Monday, July 27, 2015

Forever Four

It's been said that the days are long, but the years are short. Yesterday Anlon turned five years old, and I am still processing this fact. It truly could have been yesterday that I first held our tiny Buggy in my arms. Some moments are so etched in our memories, that time does not make them the least bit fuzzy.

I decided to go through our pictures over the past year and choose some of my favorites to share. I have no doubt I missed some because there are just so many. I take a lot of pictures of our children. A lot. One day when we're old and gray, Vipul and I will have quite a collection to look through. I just know that these are the sweetest days of my life. The most exhausting yet beautiful, soul-changing days. And they began with this little man.
This picture was taken at his 4th birthday party, one week after he turned four. In some ways I think he looks the same now as he did then. But then in other ways, he looks so much older. He has matured a lot over this year, especially in the last few months. I am so thankful though that he still asks for me to hold him, to rock him at night and often in the morning, to give him hugs and kisses. Although we're pretty sure his love language is quality time, he loves physical touch and is very affectionate. I try to soak this up, as I know there will come a day when he won't ask to snuggle.
This has been the year of the train. He has enjoyed trains since we bought him his first train set when he was two years old. But something really changed right around the time he turned four. He has been completely fascinated by them. Our visits to Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock have definitely facilitated this. This picture was taken right after we returned from a fun day there, and he had chosen this little train to bring home. Reading Thomas the Train books and watching "Hero of the Rails" opened up a whole new world as well. He began to create detailed stories about his trains. And each train would speak quite politely while they worked hard, as really useful engines do. He also became creative with their "heavy loads" and many odds and ends have ended up in their wagons. And when a train needs to pull cargo that doesn't easily attach, string comes in handy. He connects lights to them using rubber bands, adds stickers to them...trains have provided endless imaginative play time.

I love the picture below because it was taken when he was still really into Winnie the Pooh. He still enjoys it, and was very excited to see the characters at the breakfast in Disney earlier this year. But Veggie Tales, Thomas the Train and Curious George are the favorites now.
These are just a couple of pictures that I love because his eyelashes are more clearly shown. I know I'm partial, but his lashes are absolutely amazing.
 He was so excited about his Christmas present - his first bicycle!
Anlon truly marches to the beat of his own drum. One day he decided he wanted to connect this wagon to his tricycle (he does ride his bicycle but still loves his tricycle so much), and he decorated the front with Christmas ornaments (mama approved ones) and filled a bucket with more treasures to carry.
On this day he decided it would be fun to wrap a pool noodle around himself and then add some Christmas lights for some additional decoration. I really try to foster his creativity and assist him in these endeavors. As long as they're reasonably safe. :)

He is a collector of things. All sorts of random items are little treasures to him. He loves to fill up containers, bags, trains, this school bus... He decided to tape buttons on the front of this bus for fun. (there are few days that go by without the need for masking tape).
Our sensory beans have continued to be a source of entertainment. Most days I am very thankful that messes like this honestly don't bother me. I know that one day our home will be tidy and free of toys in every room. This season is fleeting and I want to embrace it as much as I can.
In this picture, he's holding Nofy (a snake made of string that was a special friend for awhile). I don't know how he chose the name Nofy. I verified the spelling.
In this picture, he made a train by taping markers together. And then made a road for his trucks with packages of diapers we had just brought home. He's extremely focused when he's playing. It's always very important and he must give his full attention to whatever task is at hand.

There was a season when he was falling asleep in the car after we had been out, but would wake up when I would transfer him upstairs to his room. (He had previously transferred well). So I started making a little bed for him on the sofa, and successful naptime resumed. He is beginning to nap less, despite showing every sign of exhaustion. It has made for some fussy afternoons when he really still needs this rest. Quiet time has helped, although this is a work in progress.
He enjoys helping me cook and there was a period of several months when I couldn't prepare dinner without both of them asking to help. I'm so thankful that he now enjoys a variety of foods and generally eats very well. The other morning, he requested raw kale, onions and tomatoes for breakfast. And he ate them! He regularly eats kale as a salad with an Italian-like Caesar dressing.
He's taken weekly swim lessons for most of the past year (a few months at Little Otter Swim school and then at the YMCA). But it's only been in the past few weeks that he's really made enormous progress. He also just completed a week of back to back lessons at Charlotte Swim Academy and this increased his ability and confidence as well.
The love that he shares with Vipul is like nothing I've seen. He adores his daddy and loves spending time with him. And Vipul is so incredible with him. I could write a post just on this.

This is one of my favorite pictures ever. Just an impromptu shot of us being silly before bedtime.
From the day we brought Anya home from the hospital, we've told Anlon that she is his very best friend. We've told him that he will have many friends in his life, but Anya will be his best. We've prayed that they would have an unbreakable bond - something so special. There is nothing that makes me happier in the world than watching them together. They have moments just like all siblings have when they argue over who has a particular toy, etc. But they honestly do adore each other. He still calls her Baby Anya, and she calls him Emmy (we often call him Emmy too now). If you ask either of them who their best friend is, they each say the other. It's just a beautiful thing and I thank God for His provision. And I pray that as they grow older, their bond will remain strong and true.

He enjoys doing crafts and we do a lot of painting at home. He continues to love books and we read a lot. It will be so wonderful when he's able to read as I know this will open up a whole new world to him.

There aren't enough wonderful words to describe Anlon's preschool teachers this past year. Ms. Sandy and Ms. Janay poured their hearts into our little boy and taught him so much. He attended our church's "WEE school" Mon/Wed/Fri mornings and absolutely loved his time there. We know that God provided the perfect teachers for Anlon.
He played soccer for the first time last summer. But he didn't really enjoy it until this summer season. He's become a lot stronger and more coordinated over this past year and I think this has increased his confidence too.
This was actually taken today. He had just put together a few of the Legos from a new set and was very happy. He transitioned to "little" Legos this year and that has been so fun!

I'll share a series of questions that I asked him in another post.

My dearest Anlon,

I've told you this many times, but I'm so thankful that you're my little boy. Of all the little boys God could have entrusted us with, He chose you. You are kind, loving, creative, silly and serious rolled into one. You have the most adorable little voice and the best laugh. You are articulate and inquisitive. Your imagination is inspiring. You work very well with your hands. You have the sweetest innocence that I long to protect. You enjoy other children very much, but love interacting with adults. You always have. You are the best big brother ever. After you cry, you ask me to wipe your tears. You love animals, and whales are your favorite. You enjoy running, jumping, climbing, searching for bugs, watching for planes, finding sticks...but you are also sensitive and gentle. To know you is to love you. And your daddy and I love you so very much.

Your name means "Great Champion". And my prayer above every other prayer is that you would become a great champion of Jesus. He loves you more than you could ever imagine. I can't wait to see the plans He has for you. But I also wish you could stay four forever.


"And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him." Luke 2:40

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My sweet Raisin at 15 3/4 months!

Baby Anya (I'm sure Anlon will let us know when she's just Anya but that time hasn't come) is 15 3/4 months old. I am sadly so behind on her posts - she was 13 months when I first attempted to write this post, and months 7-12 are still half complete in my drafts folder. Days are busy and I'm never caught up, but this is the best time of my life. I had fears of having a girl for reasons I won't go into here. But as always God's plan is so much better than what we might imagine for ourselves and I thank Him every day for my Anya Joanne.

She has the cutest "Miss America" wave and often waves to people as we're walking through a parking lot and into a store. When we're out having lunch and she hears laughter at a nearby table, she looks over and begins to laugh with them (and she has the most wonderful laugh). She LOVES giving kisses and hugs, and even presses her cheek against pictures of animals in books to give them a hug. She adores animals and manages to spot pictures of dogs (her very favorite) everywhere. She loves music and often sings sweetly to herself. She is a bit obsessed with buttons - that is buttons on the alarm system, buttons on credit card machines in stores, buttons on the tv remote, buttons on the ceiling fan controls in our home... And my iphone, oh is she fascinated with it. I have to be very stealth when taking my phone out to take her picture or video because as soon as she notices it, she becomes determined to get it. She also loves light switches, so I often have to take her from switch to switch so she can turn each one on and off. If I allowed her to, I'm certain she would drink coffee. I've only let her have tastes from my finger, and she loves it. She is fiercely determined and is eager to do things by herself. Yet she is also so affectionate and loves to be cuddled and kissed.The best combination of sassy and super sweet.

Anya began physical therapy a few weeks before turning one due to some delayed gross motor development. She's made a lot of progress over the last few months and is now crawling, scooting on her bottom (her preferred method of transit, which has made her wardrobe planning a bit challenging when we're outside as I don't want her to scrape her bottom), beginning to cruise and loves to practice walking while holding onto my fingers. A week ago, she pulled up from sitting to standing for the first time (my birthday present from her :) And she can now stand for a few seconds all by herself! I think she'll be walking very soon.

She really enjoys food! This has been a wonderful thing after Anlon had so many struggles in this area. She loves fruit and her favorites at the moment are strawberries, raspberries (frozen!), watermelon, grapes, peaches (she actually enjoys taking little bites out of a whole peach!) and cantaloupe. A couple of months ago, I couldn't give her enough blueberries. But now she doesn't care for them. Bananas are another one she used to love but hasn't wanted lately. She also used to enjoy pureed avocado but now declines pieces of it. I often give her large apple slices to chew on to help with teething and she really likes this. She hasn't been as willing to eat pieces of vegetables other than cooked carrots and sauteed onions, so we still offer some pureed vegetables. Her favorite is pureed spinach and potatoes. She does love sweet potato fries (as well as regular fries :). She likes a variety of flavors. Recently while I was preparing dinner, she thoroughly enjoyed bits of lime zest and ground cumin! Meat is also a favorite - most any kind she loves. Whenever this is an option, she almost always chooses it first. She also enjoys cherrios, granola, waffles (I often give them to her frozen for her teething and she eats a good amount this way), pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, yogurt and and small amounts of whole milk. She also loves Chickfila vanilla milkshakes :) I'm still breastfeeding, and she nurses when she first wakes up in the morning (between 6-6:30 am), then mid-morning between 9-10 am, before her afternoon nap around 12-12:30, after waking from her nap, and before bedtime (6:30 pm). Yes, still a lot! As of about a month ago, I'm no longer nursing her during the night though :) Yes, I should be the poster mom for delayed sleeping through the night. She hasn't shown any signs of weaning yet, and I'm just enjoying this sweet time with her.

Month 13

Just after her 1st birthday, before her top 2 teeth came in
I haven't been ready to share this, but our beloved cat Sebo, has passed away. Anya adored Sebo and was always so excited to see her. After dada and mama, her next word was caa (cat). I wish they had been able to have more time together. Sebo still feels very much a part of our family.

Anlon was saying "Crunch Baby Anya Crunch!"

Doing her Physical Therapy exercises to get stronger - it's not easy :(

Going for a ride on her 13th month birthday :) 
Month 14
Anlon is totally in love with his "very best friend"
I love her profile. And I love this shirt - she's worn it a lot :)

 Strawberry Picking at Halls Family Farm
We're making progress with using a spoon and a fork - needs more practice but she loves to try

After her afternoon nap, just enjoying her animals

Anya decided awhile ago that Tommy the tiger is her lovey. Tommy was actually one of Anlon's buddies, but Anya really grew fond of him and thankfully Anlon was happy to share. Recently, Bunny also joined the lovey ranks. Anya starting calling her "Ba-ba" awhile ago (and actually now calls every other bunny by this name too) and wants to snuggle with Baba and Tommy as we rock before naps and bedtime.
This was actually this month - I couldn't find an earlier pic of Baba
Enjoying the huge sandbox at Stallings Park
Taken during our Florida trip over Memorial Day weekend
She loves books and often starts "reading" on her own

Enjoying a strawberry on a beautiful day

 She loves riding Clippy the pony

She often scoots into the half bath downstairs and closes the door  

Anya's growing vocabulary amazes us. She says mama, dada, Annun (Anlon), cat (with strong emphasis on the t), daw (dog), duh (duck), beh (bear), bir (bird), buh (book), eye (with a strong southern accent), ball, wawa (water), bubu (bubbles), amen - we never practiced this; she just said it at the end of a prayer a few weeks ago before I could say it! Now she always says this at the end of prayers and anytime she hears us say God or Jesus, teh teh (thank you - while signing thank you), uh-oh, bye-bye, ah-peh (open - she just said this one day last week while trying to open a secured cabinet and then started saying it whenever she wanted something opened), tha (that - says when pointing to lots of things she doesn't have words for yet), moe (more - while making the sign for more). She used to just say more when eating but now she says it whenever she wants more of anything. Often she says it in the car when we're listening to a song and I turn it down for a moment to say something to Anlon. I hear a little "moe" in the backseat. I think it's the cutest thing in the world. She also says it when she's hungry. In addition to more and thank you, she can sign all-done and please.
Lounging by our baby pool on her 15th month birthday

Month 15

World Cup party

Worn out after lots of fun at a birthday party
Snuggling Baba
She LOVES to swing
Anya is totally in love with Anlon. And thankfully, the feeling is mutual. They're just wonderful together.

Scooting around the house together

 Anlon thought it would be fun to push Anya around in her highchair and she just enjoyed the ride
Anlon was whispering to her - one of my all-time fav pictures of them

Bible time before bed
At our neighborhood pool - we've been going there a lot!

My precious Anya,
I love the single freckle on your right cheek. I love your dimple that appears just below your right eye when you smile really big. I love your growing curls on the back of your head and your sweet bangs that are starting to hang in your eyes (we'll be trying barrettes more soon!). I love your little teeth that are quickly popping up (although they have caused you some discomfort. :( I love your chubby little legs and your tiny feet (you barely fit into a size 3!) I love how you always want to nurse while we're taking a bath together (you, Anlon and I). I love how you laugh when I kiss your neck. I love how you get so excited when daddy comes home. I love how you lean towards Anlon to give him a kiss, even soon after he's pushed you over for fun (we're working on this). I love how you sometimes say thank you and amen after nursing. I love that you love to be held, love to be rocked, love to be hugged and kissed. I love how you sometimes just need a kiss on your lips in the middle of playing. I even love your fiery side that sometimes comes out, like when you don't want your diaper changed or when I need to take something that you shouldn't play with. I love how you sometimes softly sing along as I sing to you while we're rocking. My sweet baby girl, I have so many prayers for you. My prayer for me is that God will teach me how to be the mother that you need me to be - the mother that will best help you embrace His love for you and all that He has prepared for your life.
You are your name's meaning - inexhaustible grace. You are my delight. I love you Baby Anya.


"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17