Sunday, August 31, 2008

Snapshot Sunday



Proof, at last, that my boys are not the only ones enjoying the little backyard inflatable pool. Do you see all those paw prints? I started laughing out loud as I was emptying out the water and cleaning it up the other day. Sneaky little puppies, and yes, it's plural. We know for a fact that Buster not only drinks out of it but occasionally tries to climb in, at least with his front paws. We also know that cousin Louie, who came over to visit last Sunday afternoon, found it too appealing to resist. Within minutes of being put outside on the deck, he came back to the door dripping wet and whimpering. An outside dog, he is not. Buster agrees, but he had the advantage of knowing the dog door led into his air-conditioned room. Good summer fun!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Family Reunion

Another Labor Day weekend, another annual family reunion (Daddy's side).



Daddy & the little guys blowing bubbles.



Connor playing with cousin "Rye-lee" (Ryleigh).



Connor looking displeased about something (probably that Ryleigh isn't going up the rest of the way and he's had to stop).



Xander chasing bubbles.



Sawyer trying to pop bubbles.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Photo Flashback, Part II



Daddy (March 1982)



Connor (August 2008)

Though we have three little boys battling the sniffles (that rare and odd thing known as the summer cold, apparently), there were moments in between the cherry Tylenol and the movies and the naps where they were smiling and hamming it up for the camera. They were also still fond of removing couch cushions and bouncing around like a three-ring circus, but we'll look past that and get back to the point. I have long thought that Connor, at times, has a strong resemblance to Josh at this age, especially in some of his expressions. This one, with the squinting eyes, the crinkly nose and the crooked (cheese-y) smile, is one of the most striking and amusing. Daddy's little man.

Photo Flashback



Brothers in the bath, Sawyer left and Xander right. (August 4, 2007)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's Hard Being Three



When you have toddlers everyone feels the need to tell you about the terrible twos, but I'm not so sure I agree. As someone with both two-year olds (yes, plural) and a three-year old, I think three is by far the harder age. Perhaps that's only because I do have three of them so close in age, but Connor seems to be going through the roughest transition at the moment. Or maybe it's just that he has the strongest personality of the boys right now.

He's at the restless stage, where he wants to do and see and say all the time. He cannot stop, even for a minute. And if he's not getting the attention he wants (or is it needs?), then he's completely willing to go for it in other ways. Negative attention is still attention, isn't it? In the last few weeks, he seems to be having a hard time listening to and doing what we ask, even when he knows it's something he should do and even if he knows the consequences.

Tonight we struggled over not bouncing all over the couch, pulling the cushions from the couch, and moving the leather ottoman across the floor (we've recently moved one of our area rugs under the ottoman to prevent the little guys from doing it, but Connor is strong enough to push both rug and ottoman). He had three chances, which he knows is Mommy's limit. The first warning was verbal (in Mommy's well-known "mean" voice). The second was a few minutes in the time-out chair followed by the requisite conversation about what he'd done wrong and his being asked to say "sorry" about what he'd done. It's always resisted, but eventually given in the most pitiful of little voices with his chin resting on his chest and his eyes nearly closed from looking so far down (oh, and don't forget the really pitiful pouting lower lip, because it's there too). And the last, which he'd been warned about from the first and the second, was immediate bed with no bath (which he loves more than just about anything). It was 6:45 p.m., which is very early for him, even allowing for the fact that he didn't have a nap today.

Perhaps it's not the age, but the overall circumstances right now. It's surely hard for him, with the therapists coming over to work with the little guys and naturally spending most of their time engaging them (though, honestly, they're very inclusive of Connor, too). Connor has always needed attention much more so than the little guys, and not having all of their attention is the equivalent (it seems) of not having any of their attention. It also seems to be showing up with me lately too. If I'm engaging one of the little guys, working on signs or sounds, or even just playing, he feels the need to not only be involved, but to push them out of the way until he is front and center in whatever we're doing. Perhaps we're all still adjusting.

It's probably a struggle for all parents with children close in age, dividing up your time and attention and trying to make sure everyone's needs (and many of their wants) are met. We're certainly trying. This week on my once-a-month or so (meaning long and involved, as in two trips to the car) trip to the grocery, I opted to take Connor along rather than have my usual three-hours of peace and quiet away from home. When I take Buster for a walk at night, I've been asking him if he wants to tag along, which he always does, and we leave the little guys with Daddy. If the little guys happen to take a nap, we get out one of the "fun" games reserved just for him - the board games, the coloring stuff, sidewalk chalk, a special DVD that his brothers won't watch and he loves, books. Even if I'm so ready to have a little time to myself, I try to spend at least half of their nap doing something just with him. We know it's hard, especially now when we're spending a lot of time working with his brothers on their communication.

Right now, in our house at least, being three is definitely harder than being two.

Salty or Sweet?

In our house, snacking usually falls into two categories - salty or sweet.

Xander is more like me, preferring salty. I believe I've mentioned that he thinks of chips as a major food group (and Mommy doesn't really blame him). Sawyer and Connor both like sweet, though they would probably argue you need both to be well-rounded - they just like to eat in general! Daddy, most definitely falls into the sweet category. Ice cream, check. Candy bars, check. Hard candy, double check. The boys love him the most at night, especially if they're still up when the ice cream comes out.

Today during our afternoon snack time, I sat down with my favorite - sour cream and cheddar chips. Sawyer doesn't care for those and was perfectly happy with his usual Goldfish (semi-healthy, at least!). Connor, who loves the fact that he's now offered choices at meal times, didn't want either of those.

"Somethin' else!" he said to me, pointing to the cabinet where we keep the chips when I asked him what he wanted for a snack.

And at that moment I realized that my mother would not approve. There are seven (yes, seven!) different types of chips in the cabinet that are opened (there are actually 10 different types in all at the moment). We grew up in the house where you had to eat all of one before you could have another. Same went for cereal and other similar foods. There would be no food going bad and no wastefulness. The good news is that doesn't happen for us either. I don't think we ever throw chips away, we simply go though them much too fast.

Oh, and Connor picked plain chips (Wavy Lays, I think), in case you were curious.

Xander, my poor baby, missed snack time today. He's the only one napping (have I mentioned he's my favorite at the moment?). But don't worry, I'm sure he'll have some chips tonight at dinner time. He'll also probably have some fresh fruit (the other major food group for our boys) and yogurt, so don't worry we do occasionally feed them something healthy too!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Toddler Signs

One of the main reasons we started our little guys on therapy was their lack of communication. At two and a half, you would generally expect a lot more than what they do. One of the strategies that we're trying is teaching basic signs while we continue working on the verbal side.

Connor, my little sponge who doesn't need the signs but is just dying for something to learn, has picked up nearly all of them with amazing ease. He already knows about 10 to 15 words pretty consistently, and is very cute to watch. Little ham that he is, he loves the attention and the praise when he does it right. Last night, Josh got him to sign "More milk, please!" by simply showing it to him, slowly and in order, first.

Sawyer has been extremely reluctant with the signs. He doesn't use any consistently or correctly, though he's started to do a sign that looks very much like "more" after he claps (it's a similar motion and the way Xander initially began that sign, too). But he has been communicating more - simply pulling and pushing and leading me to what he wants, and even usually placing my hand on the item he wants, especially if I offer choices. So, it's at least moving forward, if not quite in the direction we would have hoped. Perhaps it will come in time.

Xander has not been fond of therapy in general (he's slightly stubborn, and I can't imagine who he gets that from), but has finally mastered one sign - "more" - which has become his universal sign for everything. He knows it makes Mommy happy, so he uses it at will. Mommy has candy and he wants some. "More," he signs. Mommy has chips and he wants some. "More," he signs. Brother has a toy and he wants it. "More." His toys are cooperating and he wants Mommy to fix it. "More." Time to go night-night and Mommy's about to leave. "More." And, you get the idea. Smart little boy, he knows how to get Mommy.

And, I think he's even smarter than he lets on. The other day our new word was "milk," and we'd been working on it most of the day. We use a modeling technique in the beginning, where you do it hand over hand (with your hand on top of his) to help "see" the sign. He kept refusing to do it when he wanted milk, using the universal "more" instead. I eventually gave in, knowing it's a work in progress and it's going to take a lot of time and a lot of praise on the mere attempts to communicate. I walked away to do something else. When I came back a few minutes later to get Connor some milk, Xander, my little sneak, was hiding in the hallway to the office. He was drinking his milk in one hand and standing there with his other hand in the exact position of the "milk" sign, which he quickly dropped when he spotted me.

It could have been a coincidence, I guess. But knowing my little man, his mischievous personality, I really don't think so. Why am I imagining that sly grin I know so well showed up on his face the minute I turned back around? Or that he actually knows so much more than he's willing to "say" right now?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Quoted & Noted

In the last several months, Connor seems to have become a sponge. He's curious about everything and genuinely seems to enjoy learning new things. We're not sure how long that's going to last, so we're taking advantage of it now.

We do a lot of walking (stroller riding, for some) as a family - it gets us out of the house and away from our usual routines of talking (Connor), playing and climbing up the walls. With the new double stroller, Connor has been walking a lot more. He's long known that roads are "dane-gerous," that "cars (can) hurt Connor," and that you have to "be careful!" Now he's learning something else.

When we get to a road, in addition to making him hold our hands (which he knows he's supposed to do, but doesn't always like to do), we've started asking him to "look both ways" to make sure there aren't any cars coming that could hurt him. He's really taken to it. So much so, that he's started correcting Mommy.

This afternoon I took Connor and Buster on a short walk around the block before the rains moved in. There's one stretch of our walk with an empty lot (no house and therefore no sidewalk), and we have to get on the road for just a minute. I didn't bother to look both ways, because frankly, there aren't two ways. We were walking in the direction of the road where the cars would come from and there weren't any. If a car were coming from behind us, it would be going the wrong way up a divided street. But, my ever observant and often bossy son, felt the need to correct me.

"No, wait!" he yelled, grabbing my hand and stopping me (and therefore Buster) before I could step off the grass and onto the road. "Look both ways, Mommy!" he admonished with a clearly exasperated face, and then proceeded to do just that in his very deliberate (and quite adorable) way. "Okay, now walk!" He took my hand and led me onto the road.

Taking things too literally is what toddlers do, and he was technically doing the right thing. I guess I should just be happy that he's listening and learning, right?

Play Date, Part II



This morning, the boys and I left our house bright and early (at least for us) and headed to the next city over to visit with our newest play friends, John and James. We got there a little after 9:30 a.m. and might have been there sooner if Mommy hadn't been coveting a McDonald's breakfast for the first time in months (the boys and I very rarely make it out of the house in time for such things).

Connor was extremely excited, talking about going to "John's house" all morning. I made the mistake of mentioning our plans to him yesterday, so it's pretty much all he's talked about since. We made it through their breakfast at home, and then he started demanding "Where's John's house? Go this way?" from the minute we pulled out of the driveway. He did manage to forget where we were going a few times, when he saw lots of "Beep-Beep Trucks!" on the interstate (thanks again, Aunt Lynn, for teaching him that rite of passage!). But it always came back to "Where's John's house? Where is he?"

We eventually made it (apparently 20 minutes is like 20 years to a toddler in a car seat), and he was quite excited. The little guys were more curious than excited, which is pretty par for the course. They love to ride in Mommy's truck, so that part was good enough to get them moving this morning. And then we arrived at a new place and they got to get out and walk (no stroller, for a change) up to the door. They loved that.

John was even outside on the deck, waiting for our arrival to greet us. Connor was too excited for words (and his normal, slightly bashful self on first meeting people again). But we made it up the steps and into their home, where all of the wonderful new toys and sights made all of the boys smile. Everyone was excited now.

Connor, of course, had to be reminded to share. The fact that John was letting him play with HIS toys, and not the other way around, never seemed to sink in at all. The little guys are not much better about sharing, it seems like my boys think they deserve all of a certain toy at one time. If there's 10 wooden trains, each one of my boys thinks they need ALL of them to play with. Same goes with blocks, rings or just about anything else you can think of. We're still working on that, clearly.

But all in all, Connor and John played well together and seemed to have a good time. They also liked to test limits, and seemed to feed off of each other at times. Your Mommy told you to get down, so now I'm going to climb up. My Mommy didn't say I couldn't do it. At least that's what it seemed like the boys were saying to us. They clearly knew we were outnumbered five to two.

In the photos above, the boys, I thought, were just looking through the railing and trying to pull leaves from the tree (Rebekah told me John had learned this earlier in the week from one of his aunts). Turns out they were throwing John's snack over the railing (after both had been told not to throw any thing over, food or toys or drinks). Xander also managed to toss a ball over too, just so he wouldn't be left out. Good times.

James was the same sweet baby, playing happily in his exersaucer when we first arrived and eventually sitting (or sometimes just laying) in the floor and playing with a few toys. I think we may have interrupted his nap schedule, but hopefully he'll sleep this afternoon when John naps and give his mother a nice, long break!

Sawyer did well, considering it was a new place and that he prefers to play alone. He stayed outside on the deck for a long time, just watching the leaves blow and playing with a random toy or two. He also managed to line up a few books and some rings, once he managed to get Xander to put them down (and got Mommy to help him unlink them, so he could line them up). Xander had a good time, trying out most of the toys. He liked the wooden trains when Connor wasn't hoarding them, the above-mentioned rings that he dangled around for most of the time, and a play cell phone that made noises. His favorite was, of course, was not a toy. It was a cardboard mailing tube that he carried around and waved like a sword. Luckily, he didn't hurt himself or anyone (or anything else) either! Both of the little guys were a bit jealous at times, especially if Mommy tried to help James stand up and bounce. Xander tried to distract me with toys, and Sawyer just tried to pull James' hands out of mine. Clearly, they do not like to share Mommy either!

It was definitely a fun morning and good for all of us to get out and be more social. The fall-like weather was an added bonus, as the boys spent quite a bit of time out on the deck. All of boys seemed to enjoy themselves, and Rebekah and I actually got to chat a little bit more today, which was nice, too.

Connor, my outspoken child, clearly had a great time. On the way home, maybe five minutes after we pulled away, he asked, "Go back to John's house?" When I told him we were going home, we had just been at John's house, he seemed to think about it for just a few seconds, then he nodded and said, "Okay, we go back to John's house later. Tomorrow maybe."

He's nothing if not optimistic. We'll give John and James and Rebekah a little more down time than that, but we'll definitely do it again in the coming weeks if they're up for it. Poor kid, you'd think we abuse him at home or something, the way he's always trying to leave!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Like Father, Like Son



My big boys, bonding over some Rocky Road this weekend. I had just taken the little guys upstairs for their bath and bed routine, and thought Josh was getting Connor started on his. Not quite, apparently. They needed a quick snack first.

"I have ICE CREAM, Mommy!" my three-year old said, clearly pleased. Is there a better way to end a summer day?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Snapshot Sunday



I'm a big kid now! Xander having fun on the swings with Daddy (we're not sure what the strange face is about, he just likes to close his eyes when he's going back in the swing).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Just Another Day



The walls were closing in again today, so we did what we do best. We took a long stroller walk, complete with mini-cooler (their juice, my water) and the camera. We've also filled the little backyard pool up with water, but after a lot of whining and harassment of his brothers, Connor is taking an afternoon siesta, so that will have to wait until later today or perhaps tomorrow. Just another day in the life . . .

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Beach Story

Our good cousin Katie sent over an amazing PowerPoint with photos and stories of Connor's recent beach vacation. I think it's pretty safe to say that my son had the time of his life while he was away. And just in case you aren't sure, take a look at his view for the week.





Photo Flashback



Xander smiling for the camera. (August 14, 2006)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Friends!

Today Mommy got the chance to catch up with an old friend who's just returned to the states from a year-long stay in Denmark (her blog is here, though it's in transition since it was mostly about the journey abroad - James' birth story is a must-read!). This morning she brought her two little boys over to spend some time with my three, which of course means we were really outnumbered!

Connor did better than I expected, even if it was only at first. He willingly shared his toys with John and helped him get toys that were out of his reach. He shared a little of his late breakfast (pancakes and dry cereal), though one bit of sharing was an attempt to take the bite that had already gone into his mouth out and then pass it over to John. Rebekah and I put a stop to that, with a little laugh for good measure. You know, one of those "kids are way too literal" kind of moments. When Mommy asked him to share, Connor thought for a second and took the bite from his own mouth. That's his version of sharing. Of course, later on, John seemed to be having a bit too much fun and Connor had to be the mean, older brother type for a while. He kept stealing the Lightning McQueen truck John was riding, even though he already had the other one! And just out of spite, he would put it up on the pool table out of John's reach. Clearly he's still a work in progress when it comes to sharing and playing nicely with other little kids.

Xander was a little fascinated by our visitors, at times coming over to hug or kiss baby James. He would even play alongside John a little bit (like when they were all riding trucks or Big Wheels). He also wanted a few extra hugs and kisses from Mommy, who seemed to be holding baby James a bit too much for his satisfaction. All in all, he did well. He acknowledged that they were there, played near them at times, and was generally well-behaved.

Sawyer, on the other hand, barely acknowledged their existence. He cried each time I tried to carry him nearer to where everyone was playing in the floor. He spent most of the morning hiding out in the dining room, playing with the blinds. He did manage to line up his Little People once, and even watched calmly as John borrowed a few after he was done (this used to result in a small meltdown, so I was mildly impressed). He too, on occasion, required extra hugs from Mommy when baby James was too close for comfort. I even got a kiss, which is to say he walked up and stuck his mouth right on top of mine (waiting for me to give him a kiss). But hey, I'll take what I can get! He did pretty well for his first encounter, and we'll hope he gets more comfortable next time around.

I was so impressed with John, who was extremely polite and even helped put away toys before it was time to go (my children have no idea what he was doing, since they think Mommy and Daddy are there to clean up after them). He seemed to have a good time, as most children do, playing with all the toys that were new to him. And baby James was equally good - just sitting in the floor and playing (okay, slobbering on) some of the little guys toys. He was all smiles, and at that age, there's not much more you can ask for. And, of course, you have to envy their beautiful blue eyes and blonde curls! Mom has done a wonderful job with her little guys.

And it was so nice to visit with an old friend who happens to have small children too! It's nice to catch up on where people are in their lives, albeit around reminding your children to "Share!" and to "Be nice!" about every five seconds! Socialization, even in small doses, is a good thing for all of us. We'll try to work it in a little more often, for everyone's sake!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Ongoing Nap Debate



For the last five or six months, the boys and I have been struggling with a nap schedule that works for everyone. If asked, they will emphatically deny that they need any nap ever again. If Mommy is consulted, she will beg for the return of the afternoon nap (and a bit more of her sanity than she's had lately).

Connor, the verbal one, is pretty vehement in his denials of needing the nap. "Connor no tired! Connor awake! Connor no need nap! Connor is playin'!" are the usual litany of responses I get from him at the mere suggestion of an afternoon nap. And honestly, he is quite ready to be without one 99 percent of the time. The usual exceptions are if he's spent a day (or days) with one of the grandparents or if he's been at the pool for any length of time the day before. A nap will be required and even though he will deny needing one, he will be asleep within minutes of being put in bed. But all in all, him not taking a nap makes bedtime go that much more smoothly and he's finally able to occupy himself for at least the majority of any nap time his little brothers take (so that Mommy can get some much needed peace and quiet!).

The little guys are divided. Xander is my sleepyhead and usually goes pretty willingly upstairs for an afternoon nap (and is quite cranky if he's not allowed a little afternoon siesta). He even sometimes claps his little hands and grins when I open the gate (Mommy loves him, a boy after her own sleep-loving heart).

Sawyer kicks and screams and raises all kinds of protests the moment "nap" or "night-night" is mentioned. He knows, absolutely knows, the minute I open the gate in the afternoon what is about to happen. And the kicking and the screaming and the big crocodile tears immediately follow. I usually have to carry him, forcibly and against his will, upstairs and into the little guys room, and he usually is arching backwards and away from me the whole time trying to escape. And whether or not he sleeps is totally hit and miss. Some days, he'll be asleep within minutes of his head hitting the pillow. Other days, he will lay there quietly for about forty-five minutes and then get up and begin kicking the door (his non-verbal method of demanding release), which sometimes ruins the nap for Xander. And some days he will stay up there the whole time Xander sleeps, awake but quiet and fine.

And then there is the other, the thing that makes me cringe just thinking about it. The little guys probably really do need that afternoon nap on most days, just a short one. But they don't do short ones. If they fall asleep, it's for hours and hours and hours (like up to six), which of course means they don't have any desire to go back to bed, EVER. And at the end of a long day, Josh and I are so very ready for them to go to bed, so that we can have just a little bit of peace and quiet before we need to go to bed.

So my compromise lately has been giving them naps only on the days when I cannot stand their whininess and crankiness (usually about two or three times a week) and then only allowing them to sleep for a few hours (no more than two). Otherwise, I have at least one twin falling asleep on the couch at five or six o'clock, and not wanting to go to bed with his brothers. So a few hours are attempted every couple of days.

And that, doesn't really go well either. My children are apparently deep, deep sleepers. You have to physically pick them up to wake them up. Otherwise they will burrow and roll and duck back under the covers or pillows or into each other, blissfully sucking their thumbs and continuing on with their sleeping as though you're not there or not speaking to them or touching them.

If I am forceful and pick them up, I have to do so one at a time. They will cling, as in death grip cling, for the next thirty minutes while they "wake" up. Juice helps, but it does not eliminate the clinging. And the clinging must be done while standing up, because to try and sit down with said clinging child results in automatic screaming and whining and suddenly you're wondering if those few hours of sleep are really worth it for the hour-long wake-up session that's required (there are two of them, so it really does take that long).

Today was a two hour nap with the hour long wake-up session. They are now currently bouncing off the couch and the walls (literally), and will probably not be ready for bed when we are ready to put them there. Surely some day soon we can get them on a sleep schedule that works for everyone. For now, we're still a work in progress . . .

More New Sounds

No, not from the little guys. Although Xander is definitely coming along these days with a few new ones. Sawyer not so much. But we'll get to that another day. I'm of course referring to my recently returned three-year old. And I say "new sounds" because I've noticed another of his new expressions lately is not really a word.

"Ble-eh!" he says, which sounds a lot like he's about to throw-up. It's his new way of expressing displeasure or distaste. "Ble-eh!"

And it's really, really annoying.

He did it first this morning at breakfast (for about five minutes), first complaining that "Connor no want waffles!" and then moving on to the profound "Ble-eh!" repeated over and over and over. Seriously, what child doesn't like waffles covered in butter and syrup? Clearly, mine.

Next I heard it the entire time I was changing one of his brother's pull-ups. And not just once, about 10 times in the space of two minutes.

And then again at lunch, when he was getting full and was just tired of sitting at the table.

And again after he went potty. And, well you get the idea.

Let's just say we've heard it a lot today. Clearly I should have second thoughts about sending him to hang out with college kids for a week at the beach!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Mm, Hmm"

After spending a week with a new set of people, I was curious to see what new habits and phrases my sponge-like three-year old would bring home. He's really big on learning new things right now, and just seems to love taking in new experiences, so I figured he would come home with some fun ones.

So far, I haven't really noticed much. He misses being the center of the world, I know, from the constantly protruding lower lip I saw today every single time he didn't get his way or he had to wait a minute to get his demands met. Clearly Mommy is falling short on his expectations after a week with Grammy and the rest of the family.

But the one cute thing I have noticed is that instead of saying "yes" to answer a question, like he always has, he's started saying a rather mumbled "mm, hmm" instead. And it's not bad, by any means, but it's certainly different. And I've stopped several times today and looked up at him when he's said it with just a little bit of wonder.

Perhaps I'm imagining the non-verbal and surly teenager to come, but it makes him seem older. The eager "yes" of toddlerhood has been replaced with the very teenage-like, mumbled "mm, hmm." And I wonder where it came from? Grammy? His young cousins (mostly college age)? His Great Aunt or Uncle? His Great Grandma Kitty? Or is it just something he's picked up on his own?

My big boy - they grow up much too fast.

Guess What I Learned?

When Grammy called late last night to let us know where they were in their long journey home, the first story that popped into her mind about the trip was Connor's newest trick, which he had been practicing just moments before the call. She tells us we may think Aunt Lynn for this one. Thanks, we guess.

Apparently, Connor has learned that long-standing travel tradition of little boys of how to get a semi-truck driver to honk his BIG horn as he drives past. My son has long been fascinated by trucks, big ones in particular, so this really comes as no surprise. He had apparently, with Aunt Lynn's help, gotten four or five semi-trucks to cooperate in the last few hours, and was quite proud of himself that the last one had been done all on his own.

"I did it, Mommy," he said. I could hear his little voice piping up from the backseat even through the cell phone. "Truck go beep, beep!"

Just imagine how much fun our traveling is going to be now. We live right next to the interstate, and hop on it quite frequently even to get across town, and always when we're visiting both sets of grandparents.

Lucky for Mommy, the windows on the back of my Tahoe are pretty dark. Perhaps he won't be lucky EVERY time he tries it in my truck, as he surely was sitting high in the backseat of a car without tinted windows. Fun times.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Almost Home

My oldest son's beach adventure is ending today. They left early this morning to drop off half the family at the airport for their flight home, and then continued on their road trip back north. He'll be home sometime later tonight. And he will not be happy about it.

He apparently was not happy to drop his good cousins (and good play buddies) off at the airport. This knowledge comes secondhand, from Pappy who called to let me know they were on their way home after he talked with Grammy earlier today. I imagine my son's unhappiness will continue as the day progresses and he gets further and further away from his beloved beach and pool.

I can hear him now . . . "No see Mommy and babies! No see Daddy and Buster! Go to the beach! Go to the pool! No go home!"

While I am guessing on this, I am pretty sure this is ridiculously accurate. It's what he does when one of his adventures comes to an end. He begs to prolong it. He whines about going back home. And he pouts, with a pitiful turned out lower lip that makes you feel terrible to have caused it.

Of course, it will end quickly. He will settle back into a routine of tormenting his brothers and talking his mother to death. But I still feel bad for my big boy on his long drive, because he's probably a lot less happy to be traveling today than he was last week at this time. Last week he was headed to a wonderful, exciting place that had lots of water and fun and play buddies. Today he is simply coming home, and Mommy and brothers surely cannot compete with that.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Snapshot Sunday

From the lake this weekend, with Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Brian and Cousins Austin and Kyndal . . . the little guys stayed at the cabin with Grandma while the rest of us had a little fun on the water. Daddy was even talked in to coming down for the weekend for some sun and splashin' and some grillin' out! Connor will not be pleased, we're sure.



Austin and Kyndal watching their Daddy on the tube.



Kyndal getting tired while watching the waves.



Austin getting caught by the camera.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Night Fun



These days, Friday night means less of dinner and a movie (for adults) and more of McDonald's at the park with toddlers. With Connor still away, we took the little guys out for a rare treat. We picked up their favorite fast food (actually, the only fast food they will eat) and headed to the neighborhood park for a little bit of fun.

Xander had a blast. He was everywhere at once. Running up the stairs to the big, winding slide. Sliding down. Climbing up the smaller double slide, then back to the big winding slide. Then he spotted Mommy and Sawyer on the see-saw, and he came over to join us. Then it was over to the other play set to climb up some block stair steps, then through the tunnel and down one of the other double slides. Then he spotted Mommy and Sawyer on the swings, so he got Mommy to give him a turn. But as soon as he saw Sawyer sliding, he was ready to go again. He was all over the place.

Sawyer, of course, was not so much. He held tight to Mommy's hand. He liked going down the big, winding slide, but only if Mommy was right behind him. He loved the see-saw, but only when Mommy was right there with him. And he would have stayed on the swings all night long, if Mommy had been willing to hold him the whole time. But after a while, I felt like we should at least try to be around the other kids - you know, that whole socialization thing that he needs a little bit of work on. So we went over to join brother on the play set. He played a little, but nothing compared to his brother.

Just another day in the life . . .

Quiet and Not So Quiet

A whole week with just two little boys in my house (and only one for part of the time). It's been different in some ways, pretty much the same in others. One thing it certainly has been is awfully quiet around here. With two mostly non-verbal little guys, the silence has been unreal at times. Connor can't go five seconds without saying something. He can't go three without repeating it if he doesn't get the desired response (meaning ANY response). My little guys sometimes don't say anything at all for hours at a time.

And I can imagine just how not quiet it's been at the beach, where my three-year old is happily encamped with some of his favorite play buddies. Grammy and Connor called this morning for a brief chat. My son's part of the conversation was brief and to the point.

"Water! Pool! Beach! BeachPool! Sand dirty! Splashin'! Goin' on boat! Bye-bye, Mommy!" he said, and then he was gone. Back to the balcony to watch all the boats and jet-skis that were playing in the ocean in front of their condo and to sneak another look down at the pool under their balcony. If he could describe heaven for you, this would be it. But when he starts talking on the phone, his normally good conversation skills revert back to one-word sentences.

Grammy said they'd been spending lots of time at the pool and the beach, and that today they were hoping to take everyone out on a boat ride to see the dolphins. Connor seemed pretty excited at the idea of a boat, more water, and dolphins all at the same time! He sounds like he's having the time of his life.

Poor kid, coming home really is going to suck compared to the week he's having! But it's been such a wonderful gift for him to go, and I'm so thankful that he's getting to have all these wonderful adventures with his family. I don't remember ever taking a big family vacation like this one, and I'm glad my son is getting to be a part of it. He's spending the week with four generations of his family - his Great Grandma Kitty, his great Aunt Lynn and his great uncle Daniel, his own Grammy, and his cousins (second perhaps, since they are actually our cousins).

How often do we, in our busy every day lives, get to spend that much time with our extended families? Connor, and even the little guys on a smaller scale, have had so many of these wonderful adventures in their short lives. They're all going to have a lot of good memories to hold on to as they grow up! And right now, I bet this one is at the top of Connor's list.

Photo Flashback

This week is a little different. Instead of doing approximate dates a few years back, we're going to highlight Connor's visits to the beach over the years. We'll try to get some photos of his current beach visit from Grammy when they get back home. Until then . . .



First trip to the beach when he was about eight weeks old, where he managed to sleep the entire time we were out there. (Christmas 2004)



Learning to love the waves. (Christmas 2006)



Playing in the sand while Xander runs in the background. (Christmas 2007)

And if you're wondering, we skipped 2005 because that was when I was nine months (it felt like nine years at that point) pregnant - with twins! Still, you must admit, four trips to the beach in four years is not too bad for a little guy!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

ViviAnne's Story

Some of you may have noticed that a new blog was added to my "What Saves My Sanity" section. And while this one does not necessarily do that, it's still a must-read.

One of the guys that I used to work with at my last job has a little girl who came along about a year after Connor was born and about six months before our twins arrived. And as most new parents do, I remember talking with her dad at lunch and during breaks, sharing the new parenting moments that most of us do - sleep deprivation, milestones, amazing moments, and the ways - little and big - that our kids have changed our lives.

ViviAnne is a beautiful blonde hair, blue-eyed little girl who always seems to have a smile on her face. She has a younger brother with the same adorable smile. I've seen them grow up in pictures - you know, the ones that get forwarded around to former co-workers and people you once knew on a day-to-day basis but don't really see anymore.

The last one I got brought tears to my eyes. ViviAnne, at the age of two, has just been diagnosed with leukemia. I cannot imagine what their family must be going through. Her parents are sweet and funny and wonderful people, and it's heart-breaking to know that they are going through something so terrible. She has been responding well to treatment, but it's a long, hard road with lots of worries and trials along the way.

Visit the site. The story is sad, but the strength and hope of the parents and this brave little girl is amazing. If you can, send them a contribution (the blog has a link to a secure online contribution page or there's a mailing address for the bank fund in ViviAnne's name). Keep them in your thoughts and your prayers. And be sure to give your own family, especially your little ones, a big hug. Just because.

Update from the Beach

Just in case you think we've forgotten about our oldest son (we haven't, honestly), he wants to let you know that he's having a wonderful and amazing time at the beach with Grammy. So wonderful, in fact, that he would prefer to forget about us.

When Grammy called to say hello the other night, she tried to get him to come to the phone and say hello. He had willingly talked to us when they called late into the very long drive to let us know they were almost there (twelve hours later). That was then, clearly, and this was now. I think he seriously thought we might be somewhere close by and ready to take him away from this heaven he suddenly found himself in. He's nicknamed it "BeachPool" (which is one word, if you're wondering).

He has already spent several wonderful days from early in the morning to late at night coercing (I mean nicely asking) Grammy, Aunt Lynn, and cousins Kay-dee, Josh, Jof-seph and Brid-gee (his new name for Brigid) to take him to the water. Either one, the ocean or the pool, would do, but his clear preference is for the pool. The sand is apparently "dirty" and "yucky," which doesn't surprise me much. And, to add to his already ridiculous obsession with the water, the balcony to their condo is apparently right over the swimming pool! My poor baby, what a temptation. And our poor relatives, they probably wish it would close for repairs, at least for a day or two.

So, let's just say that Connor is doing quite well. And, if he doesn't make it home for a few weeks or even months, that would probably suit him just fine. I imagine there will be tears when he returns. Not of joy from seeing his brothers and parents again after a long absence, but of absolute despair, that all the fun in the world is suddenly over.

At three, you would probably think so, too.

Bring on the Water!

While Xander was busy reliving his artistic moments yesterday afternoon, Sawyer was having an adventure of his own. Pappy came over after therapy to get Sawyer for a little one-on-one time, and took him out to the club pool for an afternoon of sun and splashing.

It seems we have another serious water baby on our hands. Much in the way Connor used to (and sometimes still does), Sawyer cried when it was time to leave the pool yesterday. He wanted to stay. Pappy said he was fascinated by another little boy there, just a bit younger than him (and a lot smaller), who had recently had swimming lessons and was swimming under water and holding his breath. Fascinating, my son seemed to think. I guess swimming lessons will be in the near future for for at least two of our boys (Xander will get them too, he just probably won't enjoy them like my other water babies).

Despite having to leave the water, Pappy said that he seemed to enjoy himself and was a good little boy. He also seemed happy to be back home. He clutched onto Mommy for just a minute, then went inside and quickly got back into playing and organizing. And eating, as apparently he'd decided to pull the picky toddler trick on Pappy for most of his meals.

Xander wasn't too thrilled to have him back, at least not initially. He quickly ran up to me and lifted his arms up, wanting to be picked up. "My Mommy!" he seemed to say, glancing down at a rather perturbed Sawyer, who clearly had the same thing in mind.

Xander had Mommy to himself all afternoon yesterday, even riding in Mommy's truck to run some errands. And he also got to enjoy dinner out, at a real sit-down restaurant. Not that HE actually SAT for any part of the meal, but still, we enjoyed a meal out. And thankfully, one side of our booth backed up to a walkway, so he at least wasn't poking his head over at unsuspecting other diners or bouncing their seats (which always annoys Mommy when other people's children do that to her!). He was all smiles and did pretty well, considering he's not had that much experience dining out (without a high chair, we just slid him into our booth). He seemed to like the only child thing, while it lasted. And it was different, looking in the back of my truck and seeing only one little car seat.

But Sawyer returned fairly early this morning, and after the initial hostility passed, the little guys made nice on our morning stroller walk. They both kind of reached out at times, as though patting one another, almost like a "Glad you're back!" kind of gesture. It was pretty cute to watch. I bet they enjoy having their respective sleeping buddy back tonight!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bring On the Mess!



Today was another creative therapy session for the little guys. April brought over a big box full of all kinds of markers and crayons and assorted coloring supplies. Xander was ready to get his hands dirty, literally. Sawyer was not as sure.

Xander started out with his old favorites (from all of last week), the paint markers that make dots when you press them on the paper. Four total, he would alternate using two - one in each hand - and then be ready to "trade" with brother. And by trade, I mean hurling them across the table and looking expectantly at me and Sawyer to "trade" the other two back to him. We usually complied, as Sawyer was less interested in the markers than he was in lining things up (imagine that!). I was mildly impressed that did actually try it this week, making a few tentative (and very neat) dots for a little while before giving it up and going back to his organizing.

The difference between the brothers was night and day. Xander looked like a little mad painter, banging the markers down hard on the paper (and sometimes the table, April and himself) and making big, colorful messes - smiling and laughing the whole time. Sawyer, on the other hand, was calm, neat, and very methodical in any of his attempts. And he seemed much more serious, whether attempting to color or lining things up.

Neither of my boys are fans of Play-doh, either, it seems. Xander quickly tried stuffing it back in the container and when he couldn't get it in, quickly handed it off to April to do the same. Yuck, he seemed to say. Sawyer wouldn't even touch or look at the stuff I had, he simply waved his arm in his typical dismissive manner. Get whatever that is out of my space, he seems to say.

So that was most of our developmental therapy this week. The boys are making more progress in trying new stuff than I would have imagined a few weeks back. I've tried for the longest time to interest them in coloring with crayons or plain markers, like big brother does. Usually they sit for a minute and then begin to scream. Perhaps my method wasn't messy enough for Xander. So at least we're moving ahead. Today we had nearly an hour of creative time. And Xander clearly seemed to love it, if you can judge by the smile on his face!



See if you can find Sawyer's two pages among the masses that Xander produced. Hint, Xander's holding one of them in his hands and you can see it better in the top photo.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Just Another Day

We took advantage of another wonderful fall-like day in our little corner of the world. Here are my favorite shots from the day . . .



Mirror images of each other.



Love the colors, the way the background lightens his hair, in this one of Sawyer.



Tried and failed to get one similar to above of Xander, but he doesn't stand still much and he goes his own way most of the time!

Talk Time, Part II

For those of you who thought I might be exaggerating just a little bit the extent that my three-year old talks, I just want you to know that I now have two more witnesses to add to my credibility.

We talked briefly with Grammy last night as they were finishing up their nearly 12 hours in the car with said three-year old. When asked how the trip had gone, the first comment was that Connor had not stopped talking, except for the brief hour that he had managed to sleep.

Now just imagine that road trip. Grammy and Aunt Lynn probably need to be nominated for sainthood after such a journey, especially since they will be doing it again at the end of the week!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Talk Time

The more talkative of the two twins before, when there were words, Xander is by far showing the most progress with speech therapy. He has a few varied sounds, several more than just a few weeks ago, and even a word or two. He's seemed for quite some time to be on the verge of talking, clearly wanting to with all of the sounds he makes and his attempts at verbal sparring (he makes a sound, you make a sound, he makes a sound, etc.)

Sawyer, my stubborn and independent baby, says no thank you to speech. He's perfectly content grabbing Mommy's hand or pushing and pulling on her to get what he wants. He babbles, in the way he has long done, and occasionally you hear words mixed in there, but I doubt very seriously if he knows there in there. Either that, or he's just mocking us in his own way.

But, back to my at-least-attempting to talk baby. Xander's most distinctive word is "go," from his favorite game of "Ready, set, go!" that involves him being jumped off of various pieces of furniture in our house. He's nothing if not a jumper.

He also has a decent "Wha?" (translated "What?") that he throws at you from time to time. Sometimes he wants to know what he's pointing at, other times there seems to be little logic other than maybe he's just proud of himself for saying something we seem to understand.

Another one is "shur," (translated "shirt") which is definitely not as clear, but is at least him attempting to say things that we say.

And, just to keep me on my toes, he's added "MaMa" back to his vocabulary. I honestly thought this was just him making sounds, but I think the little devil knows what he's doing. For the last couple of weeks, when I get ready to leave the little guys in their room for bed at night, he goes through his entire vocabulary of sounds, wanting me to repeat each one ("Ssh!" is still one of my favorites).

Just as I offer my last "Night, night! Love you!" is when my little man decides to toss "MaMa" out for good measure, lifting himself up from his thumb-sucking sleep position and offering that big, mischievous grin.

And he knows, just as I do, that I'm going to stay a little longer and "talk" to him some more.

To the Beach!



This is as much of his attention as I was able to get this morning, which is to say not much at all. Today was the coveted day - "CONNOR go with GRAMMY to the BEACH!" It's all I've heard about for weeks, and today the day finally arrived.

He, of course, tried to sleep in. But when I woke him up about 8:15 a.m., after already taking his brothers downstairs and getting them started on their day, he suddenly remembered what day it was, and from that point on he was all smiles.

Mommy had done all the packing yesterday, so all that remained was to get some breakfast in him and to wait until the last minute to potty again (or actually, for the first time, since he refused when he woke up - the boy seems to have a rather uncanny ability to hold it, which will hopefully work to his advantage on the long, long car ride to the beach). The boys and I all had some pancakes, and just as I was clearing the dishes, Grammy and Aunt Lynn knocked on the door - it was time to go!

I'm not sure what I expected of him at this point, probably to go shooting out the door as soon as it was opened with one of his oh-so-casual "Bye-bye, Mommy, see you later!" tossed over his shoulders. I was mistaken. His bashfulness must first show itself, so he hid under the pool table for a few minutes while Grammy and Aunt Lynn greeted little brothers and exclaimed over their short hair (Connor's too, is now short, but they couldn't see it yet from his hiding place). He eventually came out, smiling and talking about "My green BOAT!" and "Connor going SWIMMIN'!" and "Connor go to the BEACH!"

So we got his car seat secured and loaded his enormous amount of stuff into the back seat beside him, and it was time to be off about 9:30 a.m. I got one quick kiss and then my "Bye-bye, Mommy, see you later!" moment, and he was gone.

He could barely be bothered for the above picture to mark the beginning of his fun adventure to the beach. As you can tell, he was much more fascinated with the new fishing pole (it's a bath and / or pool toy) that Mommy had tucked into his travel bag of tricks. It was brand new, and he'd never seen it before. He's seen the beach before, but I imagine he will still look at it, too, as if it is brand new.

Want to take bets on how long it is after he arrives before he gets in some sort of water? My guess is less than 30 minutes (or about as long as it takes to change into his swim wear). And if the pool happens to be somewhere on the way to the room, I hope they hold on to him or they might have a wet little boy dog paddling before they know it!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Snapshot Sunday



Another day, another stroller ride. Guess which one didn't take a nap today? The non-sleepyhead. The one who fights the afternoon nap like you wouldn't believe - you know, dancing across his room doing his happy little scream or kicking the door for hours before finally giving in, and then wanting to sleep for about four hours straight, if not more. That one. Xander gave it up on the ride home eventually, and he took a three hour nap today! My little sleepyhead.

Oh, and the boys would like to add that they've also been tortured and tormented a little bit today, which might add to their need for sleep on our stroller ride. Mommy took the clippers to their hair again, because it was getting long (it grows so very fast) and they have been extremely hot this summer (very wet hair kind of hot). Mommy misses the long hair already, but we'll let it grow back this fall when the weather cools off a little more!

And if you're wondering where the third brother happens to be, he's at the local minor league baseball game with Daddy, enjoying a boys night at the box suite thanks to his long-time realtor and one of his business partners. He has to earn that commission somehow, right? We're also trying to wear Connor out, so he'll hopefully sleep some on his long journey tomorrow. He finally gets to go to the beach with Grammy, and he's SO, SO VERY EXCITED that he can barely stand it. It's been the topic of conversation for weeks. It's ALL he's talked about today.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Outside Looking In

Last night, Josh and I almost did the unthinkable. We were busy trying to get all the kids and their respective stuff (still quite a bit, even at their ages) back into my truck after spending the afternoon at Grammy and Pappy's house to celebrate Pappy's birthday. Josh was busy strapping the kids in, and at one point had to stop because Connor had picked up the truck keys and had the alarm going off. Do you see where this is going?

All the boys are strapped into their seats, the last door is closed, and then the realization hits. The doors are locked, and the keys are sitting back on the console where Josh had left them (and where Connor had found and played with them). Nice. There's no hidden key on my truck. The other set of keys was about 25 miles away at our house, in my purse that I didn't bother to bring on this particular family outing.

Normally, when I'm out with the boys, I don't leave the keys anywhere but in my pocket (or tucked into the waistband of my shorts if I don't have a pocket). I have a slightly irrational fear that someone might try to hop in the truck and drive away with my boys (they'd bring them back shortly, I'm pretty sure, after Connor talked them to death and the little guys just screamed). Aside from Mommy's issues, I also know my boys much better. They're sneaky and pick up anything that's not nailed down (while I'm busy trying to strap them in one at a time). Josh, rarely, if ever, has the boys out by himself. And he didn't have any pockets, so he did what he usually does in his truck, just laid them down. And there they were, right where he left them. We could see them, we just couldn't get to them, and we hadn't thought to open one of our doors before we closed the boys in. So there we were, on the outside looking in.

There, of course, is a happy ending.

My oldest son, even when strapped in, has long loved to play with the "buttons" on his door. Ever since last year's long trip to Florida, we've had him in the front bucket seat and the little guys are in the back seats. Which was a really good thing, because the little guys might not have been as cooperative. Mommy walked around to Connor's side. "Can Connor please unlock the door?" I ask, much more calmly than I actually feel.

"Okay, Mommy. Connor unlock door," he says, and proceeds to do just that. "Great job, Connor!" he adds, always the first to congratulate himself and request praise from others.

"That's right, baby. Great job, Connor. Thank you," I say, relieved. Not that they were in any real danger, but still. It was not something you want to have happen, clearly.

"You welcome," my big boy says simply, smiling and proud to have been helpful. "You welcome, Mommy!"

Good times.



Possible lessons for Mommy and Daddy:

(1) Think about having a spare door key made and hidden on the exterior of the truck.

(2) Make sure you have the keys (especially after the alarm has already gone off or your children have had access) BEFORE you close the last door.

(3) Don't chastise your children too much for playing with the door locks, which I have surely done with said oldest son, because it might be useful for you at some point that your kids actually know how they work!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Just Another Day



Connor hamming a little for the camera!



Sawyer checking himself out in the viewfinder.



Xander taking a break from playing cars to look up at Mommy.

Photo Flashback



The now infamous "Connor in a bucket" picture. My little water baby, who wanted so much to go swimming before we had a backyard (inflatable pool), used Buster's water bucket instead. (August 11, 2006)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New Wheels!



How many strollers does one family really need?

My husband simply asked, "Why is there another stroller in our garage? Did they deliver it to the wrong house?" He did this quite seriously and without much conviction, as he knew that his wife had been seriously considering another stroller the past few months.

Earlier this week, I took the boys out to "test drive" some double-strollers at the local baby store. I love my triple stroller, it has been a sanity-saver these last few (nearly three) years with twins and a slightly older brother. But, it's simply getting too hard to push on our near daily walks that cover several miles of ground! My boys have a combined weight of over 115 lbs., which is a nice workout in cooler weather but absolutely awful in the dead heat of summer. And not a single walk goes by that my oldest doesn't say "Connor walk! Connor maybe walk a little?" It's simply time to let the boys have a little more freedom, and not having that extra seat will make us take turns more often and give everyone a chance to walk (and to listen to directions), which all the boys really need.

So, off to the store we went. I needed to actually see how my big (90th percentile still) boys would fit in the different options that were out there. Imagine the smiles and looks we got, as I pushed the boys into the store in the triple-stroller (yes, that's usually enough to get the looks) and then proceeded to go to the stroller aisle and "test" out the double-strollers! It was necessary, I promise you. My three boys would not have been well-behaved enough to simply walk into the store while Mommy checked out strollers in detail. They would have been running in three different directions, which goes to the point of why I still need a stroller of some sort. Connor is at the age where he's becoming more trustworthy to walk and to behave as Mommy asks him to do, but the little guys, not so much.

A double jogging stroller now sits in my garage. And no, I won't be jogging with it, if that idea made you chuckle. It was just the same width as the other double-strollers that sit side-by-side and looked more rugged and durable for our long distance walks. I also liked the solid handle bar across the top, as opposed to two (unconnected) curved ones on each side, typical of umbrella strollers. And it's not like the jogger is any bulkier than the triple stroller was in the truck either, so that didn't dissuade me. It's at least easier to transport - you don't have to remove all the seats like you do with the triple-stroller - it literally has two release buttons you pull and then simply fold.

So, how many strollers does one family really need. We now have six, and we've purchased all but one ourselves! Ridiculous, I know. We first bought the nice single stroller that went with the "travel system" of the infant car seat carrier. We used this maybe five times, and I wouldn't recommend it for new parents myself. When our boys were small enough to fit in the carrier, we never bothered with the stroller - even with twins! Next came the little Jeep umbrella stroller, great for once the kids get upper body control - small, compact and less cumbersome on short or long walks. Those were both bought when Connor was small.

When we found out we were expecting twins, Josh's aunt gave us a front-to-back double stroller that a family she knew had outgrown. We used it when the twins were small, as the back seat would lay totally flat like a bassinet and the boys could ride (or sleep usually) there side-by-side in comfort while Connor was thrilled to have the front seat. As the boys got bigger, we needed something with another seat. Connor was still too little to walk that far and he was too heavy to put in either the front carrier or the backpack carrier (though I did occasionally, if absolutely necessary, put one of the twins in the front carrier and push the other two in the double-stroller. But it definitely wasn't a long-term solution. So, about four months after the twins got here, we took the plunge and ordered the $700 triple stroller. I still maintain it's been worth every single penny. It's allowed me to take the boys to doctor's office visits, small shopping trips, and so many other places I never could have gone on my own. It also let me take the boys on daily walks to get us out of the house when Mommy was starting to go a little stir crazy from being a new stay-at-home parent with three little people.

When our first Florida trip was planned right before the boys first birthday, we decided the triple stroller would not be able to go, even with the huge car-top carrier. We bought a second Jeep umbrella stroller, thinking it was the cheapest and best alternative. And they have come in handy, when we're taking just the twins out together (like our failed attempt at culture earlier this summer).

And now, finally (we hope), we've purchased a double-stroller to finish out our stroller collection. The one reason I opted for the jogger over a simple Jeep double umbrella (which was about half the price), was the weight limit. The Jeep recommended only 35 lbs. in each seat, and my boys are already there. The jogger will hold up to 50 lbs. in each seat, so Connor even still meets the limit with his 40 some odd pounds (we haven't weighed the boys in a while).

And for those who are wondering, the old double stroller doesn't work for a couple of reasons, most notably the three-point harness. My boys are masters at either escaping from it by pulling legs through or bending over and playing with the dirty wheels the WHOLE time we're out. I also was not a fan of the front to back design, though I will admit it is much more convenient for getting into tighter spaces. But, my boys have a bad habit of kicking the person in front of them despite warnings and reprimands. It also seems like the boys are further away from me, which makes conversations difficult (in the event Connor occasionally stops talking and the little guys do start talking soon!). So, the old one now resides at Grammy and Pappy's house, where it's works pretty well for occasional use and doesn't have to be packed up for every afternoon adventure.

We've only used it once so far (I just put it together last night), but it worked well on our little two-mile (round-trip) journey through the neighborhood. It's definitely a lot lighter to push with just two little boys, and it handles well for something so wide. If you're actually jogging, you'd probably like the front wheel locked, but on our walks, I like the swivel feature best. The little guys definitely looked more comfortable too, which I hoped would be the case. The only down side is that now that there is no third seat, Connor of course wants to ride too! I'm sure that will change as the newness fades, but for right now, it's definitely making us take turns walking (which is a good thing for the guys anyway)!

Instead of only hearing "Connor maybe walk a while too?" We now alternate between his old favorite, and the new one - "Connor ride next?" The grass truly is always greener on the other side, isn't it?

Quoted & Noted

"Connor go to the beach with Grammy!" my three year-old says excitedly.

And he says it often, about 20 times a day, if I had to guess, and that might be a low estimate. He's clearly excited about his upcoming trip. Poor Grammy, she probably has no idea what she's really in for! A 10 plus hour ride in the car with Mr. Chatterbox, during the daylight hours, to the beach. It makes me shudder just thinking about it. Have I mentioned that my three year-old never stops talking, never? Or that he loves, absolutely LOVES, to shout about every single truck, boat, car, trailer, and (you name it) that he sees while you're driving?

In preparation for the trip, I've stocked up on some new DVDs for the portable player. Hopefully that will help take the edge off for a few hours, at least. We went with some of the PBS favorites - SuperWhy, WordWorld, and JayJay the Jet Plane. We'll also probably send a movie or two. Did I mention 10 plus hours?

Connor is so excited about his trip, he can hardly sleep at night. He's still not real clear on the passage of time. I've tried explaining that we have a four more days before he leaves, but that doesn't seem to be clear. He wakes up every morning with the same thoughts.

"Connor go to the beach with Grammy! I see Grammy later today?"

We've started counting days on our fingers. Mommy holds up four, and he will follow. But you can tell he still doesn't quite get it. His smile is too big and too bright. He still thinks that this might be the day he sees Grammy and they go to the beach.

"Connor go to the beach with Grammy! Go to the beach. See ocean. Swim in the pool!"

He clearly gets what's going to happen, just not when it's going to happen! My little water baby. He can't wait.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Portraits

Mommy has been playing around with digital photos and PhotoShop again. Here are the color versions of some of my recent favorites of the boys.



Connor is all smiles sitting in the front window.



Sawyer is surprised by Mommy as he comes out from underneath the play set.



Xander is all smiles from the top of the play set.

Getting Creative



On Wednesdays, the little guys get to visit with April (our developmental therapist). She's spent the first few sessions just down in the floor playing, getting to know the boys and letting them get familiar with her. Today she broke out some of the fun stuff - dot markers and blank paper!

Connor, the one least in need of assistance, was first in line (imagine that!) He LOVES having people come over to the house (irregardless of whether or not they're coming to see him!). He LOVES having playmates, which makes me really hope he can get into some sort of preschool this fall. He had lots of fun playing with with markers, a little fun with the stickers, and lots of fun trying to get all the markers for himself. The top two "pictures" are his.

Xander surprised us all by joining in pretty quickly after Connor. He thought it looked like good fun, and had a big time using the markers, especially the green one! He pressed down really hard, like he was angry with the paper, but it was still a start. The little guys have been so non-responsive to my attempts to get them to do anything remotely crafty like this (coloring with crayons, drawing with markers, finger painting, sidewalk chalk, etc.). The bottom two are his.

Sawyer, in true independent fashion, wanted nothing to do with any of it. He watched a lot, sometimes with a very serious face that we assumed meant he was really interested in what was going on. He ventured nearby, and even took the marker caps to organize (imagine that!) Perhaps next time he will feel like joining in, but it wasn't so today. Mommy's attempt to "help" him color was greeted with screaming and a quickly retreating to his favorite corner little boy, where he eventually came back and tried to persuade me to join him in a fun game of stacking the blocks! Safe and familiar, he liked that much better.

The boys are doing well with their visitors. They're starting to realize Mommy isn't going anywhere when they come, and that they're here to play with them (albeit while also making them do a few things they'd rather not do - like communicate). So far, so good . . .

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Time to Eat!

Of all the things that seem difficult with three small children, meal time tends to be the worst. By the time you get them in their seats, their plates prepared and served, and then bring the drinks over, they are already scraping the bottom of the plate and wanting more. You can forget about trying to eat while they do, they still require too much help.

And, I am sure I have only myself to blame, but my children are very picky eaters. And for those of you who really know me, you understand why it is clearly my fault. If it's either green or healthy, I probably don't like it. Well, my boys are not much different. Xander thinks chips are a major food group. Sawyer prefers M&Ms. Connor, well he likes anything lately, except whatever I've decided to fix.

If we're having pizza, I inevitably hear "Connor no like pizza!" in a loud, rather whiny voice. He will like it a few days later, when there is no leftover pizza in the refrigerator and the other two will not be in the mood for it again so soon. And he will whine "Connor want pizza!"

The little guys, with their lack of language abilities, do not give any hints at all about what they may or may not eat. They will either eat what's presented, or toss it across the table. Nice, I know, very good table manners we've taught them.

And now, on top of the dilemma of what to serve, is the fact that all three of them seem to be ravenous lately. The term "growth period" has come to mind a lot, especially since the little guys recovered from their virus last week. That's probably why I don't like to go grocery shopping, and why it seems like we always need to go.

Here is today, by the numbers.

PRE-BREAKFAST

Three. Medium sized bowls of dry cereal (Fruit Loops today) served to each little boy.

Three. Sippy cups of milk, one for each.

BREAKFAST

Twelve. Whole pieces of bread that were made into toast, butter, sliced and then served for breakfast.

One. Side of yogurt (one regular size divided between the three).

One. Banana, peeled and sliced and divided between the three.

Twenty. Approximate number of green seedless grapes, sliced and divided among the three.

Three. Sippy cups of milk, one for each.

LUNCH

One. Frozen pizza, with extra cheese, divided by four (Mommy only had two very small slices).

Forty-Five. Approximate number of "fast food" frozen french fries that were consumed among the three.

One. Entire can of mandarin oranges consumed by three little boys.

Three. Sippy cups of milk, one for each.

SNACK

Twenty. Approximate number of Goldfish crackers consumed by each little boy.

Six. Two additional sippy cups of juice served to each.

Two. Packages of fruit snacks the twins devoured, one apiece (Connor was asleep on the couch at the time).

DINNER

Forty-Five. Number of graham cracker sticks dipped in marshmallow creme that all three boys devoured in under 15 minutes.

Fifteen. Approximate number of Cheetos puffs (Xander's favorite food group) that each boy enjoyed.

One-Half. Can of pineapple chunks that all three boys shared.

Three. Sippy cups of milk, one for each.

LATE DINNER

Two. Full children's sized plates of noodles (flavored with the roast I cooked for the big people dinner) that Connor devoured in less than 10 minutes.

Three. Number of children's sized glasses of iced tea Connor inhaled from a cup without a lid (his specific request).

Who wants to plan meals for tomorrow? Because I'm always running out of ideas for my picky little guys, and it seems like that's pretty much all I do all day long - play, eat, play, eat some more. Welcome to my world . . .

(Oh, and seriously, any ideas for food for picky toddlers really is appreciated!)

Before the Rain

Today the boys and I ventured outside to play a little bit, before the rains came through. It was cloudy, overcast and not nearly as hot as I imagined. And, Sawyer was being pretty insistent, dragging me to the coat closet (where the Crocs are kept) and wanting to get outside. It was too late to go for a walk, since we still had to get through lunch and had to be ready for our speech therapist right after. So we opted for a little bit of swinging and a little bit of sliding. Judging by their smiles, it seemed to go over well.



Connor, all tangled up in the swings.



Sawyer, trying to swing with the rings.



Xander, blocking the end of the slide and laughing about it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ready, Set, Stalk!



One of the things I was probably least prepared for about stay-at-home parenthood, especially with three toddlers, is how completely I am expected to be within reach. Even the dog, when he's inside, follows my every move. Perhaps we have made our children this way, but part of me is pretty sure that their personalities would have demanded most of it anyway.

Connor needs both constant attention and constant conversation. He absolutely does not stop talking, if nothing else, he simply repeats his first statement over and over until he gets a response from you. No amount of teaching (or attempting to teach) that it's not nice to do this, that you should not repeat things or harass innocent people (like our neighbors, whom he will absolutely shout "Hel-lo!" to about seven times before we're out of earshot), has made the slightest dent in his relentless verbal assaults. And I really and truly mean that he does not stop talking. Ask anyone, anyone who's ever spent a few hours or an afternoon with him. It really and truly only stops for one thing - sleep. He talks while playing, even by himself. He talks in between bites at meal time. He talks while using the potty. He talks on stroller walks, the whole time. He even talks while swimming (even when he's supposed to be keeping his mouth closed to prevent water going in his mouth).

Xander is a little less needy, but he's a follower. If one or both of his brothers are following Mommy, he tends to join in. You know, just in case there might be something good in it - like juice or treats or candy! And other times, especially when he's tired at the end of the day, he just clings. It's as though he cannot get close enough. He's the one I'm most likely to trip over, because he's literally right at my feet and I sometimes don't even hear him when he comes up.

And then there is Sawyer. He has long been my clutcher, the biggest of my Mommy's boys. He absolutely cannot stand to be separated from Mommy. He follows my every move, has taken to dragging me around by the hand frequently to get his wants and needs met, and even drags me down to the floor to keep me close by while he's playing. And it's unbearably cute most of the time, but there are moments when it can be maddening. Like when I'm trying to cook dinner, or do some random housework, or talk on the phone for a minute, or even go to the bathroom.

Or how about trying to eat dinner? Last night Sawyer couldn't stand to be left out, even though he'd just eaten about 20 minutes ago. So he first climbed into my lap, where I had to sit him back down again. He thought about it for a few seconds, then climbed on behind me. And at this point in the day, I'm just too tired to care. And, how cute is he, clutching on and giving me really hard hugs from behind? My independent little guy, finally starting to show some affection again. Mommy can't help but laugh, even if she does feel a little bit stalked at the same time. You can't see him in the photo below (just a little bit in the one above), but Buster has also claimed his spot at dinner time, curled up next to the window and Mommy's feet.

It's something, to be so loved. And depending on what time of day it is, it's either really, really cute, or really, really annoying!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Snapshot Sunday



Look how good they can be when no one is looking. Three boys playing quietly by themselves - Connor and Xander with books and Sawyer with blocks. A lazy Sunday at home . . .