I'm 4 and "a half " Mom..

Have we really fast forwarded to the age where "and a half" is so important?  I remember being 1/2 way to my next birthday so many times growing up.  So here we are with my two that are half way to 5. Yes 5. Didn't I just do an update on their 1st birthday yesterday?  

I was just saying to them  as they were trying to squeeze into a tiny space together that their "twin-ness", their friendship, their constant companionship is a blessing.  Their relationship is something that I have always prayed about.  This closeness, this love that I can't even explain is truly a treasure and I pray that as they grow older that the hugs, love, and desire to always be right beside each other continues.  

eating ice cream and chatting about life 

silly monkeys

the antics of picture taking with a robot of course

hugs happen anywhere anytime 

"Mommy! Come quick! Look what we did to Eli!!" 

my heart melts

they could have chosen each to have their own motorcycle but they wanted "to ride together" 

one of our afternoon walks and adventures

all the room in the world on our big couch and they snuggle together 

if one gets to wear Daddy's hat, you can bet the other does too! 

whose got the best moves?

Yep. Hugs happen anywhere!

Love the way Beckett is looking at Eli.  He thinks he is the funniest! 

Even when he is squirting his brother!
I mean, look at these recent Spring pictures.  Can't you just see the love??

Spring Picture 2014 

Eli and Beckett Age 4 
We have reached such a sweet time of them playing together.  They have the biggest imaginations. I love to listen to their stories they make up and pretend play.  Some of their favorites.. 

hot wheels 

rescue bots, super heroes and switch and go dinos 

a cardboard box - this adventure was a pirate ship!

all our friends ready to watch cartoons 

legos city and hot wheels = little boys heaven 

take our picture with our friends mom!

picnics for the superheroes is a favorite game 
ninja training school
any jump gym will do! 
And as much as they share in common, they are so very different.  At the recent parent teacher conference Ms Jackie, their teacher, said we kind of rolled our ideas when Dad came and toured and was talking about how different they are.  We have had twins before but never any as different as yours! You were speaking the truth.  In many ways it makes them more compatible.  But in some ways, the source of frustration with each other. 

Speaking of school, they are thriving at their sweet little school.  We have decided they will go back their in the fall to finish pre-k. It is very Christ centered in their lessons and discipline.  I can hear little glimpses of the impact in different conversations and memory verses that sneak out.  They are so big in their class too.  When we get there they hang up their back packs, unzip them, put their cups, folders, stuffed animals, etc everywhere they go.  Blow me a kiss and wave goodbye! 

So big with their back packs 
P Show and Tell - pickles, pajamas, and penguins
Beckett, my first born.  LOVES superheroes.  Loves imaginative play.  Ninjas, transformers, and power rangers.  He wants to dress like them, train like them, watch them, and play like them.  We pretty much have a conversation everyday about not wearing a costume to school (I don't care but he can't go to the bathroom by himself and that's not fair for his teachers!).  As soon as he gets home and especially on the weekends, that is pretty much all he wears.  That or naked.  He does not like "regular boy clothes or church clothes!".

breakfast with iron man

Batman dark night and "regular" 

blue eyed wolverine 

Another trip out with Wolverine 

He loves books and movies.  Netflix is his favorite.  If Mommy and Daddy want to watch something (gasp) or brother makes a choice he doesn't like he very maturely grabs the headphones, enters the code, hits the Netflix app and makes a choice. 

He has the sweetest voice I have ever heard.  He will often just randomly out of the blue say "hey mom. I love you." and give me a kiss.  He initiates love and snuggles.  He wakes up with a happy heart and every morning sings "It's a brand new day and I want to say thank you.. today!"

He can be quite sassy which is hard not to laugh at that munchkin voice. Prone to mood swings, he is either full of joy or totally devastated.  Pretty strait forward.  He is not my seek to please child but he also doesn't like to be in trouble.  He says he is sorry very easy.  Time out for one minute is torture and if he ever occasionally gets spanking.. it's quite the recovery.  A common phrase from Beckett "you hurt my feelings!" That's pretty much if we don't do exactly what he wants us to do.  

He recently got his first pair of lace up shoes since he has moved from toddler to kid sizes.  He loves them and thinks they are so cool.

Beckett was recently evaluated by for OT (occupational therapy).  When he graduated from PT at 2.5 we knew that OT was a possibility down the road.  He is meeting all his gross motor skills but his hypotonia (low muscle tone) affects his hands the same way it affected his walking.  The teachers are doing such a good job with him and work with him individually each day.  His tracing and letters are getting so much better.  We will start once a week therapy with Texas Children's next week and then we have been doing some hand strength fun games and exercises at home.  During our parent teacher conference Beckett hit all 4 year old developmental milestones except cutting & coloring in the lines within a certain parameter but we already knew that.  His teacher said his memory is amazing.  He knows so many songs and tells her stories every day.  He always knows the day of the week and the month during morning time.  And just like he has been since the day he started talking, he always knows and comments on the weather!  Beckett tells me that his favorite thing at school is science.  He loves experiments and says he wants to be a space scientist.  

My Eli.  His personality is so complex.  On one hand he is super sweet and thoughtful.  On the other hand he is high strong and strong willed.  Where Beckett would say "you hurt my feelings", Eli is stomping, kicking and screaming "you make me so mad".  He is hot were Beckett is cool.  He is wild, silly, crazy, jokester who is always calculating whether or not the punishment is just worth it for whatever he wants to do.  Where Beckett only needs time out for a minute.  Eli's punishment can drag on and on and one before he will calm down and say he is sorry.  One thing about this kiddo, he lives life to the fullest and no holding back.  

Loves to rock 

so big isn't he? 

sits with me when I read sometimes 

and his horses 

loves legos

hair cut - he likes his short 

his choice at the arcade.. drinking glasses 
his treasure box pick for winning bingo 
He seriously has the moves too! 

Where Beckett would prefer that I do everything for him, Eli is Mr. Independent and can do it himself.

washing his apple in the bathroom that he got from the pantry 

checking us out wherever we go 
He is really good at writing and drawing.   At his conference the work the teacher shared with me was amazing! He has met all the developmental for age 4 and has started working on the 5 year old.  He colors in the lines and is very particular.  His point of frustration.. never having enough time to finish because it has to be perfect.  Eli does dabble in the super hero/ninja/power rangers with his brother but he is much more into cars.  Hot wheels, vehicles, and especially Paw Patrol.  He talks often about being a firefighter, police man, or even a space explorer.  

meticulously painting every inch of the birdhouse he picked out

They have become quite the conversationalists too.  Late night talks are Eli's favorite.  We have started having many "family talks" where we talk about things, how we are feeling, what's going on.  Laying in bed, I treasure the precious questions and sweet out pouring of their hearts. 

a late night chat at Poppy and Dee Dee's 
after school chat over hummus and dippers 

sometimes I get lucky and he rubs my feet 
Beckett sharing his latest "frustrations".. 

On Easter Sunday we ate cupcakes that had small crosses on the top for decorations.  On the Tuesday after we were coming up the sidewalk in the front and Eli and Beckett stopped to have a conversation.  Beckett saw the cupcake topper in the mulch and said "Eli. Why did you do that?" to which Eli said "So everyone that comes to our house will know that Jesus died on the cross for them."  And in moments like that, God breathes life right back into your parenting.  That inside that little heart and mind, His truth is stirring in his soul. 

I do their yearly check up late every year because I have learned that taking them for a well check right in the middle of cold and flu season always ends up with both kiddos being sick!  We have a new pediatrician who we love.  A guy this time and I can see why we had to wait so long to see him.  He was awesome with the boys and very thorough.  They had vision and hearing checks and both did great.  Eli is about 50th percentile for his age and Beckett is 75th.  Beckett is an inch and a half taller at 42 inches and 3 lbs heavier.  They still have the same size feet and we are no longer measuring their big ole heads!

blood pressure check 

And we got a clean bill of health at the dentist office too! 

Sleep has been a challenge around here for quite some time now.  It really hit rock bottom since we moved into this house.  Literally either one of them, both of them, and/or me was up and down the stairs every night.  Add those shenanigans with the fact Justin is gone most nights during the week and you have one tired momma. Even when we tried to reset bedtime, force them in their room all night the best I could hope for is Justin to be home to help a couple of nights.  I was on my own and I was exhausted.  We were super strict through their early years both with bedtime and schedules and we have clearly swung far to the other side.  I made a decision that the #1 priority was for momma to sleep.  They could sleep in their own beds when they went to college!  Justin was gone for a whole week and I moved their mattresses to my floor. It was a camp out.  Just this week I was speaking to one of our leaders at church about the upcoming high school graduation of her youngest daughter.  She mentioned that she had been awake at night for the first time in a long time thinking about things.  I laughed and said don't tell me that! I'm awake at night with little ones and I was hoping that I would sleep when they got older.  She said her youngest never slept and told me a few stories about it then she looked at me and said. "Those nights. Those moments with her in the middle of the night.  I look back now and treasure those.  I don't count one moment of it wasted."  I know I will feel that way so  I'm embracing the "extra" time I get with them. 

It became clearly evident they were just simply to big for their crib mattresses.  Plus, how uncomfortable are those things?  No wonder they always want to sleep in my bed.  So I cried and said goodbye (well not officially, they are still in my house stored in another room) and realized that they precious boat toddler beds were officially outgrown.

And what came in next?  FULL over FULL bunk beds!  I can't tell you how long they have asked for bunk beds.  We got amazing pillow top comfortable mattresses and they each got to pick out new sheets and snuggly blankets.  Avengers for Beckett, Lego Ninjago for Eli.   We chose the ones with the full stair case.  The ladder idea was just too risky for me plus the stairs have drawers and storage.  There is also a twin trundle underneath for when they eventually have friends spend the night.  Dad just wishes they came already assembled. 12 hours.  12 hours it took him to put this together.  And with all the big help he had, I can't believe it didn't take longer!

super hero stickers in the hideout 

late night mattress delivery

What's so great about this plan?  Justin and I take turns sleeping in there on the bottom and these knuckleheads sleep on top.  Whole bed to myself.  Mostly.  Some nights one of them joins me on the bottom.  I can't believe it.  I am sleeping through the night again.  So I tested it and snuck out to my bed one night. Sure enough here come little feet around 2 in the morning.  I guess they wake up, see me down there and go back to bed.  If I'm not down there, they head out to find me.  Looks like avenger sheets and a bunk bed is the perfect sleeping spot for me! This seriously might be one of my favorite pictures of them.  Ever.

Naptime use to be a mandatory highly scheduled clock work situation.  Then bedtime became really hard.  Monday-Thursday they nap at school for 2 hours and bedtime is a challenge.  Friday-Sunday when they are with us.  We are go with the flow, fall asleep where you are, go to bed early, go to bed late, kind of people.  There really is an amazing amount of freedom in it.  I can say that easily now that I am only home with all day ever day on 3 days versus 7.  I've always seen pictures of kids sleeping places and wished I had those kids.  I kinda do now.  3 days a week they just fall asleep if they get tired or just keep on playing until they crash.  Excuse me while I show you all the photos of them sleeping. It's just too sweet. 

wonder where they get it?  

Besides each other, they do have other  best friends. You may notice that in a lot of pictures Beckett has Pengy and Eli has Bear.  They built him on their 4th birthday and they have not really left thier side since.  If Beckett gets upset, gets a boo boo, or gets in trouble "the only thing that will make me feel better is pengy, mom".  He goes to school and naps with him.  He sleeps with him, eats with him, and is his constant companion.  

God knew exactly what my heart needed.  Two "mommy's boys" that love me without holding anything back. That delight in being with me and at that at this point in their precious life, think mommy is the best playmate, friend, and confidant.  They teach me how to love in a whole new way. 

bringing me bunny when I was sick
And the beauty of this "half age".  This sweet sweet time.. are the fleeting glances of baby still left in my boys.  As independent, strong, smart, and tough as they are growing to be, they still at the end of the day.. want mommy snuggles and love.  When Eli wakes up everyday he comes to find me.  Where ever I am.. even if I am in the shower, he sits down and waits for me.  I stop what I am doing and he wants to be held.  He snuggles into the God designed place in my neck and I breathe him in.  I see how long his legs have gotten and I wonder how many more days I can physically hold him like this.  

It's fleeting right?  The moments. The months.  The days.  They seem to stretch out endlessly, tirelessly when you are in them.  But adding them up, they seem to have passed so quickly.  It's hard to believe that in 6 months this update will say 5.  They are truly a gift.  I often think and say to Justin that we will look back and think these are truly such the sweetest of times. 

The Riley's