Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rylan's half birthday

We have had a fun week. On Monday, we joined a wonderful gym here in the Springs about 5 minutes from our house. We have been interested in joining since moving three years ago but the logistics just didn't work out until recently. They have lots of fitness classes to choose from, a gorgeous outdoor pool area, and a super cool indoor pool and splash area for the kids. The best part? Membership also includes 2 hours of child-care per day in the special kids' area! That will be such a nice break for me on all my weekends and evenings of solo-parenting. I already took a yoga class on Wednesday night and it was fun although I have paid for it the past few days being so sore! The kids have had a blast playing in the pool. Rylan has been asking me for months when the pools would open so we could go swimming. Finally, his wish came true. Even though the pool is indoors and heated, it does get chilly. Rylan and Caroline will keep on sliding and splashing even while shivering with blue lips. When we get home, they are tired and so hungry. When summer finally arrives, I think our trips to the outdoor pool will be an almost daily happening. I can't wait.

Since we decided to let our zoo membership expire at the end of the month and we had a gorgeous day on Friday, we took advantage of our "last" day to visit one of our favorite places. We fed the "giraffies", rode the carousel, oohed and aahed over the frogs and new baby pigs, and played in the playground to our hearts content until Caroline started running a fever. I got some good pictures and I will try to post them this week. That zoo membership was such a great investment and I have so many wonderful memories there with my kids.

Rylan officially turned 4 1/2 on April 18th, but he has been including the "1/2" for a while now when asked his age, especially if he wants to do something big boys do. He is getting so tall, but will still curl up in my lap to cuddle every now and then. I treasure those times. Rylan is very sweet and affectionate most of the time and can be a great encourager with his words. He still is crazy about Ironman, and will introduce himself as "Tony Stark" if people ask his name. Rylan has found a new love these past few weeks: frogs! He has a frog t-shirt, plays with two squishy toy frogs, read frog books, visited a reptile store twice, and on Friday we checked out the frogs in the zoo. He wanted to wear his frog t-shirt to the zoo so "the frogs will know I am a frog scientist." Red-eyed tree frogs are his favorite, but he also likes the poison arrow variety. I think frogs are pretty cool, too, so I have enjoyed sharing this growing interest with him. He just recently earned his first stripe on his white belt in karate. He was hesitant to get ready for class at first and was sad to be done with the Little Gym, but lately has been more enthusiastic. I just wish he wouldn't practice his moves on Caroline quite so much. Rylan also loves playing games on Charlton's Ipad, watching superhero cartoons, listening to his favorite movie theme songs, taking bubble baths, and wrestling with dad. He and Caroline pick and fight with each other over silly things, but overall are great friends, and Rylan is very protective of her.

For almost a year, Rylan has struggled with certain behavior issues. It has been discouraging, confusing, and downright infuriating at times as we tried to figure out how to discipline him and love him when he was very unlovable. I have felt so helpless and spent a lot of time praying for the whole situation. Early this year, Charlton talked with a counselor peer, who recommended some books on anxiety in children. We never had Rylan formally assessed, but in reading these books, noticed some behaviors linked to anxiety. It was such a relief to me to think I may not be a complete failure as his mom, to have an underlying reason behind the tantrums and outbursts, and more empathy for his struggle. We used a few new techniques when he seemed most anxious, but didn't make any major overhauls. Around that same time, I also started working less. Rylan's life became a little more consistent and his mama had more patience and energy. I realized that I enjoyed being around him a lot more and life was less stressful, but the changes were so gradual. When my mom visited in April, she noticed Rylan seemed so much more relaxed, happy, and obedient. What an answer to prayer! He is certainly not perfect, but I have so thankful for these changes and have so much more hope for him to be able to handle school and other challenges in his life.

I'll talk about Caroline being 2 1/2 in a later post but I do want to update on potty-training. I think we have hit that wonderful stage where she is able to have some more bladder control and it doesn't consume every waking minute of our lives! I put the portable potty away (which upset her very much when she saw it in the garage), and we now use the regular bathroom. I love being able to move all the wipes, spare underwear, pull-ups, etc... back into the bathroom and off the kitchen counters where they were handiest for emergencies. Caroline will sometimes tell me ahead of time when she has to go and we have made it a few days with no accidents. Woohoo! I think the worst is over, at least when we don't leave the house! Next challenge, running errands without pull-ups on.

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