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God likes this color paint.

I let the kids stay up later tonight since it’s a Friday and watch ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown‘ while painting toilet paper rolls black for bat decorations.  Hey, if they’re going to watch a pointless cartoon at night with a surplus of the word “stupid,” then they might as well be productive, right?  The older two gave up after painting just one roll a piece, but after Alex (4 yrs. old) finished his first one and saw me mass-producing black toilet paper rolls at warp speed, he said

“I’m gonna do ‘nother one, too.  I’ll help you, mom.”

While Alex kept trucking along at the speed of snail he said

“I hope God likes this color paint.”

I didn’t think I heard him right. “What did you say?”

“I said I hope God likes this color paint.” (he meant color OF paint, of course)

I was kind of baffled. “Well, I think God likes any color of paint that you use if you’re using a talent He gave you.”

“What’s a talent?”

“It’s something God gave you that you can do well.  Like painting.  You’re good at painting,” I said, observing his mottled toilet paper rolls.  Hey, painting the inside and outside of a toilet paper roll is pretty good at four, I think.

“That’s right. I’m a good painter.  I’m going to be a painter when I grow up, mom.”

“That sounds great!”

To Chris and Olivia, glued now to the cartoon, he repeated “I’m going to be a painter when I grow up, guys!”

He didn’t seem disturbed by their lack of response.

This was a great conversation that came out of nowhere.  You may say “great conversation, sure.” But it is so very rare that I get to talk for any length of time directly to my youngest with two other kids in the house.  I had these kinds of conversations with Alex all day today, since we took the day to go to the international playgroup, shop for a coat, have lunch and get him a haircut while the other two were in school.  It’s nice to get to know Alex without Chris and Olivia there throwing in their opinions left and right.  And it’s funny that I try to think of ways to plan these kinds of conversations…dates and whatnot with my kids…and that’s well and good…but God always shows His greater wisdom by throwing in those curve ball opportunities.  Like painting toilet paper rolls at night.

Alex’s fourth Birthday and NEW PHOTOS!

IMG_7896, originally uploaded by carrollers.

Well, I’ve finally uploaded photos to our Flickr Site of Alex’s fourth birthday. The only two things missing are Olivia and Chris’ birthday photos….one out of three ain’t bad right???? Whatever! I’ll definitely try to get to that. It’s a little lopsided of me, I know. And I hate lopsided-ness. Oh well. I’ll also be posting a video soon of Olivia’s first dance recital.

The third Musketeer…

The Three Musketeers

Having three children is a roller coaster of an experience without a doubt.  I could write volumes on subjects ranging from “How To Keep Your Sanity When Shopping With Three Young Children” to “How To Keep Some Semblance of Order in Your Household.”  One thing I often reflect on, though is the phenomenon of the third child.  I had a younger brother that I grew up with and with whom I did most of my playing, fighting, scheming and just generally living. When I was 14, my next little brother joined the picture, and then my last little brother came along when I was 23, so I’m not sure what category either of them fall into, but I don’t think we had the typical “third child” in our family 🙂 Research is fraught with “take-backs,” “reviews” and just plain disagreements on the subject of birth order and its alleged meaning, so I’m not even going to go there.  What we did/do have is a blended family centered around love and that’s all that counts right? 🙂

So having three children, approximately 2 years apart between each of them is a new experience.  When Olivia was born, there was the enormous “first child” experience…A baby!!!! Whoa!!!! There are no words to fully describe it. I think I took THOUSANDS of pictures…some of them were just her asleep…in 40 different positions.  You get the idea…if you’re a parent, you’re nodding your head 😉

When Chris came along two years later it was still a mind-numbing miracle (is it ever NOT?) and there were new things to discover with him being the first boy–like getting peed on a lot when the diaper came off…I’d love to see some research on that one…it’s not just that they can shoot pee up in the air.  I get that. It’s that the boys pee RIGHT when the diaper comes off….it’s a conspiracy or something.  Anyway.  Then there was also the really AWESOME stuff that came along with siblings.   Watching Olivia’s toddler face as she discovered her new little bro and I’ll NEVER forget the first time she made Chris laugh…it was pure joy.

So what was left for Alex?  Still the mind-blowing miracle…I’ll never get over it….but then what?  We’d already had a boy, we’d already done the “sibling discovery” thing.  I was a little worried that we wouldn’t find everything so “cool” that time around.   Let me tell you, I didn’t expect Alex to just break all the rules and surprise us at every turn.  The joy of the “third child” has been a sight to behold.  Watching his siblings from birth, he was enamored with them right away.  Of course, busy with two other kids, Alex became independent very fast.  I STILL am amazed when he does something that Olivia and Chris wouldn’t have thought to do themselves at his age of 3.   Before he was even two, he was trying to pour his own drink…he never thought to ask, he just started doing it…with some success 🙂  By two he was getting the cup and trying to get the cap off and pour the drink and by 3 the goes to the fridge with a stool, gets the juice, gets the cup, pours the drink and then goes to the pantry to forage for food…all when we’re not looking.  I remember begging Olivia and Chris to go get their own stinking juice while I nursed the baby! 🙂

Alex has learned SO MUCH from his brother and sister that I can’t imagine who he would be if he only had me and Randy around.  Of course, he is great at occupying himself (independence), but even though he’s shy with strangers, he adapts to new children and situations pretty quickly.  He looks so shy and frail, but put him in a tough situation and he…deals with it. No other word for it.  He’s the only 3 year old in our circle of friends who likes Spiderman, Batman, Superman, The Green Lantern and any other superhero out there.  The teachers at the kindergarten are always surprised that he brings stuff like Bumblebee (transformer) for show and tell instead of a teddy bear or toy train.  Right now it’s strange, because even though his personality (which I haven’t talked much about–I’m saving that for his birthday blog coming up 🙂 ), shines through, his preferences are overshadowed by his siblings to the point that I sometimes wonder what he would really choose without big brother and sister influence.

The third child is a paradox of independence and dependence in extremes.  He is so independent in some things, yet he NEEDS his brother and sister’s opinions before he knows what to do sometimes.  I’m caught a lot of times not knowing what the right decision to make is…Olivia and Chris both have swimming lessons now and every time it comes up, Alex lights up and says “I get to go swimming at my Kindergarten tooooo?”  To which we all have to reply “Sorry, Alex, when you’re big enough.”  Of course, this breaks his heart EVERY time.  I finally bought him a swim cap, just like Olivia and Chris’ cause I felt so bad.  It’s hard not to cave when he obviously just wants to do what Olivia and Chris are doing, but I’m realizing that maybe that’s the big parenting dilemma of the “third child” right now….letting him have some individuality outside of the family.  I am grateful that he’s now going to preschool by himself and learning to make friends on his own.  I’m sure the dilemma’s of raising a third-born will change later as the years go on…he’s only three after all!

Alex!

This blog post is dedicated to my youngest, who recently turned three years old.  You can see the party in all it’s gory glory here at our Flickr site. 😉  Alex is our third and last child (unless the Lord springs one on me), which means Randy and I have to resist letting him get babied too much.  We really have to moderate each other when we find one of us has been letting him “slide” on account of he’s so stinkin’ cute and cuddly 😀  Alexander gets his name from the Greek “Alexandros” (latinized) which means “protector/defender of men.”  Protector seems to imply someone who’s strong and that, Alex certainly is.  Even in the womb he nearly cracked my ribs.  We even thought about naming him Samson!

We held a Bob the Builder party for him and since his birthday is April 30th, the weather was warm enough to grill and have the party outside.  Randy was pretty excited about the weekend of grilling (Olivia’s party was the next day).  What made it extremely easy was that someone let us borrow their …. “jumpy castle thing?” or “Hupfburg” in German, which I think is much more concise and accurate.  So we hardly had to do anything except make sure no fights broke out over the new presents and that everyone got fed.  My kind of party!

Alex also recently started at the German Kindergarten where Chris has been going for over two years now.  There was an introductory period where I stayed in the room with him for three mornings one week and then moved to the hall….then out the door…and voila!  He was attending Kindergarten.  This is a new policy for the Kindergarten.  When we left Olivia and then Chris it was pretty much…bye! And then they cried for about ten minutes.  This happened about a week and then things went better.  Well, I was skeptical of the “introductory period” at first–I mean, come on!  My kids are tough!–, but I have to say, I felt different about leaving Alex than I did the other two.  I don’t know why exactly…maybe just because he’s the baby?  Because he’s not talking that well yet? All I know is it worked really well and the only crying that happened was when he started staying for naptime.  They brought in what they thought was the solution…big brother Chris. And for a few minutes it did seem as if he was the solution.  He settled Alex down and laid down with him.  But then after a few minutes the whispering and giggles started.  I could have told the teacher that THAT would happen…that’s our bedtime every night 🙂

Well, on to the stats…this post is about Alex after all.

The Stats:

Alexander Davis Carroll

Alexander Davis Carroll

Alex was born April 30, 2006 and after this third natural birth I decided I just might call it quits.  After analysing that rash decision years later while in a rational frame of mind…yes, as far as we’re concerned, Alex will remain the “baby of the family.”  I remember very clearly saying “thank you God” over and over right after Alex was born.  It was a great feeling to have him finally there.

He was named Alexander Davis (my maiden name) to follow the tradition that our kids would have a first name to themselves and a middle name that they inherit.  Alex also resembles the Davis side of the family quite strongly, so I guess we got that one right. He goes by “Alex” most of the time, “Alexander” when he’s in trouble and “Allie Al” when he looks especially cute–don’t ask me why.  He does NOT go by just “Al.”

He decided to walk a little later than the other two (which I was thankful for!) and started at 12 months instead of 9 months.  He’s on the shorter, stalkier side, though I may just be saying “stalky” because Chris is like a scarecrow and my judgement is impaired. 🙂

His crown is right in the middle of his forehead.  Not just a cowlick…it’s an actual circle/swirl that makes for what we jokingly call “Harry Potter Hair.”

He’s been a climber since he could walk.  I’ve found him on the piano (on top of the piano), standing on the bathroom sink and various other places.  Even when he was 18 months and we took off the bottom rungs of the kids’ bunk bed ladders, he still found a way to climb up.  No falls so far, though, so thank you, Angels!

But who is he really?

Alex has a very expressive face.  He’s got that “look” that he can put on in a second to make you want to alternately cry and give him anything he wants.  Few are immune, but fortunately, I am not one of the few 🙂  He could probably be an actor someday or at least a convincing speaker since he’s got the know-how behind the face.  He knows exactly how to play the part!

He started out pretty sweet and innocent but in the last year and really thrown himself into the “pesky little brother” role and occasionally exasperates his sister (who cries for help when he’s in her room) and his older brother (who uses his fist or diplomacy, depending on if he’s had a nap that day).  In general, though he idolizes his older siblings and wants to be WHEREVER they are, which complicates things when he’s still too little for stuff (this is usually the time when he puts on the the “face”).  He especially loves to do whatever Chris is doing.  It was difficult to tell people what he liked (for birthday presents) because he basically just wants to play whatever Chris is playing-and we already have enough transformers/hot wheels/dinosaurs…  He DOES love trains, which the other two never really got into all that much.

Right now his language is hard to understand.  He doesn’t speak his own language, as Olivia did, and he doesn’t follow Chris’ pattern of speaking cleary at an early age.  Right now he fits the pattern (at least that the schools gave us) of a child growing up hearing two languages.  He started speaking a little later than normal and now a lot of his words are not enunciated very well, but I’ve noticed in the last couple of months that his language is starting to take leaps and bounds.  He says whole sentences that we can almost understand 🙂 but when we can’t, we just ask Chris.  Chris understands Alex nearly every time after only hearing him once.  I find myself saying frequently to Randy “I can’t understand what he’s asking for, can you?”  “No.” “Chris!  Can you come and tell us what Alex wants?”  But we’re not worried.  Apparently, it’s “normal.”  🙂  He understands a lot of what the teachers at kindergarten say, though he volunteers few German words himself–yet.  I can see it coming… 🙂

Pretty much from 3 months on, we’ve known his primary love language is touch.  He used to have this annoying habit of crawling into bed with us and just running his hands up and down our arms or our backs.  If you tried to tuck the sheet tight around you (in a sleepy attempt at fending him off) he would find a way to worm his little hands under there to your skin and continue stroking you….while he was ASLEEP.  He loves to sit and cuddle with you.  In the morning he’s got to have his “sitting in the lap” time and when he was around a year old, if you sat on the floor for any reason, he was in your lap in two seconds.  We’re already on alert for when he’s of dating age…there’s going to be a big talk about the “touchy-feely” stuff!

Well, I could go on and on, of course–I’m a mom!  But I’ll let you rest your eyes, faithful reader 🙂

Happy birthday my baby boy…may you grow up into a strong Christian man. 🙂