring the grass. And Anna loved running around, and hiding and seeking the leprechaun's gold. (Look closely at the picture of Ben-Ben and you'll notice that his sleeves are cut around the elastic part. We've had to do this on numerous jackets and shirts for Ben because his arms are just too roly-poly and they get pinched. Too funny! We had to do this a few times with Anna too, so we are used to it. Hehe :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Two Faces of Benjamin P. Rayhorn...

I'd hate to break with tradition, so I'll start this post writing about how wonderful Ben-Ben is. It's what mom's do. However, read the whole entry if you want to get a balanced view of Ben - but be warned, it is a long one. Benjamin is smiley and lovey. Since he was a few weeks old, he has been so full of smiles and so laid back and happy. He laughs often, and I never get tired of hearing it, even when it turns to screaming laughter. Ben has always gone to bed on his own - he doesn't need us there to fall asleep - and that is so convenient. He says mama, dada, uh-oh, and maybe a few other things we're trying to decipher. He loves to clap his hands and give five, and will normally do it on command. Ben is so active and his little power crawl is adorable to watch. He is always on the move exploring and wanting to be where the action is. He also enjoys quiet things too. He will sit still in our lap if we are singing to him or reading him books. He loves to be read to, which is perfect because this family loves to read. He always plays with my hair, without pulling it, when I am feeding him a bottle. The eye contact is priceless during bottle time. I really feel like he is conveying love. And the sweetest thing - Benjamin has started giving kisses. To Ethan's dismay, he prefers to give kisses to mommy, but will occasionally be coaxed into giving daddy a kiss too. Ben lifts his eyebrows, flops out his lips, and leans in for a slobbery little kiss. It is so precious. My heart just melts every time, even though he has been giving kisses for weeks now.

I want to paint an accurate picture here. So, the not so sweet things Ben has been doing lately? He is a morning person. No matter how hard we try, he is just wide awake and happy as a clam bright and early. I realize that many of you may not consider this a negative thing...Dad! But we do. The recent time change has helped with this, but not enough. Anna sleeps until 8 or 9am and that is what I have grown accustomed to. Ben started out as a great sleeper, and I guess, technically, he still is. I realize that I should be happy that he's always been such a regular sleeper, and that he has always had multiple, long naps during the day plus 11-12 solid hours at night. And yes, I realize I just need to adjust the time I go to bed so that I am rested and perky at 6:00 or 6:30am. It's just so hard! With the time change, he is now waking up around 7:30ish...please let it last!
Benjamin is in to EVERYTHING. I know this is typical of his age, but I just did not have to baby proof at all with Anna, so I'm not used to it. Many times a day, he pulls down books from our book shelf. I know - typical. But then he looks around the room until he can find me, smiles his "I know I'm being naughty" smile, and then begins to rip up the books. We have multiple taped up books now. He's broken numerous things - two different lamps, a picture frame, and a couple toys, to name a few. Ben is on a mission to pull down, rip up, and push over anything he can.

I've already mentioned in previous posts that Ben is sensitive about food and eating. If someone is eating and he is not - even if he is not really hungry - he gets pretty upset. At meal time, he doesn't want the food on his tray, he wants the food that is on your plate. And it's usually the same food! He won't stop yelling and complaining about it. He is determined. Often we have to leave him alone so that he'll actually eat the food on his tray. Crazy. Okay, one last thing. Ben is a yeller, screamer, squealer. You name it, if it's LOUD, Ben will make that noise. And he won't stop. But enough on Ben's "naughtiness." (Really, we mostly find it amusing.)

Just look at that sweet, adorable, angel face! Yet at the same time, can you see a hint of the mischievousness in his smirk that I have described above? This picture perfectly captures the "two faces" of Ben. I am not a fan of gender stereotypes, so I will not say this behavior is just typical boy behavior (although I've heard that often from various people). This is just who Benjamin is. And we love him. Every thing about him - the sweet and the destructive. We are so blessed to have Benjamin in our family. I can't believe that my baby boy is almost one. It's been an amazing experience getting to know him over this past year.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March Mud-ness...

We have had more beautiful weather this week, so some trips to the park were a must. We haven't had any snow on the ground for awhile, but man is it muddy! As soon as we walked in the door from the park Anna would have to take off her shoes, pants, and once her shirt. They were that covered in mud. I know dirt and mud are essential to every kid's childhood, and I'm not opposed. I just wish I were better at getting out the stains. My mom is a stain removal miracle worker, but sadly, that was not passed on to me. :-)
I love the two pictures above because a.) Anna and Ben are playing together - so sweet of Anna to push her little brother on the swing, and b.) Benjamin's facial expressions are too perfect. The first one shows him gripping the sides, holding on for dear life with a very concerned look on his face, and the second one perfectly captures how much he ended up loving the swing.

Here are few more pictures from that day. Anna loves balancing on things and pretending she is doing gymnastics or is in a circus. This same day, we took a walk to the library. It was especially fun because Ethan was at the library studying, and Anna was so excited to surprise him. Ethan enjoyed a little break from the books. Oh, and let me say that the Moby Wrap (baby sling) is back in full force. After using it pretty often last summer, I realized I hadn't used it at all during the winter months. When I was at the park the first time, I thought it'd be perfect to sling on Ben so I could climb around and play with Anna, as opposed to carrying Ben in my arms (which isn't sustainable for very long since he is 25 pounds of pure chub and constant motion). I use a side hold that is very comfortable, and Ben-Ben loves it too. I used it for our walk to the library fun to have him snuggled close.
Two little cuties. They were both going for the farmer look this day - Anna on purpose and Ben had no choice. We did a lot of pretend play with planting and farming. Anna doesn't have any overalls, so this jumper had to do. She felt authentic enough. The second picture shows Anna helping Ben learn how to walk. You can see how much he enjoys it (although it's a little fuzzy) and Anna loves it too. She likes to go as fast as possible without making Benjamin fall over, which still happens pretty often. Good practice for Ben...and he won't usually do it with Ethan or I, silly baby.
Precious picture of Ethan and the kids getting home from church and relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. And the final picture - I took the kids bowling with the SKIP program a few weeks ago, and of course Anna loved it. She even got a strike...with the help of the bumper rails. Ben just sat in his stroller and enjoyed some snacks. Well, I guess that is plenty for now, but I do have a video I want to post of Benjamin, and I want to fill you in on some of the sweet and some of the frustrating milestones he is hitting. So, you can look forward to that in the next few days. Have a beautiful week!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Spring Break in Fort Wayne, Indiana...

We were going to go somewhere tropical for Ethan's spring break (not really), but then decided Fort Wayne would be a better choice. Nothing like good ol' Indiana in February. We had so much fun visiting my Uncle Harry and Aunt Linda Jones. I love that my kids are getting to know the Jones side of the family. It's important to me. We went down the first weekend of Eth's break and packed a lot in Friday evening to Sunday night. We played with cousins/family (including Uncle John, Anna and George's fam, and Pat and Amber's fam, yay!), we saw my good friend Elizabeth and her family, we visited with one of Ethan's friends from his mission to Australia, and we went to the Science Central Museum. (We got in free with our Flint Children's Museum pass as part of the ASTC group, nice!) We had a great time and are thankful to Harry and Linda for having us. Anna has been asking to visit Uncle Harry's since she was there this past summer and fell in love with their garden, her "new cousins", and rides on the golf cart...and yes, I gave her a heads up that the garden wouldn't be around this time. Anna did get to help sprout some beans though. Enjoy the pictures:

Uncle Harry feeding Ben. Uncle John reading to Natalie and Anna.

Levi reading to Anna, impressive! Ethan's mission friend, Jake Newhard, and his family.

Ethan, Benjamin, and Anna outside Science Central! Anna and I looking around.

Ben exploring and learning how the inside of a piano works.

Anna exploring and learning how a river flows.