Ash and Will

Ash and Will
We are a happy family! : )

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Teach Me

Today marks one year from the day that Andrew finally started walking.  I remember because it was my brother's birthday (shout out! : ).  We were in Sunday School and though Andrew was quite a fast crawler, he finally decided he was ready to walk to keep up with his little friend, Lydia.  He was two weeks shy of 18 months and starting nursery.

When he was younger he learned to roll over without too much trouble - demonstrating the ability to roll both ways by the time we were at his 4 month appointment.  He learned how to pivot himself, so between turning and rolling he was able to get almost anywhere he wanted and was content.  Eventually he learned to army crawl and got really pretty good.  Good for him, terrible for his clothes - he dust mopped everywhere we went.  It wasn't until he was around a year (or over a year and we had moved?) that he finally started crawling on his hands and knees.  By the time we moved and he was 14 months he could pull up to stand at things, but never attempted steps and wasn't able to just stand up wherever.  By mid-December when he was about 16 months we could get him to try to stand and start to take some steps going back and forth between us.

We were never really concerned that he'd never learn, but we did wonder how long it would take.  The hardest parts were the ruined clothes, the inconvenience at times, and the awkward social factor ("actually, no, our toddler can't walk...").  But of course as I spent pretty much all day every day with him it was always in my face that he lacked the skill, so I thought about it a lot.  We tried to encourage desire and support development.

One day when we were living (temporarily) in Jersey City I had a simple experience that helped to put things in perspective for me.  As we were trying to entertain ourselves in the apartment that was only so big, and with only so many toys and books at our disposal, I watched him crawling around and I tried to encourage some standing or step taking.  I started to think in a little bit of desperation again: when will he ever learn to walk??!  Suddenly I had the words to a children's song that we liked to sing to him sometimes (and still do) come into my mind: "Teach me to walk in the light."  Of course we wanted him to learn to walk, and he would when the time was right, but more importantly, and what I really should be focusing my efforts on was teaching him the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how to live and love it in our family and in his own life.

Since that day in late October or early November 2015 I've tried to keep that experience and thought close to me and in the forefront of my mind.  Helping my kids learn and develop in physical, mental, social, and emotional (etc) ways is absolutely important.  But the most important of all is helping them learn how to have a testimony of their own - through my teaching, love, and especially example.

Now he's been able to walk (run? : )  for a whole year and continues to build on his gross and fine motor capabilities. (He's sitting right here, tongue out in concentration, cutting me piece after piece of construction paper to add to my growing pile ("here Mom!") with his brand new safety scissors that he's so excited about! : )  Even though he's hit that typically early-life physical milestone, I hope I can always remember that teaching him to walk in the light is a life-long effort and worth more than all the other things I can help him learn.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Twohead

Not on purpose we exposed Andrew to counting backward before much counting forward.  As we've made progress with his teeth brushing (hallelujah!) he still needs something akin to a three ring circus to keep us all sane.  After we get whatever amount of brushing seems reasonable before we're all going to die done we count down from 10 - then he knows his torture (and ours) is almost over.  He's heard it enough, I guess, that he started to apply it to other situations.  I had him in the shower with me once and he looks forward to when the water is "down low" out of the tub faucet so he can play in it.  He has to wait until I'm done, though, and just play with his other tub toys while he waits.  He was getting impatient once (5-6 weeks ago?) and after petitioning repeatedly ("water down low", which sounds more like "wa dow low") I hear him take matters into his own hands: "Ten, one, zero!" haha : )  When that didn't work immediately he tried again several times and I realized what he was saying and trying to get me to do - my turn was over and it was going to be time for his water down low! ha  We've  continued to make some progress as I've had the shower to myself for the last couple days and he prefers to "play toys" simultaneously.  As convenient as it is to bathe him at the same time, I'm not complaining!

In the last month or two we've talked a little more about numbers and counting forward.  This is mostly with numbers or counting books, but some other times, too.  As a totally biased and proud parent I can report that Andrew can generally successfully count things to 2.  : )

He often refers to groups of things as being 2.  It seems that "2" refers to 2 or more.  If he is counting with you he is actually getting pretty good and can often stay with you (plenty of room for improvement, though).  We really don't try to push anything,  just count when it's in a counting book or other natural times.  He enjoys it and now will initiate the counting on his own.  You can hear his cute little voice, "One, two, one, two, one, two," etc... ha : ) 

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Somehow as he learned all sorts of body parts we never really talked about the forehead much.  So in the last few months he's learned about the forehead, elbows, etc.  He'll point out elbows at the most random (to us) times.

With all this numbers talk, though, I can see how it's easy to get confused... I've heard him several times in the last few weeks refer to not his forehead,  but his "twohead"....... hahahahaha : )

Monday, June 27, 2016

Captain Moroni: A worthy hero

This morning we went right when the library opened at 10 to sign ourselves up for the summer reading program.  Not because you can't sign up any day of the summer, but because they had a "free gift" for the first 25 to sign up (for adults at least, but I thought I'd read that for kids) and we like freebies and what if it was a free book??!!!!  I'm pretty sure I saw them give a kid a cellophane bag with a bookmark and pencil in it saying it was his "gift" so then I really didn't want one for Andrew because, let's be honest, it would come home and just sit here because he doesn't need a bookmark and I try to keep most writing utensils away from him right now unless he's under highest levels of supervision.

We filled out Andrew's little registration slip, his first raffle ticket, and he colored a picture for the display.  They had lots of different little sports related pictures and I took the liberty of choosing the bike for him.  He liked it, dumped out his box of crayons and actually sat there for at least 5 minutes using a variety of colors to scribble all over it.  I was really impressed.  I'm sure it helped that all the other kids were older than him and so he was just doing what the big kids were doing.  He also told me about the "airplanes" he was adding to the picture, which is one of the specific things he says he's drawing so far (the others being trains or cars, of course).  He also got to eat a cookie after all that.  I did show him his three options and then was happy that he was happy with a vanilla sandwich cookie (seemed least messy).  After he opened it and ate the filling he told me he was all done so I finished it.

We spent some time in one of the other rooms reading some, playing with toys, and him inserting himself into the KidPix play of some kids on the computer.  By the time we left his little picture was already up on the bulletin board.  We went upstairs to sign me up and she gave me a plastic summer reading program bag and told me it was  my free gift.  After we were home I saw that it did actually have a "READ" pen and three mini York Peppermint Patties in it.  Ok, I guess that's a decent "gift" after all - consumable!  Jeff, remember when Mom used to get us big Yorks while we were out running errands and then we'd get to go home and eat them in the back yard??!

We ended up being there longer than I had anticipated - I didn't really know they were having activities.  We were back home just after 11 to get the grocery bags and take a picture of the shopping list.  We do it that way now after I'm pretty sure I lost our old notebook in the store or left it in the cart.  It's really just one more thing to carry.  Anyway, we drive to Aldi and by the time we're there he's asleep!!!  I didn't realize he was that tired already, but we were there, so I woke him up to shop.

We did our shopping there and Walmart and then headed home.  I thought if he had been that tired there was a good chance he'd fall asleep again, but he didn't.  Pros and cons.... Great that I could feed him lunch before his nap, but it makes carrying in all the groceries a little trickier - lots of small trips (to the porch, inside the font door,  then the final leg to the kitchen).  A few bags, a watermelon, two milks, and ice cream to worry about in the heat of the day, but we made it.  Luckily he was cooperative to come inside easier than sometimes...  I worked on getting things put away while he ate his bean soup and applesauce.  (I like that my toddler likes bean soup, by the way : )

The routine is after he's washed I take him straight up to his bed for a nap.  Today, probably because he was overtired, he was upset about something and I realize he's asking for Go Dog Go!  So we get the book, sit on the couch and read it.  During the book he reaches over to grab the Friend magazine.  I try to slip it away while he's enjoying all the dogs and cars because I don't want to stray too far from the routine and it was getting later.  We finish Go Dog Go! and he now is wanting the Friend magazine.  This is our first Friend magazine ever.  It just arrived on Saturday and we pulled it out for the first time yesterday.  He already knows he likes it, though, which is good.  I open it up and he points out several pictures.  We turn the page and we're to the little simple story about  Captain Moroni.  Still trying to keep it short I'm just letting him point out things.  Then I decide I should take the opportunity and it has so few words anyway so I read it to him.  He likes the flag and he likes Captain Moroni.  He sees a mom and a dad and some kids.  He's asking for a flag like Moroni's.  I tell him we can get one after his nap and he's satisfied enough.

I take him upstairs and he's happy to see his bed and pacifier.  Like usual he requests some songs.  Last night he went into his bed in a wild tantrum over wanting The Wheels on the Bus over and over, which Will did a few times and he had already done the little board book of it before putting him in his bed.  This afternoon he's requesting Wheels on the Bus again so I sing each verse he suggests.  Then I switch to some Primary songs.  Somehow Moroni comes up again and we're talking about his flag.  Then he requests a Moroni song...... I can't think of one.... He's distressed so I check the LDS music app searching "Moroni."  That only brings up songs that have a Moroni scripture at the bottom.  He's escalating and I tell him I'll try to find one for after his nap.  I see there's a song about the angel appearing to Joseph Smith and it works to sub Moroni's name, so I try that but by now he's irrational and it's not good enough.  I even try singing "Moroni, Moroni, Moroni" to my own tune and he won't accept it... hahaha.  I turn on his CD with Primary songs, tell him I love him and to have a good nap, and I leave while he's in mid-tantrum over me not being able to provide a Moroni song... all while trying not to giggle.... Don't worry, he calmed down after a few minutes.

I texted Will what was going on and he reminded me of the song on the Seminary CD (but it never actually mentions his name).  I kept thinking of the one from From Cumorah's Hill that has the line, "I stand with Nephi and Moroni."  But I was blanking beyond that.... And in all my searching in the last little while as I've had lunch I can't find a song about Captain Moroni.... He gets such a nice scripture about him - can we please get a song about Captain Moroni????!!!  Alma 48:17 says, "Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."

I guess I could work on one myself, but this is not my area of expertise.... Lindsay??? Brett???? Help a sister out, here!  And help a nephew out... hahaha

But if we're going to have tantrums I guess it makes it a little easier when your sweet not-yet-two year old is so distraught over his desire for something Captain Moroni related... haha  I guess now I know which scripture hero figurine to get him for his birthday!

Who on earth is she talking about???  Here is a link to the same story that I've read Andrew a few times in his brand new Friend magazine about Captain Moroni.  Here is a different link to the same story, but another version from a different issue that has a little bit more detail.  He was a great leader who loved God and stood up for important things like religion, freedom, peace, and families.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Watch out Betty!

One day last week I made strawberry freezer jam (yum!!) with strawberries that Andrew and I had hand picked.  That very same day I made crock pot veggie lasagna that turned out excellent.  It included fresh basil that I trimmed off our own plant!  The next day I made a pound cake to eat more strawberries with.  All so good!

You: How very domestic of you!
Me: I KNOW!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Adoption is Wonderful : )

Posted by a friend on facebook along with some old family pictures: "[so and so] found proof that I wasn't adopted!"

So tell me..... what's wrong with being adopted?

Absolutely nothing.  We could not love Andrew any more if he were a biological son.  He is definitely meant for our family and will be a fantastic big brother.  Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for all of us and in our case that meant adopting Andrew.

I'm fairly sure that most people, if asked, would say great things about adoption whether they were personally touched by it or not.  Somehow that doesn't stop people from making jokes like this, though.  Maybe you, as an adult?, can discern what's meant to be a playful joke (or not), but what about children, teenagers, or even young adults feeling confused or trying to figure out their own thoughts and feelings.  All children are blessings from heaven - whether they come to you biologically or not.  The implication that an adoption is second-rate can be harmful and is untrue.

This reminds me of the meme that I won't pass on here because it irritates me.  Two babies - one teasing the other about being adopted.  In several years when he can understand more what would my son think when he saw that?

There are enough questions and emotions that can come for an adopted child.  There are enough negative ideas, stereotypes, and comments made to and about those involved with adoption.  Please don't fuel it!

Instead, celebrate the beautiful people and relationships that we are all blessed by because of adoption!  If you aren't touched personally now, I'm sure you know someone who is or will be touched some day.

Adoption is wonderful : )

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Book Club Love

For whatever reason our "new" ward doesn't really have relief society meetings, activities, or whatever you want to call them.  When we first moved here I either figured one would maybe come up soon, or it was just a busy time of year.  Really it didn't take long, though, to get a feel for many of the ways things are different here and while I remained hopeful, I became more and more sure that they just don't happen here.  When there finally was a stake RS activity in March I was thrilled.  There's also a regional women's broadcast next week that I'm looking forward to!

We do have, though, a small but decent group of moms with young kids that like to get together sometimes more sometimes less often.  It's nice to be able to do that during the day sometimes - get to know the other moms better, the kids get to know each other better, etc.  Sometimes that's announced in RS, but it's usually just organized among ourselves and nothing official about it.

The one thing that has been consistently announced and happened monthly is a book club meeting.  It sounds like the ward has had one off and on over time, and this time around it was started up again not long before we moved in (maybe?).  As soon as we were out of Jersey City and closer to everyone in the ward I started going.  I must have had a conflict in December, that or they didn't meet, but since January I've made sure to go every month.  This being the only "relief society activity" I can expect and count on, it's pretty important to me to take advantage.  I know you know why: once a month I can have an evening with other women and I get a break.

It's not a large group.  Sometimes as few as four (I don't think it's been down to three), and last night it seemed like a big group at six!  One friend there is seven or eight years older than me, and with her youngest being four, sometimes she's at play group, but not always. (Andrew adores her boys, though!)  Anyway, after her, I don't know how many more years, but we jump up to women around my mom's age and then one or two beyond that.  I like playgroup and relating with people in a similar situation to me, but I LOVE going to book club and spending time with these "older" women.  Sure, I like reading, and it's nice to discuss the books, but I really love going to talk with, listen to, and learn from these women.  And they're nice enough to talk with me too : )  They're definitely all different and each has unique things that I enjoy, but I really look forward to it and am sad if they aren't coming.

In January we talked about books we might read this year.  Then I read the books for February and March.  April's book was long and tedious, though I still liked what I did read (My Dearest Friend: Letters of John and Abigail Adams).  The book that we read for last night was even longer.  It was nearly 1,000 pages and I decided not to read it and instead work on other books (like more of the John and Abigail book).

Will knew that I wasn't reading it.  He also knew that book club was coming up for last night.  He knows how much I love going to be with those women and what it means to me to have a night each month to go.  Last night we cleaned up dinner and had some family time before I left (doesn't start until 7:30) then he happily distracted and calmed Andrew as I was leaving, cheerfully telling him that mom was going to book club.  He told me to have a good time and not to worry that I hadn't read the book.  What a guy : )  I love book club and I love Will!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Viva la cake!

You would have thought it was Thanksgiving week the way I've spent a good chunk of nap time today looking over recipes and Pinterest and making a shopping list.  I also made a small sample size recipe to test something out.  I super love just about all Thanksgiving foods and consider the group of them to be on my top 10 favorite foods list.  Not that I've ever really had a list... : )

But no.  Thanksgiving will have to wait a while until it's getting cold again and we go back to leafless trees.  And really, after living in a place of practically perpetual summer, this girl is already wrinkling her nose at the thought of next year's winter.  ("But this year it was so mild!" they've told me.  And, "Just wait until it really snows more next year," they say.)  Now that we're back to leaves on the trees my soul feels lighter.  Green is good!  At least winter brings Thanksgiving food : )

What a tangent!  Anyway, this week we're taking advantage of our American right to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with our southern neighbors!  I enjoy cultural things from other countries, but I especially love the excuse to eat the food.  Mexican, or American Mexican, is also on my top 10 favorite foods list.  Guacamole, salsa, chips, cheese, etc!  I like to take the opportunity to make a tres leches cake and I plan to make horchata.

How fun it would be to listen to a live mariachi band like we got lucky to hear in Balboa Park last summer or to see some dancers with those pretty dresses that I love... I suppose we could have a pinata, but since I'm also making food for the ward chili dinner/YW camp fundraiser the next night, likely not.  Perhaps we will watch one of those old south of the border specials - The Three Caballeros or Saludos Amigos!  I'm pretty sure I've blogged in years past about how I got Will to watch them with me years ago when we were dating, probably for Cinco de Mayo... what a good sport!  That's how I knew he was the one... ha : )  Actually, it couldn't have been then - must have been earlier.  I remember specifically that he was gone to New Mexico and I had made a tres leches to share with my roommates and begrudgingly shared some with one of Will's former roommates who had come by for some reason.  Cake?  (I had known this guy actually longer than Will and he'd just about used up all his extraneous-goodwill-from-Ashley cards for things like eating my precious tres leches.... he had probably used them up before I'd even met Will.... haha...)

Anyway.  We've been missing taquerias from California, so this will have to do for now.  And you can't go wrong with horchata and tres leches.... and chips and salsa and guacamole and cilantro!!  Unless you're Will.... then you give all your cilantro to meeee! :

"Salsa is now the number one condiment in America.  Do you know why?  Because people like to say 'salsa!'"