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I feel like Ritter has changed SO much since my last blog post.  I’ve been trying to post an update for a while now but as most of you know, life is just nuts for us.  We are both so blessed to be super busy with work.  God also answered my prayers when he led someone to buy our home at the perfect time.  We are going to be moving into an apartment temporarily until the new house is complete.  Moving twice is going to suck but I’m excited about the really nice apartment we’ll be in – with a great pool!  It’ll kinda, maybe, be like a mini vacay.  Minus the fact that we still have to work everyday.  ha.  Despite all the changes and stressors right now, Ritter has been such a rock star.  He’s so happy and playful all the time.  I so immensely enjoyed his infancy and watching him grow and change and discover the world..but I always said that I was really excited to get to this age.  And now that it’s here, I realize how right I was…it’s awesome…but it’s also going by way too fast.  I just want to freeze time so badly.  He’s just so much fun.  He’s always up for an adventure.  He’s also so thoughtful and kind and sweet and innocent.  The way he looks at me and tilts his little head and says “Hey mama!”  God is right there…filling up that moment with so much joy that I just feel like I can’t contain it.  No matter what my day is like, I walk through that door and look at my precious family and nothing else matters.

Thoughtfulness…
One of the things that blows me away daily is how thoughtful Ritter is.  Not only does he think about others…but he is thoughtful in his behaviors.  He is always, literally…full of thought.  ha.  He’s a little observer.  He stands back, takes his time, observes, listens, and then tries things.  He’s never impulsive or quick to act.  He’s cautious…just like his daddy.  And he’s kind.  Oh so kind.  I’m constantly amazed by the things I see him do ..but I’m also starting to get notes from his teachers about his kindness towards others.  My heart just leaps.  He routinely asks “how was your day mama?”  Or when I walk in to wake him up he’ll ask “how did you sleep mama?”  When we eat he asks “how’s your food mama?”  Doesn’t that just melt you?  I know he’s learned to ask these things because we ask these things…but it just reinforces how much he listens and observes and pays attention to context.

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Manners…
He has wonderful manners.  We take him out to eat often and he sits with his napkin in his lap and eats and chats and is just a delight.  If we are out with other kids that are being a bit more rambunctious he’ll happily join in..but if it’s just him he is totally chill.  I love that I really don’t have to worry about taking him to “kid friendly” restaurants.  We just take him anywhere and I love that we can do that.  He handles adult situations very well.

Being so awesome the other night when we went to eat at 5 Points Public House!

Being so awesome the other night when we went to eat at 5 Points Public House! – 


Directions…
He’s also amazing at following directions.  I am SURE my time is coming..ha…but I honestly can’t think of a single time where I’ve given Ritter specific directions and he has not listened.  I usually give a reason because he’s full of the “why’s” these days…but he always does as I ask.  I think this speaks volumes about his impulse control at such a young age!

Great example of following directions... teaching him how to shake the spices on the fish and making sure not to touch it. He is such a good helper!

Great example of following directions… teaching him how to shake the spices on the fish and making sure not to touch it. He is such a good helper! –

“I want to do it!”
Ritter wants to be a part of everything and do things himself constantly.  And we let him…alot.  Sometimes Most of the time it takes a bit longer, but it’s worth it to see the satisfaction and pride on his face.  Here’s an example…  food is a big part of our lives. ha.  We love good food, we enjoy meals together, we talk about food alot.  So every night when R goes to bed he asks what he’s going to eat for breakfast the next morning.  If it’s a waffle he always asks..”can I put it in the toaster?  Please wait for me to get up mommy.  Don’t cook it yet.  Wait for me to toast it.  Will you mommy?”  How precious is that.  Or if it’s cereal he wants to pick out which cereal, help pour the milk, etc.  He wants to put his shoes on himself, pick out his own clothes, buckle himself in, get in and out of the car himself, etc.

Play…
Play has become increasingly more and more purposeful.  Ritter can really sit down with something and focus on it and complete it.  Games, making things with play-doh, puzzles, etc.  He used to only play with something for a short time and move on.  His attention span has definitely gotten bigger.  He also creates these big elaborate stories where he’s going to the gym, or Whole Foods, or to the office. ha.  He still loves to “read” to us.  He will get a book he knows by heart and sit and flip the pages and recite it.  He also now wants quiet time in his room where he will sit and look through books.  He legit says “I’m going to my room to read!”  He can entertain himself for up to 30 minutes just taking the books off the shelves one by one and flipping through them.  His teachers say he is very much into books at school as well.  They also report that he’s beginning to finally express himself with art.  Ritter (like myself) isn’t much for crafts …he typically chooses to do something else during crafts at school.  But they say he’s taking more interest in it these days!

His favorite “game” these days is hide-and-seek.  He’s awesome at the counting and coming to find me…not so good at the hiding.  If I go hide he will count to 10 and scream “ready or not, here I come!”  He then very slowly and cautiously begins exploring the house until he finds me.  It’s SO much fun.  He giggles SO hard when he finds me.  But when it’s his turn to hide he runs and hides and then screams “come find me mama!”  Totally giving away his hiding place.  I try to tell him to hide quietly and make me look for him.  So far, he hasn’t been able to. ha!

Chores…
Ritter also has little jobs.  Right now it’s feeding Jackson.  He gets the bowl, carries to the dog food bin, fills it with 4 scoops of dog food, and carries it back to its spot.  He’s so proud of himself!  He also helps empty the dishwasher, picks up his toys, helps me make the bed, and he helps Eric move the laundry from the washer to the dryer.  I’m big on chores and starting kids with jobs early.  It builds confidence and self sufficiency and collective ownership over the household.  And as they grow and jobs increase they build vital time management skills, organization, prioritization, etc.  We also talk about how important it is to take care of our family…how Jackson is part of our family and he relies on us.  He is SO proud after he finishes his job!  

His name…
Ritter loves to talk about his name…as well as his birthdate, where he lives, and his parents names!  All of which he knows!  We are working on letter recognition and he can pretty much identify most letters in his name.  EVERY.  WHERE.  WE.  GO. the kid is pointing out the letter R.  I mean everywhere!!!  And he yells “look mommy..R for Ritter!”  It’s the best!  I also have a necklace with an R on it and he asks every day “are you going to wear the R necklace today?”  As Ritter grows I’m more and more convinced that my choosing his name was divine intervention.  We’ve met Josh Ritter twice now and at our last meeting Josh personally invited us to bring Ritter to sound check for his Birmingham show next month.  He said he wanted to meet him and let Ritter meet his daughter who will be touring with him.  How completely and totally amazing and special.  I was blown away.  Only about a month left before the show and I’m still giddy about the whole thing.  Josh Ritter is just a super gentle and kind person who is immensely talented and gifted.  We are such huge music fans and I’m so glad we settled on such a special name that had so much meaning for us.  Check out Josh’s video message to R…

Memory….
I know I’ve posted a ton about his memory but …I mean…it’s just uncanny.  The things he brings up weeks and weeks later.  I don’t know how he does it.  Several weeks ago when we had a really warm spell and it was up in the high 80’s we got out of the car one night and the crickets and the cicadas were SUPER loud.  Ritter wanted to know what they were and wanted me to say the names over and over.  For the next couple of nights he pointed out “I hear the crickets” ..but he never mentioned the cicadas again.  After a week or two it cooled back off at night and we didn’t hear them again.  He asked about them and I said “they’ll come back when it warms up again.”  So tonight I’m reading to him and I’m mid sentence and he stops me and says “hey mommy…when it gets warm again the cicadas will come back!”  I mean… that was WEEKS ago when we talked about that…and what 2 year old remembers the word “cicadas” and pronounces it perfectly?  That is just one example of a zillion things like that where Ritter just BLOWS me away with his memory.

Sweetness…
For a while I thought my kid would never want to cuddle.  He has always been on the go constantly and never stopped until it was bedtime.  He was great about cuddling while we read at night but otherwise he didn’t really cuddle.  He is JUST now getting to the point where he will ask to cuddle or I can ask and he will say yes!  He will also routinely yell “FAMILY HUG!” and we will all 3 have a big hug and he just giggles and giggles.  And we talk..omg we talk and talk.  I adore our little talks.  We talk about so many things.  It’s amazing to me how he can process things after the fact.  And he seems to want to talk about things too…which makes me so happy.  Any time that he gets upset or sad about something we always take a few minutes to sit and talk about it and it blows me away how he’s able to discuss emotions on such a mature level already.  He’s able to go back and recall what upset him and talk about it.  I’ve said it a million times but I could care less about his grades or career path or who he dates, but Ritter having self awareness and emotional awareness mean more to me than anything ..because it’s a predictor of happiness! Because I know that with those things he will be comfortable handling anything life throws at him!

Cuddling on the sofa with mommy!

Cuddling on the sofa with mommy! –

Family cuddles!!!

Family cuddles!!! – 

He loves caring for, feeding, changing, and rocking his babies!

He loves caring for, feeding, changing, and rocking his babies! –

Shyness…
Ritter is shy at first.  He takes about 10 minutes to warm up to a new situation or new person…after that…watch out.  He will talk your ear off.  I am real big on him being polite and friendly so I always encourage him to say “hello” and “nice to meet you” when we meet new people.  Sometimes he’ll do it.  But alot of times he won’t.  I wish when meeting new people we always had 10 minutes of an introduction so he’d have time to warm up.  Ha.  But that doesn’t always happen.  I was super shy when I was younger and I clearly grew out of that so I’m not concerned.  I think he gets that cautious nature from Eric.  He has to take in a situation, get a read on people, assess…then he’s like “okay I’m cool.”

I’ve also noticed, of course, that he’s way more open initially with adults than other kids.  Sigh.  Classic only child trait there.  His teachers have commented on it too.  He loves other kids and plays very well with them…but takes longer to warm up to them.  He is so social though.  Once he warms up, he’s so open and talkative and friendly.  Sometimes I look at him and get a little pang of sadness thinking about what an amazing brother he’d be.  He adores babies.  He comes home and talks about the younger siblings of all of his classmates.  When I go to his school functions he points them out…. “that’s Maya’s baby sister!”  He’s also pretty obsessed with his younger cousins.  He’s so affectionate and caring.  I know that I can’t have another child for Ritter.  I know this.  I should want another and right now I just don’t.  I really REALLY love our life and don’t feel anything is missing.  But I go back and forth about the issue almost daily.  Fears about my age are an issue too.

Basically Ritter is just an old soul with alot of personality.  He knows music.  Good music.  And he requests songs and sings along and knows lyrics… and it’s just the best thing ever.  We still talk about the moon and it’s phases.  We play him classical music and talk about the composers.  We explain how things work.  When we can, we stop to take the time to give reasons behind why we do what we do.  Even with the most mundane things.  We just talk…alot.  We share with him things that I think alot of folks think toddlers don’t care about or need to know…but it makes him inquisitive and that inquisitive nature is what will make him hungry for knowledge and learning down the road.  He already loves to learn and it makes me so happy.  He ADORES his friends at school and talks about them all the time.  He makes up these wonderful scenarios where they are coming over for play dates or going to Barcelona or Louisiana (ha) and they are going to make coffee.  His imagination and the things he comes up with are just too much sometimes!

I am overwhelmed for my love for him every single day.  Whenever my grownup stressors start to get overwhelming I put it on the back burner and sit down and play with Ritter.  I force myself to remember what matters in each moment.  It’s not the to-do list or the finances – it is him and our time together.  It’s about cherishing every little thing with him.  And it’s amazing how just being with him calms me.  I hope I always remember that.  Even when he’s 15 and hates me and doesn’t want anything to do with me…

Picking his own outfits is a big part of life these days... this is just an example. Ritter LOVES to accessorize.

Picking his own outfits is a big part of life these days… this is just an example. Ritter LOVES to accessorize. – 

As his hair gets longer it's starting to curl alot more. Especially on humid days!

As his hair gets longer it’s starting to curl alot more. Especially on humid days! He had a serious flip going on this day! – 

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Ritter sure does love Miss Jamie! – 

We are so blessed to have so many friends that love this child. It takes a village!

We are so blessed to have so many friends that love this child. It takes a village! –

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Wild hair! –

Ritter started a rock collection. He was always picking up rocks everywhere we went so we started a jar for them. The jar is now almost full!

Ritter started a rock collection. He was always picking up rocks everywhere we went so we started a jar for them. The jar is now almost full! – 

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These two don’t get together often enough but they’re finally at the age where they play really well together. Can’t wait for more play dates in the future. They are only 5 weeks apart! – 

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Ritter is already quite a charmer! – 

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Ritter’s bench at the library where he perches and watches me check out all our books each week. Then when I’m done, because he doesn’t want to leave, he turns to the shelf behind him and ALWAYS grabs a book about the emancipation proclamation (same book each time) and insists that he has to read it before we can go home. – 

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Ritter is SO so giggly. Always. And look at that hair! –

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I think this shirt was made for him! –

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STILL absolutely LOVES to play in the car. –

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