Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just Another Day



Another day, another attempt at a group photo of the boys. This was the first and probably the best of all (it even made it onto the blog header!). A few more, from our adventures in our favorite field, can be found here. Just another really nice fall day here in our part of the world - a little school, a little therapy, a long stroller walk, and a lot of playing in our favorite field.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Loves to Learn

"Twinkle, Twinkle, babies? Did you?"

"Yes, Mommy sang 'Twinkle, Twinkle' to the babies."

"Mommy sing 'Twinkle, Twinkle', Connor, too?"

"Okay, Baby." And then I did.

"Connor sing now," he says, putting his hand over my mouth, as he lays next to me on his pillow. He turns over on his stomach, raises up on his elbows and begins to sing. And you must imagine his words in that cute little sing-song of children as they try to imitate melodies (especially bobbing his head back and forth dramatically with it, because that's the cutest part).

"Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
Won-der
What you are.

(What's that word?) - Mommy has to sing the next verse to help remind him, then he repeats it.

Above
World so high
Di-mond
in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
Won-der
What you are.

Yay, Connor did it!"

My big boy, he loves to learn new things. We've been having this "conversation" just about every night before bed. And it's one of the best parts of my day. Regardless of how long or bad it's been, how tired or frustrated I might be, I have learned to love our little night-time ritual.

I always sing "Twinkle, Twinkle" to my little guys, to help get them settled into bed. And then I make my way to Connor's room, where he is always waiting, usually sitting up on his bed. Sometimes we talk about our day, sometimes he just wants Mommy to lay down and cuddle with him, and lately he's wanted to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle."

There may be nights when I'm not really in the mood, when I would rather just go downstairs and take a few minutes to myself or see my husband and my puppy, but I always stay and I'm always glad. It's cute to see his big grin, that reaches all the way into his eyes, as he sings it back for me. He's so proud of himself, and so happy to share it with me. How long will my big boy want to cuddle with Mommy before bed, or share stories and songs, like he does now? Though it may be several years away, it will probably pass in the blink of an eye, and he will think himself too old for such things.

Right now, Mommy is the center of his whole world. He wants to talk to me, to share everything that he does and thinks and wants to do. And though it can try my patience during long days, having such a talkative little shadow following my every move (usually with two semi-silent shadows as well), I try to remember how sweet and how fleeting it really is. He's already growing up on us, and I have to remember to take the time to enjoy the little boy he is, before it's too late.

Long live "Twinkle, Twinkle" . . .

The Real Snapshot



What I tried and failed to capture yesterday, my little monkey climbing to the top from the outside of the rail. And look at that face, guilty as charged. He's absolutely going to be the first one with stitches. He has no fear of anything.

Of course, Connor had fun helping me correct him too. He's big on that lately. "No, no Xander!" I told him (after I snapped my picture). Connor didn't think I went far enough, so he added:

"No, no Xander! Get down! That's bad!"

Why do I get the feeling that there's going to be some real fights in this house one of these days.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Snapshot Sunday



Look what I can do now! Xander, who has always been my climber, has decided to scale up the outside of the stairs since the baby gate is blocking the normal way. He likes to climb up and move the pictures on the wall (out of sight, to the left). I couldn't catch him doing it with the camera, but here he is starting up. Good times. And if he starts scaling up the front steps, the rail isn't short like the back ones, it goes all the way to the top. Even better times.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday at the Park



When Connor is away, Mommy and brothers will play. We got a call yesterday morning from one of Mommy's good friends from college who lives about an hour away, and we decided to meet at the halfway point for an afternoon out with our little guys (her one and my two). I got online and found a park just a few miles off the interstate, and we got to enjoy a wonderful fall afternoon watching the boys play and catching up on our crazy lives.

My boys were a little cranky in the beginning, having fallen asleep on the way there. Sawyer actually never made it out of the double stroller, but seemed pretty content there watching Mommy and brother and munching on some suckers and some dry cereal. Xander was clingy and unhappy at first, but after being dumped on the slide a few times he decided it might not be so bad after all. He eventually found a set of plastic stairs made to look like rock steps, and we spent the majority of our time there. Unfortunately, this was right across from some picnic tables where a little boy was having a "John Deere" themed party, and he kept wandering over trying to get a cup or a balloon away from the tables.

Lavin's little boy Zach quickly attached himself to an older little girl (probably 6 or 7, but I'm terrible with ages, to his nearly 17 months). They were walking around and playing on all of the equipment, with Lavin trailing behind to make sure they didn't get into trouble.

We ended our day with lunch on the patio at a little sandwich shop. My boys, of course, ate nothing much of anything and later accosted Daddy as he tried to eat a late dinner at home. Zach did much better, eating his sandwich and yogurt and drinking his milk. And Lavin and I got to eat in between keeping our boys pacified.

It was fun to see how someone I knew long before kids were in the picture is with her little boy. She was completely calm and laid-back, even when Zach decided he didn't want to use the straw but instead squeeze the milk carton and drink from the hole where the straw should have gone. I envy that calm, and know that my boys would probably appreciate a little bit more of it in our house. We'll have to work on that.

So, another busy day, but a fun one too. There are a few pictures here.

Slowly but surely, we're getting the boys out and about in the world a bit more. They're not always happy about it, but they're adjusting. One step at a time . . .

Want Ketchup with That?

The pickiest of my three picky eaters has discovered a new food group. It's called ketchup. I actually wasn't witness to the discovery, but heard it secondhand from Pappy after they kept the boys overnight for us last week. They had gone out for the requisite trip to Donal's, and apparently Pappy and Aunt Kelly like ketchup with their french fries. My picky little man Xander, who really thinks that chips, yogurt and fruit are the only food groups worth knowing, apparently watched them intently, studying each time they dipped a french fry into their ketchup. Pappy offered him some, and after a bit of hesitation, he started digging right in. Every single french fry had to have ketchup from that point on.

What's so funny is that we can NEVER get him to try anything new. He's usually shaking his head and holding out a stiff arm before you can get within two feet of his plate, much less his mouth. And I got to see him in action a few days ago. We had pizza and french fries for lunch (healthy, I know), and when I gave Connor some ketchup on his plate, Xander was holding out his hand to take the bottle. Clearly he's a fan.

Sawyer, on the other hand, held out the stiff arm. And when I tried to give him a french fry with ketchup already on it, he pushed it back at me with a disgusted look on his face. No ketchup for him, thanks.

Return of the Stroller Walk



As much as I've always enjoyed taking the boys on our stroller walks through the neighborhood, it's gotten much more difficult lately. The triple stroller is just too much to push, and even if I was willing, the boys are getting too big for it and constantly kick the back of each other's seats and torment each other.

So we take the double stroller, where the two little guys usually get along, and Connor usually walks (or should I say "pokes"). He was always ready to walk when we used the triple stroller, but now that there are only two seats, he inevitably wants one ("Shew, I tired!"). I guess I envisioned getting to enjoy our long stroller walks while Connor was at school, but that hasn't really worked out either. Therapy is usually scheduled in those few hours, to take advantage of Connor's absence and to allow more time to actually be devoted to therapy instead of including (and/or disciplining) Connor. He thinks the therapists are there to play with him, of course.

I miss our walks, and I imagine my little guys do, too. It's a rare chance to get outside of our house and look around, to enjoy the fresh air and not be talked to or asked to do things they don't want to do (like talk or sign). They've always been happy little passengers, riding quietly and always content to sit there for hours at a time (or as long as Mommy is willing to push, anyway). And I love the fresh air, the exercise, and the peace and quiet. Not so much of the last two if Connor is along, because we're usually going at a snail's pace instead of my quick step and he can't for the life of him stop talking (it's apparently more important than breathing to him). Funny, how we so wish the two little guys would talk just a little and at times we so wish the oldest one would just be quiet every once in a while. Another one of life's great contradictions.

But, today, with Connor away on one of his many adventures, the little guys and I got to get back into an old familiar routine. We got up, had breakfast and headed out in the stroller. We took the long walk, probably about four miles all together. It was a nice, cool morning with a good breeze and a quick pace (Mommy's favorite). We stopped and played a bit in our favorite field (though not long, because they just didn't seem that into it today). We found cattails for the boys to hold (and torment each other with), and we watched a big group of birds fly away as we got too close. On the way back, we stopped and watched some ducks on the little pond near the sidewalk, and then made our winding way back home.

Just another day in the life . . .

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Billy & Jake"



For the first time all week, the boys and I got to spend an afternoon at the house. We didn't go anywhere, aside from our morning stroller walk, the biggest part of which my oldest son proclaimed, "Shew, I tired. Connor ride a while?" and then in the very next breath asked, "Connor play in the fields today?" You have to love the contradictions, even if they sometimes drive you crazy.

This afternoon we had a fun visit from our friends Andrea, Bailey and Jake, who my son still refers to as "Billy & Jake," even though "Billy" is a pretty little girl with long brown hair. She doesn't seem to mind though, and the two seem to get along really well. They're both bossy and dramatic, and it's fun to watch them interact and be surprised to see that their new friend is pulling tricks they themselves usually try to pull on their younger brothers. There were lots of instances of bossing, pouting, and even a bit of hitting and kicking. Andrea tells me Bailey is into boyfriends these days, so I'm wondering if Connor will fall into that category now. Isn't hitting and kicking a good sign at their age? If nothing else, he offered some pretty cool toys to share.

We played with cars and trucks (imagine that, in our house), and we had a big game of chase in our maze of a downstairs. A fun snack of milkshakes and McFlurries followed the initial mania of seeing each other and checking out the play area (which, of course, turned into the aforementioned game of chase). We eventually got out the big bouncy slide to jump around on (instead of our couch, which was what all of the kids wanted to do, apparently). And we ended the afternoon with a little sliding and swinging on the play set out in the back yard. Poor Jake, all he wanted to do was see the "Dog! Dog!" and play with him. We were not afraid that Buster would hurt him, because he's friendly, but we worried that all of the excitement might result in some knocking down, a little vicious tail wagging, and some stepping on toes (my dog is the champion of this, all 165 lbs. of him coming down on your foot and digging in with his sharp toenails, which is especially fun if your barefoot like I usually am).

Neither Bailey nor Connor was ready for the afternoon to end. He whined, and she pretended not to hear Andrea when she mentioned they would be leaving soon and again when it really was time to go. Jake and the little guys seemed okay with whatever was going on. Our little happy-go-lucky kids. Of course, Xander was in bed at the end of it (my sleepyhead) after practically falling asleep in my arms in the backyard at 4 p.m., and Sawyer was tucked away in his corner window playing, oblivious to one and all. Perhaps only Jake is the happy-go-lucky one!

A fun visit and a great way to end our crazy and chaotic week (they're all getting that way, unfortunately). Mommy definitely had a great time catching up with an old friend, in between all the toddlers running around and screaming (happily, for the most part)!

Connor is probably the happiest of all, because in addition to our afternoon of fun, he's off on another weekend adventure with Grammy and Pappy. Tonight he's travelling with Grammy to visit and spend the night with Great Grandma Kitty and the Kremer family, to see some hot air balloons and then to enjoy a little fall festival at a local church. He may even get to stay another night with Grammy and Pappy tomorrow. Have I mentioned that he's our "have suitcase, will travel" kid? When he saw me carrying bags down the stairs (something that usually makes his little brothers cry), he just grinned. "That's my bags!" he told Pappy, who was here to pick him up. "Connor go, too!"

And off he goes, yet again, on another fun adventure . . .

Licensed to Read

It's actually pretty shameful to admit, but after having lived in this city for over 10 years now, I finally went to the local public library and got a card. Part of the reason I've never bothered is that we've always been big bookstore people. We love to go there on our nights of freedom, usually after dinner at a sit-down restaurant, and kill a few hours and pick up our latest must-reads. We have box after box of books upstairs in our third floor bonus room, and the disassembled book shelves are there too, for when we thought we might use our spare bedroom as a second play area instead of the storage room it's actually become. But I digress . . .

Josh and I both like to read, not that we have much time for it anymore, but we still buy books occasionally. Of course, our boys are a different story altogether. They occasionally like to flip through books, but only by themselves, and they hardly ever sit still to be read to at all. They're also still terribly hard on anything that's not cardboard or plastic (and even sometimes that doesn't withstand their "playing" either), so we haven't invested in a lot of books for them. The ones we do have are full of rips, tears, teeth marks and missing pages (if you can imagine such things). The rest are kept carefully guarded in a plastic tote in the pantry (with the other toys not in rotation at the moment).

But, here lately, all of the boys have been showing a bit more interest in them. The little guys love to flip through a couple of cloth books that have moving pieces and sound buttons. Connor just likes to sit down with someone and "read" the stories. Sometimes he'll let you actually read it to him, sometimes he just wants to "read" his way, by pointing out people and things in the stories on each of the pages. But lately (possibly from circle reading time at school), he's shown much more interest in actually sitting through a book reading. And add to that the parental guilt that comes with watching how many children come into preschool with their reading logs filled every single day of class (for every 15 books that a child reads, he can get one toy from the "treasure box" at preschool). So, Connor has now turned in one full sheet (this past Tuesday), and will probably have another one again next Tuesday. We're half way there right now. Given how little he liked to read just a few months ago, that's nothing short of miraculous.

The first time I went to the library, it was for me. I had an afternoon away from the kids and for once didn't need to go grocery shopping or run other errands. I had my favorite lunch out (Backyard Burger) and then went to the library for some reading - Louder than Words by Jenny McCarthy, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and The Appeal by John Grisham. I looked in the children's section, but it was just overwhelming. I had no idea who the best new authors were, or even the old ones for that matter, and there was just row after row of books. I had no idea what he might like or how to go about finding anything. I decided I would do a bit of research online for popular children's books and authors, and then I would try again next time. So the second time I went (Josh too, since it was on our Wednesday night date night), I picked out a handful of books to test the waters. We got some classics (Berenstain Bears), some PBS cartoon characters (Clifford the Big Red Dog and Thomas the Tank Engine), and a random book about building a house (he's been fascinated by Daddy's job lately).

The library concept will be hard for me, because I often like to reread books later on if I really enjoyed them. It's nothing to go upstairs and pull out an old favorite after the kids are in bed for the night, which I clearly can't do at the library (it closes before they go to bed, plus it's just not that convenient). But the constant change is going to be a good thing for Connor, because he's simply been going through them faster than we can get them. And he, too, likes to read them over and over again. That can wear on Mommy's nerves, since she doesn't really like Thomas all that much. We picked up eight for him last time, thinking that should be plenty for a kid who doesn't really like to read all that much. Well, he's already read through them all. Twice, if not more. Good thing they let you have up to 35 items at a time. I think we're going to have to get a few more for him next time.

While the branch closest to us is not the largest, it's more than enough to keep us happy. I'm only sorry it's taken us this long to get there. I have such fond memories of going to the library as a kid, for story times and just to pick up stacks of books to bring home and read. It was in an old historic building near downtown, and I always thought it was so much fun to go, especially climbing up all those steps to go in the big front doors. It's a shame the double stroller wouldn't work at the one near us, because I don't think I can yet manage three toddlers to either story time or the children's area. But we'll get there, eventually . . . and at any rate, it's nice to have rediscovered the library. I think Connor's going to enjoy it as much as I will!

Photo Flashback



Xander enjoying the exersaucer. (September 26, 2006)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Connor's World

With the way he talks these days, it's hard to keep up with all the cute phrases and things that come from his little mouth. Here are just a few of my favorites (and most frequently heard) these days . . .

"I did that!" he says proudly. We hear this one often, especially when we're asking him about things he's done recently. He's not much on volunteering information, but if you has him a specific question, like did you go on a hay ride this weekend or did you have fun at school today, he'll answer. "Yes, I did that!"

"I want to!" he whines. This one is both cute and annoying. With that wonderful simplicity and logic that belongs only to small children, he thinks that this simple phrase should give him anything and everything that his heart desires. That doesn't happen, but he keeps trying. Today's example, "It's Connor's," he tells me, holding fast and hard to the library book we've just read before nap time. "I keep it, go night-night." I try to explain to him that library books are special and can't be kept during nap time, that they might get broken (not by him, he swears!), and that Mommy has to keep them in a special place until next time. "But I want it!" he yells, breaking down in tears and hiding his face pitifully in his pillow. We also had a similar meltdown on the way home from school. It seems someone wanted Donal's for lunch, but we didn't have time today because we had to go home for another therapy visit. "But I want it!"

"Where is he?" He's having trouble with his pronouns, so he confuses he and she and his and her a lot these days. And it's even funnier when he says it for an object. "Where is he?" he asks, talking about the moon that's hidden behind the clouds.

"Connor go to school!" he says happily. He LOVES to go to school. We count down the days. "Three more days, Mommy!" he says, often out of no where.

"Connor go to the boat-school!" He says this one with even more excitement. We had trouble explaining the children's museum to him, so I told him it was a different kind of school (thinking he would understand that, since he loved school so much). Well, he loved the river and boat exhibit with the water table, and that's what he thinks the whole museum is about. "Boat-school today?" he asks, always hopeful.

"Robot's not comin'?" he asks, usually as I'm leaving his room for the night. We think he's terrified of our Roomba vacuum, which we often run at night, but we're not sure. We hear it just about every night, sometimes two or three times before he's satisfied that no, the robots are not coming.

"Ol' roof time!" This one is a phrase he always sings, usually tilting his head back and forth with the melody. And though you'll probably scratch your head and swear it's not part of the song, he's actually singing a line (his version) from the popular children's song "The Wheels on the Bus," which they've been practicing at preschool. It technically should be "All 'round town!" but clearly was not what he heard or what he will allow (despite hours of attempting to correct, reason, and explain). So, it's "The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round, 'round and 'round, ol' roof time!" And you must envision the swaying of his head with each word of the melody, because it's what makes it so darn cute.

"Mommy no go, " he says pitifully, hooking one of his arms around my neck. He likes to pull this one at night when we're laying in his bed, talking about our day and getting ready to go night-night. "Stay with Connor!" And who can resist that? How much longer is he going to be that sweet and small, clutching on with those little arms and begging Mommy to stay and cuddle a little longer.

My big boy . . . saying so many things and growing up much too fast!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Busy, But Still Fun



Another busy day day in the life . . . first, we met up with Grammy and Pappy this morning at the indoor pool near their house for a little swimming. My two water babies LOVED it, Xander not so much. We did eventually get him into the water, though he held on with a death grip the whole time. All the boys had fun in the whirlpool (a big circle of water with spinning motion to pull you round and round). Most of the time they just enjoyed splashing around in the big kiddie area. Sawyer is a totally different person in the water, grinning from ear to ear and completely carefree. It seems to calm him more than just about anything else. He says he'd like to start every day that way (Connor agrees, but Xander probably wouldn't stand for it at all).

Connor was the lucky winner of the day, he was invited to spend the day with Pappy. They were going to stay at the pool for a while and then get some lunch and run some errands. I think there were at least two visits planned, one to Great Grandma JoAnn and the other to pick up cousin Louie (the bulldog) since Uncle Luke was going to be working late tonight and wouldn't be able to get home to the poor little guy. Connor is enjoying his afternoon, of that I'm sure.

The little guys and I had to head back to town to meet Miss April for our developmental therapy, so we grabbed lunch in the car (healthy, I know) and got back to the house about two minutes before she arrived. We had fun playing with puzzles and stacking and counting blocks today. We even got to keep one of them overnight, a magnetic fishing puzzle. Xander has been carrying the pole around all afternoon, and I have a feeling blood will be shed tonight when Connor returns.

And lucky us, our good cousins Katie and Josh are coming over tonight for our weekly night out. The kids will have fun playing, and Josh and I can enjoy some much-needed down time. Life sure seems busy all of the sudden, with preschool, therapy and all the little adventures that keep coming our way. But even when it's hectic and crazy balancing schedules and three toddlers, it's still fun. All I have to do is just look at those smiles, and it's all worth it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mommy & Me



To look on the bright side about our day of being off schedule, Connor and I got to go outside while brothers took their afternoon nap and spend some rare one-on-one time in the middle of the day. We took our trusty sidewalk chalk and drew. We're still in the "boat" phase, so I drew several boats and he took charge of drawing the water. That means that he made a blue line all up and down the driveway and I was supposed to follow behind and draw boats. That's fair, right?

Off Schedule

Isn't it funny? On the days when you'd like to sleep in, your children wake up with the sun. And on the days when you need them to get up early, they're buried under the covers and not at all ready to get up. So it goes for us, as we begin school days at our house.

On the days that Connor goes to preschool, I have to get up about 7:30 a.m. to make sure everyone is up, dressed and fed before we leave the house about 10 minutes before 9 a.m., when his school officially begins. We only live a few minutes away, but it can be an ordeal. We have to change any last minute diapers, get Connor to actually potty before he leaves (yes, he's one of those children, the kind who rarely potties when he first wakes up and usually does so several hours after breakfast is over), get our shoes, get three little boys in car seats, fold up and pack the double-stroller, and then get on our way. We also have to unload the stroller, load two cranky little guys into it, produce suckers to reduce the amount of screaming, and then get one excited little guy and his bag inside the building and into his classroom. Then we have to locate his name and place it on the green circle (sign-in), put away his "share time" toy, his communication folder and hang up his bag on his hook. Then we head back to the car and start over again minus the big boy. It's an adventure, let me tell you. And we do it twice a day, two days a week, usually with a therapy session or two or three thrown into the mix as well. Fun times.

But I digress, we were talking about sleeping. Today was really fun. Connor is almost always still sleeping when it's time to get up and get ready for school about 7:45 a.m. This morning, he even burrowed back under the covers and turned away from me. I went on and got his little brothers up and dressed and downstairs and he didn't even move or blink. Still snoozing away. I could barely get him to move at 8 a.m., and even then he was laying down and closing his eyes as I got him dressed. And you can forget breakfast, he's usually much too excited and just stares blankly at his plate before saying "I done!"

And little brothers were also in rare form today. Xander, my usual sleepyhead, was laying in bed awake, sucking his thumb. Sawyer, typically my early riser and ready to go at the crack of dawn, can usually be found just behind the door and probably kicking on it for good measure. Today, he was sound asleep in his little corner of the bed, even after I turned the overhead light on and had twin brother already dressed and ready to go.

That would, of course, be due to the fact that he was wide awake from about 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. this morning. Not that Daddy noticed, but Mommy certainly did. For someone who used to be such a deep sleeper, motherhood has certainly changed that. I hear everything now, and at 2:08 a.m. my little man was wide awake, running around in his room, babbling, squealing and laughing at himself. He didn't stop until sometime after 6 a.m. I have no idea how his brother slept through it, but sleep he did. And Sawyer eventually slept too, but it's probably why he wasn't ready to get up this morning and why he's now taking that all-to-rare afternoon nap. Another one of those quirky and cool traits, or so I'm told.

I'm guessing everyone will be awake by 7 a.m. tomorrow, since it's not a school day and we don't have any early plans. Mommy would prefer to sleep until at least 8 a.m., but the boys only seem to want to do that when there's school, and I have to get up early to get them all awake and ready to go. So goes life . . .

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lesson Learned



Every once in a while, it's necessary to take all three kids to the grocery store. I try very hard not to do the full grocery run (you know, about two hours and $350 later) with the kids. Today was not that, it was just a quick trip to the local Kroger for a few items (and also to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy). It should have been easy.

But it wasn't. Kroger has those two-seater carts, the ones made to look like race cars, which work nicely for the twins who still aren't very well behaved walking. Even if the straps are broken, like they were today, the little steering wheels generally keep them occupied enough to stay sitting down while I pick up the necessary items (some chips, drinks, cereal, etc.).

The problem, however, is that my usually happy to be walking big boy also loves the race car cart. He doesn't want to walk at all at Kroger, he wants to ride inside the race car cart. And not in the big basket, which is where he used to ride, but in the top part where the steering wheels are located. He is honestly much too big to be riding there, but he wants to so badly. He had a little meltdown before I even let him out of the truck, because I had already put both little guys in the top seats. There was no where for Connor to go, and he knew it. And he was beyond pitiful about it.

So, we wiped away the tears and the runny nose and calmed him down. I told him he had to walk like a big boy while Mommy was getting the groceries, but if he was a good boy while we shopped, then he could ride up there on the way out and I would let Xander walk. Still pitiful, he nodded his head and we went on our way. He, of course, ended up in the big part of the basket because he was too tired ("Mommy, I tired. Shew, Connor tired!") to walk any more. I carefully placed the groceries around him and out of the little guys' reach, and we managed.

And don't think he, for one minute, forgot about our bargain. The minute the bagged groceries were in the cart, he started whining about his turn. So I picked up Xander, who was for once in no mood to walk, and put Connor in the top with Sawyer. Sawyer didn't like the switch and immediately put his hands over his ears in protest. Xander clutched at me and held on for dear life. I carried him and pushed the other two all the way to the truck. And that was not fun at all, because those big carts are bulky and don't push very well to begin with. And if you go over uneven pavement (like, for instance, the parking lot that's in the middle of a construction zone and has gravel and patched asphalt and everything else you can imagine), it gets stuck a lot. Fun times.

So, I've officially learned my lesson. Kroger trips are to be made with two children only, because everyone wants to ride in the cart and I've yet to see a three-seater race car cart. And before you suggest it, I had been trying to run these type of errands when Connor was in school. Two is much easier than three, I thought. But our therapists have been moving some of their times around to take advantage of this fact as well. It seems it's much easier to engage with the twins when big brother (who, let's face it, is a rather talkative and attention-loving child) is not around.

With three toddlers, life is usually busy, often fun, and always a challenge.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Little Sign, A Lot of Attitude

"More" was the first sign that our speech therapist introduced to the boys, and the first one that Xander started using consistently and correctly. It is still his most frequently used sign, and is generally considered universal by him. It still means "more," but also "gimme" and "I want" and "let's play" and just about anything else you can think of that he might attempt to communicate. He has only recently added a few other signs, like "no" and "all done" to his daily interactions.

Sawyer has long watched and understood the signs we have been practicing (just as he knows and understands the words we use), but he wanted no part of any of it. He finally, after weeks of trying, did condescend to allow us to do the technique known as hand-over-hand, where I take my hand and help him use his hand to perform the sign. Stubborn little man that he is, he even resisted this part at first. Well, last week the therapist had a "breakthrough" moment with him, when she got him to consistently sign "more" during a little game of organizing markers (during an attempted art session). It was cute and unexpected, and a completely welcome sight to see him actually communicating, even with extensive verbal and physical prompting from the therapist.

And it was also extremely funny, though we both tried very hard not to laugh. Leave it to my son to find a way to show attitude with his first ever sign language. It was quick, angry and abrupt. He clearly was not pleased to be making the sign, and he absolutely let us know it, each and every time that he signed it. Attitude, from the quiet one. Good times.

Snapshot Sunday



Mr. Serious hanging out on the fireplace.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fall Festival

It's been a busy couple of days . . . the kids got an impromptu overnight visit with Grammy and Pappy (so Mommy and Daddy could do some work), Connor got to spend another night with Aunt Kelly at the local truck and tractor pull (which he absolutely loved and did NOT want to leave, ever), the little guys spent last night hanging out with Katie and Josh while Mommy and Daddy went to watch cousin Tommy play a big Friday night football game at the state fairgrounds, and today the boys and I met up with cousin Katie, Aunt Kelly and Grammy at the annual pumpkin festival at the local club (where Grammy is a member and we usually go swimming in the awesome kiddie pool). Whew!

Today was actually a lot of fun, right up until the very end, when I had three very tired and very cranky little boys on my hands. There were inflatable, bouncy rides in one area, where Connor had a blast on the tall slide. He even scared Katie once, doing a somersault from the top and then sliding down. The little guys liked a smaller one, but only after Mommy got permission to crawl in with them and get them started. Once they got used to it, they didn't need me at all anymore. There were balloon animals, pony rides, a petting zoo, and even a pumpkin painting area (the small ones, with washable finger paint). We had lunch at the little outdoor grill at the club, and spent a few hours checking out all the fun stuff. We ended the day with a rather long wait (not good with cranky little people) and an even longer hay ride around the farm where the club is located. Once we started moving, it was better and definitely worth the wait. Connor picked seats right behind the tractor, so he had a great view with Katie and Kelly (though quite a bit of dust on some parts of the trail). Grammy held Xander, who promptly fell asleep on her shoulder. I held Sawyer, who alternately sat on the floor of the wagon, sat on my knees, and danced between my legs. He only tried to jump off once, and that was as we were going near the lake. He, apparently, was ready to swim. Which I should have known, since he tried about five times to drag me to the fenced-in pools (right near the festival booths) that we usually visit. Thank goodness he never saw the actual kiddie pool, or it might have been all over for us.

Below are my favorite pictures of each of the kids from the day.



Connor getting to "drive" the tractor after our hay ride. He was actually invited to ride there the whole time, but turned bashful at the last second. It's a shame, he probably would have loved "driving" the hay ride with the tractor and two trailers full of hay and people.



Sawyer bouncing on his tip toes (he loved to bounce, once he got over his initial hesitation).



Xander taking a break from bouncing to see Mommy. He, too, loved to bounce after he got used to it.

Just another day in the life . . .

Friday, September 19, 2008

Photo Flashback



Sawyer trying to eat the camera. (September 26, 2006)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Kids Are Away . . .

. . . and Mommy will play. Actually, that's not completely true. The kids are away - enjoying a fun overnight visit with Grammy and Pappy. And Mommy did play, for a few hours tonight - the girls I used to work with all those years ago (going on three, for those who are counting) are still nice enough to let me tag along on girls' night out. We went to one of my favorites - P.F. Chang's - and gorged on good food and lots of good girl talk.

It's a bit ironic that girls night was something I rarely had time for when I was actually working. Not that I didn't want to go, but that I always felt so torn between work and overtime and family that it was hard to give up family time. Now that I only have family time, girls night can't come soon enough. And I appreciate it so much more, and wish I had been smart enough to value it more back then. Live and learn, I guess . . .

. . . and we won't mention the less glamorous part, that the kids are on an overnight visit because I spent all day helping Daddy work, and that I'll be doing the same thing again tomorrow.

What fun would that be?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"New School Today?"

Last Sunday, when I took Connor to visit the Exporium for the first time, he had trouble understanding where we were going and what we were going to do. Because I was taking him by himself, he thought at first we might be going to school. And then he ended up getting terribly upset when Mommy turned the wrong direction, the one going the opposite way from school!

"No, no! Not that way!" he cried, his lower lip beginning to stick out and turn into the really, really pitiful face. "I no want to go this way. Connor go to school!"

So I tried to calmly explain that we weren't going to school today, it was still two more days until school. We were going out to lunch at McDonald's and then to a cool museum. That word, of course, meant nothing to him. I even tried to talk about the boats he would get to play with, but he just couldn't understand. He thought the world was ending. I finally gave up and told him that yes, we were going to school, but it was a new school, a different kind of school with fun things that you could play with and learn from. He liked that. ("I like that, Mommy!" is a frequently heard saying in our house).

So we got there and he had a big time, especially playing with the boats. And now, it's all that he wants to do.

"Connor go to new school today? Play with boats and water and get all wet?" he asks, a hopeful look on his little face.

"Not today, Baby."

"Connor maybe go later," he says, ever the optimist. "New school. Play with boats and water and splash!"

It certainly looks like we're going to get our money's worth out of the annual pass, at least. Now, it's only a matter of Mommy or Daddy finding something to occupy them for the HOURS and HOURS that he'll spend standing at the water table, playing with boats and water and splash!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

There Will Be Order



If you don't know him very well, one of the things you will quickly learn about Sawyer after spending any amount of time with him is that he requires a lot of structure and order in his life. Whether it's stacking a certain type of block or lining up another one, sorting cars or linking rings, he likes things a certain way and does not hesitate to let you know otherwise.

Ask his brothers, both of whom have been on the short end of his wrath when they upset his ordered little world. Xander does so with a gleeful little look on his face, usually with an aim of distracting him one way to get something else (i.e. Xander wants a specific block, so he knocks over the tower Sawyer has been working on to upset him and then Xander steals the block while Sawyer's busy being upset about the toppled tower). You can also ask Connor, who's got not one or even two, but three different bite marks on his left arm this week. He seems to enjoy both tormenting Sawyer (usually bossing him around) and the sympathy that he gets when his brother has marked him.

Sawyer likes order and routine. Take bath time, for example. He loves to take a bath, but you must do it on his terms or it could get ugly. We usually give the little guys a bath together (to make our lives easier), so we get the water started and get them settled in playing while we take care of any upstairs business we need to do before bed time (treating clothes for stains, folding laundry and putting it away, getting out pajamas and lotion for the little guys, whatever). Connor, depending on whether he's been good or bad, is either downstairs still playing until his turn, or sitting rather pitifully on his spot in the hallway, where we can keep a close eye on him if he's been acting out.

So, once we get around to actually giving the little guys their bath, we have to make sure Sawyer is ready. You see, we have several bath toys in the tub that they play with while they're waiting on us to get our act together. The ones that he most enjoys are the foam bath letters and numbers. And (surprise, surprise), he likes to stack them all up in a tower in the corner of the tub. Not some of them, not half of them, all of them. And they must be stacked neatly, with each single letter or number being rinsed off and free of any soap bubbles and placed by his hand. He knows, absolutely knows, if you've tried to sneak a few in to speed the process along. And why would we try to speed the process up, you ask? Because it can be long and time-consuming, and more importantly, because if every last letter is not stacked he kicks and screams and fights like mad to keep you from giving him a bath or shampooing his hair. How would you like to try to give a bath to 37-plus pounds of angry toddler in a small tub with his brother? Let him finish his letters though, and he's the calmest, most content child in the world. He lays right down when you ask him to, and even smiles up at you while you're giving him his bath.

Like I said, order and routine. They make his life, and ours, much easier.

Little Moments

Yesterday at the park, each of the boys had their moments that are worth sharing. We'll start from oldest to youngest.

Connor, who is big for his age, is often mistaken for someone much older. A group of older girls (probably ages seven or eight) came over and started playing on the see-saw where he was. It's a four-seater, and usually the taller people go on the back of each two-seat section so their legs will touch and get better bounces. One of the older girls kindly pointed this out to Connor, and asked him very nicely if he would mind trading places since the other girl was taller than he was. He stared at her blankly. He is only three, after all. He liked his seat and logic was not going to interest or sway him, even if he did understand her. Thankfully, Mommy was nearby and overheard the conversation. I explained, in simple terms, that if he would move forward one seat they could all bounce higher. Now that, my friends, got him moving. Longer legs and taller girls meant nothing, but higher bouncing - he was all for that!

Next was Sawyer, my little independent man who prefers to play by himself and usually doesn't even bother to acknowledge that other people exist. He was happily moving between his two or three favorite areas, oblivious to all others except Mommy (who was sometimes required to help him enjoy one of his favorites, the swings). He went from the see-saw to the swings to the smaller slides. And then he noticed another little boy, or rather noticed what the little boy's mother had produced for the little boy - Apple Jacks. My shy, anti-social little man made a beeline straight for this woman and little boy and proceeded to begin sticking his hand into their container of dry cereal. The woman smiled and laughed, generously offering to share. My son couldn't have cared less, he had a one track mind. He put both hands in, digging out fistfuls and stuffing them into his mouth and going back for more. I quietly warned the mother he would absolutely eat them all, because she kept offering the container back over to him. They finally moved on to watch the soccer practice in the nearby field, but Sawyer kept a close eye on them and kept trying to sneak their way again. Food, apparently, trumps social issues.

And then there was my little man, still tired from his afternoon nap. He had to be persuaded to even leave the truck, but quickly found things to interest him. He's my climber, and had fun scaring me and Grammy as he boldly climbed up things that were probably meant for older and larger kids. He really liked the tall, winding slide on the bigger play set, and did remarkably well. Until he saw the soccer balls in the field. They were just sitting there, off to the side of practice, begging to be used. They were about forty yards away, and he took off running. "Ball!" he said over his shoulder, running and pointing. Grammy caught up to him and stopped him from stealing balls off the practice field, but he wasn't happy. He kicked and screamed and kept his eyes turned toward the field for an opening the whole time we were playing. And then, as luck would have it, two kids came over with their balls after practice and set them down right beside the play area. He grabbed a bright purple one and started playing with it. The older kids were too busy playing chase to notice, and even when they did were nice enough not to mind that my two-year old had borrowed it. So he got his ball, and was content for the remainder of our time at the park.

Of course, we decided to leave when the little boy needed his ball back. Xander was not exactly happy to give it back to its rightful owner. Apparently the soccer practice field was switching teams, because the little boy was taking his ball that way, and to make matters worse, the little boy and his mother with the Apple Jacks were coming back to the playground from where they had been watching soccer practice. I was about to have two unhappy little boys on my hands. So we diverted them with talks of getting something to eat on the way home (Arby's curly fries, if you're wondering). And that, was our day at the park!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Day at the Park

Today was a rare, unscheduled day in increasingly busy days. Grammy stopped in for a visit, and we talked her into going to the park to enjoy the fall-like weather this afternoon . . .



Connor and Grammy digging in the mulch pit . . .



Sawyer having a big time on the see-saw . . .



And Xander, as always, ready to jump!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Connor's Turn

With all of the things going on in our lives lately, Connor doesn't seem to get nearly as much one-on-one time as he would like. With Daddy taking Sunday off, Mommy decided to take him out for a treat. We stopped at McDonald's for lunch and then headed downtown to use our pass at the Explorium again (see, it's almost paid for already!)

Here are a few of my favorite shots for the day . . .



Connor discovering the moon . . .



Making BIG bubbles . . .



Playing with marbles . . .



Spinning round and round and round . . .



and playing with the boats!

Guess where we spent the most time? Really, just guess.

Snapshot Sunday



Mirror Image.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Quirky & Cool

For months and months, I have been dancing around a word. I've talked about it, hinted rather broadly and written between the lines for quite some time. But I haven't said it. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because it's terrifying. Perhaps because it's so damn uncertain. And perhaps because it's going to change absolutely everything, and I have absolutely no control over any of it. The word is a label, and it will color how you see things. It will bring assumptions and perceptions that may or may not be true. And it just seems so unfair, because he's my son and I don't want that for him. Like all mothers, I want love and acceptance. Perhaps not as unconditional as mine always will be, but love and acceptance just the same.

The word is Autism.

For a while now, we have suspected that one of our twins may be autistic. It's the main reason we had the little guys evaluated and started on the therapies they currently have (speech and developmental for both, behavioral for one). We are working toward one thing - a clinical evaluation. We have to have at least two months of therapy notes to be admitted to the center that is considered the statewide authority on such things. We are half way there. We have already seen progress in some areas, though not so much in others. As with most developmental issues, the process will be slow and full of lots of ups and downs. And we have only just begun.

A few of you have heard us talk openly about it, most of you have not. Many of you may have read between the lines, and perhaps even wondered if we were aware. We were, we are, and we're still trying to figure out the best course for our son and for our family.

Autism is nothing if not ambiguous. There are no hard and fast rules, no rhyme or reason to it at all. It affects everyone differently and therapies that help some people do absolutely nothing for others. It ranges from very high-functioning to severely impaired, may or may not include health problems as well as the other things. It can be any combination of speech, developmental, social, behavioral and even occupational issues. People and experts all argue over the why and how of it, especially now that it seems to be such a prevalent thing in society, the true "it" diagnosis for all developmental and behavior issues. And those whose lives are touched by it find themselves wading through the vast amount of information that is available, often offering differing opinions on the types of therapies and "treatments" that may or may not help. Some even argue that autism simply offers a different perspective and does not need help or "treatment," though I don't think I could ever subscribe to this group entirely. I want my son to function in the world, to the best of his abilities. But at the same time, I don't want to have every moment of his life tied up in therapy or "treatment." I want for him what I want for all of my boys - to be happy and healthy and to live a good life. I suppose that puts me in the happy medium group, where we try a few things and see how it goes. We hope for speech (or signs) and a little more social engagement. If it doesn't work, then we try something else, as long as it doesn't make our son miserable. We find what works for us, discard the things that don't, and we go on.

In the beginning, I was reluctant to have him evaluated for several reasons, but mostly for the label. It seems so many people just write your child off when you mention they have or might have autism. And that, more than anything, breaks your heart. Is my son different than other kids his age? Absolutely, he's quirky and independent and organized like you wouldn't believe. But he's also sweet and endearing and infinitely loveable, just like every other little boy his age. And who's to say that he doesn't have just as much potential as anyone else, that the speech will not come in time or that the social skills may not improve. He is only two, after all.

But the signs of Autism are there, and have been for quite some time. He sees things differently, processes things differently. His needs and his wants are not the same as his brothers. And we need to try to understand that as much as we can so we can learn to communicate as much as he needs or wants to and so we can help him move through this life with as much ease and enjoyment as possible.

I don't want the word, the label, to limit him or to be the only thing people see in him. If he has autism, it will only be a small part of who he is, certainly not all of him. He smiles and he laughs. He runs and he plays. He is sweet and he is funny. He is my little boy.

And, he is now, and always will be, my baby. He is no different to me than either of his brothers. Autistic or not, he's going to be just fine. He has one of the brightest smiles you will ever see and one of the most adorable laughs you will ever hear. And that's something I wouldn't change for anything in this world. He's just another one of our boys. We're going to do everything we can for him and his brothers to make sure they all grow up healthy and happy. And that, I think, is all anyone really wants for their children.

Any other posts along this line will fall into the Quirky and Cool category, because that's how I choose to see it.

Must Be the Full Moon



Let this serve as a warning to all who might enter our house at the moment. Sawyer is going through what appears to be another one of his biting phases (he's done this off and on since his first teeth started coming in). Connor is his latest victim, if one who tortures and torments his little brother into retaliation (which, in this case, is biting) can be considered a victim. We also suspect that our "victim" allows it to happen because he enjoys the sympathy factor after the fact. Xander is smart enough to walk away. Connor simply stands there and waits until he's finished, usually leaving a rather dark red mark and some bruising in his wake (the picture doesn't quite do it justice). Connor doesn't try to pull or walk away, which we find odd. We're working on it - both on getting Sawyer to find a better outlet for his anger and frustration and on getting Connor to be a little bit smarter about it. You know, like when he starts to get upset and you see him bare his teeth and bend towards you, you should probably move away. That kind of smart.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Photo Flashback



Learning to stand - Connor. (September 18, 2006)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Explore!

For a long time, the boys and I probably could have been considered homebodies. It's just so daunting to think about taking three little people anywhere, especially by yourself, unless the triple stroller would fit (and even then, it's not like you could actually let them down, so how much fun could it really be to go somewhere).

Well, slowly and with the help of others, we are starting to get our boys out into the world a little more. Our days of just waking up and figuring out what to play with and when to take our neighborhood walk are pretty much over. Connor has school two days a week, and that means his brothers and I have to get up in time to get us all ready and fed, take him in (with brothers in tow), and then be back in time to get him in the afternoon (also with brothers in tow). The logistics are slightly maddening. The double stroller is a must, and there is still screaming from the little guys while we wait in the hallway for entrance and dismissal. But I digress . . .

Today we added another element. We all got ready and fed, dropped Connor off at school, and then headed downtown to meet Miss April, our developmental therapist, at the local children's museum downtown. It's focus is math and science, but it's basically like a big indoor playground where you also happen to learn a little bit, too. The boys cried, as they often do, in the new situation. They cried when we parked on the street and got into the stroller. They cried as we walked through downtown. They cried when we went inside, while Mommy paid the admission, and when we started on the visit.

Finally, after about twenty minutes of crying (only about 5 or 10 inside), it stopped. Xander became fascinated with a display of shiny colored rocks. He and April stayed for quite some time, and he even found his way back a time or two later on. Sawyer cried longer than his brother, but that's to be expected. New situations often cause trouble for him. He eventually calmed down and walked with me around the corner. There was a huge walled mirror, which he fell in love with for a while. There were also hula hoops, and we rolled those around a bit, too.

Eventually, Xander and April found us and we all headed over to an area especially for preschoolers (it has a gate, to keep them contained in a large, viewable space). And here we stayed for the duration. There was a water table, which Sawyer immediately fell in love with and only left for moments at a time (and even then, not very often). He liked moving the toys from one section to the next, all at a time - organizing, yet again. Xander found several things to interest him, the first and most frequent being a large table with wires and beads (similar to those found in most doctor's offices). He also found puzzles, stacking blocks, wooden puzzle games and wooden push toys. He especially enjoyed getting these into the water table, which I'm pretty sure is not what the museum has in mind. But all went well. They, of course, also cried when it was time to leave.

But, it was such a good time for them (once we got in and settled) and an enjoyable and manageable outing for me, that I signed us up for an annual pass. If you visit three times a year, it's the same price as having an annual pass, and I figure we can at least do that much. Besides, we never even made it to the other half of the first floor, much less the second story. And I think Connor would like it too, sometime when Daddy or someone else is free to help.

Lots of new things going on with the boys these days. I sometimes worry that we've gone from nothing to way too much way too soon, but they're handling it as well as could be expected. Sawyer, of course, has the most trouble. But he's coping in his way. And in the long run, I think getting them out into the world a bit more is going to be good for all of us! Happy exploring . . .



Sawyer and his mirror image (Xander's reflection also comes in at the top right).



My little engineer, Xander, having fun with the bead table.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

That's Why

After a rather long day (us being off our sleeping schedule and all), the boys have just now gone to bed. I put them down for a nap, not because they truly needed it, but because I needed for them to have it. They were bouncing the walls (and, of course, me), and repeatedly tearing the couch apart every moment I stepped away to do something. Answer the phone, yes. Fix a meal, yes. Get juice, yes. Try to eat something myself, yes. And, you get the idea. I desperately needed the break for my sanity, and they all slept in short order, so maybe they really did need it, too.

And after a long day, late baths and even later bed times, I was ready for my shower and my other break (you know, the down time without the three clinging shadows who follow my every step during the day). I had taken the little guys up for their bath and gotten them into bed, and Josh was in the process of getting Connor his bath and bed. It had been a long day, it was late, and I really wanted my shower. Connor was disappointed, since I always lay down with the boys for a few minutes before bed. I told him to let Daddy help him dressed and in bed tonight, and that I would come in after my shower to say good-night.

It's a good thing I kept my word. My little man was sitting straight up in bed (and appeared to have been so the entire 15 minutes of my shower), covers pulled up to his waist and watching the door intently.

"Mommy!" he said, clearly pleased if his huge grin was any indication. I walked over to his bed and began tucking him in under the covers so I could lay down beside him (I always lay on top of the covers, for easier extraction when it's time to go).

We began our nightly ritual. We talk about what we've done today - the store, McDonald's, our stroller walk after Daddy came home, seeing George and Martina (our friends and neighbors) on our walk, and other random things - tonight it was that he and Daddy had shared some ice cream, some popcorn and some coke while Mommy was filling out more paperwork to send back to school tomorrow. Then we talk about tomorrow, which means school and Miss Julie and Miss Crystal for him, and even Friday, when our good cousins Katie and Josh will return to visit. Then we go through some of his latest accomplishments, which usually involves counting people on his fingers. Tonight we went through every relative I know, and after each completion of all 10 fingers, he wanted to do it all over again!

Even when I'm tired, it's one of the favorite parts of my day. The little guys don't communicate much at all, and usually I think Connor communicates a bit too much, but not at night. That's when I take the time to enjoy him at this age - his words, his smiles, his silly games and his adorable little laugh. The one-on-one time is nice. And tonight, as I backed out of the door, he was still talking. He does that, to try to keep me there a bit longer. I always close the door with the same thing, "Night-Night, Baby, Mommy loves you!" and a little wave. Sometimes he is still talking as I move down the hall.

Not tonight. Tonight, he held up his hand in the same little wave and said "Night-Night, Mommy, love you!" and proceeded to lay right down on his pillow.

And those are the moments, especially after long and hard days with three loud and often demanding little boys, that make me remember why it's wonderful to be Mommy. The cute little wave, the adorable little voice, offering such unconditional love, even on the not-so-good days.

Off Schedule

I was mistaken. Going to bed at 5:30 p.m. means that you wake up at 3 a.m., not 4. They were bouncing on the bed, laughing and screaming (the happy kind), and running around all over their room. At 3 a.m. The good news is that even though they were loud (clearly, because I heard them), they were at least happy and did not resort to kicking on the door.

Perhaps they do understand that when it is completely dark outside, Mommy is not coming to let them out for the day. Yes, 7 a.m. is pretty much my limit. And even then, I will not be at all happy about it.

Now, my dilemma for today. They eventually went back to sleep, and stayed that way until 9 a.m. this morning. So, now do I force them down for a short nap in the middle of the day, or let them ride it out until an early bedtime (say around 7 or 8 p.m.) tonight?

That, my friends, is the magic question. And I so wish I knew the correct answer . . . and by correct, I mean the one that does not involve middle of the night wakefulness OR early morning wakefulness. How about a nice 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. sleep schedule. I'll even forfeit the afternoon nap, so long as the crankiness is not ridiculous (you know, tantrums about everything late in the day). Is that too much to ask in a house full of toddlers?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tired Little Boys

And just so you don't think we've forgotten about the other two lately, here are a few random shots of them today - falling asleep at the dinner table - at 5:30 PM!



Love how Sawyer can fall asleep anywhere, in any position at all.



Xander is more traditional, going for the head on the table approach.

We've apparently had a hard day's play since early this morning. We watched some PBS, took a long stroller walk while Connor was at school, went to pick up Connor from school (slightly less traumatic today, since I took the double-stroller), grabbed a quick bite for lunch, played with Lisa (our speech therapist), played outside, watched our daily viewing of Chicken Little, and then fell asleep after eating about half of our dinner.

That will teach them to wake Mommy up at 6:45 a.m. kicking their bedroom door, right? Or perhaps it will only make it worse, since they've been in their beds since 6 p.m. and will probably be wide awake sometime around 4 a.m. Good times . . .

Mommy Who?



After watching Connor cling a bit on his first day of school, I wondered if we might see a bit of the same thing this morning when it was time to drop him off for day two, since it was still a new experience and it had been several days since last Thursday. No, apparently not.

Other than the minor meltdown at home, over wanting to take his new Thomas backpack instead of the school one, he was excited and ready to go. This, of course, is Mommy's fault. She probably should have checked with the preschool before getting the new backpack. Although, in all honesty, it was on clearance at Wal-Mart the day before school started, and I just thought it was cute. I thought he could use it either for school or even just as one of his travel bags - he's on the go quite a bit, you know. So, my mistake (and a lesson for all you other first-time preschool moms out there - wait on the bag until you see what the school does). So we compromised, and the bag will ride to and from school in Mommy's truck so he can hold onto it on the way. Perhaps this will end in time, when the newness wears off. Here's hoping . . .

So we get to school just a few minutes before the door opens. He sits patiently in the hallway, looking at the picture board just outside the door and waiting for Miss Julie and Miss Crystal to open it up. We talk about the toys he got to play with last week, and which ones he wants to play with again. And when the door opens, he basically runs in without a backward glance.

I follow, trying to learn the process since I'm also new to the whole preschool thing. We hang up his bag on the hook with his name above it. We (or actually I) pull out his yellow folder (used for correspondence back and forth from home) and place it in the stacking tray with his name on it. Next, we find his name on a laminated card with velcro on the back, and then we attach it to a stop light on the wall. And then, finally, he is allowed to begin free play - the way they begin each day before moving into more structured activities.

As I managed to scan the weekly lesson plan, also posted outside the classroom while we were waiting, I saw a bit more about how they kids spend their day, like beginning with free play. There is also craft / color time, reading circle time, music time, snack time, circle share time (involves a small toy that each child brings every day - Connor's today was, of course, his boat), playground time, bible time (he's in a church preschool), and all that other fun stuff for little people.

My son, after completing our entry duties (the bag, the folder and the name), immediately jumped right down into the floor where a wooden train set was assembled (imagine that). He immediately began hoarding the trains (another shock, I know), but there was only one other student there so far, so I wasn't too alarmed. Miss Julie bent down to say hello and asked him about the trains, which she remembered were his favorite. "I like these!" he told her.

And that's where I left him, happily immersed in his trains and without the least bit of thought or concern for his mother. If I expected a "Bye-bye, see you later!" moment, I was mistaken. I might as well have not been there any more. He appears to be settling in well, and quite over his momentary fear that first day of being left at school.

So I quietly left my big boy to his new adventures.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monsters, Robots & Other Scary Things

In the last few weeks, we've noticed that Connor has been asking a rather odd question at bedtime. We haven't really thought much about it, but the longer it goes on the more unusual it becomes.

"No robots coming tonight?" he asks quietly, sitting up in bed with the covers pulled up high. It usually occurs at the very end of our bed time routine, as I'm backing out of his room and closing the door.

Every night we have the same ritual. Once he's had his bath, usually from Daddy, he wants me to come get him ready for bed and lay with him for a few minutes. We brush his teeth with the fire engine electric brush (flashing lights and all), put lots of lotion on (he likes to help), and then his Thomas or his Lightning pajamas ("Pee-Jays," as he calls them). We lay down, him under the covers and me on top of them, and then we talk about what we've done that day, how we got the "dirty off" in his bath, and what we're looking forward to doing tomorrow. He's been happy, all smiles and even laughing and being silly. He's always sad when it's time for Mommy to go, but he can usually be convinced to "Give Mommy kiss!" and then tell Mommy "Night-Night." And then, as I'm pulling the door closed, out of no where will come the question.

"No robots coming tonight?"

"No robots," I say reassuringly.

"That's good. No robots," he says, laying back down. "Night-Night, Mommy."

"Night-Night, baby."

We assume that he's talking about our little robot vacuum cleaner, Roomba, but we're not sure. We bought it a few years ago on a whim, thinking it might help us cut down on the considerable amount of dog hair and crumbs that three toddlers leave behind during a typical day of play. It has, as we usually run it downstairs as we're going to bed a couple of times each week. It's a bit loud, and the only thing we can think of is that perhaps he's woken up late at night and heard it, thinking it's out of place in the usual quiet of the night and that's it's just a little bit scary.

It's just funny because he's never really seemed the least bit scared of anything before. Scary monsters in the Pixar movies? Nope. Big dog with a deadly wagging tail? Nope. Strangers? Nope. Robot vacuum. Yes, apparently.

Quoted & Noted

"It's broken," my three-year old says, rather dejectedly. He's holding up one of his favorite toys, which has been broken since the day he first got his hands on it. It's an old tractor wagon (HotWheels size) that once belonged to my older brother (who's 34 and probably received it some time in the late 1970s). The blue tractor that came with it, also from my brother's collection, has long since been lost by my son.

"Yes, baby," I agree, without the least bit of surprise. "It's broken." You see, just about any trailer that enters our house is broken within minutes or hours of it's arrival. Our three rough-and-tumble boys cannot seem to keep from pulling and pushing too hard and breaking either the pin that holds things together or the hitch where you attach it. We have two large John Deere tractors and a big Ford truck that all had a hitches to pull trailers at one time. Two smaller (HotWheels size) trucks also share this fate.

"Connor needs a new one!" he adds thoughtfully, looking up at me expectantly. "Go to the store?" he asks. Clearly I am expected to take him out to the store and pick one up, you know, RIGHT NOW.

"Not now, baby," I say. "We'll look and see next time we go." And if I had entertained thoughts of him forgetting about this careless little phrase (I was in the middle of cooking dinner last night), I was sadly mistaken. I've been asked about it no less than five times today.

"Go to store today?" he asks, holding the little broken wagon up in his hand for me to see yet again. When it gets a quiet negative, he offers "Maybe tomorrow?"

Perhaps going back to school tomorrow will help him forget about his little wagon!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Snapshot Sunday



Xander was so cute, walking around with this toy fishing pole around his neck. Even when he went on to play with other things that day, the pole still stayed around his neck.



Our little beach bum, ready to go swimming again with his "goggles" that he begged Mommy to get for days ("Go store, Mommy, get goggles?" he would ask, over and over and over again. I think it's a holdover from the snorkeling he did at the beach).



Our little OCD man, cramming as many HotWheels cars as possible into the little windowsill in his favorite corner of the house. And what's really fun is that the fifth row barely fits, so they have trouble staying on (and guess who doesn't like that, not one little bit).

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Eager & Excited

"Three more days," my three-year old tells me, quite excitedly and holding up three fingers practically inside my nose they're so close to my face. He's both new at being able to hold up certain fingers which makes him proud and also quite excited when he's doing so because he's usually counting down to something that he's ready to do NOW.

We went through this routine when it was time to go to the beach with Grammy. And when we were going to the lake to visit with Grandma and Pa. And while we were waiting for Pappy to come get him for his overnight visit to Grammy and Pappy's house. And until it was time to go to the pool with Kelly. And . . . well, you get the idea. We count down to a lot of things these days.

Tonight, when I almost had fingers up my nose, we were laying down after his bath and getting settled in to bed, which is when a lot of interesting conversations take place while he's trying oh-so-hard to put off "night-night" time.

"Three more days, Mommy!" he said again, holding the same fingers back up even as he was laying his head on the pillow.

Tonight, we were counting down the days until it's time to go back to school. We're pretty sure he's loving it, at least at this point!

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Connor Pay For It!"

Preschool is already doing it's job, after only one day! After taking the twins in to get Connor (and the wonderful scene that it turned into), I decided we could all use a little comfort food on the first day of school. That means Donal's, in case you were wondering.

Well, one of the things that Connor brought home from school was a little fun pack of toys that included play coins. As we're sitting in the drive-thru, waiting for our turn to order, I'm pulling my wallet out of the passenger seat to see if I have any cash or if I will be using the credit card. Out of no where, my three-year old pipes up from his seat (in the middle row behind me and to my right).

"I got it, Mommy. Connor pay for it!" he says, holding up two fake gold coins and a rather proud expression on his face. "I got pay for it."

Okay, so maybe school didn't teach him all of that. We've slowly been working with him about money and having to pay for things first, like when we take him to the grocery store and get him a toy to occupy him for the duration of the trip (a toy that can't come out of the package until we "pay for it"), or when we go into BestBuy and pick out a new movie for the kids and he knows we have to "pay for it" before we can leave.

But still, it was funny that he said it the first time after his day at school. I guess he hasn't really had any money to hold lately - his birthday and Christmas are pretty much the only times he does - because he's not quite old enough to earn an allowance yet. How long before he starts asking for one, though?

Photo Flashback



A messy meal of sweet potatoes and corn for Sawyer. (September 5, 2006)



An even messier meal for Xander. (September 5, 2006)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Bad Sign

Today, in addition to seeing how Connor did on his first day of school, I also got a small glimpse of what it's going to be like on the day I try to ship my other two children off to school. You know, the two-year olds who are still on the waiting list for pre-school. It wasn't pretty, not at all.

Lucky for me, Josh was able to be home this morning to look after the little guys while I took Connor in for the first day. We knew there would be paperwork and that he might be a bit shy at first, so I got to take him by himself and get everything settled. It took over an hour and a half, so it was nice not to have the little guys tagging along for that.

However, Josh actually had to go to work before it was time to pick Connor back up at noon. That meant I was going to have to do it with two toddlers in tow, two toddlers who have a lot of separation anxiety and who are not all that social. Sounds oh-so-fun, doesn't it? It wasn't, not at all.

I was that mother. You know, the one with the screaming and inconsolable children in the hallway. Other parents looked on, some with sympathy and others with less cordial looks (like why can't you control your children kind of disgust). And many simply averted their eyes. It was painful to watch, two miserable and unhappy little boys screaming and crying and trying to escape the terrible halls of the preschool. And the really sad part of it all, is that they weren't even there to go to school. They were just there to pick up their three-year old brother from school.

You see, in this day and age, preschools are apparently getting tighter on security. The doors are closed and locked from the outside during class, where only teachers and directors have keys. The door opens at 12 noon, sharp, and parents are lined up in the halls waiting. Children are released one at a time, to ensure they're going with the right person, and you must sign them out.

We waited (I wish I could say quietly, but clearly not) until the end. I kept the little guys as far away as possible from the other parents and siblings (who were all quite calm), and came to get Connor last. I knew after leaving him happily playing earlier in the morning that he would be fine. If anything, he was sorry to see us (especially his crying brothers) and not at all ready to go.

My big boy came out with a smile on his face and a wistful look back over his shoulder at the classroom and all the wonderful new toys and things he was leaving behind. He had a new carrying bag with his name and handprints that they had made that day (all the kids made one, so they all have the same backpack). He had a brand new yellow t-shirt with the school's name on it, and a small box of goodies - bubbles, toy coins, a plastic slinky, and a magnifying glass. He was in heaven. And when I asked him if he liked school, he gave me a big grin and said, "I like it! Connor maybe go back tomorrow?" Not quite, my big boy, but soon enough.

Oh well, at least the one who is actually enrolled in school seems to like it. The other two, however, did not seem at all pleased with even the idea of school (even after Mommy explained a thousand times at the house, in the car and on the way there that we were just going to pick up their brother, not to stay). A rather bad sign, I imagine, for the future.

Perhaps next week we'll try taking them in the stroller. With suckers. Surely they won't scream around the suckers in their mouths, right? Let the other parents think what they will. And as far as actually taking them to school, well, we'll just wait and cross that bridge when we actually get to it. That is, assuming the little guys don't burn it down first, which is probably a really strong possibility. Good times ahead . . .

The Big Day



"Connor go school!" Today was the big day, and we of course had to wake him up to get ready. He's like Mommy - he likes to sleep late! He had a little breakfast, then we loaded up his new Thomas backpack and headed out the door.

We had to get there a little early to fill out some paperwork, to meet the staff and take a mini-tour. He was shy and hesitant at first, clinging to my hand with his and hiding his face in my side. But, as we moved around he got a little more comfortable. I stayed in his classroom (the "Yellow Room") for about 15 minutes, most of it before the other kids came in, while he looked around. We played with a little kitchen set (can you tell we have no girls at our house?), looked at books (about fish and dolphins and whales, of course), and then made our way over to the classroom fish "Bubbles." He looked in the bowl a minute, then said "I like that, Mommy!"

As the other kids streamed in, he looked a bit hesitant again, especially when they started wanting to play with "HIS" toys. But we moved to the back of the classroom where there was a little "sand" (actually white rice) box, and that's where I quietly left him. Once he started playing there with two other little kids, Mommy said a quick "Bye-Bye!" and asked if he liked it at school.

"Okay, Mommy, I like it," he said. "Mommy no leave without Connor in Mommy's truck?" he added, almost as an afterthought.

Um, well. A little white lie never hurt, right?

"Mommy's here. Mommy will be right here to get you when school is over." And, thank goodness, it seemed to be enough.

I actually wasn't leaving just then. I had to go back and finish up the paperwork. And when that was all done, the director and I walked back down the hallway to check on him. I stayed out of view, not wanting to cause the hesitancy and uncertainty to return by his seeing me again. She said he was talking and playing and seemed completely fine. So, we closed the door, and it was time for Mommy to go. He doesn't have to know that Mommy left in her truck, only that she's going to be there at noon when it's time to leave again.

My big boy, he's at his first day of school!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Let's Get Our Hands (and Everything Else) Dirty

Today during therapy, April brought over the really fun stuff - finger paints (washable, thank goodness)! Here are some shots from the afternoon . . .



Xander was all over it (literally). He loved it, was covered in paint, painted on himself as much as the paper, and often had two brushes in each hand. By the end, he even started handing us the paint bottles so we would add more to his paper, usually asking for all four colors! My little artist.



Sawyer impressed us by participating for a little while. He was definitely curious about what brothers were doing, and did take a paintbrush from Mommy and make a few carefully placed dots and strokes on one piece of paper. He then went on to simply wander around the deck, occasionally peeking at brothers' work, and often simply wanting some hugs and interaction from Mommy. He's trying though, and that's progress for him!



And then there was Connor. He too enjoyed the painting - he loved to have giant blobs of paint to work with. There was no "less is more" concept for him today and no "quality over quantity" concept either. More is apparently more for him. Unfortunately, a lot of his "masterpieces" ended up stuck together where we placed them on the table because they were so wet with paint. Oh well, there will certainly be more.



A collection of the ones I was able to pull apart (notice there are a few rips and tears here and there - just makes them more valuable, right?).



And then there was water - to play and to clean up with - which the two water babies loved. We spent hours and hours, long after the therapist had gone home. And at the end of it, Xander even ventured in too. That, is nothing short of miraculous. This is the boy who slept in a deck chair the entire three hours we last spent at the very nice kiddie pool with Grammy and Pappy, the one who cried if we tried to get him into the water. So, progress all around today . . .