Riley hit the eight-month mark this past weekend! It's fun for me to look back and see what Liam looked like at this point:

Can you see the resemblance? By the way, oh my word Liam was bald for so long! Bless his heart...

Riley is making all sorts of noises, and has even said "Mama" and "Dada" several times! (For the record, he said Mama first.) He babbles a lot actually, and he has his own signature dance move now (he basically wiggles his body and bobs his head back and forth). His little personality is starting to show, and I can tell he's got a little edge. Riley is our force to be reckoned with!

Thankfully, it seems Liam is over his jealousy phase, and now he just sees Riley as his little companion. They play in Liam's room most mornings, and I frequently hear Liam's continuous one-sided conversation with Riley, in which he discusses his cars, how he will fix his racecar with his hammer...and he'll hold up a toy to Riley and say, "Riley, what's this? Oh, it's a _____." Liam will spontaneously walk over to Riley and pat him on the head or give him a hug, and Riley will grin and let out a squeal. They are becoming the best of friends already!

Riley's second tooth has broken through the gums, so now he has both front bottom teeth. I will miss those gummy smiles so much! (I realize this probably isn't the first time I've said this, and I'll just tell you now, it won't be the last.) He has put those teeth to work on a whole banana and even some pizza crust. This kid will eat ANYTHING. Even paper. (It only happened twice. The second time was with a book page that Liam had torn out of the book, and I'd been meaning to tape it back. This afternoon I found it crumbled up, soaking wet, hanging out of Riley's mouth. Oh well.)

....AND he's had enough of photo time! (By the way, I just noticed the dirty laundry draped over the basket in the background. That's real life happening right there, folks.)

This month has been a growing month for me, too. I have such a tendency to treat Riley as if I'm raising Liam all over again, but the Lord is continually reminding me of the verse that says, "Train up your child in the way he should go." I've been convicted lately about my plans for these boys. Don't we all want our children to follow in our footsteps in one way or another? Since Kelley played soccer his whole life, there has been this understanding that, of course, our boys will play, too. But I can already tell that Liam may be more into art and music than athletics. He has yet to meet a stranger, he will go right up to someone and start a conversation with them, and whenever a song starts playing, he will stop what he's doing and start listening to the music and dancing. While other boys his age are ramming trucks into each other, Liam strategically lines them up in order. (I realize this is strikingly different from my last update about Liam, but you know, I've gained some perspective.) Sometimes I mistake his perpetual energy for roughness, but really he is tenderhearted, sweet, and caring. He wants to give EVERYTHING a hug (even the garbage truck as it rolls down the street. Not even kidding). I had this vision of him being a rough and tumble steamroller of a boy (his name means "strong-willed warrior"), but he may find his strength is in his gentleness.

Riley, on the other hand, doesn't quite know his own strength. He will scratch and pinch and grab and pull and sink his teeth into anything that's put in front of him. He attacks his toys with force; his feet are constantly kicking, his arms always flailing about, fists clenched. He screeches and squeals and grunts and growls. He may need extra discipline, extra structure in order to learn appropriate boundaries. My point is, Riley is not Liam, and I'm having to learn not to treat him as if he's the same person.

I pray that as these boys grow, God will highlight their differences and give me the wisdom to know how to treat them as individuals, unique in their own right; to provide an atmosphere where each can cultivate his own strengths and passions, and to encourage them to search out their own identities in Christ, separate from what I may envision in my own mind.

That's easier said than done, though, right? :)