I don’t know how it happened so fast, but Ryder will officially be TWO years old tomorrow. I’ve mentioned this on the blog before but my children’s birthdays always seem to leave me feeling overcome with emotion. I’d love to say everything I’m feeling as Ryder approaches two years old is happy and bright but it’s just this weird mix of joy and confusing sadness over knowing “Baby Ryder” is a thing of the past. (Our whole family truly called Ryder “Baby Ryder” for nearly 18 months!)
Even though Baby Ryder is definitely not a baby anymore, it’s been one of the biggest blessings of my life to watch our sweet guy morph into the most smiley, curious, physical, excitable, adventurous, enthusiastic little two-year-old.
From the beginning, I’ve said Ryder smiles with his whole body and there is just something about this kid that lights me up inside when he looks at me with his big, brown eyes and breaks into an open-mouth, full-face smile that seems to radiate from inside. Ryder was and continues to be an answer to many, many prayers and to say I feel grateful to be his mama every single day doesn’t even begin to do the way I feel about our little man justice.
Ryder is happy and helpful (the kid actually LIKES to clean up — let’s hope that lasts!), determined to do everything himself, physical beyond belief, very vocal, fearless, an odd mix of laid back and opinionated (he’s been known to chuck a toy across the room when he’s mad!) and he idolizes his big brother in a way I never could have imagined.
I am so ridiculously grateful Chase and Ryder have each other every single day and while Ryder may look to me and Ryan for love, food and comfort, he looks to Chase for just about everything else. He yells “Dace! Dace!” a million times a day, runs after his big brother at terrifying wobbly toddler speeds, laughs harder at Chase’s silly antics than anyone and wants to be like Chase in every way from the activities he sees big brother doing every day to the things he wears (basketball “ah-ball” shorts, Native “water shoes,” rain boots, jammies, hat or no hat, etc.).
Ryder and Chase both relish “brother private time” in Ryder’s crib every morning and every afternoon after Ryder’s nap and hearing them sing songs, play pretend games and flip through books together through the monitor is the best sound in the world to this mama. (It should also be noted brother private time often ends in Ryder screeching once he’s had enough!)
When I think of Ryder’s eating habits, two images pop into my mind: Ryder shoveling massive amounts of fruit into his mouth and Ryder sucking down pureed baby food pouches at warp speed. I’ve never seen a kid love fruit as much as Ryder and he’ll easily polish off half a pint of blueberries or raspberries in one sitting and instantly ask for more. He loves basically any fruit we put in front of him but watermelon and apples seem to be his all-time favorite.
I must admit it’s REALLY nice to feed a child who seems to genuinely enjoy food and eating, especially since that was not at all our experience with Chase. (Food and meal times with a child who doesn’t care about eating and is already on the small side = Major stress!) From the beginning, Ryder seemed to love food and that continues to this day. The only issue that seems to have come up recently is his lack of desire to sit still for too long during meal times. He seems to eat quickly and with a vengeance but when he’s done he is D-O-N-E and ready to play.
Some of Ryder’s food favorites include: ALL fruit, hard boiled eggs, thinly sliced bell peppers, pureed fruit and veggie pouches, pancakes, cucumbers, muffins, yogurt, pb&j sandwiches, Simple Mills crackers, carrots, string cheese, burgers, pizza, mac & cheese, smoothies, homemade popsicles (basically smoothies in popsicle form), turkey jerky sticks and Cheerios.
We’re in a pretty decent groove for sleep for Ryder. He takes one nap a day and usually goes down for his nap sometime between 1 and 2 p.m. Naps are typically around 2 hours but can be up to 3 hours when he’s especially tired. One downside: If Ryder takes so much as a 10 minute nap in the car or on the boat, his afternoon nap is almost always ruined. Somehow a short on-the-go cat nap gives Ryder the energy boost he needs to make it to bed time and he’ll freak out if we try to make him take a crib nap on the days when he’s already had a short car/boat nap.
As for nighttime sleep, Ryder usually goes to bed around 7:30 p.m. and Ryan and I joke that he’s basically ALWAYS awake early in the morning when we check the monitor but somehow content to roll around in his crib and drift in and out of sleep until around 7 a.m. He’ll also often happily play in his crib for up to an hour before he “needs” us or is ready for “brother private time” with Chase in the morning which is pretty sweet! I’m a big-time believer in the importance of independent play/unstructured alone time for kids and love how Ryder seems content to entertain himself in his crib in the morning.
Ryder is talking up a storm and all of this seemed to take off around 20-22ish months. (Also, I should clarify that when I say he is “talking” I’m pretty sure 90 percent of the people in this world would have no idea what he’s saying, but we get it! Haha! It’s definitely “toddler speak” at this point!)
He’s been able to parrot words and animal noises back to us for months now but as he reached 22 months, he began stringing words together and using words versus random noises to communicate a lot more. One thing that makes us laugh? The color of everything is “yellow” and if there’s more than one of anything, that means there’s “two.” Apparently there are a lot of yellow duplicates in Ryder’s life.
Some of our favorite things Ryder says include “I don’t know” (he slurs this together — “Idunno” — and smiles like he’s surprised every time we ask him whether or not it was him who made a mess, did something wrong, etc.), “fish”/”beach” (the words sound identical and highly inappropriate — think the “b” word), “jet skis”/”doggie” (also somehow sound identical), “please” (“peeeas!”), “uh-oh Mom,” “help” (this is never because he needs help but always because he wants to help/do something himself), “no, no, ME!” (he says this on repeat because he wants to do everything himself) and lots of other random words. I love this phase of toddlerhood when little ones are on the cusp of saying real sentences. It’s just too darn cute and admittedly a LOT easier on me since I am now able to quickly understand what Ryder wants compared to only a few months ago when he wasn’t able to communicate nearly as well with his words.
- Dancing (he loves “Baby Shark” and the song “I’m Still Standing” from the movie Sing is his favorite — he yells the “yeah, yeah, yeah” part over and over again)
- Being outside
- Riding in the Power Wheels Jeep with Chase
- Backyard water play
- Building towers
- Playing with his Monster truck, trains and cars
- Doggies, fish, sharks… basically all animals
- Splashing, swimming and playing in the lake
- Taking things in and out of containers
- Bath time with Chase
- Filling the bird feeder
- Chasing squirrels
- “Helping” me cook in the kitchen
- Throwing rocks in the lake
- Sadie (especially throwing a toy for her to fetch)
- DIAPER CHANGES (Oh the horror! I truly dread changing his diaper right now.)
- Having his hair washed
- Brushing his teeth (distraction helps a lot with this)
The majority of these items were big-time hits with Chase when he was two as well!
- Kitchen Tower Cooking Stand
- Skyway Car Tower
- Mega Bloks First Builders Blocks
- Bounce House
- Basically everything from his LOVEVERY deliveries
- LeapFrog Laptop
- Plasma Car
- Barn + Farm Animal Play Set
- Sprinkler Splash Pad
- Mini Frame Kiddie Pool
- Little Tikes 4-in-1 Trike
- Water Table
- Trains, Cars, Monster Trucks
- Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things that Go (Ryder is obsessed with finding the little Goldbug on every page of this book and wants to look at it every day!)
- Any Elmo book (I Love You Just Like This is our family’s all-time favorite — it’s SO darn sweet!)
- Go, Dog. Go!
- Little Excavator
- All of his LOVEVERY board books (He loves that they feature pictures of REAL kids doing things and I love the fact that they often include BIPOC children and families)
- Giraffes Can’t Dance (We all love this one!)
- Little Blue Truck + Little Blue Truck Leads the Way
- Never Touch a Monster
- Baby Einstein Amazing Animals Play-a-Sound