Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morning

Santa Did Good

Merry Christmas



Since it will probably take a while for us to wake up, process pictures, and perhaps upload video, here's something to make you smile until then - this year's Christmas card. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas, Part I



So much fun, he literally fell asleep in the middle of opening a present. That's what happens when you're up before 6 a.m. people. Even Connor was in on the early day, getting himself up and dressed by 7:30 a.m.! He was ready for our first Christmas party, and the presents!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa's Logistics

Have I mentioned that my five-year old is all about Christmas this year? Because he is. The tree, the lights, the presents, all of it. Except for the Rudolph video, because the snow monster is scary. But otherwise, if it has to do with Christmas, he's ready.

And that brought us to today's fun question. Usually he's just wondering about how the presents are going to fit under the tree (see here). But today, he was studying the fireplace. And he was puzzled.

First of all, I have to tell you. Our fireplace has ventless gas logs. And the chimney that runs up the outside of the house, well, that's just for show. No vent, no nothing. But Connor doesn't know that. What he does know, however, is that we have some plastic wire ties holding the doors closed (because the kids used to think it was fun to open and close the doors and drive us crazy). And this suddenly bothers him.

"But how is Santa going to come in?" he asked me, true concern in his voice. "If the doors are locked shut, he won't be able to come in and bring us our presents."

Enter good-natured teasing about how Santa is only stopping to see good little boys anyway, so why is he so concerned. He's not amused. Not at all. He proceeds to tell me that Xander has been a bad boy, too, and that Santa will skip him, too. Xander has indeed been in trouble numerous times today for climbing and jumping on the furniture, so we agree that only Sawyer will get presents, which then brings us back to how Santa will get inside.

Magic. At least that's what I tell him. Because if he can make reindeer fly, surely he can make himself appear on the other side of our fireplace door. This seems to work, for now. He nods his head approvingly, "Yeah, magic ..."

And that, my friends, that wide-eyed wonder and innocence are what's making Christmas so fun around our house this year. Here's hoping your house is filled with a little of the same!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gingerbread Houses

Three boys, three different milk carton gingerbread houses!



Connor's house, miraculously saved from last school year. It's starting to come apart at the seams this year though.



Xander's house, noticeably sparse on candy (because he was eating as much as he was decorating, I'm sure).



And Sawyer's house, heavy on icing and dripping with good stuff (most likely because he sampled the candies with his tongue before placing them on the house).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Visions Dancing in His Head

In just a few more days, Santa will be stopping by our house. Connor is beyond ready. He keeps asking how many more days. How many days until the party (we get together with Josh's family every year)? How much longer before Santa comes? And how much longer before we go to the beach?

It's all about anticipation this year, apparently.

And it's fun to watch. This is the first year that any of our kids have shown any real interest in a holiday. The twins still aren't there yet, though we think they'll like the present part this year at least (if our early Christmas at the lake is any indication).

But now Santa has an issue. To wrap or not to wrap? Connor LOVES to open presents. Like most kids, he enjoys that part even more than the actual gift, at least at first. So now Santa is trying to figure out the best way to handle Christmas, this year and in years to come. At our house, Santa didn't start wrapping until the magic was pretty much over and Mom and Dad took over gift giving duties.

But Connor was incredibly disappointed last year that the presents were just there. Remember last year's photo? He was pouting because (a) his brothers beat him downstairs and (b) the presents from Santa weren't wrapped.

So I've wrapped a few smaller ones that will fit in the stockings, but I'm not sure what to do about their one big gift from Santa. Wrapped? Out of the package and ready to play? Under the tree with a big bow? I just don't know.

What does Santa do at your house?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snapshot Sunday



Rare sighting. Sawyer, taking a nap after the last day of school this week. Watching The Polar Express and drinking hot chocolate in his PJs at school must have done him in.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Quoted & Noted

"We're gonna have to cut some more branches," my five-year old tells me seriously.

And I'm thinking, excuse me, what? Sometimes he helps Josh or Pappy in the yard with things like that, but nothing that I can remember recently. I have no idea where this is going.

But then he looks over at our Christmas tree.

"We need to cut some branches," he repeats. I still look at him blankly, though I think I see where this is going. He is exasperated. How could his mother be so clueless?

"How else is Santa gonna fit our presents under there?"

I think someone is a little excited for Christmas this year. And even though I keep explaining that Santa could perhaps just set the presents around the tree, he keeps coming back to cutting more branches.

Clearly he's expecting quite a bit. Or maybe just something really, really big.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Party



Pizza and cookies, games and crafts, and a book exchange, too (even if he did pick his own book to bring back home)! What more can a five-year old ask for on his last day of school? He also spent a lot of time at the end playing with his distant cousin Jack, who happens to be in his class, and that seemed to be the highlight of his day!

A good day for the kids. And our thoughts and prayers continue to be with one of Connor's teachers, Miss J, who is out with her daughter this week as she undergoes some health care procedures.

Photo Flashback



Peek-a-boo, guess who? A rare warm day in December, back when they still fit in the triple stroller (and I could still push it), when the twins' hair was still long, and when they boys would actually look at the camera. I miss those days. (December 11, 2007)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

About a Boy ...



... who wants everything!

Christmas is fast approaching, and there were a few groceries I wanted to pick up for the house before next week (you could not pay me enough money to go out to the stores next week, I promise you, we would do without those items first). That said, I decided Connor and I would make one last grocery run on our last day together (tomorrow is the last school day before winter break for all three of the boys).

Because we had more time than we were going to need to do our shopping, I decided to let Connor have a small treat. No, not the kind you buy, just something that he enjoys doing. I let him browse (and browse and browse) in the toy section. He always knows, and is reminded, that we are only there to look, that we are not going to buy anything. We spent almost an hour, just looking.

There were lots of "Ooh!" and "Ah!" and "Look at that!" and "Maybe someday I have that!" moments. He wanted everything, it seemed. Hot Wheels? Yes, he wanted the entire two aisles worth of Hot Wheels and their assorted tracks and cities and toys. Everything he saw, he wanted. Trains? Yes, he wanted each and every one. Games, yes, he liked almost all of them (just not the "girl" ones). Blocks, yes, but only the "big boy" ones, not the "little kid ones, those are for brothers!" Plays sets? Yes, yes and yes. They were some kind of step up from the Little People, for the slightly older set. One was a submarine set with people and animals, one was a rescue helicopter with people, and another was a tank. He wanted one of each, please.

And then we came to the holy grail of all toys. The Nerf aisle. He has been fascinated with shooting lately (wonderful, right?). He got his first Nerf-like gun set for his birthday, and now he wants every other weapon he can possibly amass. The $8 Nerf sword was his favorite today. Yes, he would never use that to hit his brothers. No, not my son.

Next came the girl toys, and we didn't even bother to look at those. "These are for girls!" he told me, clearly disgusted. And then he started heading toward the groceries (without prompting, for once in his life). He had apparently looked until his heart was content.

Though I sure he would have enjoyed it more if we'd actually brought at least one of his many coveted items home, I think he would agree it was a fun way to spend our last Mommy & Me day together, despite having to get a few groceries, too (all of 10 minutes, I swear, it was that few).

It was fun to watch him get excited about toys, to see which ones were truly the most exciting by the way he picked them up or talked about them or reluctantly put them back on the shelf. Even the other shoppers (and the store clerks) in the store were turning to look at him, grinning down with that knowing smile as he picked up something he couldn't resist.

The magic, the wonder ...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kids at School

The kids have been taking some "field trips" to the middle school band room (their preschool is located within a middle school facility) to learn about instruments and hear the older kids play.

My boys were not necessarily impressed. Music, yes. Loud noises and talking, not so much. The did pull their hands down when the music started!



Xander with Mrs. D.



Sawyer with Ms. J.

And special thanks to Mr. K, one of Xander's teachers, for sharing the photos with us!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Sick Days Allowed

Allowed or not, I took one.

Apparently I had one of those 24 hour stomach viruses that come out of no where (or from something I ate recently). Josh came home from work to find the kids on their third movie of the afternoon (and I don't even pick the last two up and get them home until almost 2 p.m.) and me sitting on the sofa freezing to death under three layers of clothes and a blanket. Off to bed at 6 p.m. for the night.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Flip Side

As happy as I am to have the occasional break from my three preschoolers (like this past weekend, when Grammy and Pappy had them overnight), I am equally happy to have them back again.

For the first few minutes, anyway. Because my boys are the kind that run and jump into your arms the minute they see you again. Like, oh thank goodness, you actually came back for me. It's that kind of hug, as though you've been gone for weeks instead of just a matter of hours (less than 48 this weekend).

Yesterday afternoon, I was nearly attacked. Xander gave me a big grin and a "Hi!" as soon as I walked in the door. Unfortunately for him, Connor was quicker to jump into my arms. He had a grievance to bear, that his new big boy bike was still at Grammy and Pappy's house (which he whimpered to me as though it was the end of the world, and with big tears rolling down his face). Once we overcame that, he hopped down and Xander took his place. His hug was quick and hard, followed immediately by a "Juice? Please?" request. Nevermind that he'd just had some. He was talking and made an appropriate request, so his wish was granted.

And last but not least, wandering into the kitchen where I was still trapped, was Sawyer. He grinned and ran over for a big hug. He also wanted into the pantry, of course, where suckers and other assorted goodies are kept under lock and key. But even after I told him no suckers until after dinner, he still held on a big bear hug.

Three boys. Three big hugs. What a way to come home.

Of course, it wasn't nearly as cute twenty minutes later, when all three of them were still attached at the hip (which is hard to do, but they manage it somehow).

Sigh. It's hard to be so loved.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Snapshot Sunday



November 25. That's how long I have been holding, however impatiently, this photo. It is the annual Christmas card photo, and for once, I LOVE it! Three mostly smiling boys. Sawyer's "smile" might be stretching it a little, but it's that look of wonder and happiness that I love to see on his face. Xander and Connor are cheesing, but that's okay, too. Three happy boys who cooperated and gave me a Christmas card worthy photo in a matter of minutes.

It's amazing what a nearly a year of preschool has done for the twins ability to listen and cooperate, albeit briefly. Last year, we attempted to get a single usable (or Photoshop-able) group portrait for over an hour on three different tries. This year, 10 minutes tops.

Points if you know who had to be edited in (hello, Photoshop) this year.

And . . . the Out Takes



Apparently they heard stick your tongues out instead of smile.



Next, they heard close your eyes.



And then laugh so much you can't sit still.



Sawyer is ready to cry and Xander is doing his fun head tilt.



And now Sawyer says he's all done.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Silent Night

Josh is away at a boys weekend. I had to work both days this weekend, so Grammy and Pappy took the boys to their house. That means I have a completely silent house to myself!

Book? Movie? Both? The puppy and I will figure something out. Definitely some snacks and some nice, quiet down time. And I can stay up as late as I want enjoying it, because there's no one here to get up before the sun. And I don't have to be at work until 1 in the afternoon!

Ahh ...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Frosty the Snowman

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas ...

Photo Flashback



I may ring this bell, he says, but I absolutely will not, under any circumstances, actually sing in front of these people. Not one word. Until I get home, where I will sing loudly every minute of every day before and after the school Christmas program. Better luck next year. (December 12, 2008)

We'll find out this afternoon, because this year's Christmas program is at noon. Video will hopefully appear sometime tonight.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Santa's Workshop

Today was the big day . . . the day I had set aside to make all of the teacher and therapist Christmas gifts. We do cookies, of course. And with seven teachers and two therapists, we have a lot of cookies to make. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 total. That's why I'm just now waiting on the last batch to cool, at 11:43 at night.



Early in the day, when it's still light out. That's the first batch, chocolate chip.



The second batch was a new one, chocolate raspberry. Mmm, Mommy's favorite flavors.



Several batches later, it's now dark outside. I think this one is oatmeal raisin, but they're are also sugar cookies and peanut butter with chocolate candy cookies in the mix somewhere, too.



And, the final result (well, except for that last batch that is still cooling and goes in the top of each stocking). Josh asked me what I was going to label the photo as I took it a few minutes ago. His suggestion was "Those damn kids!" which is kind of cute. But I think "Santa's Workshop" is more appropriate.

It does make for one long day for me, constantly baking and cooling and wrapping and labeling. But it's well worth it. We're hopefully giving each of their teachers something nice that they can enjoy for the holidays, a little something to say thank-you for all the ways they help our boys every single day of the school year. Fresh baked cookies for them and their families to enjoy.

Happy holidays, and as I often tell them when I drop a batch off randomly throughout the year (note, one batch, not five), happy friday!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

School Days

Some photos of the boys at school today (special thanks to Mr. K, one of Xander's teachers, for sending the photos)!



Xander, getting ready to voice is immense displeasure that someone else is attempting to play with his blocks. He may not use a lot of words, but you get the idea. Indoor recess for all of the classes in the big hallway, what with the 50 mph winds and all today.



Happily playing, on his own, of course.



Forced interaction. Ms. J, one of Sawyer's teachers, trying to get the brothers to interact. Sawyer is willing. Xander, not so much. He tends to ignore Sawyer at school, to the point that he will walk right past him as though he's not even there. What identical twin brother?



Playing with (okay, along side) others. Small steps. Good things.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tasty Decorations



Before we left on our weekend adventure to the lake, the boys spent the afternoon with Grammy and Pappy and Louie (while Mommy was at work and Daddy was at class). Grammy brought over a fun holiday project for the boys to help her with during the day - a gingerbread house!

Connor got to help with the icing and the candy decorations, and even Xander joined in to help with the candies. Of course, they probably ate just as many as they put on the gingerbread house, but that's part of the fun, right?

Oh, and if you're wondering about Sawyer's contribution . . . well, he just wanted to sample it to make sure it was good enough to display. He kept pulling our trash can over to the counter (to use as a ladder, of course) and trying to eat it as fast as the others could make it. Imagine that.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Being Silly

What happens when you ask a five-year old and six-year old, respectively, to pose for a photo? Well, the six-year old knows how it's done. The five-year old, not so much.

This was one of the funniest groups of photos from the whole weekend. The progression on the camera had us all laughing out loud. So, for your entertainment . . .



Wow she's cute. Does it matter that she's my cousin? Of course, she's also a girl, and I'm so not touching her, so I'll just hold my hand under hers.



What is Uncle Brian doing? Isn't he her Daddy? Why on earth would he make me put my arm around her. Let me just cross my leg for no reason. And maybe choke her just a little for good measure. She can be a little bossy at six anyway.



What if I do a leg lift now? Will that make them laugh hard enough to stop taking pictures and let me get out of here. I sure hope so.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Traditions

Keepsake ornaments from Hallmark. One of the things we do each year is pick an ornament reflective of the boys or their interests for that time in their lives. Here are this year's picks (with assistance from Big Brother Connor, who picked his own for the first time this year)!



A yellow Fisher Price school bus of Little People for Xander. He is fascinated with the buses when we're in the car pool line at school. He says "Bus!" over and over again, constantly wondering when they're going to arrive. He also even repeats me when I say "In a minute!" if there are still buses left to arrive.



In the last year, the twins have actually started making their own choices when it comes to DVDs. They used to pick the exact same movie over and over (Chicken Little), but have now moved on to others. Sawyer's favorite the last few months have been the two Toy Story ones. Guess he's going to be excited next year when the third installment arrives!



And last, but not least. Big boy Connor's selection. Is it any surprise, really? He's had a slight Hot Wheels obsession of late. It also didn't matter that I told him he already had one Hot Wheels ornament from a previous year. Now he has two, and couldn't be happier!

It's a somewhat expensive tradition, but a fun one. Especially now that the boys are starting to show real interests and we're not just guessing about things they like!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Photo Flashback



This is how Connor used to sleep a lot when he was really little - arms sticking straight up in the air. (December 08, 2004)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Magic & Wonder

So even though Mommy may not have much Christmas spirit just yet, someone else in the family certainly has enough to go around. Connor couldn't be more excited about it this year if he tried.

Today was the big day . . . he got to go with Daddy to the tree farm down the road to pick out and cut down our Christmas tree!



Doesn't he look excited?



Standing in awe. He even helped with a few ornaments, though there were a few time outs for breaking (accidentally, of course) a few of them. Mommy even broke off part of one, which he was quick to point out.



The stockings are ready for presents, or so I hear.



So maybe we have a little Christmas spirit now. Christmas cards might even make it out next week.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Good & The Bad

The holidays are here. Part of me loves them, and another part of me hates them. Strong words, I know, but completely true. The holidays tend to be busy, stressful and pretty chaotic. None of those things are good for small children, especially our particular children. Order and routine mean more in our household than most, and this time of year just turns it all upside down.

Take last night, for example. Connor was not having a particularly good night when it came to listening or to behaving appropriately. It was really frustrating, having to constantly remind him of what he was supposed to be doing. The list is long . . . not talking while others were talking, not playing while we were listening to the story, using our inside voice while playing at the library, saying "please" and "thank you," sharing with others, and answering people when they asked questions of him. He had a lot of transgressions last night, as you can see. The other three boys were models of good behavior. They each had their little moments of maybe talking out of turn or needing help sharing, but on the whole, they were well behaved. My son, not so much.

Part of me really wanted to just pick him up and take him home. It's what he needed. But another part of me didn't want him to miss out on the last Book Club meeting of the year, especially the holiday one. And I didn't want to miss it either. It's a fun group of moms and kids, and we only get together about once a month. It's one of the special things Connor and I do together, so it's important. But his behavior was awful last night.

We had a pretty quiet ride home. He kept trying to talk and joke at first, but I didn't respond. I was thinking. Simmering, actually, because I was still disappointed in his behavior and trying to figure out what was going on. He's usually better behaved, especially on our one-on-one adventures.

And that's when it hit me, driving home in total silence. The kid was chattering, or trying to until I gave him "the look," just as he always does when he's trying not to fall asleep. He was exhausted and fighting every minute of it.

It started Thursday on Thanksgiving, with our twelve-hour day that included nearly five hours of driving and trips to two different unfamiliar places with lots of strange (at least to the kids) people and food. The very next day we packed up and headed to the lake for an overnight visit that included another two-hour drive each way, not to mention non-stop running and playing with his cousins who were also down visiting. Sugary drinks and sweets fueled the early mornings and late nights. And again on Sunday we traveled, spending almost three hours in the car to drive up and back to visit an old college friend and her little boy who live in another city. That's a lot to pack into four days.

The "normal" school week hasn't fared much better. He went to school early Monday, still dragging from the weekend, only to be picked up and taken out for lunch and some Christmas shopping. A few hours of play time at home and then it was off to birthday dinner in a nearby city with Grammy, Pappy and Grandma JoAnn. Tuesday morning included a play date with his best buddy from preschool, and then today has been school followed by lunch with Mommy and Daddy (a rare treat).

No wonder he isn't behaving very well. There's the excitement of Christmas and Santa, which means more to him this year than any of the previous ones. And there's so much going and going that he's not getting much down time. And, truth be told, he's really not getting nearly enough sleep either, between early morning wake-up calls (Sawyer and school days) and late-night bedtimes (traveling, celebrations and get-togethers). He is exhausted.

So, while I was not at all satisfied with his behavior last night, I do see where part of it is coming from. It hit me as we were driving home in relative silence for a change. And it helped me calm down enough to talk to him in the car before we went inside last night. We talked about all ways his behavior had fallen short, and how going to do fun things was a privilege that you get for being a "good boy" who is polite and who behaves the way he is supposed to behave. There were lots of tearful "Yes, M'ams" and "No, M'ams." And there was even a big hug to remind him that even when you're disappointed in the behavior, you still love the big boy.

And now Mommy has to work on her part. I have to remember to balance the fun things with the down time that the boys really need, especially this busy time of year. And I also have to be willing to follow through. Next time we're out, and the behavior continues to be unacceptable, we make our apologies and we go home. Even if that means I have to give up something I want to be doing, too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Club for Boys!



Tonight was our last Book Club for Boys meeting of the year, and it was a modified version. We met at a local library for story time and a tour by the librarian. The boys also got a chance to browse books, especially the pop-up ones on the tables, and to play with the assorted items in the children's area.

As an aside, Connor and I may have found a new library branch. Ours is close and convenient, but this one is much larger and has much more for him to do (on our Mommy & Me days out). Plus we'll be closer to different restaurants for lunch!

But, back to the Book Club. Each boy had been asked to bring two books, one wrapped for a book exchange with the other members and one unwrapped as a donation to the library. Our goal was to encourage reading with the boys and also to show them that sharing with others is a good thing to do during the holidays and throughout the year.

So, at the end of the tour, the boys gave the librarian the unwrapped books from their home collection, so that other children could enjoy it for a long time to come. And then we headed back to the house of the club organizer for the holiday party and the other part of our book exchange.

It was a fun night. The boys got to play and we got a chance to talk over some great food. Connor could have been a bit better behaved (more on that later), but all in all, it was a good night and a fun way to begin the holiday season!

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Day with Friends



Yesterday, Connor and I traveled to visit an old college friend and her little boy. The boys had a big time playing together, and the girls had a chance to visit and catch up.

After all of our traveling this weekend, Connor was even tired enough to fall asleep for more than half of the hour-and-a-half drive there. We arrived to find Zach still napping, so we headed downstairs where Connor played with some of his toys and Lavin and I got a chance to talk.

When Zach woke up, there was lots of playing with toys, inside and out, a little snacking, and even dinner out. We went to a little place called Jason's Deli, which was great. Then we came back for a little more playing and chatting before it was time for us to head back home.

Lots of traveling this weekend, but lots of good fun and lots of catching up with people we don't get to see as often as we'd like. What a good way to spend Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cousins at the Lake

A few days with cousins . . .



Connor and Austin trying to decide who's faster (I'll give you a hint, it's the one with the longer legs).



Connor and Kyndal having a big time in the old red wagon.



And the twins having fun alternately rocking on and running around the porch.

It's a hard life.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Photo Flashback



Sawyer, fascinated by the camera. (November 27, 2007)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Travel Time



Two tired little boys, napping on our way from Thanksgiving number one to Thanksgiving number two.



One tired little boy pretending to sleep, but not actually giving it up until about 9:30 on our way home from Thanksgiving number two.

Twelve hours away. Five hours of driving. Lots of food and family and fun. And five people really ready for bed once we finally made it back home! Buster, on the other hand, was ready to play!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Have Cookies, Will Travel



Who's ready for Thanksgiving? Sawyer says he is!

We do double duty, traveling to the western part of the state for lunch with Grandma's (my mother's) extended family and then back to the halfway point to do dinner with Grammy's (Josh's mother's) extended family. Five hours of driving. Two giant meals. Lots of relatives. One very long day.

With that in mind, we have to bring something ready-to-serve (no heating or refrigeration required), that travels well, and that will serve a lot of people. We opt for cookies, lots and lots of cookies!

It took four hours of baking and cooling, 4 pans for each batch (peanut butter with chocolate candies, chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin), and lots of butter, sugar and flour! I had helpers. And tasters, if you can imagine!