Nibbles & Bits

Small bites from a life revolving around my sweet family, a love of cooking, and all things good.

I'm Ali. Email me at akoper (AT) outloook (DOT) com
Evan wears this outfit and it’s surreal because I thought Ryan was SO big at this age. And I still think Evan is tiny. Even though he recognizes Let It Go within the first 8 notes and tries to sing along. Even though he holds up the right number of fingers (well, finger) when you ask how old he is. Even though he throws tantrums when someone suggests another child get a turn. I still see him as a baby. And in retrospect, wasn’t Ry at this age, too, with those tired eyes and all the drool?


Evan wears this outfit and it’s surreal because I thought Ryan was SO big at this age. And I still think Evan is tiny. Even though he recognizes Let It Go within the first 8 notes and tries to sing along. Even though he holds up the right number of fingers (well, finger) when you ask how old he is. Even though he throws tantrums when someone suggests another child get a turn. I still see him as a baby. And in retrospect, wasn’t Ry at this age, too, with those tired eyes and all the drool?

Ryan has become totally Star Wars-obsessed. Recently, one of or lovely neighbors picked up a handful of Lego Star Wars easy reader books for him at the library. It was his first introduction, and through those books we’ve all suddenly become experts. We’ve read them over. And over. And over. He’ll be Luke Skywalker for Halloween, and had a Star Wars themed birthday party. 

On his actual birthday, we gave him this shirt and Steve put the finishing touches on this play structure in our side yard. It wasn’t until his birthday party that it really sunk in for me that he’s really, truly five. FIVE. A whole hand! The morning of the party, I told Steve I’d barely slept and he asked if I was anxious about all there was to do for the party. But I wasn’t. I stayed up running the the memory reel in my head, feeling emotional about the passage of time, the ways our life has changed since Ryan made us parents. And I felt so proud of him. He’s smart, caring, hilarious and loving. And he’s still ours for a little while longer.

On a side note, I’m not usually a fan of sun flares in photos, but I thought these were blue flares were pretty cool. Perfect golden hour light and the sun setting behind the trees resulted in Ryan’s favorite pictures I’ve ever taken. 

A few thoughts while boys nap on a rainy Friday afternoon:

  • We really need to entertain more often. Last weekend was Ryan’s birthday party, meaning the whole house was clean at once. Keeping it clean during the week has been relatively easy and it makes me so happy.
  • I have a pretty bad cough and cold and catch myself kissing my boys, or letting Evan take a drink from my water, all day everyday. In those moments, I think of all the parents in west Africa and the tragedy is must be be to feel yourself getting sick with ebola, know your days with your children may be numbered, and that you need to stay far away from them and cut off any physical contact. Heart breaking.
  • I’m feeling pretty self-righteous about the fact that I worked from home this week so as not to spread my cold. It’s not ebola, but I’m still annoyed that people come to work sick and get others - and their children - sick. I’ve decided that coming to work sick (when you work in a flexible environment that allows telecommuting) is the new not vaccinating your children. Ok, maybe not that bad, but still! Oh, and get the flu shot, people!
  • On a lighter note, my gray hairs have multiplied and my days of rocking my natural hair color are over. Cut and color scheduled for next week and I’m SO nervous. And not excited about needing to go in regularly from now on.
  • Is it dinner time yet?

Last weekend, we went to the pumpkin patch on Ryan’s 5th birthday. It was so beautifully sunny and both boys had a great time.

Evan loves animals more than anything. He followed the chickens at the pumpkin patch, offering them corn with Steve’s help.

Poor guy was convinced - CONVINCED - that the pumpkins are apples. He tried so hard to get his little jaw around them and was frustrated that he couldn’t make it happen.

Then there’s this guy. Just a few days shy of five. FIVE. In many ways, he’s so big. He plays rough, especially when showing off for friends. He negotiates like a pro. But he still loves his mommy, his daddy and his Francois. 

Ryan’s still so snuggly, and he’s becoming very thoughtful. Kids are selfish, even more than the rest of us, but he’s thinking more and more of others.

Last week, we had family photos taken for the first time ever. On the drive there, I realized I’d forgotten to put in my favorite (or any) earrings and was disappointed because I wanted everything just so. I was telling Steve this and didn’t think Ryan was listening till he said so sweetly, “but you still look pretty, Mommy.” The week before Steve and I got a new bed. The morning after it arrived he asked both of us how we’d slept the night before in our new bed. And that’s nothing compared to the way he cares for his little brother. He loves him so fiercely and tells me often he doesn’t want him to grow up since he’s so cute the way he is now. Wonder where he gets that?

I’m particularly sad to see summer go this year. I’ll miss the extra daylight, impromptu (inflatable) pool parties,  barbecues with the neighbor-friends and berries. But really, I’ll miss my baby. These past few months, Evan crossed the threshold from baby to toddler and there’s just no denying it. We no longer have a baby in the house. Somehow, the end of summer makes it feel all the more official. 

I think this summer will always be one of my favorites. I’ll remember Evan open-mouth kissing every friendly dog he encounters, splashing with the boys in the pool, dinners outside. 

But I know there’s more fun ahead. With fall approaching, sun spiders are out in full force, casting their webs outside our windows, in our trees. Evan is in love with these spiders. He says hi to them every day, kisses them through the glass, shouts PY-DUHR!!! PY-DUHR!!! every time he sees one. And there’s pumpkin-patching, trick-or-treating, fall baking to look forward to. With my little toddler. Emphasis on “little.” 

I was asked whether I wanted a boy or a girl countless times during my second pregnancy. I always replied, “both.” I could see the appeal of either equally. Sure, a girl - often the expected answer - would be novel and special in its own way, but I really loved the idea of a little boy who would play alongside Ryan and hopefully be his best friend for life.

While there’s still an age gap, these two play together more and more all the time. They wrestle and chase each other and yell “ahhhhhhh!!!!!” in unison between giggles and exchanged smiles.

I’m so excited to watch them grow up together.

Whether by hose, sprinkler, fountain or pool - ok, or bath - Evan has spent much of this summer wet. No one appreciates Evan’s appreciation for water more than Ryan, who takes every hot day as an excuse to hose his brother down, dump buckets of water over his head or otherwise dunk him. 

Evan has grown so much. It’s like he turned 18 months and a day, and somehow knew he was closer to 2 than to 1. We hear lots of “NO! MINE!” But also lots of squeals of glee as he sees a friend out shouts out their name, or points out an animal, food or vehicle he adores. I’ve started to call him a little kid, my way of getting ahead of any potential big kid proclamations, which I’m not ready for, but he still calls himself a baby. And much of the time, so do I.

Meanwhile, this little one turned one and a half. It happened to coincide with the neighborhood carnival, so naturally, I hosted the cupcake walk and turned it into a bit of a celebration for Evan. It’s hard to believe he’s now as close to two as he is to one, yet there are so many reminders of this each day. He understands everything we say and responds with a yes or no. And, is incredibly steadfast in that response. He’s one stubborn little person. He’s absorbing everything around him. I wasn’t shocked that he knew how to blow out his candles on this first try (Ryan didn’t master it till 2 1/2), given that he can already blow bubbles. Everything big brother can do Evan will try his very best to do, too. Including jumping down two stairs at a time. Place your bets now and when he’ll have his first cast.

Ryan learned to ride his bike on Friday afternoon, and spent much of the remaining weekend looping around the cup-de-sac. I was elated. It was one of those moments you know you’ll flash back to in your mind when your baby graduates from high school, gets married, has children of his own (no pressure!). It came naturally to him, but it was hard for me to let go. There were a few early times when he’d get his balance and I’d let go, only to get anxious over how quickly he was racing ahead and grab his handlebars back. I couldn’t help it. Before long, though, we both grew comfortable, and by that evening, he refused my offers to get him started. 

Seeing his scraped knees brought me back to another image from three years ago, his first summer since learning to walk. He was one and a half and still fell frequently. His knees are bonier, the scrapes are from a different kind of fall, but he’s still very much my sweet baby.