Thursday, October 27, 2016

Reflecting: James and Isaac, 3 years and 20 months

Ready for a slice of Fife?

Well it's a pretty cute pie right now.  So get ready.

How about this one. James calls our Monday night Family Home Evening, "hammy own" which reminds me of when my dad teased by calling it "hamily, fome, hevening"

Dump Truck: "Dumpter truck"

Bishopric meeting: "Bickeric meeting"

Favorite words and phrases:

So mom, what are we doing tomorrow?
What's the plan?
I don't like dinner.
I'm gonna stink you up.
Hey, Isaac, little buddy!
It'll be fuuuuunn!
I'm building a 'struction site.
I'll be right here if you need me.
Were you just missing me mom?
Isaac did it.
(when baking) I'll be the dumper.

I'm not a fan.
I need a tell you something.
Can I just stay up a few minutes?
It will be time at 40 o'clock.

We've entered the "my sock is funny" phase. Not my fav.

James is an incredibly reasonable child.  As in, can be reasoned with.  It's astounding.  As long as we can sit down and have a heart to heart about the logic of the situation he is on board.  Unless of course he likes his logic better in which case he presents his case so articulately that I usually strike up some kind of bargain with him.

He is more patient with Isaac's physical abuse than he is with the destruction of his self designed lego airplanes and 'struction sites, but we are even making progress with asking Isaac nicely to stop and then talking to mom.

Speaking of lego creations.  There was a time when I was genuinely concerned that James has zero imagination.  He was more interested in real life than pretending.  He takes after his daddy that way. ;) but my right brained, creative thinking, dreamer self was a little sad.  Fast forward to today and my fears have been quashed by some good old fashion "tending." He will always have the logical streak that makes him so easy to communicate with, but a healthy bit of pretend building, grilling, and crashing is wonderful too.  Especially when it means he can play by himself for minutes on end while I work on something else.

James is particularly enamored with ship building these days.  I'm pinning the blame on Nephi and the brother of Jared.  We obtained a free play set, from some members of the ward, that we have taken halfway apart and started restoring.  James loves to climb up and pretend it's his ship.

Pet peeve of James: wet clothes.  Not like "accident" wet, but water wet.  Even if it's a tiny little droplet and I insist it will dry, he stripes off all his clothes.  Then again, any excuse to take off all his clothes and he takes it.  "Shirts are hot" "Pants are hot" You get the idea. 

He's managed to involve himself in all my projects.  He checks on the back lawn to see how the "new spring grass" is coming in.  He was bummed when I finished painting the bathroom after he was asleep because he didn't get to paint too.  He brought out spare wood pieces to hammer on while I put together a little white picket gate.  He's not too keen on helping with clean up, but I guess that's how it goes.

He is also interested in finding boxes, bins, bags, or totes of any kind for his things.  By the time I ready to head out the door to go almost anywhere, he has amassed an armful of things he must bring with us and he needs a bag/box/bin/tote to put them in.  Favorite items include tools (often real ones he has smuggled) nature walk items, rocks, legos, snorkel and mask, keys, cards from mommy's wallet, extra clothes, hat, etc. Sometimes when playing he even wants a larger container for his already contained possessions.

Now my Isaac.  He "sings" along to I Am a Child of God.  When I put him down for a nap he protests with "no, no, no, no, no!" Which doesn't sound particularly cute when I write it down, but when he actually says it, it's the cutest little voice and tone imaginable and I have to stop myself from laughing out loud.  Once he has his bear he settles in and forgets he ever protested.

Lately when we enter the chapel for Sacrament meeting he points right up to daddy on the stand, says "da da!" and waves excitedly. If Austin is conducting, he repeats the pattern as though he is seeing him again for the first time.

He is a terrible sleeper.  Period.  I keep telling myself, "oh he's just teething" in order to make it bearable, but at 11:30 PM and 3:00 AM he just needs to cry for no apparent reason until I tuck him back in which usually settles him, but sometimes not.

He is still hard to feed.  He isn't really picky about food consistently.  He just eats tiny bits at a time and is repulsed by anyone one with the audacity to point a spoon full of food in his direction.

His blond curls continue to do me in.  They serve as a built in bath tracker because the longer he goes without one the straighter they become.  I've never been so motivated to bathe my boys.

When Austin gets home from work, Isaac gives the best welcome with a big open mouthed smile and tippy toes.  He often gets an "Isaac sandwhich" kiss between mommy and daddy.  I think it might be his favorite thing ever.

I mentioned his bear, but he loves all stuffed animals or anything with a face.  He talks to them and snuggles them.  He even requests that "bear" get a kiss goodnight too.

He also loves putting away the dirty laundry into dresser drawers, pulling out all the ziplock bags from the drawer, standing on the toilet to turn on the bathroom sink faucet, tackling James for some wrestling, jumping on the bed, saying prayers, singing along to songs, dancing to music, escaping from the tub, naked, to streak through the living room giggling, finding birds, and putting on shoes.

For a long time he has hugged me tight with his skinny little arms slipped all the way around my neck holding my face to his cheek.  Lately, he has been doing a one armed neck hug and then dragging me gently in the direction he wants me to be saying, "go, go, go" He has me wrapped around his finger and I don't even mind.

In these pictures below, Isaac was very sick and Austin was singing to him while he snuggled.  I pulled out my phone to capture the moment.  He had been sluggish and cranky all day, but as soon as Isaac saw the camera he pulled this cheeser out.  Such a ham.

Now what about mommy.  Well I'm doing just fine, thanks for asking.  I'm learning more and more about the word balance. My prayers are earnest and my patience is growing.  Painful growing, but growing.  I'm learning to focus, to be intentional, to be present.

My greatest success recently has been avoiding comparison.  It's been liberating, but it's left a surprising, but gaping, hole behind.  Validation that I used to get from declaring myself better than someone else in a particular category used to make me feel like a had a measuring stick off which to determine my performance as a mother.  Seeing my failings in comparison to others used to motivate me to give excuses for why that accomplishment was a lame aspiration anyway.

Now I'm left with fewer benchmarks.  I can't use those around me to determine how well I'm doing.  One day I found myself trying to come up with a plan to measure my progress, so I would have someway to feel accomplished.  Then it hit me.  The Savior is there to fill that gap.  He motivates, validates, and justifies.  If I am close to Him I will always feel important and always desire to be better.  I was humbled to the core and I'm committed to finding Him in a new way.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Reflecting: James and Isaac, 3 and 18 Months

I looked at the clock, it felt like it was noon, but it was only 10.  I smiled, pleased that we still had so much time left in the day.

Then I realized how monumental that was.  Slowly and gradually (and most likely temporarily) I've come to a point where I am no longer just surviving.  I am thriving!  The standard thought response, to 10 AM showing on the clock, is a reminder to pace myself and and a mental count down through the 7 hours before the glorious moment daddy walks through the front door. This time, it meant I still had 7 happy hours to play before dinner and bedtime.

We could do anything!  I beamed at my boys, scooped them up, and breathed in their deliciousness. Overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to stay home with them all day, aware it's a luxury for me, Austin, and our boys.  I'd always planned on it, but an enormous number of things could have stood in the way of that dream, it's only by a tender mercy, I've been blessed to be here with them full time.  It's a gift and responsibility I cherish.

Isaac is talking.  Most of it is experimenting with inflections and sounds, but a few actual words are woven into his babbling.

Bur (bird)
Beh (belly)
Ames (James)
Mop (Milk)
Buh bye
Beh (bear)
Wheh sit? (where is it?)
Wassat (What's that?)
Wassit (What's this?)
Mo (more)
ahduh (all done)
Din-tee (stinky)
Owsigh (outside)

Isaac's favorites:

Finding the plungers
Being naked
Being outside
Picking green tomatoes in the garden
Spray bottles
Food that he can feed himself (anything else is refused)
Smiling for the camera
His bear
Running away
Joining in "wrestle time" with Daddy

Blowing on food, candles, faces, bellies, bubbles. dandelions, you name it.  He puckers up those full lips of his into a perfect "O" and blows.

Finding shoes and offering them to people and finding his own shoes and insisting they be put on his feet.  He will keep his shoes on all day if I don't intervene and requests them when it's time to go outside.  This is frankly astounding to me since I only wear shoes if there is a sign requiring them.  He takes after his daddy on this one.

Imitating James.  Yesterday I requested that James take his foot out of the popcorn bowl.  He obliged, but no sooner had I finished my lecture on foot germs when Isaac had his leg propped on the edge of the bowl, munching on a handful of popcorn, face turned in my direction awaiting a reaction.

Snuggling.  Always has been and I hope it never changes.  Yesterday amid my gratitude and sentiment, I realized that Isaac is less like a baby every day and more a little boy.  In an effort to enjoy him while he is small I whipped out the baby carrier  I haven't used since he started walking.  Honestly, I can't stand baby carriers. I understand why people love them, but they always just make my back hurt and my mood cranky.  All the same, by choice rather than necessity, I cinched him in and held him close while I worked in the kitchen.

Being hilarious.  He has a "cheese" face for the camera that is too good.  See for your self:

He loves making people laugh.  His jokes are usually something like escaping from the bathtub and streaking through the living room, pretending to eat or feed me something inedible, smiling really big until someone notices and joins in, eating James' hair, and sitting right on my tummy and bouncing.

I'd give a list of favorite foods, but he doesn't really have any.  He's a little unpredictable.  I guess popcorn is usually a win, and milk.  He eats, just not a lot or very often. I guess that's why he is such a tiny little guy, but I keep offering and that's the best I can do!

He does have a funny food quirk.  If I let him feed me a few bites of something first he is 75% more likely to try it himself than if I just set it in front of him and expect him to eat.  I don't know how I discovered this trick, but it is responsible for the big round belly he gets now after meals.

Isaac's nemeses:

Diaper changes.  I have employed all the Judo skills I remember to change this boy's diapers. For example, if you have control of your opponents head and hips you have control of the entire body.  The problem? I only have two hands and one of them is doing the dirty work while the free hand is alternating between keeping hands out of it, holding up legs, pinning down hips, and flipping him back over onto his back.  All the while chanting, "we are almost done" or in my less patient moments, "Isaac, come on buddy!" He hasn't tapped out yet.

It's the strangest thing too, because he will inform me that he is "din-tee" (stinky) BRING ME A DIAPER, and then twist, cry, flail, and contort himself through the entire change.  Once I'm finished he untapes the front a couple times while I wrestle his pants on and he is fine again.  I really don't mind changing diapers, but I dread his.

Buckling his carseat. It's the same story.  He will fight with everything he has, but once the deed is done he knows it's over and relaxes in complete content.  It's almost comical to watch the sudden calm after the storm when the last buckle clicks.

Unavailable mommy.  This is normal, of course, but it's the stage he's in so I'll include it.

Whether he is excited or dismayed he has this classic Isaac crazy leg action going on.  Both legs get into is and they just GO.  Whether he is being carried or standing they just start dancing.  I really need to get it on video one of the these days before he grows out of it because it's hilarious.

And now my James. My determined whirlwind of a 3 year old.

This is a weird thing to lead with, but I have to laugh about his hair.  I've finally cut it short because I can't figure out what else to do with it.  It sticks straight up in the back thanks to two cowlicks working in opposite directions and then the front grows decidedly downward.  So no matter what I do he has a peacock fan in the back and a fringe in front.  I'm just banking on the peacock being the new thing.  Hey, it's never been done before and James rocks it.

Favorite color: Green
Favorite food: noodles, hamburgers, pizza, and all fruit
Other favorites: wrestling daddy, reading stories, listening to made up stories, jumping from high places into strategically placed piles of pillows and blankets, building forts, playing with legos, digging in the dirt, collecting rocks, anything involving water, building things, making plans with a pad of paper and a pen, coming up with ways to keep Isaac away from his things, using tools to take apart our furniture and fixtures, explaining the plan to me and then dad, watching Curious George, finding excuses to stay awake, playing with his neighbor friend Vaughn, and negotiating.

As he gets older, I feel less inclined to talk about him and more fascinated with the things I talk about with him.  He is an exceptional communicator. He often asks my permission about something and then even after the answer is "yes" he will get the go ahead from dad too.  Or, at the very least he will fill in the other parent on the plan, "dad says I can help him in the garage so I'm going to do that, okay mom? Be right back, see you later!"

Yesterday he used the word enormous in a sentence ("a normous") and Austin and I just looked at each other with the same wordless expression that said, "our son is using words like enormous in casual conversation.  How did this happen!"

We've had some amazing moments when he asks about Heavenly Father or the Spirit.  Moments when he tells me he is going to pray because he is a little scared or mentions that he misses Heavenly Father.  In those tender times I realize why the home is a temple of God. It's the place where a tiny bit of truth given to an innocent child is multiplied and taught back with deeper meaning.  Those special times are sacred.

Granted, the next moment I'm reminding him that throwing rocks into the house or spraying the hose into Isaac's face are not acceptable activities and then he saves his snack for later in a clothes drawer and scribbles on the dishwasher with a pen.  Still. It's our crazy temple all the same.

I repeat myself a lot, not just when making a request, but all the time.  It helps if I just tell myself he is saying "what?" because he wants to hear the words again so he can permanently log them in his mind and enlarge his vocabulary, but I'm still working on being patient with it.

He has figured out all the child locks on the doors.  I'm trying to decide if he is old enough to be trusted with the option to go in the front yard or into our bedroom and the fact that my online shopping cart already has new ones in it is a pretty good indication of my sentiments there.

Our relationship is changing as he grows.  He is already relying on me less.  He can get himself a snack, entertain himself (especially if a friend is over) go potty, wash his hands, put on his shoes, buckle his car seat, set the forks, water the yard, draw a map, and tuck himself in.  Obviously at 3 years old he still relies on me for survival, but as he begins to make sense of the world he is additionally turning to me for information and reason.  For truth and explanations.  It's as exciting as it is terrifying.

Today I'm grateful.  So grateful.  To be alive, to be a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a granddaughter, a neighbor, and a friend. We have a roof over our heads and a family I am proud of.  I am blessed beyond words.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Camp Fife

"In thy mountain retreat, God will strengthen thy feet." hymn # 34

This phrase greeted us as we drove into camp Zarahemla.  After the gorgeous drive in Mount Rainer territory it felt like a perfect description of what was to come, but I was surprised just how real that strengthening was by the time we said goodbye.

I came home a better person.  Maybe it was the disconnect from screens, internet, and texts, or the devotionals, testimonies, and the excellent company. Watching how helpful the Fife family is when there is a job to be done, or the quiet strength of Austin's parents as they presided over their growing family contributed too, I'm sure. In so many ways it was like a trip to the temple that brought everything into focus.

And the COUSIN TIME!  Oh the sweet, sweet cousin time.  Michaela had Isaac wrapped around her finger.  The babies had moments of acknowledging each other's chubby cheeked existence, Heidi was angelic to everyone, and Ashley and James...oh that hilarious duo: competitive, but never to a fault, daring each other on, and always together.  One morning in particular, James slept in and Ashley begged to wake him up so they could play.

 I relented and we tip-toed up the loft stairs.  Ashley planted her face right next to James' snoring one, and giggled.  James woke with a dramatic yawn and stretch that made Ashley giggle even louder.  Once James realized his stretching was being met with an audience he hammed it up even more.  They both laughed their heads off and then in a flash they were off for more playing.  Michaela summed it up when she said, "We should just live here, with everyone, all the time." Next year one way or another we need to get Corban, Ethan, Kelson, and Aspen in the mix. :) I might die of happiness.

 A few of my favorite things from the trip:

The gorgeous views of Clear Lake
Giant sink baths for the babies
Grandpa's campfires
Roasted starbursts and apologizing again to Daniel for the scar I left him the first time he tried them.
Seeing baby Adaline for the first time and watching Shawn and Daniel be parents, they are naturals
Shawn's devotional on "standing alone"
Daniel's preparedness presentation
Testimony meeting
"There once was a man" song and dance skit by Heidi, Michaela, and Jordan (special guest appearance by Austin)
The talent show! Grandpa stole the show with his beautiful love song
Playing in the mud and water
Savannah trying to drink it and then giggling
Austin making the anti-climatic rope swing look fun.
Peaceful talks with Austin after the boys were down.
Watching grandpa get a little emotional after taking three generations out on the beloved family boat.

Okay, so there were a lot of favorites.