Sunday, November 30, 2008

Snapshot Sunday

Tired little boy. Today was Thanksgiving, Part III, and Sawyer was asleep within minutes of the car ride home. Xander followed shortly thereafter, but he woke up when we got home!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Up Close & Personal

Some of the first pics from Mommy's new toy . . .

Someone slinking back down off the dining room table after swinging from the light fixture (imagine that!). Sawyer has rediscovered an old past time the last few weeks.

Xander looking outside and wishing it was warm enough to play on the slide (Buster, who's lurking the background, wishes someone would take him out for a walk).

The big puppy, laying in one of his favorite spots in the bay window at the front of the house - keeping a close eye on his yard and any trespassers. How would you like to see him barking at you and hopping up and down as you walked by on the sidewalk? Don't let his bark fool you though, he really just wants to play!

Guess how many photos I've already taken with my new toy? It's over a hundred, and it wasn't fully charged until late yesterday! Not all of them are good, mind you, but it's been fun practicing and learning. It's amazing how much better the lighting and flash features work than on my old one, and how detailed the images are. There's no hiding from that powerful lens now! The kids are less enthused, of course, because the Momma-razzi is worse than ever!

(In case you were wondering, Connor is still at the lake visiting with Grandma and Grandpa, so his close up will have to wait until the first of the week!)

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Whole New Level

Say good-bye to my trusty Sony Handycam camera. Not completely, of course, but for still shots this is the end of the line. It will still be extremely useful for DVD video recording, and the occasional still photograph when necessary (as in when I don't want to pack two cameras to events). It was a nice long run, with several thousand digital photos taking up space on our computer and archived on CDs, but it's come to an end.

Say hello to my new toy, the Nikon D60 (the complete kit, with two lenses and a convenient camera bag). I have been coveting a Nikon camera for over a year, and my good husband recently surprised me with that little envelope in the picture. He had Connor hand-deliver it to me one afternoon during a therapy session with Miss April and the little guys. It took me by complete surprise. With the economy and building slow right now, I wasn't expecting such a wonderful early Christmas present. Yes, he's definitely a keeper, that husband of mine.

My gift came on Wednesday, and it's been burning a hole in my pocket ever since. I've been looking online - shopping, comparing, trying to decide what I wanted (or needed) and how to spend my gift money. I liked the ones a step or two above this one (that D90 looks amazing), but decided it was too much to spend on a toy just for me. And, as fate would have it, the local camera store decided to run a three-day after Thanksgiving special on the Nikon cameras. So, I braved "Black Friday" to take advantage of the huge savings over the normal price and managed to get the last one in the store (what timing!). On the way home, I took that savings and invested in something the little guys will love - a portable DVD player for the truck that was also on sale for the holidays.

The D90 would have been nice, but it's too much camera for me right now (and was just too expensive to justify). And the little guys will get years of enjoyment out of that DVD player.

I am, of course, still reading my manual and learning. But it's going to be fun, I assure you. I love taking pictures. Mostly of the kids, but other things, too. It will be a fun challenge and hobby. Who knows, maybe one of these days when I get my kids off to school, it could be more. Either way, it's one of the best gifts ever from an amazing husband and father, and I'm going to enjoy it for a long, long time to come!

While It Lasted

"Daddy always was my favorite," Sawyer thought to himself, after Daddy brought home this amazing blinking light one day. He had seen it at Lowe's a few times, and decided it was worth $30 to amuse his quirky and cool little man.

Lights and motion are one of the things that fascinate Sawyer. He can stand and stare, transfixed, for quite some time. He does this at Cracker Barrel (the blinking stop light that is usually above the restroom entry), at Sam's Club (the scrolling light on one of the check out register lanes that highlights a daily sale), or even just a flashlight that he's holding and knows how to operate.

Finding this little gadget was a great discovery - it was inexpensive, cute and would make Sawyer immensely happy. We had thought about putting it either in the play area (up on a shelf) or in the little guys bedroom (depending on how Xander took to it).

Unfortunately, it didn't last that long.

After about three hours, of continuous blinking, Mommy was getting a headache. So, when the little guys went upstairs for nap / "down" time, I turned it off. When they woke up, I fully expected to turn it back on. As did Sawyer, who immediately went right to where it was sitting on the kitchen counter top. I pushed the button. Nothing. I tried again. Still nothing. It was broken in less than a day.

When Josh got home from work that night, he opened it up and took a look. All the wires were plugged in the appropriate places and everything looked like it should. It had just shorted out, after three hours. We decided against getting a replacement, if that was the life span, and just took it back for a refund.

So much for our great find - guess Daddy will have to keep looking to stay on top of Sawyer's favorite list!

Photo Flashback

The giant puppy, just seven months old in this photo and already huge! (October 29, 2003)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

On the Road Again

Another Thanksgiving, another day traveling. The boys all did relatively well, despite the fact that they were in car seats and strange houses from 9 a.m. this morning until 9 p.m. tonight.

Sawyer had a much better day, with very little screaming (unlike last year's all day scream fest). We were better prepared, I think, with toys and distractions. Xander did well too, if you discount the fact that he climbed on absolutely everything he could think of (all day long) and tried to push a television on the floor at our second stop (Josh's extended family)!

Connor, perhaps, came out best of all. He talked non-stop to Mommy and Daddy on the drive to our first destination (my extended family) and then got to ride home with Grandma and Grandpa back to the lake with his cousins Austin and Kyndal, who he loves to play with. He did miss out on our second stop, but will see that group again at Christmas time in a few weeks.

Once again, he's our "have suitcase, will travel" child. He loves to get out and go. And as much as we love him, we love that he enjoys spending time with his extended family and gets that one-on-one attention that's so hard to come by at home with two little brothers.

Despite the traveling and the tired kids and the two parents still not feeling all that great, it was another good family holiday with so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blue, Not Green

For those of you who don't know him, Sawyer is a boy who likes structure and order in his life. He likes things to be the same, pretty much all of the time. For the longest time, we've had a different colored sippy cup for each of the boys (two actually, so we can wash one and still have a clean one available in the correct color). A bit crazy, I know, but so it goes. Sawyer is clearly not the only OCD one in the family (he gets that part from his mother, not necessarily his quirky and coolness).

For the last year or so, they've had the same ones. Ever since the dishwasher melted one of the lids on our original color scheme. Of course, by that time the store didn't sell the same color and we had to get a different one. That was rough, let me tell you.

But, for the last year or so, we've had the same colors. Connor's cup is red. Xander's Cup is orange. And Sawyer's cup is blue. They're all Lightning McQueen, in case you're wondering.

Today, both blue cups were dirty because Mommy forgot to run the dishwasher last night. She's been forgetting a lot of things like that, being sick the last few days. So we pulled out an old green cup. Sawyer was having none of it. He looked at it and studied it from every angle for about five minutes, each of the three different times I tried to give it to him. He kept dragging me back over to the refrigerator wanting his milk. That green cup wasn't his milk.

Finally, after the dishwasher finished, I pulled out a blue cup. He watched me with a look of "it's about time, lady" as I pulled it out and dried it off (because no, I couldn't wait for the dry cycle to finish with him looking at me like that). I poured the contents of the green cup into the blue one, as he watched mind you, and then handed him the blue cup. He looked at it for just a second, turning it around in his hand, then he proceeded to chug the entire thing (probably about 10 ounces) in a matter of seconds.

Sawyer's cup is blue, not green. You've been warned.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Enter at Your Own Risk

It's going to be a bad winter, I can already tell. It started with Josh, made it's way to Sawyer and to Connor, and even to me. Xander, so far, is the only one to escape that nasty stomach virus that's apparently been going around (and how he's done it with all of us around is beyond me, but so far, so good).

The good news is Sawyer appears to be feeling a lot better and is actually eating again and drinking something other than electrolytes. Josh and I feel okay, but not much like eating. Connor's was, thankfully, extremely brief, and he's been fine for a while now.

We've cleaned and scrubbed and gone through several cans of Lysol, so hopefully it won't come back again. But, just the same, I'm once again warning everyone who comes in or near the house, you enter at your own risk.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Snapshot(s) Sunday

So, last weekend during our annual Christmas card photo shoot, I had hoped to get some decent individual pictures of the little guys to replace the ones currently in the frames on our wall. It didn't quite work out. Connor and Xander had some pretty cute ones, though it was hard to make Connor sit still which meant a lot of his turned out blurry in places. But poor Sawyer, he was both inconsolable and also drooling all over his sweater from all of the crying. Not exactly something to hang up on the wall.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tired Little Boy

Last night, Josh and I got an evening out thanks to Grammy and Pappy. They came over so we could go out to dinner and a movie (the new James Bond - very good, by the way!). All three boys missed their nap, mostly because they weren't in the mood for one. But, Grammy and Pappy are entertaining, so they weren't ready for bed until later than their usual bed time (as in around 9:30 p.m. for the little guys and past 10 p.m. for Connor).

The good news is I had two little boys who were sleeping in this morning. The bad news is I had one who was not (and who then proceeded to wake up one of his brothers and lead him downstairs). But I digress, since I covered that in the previous post.

Fast forward to nap time today. The two little guys revolted and after an hour of "down time" in their room, I got them back up. Connor, my big boy who probably spent every single minute of last night running, moving, and begging one of his grandparents to either watch him do something or play with him, was exhausted. He got put in bed after a rather nasty tantrum (tired will do this to him), and within five minutes the screaming (in protest of being deposited in bed) stopped. Dead silence.

And it lasted for more than 5 hours. It only stopped when I woke him up.

What is it about my children that they clearly do not understand the concept of a nap. You know, a short, much-needed break in the day (for all of us, trust me). An hour or two, really, would be plenty. But no, they either don't nap at all (and fall asleep downstairs about 5 p.m.) or they try to sleep for about 6 hours and then want to stay up all night.

So, guess who's still awake and probably will be for quite some time? The little guys are down for the count, but will of course revert to their early wake up time again tomorrow (sigh). Who knew sleeping could be such a struggle? One of these days they'll wish for that short afternoon siesta - I know I do!

Brotherly Love

In just the last few weeks, I've started noticing something really cute - Connor and Xander are actually starting to play together sometimes. It's usually one-sided, in that big brother is in charge and determining just about everything that they do - but it's still cute.

Connor has even kind of claimed his little brother as his own. He's long been saying silly things like "I love Xander, Mommy love Saw!" and refusing to allow me to switch it around. "No, you love Saw," he will tell me, and then add "I love Xander!" even more emphatically than before.

And I think it has something to do with their new found playing. It could be a bit of resentment for the special allowances that are sometimes made for Sawyer, but mostly I think it's just recognizing a kindred spirit (he and Xander have eerily similar personalities) and in finding a new play buddy. Just this morning, while exercising his recently discovered freedom of getting up by himself, he decided to liberate Xander, too.

I could hear them from my room, where I was trying to sleep in, since Connor woke up with Daddy this morning (at 7 a.m.!). After watching television downstairs for a while, I heard him sneak back upstairs and down the hallway, where he opened the little guys' door and actually tickled Xander awake. I know this, because if Xander is actually awake, he's going to be kicking on the door demanding release, and he wasn't doing that. He wasn't doing anything until Connor opened their door and walked into their room. Then all of the sudden I hear Xander laughing so hard he can barely breathe.

Connor managed to get him downstairs all by himself - even remembering to close the door for Sawyer (who was still sleeping) and closing the baby gate behind Xander after they made it downstairs. They played together for almost an hour before I had to get up and referee (and get Sawyer up).

For the moment, Xander seems to be enjoying the extra attention despite Connor's need for control. Of course, it won't stay that way for long. Xander has just as much of that take-charge personality as Connor does, but clearly he's enjoying the interaction and is letting it slide. Watch out for that quick flash of temper though, because if you push him too hard, he's going to strike out (usually by hitting you, which we're working on).

Right now, Connor and Xander do things like play chase, running around the maze that is our downstairs laughing and looking over their shoulders to see how close they are to each other. Sometimes they toss the inflatable balls back and forth or roll cars across the room to one another. Their favorite, though, is to hop on the ride-on Lightning McQueen cars (when Mommy allows them out of storage) and chase and bump each other.

Perhaps they've been watching a bit too much NASCAR with Daddy on Sundays? Hey, rubbin' is racin', right? Just a little brotherly love . . .

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photo Flashback

Because it's that time of year again, today's "Photo Flashback" will be a bit different. I'll share some of the best Christmas card photo outtakes over the last few years . . .

Sawyer was the unhappy one this year. It took over a 100 photos in three different attempts throughout the day to get the one that actually went on the card (and it may or may not have been PhotoShop-ed together, but I'll never tell). They've been ordered and will go out in early December.

My all time favorite photo - ever - was this attempt from last year. Xander was the unhappy one, but Sawyer looks ready to cry, too, and Connor and Buster just look ready to do anything but take photos together.

The first group photo was the only easy one. The little guys were just happy to be sitting up on the fireplace and Connor was the one who wouldn't stay still! Oh, those were the days . . .

BB (Before Babies) - the actual photo had Connor strapped into a car seat, as that was the only way we could get him to sit still in a photo with Buster that year. I liked this one because he kept trying to hide behind Buster and steal stuff off the tree!

The first photo also involved a car seat - and we had trouble getting Buster to look at the camera. He was still wondering what that made that little thing so special that he was getting all the attention!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Who's in Charge Here?

Another winter and another "do as Mommy says, not as Mommy does" moment with my youngest son. Have I mentioned that stubbornness is a trait for all of the boys? Perhaps determined is more appropriate. And I have no idea where they get it from, really.

Xander and I have been battling recently over wearing socks in the house. I would prefer to not have another winter of constant sniffling and coughing (you know, not really sick but just enough to be annoying to them and, in turn, to me). He needs socks, because our laminate wood floors over a crawl space are cold. He refuses. He kicks in the morning when you try to put them on, will concede only long enough to get himself downstairs into some corner, where he proceeds to stand on the toe of one sock with the other foot and deliberately pull each sock off. I find them stuffed between couch cushions and under furniture, buried in the toy box, and sometimes left in plain sight in the middle of the floor. He will only leave them on if there are also shoes, which he oddly enough, loves to wear.

But, as for the socks, he knows at this point that Mommy has given up. Putting socks on a wiggling little boy who takes them off in less than five minutes EVERY single time is just not worth it. There are too many other things to do and worry about - like keeping Sawyer out of the freezer and Connor from running up and down the stairs doing who knows what (yes, he can open the gate and does so at will these days). The thermostat is set on 72, so really, it's not that cold in here.

Besides, clearly it's okay since Mommy doesn't wear them either! It doesn't matter how cold it is, I am always barefoot. Even quick trips out to the mailbox in the snow are done barefoot with flip flops that we keep by the door. If I am leaving the house, I'll put on socks and shoes, if I must, but I simply won't walk around the house in socks. I despise them. I also have poor circulation apparently, because even if I wear the things I so loathe, my toes are still freezing, so what is the point, exactly? And yes, I have actually tried it, in one of my better "Mommy" moments, to set a good example. It hasn't worked, so the "slipper socks" have gone back in the drawer never again to see the light of day (at least until we battle again next winter).

Why do I have a feeling this is only the first of many that I'm going to lose with him?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Reason # 101

Reason # 101 (or whatever, I've seriously lost count) of why I shouldn't leave my three boys unattended on the first floor. Who needs to fold laundry anyway - we can just get our clothes out of the dryer, right? And who needs to go to the bathroom - that's overrated. Mommy is apparently supposed to be present at all times, or chaos will ensue. Look closely, and you will see it in the photo above.

It seems Sawyer got tired of lining up his usual toys - cars, Little People, rings, blocks, puzzle pieces, etc. - because today he found something else to line up. I came downstairs to find my sneaky little man organizing and lining up ice cubes. That's right, cubes of frozen water (that melt). He had taken them from our bottom drawer freezer, which has become a source of fascination to him recently, you know, since the light comes on every time you open it and goes off every time you close it. That's apparently as fun as the oven door, which does the same thing and has long been a favorite of his.

So, he'd pulled out all of these ice cubes and proceeded to line them up on the edge of the cabinet near the stove top. There were at least 30 on the cabinet, several more in the sink and on the floor. They'd been there a while too, since they were melting and water was everywhere - running down the cabinets, all over the floor and all over his clothes, too. At least that folded laundry came in handy, as I had a clean towel that I had intended to put away and simply used it to wipe up the water.

What's even better is that he clearly knows better. When he saw me coming down the stairs, he quickly tried to start throwing the ones on the floor back into the ice bin in the freezer (which had been open the entire time, apparently). So, who wants an ice cold glass of something tasty from our house? I, of course, had to empty the entire ice bin into the sink. Who knew where that ice had been or how much dog hair was now mixed in with it.

Have I mentioned sneakiness is a trait all three of my boys have somehow managed to develop? Good times . . .

Your Tools, Or Mine?

At four, Connor is at that fun stage of toddlerhood where he loves to be "helpful," even if his idea of help might not be exactly what yours is. As a boy, he has long enjoyed the fact that his Daddy has tools and works in construction (and even occasionally allows him to tag along for a few hours here and there). Bob the Builder and Handy Manny are favorite shows, though he doesn't get to watch them much since his brothers are not fans.

His most recent birthday gift from us was a Handy Manny tool set, which I wasn't sure about at first. He "wanted" it when we first saw it at the store (and every week after that as well), but he "wanted" just about every toy we saw.

Well, clearly he meant what he said. That little tool set has been one of his favorites lately. He especially loves to pull it out when Daddy is working on something with his real tools. He "helped" nail up the picture frames on the wall (after the fact, since he was away the weekend they were done), he helps "fix" the pool table, and just last night he "helped" fix the sinks upstairs (Daddy was taking them apart to clear out the build-up from too much toothpaste, shaving gel and hair - yucky, I know). And most of the time Daddy is nice enough to ask Connor to get his tools and come help, so off he goes to round them up (they're always scattered all over the house thanks to his brothers' and even his own play at times).

"I be back," he always tells me in that very serious tone that means he's going to do something important. "I getting my tools, and I gonna help Daddy fix something!"

And off he goes . . . happy as can be to be helpful and doing something with Daddy. If only it could last!

Who Needs TomTom?

A big part of Daddy's day is in his truck, driving to and from jobs. Now that he's gotten into exterior remodeling as well as just building new houses, he often has to drive to addresses he's unfamiliar with in order to do estimates for potential customers. Once this became a big part of his job, we cashed in some credit card points to order him a portable TomTom GPS navigator for his truck.

We can move it back and forth between cars, which is nice when we travel or when we're going somewhere for the first time. I used it a few weeks ago to take Sawyer for his evaluation downtown in a major city. It's been well worth the investment.

But for the most part, I don't need a navigation system in my truck. I have Connor. The kid is four, and he has the most uncanny since of direction I've ever seen. If we get on the interstate and head south, he knows we're going to Grandma and Grandpa's house at the lake and that it's going to take a long, long time (two hours, which is apparently long in kid time). If we go north, he knows we're going to Grammy and Pappy's house. If we pass the split on the interstate, he knows we've missed the turnoff that goes to the indoor pool. He also knows the exit you take for the outdoor pool. He knows that if you head one direction you will go to the park on the lake and if you go the other direction and cut through a subdivision you will get to the small park we typically go to. And he can tell you where McDonald's is relative to anywhere we are in town. He knows which direction takes him to his house, from any of the places we're leaving (pool, people's houses, etc.). He knows where the "store" is and which way your turn from our road to get there. He knows where his school is, where the "boat school" is, and where the "other kids" school is (on our way to the store is a new elementary school that I've tried to explain is for bigger kids and he's translated to other kids).

And even if he doesn't know where I'm going, the kid gives directions like you wouldn't believe. "This way," he'll say from his seat behind me. When I explain why I'm going a different direction (i.e. we're going somewhere he didn't expect), then he'll say "Oh, this way," and then proceed to give me the correct directions to where I've just told him we're going. It's quite amazing to watch. I know he's the "have suitcase, will travel" kid of the family, but still!

So, who needs TomTom. Connor can get us anywhere we need to go - to the grandparents, to pools and playgrounds, to eat and to the store, to school. What more is there, really?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Have Chair, Will Climb

In the last few days, Sawyer has gotten really adventurous with the chairs from our dining room table. They used to just be for getting on top of the table to swing the light fixture back and forth or to push back just a bit and get him closer to the light switches on the wall. I've already mentioned his recent moment of pulling himself up to the high bar top to line up candy bars the other day.

Today he added an even more unusual trick. After waking up at a very early 6:30 a.m., he seemed in the mood for an afternoon nap (a really, really rare occurrence for him). Mommy wouldn't let him pull her around (she thought he wanted to go into the office yet again, and he's been doing something weird to the keyboard to make the computer restart lately, so we've had to cut back on his office time - or OT, as we call it - lately).

So, what's a boy to do when the stairs are blocked by baby gates and his bed is upstairs? Well, he pushes a dining room chair over to the baby gate, climbs on top, and then goes over the baby gate and starts up the stairs himself. How's that for ingenuity? Problem solving skills are clearly good, at least when he wants something badly enough.

Now, what are we going to do when he realizes that he can do the same thing over the baby gates into the office? Or when he gets tall enough to reach the barrel locks we keep on the AV closet in the living room or the exterior doors? It's only a matter of time, I'm sure. There will be no stopping him then . . . and probably not much sanity left for Mommy at that point either!

And just so I don't neglect my other climbers (where they get this from, I'll never know), I'll also mention that Xander's new favorite past time is pulling himself up on top of the pool table in the living room to walk around. He doesn't even need a toy to get him up there, he just hikes one leg up over the side and pulls himself up. Strong and fearless. What a wonderful combination! And Connor, my big boy. Well, let's just say the baby gates are more like hurdles these days. The ones that open with latches he's long known how to open by himself. And the ones that don't open, well he just scales right over them like they're not even there. Xander, ever following in big brother's footsteps, is very close to doing the same thing. He can almost hike that leg up, but not quite . . . at least for now.

Welcome to my world . . . the adventures never end!

Total Opposites

Love me, I was awake at 6:30 a.m. today! (Mommy still loves him, despite that fact).

Love me, I slept in until nearly 11 a.m.! (Mommy loves you, even if she is envious).

It's just one of the ways that our identical twins are different. Sawyer requires much less sleep - as in only about 8 to 10 hours a day - while Xander wants much more - usually 12 to 14 hours a day. It could be that quirky and cool thing, or it could just be their personalities.

This morning Sawyer was awake about 6:30 a.m. - which is early even for him - laughing and jabbering in the little guys' room. He knows Mommy is not going to get him that early, and is usually content to just amuse himself for a while. And when he wakes up, he's happy and ready to go for the day. He helps you put on his clothes and is ready to rush out of the room downstairs to get his snack (dry cereal and milk) and go play. And you can forget about a nap later, he'll just jabber and dance across the floor until you come let him out (if you're crazy enough to try, which Mommy sometimes is).

Despite brother's early wake up time, Xander was still asleep. He didn't wake up even after getting Sawyer dressed and ready to go downstairs. Or when Mommy sat down on the bed and rubbed his back. Or even after Mommy took Connor to preschool (Daddy was home to keep an eye on both little guys this morning). Even after Sawyer had breakfast - at 10:30 a.m. - he was still sound asleep! Xander only woke up when I went back upstairs to get him, at 10:45 a.m.!

Now, this is later than usual even for him, I grant you. Connor and Xander both tend to wake up somewhere between 8:30 and 9 a.m., depending on what time they've made it to bed. At our house, that's usually between 8 and 9 p.m. - depending on any naps that might have happened (and we're not talking about Sawyer, who has to actually fall asleep somewhere, like the dining room table or the couch, to ever get an afternoon nap).

It just goes to show, they're only identical on the outside (minus Sawyer's extra pound or two). Xander has much more in common with his big brother Connor when it comes to personality. Twin or not, it's fun to watch all three of the boys as they start to show more and more of who they are as individuals.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Around the House

In the last few weeks, we've made a few changes around the house.

My good husband, a carpenter and builder by trade, finally took my hint (constant nagging, some might say) and created some frames around our large poster art of the boys in the living room. Thankfully, the boys can no longer swing the pictures back and forth on their hooks, knock them off the wall, or otherwise attempt to destroy them (they were my birthday present this year, and they weren't exactly cheap). It took a whole Saturday of his effort (mixed in with a little football watching), but the results are amazing. Apparently I owe him one.

And, more importantly for most people, we now have an official guest bedroom! Our friends Haley and David and Claire enjoyed it for the first time this weekend. The room has been largely empty for a while, in that void between what was once a sort of den (our bookcases, periodicals and some extra furniture that doesn't work any where else) and a potential play room (mostly empty, but big enough to blow up the big bouncy slide if we wanted). It also has been storage for a while, getting random big toys and items dumped there until more permanent homes could be found. I won't mention the two full-size baby cribs and mattress that are still currently stuffed into the closet (disassembled, of course). Who hangs up clothes when they're staying overnight anyway, right? That's what we're hoping.

The very large extra television was a nice addition, and one that made Connor seriously lobby to make the new room his the night he helped Daddy move the bed and other furniture into the room (he was very cute, "helping" with his new Handy Manny tool set). After they were done putting the room together, he climbed up on top of the bed and leaned back against the pillows, watching football and saying "Night-Night!" Of course, he could have just been tired, as we did most of the rearranging late one evening while the little guys were taking a bath (we pulled the extra bed out of their room since they have never, ever - not in the year and a half that they have been in big boy beds - used more than one bed to sleep in).

And, conveniently enough, we have one of the old pack-and-play cribs in there. I've had it out for a while, just in case it was needed on some of our recent play dates that involve younger siblings who might need naps. Baby James has tried it once or twice, but hasn't really found it to his liking! Baby Claire enjoyed it this weekend though, even if it was blue and several years old! We even have a second one out in the attic, should anyone require two of them!

And, then there's the only downside to the guest bedroom. There's an open stairway up to the third floor where Daddy keeps his gym equipment (and that's mostly used for storage as well). You access it from the hallway, but you can still look down into the guest bedroom if you walk up. Our visitors had fun this weekend with it, as David enjoyed peeking his head over to see what Haley and Claire were up to from time to time. And, honestly, going to the third floor is an extremely rare occurrence in our house. You're privacy is pretty safe (unless Connor decided to venture up there in his new found independence).

So, if you're in our area and in need of a place to stay, we now have an option other than the couch (with the pull-out bed) in the middle of our living room. The television is a bit smaller, and you just might have to share a bathroom covered in foam bath letters and baby toys, but at least you don't have to worry about someone wanting to watch Chicken Little at 7:30 a.m. in your bedroom!

New Tricks

With three toddlers, every day is certainly an adventure. Here are just a few of the new tricks that the boys have been up to lately . . .

Big Boy. Once Connor started potty-training in earnest, about six months ago, we started keeping his bedroom door unlocked. He never quite understood that he was allowed to come out of his room to go potty or even to come downstairs once he had either napped in the afternoon or slept through the night. He was quite content to simply wake up, sit up in bed, and begin yelling "Mommy! (pause) Mommy?" over and over again until Mommy came to release him from his room. In the last week, he's started letting himself out of his room, going potty (the upstairs bathroom is open since the little guys are still child-locked in their room during sleeping times), and even coming downstairs and getting his own milk cup out of the refrigerator! What a difference that makes, that he's becoming more self-sufficient in the small things. Of course, there are drawbacks. Yesterday he let himself out of his room and came into our bedroom for the first time ever, wanting us to get up because he did (not so much fun on a Sunday when you're trying to sleep in and the little guys are happily dancing to Chicken Little downstairs (which began about 7:30 a.m.). Or today, when he woke up and took it upon himself to go into his brothers room to see what they were up to. He still can't operate the child locks himself, so he effectively trapped himself in their room. And just a little while ago, during nap time, which he and Sawyer were resisting, he decided to open his door, go to the little guys room and open their door, and see what would happen. Sawyer came wandering down the hallway, hesitant but excited to be free. Connor wisely hid in his room once he realized what he'd done and that Mommy wasn't going to be pleased to have a captive released. Apparently that's the price I pay for his self-sufficiency. He's going to have to learn a bit more about what is and is not allowed with his new found freedom. Coming downstairs after sleeping, yes. Going into brothers' room or letting them out, not so much.

Step Up. All of the boys have long known that you can use chairs to get to higher places. Mommy uses one to put groceries away on the top shelves of our cabinets (yes, they're really tall, since Mommy is 5'9" and she still can't reach the very top ones). All of the boys have used them, at one time or another, to get on top of the dining room table and to play with the light switches on the wall. Well, Sawyer has added a new dimension. We keep several goodies on the high bar top that wraps around the island where our stove top sits. There are things like M&M's in a candy dispenser, doughnuts or other fresh breakfast items, and usually a big bowl full of mini-candy bars. Today, Sawyer pulled his favorite dining room table chair over to this bar and was helping himself to the bowl of candy bars. But, in his way, was simply lining them up along the edge of the bar. Connor and Xander would have pulled a handful and snuck away to try to open them up and eat them. But not him, he was just looking for something else to organize.

I'll Drive. Getting three little boys from the house and into my truck takes a bit of time and a bit of planning. It hasn't always been that difficult. Not until my climbing children decided to start scaling the console that separates the front seats from the back. You see, I usually just lead them outside and say "Mommy's truck!" which makes them pretty happy - they like to go for rides and leave the house (and who can blame them, since they're here all the time!). They used to climb right up in their car seats - the two little guys in the third row seats, Connor in the one bucket seat in the middle (we put the other one down into it's folded position to make a path for entry and a place to store the stroller when it comes along). Sawyer still climbs right in, which makes him my favorite at the moment. Connor usually tries to sit in one of his brothers' seats (not fun, since he's bigger and I'd have to constantly readjust straps to keep my escape artists from wiggling out of them during our trips). Xander takes one look at me (that quick, sneaky one he does so well and so often) and then hops right over the console in one instant, fluid movement. And then he's moving the steering wheel back and forth and playing with all the buttons on the dash. I learned long ago to keep the keys in my pocket until it's time to go. I'd prefer to be the one driving, thanks.

If You Build It. One of the biggest challenges these days when I have to leave the room for a few moments is getting the boys to leave the couch cushions alone. Xander is by far my worst culprit about pulling them off, though the other two are by no means innocent. They're just more likely to join in after he's pulled them off. Connor has taken to making elaborate slides and forts with them. Sawyer just pushes them around or pulls one closer to the television to lay on top of it. Xander, my fearless one, places the biggest one on the ground in front of the couch and then stacks the other two up on top of one another on top of the couch. Then he climbs on top and jumps off - face first - onto the one he's put on the ground. Good times. At least it's safer than scaling the outside of the rails up the stairs (you know, about 12 feet off the ground at it's highest. Have I mentioned that I'm pretty sure he's going to be my first child with stitches? He says he'd really like a rock-climbing wall inside and maybe a big trampoline, too.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Snapshot Sunday

One of the many, MANY, Christmas card outtakes from today. We tried three different times to get the boys to sit still and take a group photo. Sawyer was simply not having it (there's always one, you know - last year it was Xander who was pissed in every single shot). Here, Connor was trying to hold Saw in place and get him to smile by tickling him (our good little helper, or tormentor, depending on your perspective).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We're Not Doing Anything, We Swear!

"What?" they ask innocently. Baby Claire's Daddy wants Connor to state his intentions before this game of doctor goes any further. We need to see a promise ring, buddy.

This weekend we had a fun visit from Mommy's old college roommate - Haley and her husband David and their baby girl Claire. They came to town to watch a team from their current hometown (where her husband works in the athletic department) play against our old school. Their team won, and we're holding them accountable for the (surprise) loss of our major school to their small town team! (Actually, Mommy could care less - it wasn't football).

They arrived shortly after lunch yesterday and spent some time with us before the game, and then we got to hang out with Claire while they were out for what was probably a much-needed few hours away (we know that feeling)!

Claire had a little bit of playing on the floor with all of the fun "boy" toys that she's not used to (mostly tasting them, because that's what you do at six months old). Connor was actually really good with her, helping bring her toys and sharing his things with her. I was extremely impressed and think preschool is really helping in this area for him. Xander was curious and came up to see her a couple of times, putting his face right in front of hers to check her out. Then he tugged on my arms and tried to get me to hold him instead. Sawyer was, as usual, pretty indifferent to her. He did his sidelong glance at her a few times, especially when I was holding her, and tried once or twice to pull me somewhere else to play with him. But, for the most part, he didn't notice her at all and just went on with his normal routine.

She really wasn't awake very long at all after her Mommy and Daddy left for the game, so there was just time for a bit more playing before it was time to feed her and put her to bed. She had played through her usual nap and was ready for bed early, which I'm sorry to say didn't help her parents when they got home, as I think she was up quite a bit during the night.

Today we ventured out for lunch with another old friend that Haley used to live with during college (who happens to be really good friends with and work with my sister-in-law - how small is our world). It was a nice way to end a visit with good friends, especially since Daddy was nice enough to stay home with our boys.

We don't get to see each other as often as we once did or as often as we might like, especially now that we both have busy lives with families in different states, but we definitely enjoy getting together when it works out. And besides, that's what blogs are for, right? How else would I get to watch Claire grow up six hours away or would Haley get to follow my boys on all their everyday adventures . . . we have to keep tabs on their future prom dates, after all!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Photo Flashback

Aren't we cute? Xander left, Sawyer right. (November 12, 2006)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Number Five

Counting and numbers are two things that Connor does well these days. He loves to count and he loves to describe things by numbers. Unfortunately, while the counting is pretty good, the description is not always accurate. His number of choice lately is the number five, meaning that's how many there are of everything he's talking about.

Here are just a few of the random things that he's told me lately, always while holding up one hand with five fingers extended.

"Connor has five friends. Five boys and five girls." (Actually 10, but who's counting?)

"Grammy plays tennis with five ladies." This randomly as we're reading "The Cat in the Hat" and he sees a tennis racket on the page.

"Connor want five things on his hamburger. Pickles, cheese, um, pickles, ketchup, um, mustard, um, onions. Yeah, onions!"

"Connor read five books?" Anything to prolong bed time, right?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What Was That?

At four, Connor has really gotten into pretend play. Sometimes it's limited in scope (as in he repeats himself often or resorts to mumbling at times when he's not sure what to say), but it's still there. It's very cute to watch, and at times, very funny, too.

Today he was home during developmental therapy with Miss April. We were all in the floor playing. Miss April was helping Xander with the wooden puzzles and Sawyer was lining up his linking rings. Connor picked up the new toy cell phone (that Grandma and Grandpa actually gave to brothers a few days ago) and was pretending to talk on it.

"Hello? Hello?" he asks himself. Then there's assorted giggling and laughing and incoherent words that are either too fast or too low to be understood.

Miss April asks him who he's talking to.

"It's Daddy," he says.

She wants to know what Daddy's doing.

"He's workin'!" Connor replies. "He's fixin' a broken house and doin' laundry!"

Um, excuse us? The first two parts are all very accurate. Daddy is usually at work, and he does build (and fix broken) houses. But that last part, well, that's a bit unusual. Not to say that Daddy doesn't do the occasional load of laundry - because he does - but it was just kind of out of left field.

"He's doing what?" April and I both ask together.

"Buildin' a house and doin' laundry!" he says again, a bit exasperated and looking at us as though we're the ones not making any sense.

It takes Mommy a minute, but I finally figure it out. This morning, Daddy did, indeed, have a washer and dryer in the back of his truck as he went off to work. He was helping a business partner move them into a rental unit near our subdivision.

So, there you have it. Daddy was building a house, and while he was at it, he was going to do some laundry, too. And, clearly, Mommy and Miss April need pay more attention because Connor's getting tired of repeating himself.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Best Toy Ever!

How do you amuse three children who have more toys than they can possibly play with in a single day? You simply give them a few helium filled balloons and let their imaginations take over. Love that Xander decided to lay down on the couch right underneath his own giant, life-size portrait on the wall (that's a handsome young man up there, he says).

Daddy's good friend George brought some balloons over this weekend with Connor's birthday present, and all of the boys have loved them. Two are tied onto the Lightning McQueen ride-along trucks (just that much more annoying to trip over now), and the other just roams the living room until someone asks to have it pulled down so they can play with it. We have lost one or two in the vaulted ceiling, but the heating system usually pushes it to a corner that you can reach from the steps after a day or so. Not sure how much longer these are going to last, but so far, one of the best inexpensive (I'm assuming) toys ever!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Three-Man Wrecking Crew

This is what three children will do to your living room (there is even more, on the couch and in stacks behind me as I take this photo). We also had fun visitors today in our friends John and James (and their mom Rebekah), but sadly, they did none of this. My boys manage it all on their own.

For the longest time, I thought a lot of Sawyer's OCD issues were inherited (or learned) from his mother. I like order in my life too, as most people who know me well will tell you. Slowly, with one big puppy and three wild little boys, I've learned to let it go a little bit. I still pick up after the kids while they're sleeping, because I can't stand to see the mess. Let's be honest, I can't relax until it's cleaned back up. That's just me. And as we've learned, that's also just Sawyer (perhaps for different reasons, but that's just him, too). He's Mommy's helper when it's time to clean up, as long as he's ready to clean up.I also refuse to allow toys in the kitchen (we'll ignore the new magnetic letters on the freezer, as they make Sawyer really, really happy). I cannot cook while walking over toys. I just can't do it.

So those are my issues. And it will only get worse. We've just ended the one birthday that leads to Christmas and then two more birthdays (all within four short months). Toys from one end of the living room to the other. Just looking at it drives me insane. Walking over it all day long is like walking on broken glass (literally, because I'm usually barefoot). But I manage, at least until they're sleeping. It's all put away now, thank goodness. But still. How do three little boys manage to need so many toys in so many different places?

And do you want to know the scary part? That there is twice as many toys in the pantry (out of their reach), that we rotate around every few weeks. Because THAT much stuff, really would drive me insane.

Big, Brave Boy

Another birthday means another visit to the pediatrician's office. What a fun way to start the week, taking three boys to the doctor's office across town so that one of them could get his annual well visit and shots!

Connor received one of the best compliments ever today, and one that was extremely well deserved. Though shy and quiet through most of the visit, and requiring a bit of prodding from Mommy early on to step on the scales and be measured - 43 inches, 43 lbs., which seems quite impossible by the way. Then he had fun peeing into a cup (I was impressed at this point, because we'd never done this with him, but it gets better). There was the general exam, and the finger prick, and the other chart type stuff. And then came the dreaded shots. Four all at once, one given in each arm simultaneously in two rapid successions. It was over in less than five seconds.

I warned him it would hurt a little, but that he would feel better soon. He didn't flinch or cry at all. He sat willingly in my arms, with no need for the wrangling that is usually required with his little brothers. He actually was more unhappy with the band-aids than anything, wanting them to come right off. I convinced him to wait until we got home. Last but not least was the flu mist that was sprayed up his nose, twice - one for each side. That sounds the least pleasant to me, but he did great.

And therein lies the compliment. His pediatrician and his nurse were so impressed with how he handled the whole day (while his two brothers alternately screamed and tried to escape the exam room). They said he was better than anyone they'd ever seen at his age, and even better than most who were much older. He was complete calm in the chaos and didn't seem to mind anything.

He, of course, really loved the suckers at the end, and the treasure box of toys (a new addition since we last visited). He brought home two police trucks as his prize (kind of like Hot Wheels, though plastic). Two of everything, since he did such an amazing job and it seemed like everything we were doing to him today was a double-dose.

My big, brave boy. He's growing up oh-so-fast these days . . .

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Snapshot Sunday

Playing games with Grandma. She wanted very much to take a picture of him in the swing that he loved on vacation last week. He wanted very much to not smile or cooperate. I think she wins.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Big Four

There are lots of pictures from Connor's birthday this weekend - just as there was lots of cake and food and presents and balloons! But these two are my favorite, because it shows my two similar personalities clashing a bit.

Here is Xander checking out Connor's new Handy Manny tool box (just as he's checked out every single other present - the boat and truck and trailer, the wrecker truck, the medical bag set, etc.).

And here is Connor, having carried said toolbox all the way across the room and hiding with it behind a stash of older toys. He can and does share, just not the "new" ones! He wants to take them all into his room at night, so brothers can't get them. He's sleeping with about half of them right now. Ah, brotherly love . . .

Friday, November 7, 2008

Photo Flashback

The first born, taking over from the beginning (that would be Mommy's bed he's sprawled across, instead of his hospital bassinet). (November 08, 2004)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Connor's World

Just in case you were wondering how the big brother was making out this week, I think it's safe to say all is well. Grandma sent us these pictures from his adventures.

Riding the big boy race cars all by himself.

Crashing on the couch after a hard day's play.

Finishing each day with a good swim.

Yes, he's definitely living the good life. He's going to be extremely disappointed to be coming home this weekend.

Life is a Journey

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R.R. Tolkien

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved that quote. My father-in-law finds it humorous, since I have never yet managed to make it all the way through the book from which it comes (and probably never will, as I've tried several times and just don't enjoy it).

But it speaks to me. It says that there isn't one right path that must be followed, that you can take detours and find your own way. You don't have to be the person everyone wants or expects you to be, you can just be who you are meant to be. Life is about the journey, not about where you go or how quickly you get there. And that seems appropriate . . .

The short answer is yes, Sawyer received his clinical diagnosis for autism yesterday. He is, indeed, quirky and cool. We will get a more detailed report, with recommendations about therapies and such, in a few days.

But those are just the details.

Life is really about the journey, and the journey is his to take. If he wants to wander, to stop and watch the leaves blow or watch the light dance in shadows, then that's what he'll do. We'll help to guide and push him where he wants and needs it, but really, we're just along for the ride . . .

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Three Kids, Three Places

For the first time ever, all three of our kids are in different places at different times. Connor is in the mountains with Grandma and Grandpa (my parents), Xander is spending the night with Grammy and Pappy (Josh's parents), and Sawyer is at home with us.

Connor is simply on an extended vacation that happened to occur this week. If you read the blog about his phone call, then you know I'm pretty sure he's having the time of his life. Race cars, golf, fast food, and undivided attention will do that for a three-year old.

Xander is off with Grammy and Pappy, who were nice enough to take him for a few days to help us out. He's getting lots of one-on-one attention tonight and will probably spend most of tomorrow running errands and visiting people with Pappy.

And Sawyer gets to spend the day with Mommy. You see, tomorrow is the big day - the day we find out just how quirky and cool he might be. We leave bright and early in the morning to drive to the statewide center for his clinical evaluation. We're told to plan for at least two hours, perhaps the entire day. There will be eight different doctors present at various times during the evaluation. Sounds really fun, I know, especially for a child who doesn't like strange people, strange places, or changes in his routine.

At the very least, it should give us some answers and some direction in how to move forward. It will help us decide which therapies he might or might not need right now, how to handle the upcoming transition into preschool, and other every day things.

What it will not do, is change any part of who he is or how much he is loved. Nothing ever could.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Too Pitiful for Words

Once again, we seem to be passing around the cold that just won't stop. First it was Daddy, then Mommy, then Connor and now the little guys. Xander, who's been going through a bit of a clingy period anyway, is simply too pitiful for words right now. Coughing, runny nose, sleepy and just plain pitiful.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Mirror images, sometimes. Mirror images.

On the Road Again

Just in case you were wondering how vacation is going for my oldest son, who's visiting the Smoky Mountains with Grandma and Grandpa all this week, I will let you in on our conversation last night. It went something like this . . .

"Hi Mommy! Fast cars. Black ones. VRMMM, VRMMM, VRMMM. Me do it. Golf. Putt-putt. Ride trolley. Eat steak. Grape (kool-aid). Candy! Swim in pool. Hot tub. Popcorn. Pepsi. Raisins. Deer. Rocks in water. My room. My bed . . . "

So, did you get all that? There were a couple of brief interruptions by me, when I tried to ask questions or clarify something, but he didn't really take time to stop or even notice my inquiries. He just kept going, giving me a minute by minute account of his trip. It was actually one of the longest moments of talking to him on the phone that I've ever had, instead of his usual "Hi Mommy, Bye Mommy!" routines. He was actually quite chatty.

The translation, if you need one, is something like this. He got to ride on fast go-carts, black ones, all by himself. The condo where they're staying has a mini putt-putt course on the premises, and he's been playing there, a lot. They rode the trolley for about an hour one day, just sight-seeing and enjoying the ride. They grilled out steaks last night and apparently had grape kool-aid, too. There has been lots of Halloween (and other) candy enjoyed. They've gone swimming in the indoor, heated pool every night since they've been there (and probably will every night until they leave). He's been allowed to dip his toes in the hot tub while Grandpa relaxes there, and then they head back to the condo for popcorn and Pepsis (and apparently some raisins at some point, too). They took a scenic drive one day and saw three deer, stopped to throw some big rocks in the mountain stream, and even had a picnic near by with his current favorite - bologna. And, he has his very own room and bed, which he's quick to point out is "Connor's room" and "Connor's bed," should you ask. And there it abruptly ended.

So, I think we can safely say he's having a big time and in no hurry to get back home. It was well worth missing out on an hour or so of trick-or-treating, apparently.

And Mommy feels better too, since he got kind of pitiful on us last Friday when we met up with Grandma and Grandpa for the exchange. He of the "Bye-bye, see you later!" actually resisted getting out of Mommy's truck and tucked his head down with the pouting lip when it was time to go.

Yeah, that lasted all of five minutes, and he's not looked back. Mommy who, he says.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Snapshot Sunday

One part preschool, one part one-on-one time with Mommy, and one part from just growing up. Connor loves to read these days, especially if it means he gets one more story before bed time.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

No Tricks, Just Treats

We opted to stay at home and hand out candy at our house this year. Our little guys are not quite the type for trick-or-treating, at least not yet. Connor, who probably would have enjoyed it, is probably having a much better time with Grandma and Grandpa in the mountains. One night of candy or one week of undivided attention and spoiling . . . yes, that's a hard choice, don't you think?

But don't worry, the little guys enjoyed the night even without costumes or walking door-to-door. Xander even kept running back and forth to check out the costumes (or perhaps to see who was stealing all of his other candy)!

Here he is as Mommy was attempting to sort the trick-or-treat candy with the candy that we were keeping for ourselves. Xander decided to help himself to his favorite - a Crunch bar. Those are definitely in the "keep" bowl.

Not to be outdone, Sawyer decided to take over Daddy's space that he vacated to answer the door for some trick-or-treaters. He ate all the Skittles, also from the "keep" bowl.

It's definitely all treats at our house . . .