The past year marked some BIG changes for Ryder. Physically, he obviously got bigger but he also lost his first tooth!
Ryder has always been an adventurous little guy so losing a front tooth (due to a playground fall) didn’t come as a total shock though my mama heart wasn’t quite ready for it! A few days after he lost his tooth, he told us he was going to bump his other front tooth so he could lose that one, too, because he was so psyched about it. Can you tell Ryder keeps us on our toes!?
Ryder cracks us up regularly and the things that come out of his mouth are often funny beyond his years. Some of our favorite Ryder one-liners:
- When asked if he wanted to do a puzzle with me, he replied, “Right on, Chief!”
- When I went to help him wipe his bottom after using the potty, he said, “I already did it, Mom. I wiped my own bottom because God helps me do anything.”
- When Ryan handed him a pair of jeans to put on one morning, he excitedly said, “Oooh, cowboy pants!”
I will be so curious to see how Ryder’s personality continues to develop because characteristics we saw in him as a toddler still ring true now that he’s a big kid. I’ve always said I believe Ryder is an introvert at heart and this feeling only further increased as he navigated life as a three year old. He loves his friends and playing with other kids but he definitely needs breaks from social time. He will seek me out for a snack or find a quieter area to play by himself when he seems to have had enough interaction and will then find his way back to his friends when he’s ready to play again.
Ryder shines and is talkative, playful, assertive and extroverted at home but takes time to warm up to others and definitely feels more comfortable when he has his big brother by his side in social situations. Chase continues to be Ryder’s entire world.
Despite Ryder’s preference for our family over everyone else, he absolutely loved preschool and his teachers said the sweetest things about his determination, kindness and helpfulness… and his puzzling talents which continue to blow us away. Ryder cared deeply for his classmates and his teachers and would arrive home so proud of his school projects. He’s very creative and loves to paint, build, color, imagine and explore.
No one loves harder or feels things deeper in our family than Ryder and it’s one of my absolute favorite things about him.
Ryder is the first to yell out, “I love you” to everyone in our family (often on repeat) and said, “I love you, Chase. Chase, I love you. I love you! I hope you have the best day!” when we dropped his big brother off at school during the school year. He loves hugging Rhett and Ryder was the first person Rhett sought out to hug all by himself!
Ryder constantly tells me he wants to give me his “biggest hug” or a “jumping hug” where he sprints and jumps into my arms. He is a hugger through and through and thrives on physical touch and connection. Ryder’s hugs make you feel like he’s holding his whole world in his arms and it’s something that completely melts my mama heart over and over again. He’s also quick to compliment others and is a very sensitive and big-hearted child.
Ryder is also the kid whose good mood will change in the flip of a switch some days due to a sibling-related conflict or when we tell him it is time to wrap up something he’s doing because it is time for nap time/quiet time or time to leave. His angry “NO!” is so passionate and forceful and parenting Ryder has come along with new challenges. Ryder is quick to shut down when he knows he is in the wrong and almost seems to close off from conversation and discipline. He seems almost embarrassed when he does something he knows is wrong and will laugh and flail his arms in an exasperated way that can feel really, really defeating. Through research, I’ve come to believe Ryder is very likely a “highly sensitive child” — 1 in 20 kids are highly sensitive! — and that realization has caused me to dig into researching alternate ways to approach behavior correction and discipline with Ryder. It makes a big difference and helps me realize Ryder’s behavior come from a place of feeling things very, very deeply.
One thing that works with Ryder is naming and validating his feelings (i.e. “I can see you are angry Rhett knocked down your tower. It’s okay to be angry about that. I would be angry about that, too! It’s not okay to throw your blocks across the room.”) and also getting close to him and asking him if he would like a hug or “some love.” He thrives on physical connection and being held and we can usually get him to calm down if we simply sit with him, hold him or hug him. We’ve found that speaking to him calmly and relating to him and validating his big emotions works — and sometimes we have to wait for a moment of calm to do this versus in the moment of frustration/anger — but also please know this is not easy and can really try our patience to the extreme sometimes.
I thank God every single day for the trio of brothers we have because watching them together and seeing their relationships grow and change and strengthen is one of my greatest joys as a mother.
Ryder, Chase and Rhett are truly best friends and though we’re only 1.5 weeks into summer, I’m grateful they have each other because Chase and Ryder can truly play together for hours and hours on end and seem to be happiest when they can just be kids and run around outside looking for slugs and worms. Their imaginations are on fire and listening to conversations between our boys is equal parts adorable and hilarious.
Stress comes into play when they decide to push each other’s buttons but we’re working on communicating when we need “private time” away from our brothers. This often provides the reset everyone needs and, rather quickly, they end up looking for their brothers to resume play again.
For a long time the dynamic between Rhett and Ryder was our most challenging, mostly because Ryder’s love and affection would come on too strong for Rhett and Ryder would often feel really upset when Rhett would disrupt the flow of his play (knock down something he built, take a toy he was eyeing, etc.). Thankfully this seems to be improving by leaps and bounds as Rhett approaches two years old and watching Ryder light up when he “teaches” Rhett something new is amazing.
Food + Sleep
Ryder has always been our kid with the biggest appetite and we’ve been a little surprised lately because his appetite seems to be slowing down a bit. He used to truly inhale his food to the point that we’d have have to encourage him not to stuff handfuls of blueberries into his mouth but his appetite seems to be a little less voracious these days. His favorite foods are raisins (he could eat a million), grapes, Simple Mills crackers, watermelon, cashews, ice cream, mac and cheese, bell peppers, hummus, string cheese, yogurt and pizza.
In terms of sleep, Ryder is right on the cusp of completely dropping his nap. Despite our best efforts, he hasn’t napped in nearly two weeks but still seems to need quiet time as a little reset whenever possible. He’ll spend an hour (sometimes more!) in his room with books and toys and emerge a completely different kid. (I feel Ryder on this one because I consider myself an introverted extrovert in that I adore time with my friends and family but recharge alone.) I’m grateful Ryder doesn’t usually resist quiet time though if we tell him it’s nap time and he has to stay in his bed with the blinds closed and noise machine on, he’ll often resist. Nap time is clearly on its way out with our middle guy which kind of blows my mind because 2 weeks ago, he was napping two times a week often for 2-3 hours at a time.
In terms of nighttime sleep, Ryder usually sleeps from 7:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. As Chase says, “Ryder is an early bird” and seems to love getting up with (or before) the sun. Lately he’s also been in the habit of visiting me and Ryan in the middle of the night when he has to go potty. It’s basically a 50/50 chance as to whether or not he’ll sleep through the night or wake up for a potty break that apparently requires Mom or Dad’s company. He thankfully goes right back to sleep after his midnight potty break and will sleep until he’s up for the day.
- His brothers
- Hugs and cuddles
- Playing outside
- Searching for slugs and worms
- Fishing/catching little fish in his net
- Helping in the kitchen (cooking + baking)
- One-on-one attention
- Cars, trucks, trains, airplanes
- Coloring and crafting
- Visiting parks/playgrounds
- Octonauts and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
- Rudolph/Christmas (he still asks us if Christmas is coming up soon…)
- Wrapping up activities before he’s ready
- When his brothers push his buttons
- When we’re in a hurry / fast transitions
Four Year Old Favorites
- Little Tikes Bounce House
- Picasso Tiles (worth their weight in gold)
- Buckets, Bug Cages, Nets (<– we’ve gone through a LOT of cheap nets and this is one of the best) and this Catch-and-Release Aquarium
- Kwik Stix Quick-Dry Paint Pens
- Puzzles (floor puzzles, Dollar Store puzzles, etc.)
- Adjustable Basketball Hoop
- Intex Inflatable Boat
- Pip Squeaks Marker Tower
- Glider Airplanes
- Bike (he’s now using Chase’s old 16-inch bike)
- Plasma Car
- Crayola Window Crayons
- Water Doodle Mat
- Cars and Trucks
- Power Wheels Jeep
- Water WOW! Activity Pads
- Green Toys Helicopter
- Trains + Train Table
- Kitchen Helper Cooking Stand + Children’s Knives
- LeapFrog Laptop
- Melissa & Doug Take-A-Long Tools
Past Ryder Updates
- 3 Year Old Update
- 2 Year Old Update
- 12-13 Months
- Ryder is ONE!
- 8-11 Months
- 7 Month Postpartum Update: Life with Two Kids
- 7 Months Old
- Sleep Training After the 4-Month Sleep Regression
- Postpartum Q&A: Part Two
- Postpartum Q&A: Part One
- Ryder: The Next Few Days
- Welcome Ryder Thomas! (Ryder’s Birth Story)