Monday, June 30, 2008

A Day with Thomas, a Day in the Water

When I heard that Thomas the Tank was coming to a nearby town (okay, it's an hour away, but still), I thought it would be something my three-year old would really and truly love. He's been fascinated by Thomas ever since he got his first wooden train, collecting many, many more over the years and amassing several DVDs that he can seemingly watch over and over and over again without losing any of the wonder (at least he still sits on the couch without moving the entire 30 minutes). A Day with Thomas, as it was advertised, seemed like a perfect idea.

Well, it seems Grandma and Pa had seen a similar ad and had mentioned it to me as well. Josh didn't think it sounded appealing at all, at least not in the respect of us taking all three of our boys down for it, so we asked Grandma and Pa if they were still interested. They were, and last Friday they left the lake bright and early (before sunrise) to come up to our house to get Connor, and then made the hour drive to the event.

Connor seemed to have the most fun playing in a large area set up with lots of wooden trains and tracks - and even had to be reprimanded a time or two for hoarding said trains (imagine that). He also enjoyed getting some cool t-shirts with Thomas on them, and riding on the train itself. I'm told the train ride was a little oversold - 15 minutes one way, then stop and reverse back - and possibly a little annoying for anyone who doesn't love Thomas the way a toddler does - lots of loud music and hanging trains inside, but not much of a view (rusty freight cars on one side, even). Not sure that it was worth the nearly $20 paid for each of the tickets.

Here is Connor on his day with Thomas.

And here is Connor later in the week taking a little swim while boating with Grandma and Pa at the lake.

We're thinking that next time around it might be best to skip Thomas, save the money and just take the boys to the water. Connor certainly seems to enjoy it more!

(p.s. thanks to Grandma and Pa for e-mailing the photos!)

Scary & Wonderful

If you want to see my two-year old twins do something cute, you simply put in the Pixar movie Monsters, Inc. We don't watch it often, so it's novel and they like to see it, but the beginning is still a little bit scary to them. So they stand in front of the television during the opening credits, often shielding their eyes with their hands, even though this part is relatively mild. They know that the scary part is coming. Sawyer usually comes running for me and wants to snuggle close, occasionally lifting his head up from where he's buried it in my neck, but usually not until the opening sequence is done. Xander, too, likes to be close to Mommy. He usually sits or lays down right beside me and wants to hold my hand. He uses his other hand and arm to shield his eyes until the opening sequence is done. It's funny because even though they know it's a little scary, they're drawn to it and won't just walk away. Scary and wonderful at the same time, apparently.

And, just so you know, we did try to spend our morning away from the television. We took a short walk around the block - meaning Xander ran the length of it and Sawyer walked a few minutes holding my hand before he abruptly jumped in front of me, turned around and lifted his arms up to be carried (the entire rest of the way). We also played out in the yard for a little while, but the dark clouds, thunder and the eventual rain drove us back inside. And that's when Monsters found us. Rainy days always make Mommy want to cuddle on the couch with the boys - and I usually try to opt for one we haven't seen thousands of times (this one is perhaps just hundreds).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Little Break

When you're a stay-at-home parent, getting time away from your kids every now and then is essential to your sanity (at least it is to mine)! This weekend has been one of those breaks for me - adult dinner Friday night, sleeping in and catching a non-animated movie on Saturday before two of my three kids came back home, and today traveling to a nearby city for the day to visit an old friend and her family while Josh kept the twins (and watched a little soccer).

The hour drive was nice, both ways. Listening to the radio for a change, instead of little boys (especially one chatty little boy who never stops doing or talking). Visiting with an old friend that I don't get to see nearly enough (because between us we both have husbands and kids and jobs and busy lives to figure out). Enjoying good adult conversation with another mom. Watching and admiring someone else's child for a change. Eating lunch out at a unique restaurant. All good things that just give you a chance to step outside your normal day, your normal routine, and feel like something other than the housekeeper, the referee, the short-order cook, and (insert any other daily item here).

It's like a breath of fresh air. Getting the chance to step back from that day-to-day routine makes you come back and appreciate it just a little more. And the added bonus is that your kids always welcome you back with open arms. Tonight when I walked in, Sawyer ran up to me, wanted to be picked up and then gave me a kiss - something he rarely does. Xander ran up and wanted his hug and then held on for dear life, probably more from being tired than anything (since they skipped their afternoon nap), but it felt good just the same. Welcome home, Mommy. Welcome home.

Snapshot Sunday

My favorite shot from the pool on Thursday. Sawyer skimming the top of the water and the cute expression on his face. My newest water baby!

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Last night Josh and I took a much-needed night out without the kids. And even better, today we had a much-needed morning to sleep in! That almost never happens, at least not without hearing little people calling out our names or rattling door knobs or even kicking on their door (hello, Xander!). It's always something.

And like any parents who get some free time, we did the standard things. We went out to eat a a nice restaurant (P.F. Chang's, one of my favorites since it came to town). We did a little shopping (new kid-friendly swimsuit for Mommy, who's seeing a lot of trips to the pool in her future for Connor and Sawyer, and the old tie-string suit just doesn't seem safe anymore). And finally, we went to the grocery - on a Friday night! Yes, that's how far it's come. But we weren't alone, apparently, because the place was packed with more people than I've ever seen inside a Wal-Mart in my life - on a Friday night! I'm not sure if it's an economy thing, or people incorrectly assuming, as I did, that it would be a safe time to go to the store. Clearly not.

So we got home late, decided to throw caution to the wind and watch a movie from our now seldom-used collection. We didn't make it to bed until after 1 a.m. And let me tell you, those are hours we haven't seen in about four years, unless it was the sleep-deprived walk of the dead feeding babies (which doesn't really count). And then we slept in until after 10 a.m.! Now we're off to breakfast (or early lunch, your choice) and a movie before the twins come back home this afternoon. Freedom! (and you must imagine it, as I do, as Mel Gibson's version from Braveheart to truly understand our frame of mind).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Photo Flashback

Connor doesn't look too thrilled to be boating in this photo, or perhaps it's just the life jacket he's not thrilled with! Not quite right on the dates, but I thought it was appropriate given his fascination with boating from last week and where he's going to be this coming week! (August 09, 2005)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another Day, Another Trip to the Pool

Please meet the newest water baby in our family. On our last trip, we thought it was kind of a fluke. Sawyer, our cautious and careful child, really seemed to take to the water more than ever before. Well, today was just the same. We met up with Grammy, Pappy and Aunt Kelly out the club pool for a late afternoon of swimming and eating (two of our favorite things to do).

Sawyer and Connor were all over it. They jumped right in and started splashing and playing. There are always new and exciting toys to play with - the members just kind of bring toys and share and trade with everyone who's there that day - plus we had the toys we'd brought from home. Connor had a lot of fun with two little fishes at first, but when Grammy arrived after work she brought new toys that included battery operated boats. Connor was hard pressed to let even one of the three go, and they were by far the most popular item of the day for all the kids in the baby pool area. He did share with a couple of other little kids when pressed, and eventually found some other toys to play with too. And at the end of the day he found a little play buddy - they were doing a cute little trick of climbing out of the pool, grabbing hands and then jumping in together. They did it about 10 times before it was time for us to go - the twins were already in their dry clothes and waiting by the exit.

Sawyer had a big time running around counting all the chairs (they're too big to organize, you know). He also had fun when Grammy would pull him around and let him float on his back and kick. He picked up the balls and played at times, and found a little toy stick that he thought was the coolest thing ever (I still have no idea what it was, but he seemed to like it). He smiled and laughed a lot, which is not something we would have expected last year at this time (since he wasn't much on the water then!).

Xander, our poor little guy, didn't seem to be into it at all. He just wanted Mommy to hold him and got really mad when she tried to get him in the water with her. We finally gave up on that, and he did seem to have a little fun throwing balls in and out of the water from the dry side. Poor little guy did seem to have a low fever toward the end of the day, so maybe he's just not feeling well today.

All the boys are tucked in and already fast asleep. Another hard day's play (and a little Motrin for the little guy) did the trick. Even more adventures await tomorrow. Connor's getting picked up early by Grandma and Pa for his Thomas the Tank train ride. Sawyer and Xander are getting picked up by Pappy for an overnight visit with him and Grammy. And Mommy and Daddy are getting a much-needed night out and day of sleeping in!

Quoted & Noted

"Saw no want any," Connor told me as he climbed up to the dining room table.

He did this both in a serious tone of voice and with a straight face, which is important, because what he was telling me is that Sawyer didn't want any of the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream that Daddy had just scooped out for an afternoon snack.

"Saw no want any," he offered again, just as Sawyer came walking into the dining room to see what we were doing. Well, clearly Sawyer did want some. He walked right up and reached out his hand with his recently acquired "gimme" motion of opening and closing his fist.

Connor was still emphatic. "Saw no want any!" Slight pause as Mommy held the spoon up for Sawyer to take a bite. "Aww," in that pitiful and dejected voice that admits his treat just got cut in half (Xander was our good son today, actually taking his nap during our exchange).

Clearly it's all about food in our house today too - from salads to ice cream, how far we've fallen!

"Please, Mommy!"

When it comes to getting what he wants, Connor has gotten a little better (or a little smarter, depending on your perspective) in the way he goes about it. Take today, for instance, when he saw me fixing Josh a salad for lunch. Now, normally, this is not something that my son would want. But if Daddy was having one, then he absolutely had to have it too.

"Connor have salad?" he asked, in that little whine of a voice that usually begins every conversation when he wants something.

"Are you sure? I don't think you like salad," I offer, ignoring the whine.

"Connor have salad. Please, Mommy! Daddy like salad. Connor like salad. Please, Mommy!"

And who can resist such a request (at least when you ignore the original whine). So I got out a small bowl and started fixing him a little salad. Of course, I knew it would ultimately become a little extra salad for Daddy. Connor has on rare occasions eaten salad, but is, in general, not a fan. It has a few too many things he doesn't recognize or even like - carrots, big lettuce leaves, chopped ham, bacon bits.

He took one bite and pushed it away.

"Connor no like salad," he said quietly. And because it wasn't immediately removed, he began playing with it. And then it became "Salad yucky!" because he had bits and pieces of it stuck to his hands thanks to the thick ranch dressing that Daddy likes. "Wipe off, please!" he tells me, shaking his hands in disgust.

Clearly he gets THAT from his mother. Salads are yucky. But at least he's learning to say "please" when he wants something. Now we'll have to work a little more on avoiding the whine, and also on the "thank you," or "tanks" as he usually says it, which is much more sporadic with him.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

One-Track Mind

It's just after 9 a.m. and the boys have only been up and downstairs about twenty minutes. And I've heard about "going out in the boat later" about twenty times already in that short span. Clearly Connor has not forgotten about "boat in the water" or Mommy's promise that we would go back again soon!

His mind got started in that direction while we were simply getting dressed. You see, when I bought swimming shorts this year for all the boys, I got little outfits that included a little surfer shirt (rashguard, for those who are wondering about the technical term). It's a bright yellow little jersey that has a picture of an old surf wagon and some surf boards - and has long been one of Connor's favorites. It used to be "Wear this one to the pool today?" when he pulled out the shirt, which is practically every day that it's clean and hanging in the closet. Today, it was "Shirt in the boat?" When that got a quiet negative from me, he then turned to his life jacket, which hangs on a nearby shelf in the closet. "Wear this one in the boat today?" he asked hopefully. Another negative.

My poor baby. He was water and boating on his mind. We're going to try to make it to the pool tomorrow, which he'll love, and he will be boating again by the weekend, which he'll also love. You see, Grandma and Pa are taking him for a special surprise this Friday. He's going on a Thomas the Tank train ride adventure! And then he's going back to the lake with them for a few days where I'm sure there will be more "boat in the water" for him to enjoy. The question is, will he be willing to come back home after such fun?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quoted & Noted

"It no work, Mommy. It's broken," my son says calmly, handing me the brand new (soft) baseball bat that we picked up on our morning trip to the store.

He was so excited there, clutching it close the whole time we were in the store, wanting it back the minute it was paid for, and holding onto it - even in the plastic wrapper - all the way back home. He could hardly contain his excitement through lunch (some popcorn chicken from KFC because Mommy is a little - okay, a lot - tired of McDonald's).

He played with it for a long time, simply taking the bat and hitting the soft ball around like it was cricket or something. And then he had the even better idea of getting his larger Lightning McQueen inflatable ball and using it with the bat. It worked MUCH better for him.

So there we were, tossing the ball to him and letting him try to hit. He did really well for a while, then got tired (or lazy, perhaps) and his swings started slowing down. That's when he told us it was broken.

"It no work, Mommy. It's broken."

Clearly, something must be wrong with the bat, because there's nothing that Connor doesn't do well (according to him, anyway)!

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Boat in the Water!"

If I was uncertain before, I now know that my oldest son would live in the water if it was at all possible. We spent the past weekend at the lake visiting Grandma and Pa, and Connor couldn't get enough "Boat in the water!" It was on his mind from the moment he woke up to the moment we went and even after that until the moment he went to sleep. In fact, on our way out of town today as he was about to drift off to sleep in the truck, he asked "Boat in the water?" And when Mommy replied, "Not today, baby," he followed with a sleepy "After while," and promptly fell asleep, probably dreaming about the boat on the water.

We did take the poor little guy out twice, once on Saturday afternoon and once on Sunday evening. He even had his very first adventure of being pulled behind the boat on the tube (with Mommy). He didn't like it at first, because I tried to let him lay on it and he kept falling in the middle and getting his legs beat to death by the water. But eventually we worked it out so that he was sitting in Mommy's lap and having a good time. He also loved swimming back and forth between Grandpa and Mommy in the middle of the lake. When he got tired, he wanted to be put in the center of the tube to "rest" for a minute. He never wanted to go back to see Grandma and brothers at the cabin. "No Grandma, brothers. Boat in the water!"

In between thinking and talking about and actually taking the boat out on the water, we also found time to take some long stroller walks in the neighborhood, play with toys that once belonged to Mommy and Uncle Brian, and see birds and trees and leaves and all kinds of other things. And, of course, we watched for "big boats" on the water too!

Alexander was fascinated by the big, tall ceilings and the long fan cords. He kept point up to them and trying to get people to lift him up so he could grab them. No such luck, little man. But he had fun watching them anyway.

Sawyer was in rare form this weekend, not wanting to take naps and throwing temper-tantrums every time that one of his brothers had the audacity to mess up the order in his world, which was pretty often. He kept trying to line up cars and some ring-like stacking blocks, which Connor and Alexander seemed to take great pleasure in rearranging and stealing. Oh, and to top it all off, Sawyer thought 5:30 a.m. was the appropriate wake-up time at the lake. Good times.

Of course, all three are exhausted from our weekend adventure and are sound asleep. I have a few more hours before I have to hear about "Boat in the water with Grandpa's truck. Trailer in the water. Boat in the water!" I guess we'll be making a few more trips to the lake this summer, if Connor has anything to say about it!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Snapshot Sunday

Play hard. Sleep hard. Connor, after a particularly long afternoon of playing was still sound asleep at 6 p.m. Needless to say, he was up until late with Mommy and Daddy that night.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who Needs Clothes?

It can't be much longer before one of the many police officers who happen to live in our neighborhood and drive near our house cite us for indecent exposure. Connor, though mostly potty-trained at this point (thank heavens!) still cannot resist stripping down first thing in the morning when he wakes up and also on those rare days when he's put upstairs for a nap and doesn't actually take one. Today, he was guilty on both counts.

And these days, he's pretty quiet when he's in his room. You often don't know what time he wakes up in the morning or when he gets up from his nap, at least not immediately as you used to. There's no "Mommy?" pause "Mom-mee?" to listen for. There's no running around or jumping in the bed, also easily heard from just about anywhere in the house.

And the stripping down wouldn't be so bad if the boy had any other bedroom in the house, but he has the room with a large double-window that faces the street. And that is simply irresistible to our curious little man. Like his Grandpa Mickey, he likes to watch everything that's coming and going - construction trucks driving through the neighborhood, neighbors mowing their yard, installers putting up the street lights - you name it.

So, there's apparently been a large naked toddler in our window a lot recently. We're working on that. In the mean time, if you're driving by, please don't report us.


In the last few months, I've really noticed Connor's imagination taking off. He picks up things and pretends they're something else. A stick is an airplane that makes him twirl around in circles. A tall weed is a fishing pole when you put it inside of a tiny PVC pipe (can we tell Daddy works in construction?). A shoe is a camera for taking pictures on our long stroller walks. A stack of Lego blocks becomes a birthday cake that he brings to you and wants you to blow out the candles. His foam bath letters become people - "K" is Kay-dee, "J" is Jof-seph, "S" is Saw and "Z" is Xander (yeah, I know, not really correct). And, in this photo, the pattern on the rug becomes train tracks. Sometimes it's just amazing to watch them grow up right before your very eyes!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Another OCD Moment

With so many toys, we keep about half of them out in the toy boxes and half of them stored in our walk-in pantry. It was time to "switch" them out again, because the boys were getting a little bored. When his blocks disappeared, Sawyer started lining up the next best thing - the Little People. My little OCD man!

Slowly But Surely

With the beautiful weather the last couple of days - low 70s, lots of sun and a good breeze - the boys and I have been spending more time out during the day. There's been lots of pool time and slide time, which were limited to late evening during the recent string of 90-degree weather. We've even un-parked the stroller and resumed our long stroller walks through the neighborhood, albeit with a little alteration.

In an attempt to get the boys more used to going out into the world, Josh and I have been working with them a little more on following directions and walking without any restraints (strollers, harnesses, hand-holding, etc.). Sometimes we take family walks and sometimes I venture out with the boys one at a time on a short circuit around the neighborhood block.

Today was a new variation. We took our normal long stroller walk but I let the boys down one at a time to walk along beside as I pushed the stroller. I've done this in the past with Connor some, but today was the first day we rotated "turns" of who got to walk and who had to ride. It actually had the added bonus of giving Mommy a break on pushing a stroller not quite as heavy as normal, as there were very few moments when all three boys were tired and in need of a ride. But, the down side is we almost missed our normal lunch time because it took twice as long! Better planning next time is clearly in order.

Connor, of course, loves the freedom and does extremely well for pretty good lengths of time. He does eventually get tired, but never, never wants to be put back in the stroller. If I ask often enough, he will sometimes let me lift him back in, but only if I persuade him he's doing Mommy a favor to get back in and never because he's tired. He tends to slow our pace down the most, because he's constantly pulled off track by flowers and bugs and trees and grass and rocks and just about anything you can imagine. But that's part of the fun, and as long as it's not too hot for his brothers who are riding, we take our time.

Xander loved the freedom of walking too! He started off a little hesitantly, probably because he's never been allowed down on a stroller ride, but did really well. He held my hand for just a minute or two (on each of his turns), stuck pretty close to me behind the stroller a little while longer, and eventually was leading the pack in his excited little run. But, and here's the good thing, he's much better at responding to my comments to "Wait for Mommy!" or "Stop!" when he's getting a little too far away. And he never once ventured out toward the road - a big improvement for him! He even went willingly back into the seat when it appeared he was getting tired, and seemed to understand the concept of taking turns with his brothers. He eyed Connor, whose turn followed his, enviously but without complaint as Connor walked beside his stroller seat!

Sawyer, my clutcher, loved being free from the stroller, but wasn't much on walking. He did walk for short periods, clutching on to my hand the whole time like a good little guy. But after a while, he'd walk a little in front of me and quickly turn around right into my legs with his arms up - he was ready to be held and carried for a while (something he usually gets on our one-on-one ventures around the block)! I carried him for a little while, thinking to myself how absurd it must look to passers-by that I was pushing a triple stroller with one arm that had one toddler in the front seat, an empty middle seat, and a big toddler in the back seat all the while carrying a pretty good sized toddler with the other arm! He was none to happy to be strapped back in, either, let me tell you.

A fun little morning adventure. I had a much easier job with the stroller. The boys got some much needed freedom and exercise in a relatively safe environment and learned a little bit about taking turns. And it took up a big chunk of our morning, some of which is usually spent in front of the television on PBS programming. Not that I mind to let them watch a little educational television or even a few Pixar movies, but I was certainly glad to get them outside and share my love of the outdoors with them. They smiled and laughed a lot, which is a pretty good sign that we'll be repeating our adventure a lot more as the weather allows!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Day at the Pool

There are few things that our boys like better than the water, at least as far as Sawyer and Connor go. Xander enjoys it, but it usually takes him much longer to warm up to the idea of "swimming" than it does my other water babies. Today we met up with Grammy at the club pool for an afternoon of sun and splashing (love this 70 degree weather)!

The boys luckily took their naps before we left, so all went surprisingly well. We played on the small playground by the pool when we first arrived, and then quickly made our way to the pool. The playground was the first thing the boys could see from the parking lot, but Connor would not be denied his pool time for long. And there we stayed for several hours, only broken up by a quick snack in the middle. The boys were apparently starving, as they devoured a rather large container of Goldfish crackers, a couple of boxes of raisins and about five juice boxes (they were a little small, even I must admit). And then it was back to the water. We played with our inflatable fish, our toy trucks, a few balls, a few squirt toys and even a pair of goggles. Hours and hours of fun.

Sawyer impressed me the most this trip. He's always liked the water pretty well, but today he reminded me of Connor at his age. He kept experimenting with sitting down and going under and coming back up, things that Xander had absolutely no interest in. If Xander happened to go under it was very accidental and he didn't like it one bit. He preferred to hop in and out from the sides - thank goodness it's a large baby pool that's one foot on the shallow end and two feet on the deep end. Connor was simply Connor. He had a blast with all the toys, jumping in and out, going under and coming back up, paddling around, floating on his fish, getting Grammy to play with him, playing with an older little girl who came and went during our stay. And I must give him credit, he's doing much better about leaving. He still doesn't like it, delays as long as he possibly can in the pool, but he comes eventually and usually without the tears and screaming that once marked our exit. Of course, on the way home I did hear, "Connor go to the pool. Later. Tonight. Swim some more later. Tonight." Not once, but about 10 times in the 30 minute drive and again while we were getting ready for bed. The boy clearly cannot get enough.

And since the boys were so ravenous during snack time, Mommy took pity on them and stopped at "Donal's" on the way home. Chicken nuggets, fries and Oreo McFlurries hit the spot. Another great summer day!

"Connor's Helpful!"

Though I have no illusions that it will last for any length of time, my oldest son has been enjoying the idea of being "helpful" to anyone that he can of late. Yesterday it was "Connor help?" when Mommy was vacuuming the floor. Last night it was "Connor help?" when Mommy was going outside to water the flowers in the planter and when Mommy was rolling the big trash cans out to the curb for garage pickup this morning. Today it was "Connor help?" when he was walking along beside me as I pushed the stroller with his brothers and when Mommy was getting the mail on the way back in to the house. And, you get the idea.

He loves to "help" with just about anything you're doing. And after he's done something, he's certain to proclaim "Connor did a great job! Connor's helpful!" with a big grin on his face. The kid clearly is benefiting from positive reinforcement. It's helped with potty training (high-fives and "Connor did a great job!") and now with little random chores around the house.

Of course, you must take it with a grain of salt. As in with his "help" vacuuming. He does a wonderful job, really, on that single spot he picks out to clean. The rest of the floor, however, might still need some attention from Mommy later on. But, at least he wants to be helpful. There are worse things in the world, I suppose, for a toddler to be!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Grill Incident

Come next Father's Day, the boys and I definitely know what kind of card to buy for Daddy. It seems like almost all of them have something to do with fishing, grilling, golf or sitting in your recliner.

Grilling has long been part of our cooking experience, used probably four or more times a week in the summer and usually once or twice a week even during the middle of winter (a steak is simply not a steak if it's cooked inside). We've never had the slightest problem with our grill, even occasionally using the very greasy pre-packaged burgers that are prone to causing large flames and lots of heat.

Well, yesterday we had a little incident. Josh and I have never cooked ribs outside before, simply because I'm not a huge fan and would prefer my beef to be in the form of a ribeye. But it was Father's Day after all, and it was Josh's suggestion when I asked him what to pick up at the store earlier in the week. We put them on the bottom rack, where we grill everything, and then went back inside to finish getting the rest of the stuff ready. Big mistake, apparently. Lots of smoke and flames later, one of the side trays on our grill shows some serious melting damage and the front of the grill itself has a bunch of spiderweb cracks. Josh said the temperature meter basically fell off the "hot" side for a few minutes there.

Those first ribs were a bit charred on the outside and raw on the inside. Our second attempt (shortly after the flames from our first attempt died down) went much smoother. Ribs on the top rack, on the lowest heat setting possible. Much tastier this time, though Buster and Louie didn't really complain about those first ones. In fact, they think Daddy deserves Father of the Year award for their tasty dinner!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Week in Review

We have three sniffly little boys in our house this week, so they've been somewhat subdued. Here are some of my favorite moments of late.

Connor has suddenly taken to potty training (thank heavens!) and can now be heard at various times of the day saying "Pee-pee!" in the most excited of little people voices and running to the bathroom door. We are even progressing in that other area as well. It wasn't the candy or the suckers either. Two things, seem to have helped. Connor's fascination with letters led Mommy to put to Dr. Seuss ABC books in the bathroom, which kept him sitting on the potty and distracted him just enough to let things happen as they should. The other is his preferred form of praise - a double high-five (done several times - once while sitting on the potty, once after pulling the big boy underwear back on, and once after getting fully dressed again, and perhaps a few more between hand washing and candy or sucker dispensing) and also saying "Connor did a great job!" over and over again. He just grins and asks for anther high-five.

Sawyer still has no need for speaking. His latest development is to get Mommy to pick him up, and then get her to move along the high bar top in our kitchen naming the objects we see. Flowers, sand (they're fake flowers in sand), brownies, basket, candies, and soccer ball (vase from when the twins were born with a plant that's managed to outlive even my black thumb). We always go through the entire list, but we get pulled back to the candy dispenser. And if Mommy is not quick enough about pulling the lever, Sawyer simply grabs my hand (usually from supporting his heavy self) and puts in on the lever. No words are needed. My directions are clear. "Hey lady, I want some candy right now so go ahead and pull that tricky little lever and get me some!"

Alexander has been wanting to have "conversations" lately. His version of a conversation involves walking up and making a sound, which he then expects you to repeat back to him. If it's a little scream, you scream back. If it's more of a sound, you repeat that. He'll go back and forth with you several times, grinning the whole time. He usually ends his conversations with one of his trademark open-mouth kisses (and often repeats this part four or five times) before moving on to something else.

And finally, the fact that Connor is slowly progressing to the level of holding a true conversation with people is kind of fun. Grant you, he still has words that few people would understand but us, and moments were he lapses into complete babbling because he cannot form the words he wants, but there are those other moments of clarity that are amazing. He's beginning to grasp the concept of time, though tomorrow is about as far as it goes. He talks about doing things again that he's done once, like putting his "new" booster seat in Pa's truck to go for a ride, or riding in Kelly's car to go to the pool "after while" or stopping by "Donal's" as soon as we get in Mommy's truck. He understands more of what you say (though he's just stubborn enough to only listen about half of the time). He's curious and inquisitive, which can sometimes drive you mad, but also has to make you smile. Our world is going to be very interesting the next couple of years!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Fun

At three, Connor still needs a short afternoon nap. Unfortunately for us, our boys don't understand the concept of "short" nap - it usually turns into a four or five hour deep sleep that makes going back to bed a nightmare for all of us. So, unless he's unusually whiny or disagreeable, Connor often gets to stay up while his brothers take their nap (and are subsequently woken up to be grouches a few hours later).

Today during nap time, I thought I was being nice by taking him out to swim in our little inflatable pool. Clearly, I was just feeding his addiction. He loved every minute we were out there, was extremely disappointed to come back in nearly two hours later, and never quite recovered from it.

Case in point. Josh was brushing Buster and Louie out on the deck while I was getting dinner ready (you would not believe the amount of hair those two apparently have, because the floor is a mix of red and white and I just vacuumed this morning!). Josh came back inside and got distracted. The house got quiet - a sure sign something is not quite right. While he was entertaining Sawyer, the other two had quietly made their way outside through the accidentally unlocked door and then made their way down to the swimming pool. Connor, the good son, had stripped down into only his t-shirt, which I'm guessing only survived because the neck is small and hard to get over his slightly large head. His other clothes were in the bottom of the little inflatable pool. Xander isn't quite advanced enough to dress or undress himself, so he just climbed in fully clothed. Don't you just love Connor's influence on his younger brothers?

It clearly was not enough that we'd already been in the pool once today, he needed a little more before the day was over and needed it more than anything else, apparently. Well, he got his wish. He was quickly packed inside and up to bed. He KNOWS better than that.

Give them an inch, they try to take a mile!

Photo Flashback

Sawyer relaxing on the couch. (May 31, 2006)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

House Guest

The boys are in for a big surprise when they wake up (or get up, anyway) from their naps today! Cousin Louie is staying with us for a few days while Uncle Luke does some Army Reserve training. Buster has already seen him and was not too happy. I think the twins will probably share his response, though Louie has calmed down a lot in the last month or so, so hopefully they'll all get along a little better this time around. Connor will be thrilled to see him. He's apparently more the "right" size for toddlers, because while Connor will occasionally pat Buster and say "Good boy!" just like Mommy, he LOVES to play with Louie. He likes to throw his ball and play tug-o-war with him, and loves to chase him around and around the house. I'm seeing a tired little boy and a tired bulldog in our future!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Good Day to Play

Today we had our very first play date, and I couldn't be more proud of the boys! My good friend Andrea (see her blog here) has started working from home part-time and keeping her toddlers the rest of it, so we finally managed to get our acts together and visit (she's only been back in the same state for about two years now, so we're making progress!)

The boys had a blast! We started with McDonald's for lunch, because what kind of play date would it be without chicken nuggets and fries? Then the kids had a big time playing with all of the new and exciting toys that Bailey and Jake have in their play room. We quickly moved outside, where the swings and slide were calling to my children. But they didn't make it that far, because on the deck was a plastic swimming pool and sand box too. They couldn't resist, even fully clothed. Andrea and I just kind of threw our hands up and said, "Sure, why not?" We eventually took off the wet clothes and got swim wear and sunscreen, but by then it was time to move on to the slides (which is what we should have expected). And then back to the water and the sand. I think both the pool and the sandbox were equal parts sand and water by the time it was all said and done.

Connor and Bailey have such similar personalities that they were clashing a bit throughout the day, but all in relatively good fun. Both like to have their own way and be the one in charge. You can see how that might cause a few problems. Connor, being slightly bigger, seemed to win the bully award of the day. We intervened when necessary, but tried to just let them do their thing as long as no one was truly getting hurt. They played well, most of the time. Connor loved riding on their Thomas the Tank ride-along car (way cooler than our Lightning McQueen one), and had a big time playing with the play-kitchen and the push-along stroller and dolls. True novelties to our car and truck and train boys.

Xander got in on some of the group playing, but was happier to just toss a big pink ball around and get into a little of everything all on his own. He and Jake shared some bouncing balls late the day, trading out colors and just having a big time running around with them. He definitely got in some good play time.

Sawyer, of course, found something to organize. Outside it was a big bucket of sidewalk chalk (that my good oldest son kept dumping into the pool). Inside it was little rings and balls and Playdoh and anything else he could get his hands on to put in order. He also played with the balls a little, but usually went back to the quieter, more organized activities. He also fell sound asleep the minute we pulled out of the driveway, since we played right through our normal nap time.

The boys and I had a great time visiting, and I'm very much mistaken if Connor doesn't have a new set of people to add to his list when he's feeling lonely and in need of some love. Grammy, Pappy, Kay-dee, Josh, Jof-seph, Bil-lee (this should be Bay-lee, but Connor has a little trouble), and Jake! He asked me tonight, as he was put down for an early bed time, "See Bil-lee and Jake tonight? Slide more later?" He too, is already sleeping.

I liked this photo because it kind of summed up the day. Connor trying to mess up Sawyer's chalk, Bailey trying to help put it right, and Xander doing his own thing. Jake, I think, was getting his shoes put back on by Mommy at this point because the deck was too hot for little feet.

Whether they want to our not, our boys are starting to mix with the world a little more, and I couldn't be happier about it. Today was a lot of fun for them and for me. And just this week, we've had two unexpected but very welcome visitors. Uncle Brian stopped by when he was out on our side of town for a meeting to visit with the boys for a little while, playing lots of trains with Connor and rolling trucks with Alexander. Cousin Jason stopped by one afternoon and got to visit with Connor while brothers napped. We went to a baseball game last weekend to watch cousin Austin play. Slowly but surely, we'll get the boys socialized a little more (and hopefully talking sometime before they start school)!

Tales from the Potty

It's been a while since we've covered this fun area of our life. That would be because we simply gave up on Connor for a while. He would go pee-pee on the potty all day long, but adamantly refused anything else, so much so that he was holding it in until bed time (when the pull-up was still standard), which didn't seem healthy at all. Surely, we thought, give him a little time and he'll be ready.

Well, not so much. He was actually forced back into it again. He KNOWS what he's doing, and he knows how to be potty-trained. He just willfully CHOOSES not to be. After one rather disgusting nap time incident that I will try not to go into too much detail about - let's just say there were some smears on some unacceptable surfaces - it was do or die time.

He still has good days and bad days, but has been doing remarkably well of late. I firmly believe it's as much about training yourself to pay attention to the kids as it is about them learning to know when they need to go. Last Saturday, Connor wore big boy pants on our adventures - going potty in three public restrooms without any problems or accidents and even went number two on the potty at home that night before bed. That was a MAJOR breakthrough for him. He also did well today on our play date adventure (see today's other post). No accidents, and another successful number two at home.

Score one for Mommy, at least on making progress. We're still a long way from being there, but at least we're moving in the right direction again!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Little Neighborhood Walk

For the first time EVER, we took the boys on a little walk around our neighborhood (no strollers, no leashes, no nothing - well, at least not for the kids). Mommy has been trying to take the boys on little individual walks lately, just to give them a little more one-on-one time and also some freedom and practice at following directions while unconstrained. You know - please stay out of the road, watch that car, stop, get out of the neighbor's yard, don't pull that flower - the essentials. They seem to enjoy them so far, and have done really well at listening.

Tonight was our first family adventure, just Mommy and Daddy and three wild little boys and one wild puppy! They did well, all in all. We did have trouble staying together, which wasn't surprising. Xander is a little speed demon who could do the walk two times over compared to his brothers. Sawyer likes to hold Mommy's hand and take his time. Connor is alternately fast, wanting to run, and then slow, getting easily sidetracked by a flower or a rock or a dead bug or whatever.

Daddy, Xander and Connor broke away in the first group since Connor was eager at the beginning and Xander just wanted to run. Sawyer, on the other hand, likes to look around and tends to go slower. Mommy tried taking him and Buster, but soon found herself getting pulled both ways. Sawyer tugging me back because I was walking too fast for him (trying to keep up with the others) and Buster pulling on me because he wanted to go faster! We reassigned partners. Josh took the eager ones, Xander and Buster, on around. Mommy got Sawyer (clutching her hand the whole way, and being carried every now and then in an attempt to keep up) and Connor who was alternately wanting to hurry to catch Daddy and stopping to check something out.

And, just to put things in perspective. On our walk, we passed our neighbor who has triplets a year or so older than our boys. They were all riding around on their big wheels, with Mom chasing and directing from behind. This is apparently what we have to look forward to in a few years!

Soon, we all made it back to the house, just a few minutes apart. The two little guys were trying to go around again, but we thought it was best not to push our luck! Instead, we headed outside for a little more outdoor fun. And, of course, there were icees involved. Good summer fun after the heat of the day is gone.

The Stroller is Officially Parked

For the first time in several weeks, the temperature was supposed to stay below 80 degrees. Much better weather for taking our morning stroller walk, or so I thought, than all those 90 plus days we've been having. It was cloudy and overcast, which was another plus, I thought.

About 10 minutes into it, Mommy starts getting really hot. Those clouds that were so thick as we were putting our sunscreen on and getting ready were suddenly gone. Another 10 minutes down the road and boys (new short) hair is soaked through (and all they're doing is riding!). But, we've been trapped in the house during the heat wave for what feels like weeks, so I kept going. Despite being warm, the boys were happy and looking around and seemed to be enjoying the break from the house. Mommy was hot and drenched in sweat at this point, but determined to go on for our normal 2-mile round trip circuit since we were already out.

Well, we survived, and that's about all I can tell you. We were all hot, tired, thirsty and pretty soaked through. And to top that off, about half-way back, Connor decided to kick Sawyer's seat and force it into the all the way upright position (not very comfortable for the rest of the trip) - you know, so far up that it comes off the track and can only be fixed with the help of a screwdriver and some brute force.

At least Mommy was a little smarter this time around. Sippy cups filled with water only were dispensed. They were allowed to drink and / or play for about 10 minutes in the kitchen. Sippy cups were then emptied into the sink. Mommy took her much needed quick shower while two little boys (the good ones this morning) played and one little boy sat in the time out chair (for kicking the back of Sawyer's seat - when he knows VERY WELL that he's not supposed to!).

The stroller is officially parked in the garage until Fall. Good times.

Monday, June 9, 2008

True Happiness

He's excited at just the thought of going swimming. He's impatient to change clothes, doesn't want to wait for Mommy to get the towel or water toys, much less put on the sun screen. He's ready to jump in before the cover has been pulled off, even though the water is ridiculously hot until more water is added from the hose. He loves every minute of being in the water, whether it's floating on his fish, playing with alphabet letters, just splashing, or spraying himself with the garden hose. He hates to get out, no matter how wrinkled he is or hot it is outside or how cold the water may be (not a problem today at least). Before his hair has even dried, he's begging to go back again. My little water baby. Mommy understands, truly she does. She was the same way once upon a time. You can never get enough!

Phrase of the Week

Toddlers are big on repetition. Mine in particular, seems to LOVE it more than anything else in this world. He cannot ask or say something just once, he must say it over and over and over and over and OVER again. His choice for this week is a new one.

"What happened, Mommy?" he asks.

Almost always, nothing has happened. I am simply unloading the dishwasher. Or fixing breakfast. Or sitting on the couch. Or playing with one of his brothers. Or simply just standing beside the boys while they play. It doesn't matter what, if anything, I am actually doing.

"What happened, Mommy?"

I have no idea where he learned it or even heard it for that matter, but it's all he can say at the moment. And, as with most things, he will say it over and over again until you respond. Perhaps he's simply learned that it's a question to ask that usually gets a response. He does like to be the center of attention at all times, so perhaps it's just another way to get you to pay attention to him. Is it too early in the week to hope for a new phrase? Because this one's getting old really, really fast!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Snapshot Sunday

Up to no good, and getting caught in the act. Here he was stealing some of Alexander's blocks, if you can believe that!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Saturday Adventures

Today we all had a fun visit from Grandma and Pa who drove up from the lake. From the moment they walked in the front door, they were drug around to play cars and blocks and read books and just about everything else you can imagine. Connor absolutely loves visitors, especially if he can commandeer them for himself most of the time. He's not so much on the whole sharing concept.

And after playing for a while, it was time to get out and go, something else he loves to do. Little brothers stayed home with Daddy for a much-needed nap, while Grandma, Pa, Mommy and Connor got in Pa's truck and headed out for a quick trip to Target and then over the little league baseball fields to watch cousin Austin play one of his last games of the season. We got there just in time to see him hit an in-park home run, which he was very excited about. There were a few little errors on the play, but it was a great hit that probably would have been at least a double anyway! Connor had a big time alternately watching the game, running around in the park, doing circles around the landscaping brick of a tree, and jumping on and off of the bleachers and the bicycle stand. Sound busy? He was. He also got to enjoy munchies - Cheetos courtesy of Austin and Uncle Brian, who brought snacks for the players and shared with Connor, and a red slushie courtesy of Grandma and Pa (that was gone in about one minute). He was a little impatient for the ice part to even melt. Perhaps he should have eaten a little more lunch before we left our house?

Finally, we ended the day by meeting up with Daddy and brothers at Cracker Barrel (Mommy's favorite!). It was a long day, but a fun one. Connor was asleep within minutes of his head hitting the pillow, though he was still asking about taking his shirt off and going swimming even as his eyes fluttered closed. Wouldn't you love to have that kind of energy?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Quoted & Noted

"Pool tonight?" Pause. "Shirt off later. Pants off later." A slightly longer pause. "Gonna swim tonight." Another pause. "After while. Later. Connor swimmin'."

It's like a broken record in our house. I hear it all day, every day, even if we do make it into the little inflatable pool. I definitely have a water baby on my hands.

Last night, Josh made a pretty good comparison. Now I'm not quite the Lord of the Rings fan that my husband is, but I do appreciate the character of Gollum and the concept of the "precious!"

Water and the pool would definitely apply to Connor. He just goes on and on about it, sometimes in that slightly monotone, dazed voice that even when he knows going out in the pool is not an option. Take for instance, each night when I lay down with him in bed for a few minutes to get him settled in for the night. "Shirt off? Pool tonight?" usually follows, even though he clearly sees that it's dark outside, knows it's time to go night-night, and that Mommy is not going to take him swimming after his bath. It's still on his mind though, and it's often the first thing he asks about in the morning too.

My own parents are probably shaking their heads and chuckling at this. Apparently, I was of the same mind once upon a time. I'm seeing lots of days in the pool this summer, for all of us, whether we really want to or not!

Photo Flashback

Cute little grin from Xander. (May 31, 2006)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summer Time

It's official, summer has begun. We got out the little inflatable pool earlier this week, but with all the rain and storms, the kids haven't been able to get into it until today. This, of course, bothered Connor much more than the little guys. I think we heard "Pool tonight?" about a hundred different times in the mere three days it's sat outside unused (and no, I'm not really exaggerating on that one).

Connor was the first one in today and the last one out, if you can believe it. He played, he kicked, he splashed, and he tried to float on the fish floatie (though the pool is not quite big or deep enough for this). Sawyer had a big time, surprising Mommy by getting in and splashing almost as quickly as Connor. He got tired of it early though, and headed up on the deck to look around at the heavy equipment working on the vacant lots across the street. Xander held back, content for most of adventure to simply stand outside the pool and catch balls while Mommy and brothers waded in the water and splashed. He did get in eventually, and spent some time kicking and splashing like all the rest. Buster hovered nearby for most of the action, just dying to get in and splash too, but he knows it's not allowed. (He's been known to sneak in when Mommy's not looking and get hair all in the water!) Mommy did take pity on the poor, hot puppy. We had a few minutes of spray fun with the hose, something Buster's always enjoyed.

A fun way to spend our morning, since our long stroller walks came to a screeching halt the minute the temperature broke 80 degrees. Too hot for Mommy, and too hot for little boys (even with the new short hair cuts!)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Happy Birthday!"

Imagine, if you will, my three-year old picking up one of the long cylinder foam blocks and putting it up to his mouth. He starts slowly, but quickly goes through, "Hap-pee birth-day! Hap-pee birthday! Ha-ap-pee bir-th-da-ay!" Then he pulls the foam block down and looks at me for a response.

As it's not really anyone's birthday, and not really even close to anyone's birthday, I'm not sure what's brought this on. Perhaps too much American Idol this season? Perhaps he's just in the mood to sing and it's the only song he can think of?

And then the truth comes out.

"Cake tonight?"

Ah, yes. When it's someone's birthday, we usually have cake. So he was apparently in the mood for a little cake and thought his song and dance might get him some. It was definitely cute enough to get him a piece, but cake isn't exactly something we keep laying around our house. How about some ice cream, we always have ice cream!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rainy Tuesday

If it rains on the slide, you just have to find another one. Today we got out the big bouncer for the boys to play on since it rained most of the morning. Connor had a big time bouncing all around, trying to keep brothers out, sliding on the small slide, and even jumping in to the back from on top of the couch (no, this is not safe, and it stopped when Mommy caught him). Sawyer liked to bounce and slide, but only if Mommy climbed in too (and that didn't last long either, because the other boys are too rough and tumble for her). Xander had a big time, bouncing all over the place and sliding out head first. Even with their new short haircuts, all three of them were hot and sweaty by the end of our hour and a half of fun. Yes, more than an hour! Inside pictures weren't good with the low light, but here was my favorite of the morning - Xander mid-bounce!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Quoted & Noted

"Connor No-(Last Name)!" he screams, over and over, while laughing.

Apparently Pappy tried to teach Connor his last name during their last visit, but it's not taking very well. I think he's somehow gotten this one tied up with the "No whippin's!" dialogue we've been hearing a lot lately. Because "Connor No-(Last Name)!" is almost always followed by, "Tell him, leave 'lone!" just like "No whippin's!"

Despite his adamant refusal, we've been continuing the effort here at home, since knowing your name is going to be more important as we're taking him out and about more often. And he's also going through a stage of picking up new words and phrases like crazy and showing a huge interest in letters and words and language. He loves two PBS shows right now - Super Why! and Word World - and will sit transfixed for the entire 30 minutes without moving. He also loves playing with "Super Letters," which is what he calls all letters thanks to the first show. We have the foam ones in the bath tub that he can never get enough of and before I took down the movie posters, he loved to stand on the couch and point to all the letters telling us what they were.

And, the kid is actually pretty good with them for no longer than he's been doing it. He can recognize probably 75 percent of them, though he's having none of the "ABC Song" Mommy has been trying to teach him on our long stroller walks. He prefers to randomly recite his letters, thank you.

"Tell him, leave 'lone!" he says.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunday Night Fun

How do you simultaneously torture yourselves, your children and save yourselves more than $50? Simple, you take what should be a nice, quiet and peaceful Sunday evening and turn it into a full-on torture session. Actually, we just cut the kids' hair here at the house, but torture session still applies (ask them, if you don't believe me).

Because it's quite messy and involves lots of tears and screaming and flying hair, we decided to strap the two not being trimmed into their stroller seats in front of a Pixar movie. We also went ahead and got out the central vacuum cleaner. Connor was the sleepiest, after our afternoon adventure of going to Cousin Amy's baby shower in Mercer County with Aunt Kelly, so he was up first. He did pretty well, all in all. A little nervous with the first few swipes of the electric clippers and not at all happy about scissor trimming over his ears, but really good otherwise. Daddy is an expert hair-cutter, apparently.

Sawyer was up next, because he was unhappy just sitting strapped in his seat and screamed throughout most of Connor's cut. The screaming didn't stop. With both twins, Mommy was chief assistant, in charge of keeping death grips on strong little arms and hands, sometimes even putting firm hands on their face to keep them from swinging back and forth. Did I mention lots of screaming and tears? We considered doing this out on the deck so the mess would be easier to clean up, but were a little worried our neighbors might report us for abuse given the volume and duration of the screaming.

Xander was actually a much better client. He held on to two combs and watched the movie for most of it. There was a little screaming when the clippers came out, and a lot more when it was time to trim the ears and bangs and finally when the hair started falling his face and eyes. Not a happy camper at this point.

But all ends well, they got rushed up for bath time, which they love, and the night time ritual was commenced - pajamas, singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and hugs and kisses before bed. Connor was so tired he didn't even get this. He was asleep before the others were even finished. And by the time they crawled in bed, the torture was forgotten (well, mostly, since they were smiling and laughing again!).

Here are the before and after pictures (no more surfer boys for Mommy, which is kind of sad, but I'm sure it will feel much cooler in this hot weather!):

Connor says, "No, no, wait!" at first. He's all smiles after we're done.

Sawyer's making a silly face before and a very unhappy face after.

Xander is happy with his two combs before, not so happy after.

Black & Whites on Display

The pictures are finally here and up on the walls!

Snapshot Sunday

Grammy helping Connor feed the ducks last week at the city park.