All About Carter

Oh, Carty...there is so much to say about our Carter boy! I'm in rewind mode again today, looking back on some pictures from the last 6 months or so and writing a little about him.  It's taken me three days to finish this with all the sickness in our house but finally I'm ready to share!
 Carter Travis...our middle child, our oldest son, our born on 10/10/10 boy...It's hard to even know where to begin with him.  One of the things I love the most about Carter is that he is not easily explained!  There is a depth to Carter that I love exploring and more sides to him than rubik's cube. 
 When Walker was born last summer, Carter felt like our wild card.  I just did not know what to expect from him, I knew he'd love his brother but I really thought he might be jealous or that he'd grow tired of the constant interruptions that come with a baby.  It wasn't more than just a week or so in that I realized how wrong I was.  I love these pictures of Carter and Walker...
Right out of the gate Carter took on the protective role of a big brother and he looked at him with adoring eyes.
 Since then he's only continued to love on Walker.  Sure, sometimes he bugs him too.  He's definitely going to be a typical older brother! 
 But what warms our heart and gives us hope, is when we see the many tender moments between them.  A long time ago I listened to someone speak about raising boys and she used the phrase, "tough and tender" to describe what she prayed they would be like as men.  I think about that a lot because it echoes what I see in Carter beginning to develop and what I hope he will choose to work toward.  I want to affirm his manhood and help him embrace the things that make him different than his sister and I and yet, I hope he sees his tenderness as a great asset too.  It's one of the very best things I love about his Daddy.  Tough and tender men make great husbands and wonderful Fathers.  I pray both of our boys are like their Dad in that regard!
One of the best things about this year with Carter is that I am getting so much time with him.  His October birthday means that he can't start Kindergarten until he's almost 6, which we think is a great thing.  This year could have been spent at preschool, but so could next year.  We will likely send him for 3 of 4 half days next year, but this was a "free year" that I wanted to gift to Carter.  I wanted the time with him yes, but I also wanted him to have more time to just play.  To use his imagination, to stay in his jammies, to play with his toys, and to just be a little boy for a little while longer.  I'm so glad we chose this.  We went on several "nature walks" together this Fall, collecting treasure and just seeing what we could see.  He STILL talks about it and asks when we can get back out there.  I predict a lot of walking the trails in our future!
 There is a built in love for adventure in Carter and if he has freedom to roam, you can be sure he will be climbing something...
 ...jumping off of it and then looking back at me to see if he can do it again!
 I am learning, with some guidance from Trav, to let him jump more than I tend to say no.  Sometimes I wince, sometimes it doesn't go as planned, but most of the time it thrills Carter and I get to see how God made him so differently than He made me.  Totally built for adventure  :) 
 And speaking of adventure, dart guns have made an appearance in our world now.  Carter loves, loves, loves them and his Daddy loves to play with them equally as much! There are darts everywhere now, but it's all part of the fun and so far (fingers crossed) no people have been targets and especially no babies!  We mostly take them outside to play with and that seems to work for everyone.
Carter and his Daddy are becoming quite a pair.  Carter loves everything about his Dad and he is blessed to have a Daddy that loves to include him in as much as he can.  We loved watching soccer games this fall and Carter was on hand with me when Trav's team won their championship game.  Carter thrives on competition and has a natural drive in him to win.  Everything! Sometimes that becomes a struggle and we have to learn how to be gracious in defeat, but that's what growing up is for.  When harnessed and channeled in the right ways, being competitive is a great thing.  We can see already that this is something God has built into Carter so we will be working on this for a long time to come I'm sure! It's good for me to remember that and start praying now for the Lord to help Carter use that drive for His glory and His kingdom.  
One thing Carter and I found is that we share a love for Legos!  I loved them as a kid and even as an adult, I still love the challenge and the blank slate to create.  We gave Carter a small lego kit as a reward for something this summer and it was totally up his alley.  For his birthday and Christmas he also received some lego kits and they have been really fun for him to play with.  One of us still needs to help him get started and see some of the more complicated designs through to the end, but I can see the gears in his mind turning while we work on them.  
 We have to be pretty strict about playing with them while Walker is napping and making sure we get all the pieces picked up but it's worth it for the joy on his face when we finish and just for the quality time we get together.  
Turning 4 was a huge event in Carter's world!  In fact, still today he likes to tell people (usually total strangers) that he *just* had a birthday!  Ha ha!  October was the big month, but who cares about details??
For lots of reasons, turning 4 has been so much fun!  Three is a hard age from start to finish and we had lots of power struggles, boundary lessons, authority issues, and just general development stuff to work through constantly.  It's certainly not all learned yet, we've just scratched the surface, but there is something about 4 that is SO MUCH EASIER so far.  Carter reasons so much better, can think through scenarios and consequences with some insight, and generally just wants to obey and do the right thing with a greater enthusiasm than we've seen before.  We love to see that in him but more than that we love to see how God is working on his heart.  Carter has a sweet tenderness and he is very quick to apologize and to ask for forgiveness.  He doesn't like to be at odds and so far he is willing to show some humility and ask to be forgiven.  He melts my heart when we see that response in him.  Our goal is never that he (or any of our kids) would obey like robots or simply because they don't want a consequence, but that we would help cultivate their hearts to submit to God's ways over their own and then learn how to ask for forgiveness and how to extend forgiveness.  It's extremely convicting to teach your kids this and then not see how blatantly I refuse to do the same thing!  I'm always getting rebuked in my spirit by what I say to them and then the heart revelation of how I often choose the opposite.  Parenting is a whole lot of sanctification! Helping Carter, helps his Mama.
 This picture is so classic! For all the sweetness, believe me, there is spunk times a thousand! 
I went to get Walker up from a nap and here I found Carter already in his room, sitting on the edge of the crib, in his undies, eating a sucker I didn't give him...
 He will keep up on our toes every day of his life, I'm quite certain! 
 I love how much Carter is looking like his Dad. Same grin, same chin, same square jaw line, same blonde hair Trav had in childhood, same zest for life.  If Ava is a mini me, I do believe Carter is a mini Travis!  At least that's what I love to invoke whenever he doesn't something outrageous!  
He's all YOU, Travy!!
 Being a boy Mom has been such a fun experience and such a joy. I love sharing girly things with Ava but I also love enjoying all the boy stuff in my world now. Well, most of it.  
Body noises I will never enjoy!!
 Ava and Carter, AKA the twins, are still good buddies.  These days they have to work a little more to compromise and play together in a way that both of them enjoy.  Sometimes that looks like a line of princesses having a "parade" at the train table while all the trains go by and show off their best tricks around the track!  It cracks me up to hear the scenarios they come up with but it's good for both of them.  I think they enjoy a little break all day to be with their own friends or in their own space but they really do love to play together still and do a pretty good job.  The fighting between them has increased with time, I can see how quickly their relationship could deteriorate and how they could easily pit one another against the other.  But I so long for them to treat each other with respect and grace and I hope they will remain friends, even as they grow up, because I know how much that will benefit them as adults. 
 There really are some sweet moments between them, lots of giggling and playing and love, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that wasn't always the norm.  They are just like every other set of siblings! They push and argue and accuse and overreact...BUT we are willing to fight that battle with them and push them to "be kind, to be tenderhearted and forgiving" like Paul encourages us to be in Ephesians 4. It's flat out exhausting most days and sometimes I feel like I should dress in a referee uniform with a whistle.  But this is the work of parenthood and these are the years of setting the foundation of what's allowed and expected in our home and in our family.  So we pray and press on!
 Carter's love affair with cars, planes, trucks, and anything that moves, continues. Those are the toys that get the most action in our home and in Carter's imagination.  Who knew the number of cars in our home would rival a nascar event??  We are full to the brim with them and yet, with Walker right behind him, I know they will all get plenty of use for years to come.
If there is a way to make something slightly dangerous and exhilarating, these two will dream it up.  I truly think Carter will love extreme sports like his Dad did and will likely give me a heart condition.  He is so funny, he is either up for anything or a complete chicken.  We get such a kick out of his extreme reactions.  The fear in him actually calms me a little bit but I'm guessing that won't be around for long.  Especially with a Dad who loves to draw out his sense of adventure and challenge him to be brave. 
In his 4 short years, this kid has already had more bumps, bruises, cuts, gashes, scrapes and even staples than Ava will likely ever dream of getting.  I keep worrying about scars on that sweet face but his Daddy likes to remind me that they will just be battle scars.  As if that makes me feel better??  I just adore this face and those big eyes, I don't want to mess it up on our watch! 
Seeing him in a football uniform was so hilarious at Halloween!  If you ask him what sports he might want to play someday, he says football immediately (which makes me cringe in the concussion driven conversation) and then maybe basketball, golf.  I love those options but you know Trav is trying with all his might to indoctrinate him with all things soccer! Who knows what he'll choose and enjoy someday but it is fun to think about those years.  
We are going to love cheering for any of our kids who want to play sports!
Carter loves helping me in the kitchen, he's my dishwasher unloader and if we're making cookies or scones or something yummy, he's all over it.
 It's been fun to see how much he's picked up from Ava in the learning department.  She LOVES to pretend she is his teacher and for him to play school with her.  Whether she's playing that role or not, he's actually always learning from her.  He definitely listens to what she has to say and he wants to keep up so he's pretty good at his numbers and letters and he seems to be a quick memorizer.  
He gets so excited for Ava to get in the van after school.  
He pretty much always says "Hi Ava! How is your day?  How was your school? We missed you, Ava."  I love that.
We get a little bored somedays while we wait...he loves to make silly faces and take pictures so we can check them out.  I'd never post this if I didn't love him so much and love being silly with him!
I think Carter will make a great husband someday.  He's very affectionate and loves to give and receive a good hug! He's always trying to hug his sister and his brother and he's now clued in that Trav and I love those hugs too.  Sometimes he has trouble knowing when to stop or what personal space looks like, but he's got a lover's heart for sure. 
 However, when he wants to be, make no mistake, this boy can be as SOUR as a lemon! Not getting his way or declaring something unfair brings out the BEST scowls in Carter.   It's nearly impossible for Trav and I to keep a straight face, which usually makes him more mad.  He's mastered this face and we get the biggest kick out of it.  It's especially charming when a sweet stranger offers to take a nice family pic, don't you think??  To my delight I've discovered from pictures of Trav's childhood that he inherited this scowl from his Father  :) 
 Suckers are Carter's primary love language, hands down.  There is really not anything he won't do for a sucker! He feels that way about candy in general, but suckers top his treat list in a big way. 
 Sometimes I look at him and I feel like I get a glimpse of what a 20 year old Carter will look like.  He is growing up and getting older by the minute it seems.  He finally outweighs his sister, his shoe size is two sizes bigger and he's only half an inch behind her in height.
And yet, my big boy is still just a little guy too!  
Curled up with his truck and his giraffe...I cherish those moments when I see him as little, still.  
 One of our favorite memories with Carter this year is when he just jumped right up on Bob Stoop's lap when we got to meet him!  Classic Carter, he looked right at him and said, "Can I sit on your lap?"  If he does play football someday, this picture will resurface for SURE!
 Winter is a hard season to keep an active little boy busy, but we are thankful for indoor, heated garage where he can still ride his bike! That's a perk of condo living :) 
 We also introduced Carter to the wii before Christmas, which was hilarious and as it turns out, his new favorite activity!  We taught him to play MarioKart so he could play along with us at my parent's house and that little stinker picked it right up! He struggled for about two or three days before he suddenly got the hang of it and then he started beating all of us!  Just last week he beat the entire game actually, something Travis and I have never done!  Having the wii as a reward and a consequence has been very helpful and it's been a great distraction for this season of being cooped up inside.  
 He and I continue to play with the train table, that may have been the best thing we've spent money on and Walker hasn't even been able to enjoy it yet!  I frequently get summoned to make new tracks and new cities for Carter to play with.  I don't mind that part, it's the designer in me I suppose.  I have realized what a trap the Thomas people have created!  There seems to be a never-ending need for more tracks and different configurations that can only be solved by buying more pieces...or having great friends!  We've been the very grateful recipients of some friends who have passed along tracks their older boys are done with and that is a great gift we have benefitted from. I'm hoping as Carter learns to put tracks together and think through configurations, he'll pick it up just in time to do for Walker  :) 
Carter is finally at that age where he is making friends and going to Church means seeing those friends! We recently got to host one of his friends who moved to Indiana, sweet Clara.  She and Carter were born 4 days apart and we sure miss her and her family!  They were in town and the C's were reunited.  They finished their  play date dressed as Cinderella and her superhero Prince! It's fun to watch Carter learn to be a friend and to enjoy his friends.  It always seems like a rite of passage when they move into a bigger world, a sphere of peers.  We look forward to seeing his world continue to expand!
 I'm grateful for this fleeting season, before preschool and then kindergarten interrupt his world with more fun and new voices of influence.  It's precious to me to have him at home, for Walker to enjoy his big brother and for Carter to spend his days playing. 
 Playing with puzzles...
 ...playing in the snow...
 ...and still getting a huge thrill out of seeing and watching the Garbage truck every week! 
We just love you to pieces, Carty! 
You make our days exciting, our family rich, and your parents, grateful.  
Life with you is a wild ride and we love it! 

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