Friday, October 31, 2008

Snack Time?

Our little guys still aren't saying a whole lot in terms of actual words, but sometimes what they do these days speaks louder than words.

Take today, for instance. We had just gotten back from taking Connor to meet Grandma and Grandpa for their trip to the mountains. Josh asked me to write a business check he'd forgotten to do (Friday is pay day around here), so I was in the office.

Xander comes walking up to one of the baby gates that keeps the kids out of the office, and he's saying his token word of the moment "Goo-ud!" (translated good).

Okay, honey, not now. Mommy's busy. That's what I was thinking, until I happened to glance over and see what he was holding in his two little hands, just below the gate and out of direct eye contact. He looked at the item he was holding, then looked up at me and grinned that mischievous little smile that is only his.

"Goo-ud!" he offered again.

Yes, baby, ice cream is good. Thank you for bringing that to Mommy. Let's just put that back until later, okay. You know, after we've actually had lunch perhaps?

You see, the twins newest trick is to open and close our bottom drawer freezer on our refrigerator. They have both long loved the oven, where they have only to pull on the door and the light comes on. Sawyer will stand here for a long time opening and closing the door, if you will let him. But the freezer is even better, apparently, because the light comes on AND cold air comes out. And now they've progressed to actually bringing me things from the freezer, apparently. Good things, at least.

Just another day in the life . . .

Photo Flashback

I get you, Connor says. (October 19, 2005)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another Day, Another Vacation

Someone in our house is getting ready to go on another fun-filled vacation. Not me, unfortunately, as we just got home from our trip. This time it's Connor, he of the "have suitcase, will travel" variety. He's quite excited. We're already counting down days, and he's only known for two.

As we've been counting, we've also talked about what he might get to do on his visit to the mountains with Grandma and Grandpa. There's going to be hiking (short ones, most likely). And swimming (lots and lots of swimming). And sight-seeing in Grandpa's truck and maybe even on the trolley (which is kind of like a train). And, of course, there will be shopping (probably lots of shopping). And eating out, too (here's hoping he wants something other than McDonald's at least every other time).

But, as much fun as all of that sounds, he's not excited about any of those things.

"Race cars?" he asked me, with a little twinkle in his eye.

Yes, perhaps Mommy did mention there might be race cars and putt-putt golf. It was one tiny piece of information among lots of others. But it's the one he's latched on to.

"Connor ride in the yellow car," he informs me, quite seriously, at dinner tonight. "Grandpa ride in green."

I have no idea where the colors are coming from, or why he thinks he'll get to drive his own, but clearly he has an image and he's going with it.

"Go fast . . . VRMMM, VRMMM, VRMMMM!"

This last part is in his (somewhat scary) deep voice, or kind of growl actually. He's been doing it a lot lately on his ride along Lightning McQueen.

It's scarier when he's just imagining a car.

So, here's hoping Grandma and Grandpa were planning to do race cars this week on vacation. Because I think they're going to be hearing a lot about race cars, either way.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"I Want It All!"

Just in case you were wondering where my three-year-old gets it from, I will share my funny moment from our recent vacation.

Every year that I have gone, for as long as I can remember, my family has stopped at a little candy shop in the mountains. They have this wonderful creation called dark chocolate raspberry jellies. They are the best, assuming you like dark chocolate and raspberry (which my husband does not). He got some home made rocky road fudge and some taffy instead.

But, I digress.

My jellies are outrageously expensive. They list them at $7.25 for a 1/2 lb., which of course just means they're embarrassed to list it as $14.50 a lb! Regardless, they are a must have on such trips. As we were browsing, I noticed that there were fewer of my favorites than any of the others nearby on display. When the lady behind the counter asked how many I wanted, my completely innocent and completely true response was,

"I want them all!"

Josh found this extremely humorous, as did the clerk. I was completely serious. And I got them all. All $13.00 worth that were remaining, which was not quite a pound but close enough. The ones I've eaten have been delicious. The few remaining will be equally so.

I apologize in advance to my parents, who will be traveling there this weekend (with Connor in tow), because I may have just cleaned them out. The poor clerk said it was a good thing I came in when I did, because they were so busy there wouldn't be time to make any more until after the weekend! Hopefully that means there will be some for Grandma and Grandpa and Connor this weekend. But if not, I'm not sharing mine . . .

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fall Vacation

Much to Grammy and Pappy's relief, we made it back home around 4 p.m. this afternoon.

The boys were happy to see us, some more than others. Xander ran straight into my arms and didn't leave until it was time to eat dinner and then go to bed. Sawyer was happy to see me too, but only in so much as I could fix the television and make Chicken Little play! I did get a little backward hug, which is his style, so that counts for something! And Connor gave me a hug too, eventually, but it was clear he was a Grammy's boy at first.

We had a good trip. We were both a little sick (mostly colds), but that's okay. We got to do just what we'd planned on doing - a little bit of nothing, a little hiking, a little shopping, and a lot of eating out! And yes, we finished Season Four of Entourage, if you were wondering!

Here are a few photos from our day actually in the mountains.

Mommy resting and enjoying the view after the 2.5-mile hike up to Alum Cave Bluffs. We're a bit too lazy (both in getting out of bed on time and in hiking the additional 2.5 miles straight up) to make it all the way up to Mount LeConte. Maybe one day . . .

Daddy resting at the bottom of the trail head, after our hike, and enjoying the scene from the bridge.

The token photo of both of us, so close up because we're holding the camera ourselves.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Snapshot Sunday

Okay, one post after we're gone (pre-scheduled before we left). I had tons of pictures of the boys at the lake this weekend, and for some reason overlooked this one.

Xander rarely smiles for photos, but this one caught his cute little grin completely unaware. It's one of my favorites of him recently.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sneaking Away

Okay, perhaps not sneaking. There was the matter of getting three little boys and one large puppy settled in at Grammy and Pappy's house for the next few days. It just took two trips to their house. You know, the first one included big-ticket items like a PowerWheels car and the very large inflatable bouncy slide and Buster's bed. The second one took the essentials - clothes, diapers, booster seats, car seats (with kids in them) and the like. The travel checklist was ridiculously long, so I'll spare you every detail.

So, Josh and I are off to spend a few days in the Smoky Mountains, enjoying the peace and quiet. We may also do a little shopping and a little hiking. Or we may just enjoy the peace and quiet. We're taking Season Four of Entourage, so that may be our entertainment. Anything will be an improvement over an animated chicken. And we will definitely do some eating out, which is usually one of the highlights of our little trips. Did I mention the peace and quiet?

The blog will also be quiet for the next few days (shocking, I know). But we'll come back and post fun stories and pictures of our adventures and the boys' adventures. That is, unless we lose track of time. Not to worry though, Grammy and Pappy would surely come looking for us (with those three little boys and that big puppy in tow).

Wouldn't you, if you were keeping them?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Photo Flashback

We're not doing anything, we swear. We would never be destroying expensive diapers. Sawyer left, Xander right - my mischievous son, even then. (October 27, 2006)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Let's Build a House!"

One of Connor's favorite lines from his new favorite book ("The Wheels on the Truck") is "Let's Build a House!"

For quite some time now, he's been fascinated by the fact that Daddy builds houses and works in construction. It's every little boy's dream, I guess, to have a Daddy that works with tools and big trucks and equipment. It's even better if that little boy gets to "help" Daddy when he works.

Tonight, Josh stopped in at the house around 5 p.m. He was getting a snack before heading back out to finish up a few things before the rain moved in later tonight. Connor, who had been napping (see post below for my new trick), heard his diesel truck pull into the driveway, and I heard him getting out of bed. I was heading up the stairs just as his little head peeked around the top corner. Getting out of bed by himself is still a new concept for him, so he looked both tired and guilty. He wasn't sure if he was allowed to be up or not. He was, and I just smiled at him. He was still really sleepy, rubbing his eyes and tucking his head down.

"Mommy carry you!" he demanded pitifully, mixing up his pronouns and holding out his arms the way he always has when he wants someone to carry him. Never mind that he's over forty pounds and half as tall as I am, he still likes to be carried, especially when he's tired.

Josh, probably taking pity on me for putting up with three kids all day, decided to invite him to go back to work with him. Despite the fact that he was still snuggling close to me and not wanting to be put down, he was nodding his head yes and saying "Connor build house with Daddy, Connor build house, too!" So he helped Daddy snack (chips and queso and Mountain Dew), they got some Gatorade to take with them, and then they headed off to work.

"I fixed a house," he told me later, very happy and excited (and finally awake). "Broken house. I fixed it." I tried to figure out just what they had been doing, asking all kinds of questions and getting very little useful information in return. Something about "hammers and screw drivers," something about "broken house," and another round of "Connor build house with Daddy!" Daddy finally explained they had merely cleaned up a building site by putting trash in the dumpster and then set a temporary electric meter for the electrician's to begin working.

Everyday moments to Daddy. An exciting adventure to his three-year old little boy.

Want to Know a Secret?

If I really and truly want to get all three of my boys down for a nap - at the same time - I have found one way that works almost every single time. Now, the only caveat is that the boys must actually be sleepy and in need of said nap. You know, Mommy being tired of hearing them talk and bicker and scream and needing a little peace is totally different from little boys rubbing their eyes, yawning and running around just to keep themselves awake. It only works on the latter, I'm sorry to say.

My secret? I have to do something that is completely quiet for at least 15 to 20 minutes, long enough for them to fall asleep. As Xander would say (in that adorable way of his), "Sss-hh!" I think the problem with my boys, and probably a lot of little kids, is that they don't want to sleep because they feel they are missing out on something really, really good. With the little guys, that could be anything. With Connor, it's time with Mommy that he knows would be all his if only I'd let him stay up. But if it's quiet, they don't seem to fight it or think that they're missing out.

They are, they just wouldn't appreciate it yet and probably won't until they one day have children of their own. That time has become some of that very rare (and very needed) "me" time in my day. Sadly, it doesn't happen every day, but it happens enough.

What I do, usually, is take that time to sit down and read a chapter in a book or flip through one of the many, many magazines that accumulate in our house because we never have time to actually read them. Sometimes I go sit outside on the deck, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air without worrying about who's going to push who off the deck steps or who I have to swing next on the play set or who's going to try to climb up on the table or the fence. Occasionally I spend the time playing with my very neglected puppy (he's not really, but he would tell you otherwise). Mostly, I just relax for at least those 20 minutes - sometimes more, depending on my mood, my day and our "to-do" list around the house.

What I don't do is turn on the television or the radio. The boys hear it and will strain themselves to keep hearing it. I don't try to cook or clean or do laundry because, that too, makes too much noise. And, I also don't go to the computer. It sits in the office right underneath Connor's bedroom (and his bed, actually). He can hear the tick-tick-tick of Mommy blogging. I have to wait until they're actually asleep to do that, which is where I am today.

And I just thought I would share my little secret, because it's something I long thought was impossible and so very much wished to have happen. Three little boys, ages two and three, all asleep at the same time. And Mommy getting just a little bit of down time, now that really saves my sanity . . .

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Last Night Out

Not really, but the last regular date night in a long series of them.

Our good cousins Katie and Josh have just wrapped up their final test for nursing school and are finishing out the semester (and their bachelor's degrees) by shadowing the remainder of the year until they get their licenses. Big congratulations to them for all their hard work and that huge accomplishment! And big thanks for coming over to watch the kids so often so we could escape for a few hours each week!

Condolences to us on our loss of weekly babysitters. Only kidding, we have had a nice long run of it, and we're going to work to repay them through a few home-made dinners while they finish there stay here before returning to their hometown to live and work (and get married this Christmas).

Tonight we closed it out with our usual - going out to a sit-down restaurant (Corky's) and running a quick errand (Target). Sometimes it's not what you do, but what you're not having to do that matters most. There were no talkative or screaming toddlers. I didn't have three shadows following my every step (as they had all day long - no naps!). There was no whining or screaming at bed and bath time. It was just a quiet dinner and a necessary errand.

And we came home to a relatively quiet house (Josh was reading Connor his bedtime story). Only Buster was left waiting, and he quickly realized we were too tired for a walk this evening. He's already sound asleep in his room, too. Just another day in the life . . .

Connor's World

It's really getting hard to keep up with my big boy. He's going to be four in a few weeks, and his language is getting to be very clear (if a little long-winded at times, and also non-stop). Those cute little phrases and moments are oh-so-slowly disappearing. Sometimes the phrases are cute, a random verb or adjective is omitted, but the pronunciation is pretty much perfect these days. Still, there are a few moments that just make you smile . . .

"I love you, Mommy!" he says sweetly, snuggling up to me. We play this game a lot lately. He's big on telling me that he loves me and then wanting me to say it right back. If I don't, he will promptly ask, "You love Connor, too?"

"Look at books a-while?" For someone who didn't like to look at books, much less be read to, in his earlier years, he's turned into quite the book reader. I think it may have something to do with the book list for school (each 15 books read equals one trinket from the treasure box) and something to do with the one-on-one time it gets from Mommy. Little brothers, while they like to flip through books on their own, still do not want to be read to at all. It has little to do with the stories, except maybe his new favorite "The Wheels on the Truck" which is, of course, set to the "Wheels on the Bus" song. And I willingly purchased this one for him. It's oh-so-annoying, but I knew he would love it (and he really, really does)!

"I wanna watch Tee-Bee!" While I'm not real fond of this one and all that it implies, it is cute to hear in such an adamant (and also whiny) tone. The requisite "Awww!" that follows when he doesn't get his way, is even cuter. And you must envision the pouting lower lip, which he's extremely proficient with these days.

"Go to regular school today? Go to boat school today?" I hear these questions almost every day. If we're actually going to school, that's enough to silence him (momentarily). If we're not, then we have to ask about the boat school. He loves the boat school, and would probably go every day if you'd let him. We also have to point in the appropriate direction, you know, as in "Regular school this way! Boat school that way!" with arms pointing in opposite directions, which are eerily right more often than not (he has an uncanny sense of direction, I think, for a three-year old).

And finally, the cutest of all . . .

"Go to school today? . . . See Miss Julie . . . Miss Crystal? . . . See Ashton . . . Kyler . . . Is-bella . . . ?" My big boy has found friends. Or at least he seems to think so. Since I'm not at school, I couldn't tell you how much they actually play together. But he loves to ask about them and tell me about them on the way to and from school. We even talk about them randomly, like at dinner or at bedtime. They're a big part of his world right now, regardless of how close they actually are.

Sigh . . . some days it really does go much too fast!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Can We Say Stubborn?

How do I know that one of my two-year old twins is stubborn?

Both of the boys have been diagnosed with a speech delay and have been receiving weekly speech therapy since early this summer. Xander has done far better with it than Sawyer, who has some other things going on.

For me, Xander signs three signs pretty consistently ("more," "all done," and "no"). He refuses to do those for the therapist without a lot of prompting and modeling, and he even gives her some of his angry signing instead - clapping that also includes an angry exclamation of "Ah!" He also follows basic commands and directions from me during the week, which he promptly ignores from the therapist.

And lately, he's getting even worse. We can actually hear him saying words. It's usually immediately after he's heard someone say something, and he will only say it once and not repeat it for any amount of prompting (or even bribing). Just this last couple of days we've heard for the first time "up," "garage," "apple juice" and "get you" from his mouth.

He is saying more things and making more new sounds. But those random words, they just keep popping up. Here's hoping that's a good sign for his language development. I think we can just say stubborn and leave it at that.

Monday, October 20, 2008


What do three little boys do after a long weekend at the lake with Grandma and Grandpa? A long weekend that involves lots of running around, lots of playing and exploring new places, and very little sleep. As in, no naps at all (except the last day when they practically fell asleep in our arms). Oh, and waking up several times in the middle of the night just to jabber and dance across the floor for a few hours (this would be the two little ones, mostly one, but sometimes two).

Well, they crash.

As in, four hour nap crash. All three of them started rubbing their eyes and laying their heads on the table at lunch time. Mommy packed them off to bed, and within minutes there was dead silence. All three were sleeping, with relatively no complaint on the way to their rooms or at being left there. And then they slept . . . for four hours.

Connor was the first to wake up, and he came directly downstairs and made his way to his favorite corner of the couch. He requested "milk and cereals" (our normal first breakfast) and proceeded to curl up in the corner and watch television. He was awake, but barely. That changed later, when cousins Katie and Josh and Joseph came over for dinner, but it took a while to get him going again.

The little guys slept another half an hour at least, and then they, too, were brought down. They curled up on the couch with Connor and didn't move much either.

Until they all got hungry, and then they started stalking Mommy in the kitchen (while she was trying to prepare dinner for our guests).

Xander actually started breaking down again only an hour or so after he woke up. He only lasted two whole hours this afternoon before being put back in bed (and happily so). He was sound asleep a few minutes ago when Sawyer finally wore down and allowed us to carry him upstairs without his usual resistance. Connor is still hanging on, but barely.

Guess how many sleepy little boys Mommy is going to have to wake up in the morning for school?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Snapshot Sunday

Looks pretty happy, don't you think? All it took was a little bit of gravel, a sprinkler, and Grandma standing behind Mommy making funny faces at him.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday at the Lake

With Daddy working all weekend, Mommy packed up the boys yesterday afternoon and headed down to visit Grandma and Grandpa at the lake for the weekend. Connor was excited, despite the fact that it was much too cold to swim (we even left the beloved life jacket at home, and that's a big step for him)!

It was a bit on the cool side today, so hooded sweatshirts were up, much to our boys' displeasure. Xander is holding out his hands to get help jumping down from the walkway steps.

Sawyer is hamming for the camera viewfinder, which Mommy has turned around so he can see himself. He fights his hood much worse than the other two, and Mommy has given up for the afternoon. Hopefully he won't catch cold.

Connor is pulling his wagon around in the driveway, trying desperately to keep it away from Xander (who also enjoys pulling it around)! Good times.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Photo Flashback

Sawyer playing in our favorite field. (October 17, 2007)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Field Trip Thursday

After several weeks of contemplating it, I finally did the unthinkable. I took all three boys to the little science museum downtown - by myself. It was a perfect day to try it out. The little guys and I were going to have to pick Connor up from school at noon, so we would already have the stroller and everyone would be in car seats. It was raining outside, so we would be stuck in the house and the boys have been restless this week already. So, I thought, why not?

The boys needed lunch, so I opted to try something different (you know, other than McDonald's for once). It turned out to be a bad choice, apparently, because the popcorn chicken and tator tots (from Sonic) that the boys have eaten on previous occasion were unceremoniously sniffed and tossed onto the floor of my truck. The did condescend to drink a little of my vanilla coke. So we got out of the truck unhappy and probably a little bit hungry.

Oh, and add to that the fact that Sawyer actually fell asleep on the way to the museum, and had to be woken up only to refuse the bad lunch. Mind you, this is my child who doesn't EVER want to sleep (who was actually awake about two hours in the middle of last night, which might explain his little afternoon siesta). He was seriously displeased to be woken up. He was extremely pissed when he saw what it was for. He remained that way for the entire two block walk (the little guys were in the stroller) and for the first 10 minutes inside the museum. His crying made Xander cry, which just increased the ridiculous level of screaming. I was that mother today.

Connor, on the other hand, was extremely excited to be going to the "boat school" and was very calm and cooperative the whole way there, even holding my hand as we pushed the stroller those two blocks. His calm and his willingness to obey left him the moment we got inside. He could see the boats behind the glass, and he was mad that we had to actually stop and go through admission - you know, the whole five seconds it takes to show our membership card, get our stickers for our shirts, and then go. He was mad, his brothers were still crying, and I was seriously questioning my sanity at the moment.

But, we made it to where the boats were. I tried suckers for the little guys, thinking I might buy myself some time for Connor to play since they were already in a bad mood anyway. No such luck, they wanted out of the stroller. Okay, I thought, we'll try it. I got them both down and encouraged them to play at the river exhibit Connor loves (and will spend hours at if you'll let him). It worked for about five minutes, and then they were ready to move on. Sawyer remembered where he was and wanted his water table. Xander wanted that same little play area, where his wooden toys and beads were. I put them back in the stroller, bribed Connor away and we moved to the little kid area. Sawyer's face lit up. He went straight for the water table. Xander made a beeline for the wire and bead table toy. Connor condescended to amuse himself with the "baby toys" for a little while, actually enjoying the water table with Sawyer for quite some time.

And then came the next issue. Connor suddenly needed to potty. Of course, Mommy should have anticipated this. He doesn't potty at school, ever, and he had helped Mommy with her vanilla coke before we came in. Sawyer and Xander were both pissed to be put back into the stroller and taken to the bathroom. They screamed the place down. We scared a mother and two older girls, who peeked their heads in the door and turned back around. Always nice.

With the boys already strapped in, I decided to try a different trick. There is a separate room on the back of the museum, called the "Discovery Room" that has a bunch of educational-type toys. Books, wooden puzzles, magnet toys, kitchen sets, science toys, you name it and they probably have it. There's also a wooden train table that Connor had spied the Sunday I took him, when that particular room is closed. So, I thought we could all manage there for the remainder of our time.

That little room is worth hours of amusement to my three boys. They all played happily, and mostly by themselves (okay, not helping on the socialization, but definitely helping on the crankiness factor today that they didn't have to share at all).

Connor spent a big part of his time at the train table, playing with pretend tools and pretend cooking. He stalked the one little boy and his father who were in the room with us for a short time, trying to steal each toy the little boy put down (such nice manners, I know). He did actually share when prompted, and even once or twice offered the little boys something nice to go with what he was already playing with (without being asked to do so).

Xander found several science toys to amuse him - a bunch of bright colored balls that clicked their way around a wooden spiral, pegs that linked together to form a long line, magnet toys that made shapes. He bounced around from one to the other, always busy and always happy.

And Sawyer, my OCD child, he was in heaven. There was a huge marker board and a big bin of magnetic letters. He lined them up row after row after row to his heart's content. He eventually moved away and lined up the colored balls Xander had discarded, and finally got in on the magnets at the very end, too. It wasn't the water table (which makes his whole face light up), but he was smiling and dancing around. He was happy here, too.

All in all, a good day. But a long one, and a bit of a strain on Mommy's patience. I'm thinking that future trips should be on non-school days (less stress for all of us) and earlier in the morning (no meal or nap issues). I'm also thinking it's best to take someone with us if all three boys are going, unless I'm really desperate to get out of the house. And, most important, if all three boys are coming, we need to make sure the three-year old doesn't need to potty before we begin.

It was a challenge, but at least I know I CAN do it, if I WANT to do it. And despite the crying and screaming at various bumps, I think the kids enjoyed it. At any rate, they all cried when it was time to go home.

Oh, and sorry, there are no pictures because in the ridiculous amount of stuff I remembered to pack (double stroller, extra clothes for after the water table, small diaper bag to fit in the bottom of the stroller, cooler with juice cups for lunch, suckers, phone and wallet, etc.) - I didn't think to put the camera in the truck. Bad Momma-Razzi.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Art Therapy

Today the boys had co-therapy, where the speech and developmental therapists came over at the same time (mostly to accommodate Connor's field trip yesterday, but also to see how it would go having one therapist work with one child at a time). It would have went really well, except for the fact that we have a rather needy and demanding three-year old in the mix on Wednesdays as well. But it still went pretty well . . .

We did some of our usual play things, where we try to get the boys to speak or sign for certain things, like saying "go" to get help jumping off the chair (good behavior, I know, but you have to do something that actually motivates them and Xander loves this). He wouldn't say "go" for us, even though he can say it and does for me pretty consistently (he likes to play dumb with his speech therapist), but he did sign "more" before each jump to me, which is his universal sign anyway. You know, as in "Here, I'll do this stupid thing if it will get me what I want!" kind of signing. Sign with attitude, is how I see it.

We also tried some "crafty" stuff. Miss April brought over some Play-Doh tools, so we sat all three boys down at the dining room table (strapped the two little guys in so they wouldn't run off), and got out the Play-Doh that I think Aunt Kelly gave to Connor several birthdays ago. Still good, as each of the boys got a little red and a little blue to experiment with. They were all a bit apprehensive at first, not having seen it much before (once, to my knowledge, and it was not favorable). They eventually used the little knife tools to stab at it a few times. Sawyer liked the smell and even tried to eat a little bit of it, but it wasn't to his taste and he quickly spit it back out in Miss Lisa's hand. Always nice. Connor tried all of the tools, but was quickly bored when he'd gotten through all of them. Xander wasn't much of a fan, though he did play for just a little bit with help from Miss April. He mixed the colors together, which apparently bothers some people (Miss Lisa said she doesn't like it, and Miss April said her husband doesn't like it when her daughter does it either). But, surprisingly, it didn't bother his OCD mother.

We eventually gave up on the Play-Doh and decided to break out something Xander has always liked - painting. It's actually finger paint, but we use brushes and paper and it works well. It's also the washable kind, which makes cleanup nice (because you know it's all over the table, little hands and little clothes when we're done). Xander and Connor went through sheets of the expensive watercolor paper (the only kind I've found that's thick enough to handle the paint) like there was no tomorrow. I have seven pieces of paper and one paper plate (which I thought would be the palette, but no) drying behind me as I type. We painted for about 10 minutes. Sawyer contributed one, with a lot of help from Miss Lisa, because painting isn't really his thing. Xander paints on the front and the back of each of his pages (hence the mess on my table that is, thankfully, easy to wipe up).

And that's where we ended things today. The therapists gleefully running out the door with the boys covered in paint (only kidding, we'd already wrapped things up). The boys seem to be doing better with the therapists lately. Xander actually condescended to engage with Miss Lisa today, rather than be his normal standoff-ish little self. We were extremely impressed. Sawyer is always happy once he warms up to Miss April, even allowing her to cuddle and tickle with him after a good game of stacking up the sorting blocks (one of his favorites of late). She plays on his terms, and that always helps with him. A good day . . .

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Punkin' Patch

For weeks now, Connor has been hearing about his class field trip to the "punkin' patch" and today was the big day. Most of the class is pictured above, with Connor at far right, some of the others had already run off in the direction he's looking. He's been alternately excited and ambivalent about it as we waited for the day, depending on what mood you caught him in. I'm pretty sure excited won the actual day, hands down.

Grammy and Pappy were nice enough to meet up with us at the little orchard (especially since we had to be there by 9 this morning, which is a stretch for us non-morning people). And that meant there was a one adult for each of the three boys, which was really nice because the little guys could get out of the stroller quite a bit and explore and Connor also had free reign to be with his classmates.

We began our morning with a tour of the cider mill, seeing how they sort apples and make it into cider. There was even a taste test for those who like the stuff (not Mommy). Connor's response was to be expected, "Mm. S'good. I like that!" he told us. He thought the same thing about the apple fritter that Pappy got to share with him (we even got a few to take home - Pappy got some for Great Grandma JoAnn and we got some for Daddy).

After the cider tasting, we hopped on a big wagon behind a really big blue tractor (crucial details, according to Connor) for our hay ride around the orchard. All three of the little guys seemed to enjoy that, though we had a hard time keeping Sawyer still. He bonded with one of Connor's teachers (Miss Crystal) and another random parent, and kept using their legs for his hand support as he stood for most of the ride. Thankfully, they were agreeable because we couldn't keep him from going back to them. Xander alternated between my lap and Grammy's, and just looked around. Connor had his own seat, at the very back of the wagon and just kicked his little legs and watched the scenery go by.

Once the hay ride was over, it was time to walk back to one of the pumpkin patches and pick out our pumpkins to take home (included in our admission with the class). Mommy picked out a big one for the front steps, and two smaller ones for the little guys. Connor picked out one of the smaller ones for himself, and we may try to do some painting or coloring on them later this afternoon before setting them out on the front steps (we'll see what kind of moods everyone is in after getting up early and then skipping nap time)!

And last, but certainly not least, Miss Julie and Miss Crystal handed out their bag of apples to bring home and then released them onto the giant playground. This, was what our boys had been waiting for since we arrived (maybe all of their lives, by the way they took off running). This was where it was really nice to have three adults, because they all took off in different directions (imagine that)!

Connor sort of remembered the big wooden platform and slides from last year, but he was too small before for the really big one (two stories high). Not this year, he was up and down it faster than you could blink. He loved ALL of the slides. He even took a break from that to try out some rat wheel racing (large PVC-type pipe cut in cylinders that you push from inside and roll down a path), a hay bale maze, and a giant dirt pile (this was probably his favorite, if you can imagine). All of the boys clothes are currently upstairs soaking the dirt off, because it was dusty and dirty everywhere. But they had a big time, so Mommy didn't complain too much.

The play area also had swing sets, hale bales to climb on, a goat and bunny viewing area, little pedal tractors on a concrete figure eight, and several other things to keep everyone occupied. School bus after school bus kept pulling up, and soon the place was overrun with more children than you can imagine. We ended our day with lunch at the little snack counter on the side of the main building, where Connor shared some of my ribeye sandwich and passed on Grammy and Pappy's pulled pork. We also broke out the chocolate suckers Grammy had picked up (the same ones from last year, which my good three-year old pointed out very early in today's trip).

It was a good morning of fun. The rain held off, but the clouds kept it nice and cool for our morning adventure. The boys seemed to enjoy most of it, especially Connor. He was not quite ready to leave, but did so rather quietly. I'm sure I'll be hearing about "Go to the punkin' patch 'gain soon? See Grammy, Pappy at the punkin' patch?" on a regular basis for the next few days (and possibly weeks). At three, if it's fun, you always want (and expect) to do it again.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"I Like That!"

Three is a fun age, sometimes.

The last few trips that we've made to the store, my three-year old's eyes have been automatically drawn to the toys - especially the ones placed front and center where other things like clothes and food used to be.

We cannot go to Sam's these days without hearing "I like that!" over and over and over again. Most of the toys are right up his alley - big trucks, Lincoln logs, cartoon character play sets. He even likes the little girl princess stuff, because it comes in a big wooden chest with a lock. I really don't think there are any toys that he doesn't like these days.

Today's trip found a new item to admire - a Handy Manny tool set! Connor has discovered Handy Manny on the Disney Channel, and is a big fan. The fact that this particular Handy Manny had two tool sets - one small set for Manny, and one big set for him - made it all the more appealing. "I LIKE that!" he told me, about 10 times in the span of a single minute. He could not tear his eyes from the display, even when it was time to keep moving. I had to physically help him move forward, all the while his little head kept turning back around to admire the big display of Handy Manny.

I continued to hear about it during the remainder of our stay. "I like that Handy Manny, Mommy," he would say suddenly, as we were browsing through potato chips or some other random aisle. "Connor like that. He likes tools. Build a house, like Daddy."

How cute is my son? I mean, really. And, of course, I was tempted to pick up Handy Manny. He's just now starting to show an interest in things and explain it to you, so it's getting harder to resist such impulse buys. The little guys are clearly not at this stage yet, so it's nice to get instant feedback like that. "Build a house, like Daddy" is a much better argument than say "But I WANT it," which he's been known to whine quite frequently these days.

Despite the cuteness of his appeal, we also have to keep in mind that his birthday is next month and Christmas is the month after that. Our house is going to be overtaken by toys yet again (as it is every year at this time), and that made it a little easier to resist.

Well, that and the fact that I know if we were to go into another store and see a different toy, he would "like that" just as much as this one. He likes everything.

Like I said, a fun age. Sometimes.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pajama Party

On the weekends, Josh and I take turns getting the kids up and downstairs. It feels early to us, though we know it's not for most little people (about 8 a.m.). Today was my day, and since it was still a bit cool outside, I just changed pull-ups (for the little guys) and took them downstairs. Connor followed shortly thereafter, having heard the two little guys bouncing (rather loudly) down the hall in front of his room.

The boys get sippy cups of milk and dry cereal, and we turn on some children's programming - sometimes PBS, sometimes Disney. Sometimes Mommy or Daddy go back to bed and hope to get a bit more sleep (also hoping that the downstairs will not be a total disaster area when we return).

Today I opted to stay up and read the Sunday paper. And to take a few early morning (relatively speaking) pictures of our pajama party!

Xander during an impromptu game of "Ring-Around-the-Rosie" this morning.

Sawyer laying on top of Mommy's legs and trying to kick her (fun times).

Connor hamming for the camera with his best supermodel pose, showing the world how tall and skinny he's getting to be these days.

Snapshot Sunday

On first glance, a picture of Sawyer walking away. But the best part of the photo was the background, where I accidentally caught Buster chasing Connor (who looks very unhappy at the turn of events, as he was probably just trying to steal Buster's rings and didn't expect our big puppy to come chasing after him instead)!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Game Day

Today has been a long, fun day for all of us. Josh and I were lucky enough to have both tickets for the local college football game and willing babysitters in Grammy and Pappy. They came over this morning to watch the kids, and we headed off to the nightmare that is parking on game day.

We parked about a mile and half off, which meant we missed kickoff, but we still got to see most of the game - including the part where they lost in the fourth quarter. Despite the loss, we had great seats (in the shade even, which was important since it was above 80, in OCTOBER). We also munched on unhealthy food, and we enjoyed getting out and doing something adult for a change!

The kids had a great time spending the day with Grammy and Pappy. After lunch and nap time, they took the kids back to their house for some outside fun - helping Pappy plant flowers and trees and playing with his three puppies! The took a little walk, went down the street to see the horses on the neighboring horse farm, and had a big time just hanging out.

Everyone is now attempting to recover from their respective days. All the little people are already sound asleep (after quick dinner and even quicker baths), Grammy and Pappy are probably thankful to have a little peace and to be able to rest again this evening, and Mommy and Daddy will probably fall asleep watching baseball (Daddy's choice) on the couch.

Just another day in the life . . .

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall Afternoon

Today is a beautiful fall day in our part of the world, and the boys and I ventured out into the backyard for some play set fun for the first time in quite a while. You know it's been a while, when it's the third thing Connor suggests after we all get our shoes on - "Stroller ride!" was first, followed by "Ride in Mommy's truck?" and ended with "Slide? Yay!"

The little guys were not so sure about it. Xander took his usual detour to Buster's water bucket. After getting his long sleeves wet, he condescended to join us in the yard. Sawyer had to be physically carried down from the deck, where he was happily climbing on the patio table.

Once we all made it to the yard, everyone seemed to have a big time. There was, of course, lots of sliding and lots of swinging. There was a bit of whining, especially when Mommy was tired of swinging, but all in all it was a good afternoon adventure.

Xander working on the rings.

Sawyer hitting Mommy up for some more swing time.

Connor enjoying the swing, big-boy style, with just a little help to get started.

Photo Flashback

Good buddies, just hanging out. Sawyer left, Xander right. (October 4, 2006)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

"Daddy Do It!"

"Daddy do it," my three-year old said (or actually, whined is probably more appropriate).

It was night-night time, and Connor had somehow managed to talk Daddy into letting him have his bath first tonight (above mentioned whininess probably helped Daddy decide). The little guys were splashing in the tub with Daddy, and I was helping Connor get ready for bed. We'd put on our lotion, gotten our "pee-jays" on, and even brushed our teeth with our electric fire engine toothbrush.

Mommy was putting Connor under the covers, and half laying down on top of them with him. He wanted to read books like we've started to do recently, but it was too late and Mommy needed to help finish up bath and bed time for the little guys. I, of course, tried calmly explaining this to my three-year old.

"Daddy do it!" he said quietly, so quietly I almost didn't hear (which is rare for him, I know). I asked him to say it again. He did, rather pitifully with just a hint of whine in his voice. "Daddy do it! Daddy help Saw and Xander. Mommy stay with Connor!"

So I stayed, for a little bit longer. Not as long as he might have liked (sometimes I don't think sleeping there all night would be enough), but a little bit longer. We cuddled on his big pillow, counted the kisses he insisted on giving me (about 20 or so), and then it was time to go. We, of course, had our nightly ritual of needing to have everything in his room actually in his bed, too.

"My fireman hat!" he begged. Okay.

"My light!" Okay.

"My Thomas!" Okay.

"My horse trailer and truck!" he said, sitting up in a panic. Not okay, as it was downstairs in the toy box. Mommy explained that it would be downstairs waiting for him in the morning, so he should go to sleep and then he would see it faster (bribery, I know). He wasn't pleased, but he laid back down and snuggled back in to the pillow and the covers. He was rather tired today, after refusing to nap with his brothers.

"Daddy do it?" he asked again, looking at me with those ridiculously intense eyes. "Mommy stay a-while?"

How do you refuse such a request? Especially after the day we've had? I didn't stay, not right then. I went to help get the little guys their lotion and pajamas and settled into bed. We did a quick "Twinkle, Twinkle" like usual, and then kisses good-night. It took all of 10 minutes, at the most. They were tired and didn't seem to mind the rush job. I stopped back by Connor's room, prepared to stay a little while.

Too late, he was sound asleep. My tired little man - staying up late with Katie and Josh last night, being woken up to go to school early this morning and skipping his afternoon nap. It's hard to be three.

A Little Walk, A Long Thought

What started out as my simple morning walk with the boys and Buster (minus Connor who was at preschool) turned into something that I can't stop thinking about. Just a few seconds away from our house, I passed one of our neighbors - you know, the people you're sort of familiar with because they live near you, have kids somewhere near your kids age range, and are as friendly as you are when you see them, the people you exchange pleasantries with when you see them, that you trade compliments with on each others kids and their little moments, and who you usually walk past afterward without much other thought than what nice neighbors you have.

This neighbor was sitting on her front porch swing, where I've often seen her before taking a Mommy break by simply reading a book or sipping on a glass of something tasty (ice tea, I always guess, but truly have no idea). She has a toddler that is somewhere between Connor's age and the little guys, and we frequently meet them as we're walking or strolling around the neighborhood. She was also, very recently, very obviously pregnant. We had even chatted about the due date and the little sister that would be joining her little girl - simple, basic small talk among friendly neighbors. So when I saw her out, for the first time in quite some time, I paused to say hello and exchange a bit of small talk. I assumed, of course, that she had simply been inside because she was a Mommy with a toddler and a new baby. I knew that drill, and how exhausting and shut-in you can sometimes be during that time.

I should have known better, but I just didn't see it. She was dressed in a simple black dress and looked a little sad. In my quick glance, I probably just assumed she was tired and getting a much needed break from her little ones who might have chanced to be sleeping at the same time. So of course, I have to ask, as most neighbors or friendly acquaintances might upon seeing her after said due date, how the new baby is doing. And that's when I heard one of the saddest things you can ever hear. Her little girl had apparently been born with several health complications and had passed away earlier this week after a much-too short life. The visitation and funeral were today, and she was probably outside trying to get just a few minutes calm. And I, the unsuspecting neighbor, probably destroyed that moment of calm as so many well-meaning people probably have this week.

I offered my sincerest sympathy and prayers, offered any help we might be able to offer in such a difficult time, as well as you can do from such a distance. I wanted to run up there from my place on the sidewalk and give her a big hug and cry with her on her swing, but my puppy would have either licked her to death or knocked her off in his excitement, and my twins would have screamed something terrible if I had tried to move closer to her and away from them, and neither of these things seemed likely to help her. So I once again offered my sympathy, wiped the tears from my eyes, and continued on.

Even now, I still want to run back there and give her a hug, which she's probably had thousands of today. Perhaps I don't know her that well, but I know her enough. She's nice and friendly, always has a smile on her face and a kind word when you pass. She's a good mother, who's always outside doing sweet and fun things with her toddler, even pushing her in one of those bright plastic push cars all the way up to the end of a long pregnancy (and doing so with that same big smile). Above all, she is a mother, just as I am. I simply cannot imagine her sadness or her loss. I can empathize with her love for her child and know that to lose a child would be unbearable. But I have not felt it and I cannot imagine it. And I also have no idea what I, or anyone, even those who know her and her family so much better than I do, could do that might be of any comfort or help. And that makes me feel terribly sad and terribly helpless.

It seems there is so much more of this kind of sadness in the world today. Perhaps when I was younger, it was just shielded from me by my parents and family, but lately it seems to be everywhere. One of the girls I used to work with delivered a stillborn baby just weeks before her due date. One of the people Josh works with found out early in a pregnancy that their son had a heart defect and likely wouldn't survive (he was born early and he also passed away after a much-too short life). Someone else we know found out very early in a pregnancy that the baby wasn't progressing and would be miscarried. Another has a three-year old daughter battling cancer. And now our poor neighbors have lost a little girl. So much sadness and loss. So much helplessness.

Pray for those who are hurting and have lost. Hold on tight and cherish the blessings you have been given.

Who Are You & Where Is My Son?

Of late, my three-year old has been doing the absolutely unthinkable - he's been refusing opportunities to go to Donald's! It's only happened a few times, but it's always struck me as rather odd. My son loves Donal's, will happily point out each and every one on the Interstate as you drive, and almost always names it when you talk about eating out for a meal.

At first I thought it was simply part of his new phase of confusing yes and no. He's realized that there are power in those two little words, and is frequently using one only to change his mind moments later and use the other one. For example, if I ask if he wants yogurt for lunch like his brothers, he will immediately say "No, yogurt!" and watch with satisfaction as I return the third cup of yogurt to the refrigerator. I'll get everyone seated for lunch and place their plates in front of them, and then Connor will decide he does indeed want some yogurt like his brothers. When I try to explain that he just said "no" when I asked, his only response is his current favorite "But I want it!"

So, this, is what I thought he had been doing the last few times I suggested Donal's. On one occasion, I got it anyway because I knew his brothers would expect it (after our weekly Sam's visit). On a separate visit, I listened to him and we just came home from school instead of stopping for lunch on our way. He ate it the day I got it anyway (even after saying "No Donal's!" several times, and he complained bitterly at the house the day we went home without any.

Today was the first instance of him saying "No Donal's!" and not being upset when we came home and had a typical lunch of crackers, cheese and pepperoni, applesauce and yogurt (of course) instead of french fries and chicken nuggets.

I knew I was getting tired of Donal's, but I cannot believe that my three-year old is tired of it, too. If only his little brothers could talk, what would they say about such a change? They probably wouldn't like it, because unlike Connor who sometimes plays with it more than he eats his Donal's, the little guys always eat it like it's the best thing ever. I can imagine a day very soon when Xander will pipe up from the back seat and demand Donal's regardless of what Connor says (or perhaps simply to one-up him, as they have very similar personalities and it would make either of them happy to "win" the moment).

No Donal's. I didn't see it coming. Of course, he is three, so it may change tomorrow or even later this afternoon, if the notion strikes him.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mr. Manners

There have been several changes in our daily routine this past year, most notably the therapists who come into our home several days each week to see the little guys and Connor's two days each week at preschool. With all of these new adults coming and going, we've tried to introduce a bit of manners, as in calling the teachers "Miss" before their name (usually the first one, as we're all a pretty casual bunch around here).

As the only one speaking, Connor has latched on and done really well with this change from every day life. He knows and frequently asks about all the "Misses" in his life these days. There are Miss April, Miss Lisa and Miss Kelly who come to see the little guys. And my big boy knows when he's been left out, asking about them on the appropriate days that they've started coming while he's in school. He also likes Miss Julie and Miss Crystal who teach his class, but he always wants to know about the others too. In a perfect world, he would get to see them all (because he LOVES to be around people and have them pay attention to him).

For a long time, I thought he was telling me about some other teachers he was getting to know at school. He talked a lot about a Miss Kyler and a Miss Ashton, and I just naturally assumed they were other preschool teachers that he saw during group music lessons or perhaps during play time on the playground, where multiple classes usually played together.

Well, it turns out he's taking his manners lesson a bit too far. "Miss Kyler" and "Miss Ashton" are actually two little boys in his class named Kyler and Ashton, who he has started grouping himself with during play time. Somehow I don't think that's what he calls them at school, but can you imagine their faces (and what they must be thinking about their new little friend) if they knew what he called them at home?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Happy Chicken (Little) Dance is Back

Well, it finally happened. Chicken Little is no more, at least not the first DVD that we purchased. Whether one of my good children managed to get their hands on it and drop it (explaining the weird scratches), or whether it has just been played for the millionth time (or should I say billionth, because I've seriously lost count) and it finally outlived its life span, the DVD won't play anymore.

And I wish you could have seen the disappointment on Sawyer's face, after having pulled that particular DVD out of the cabinet (his all-time favorite) and then watching Mommy put it in the DVD player, only to have the black DVD screen stay on instead of changing to his favorite start-up screen. Words cannot describe his disappointment. The happy dance stopped abruptly, and then his face was just too pitiful for words when Mommy had to tell him "No Chicken Little today."

The hands also came up over the ears, in case you were wondering, which is his way of letting you know he's seriously displeased.

The good news, at least for him, is that we picked up a new copy at Wal-Mart early this week. Guess how many times we've watched it already? More than the actual amount of days we've owned it, I promise you. But, the happy dance was even happier and the smile was one of the biggest ones you'll ever find on his little face.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Music Man

My big boy has added singing to his list of daily activities. I'm not really sure if it began at school, with Grammy, or at home, but it's big on his to-do list these days. We sing when we wake up. We sing at various times during the day. We sing in Mommy's truck. We sing at school (or so I'm told). And we ALWAYS sing at night before bed. We even sometimes sing in the bathtub BEFORE we sing in bed. There pretty much isn't any time that we don't sing, at least a little, these days.

A few of his favorites . . . "Twinkle, Twinkle" is our bedtime standard, and he's learned it pretty well. "Ring-Around-the-Rosie" was one of the first (with the game that Miss Lisa introduced during one of brothers' therapy sessions). "Wheels on the Bus" is absolutely from preschool and probably his hands-down favorite. I still chuckle at his insistence that the end verse is "old roof time" instead of "all 'round town." To each his own, right?

My absolute favorite, and his first attempt I suppose, is "Hap-pee Birth-day to you!" I'll never forget the day he busted that one out in the middle of Sam's as we pushed the cart past the birthday cake display (all he really cares about is the cake). Everyone within earshot (which was quite a few, since he's loud) turned to smile at my little music man.

His two newest songs, and still works in progress, are "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" and "Old MacDonald" (which, surprisingly is not "Old Donal" - as in his favorite fast-food place ever - but is actually pronounced correctly). These started with Grammy a few weeks back (I think) and continued with Grandma and Pa over the weekend.

When I asked Grandma and Pa what he had been up to all weekend, I got the answer I pretty much expected. He talked, A LOT. He also apparently sang, A LOT, too. Always fun, especially with a three-year old who doesn't really have a great singing voice and also feels the need to shout EVERYTHING that comes out of his mouth.

His poor classmates don't stand a chance. He's going to out-scream (I mean, out-sing) every one of his classmates in the Christmas program at school!

Travelin' Man

Our little travelin' man has returned, both happy and tired, from his weekend adventure at the lake with Grandma and Pa. And I'm beginning to see why he's always in the mood to go . . .

Thursday afternoon was dinner at McDonald's and then to the store for some groceries. My son talked Grandma into powdered doughnuts for breakfast ("I like those!" he said, as they walked past the display). You know, for the mornings she wasn't fixing him sausage and eggs.

Friday was a day playing outside in the yard and a trip to our old favorite waterfront campground, where he could swing and slide on the play sets AND watch the water and the boats!

Saturday was spent traveling across the state to visit with Grandma's extended family in the country, and taking the scenic way home (you know, through the fairly large city with better shopping, which included a fun ride in the racing car carts!).

Sunday was probably the best day (at least for my son), who got to take the boat out on the water and even go swimming - though he did tell Grandma and Pa that "It's cold!" Of course, that didn't stop him from jumping in and out several times and even wanting to swim again later! My water baby.

And today, the day he finally agreed to be brought back home (mostly to go to school tomorrow, not because he actually missed us). Apparently, on all of the previous trips in Grandpa's truck, he felt the need to tell Grandma "No see Mommy yet!" several different times. They had to start counting down, as we do at home. Only instead of looking forward to coming home, he was counting down the days of fun he had left with Grandma and Pa.

So home they eventually came, after meeting Uncle Brian for lunch and then doing a bit more shopping. He's a happy little boy, who had a big time, talking and singing and playing and loving every minute of being the center of the world. And he's also a tired little boy, who's going to sleep well tonight and be extremely unhappy when Mommy wakes him up in the morning (because you know he'll still be sleeping).

It will pass quickly though, as most things do at three, because he will remember he's going to school and it will make everything better, for a little while. And then we'll begin all over again, counting down days until he has something else to look forward to . . . my travelin' little man.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Snapshot Sunday

In flight . . . Connor running down our favorite little hill so fast that he appears to be flying! Love the spread eagle arms, the look of extreme concentration on his face, and the fact that his feet are both actually up above the ground.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Saturday at the Park

Two little boys and two parents. One fun afternoon at the park. Big brother is still on his lake adventure with Grandma and Pa, and will return early next week.

Friday, October 3, 2008

To Sleep or Not to Sleep

This is why we don't take naps much at our house anymore . . . the being woken up (so they don't sleep for six hours) is apparently far worse than anything else in their lives.

And really, is there much difference between two tired and cranky little boys who haven't napped and two tired and cranky little boys who've been woken up against their will?

And, as you can tell, both of them think that they (and they alone) should be held by Mommy after such an affront. What the pictures don't show are the fact that both boys, in their own way, attempted to push their brother away and get themselves in closer to Mommy.

Good times . . . (for Grammy and Pappy, who came over shortly thereafter to babysit for us!)

Photo Flashback

Connor hoarding his little cars and keeping an eye out, as two little brothers move closer and closer to HIS toys. (October 3, 2006)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thursday Adventures

This week at school was fire safety week, which Connor has loved. They've been learning things like "Stop, drop and roll!" and how to dial 9-1-1 in emergencies. And more importantly, at least to three-year olds, they've been making fire trucks, playing with fire trucks, and even riding on fire trucks. The local fire station brought over a few of the big fire trucks for the kids to see today, and that was the highlight of the week. He got a special sticker badge and a plastic hat to bring home, which he held on to for dear life (his brothers were seen coveting it a time or two).

In fact, he was so attached that as he was leaving this afternoon with Grandma and Pa for his visit with them at the lake, he made Grandpa back the truck back up in the driveway to get "My hat!" (and you must imagine all the angst that fell into those two words). I have a sneaking suspicion that the boy actually saw his little brother holding the coveted hat in the window as he was about to leave, because when I went back inside to retrieve said hat, little brother was standing near the window and held it out in his hands to me. What sharp eyesight (and serious toy hoarding) my three-year old has!

And for the little guys, our highlight of the day was meeting Miss April at the Explorium downtown for our developmental therapy this week. Sawyer had a big time at the water table, where he proceeded to drench himself yet again (see above photo, and also note that Mommy took Miss April's advice and packed an extra set of clothes for the return trip home). He also enjoyed the big wire and bead table, as well as a few other little toys in the preschool area. We also had to keep a close eye on my boy, because he has a bad habit of wanting to put non-water toys (like the wooden abacus and other assorted puzzle and learning toys) into the water table. He also tried, at least once, to climb in - he managed to get one shoe, sock and lower leg soaking wet in the attempt. But he smiled and laughed and seemed to have a big time, and that's the most important thing.

My little climber (as you can see) had a big time with several toys, but also just climbing anywhere that he could. We spent some time rolling little balls over a sloped walkway, putting said balls into the wooden slide that they are meant to be used with, and also into the water table (where Sawyer, once having them in, was reluctant to let them go). He pulled a wooden frog around for quite some time, was fascinated by a light-up wooden bug on the floor and made his way to the wire and bead table several times. He spent the longest time pushing little leather footstools together and climbing on them, and even playing on a set of wide steps in one area. Have I mentioned that he likes to climb?

So those are the highlights. Just another day in the life . . .

Date Night

How much do we love our good cousins (and how much do some of you hate us)? We have a standing date night every Wednesday, as our good cousins who are in town finishing up their last year of school seem to enjoy spending time with our three little monsters. They come over every Wednesday to play and watch movies with the boys, and Josh and I get a nice break from the kids and to reconnect after busy days.

Last night was pretty typical. We spent the first part of our "date night" doing a bit of business for Josh, then we made our way to one of my favorite restaurants (P.F. Chang's) for a late dinner. In typical glutton style, we ordered three appetizers (Peking dumplings for each of us, lettuce wraps to share) and then we split an entree (double pan fried noodles with beef, a first for us and probably one of the best we've sampled). Of course, nearly half of the main dish is left in the refrigerator for my lunch tomorrow, but still. We simply can't resist when we go there (or perhaps I should say that I can't resist, because Josh probably could).

So we come home to sleeping children and spend some time catching up with our cousins before they head back to their place. A nice evening out, away from the screaming and madness of three little boys! That began again early this morning, when I had to wake three little boys up (a preschool day, of course) and get them moving. I'm not sure how they know it's a school day, but they do, because those are ALWAYS the days that they're still snuggled up in bed sound asleep. Go figure.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Girls Night Out

Last night I met up with a fellow mom and old friend I used to work with for a girls night out dinner. It was a bit later, so we left our husbands with children who were sleeping (in her case) and nearly there (in mine). She actually came to my house and got to witness a bit of Connor's late-in-the-day crankiness and his recently rediscovered attachment to Mommy.

"Connor go too," he whined pitifully, as we tried sneaking out the door without feeling awful. He'd actually been saying it over and over again from the time he saw Mommy come down the stairs with her hair curled and her silver necklace around her neck (apparently the telltale sign of bad things to come).

Connor calls her "Bekah" (actually Rebekah) and fully expected to see her boys John and James when she showed up, which is a fair assumption since we've had several play dates together at our respective houses. Mommy tried to explain that tonight was different, that Mommy and Rebekah were just going out to eat some dinner and to talk.

After he got past the "Connor go too!" phase, he quickly fell into a discussion about where we were going to eat. It was funnier than I would have imagined. "Mommy, Bekah go to Donal's," he said seriously. "Get hamburger, with PICKLES! Did you?"

Verb tense is still tricky for him, clearly, but you get the idea. In his mind, what better place is there to go than Donal's, and what better treat than a hamburger? The pickles are added only because he doesn't like them, and that's why I won't share my cheeseburgers with him (you know, on the days he SAYS he wants chicken nuggets in the drive-thru and then proceeds to covet my cheeseburger once we get home to eat).

Rebekah and I didn't go to Donal's, which was probably the furthest thing from our minds. We tried a new pizza and pasta place (Old Chicago) and shared a house special pizza. She enjoyed hers with a favorite beer, and having never found it tasty myself, I was completely content with my fountain drink (all $3 worth).

We shared good food and good conversation and enjoyed our freedom, though I must admit a good deal of the conversation was about our kids. What do you expect, really, when we're both stay-at-home mothers with small children (two for her, three for me)? We did talk about other things, like jobs and books, travels and traditions, and even a few hopes and dreams. It was nice to talk with someone else who lives pretty much the same life I do - to talk and to listen, to encourage and to hear praise, to share and to learn with someone who truly understands.

A lot of us take it for granted and don't make nearly enough time for it, but it's something we all need. Time to step away from the responsibilities and the day-to-day, to take a little time away and enjoy someone else's company, and to just be yourself for a few hours.

People often look at my three boys, all so close and age, and wonder how I do it. I have no amazing or inspiring answers. You just do it - you work at it and you try your best, figure out what works and what doesn't, and you go on. And, it took me a long time to realize it, but you take a few breaks every now and then. Just a few hours away will help keep you sane and make you a better parent and a better wife. And who isn't in favor of that?

And a big thank-you to all the friends who help me find those few hours away and help keep me sane (and to all the people, including my husband, who take care of my kids while I'm gone)!