Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Total Access

It seems nothing in our house is "out of reach" anymore. It used to be that it was perfectly safe to let the little guys up at whatever ungodly hour they decided it was time to be awake, turn on PBS and let them go (so that you could, ahem, go back to bed).

Today, it was about 7 a.m. for Sawyer, at which time he proceeded to kick on his door for release. After my busy weekend away, including staying up late and getting up early the day before I drove six hours in the truck, I was still tired. I went back to bed, and stayed there for quite some time. Josh got up just a little while later, when Xander woke up sometime after 8 a.m.

And what did he find downstairs this morning after a few hours of unsupervised play? Not much out of the ordinary. PBS was playing in the background, and Sawyer's favorite toys were scattered around the living and play rooms.

There was, however, the empty M&M dispenser sitting ominously on the dining room table.

You see, in my sleep-deprived haste this morning, I had opted against getting Sawyer his milk and dry cereal (their usual early breakfast). He apparently was hungry and decided M&Ms would work just fine. We're not sure, but we estimate there were maybe 30 left in the dispenser, as it was mostly empty (thank goodness).

Oh well, at least he didn't attempt to put them inside any body parts this time, right?

Picture Pefect

The last four days were beautiful, in more ways than one. It was a much-needed weekend away from constantly caring for and driving my three little guys, a chance to catch up with a good friend (and her family) that I don't get to see nearly often enough, and a beautiful place to visit. It was also a lot of quiet time (in the car), which I don't get nearly enough of these days.

The visit itself was a series of college tours (The University of Virginia, Washington & Lee, and Virginia Military Institute), history (Monticello, The Jefferson Vineyards, W & L Museum, VMI Museum), lunches and dinners at uniquely local restaurants, and a chance to connect with one of my best and oldest friends.

I got to see the room where Edgar Allen Poe lived and wrote in college. I walked on the same floors that Thomas Jefferson once called home. I saw the final resting place of more national heroes than I can recall at this late hour. And I'm pretty sure I ran a red light or two in this remarkable little town that has traffic lights on little five foot posts on the corners of the street (that would definitely take some getting used to).

With more than 350 photos from the weekend, it's pretty safe to say it was a picture perfect place and time.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Blowing Bubbles

And lots of other fun things, too.

Last Friday, Connor and I met up with our friends Rebekah, John and James at the downtown children's museum for a morning of fun while the little guys were at school. You might also remember it as the "boat school," which is how Connor always references it.

We started out in the toddler area, which is contained. The boys all got wet, but that's to be expected (or it is now anyway, since I didn't think to mention it to Rebekah beforehand). Connor enjoyed hoarding all the toys. John was pretty happy with a toy shark, and little James had the most fun - drinking all the water out of a cup! It was quite cute, though I'm sure he had a pretty soggy diaper by the end of the morning!

We eventually left the safety of the contained area and spent the rest of our time chasing after three little boys who never seemed to be interested in the same thing at all! There was some time with the fresh market and the John Deere Gator, where of course they all wanted to drive. There was time on the horses and with the boats on the river display (hence, "the boat school").

And we even made it upstairs, to watch balls circle the vortex, step on the "Big" piano, and watch our shadows on the wall. The boys walked on the moon and rode in a spaceship, they played with a maze game on the side of the wall. And finally, they played with bubbles. John is pictured above, making a bubble around himself and blowing it out. There are several different areas and the waterproof flooring is always covered in a soapy film from all the fun.

It's actually a pretty cool place, if you've never been. I'm pretty sure all the boys would recommend it to you. And with all the contained areas, it's also parent friendly (special thanks to Miss April who recommended it to us, back in the days of developmental therapy!)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Snaphot Sunday

Baby Claire enjoying the fresh green grass in front of the Colonnade at Washington & Lee University, her Daddy's alma mater and her Mommy's current employer. This spot is directly in front of the campus chapel where Haley and David got married almost five years ago.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Picture Perfect

Monticello, the house of Thomas Jefferson, reflected in the water.

This weekend I'm in Virginia, visiting my old college roommate and her family. Today was a girls' day to Charlottesville, where we toured the University of Virginia (where Haley received her doctorate, defending her dissertation while nine months pregnant, no less). We stopped for lunch at the Biltmore Grill at The Corner on campus.

And no trip to the area would be complete without stopping by the historic sites. Our first stop was a visit to Monticello, where we toured the house and grounds. We drove past Ash Lawn - Highland, the home of James Monroe. And we even stopped by the Jefferson Winery for a little wine tasting and souvenir shopping (wine and glasses counts, right?).

We finished our day by heading down to the Downtown Mall where we took in the sights and shops. The rain eventually scared us off, so we headed back to the car and did some shopping and another meal out. We completely took advantage of David, who was back home with baby Claire. Good man that he is, he didn't seem to mind.

A long, but good day of visiting and sight-seeing.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Photo Flashback

We're going way back this week, as in half of my life back, in honor of Spring Break! This is me at 15, if you can believe it. This was my first and favorite real bikini. I, of course, got it the year after my brother graduated, and I was no longer following him and his very cute older friends on their annual baseball trip to Florida. So it goes . . . (Spring Break 1993)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Road Trips (Yes, Plural)

Tonight was a first. Connor and I simultaneously packed our respective bags. We're both leaving for the weekend, but we're headed in different directions.

Spring Break is here, which means all the kids are out of school after tomorrow for a whole week. And like any other period of time where Connor doesn't have school (you know, the kind you pay for), he has plans. Big plans. And so do I. That leaves Josh and the little guys at home to fend for themselves for a few days.

Grandma and Grandpa are coming up tomorrow for Connor. He will go back and spend a few days at the lake with them, and then they will all go off on another mountain adventure early next week. And do you want to know the first thing my son said, when he heard about the mountain part (a recently added bonus to the overall trip)?

I had casually mentioned he was going to take his life jacket on this trip - he's been asking for weeks about taking it to the lake. You see, he's ready to go boating again. He cannot stop talking about Grandpa's boat in the basement (which is also their garage). It's not quite that warm in our part of the world yet, but there will be a pool in the mountains. So I told him he would get to go swimming at the pool. And what was his response?

"No, not the pool. Not yet. I ride race cars first! Go really fast!"

Ah, yes. We must have our priorities. And for him, the mountains means several things. Race cars, obviously. Swimming pools. Playgrounds. Popcorn and coke. Full, undivided attention and play buddies in Grandma and Grandpa. Trolley rides. Good times, essentially. And I'm sure Grandma and Grandpa will be accommodating. He can be sweet and charming when he wants to be, after all, and he's a grandson. You're supposed to spoil them, right? So that's Connor's adventure.

My adventure just happens to fall at the same time. It is that blessed and rare opportunity to have a weekend away. All by myself. I'm going to visit my old college roommate, Haley, and her family for the weekend. I have a six hour drive both ways that will include listening to music of my choice and that other rare thing in my life - silence. I cannot wait.

So our bags are all packed and neither one of us is going to sleep well tonight. We're too excited!

I'll Have the Eggs

My four-year old has long loved breakfast. Bacon, sausage, pancakes, eggs, you name it and he will devour it. It's nothing for him to eat four or five pieces of bacon at a time, in addition to his eggs and other foods. He can also put away at least three pieces of sausage in one sitting. He likes his breakfast.

It should come as no surprise that today when I asked him what he wanted for lunch, he said eggs. Lunch has become a somewhat special affair these days, with the little guys in school now, it's just the two of us. We sometimes go out, but more often than not we come home and we make a special treat out of it.

So I asked him again, just to be sure. Sometimes he does just start naming every food he can think of (he's four, you know). But no, he definitely wanted eggs. Fried ones, not scrambled. So I shrugged my shoulders and said why not. I got out the small frying pan and made us some eggs. We had some leftover sausage in the refrigerator from a few nights ago, and some leftover cinnamon rolls from this morning (he usually doesn't wake up in time to eat much before he has to be at school at 9). And that was lunch. He ate two whole pieces of sausage, most of two eggs, two cinnamon rolls and a big glass of chocolate milk.

It could have been worse, you know. We've all been on a Dr. Seuss kick lately, what with his recent birthday meaning books on sale and lessons at school, and I bet you can guess his favorite one of all.

Yes. Green Eggs and Ham.

Like I said, it could have been worse. I'm pretty sure I don't have any green food coloring just laying around. And I'm also pretty sure than when it came down to it, he probably wouldn't really eat green eggs or green ham.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Swim Lessons

Last night, Josh took Connor to his swim lessons. I think he sometimes feels left out of the fun parts of parenting, you know, with the whole working all the time and worrying about supporting all of us.

So naturally, on his night, he comes home with the best story of all.

The kids were going along well with their swimming lessons. There are six in the class, three girls and three boys (including Connor). Suddenly, one of the little boys decides he needs to potty. So he does. He stands up on the edge of the pool, pulls his shorts down, and proceeds to pee into the pool - right where all the other kids are!

The instructor is young, either late high school or early college probably, and probably was at a loss of what exactly to do. She simply moved the class down to a "cleaner" area of the kiddie pool and continued on. Points for composure, I guess. And, of course, this indoor pool is so heavily chlorinated that it probably didn't really hurt anything, but still. Yuck.

Apparently the boy got chastised and removed by his mother, who came shortly thereafter, obviously from somewhere within view (the pool is in a large fitness facility with lots of glass separating it from the other areas, so she could have been watching but not necessarily close enough to stop his little trick).

That's what I missed. And I'm not exactly sorry I wasn't there. Because last time, I waded in the edges and let Connor swim for a while after lessons. I don't think I would have been up for that last night. It didn't bother Connor though, because he played on as usual. He tough that way.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Favorite

Sleepyhead, that is. This is his usual sleep position, sucking on his thumb and clutching the sheet in a tight grip in his free hand.

Did I mention that this one often has trouble waking up and getting ready before preschool beings . . . at 10:35 in the morning. He gets that naturally of course, since both of his parents enjoy sleeping in as often as they can manage it.

And if you're wondering how on earth I managed an aerial shot of my sleepyhead, it's because you've never been to our house. His room, also known as the former guest bedroom, has an open wall where the steps go to the third floor bonus room from the hallway. You can sneak up the steps and peek in on him without actually going into his room!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Leave for One Second . . .

And all their clothes come off, apparently.

Actually, last night the boys had spaghetti for dinner. They fed themselves. And they were only wearing their short sleeve white t-shirts, because it had gotten warm late in the day and they were overdressed. So this was the result.

Josh was in charge of the little guys dinner last night (I was busy setting up his Facebook page, and mine, so we could see his brother's adventures in Hawaii). He thought stripping them down was the smartest thing to do, since they were covered in spaghetti sauce from head to toe.

The clothes are still upstairs soaking. Just in case. (Yes, they were that red with sauce).

Oh, and points if you know which twin is sitting and which one is tip-toeing (Hint, look at the legs).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Quoted & Noted

My four-year old is Mr. Personality. No, really.

His new catch phrase is "I sorry" and it usually prefaces another snide comment. It is also accompanied by his characteristic shoulder shrug.

So, here is one example from yesterday afternoon while playing with our neighbor. In the way that kids often do, it appeared that both were trying to one-up each other on everything that was said. I had asked Carmen about her school and she was telling us her teacher's name. Connor listened intently to everything that she said and was usually quick to respond with something of his own. To her teacher's name, he offered the following:

"I sorry," insert shoulder shrug and his most condescending look ever here. "My teachers are Miss Julie and Miss Crystal." And the tone implied that they are, in fact, the best teachers ever and your teacher cannot remotely compare.

Carmen tried to tell us about her friends that she plays with at school, doing a rather cute little made-up cheer of all their names. My son, also listening again, added the following:

"I sorry, my friends are Ashton and Bennett and Kyler." Again with the shoulder shrug and look of contempt for her friends. He even said it twice, as if for emphasis.

He also employs this unfortunate little tactic with us.

Now that he's outsmarted the child proof door knobs, he has access to all of the gum and candy that is stored in what used to be the safety of the pantry. Every morning we come down to find him happily chomping on a piece of gum. And in the interest of full disclosure, he actually doesn't do any harm with it. He merely chews it and then spits it in the trashcan. But, he's also been told that he must ask first to get anything out of the pantry. Cup of milk from the refrigerator, yes. Anything in the pantry, no. He knows this. He had gum again this morning, and upon being questioned, his response was as follows:

"I sorry," (shoulder shrug - I think it's automatic at this point). "I just needed some chewing gum."

Whatever he's doing, especially if he's doing something that he not only is not supposed to be doing but that he knows he's not supposed to be doing, gets some version of that response.

"I sorry, I was just checkin' on somethin'!" is for when he's out in the garage without permission.

"I sorry, I just needed some Coke!" is for when he drinks the open Coke that we've accidentally left within his reach.

"I sorry, I needed my (insert any toy or item in the pantry) right now!"

"I sorry, I not ready to go bed yet. I play a while."

And, well, you get the idea.

Attitude at four. Fun times.

Snapshot Sunday, Part II

Life doesn't get any better. I know there were lots of photos from our trips (yes, plural) to the park this week, but this one was far and away my favorite. He loved this swing (truth be told, so does Mommy), and he spent a lot of time just twisting and turning and begging to go faster and higher. That's what childhood is all about, that look of pure joy on his face.

Snapshot Sunday

Early rise. Just one more reason I hate the time change. I'm up before the fog clears and the sun rises (and if you know me, you know I'm not a morning person). Loved the photo though, with the sun filtering through the trees and the fog, and how nice that we live in a typical subdivision with about 10 feet between houses and still have this view out the front of our house (that field will eventually be houses or condos or something, I'm sure, but not in this economy).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Signs of Spring

Today we took the boys out to enjoy the nice weather. It wasn't quite the 70s of last week, but it wasn't too bad with their sweatshirts on.

First, we all took a walk around the block. And shock of all shocks, Sawyer led the way. Either Xander wasn't feeling like himself, or having Daddy along prodded Sawyer more than I ever could. Because he kept the lead the whole time, even factoring in all of his stops and backtracks to check out the particularly reflective windows and doors (his favorite part of the walk, of course).

Second, the boys and I spent a few hours outside in the yard on the play set. And they even got a special treat, as our neighbors were out and their little girl started watching the boys through the fence. She covets the boys' play set, so we invited her over to enjoy the afternoon with us. Connor always likes it when she comes over to play. She's older, by about two years, so she's a bit advanced for our boys. But Connor likes to follow her around and play whatever games she suggests. He did get a bit tired trying to catch her in their multiple games of tag, so he eventually quit on her mid-game. But he had fun, following her to the swings and the slide and the rings.

Xander pretty much ignored her, except when she got a little pushy with the rings he was playing with at the time. He, of course, pushed right back. Never mind that she's a lot taller and bigger than he is, he couldn't have cared less. We're going to have some issues with his temper, I think, as he gets older.

But the biggest shock of all was Sawyer's reaction to her. He loved having her over. He kept walking up to her and hugging on her, which I've never seen him do with anyone. He was like a lovesick teenager, grinning at her every time that he saw her come into view. And he even tried to pinch on her, one of his unusual signs of affection (that most people aren't real fond of, since the little guy is pretty strong). Carmen took it all in stride, letting him hug and pinch to his heart's content and even encouraging him. She has a baby brother, you see, and enjoys the big sister role.

It was definitely cute to watch. My little man, who usually does his own thing and never seems all that interested in what others are playing or doing. He was interested today. It just takes an older woman, apparently.

It's nice to see signs of spring, because we're definitely ready to get out and see a bit more of the world. And if two of my boys have their way, more of the neighbors!

Good . . . and Not So Good

The older Connor gets, the more things he can do. And that's a good thing, most of the time.

For instance, he's completely potty trained. Oh, how we wish his little brothers would show any interest in that. He can get himself up and downstairs to play in the morning without assistance. The little guys are still locked in, just because they don't understand danger as well, and we're worried about them doing things like playing on the steps or in the laundry room or the bathrooms. But not Connor, he's learned that as long as he behaves, he can have a bit of freedom.

He can even get himself a drink out of the refrigerator (if we've left a sippy cup in the right place). He's very good about putting his cup back in when he's finished, simply because he likes being a big boy who can get in and out of the refrigerator. Of course, it also means he can pick up an open Coke and help himself (and trust me, he does).

So, the down side is that at the ripe old age of four, basically all of the child safety devices have become useless. The door knob covers, he knows how to squeeze and turn (and these sometimes baffle the childless adults who visit our house and try to get in the bathroom). The upside is he can potty all by himself even while we keep the doors closed to keep his brothers from playing in there during the day. The bad news is he can open the pantry and get into the chewing gum or the toys that used to be off limits. He can also open the door into the garage, to "check on things," as he likes to tell us.

He also knows how to open all the baby gates (and climb over the ones that don't open). He knows to pull a chair over to something he can't reach and climb up. He can answer the phone, and often does if no one is around to stop him. He knows just about everything (at least he thinks so, anyway)!

One by one, he's pretty much got it all figured out. And while he's pretty good about minding most of the time, there are those other moments . . . just what we need to make our life more interesting, right? How long before we come downstairs to find him sipping on his own Coke and surrounded by chewing gum and fruit snack wrappers? It's coming, I'm sure . . .

Friday, March 20, 2009

Photo Flashback

Yes, he still gives us that look a lot. It's the "Do what I want, now!" look.
(March 20, 2005)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Tricks, New Tortures

If you happen to live near us and you heard screaming tonight, please don't be alarmed.

You see, my big boy has discovered that he can climb to the top of the fence in our yard. What he doesn't do so well, is come back down. After yesterday's adventure, he jumped down and got a hand full of splinters (okay, two fingers, but there are probably at least 10 total splinters in those two fingers).

He complained about it at the time, but was easily distracted by playing and eating snacks. He remembered it today, and it actually looked worse.

So, we gave him an extra long bath to soak in, and then Daddy attempted to remove the splinters first with tweezers and second with nail clippers (they're all fairly close to the top of the skin, but unfortunately right in the bend of his fingers). Some came out. Some didn't.

There were lots of tears and lots of screams (really loud and really pitiful ones). Of course, most of the screams came in anticipation of what was to come rather than what was actually taking place. We settled for getting about half out tonight. We'll try another long bath and extraction again tomorrow.

What we did get was a tearful promise not to climb on the fence any more. And a tearful recap.

"Daddy cut my fingers. It hurts. I cried." He told me this, as though I hadn't been sitting beside of him through the entire ordeal (helping to restrain him from jerking said hand away).

It was rather pitiful to watch him, even though we knew he was more scared than actually in pain. It was also hard not to laugh, because he kept jerking his hand away and said "Just leave them in! I like them in!" in the most pitiful of screams you have ever heard.

Poor kid. I really don't think he'll be climbing any fences, at least not for a while.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It Won't Last

But we'll take what we can get. Another beautiful day in our part of the world, though it's supposed to drop about 20 degrees tomorrow. We enjoyed it while it lasted.

Connor and I met up with Aunt Kelly at the park this morning while the little guys were in school (two days in a row, I know, we're really not helping his entitlement issues at all). He spent nearly three hours playing (we did take a break for some KFC picnic lunch).

Some of my favorite photos of all the boys, enjoying our afternoon in the yard on the playset (after we picked up the little guys from school), are below.

Special thanks to Grandma and Grandpa at the lake for the boys new summer shirts - we broke them in for this beautiful weather today (the shorts will have to wait a bit longer, I'm afraid)!

Ring man. Still going strong late in the day, even after hours and hours of playing and no down time (much less a nap)!

SawBaby, thinking about swinging. He LOVES to swing, just not by himself. And Mommy's hips are just a little too wide for the kid swings, so he only gets to enjoy it in brief moments.

Another ring man. He actually stays on the slide most of the time, but every once in a while, he comes over for a little hang time. He also likes to swing with Mommy, if her hips are willing!

Here's hoping your afternoon was just as much fun!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

These Are the Days

While the babies are away (at school), Connor will play . . .

At the bottom of the fast slide . . .

Being cute . . .

Coming down the really fast slide . . .

Another fast one (just a lot smaller) . . .

On top of the world (or a play airplane) . . .

It was a beautiful day in our part of the world, and Connor and I decided a trip to the park was in order. The little guys still had an hour of school, and we had an hour to ourselves. These are the days . . .

Monday, March 16, 2009

Play Friends

Today after school (yes, the little guys made it through the whole day for a change), the boys and I headed over to visit with one of my old friends and her two kids. Connor was excited from the moment I mentioned we might be going over to play with Bailey and Jake. He didn't stop asking about them until we pulled into their driveway, and even then he was still impatient.

Of course, he wouldn't hardly talk to them for the first 10 minutes after we got there, but he eventually warmed up. Bailey is just a little bit younger than he is, she turns four in a couple of weeks. And the two are so much alike that it's a wonder they can get along, but they do. I think they take turns bossing each other around, because both like to have things their own way. They spent most of the afternoon upstairs in Bailey's room, doing who knows what, and only came downstairs every once in a while, probably to make sure we weren't having more fun than they were with the rest of the kids. My favorite was when they pulled out the play guitars and started chanting "I'm in a rock band!" over and over again while they pretended to play their guitars. Very cute.

Jake was such a cutie, walking around alternately banging on his drums for much of the time saying "Bop! Bop! Bop!" or shaking his maracas. He was content to either follow Bailey and Connor around or simply to play with his mom while we sat around and talked. My little guys were in awe of all the toys in the play room - how many they had all in one place and all the different ones that we don't have at our house.

Sawyer was content to stack up Play-Doh containers, play with their magnetic letters (imagine that) and play with a big (for him anyway) exercise ball. Xander was into the trains (when Bailey and Connor gave it up to go upstairs), the exercise ball, some gears that turned on a magnetic board, and occasionally the maracas, if he could catch them when Jake put them down.

It was a fun, if a little loud, afternoon. It's always good to let the kids play with other people their own age, and Mommy certainly loves to catch up with her friends, too. Between kids and work and life, that doesn't always happen as often as we'd like. But, we follow each other's blogs to keep up with the details, and we make the most of our afternoons when they do work out.

And how cute was Connor, who was saying "I miss Bailey, Jake!" before we were even out of their driveway. He kept saying it over and over again, the whole way home. "I miss Bailey, Jake!" in the saddest and most pitiful of voices. I think it's safe to say he had a great time, and I'm pretty sure the little guys did, too. No real tears or fussing until the very end, when they were just getting a bit tired and hungry. That's about as much as you can expect from them at this stage.

A nice way to start the week - whole days at school with good reports from their teachers and a fun afternoon play date for all of the boys (and Mommy)!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Two of the three like to fly. Connor thought it looked like fun, too, but when it came to his turn, he held on for dear life (to Daddy's shirt). And please ignore the birthday balloon on the ceiling - it's been there since Josh's birthday in early February. It will eventually float down (we hope).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Quoted & Noted

"No pat brothers," he huffed at me. "That's not very nice!"

The boys and I were on our way home from the other side of the state, having celebrated my grandmother's 93rd birthday this weekend. We had stopped about midway home, to get some gas in the truck, and I was trying to get a drink out of the cooler that was sitting in front of Sawyer. And he thought it was fun to kick Mommy the whole time she was trying to get her drink (not exactly helpful). So the "pat" was actually a swat at his little leg, you know, the one that kept kicking me even after several verbal requests to stop. The verbal didn't do so much. The "pat" did. He stopped kicking and started whimpering. And that's where big brother stepped in.

"No pat brothers. That's not very nice! Be nice to brothers!"

Mommy looked at him and explained that sometimes Mommy does "pat" her boys, especially when they're doing something that's not very nice and when they won't stop when Mommy asks them to. Like when they're doing things that are hurtful to others (say kicking them) or when they're not listening and minding the people who are taking care of them.

That one hit home, I'm sure.

Last weekend Grammy told us a story about Connor. On their trip to the zoo, he was having a hard time listening to Grammy. He kept wandering off, which was scary since the zoo was extremely crowded (first warm Saturday of the season) and they also had Great Grandma Kitty with them, who was in a wheel chair for such a long journey. Grammy had to "pat him on the bottom" and he didn't think too much of that at all. I believe his exact words (quoted by Grammy) were:

"Grammy no pat Connor on the bottom. It's not nice to pat on the bottom. Grammy be nice!"

And through it all, you must see the pitiful face that accompanies such words. There's the pouty lower lip and the really big, sad eyes. And the normally loud voice turns soft and sad.

Oh, he's good at, let me tell you. But don't let him fool you. The minute he gets his way he's back to doing what you just asked him not to do.

And if you're wondering, everyone was well for the rest of our trip home today. Sawyer's whimpering stopped the minute we were back in motion (his attention once again focused on Boog and Elliott from Open Season - the drive is a little over two hours each way, with only a few hours in between). Connor forgot about "patting" anyone and went back to jabbering about anything and everything, and Xander simply continued sleeping. A typical, though not necessarily peaceful, drive home.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Home Again

It's been a rough week for our two little school boys (and for Mommy)! Today is the second day I opted to keep them home this week, not counting the days they came home early (which would mean four incomplete days out of five).

This morning, they slept in until after 9 a.m. again, and Xander was dragging even after coming downstairs at that late hour. They eventually both started snacking and playing, almost as though it was just too early to be awake. Xander still has a cough, but otherwise both seemed well.

But I decided better safe than sorry. Why not give them the weekend and see if they can get rid of their lingering colds once and for all and just start fresh. It has to be better than having them at school being miserable and making everyone around them miserable, too.

I only worry about what this week has done to them and hope that it hasn't taught them the lesson that if you complain loud and long enough, you can go home. Xander has fought school from the beginning, only recently settling into a pretty decent routine. Will this week set him back? Sawyer has been absolutely loving it once he got used to being dropped off, eager and excited when I tell them it's time to go in the mornings. Will that excitement come back any time soon, or at all? Who knows.

I do know that they have not particularly enjoyed their day at home today. Let's just say it involved several things that they're not fond of - liking trimming their hair, cutting their nails (fingers and toes), and cleaning their ears - all things that require a lot of restraints in order to be accomplished. Once I saw that they were eating and playing just like normal, I decided why not. It needed to be done, and maybe, just maybe, they would think going back to school might not be all that bad.

Good times.

Photo Flashback

The first baby of the family, Buster Brown, who turned six yesterday. We still get that pitiful look, only it's on a much larger head now. He was 12 lbs. when we first got him. Now he's about 165 lbs., and that's small for a male English Mastiff! (April 25, 2003, his first day home)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

And They're Back

We took the wait and see approach with Sawyer today, thinking he might snap out of it his bad mood after lunch when they started on activities that he usually enjoys. Not so much. His teacher called back shortly after lunch and he was still not happy and giving her a hard time (basically wanting to be held and bounced, you know, the whole time). I decided better safe than sorry and went back to get him. And since I was there, I checked on Xander and found him half-asleep in his class.

So, they both came home early again (rather than me coming back 35 minutes later to get Xander at normal pick-up time, with an unhappy Sawyer in tow). And then they both tried to play once we got home. Mommy was having none of it. If we come home early from school for not feeling well, then we nap. It took Xander a little while, but he eventually fell asleep. Sawyer was mad that I left his room, but he, too, fell asleep within less than 30 minutes of our arrival. And they slept.

And slept. For five hours. Xander would have kept sleeping, if I hadn't woken him up. Sawyer may have went back to sleep, because he was also still laying in bed (though jabbering, which is how I knew someone had woken up in the first place).

Then they came downstairs and snacked (dry cereal and juice). And played. They passed on most of their dinner, but requested more snacks (more dry cereal and juice) a short while later. Then they played some more. They were not ready to go back to bed, at 9 p.m., several hours past their usual bedtime (since they usually don't nap). They did anyway.

And I still don't know the right answer. Are they still sick? Are they just trying to get out of going to school? Some combination of both? With the way they were behaving after their nap today, I would say they were fine. But that ridiculously long nap? Sick, tired, the time change, overwhelmed by their new schedule of school every day . . . who knows.

Tomorrow we start again, and we see what the day brings.

Another Day

Yesterday it was Xander who wasn't happy to be at school. Today it was Sawyer. His little face puckered up the minute he saw me getting back into the truck and apparently he didn't stop crying until lunch time, over an hour later. Of course, Xander may feel the same way, I haven't talked to his teacher today. Yet.

One of the hardest things about the twins is their lack of communication. It's so hard to guess what they're feeling and what they're going to be willing to do. Yes, I know that both of them are recovering from being sick. Fevers over the weekend and a lingering cough and cold through the week. And I've struggled every day about whether they should or shouldn't go to school. Part of me says I cannot keep them home every time they have a cold, because then they would never, ever go to school. They seem to keep some cold symptom all winter long, whether it's a runny nose or a cough. Part of me worries about making them worse and getting the other people sick, too.

In the end, I keep sending them. Mostly because they seem fine when they are at home. They eat and drink and play. Those have always been my cues of when they're really not feeling well. First they stop eating, sometimes they avoid milk or drinking altogether, and then they stop playing. They're just kind of there, and pitiful. They've been none of those things this week. Their appetites are still not what I would call normal, but they're eating. They've been drinking, including milk. And they've been playing just like any other normal day.

But get them both to school, and they seem to be shutting down. Protest of school? Well enough to play at home but not at school? Sick or stubborn? I just don't know anymore. They're still there right now, but who knows what the afternoon will bring. And what are they learning, except that if they cry enough someone comes and takes them back home (where they often jump down, grin and start playing)!

So it goes. Just another day in the life . . .

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

School Boys

In case you were wondering, they both went to school today. There were no phone calls or early pick-ups. There were no notes of problems or illness. One of them, however, was screaming as he made his way out to the car pool area. Guess which one?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Swim Lessons

Another Tuesday, another night at the pool. Connor was still shy with his teacher and his class at first, not moving off the edge of the wall for the first 5 minutes. He quickly caved, the call of the water too tempting, and was jumping off the wall with a big splash (over and over and over again).

We also stayed for a bit after, just to let him play a little more (30 minute lessons are not nearly long enough, he insists). These two were my favorite. He loves to wait for the buckets to dump water down . . .

Waiting with his swim board . . .

Ducking and covering when the water actually starts to fall (and how cool is it that my new camera actually caught it mid-fall!)


Does he look sick to you? He looks sneaky (and guilty) to me. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Better, and Not

So, the kids seemed better this morning.

Even after a rough night, which mostly involved them being somewhere they simply did not wish to be. Last night was a farewell dinner, of sorts, for Uncle Luke. He's moving to Hawaii next week, pursuing a life-long dream. We went to Grammy and Pappy's for dinner, and also to pick Connor back up (who had been enjoying a really long extended vacation with Grammy, Pappy and Aunt Kelly).

The little guys were not in the mood. And by not in the mood, I mean they were ridiculously whiny and pitiful. Xander wanted to be held and rocked only by me, and then promptly fell sound asleep. Despite the noise that continued from his brother. Sawyer threw one of the worst fits we've seen from him in a really, really long time. Over an hour of crying and screaming and attempting to drag us to the door to leave before he, too, finally gave in and fell sound asleep, clutching on to Mommy for dear life even in his sleep.

So, they seemed better this morning. Sawyer was awake at around 8:30 a.m., which felt ungodly early thanks to the recent time change. As soon as I went into his room, he took my hand and started leading me down the hallway and down the stairs. He was ready to play. He went for his magnetic letters and was content to play and drink his juice (no milk, just in case).

Xander was a different story. He slept in until I woke him about 9:45 a.m. He wanted to be carried downstairs (not all that uncommon for my sleepyhead), but then proceeded to lay down on the cold wood floor and just look pitiful. For about 15 minutes. Then he was up, dragging me to the refrigerator and requesting milk (which I wasn't so sure about given the laying on the floor like a sick person act he'd just given me). But he pushed away both types of juice and Sprite (just in case). He wanted milk. And he proceeded to drink to full sippy cups, without incident. He also ate some of the dry cereal I had offered. He eventually found the magnetic letters and was playing like normal.

I was torn. Were they well enough for school, or should I keep them home another day? Sawyer seemed completely fine and I was pretty decided he was fine to go. I just couldn't tell about Xander. He seemed fine, after that first few minutes on the floor. Was that just him being sleepy and needing to wake up a minute? Or did he still not feel well? I was leaning toward keeping him home, just to be safe.

And then I started packing stuff up to take Sawyer. When I didn't get Xander's backpack down to go too, he threw a fit. He started trying to pull it (and the shelf it was hanging from) off the wall. Was this a sign that he wanted to go to school? I quickly packed him a lunch, too, and put it in the car. I was still undecided. I thought I would wait and see what his reaction was at the carpool drop off. If he's not in the mood for school, he's not bashful about telling you. He screams and arches back when you try to unbuckle him from the car seat. He did neither of those things. He hopped right down and came over to the door without even having to be asked (unusual for him, even). I took that to mean he wanted to go. I handed them off, giving a bit of warning to the teacher who helped them in that I would be happy to come back if they started acting the least bit off. She assured me they would call if necessary, but the boys seemed fine. They were walking in just as they should be, with no tears and no apparent unhappiness about me leaving.

Before the day was up, I had not one but two different phone calls from school. The first one came while I was picking Connor up from school. He was not happy, as I had just mentioned that we might go out for lunch together. Xander was not feeling well, laying around in class and not eating or participating. The second call came just a few minutes before it was time to pick up Sawyer from school anyway. He had been fine all day, even ate most of his lunch, and then he decided to throw another screaming fit for the last 20 minutes of the day. And his teacher was more concerned because it wasn't his usual tired and irritated cry, it seemed more intense.

Xander, while indeed laying on the floor and looking pitiful when Connor and I stopped in to get him, proceeded to jabber at us all the way home in the truck and then jump out of the truck. Not walk, not crawl, not beg to be carried inside (as his pitifulness would have suggested). He jumped. And then laughed. He came in, immediately had me at the refrigerator for more milk and then at the pantry for dry cereal of his choosing (not Apple Jacks or Honey Comb or Trix, but Crunch Berries). He ate and drank and proceeded to play and dance to Word World.

Sawyer, clutching hard to his teacher and crying his most pitiful of injured cries, came willingly into my arms and stopped crying. He put his head on my shoulder while I talked for a few minutes with his teacher, then climbed directly into his car seat when I got him to the truck. He came home, walked inside by himself and immediately started playing with his letters and trying to get me to turn the television on.

And that's when I did what any mother would do.

I carried each one of them upstairs to their own rooms, put them in bed, and closed the door behind me on my way out. A little bit of lingering sickness, possibly. A lot tired and in need of more rest, probably. Stubborn and wanting to be at home, definitely. Little monsters.

Connor went too, if you're wondering. He begged to stay in bed before his school this morning, the product of several busy fun-filled days (in the yard, riding his PowerWheels car, at the zoo, at the park, back to the park, and, well, you get the idea). I'm sure there were also several late nights, perhaps even some popcorn and coke, on his extended vacation. He needs his rest. After all, we have swimming lessons tonight before his other grandparents come to pick him up tomorrow for another extended vacation.

But that's another story . . . right now Mommy is going to go enjoy the sunshine and the peace after a chaotic morning.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Unfortunate Odds

Three boys. Three classrooms. Roughly 50 chances to bring sickness back into our house.

It started sometime on Saturday, when I noticed that the little guys' temperatures were running a bit higher than normal. That, in an of itself, is not uncommon and not much cause for alarm. But add to it their lack of energy and their lack of appetite, and it wasn't looking very good. They spent most of yesterday either sleeping or sitting, neither of which is normal for them. They also maybe had two glasses of juice each. And nothing else.

Today they are on the mend. They're drinking a bit more, even sampling a few foods here and there. There are moments of play in between the moments of resting. And they're jabbering again. Good signs, all.

We'll have to wait and see if they're ready for school tomorrow. I kept them home today, not wanting to make them any worse or risk getting the other kids sick either. It's a vicious cycle, I'm sure . . .

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Two of my boys playing in the sunlight. A third, rather annoying one, is blurred out on the left. Connor just couldn't stand Xander getting more attention than he was, so he kept edging into the photo despite repeated requests to move (and the numerous shots I had just taken of him a few minutes before).

Xander has become interested in Buster all of the sudden, and he keeps climbing up on his back like a horse (not exactly a good idea, since he's already had two ACL surgeries on those back knees, but at least he's laying down). And thank goodness he's a "gentle giant," who has never minded the random torture of three little boys who like to climb and poke and pull at times.

I actually took this photo last Sunday, but didn't get around to downloading or editing the images until Monday. And it's been hard to hold it all week, because I loved the final result so much!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Divide & Conquer

Five family members. Three different locations.

Josh has been away at his annual boys' weekend for a fitness conference and UFC fight. Connor talked his way into an extended vacation with Grammy, Pappy and Aunt Kelly (or perhaps Daddy, feeling guilty, talked them into it). That left the little guys stuck at home with Mommy, except for today's visit to the lake. Divide and conquer, right?

We got to enjoy the weather and visit with Grandma and Grandpa for the afternoon. Here are the two best shots of the day . . .

Love that careless expression. He had a big time just climbing and sitting on Grandpa's three-wheeler (or actually, Mommy and Uncle Brian's old three-wheeler from a long ago Christmas gift). Of course, it probably would have freaked him out if we'd actually started it.

Xander still doesn't think much of the camera. This was the best I could get of him. Most of the ones in good sunlight were of the back of his head. Here, he was waiting to go back inside the basement and find another ball or toy to bring out. He wasn't too impressed with the three-wheeler (and Sawyer didn't give him much of a chance anyway).

Friday, March 6, 2009

Around the Block

As the boys get a little bit older, the strollers are becoming more and more obsolete. Don't get me wrong, we still use them quite a bit, especially when it's necessary to contain them (like for running errands, trips to the pediatrician's office, or taking the puppy for his walk).

But, if you give them their choice, they prefer to walk.

And when we can, we encourage that. Sooner or later, they're going to have to learn to listen when we say things like "wait" or "slow down" or "come on" - they will eventually outgrow the strollers altogether. The only bad thing about letting them walk is that the two little guys, while pretty much identical on the outside, have totally opposite personalities, especially when it comes to walking.

Xander is always really excited to go for a walk, and he walks as fast as his little legs will carry him. He's usually several yards ahead and is constantly asked to "wait" or "slow down" so that his brother can catch up. He doesn't do so patiently. It's just not in him, with his quick flash of temper and constant energy.

Sawyer also loves to walk, but like so many things, he likes to do it in his own time and in his own way. He's slower, taking time to look around and study things a bit more. He also likes to back track, to go back and see things once or twice more before he moves on. He is especially partial to the way light reflects off of glass, like storm doors or windows. He cannot get enough. All while Xander continues to pace away.

It's hard to reconcile those differences. And it won't always be just in the walk around the block.

Photo Flashback

Just in case you were wondering if his tongue has always stuck out that way. It has. (March 04, 2007)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Going, Going, Gone

Sometimes I'm a bit envious of one of my boys. He just goes and goes and goes, all day long. And then he stops, dead in his tracks, just stops. And it's amazing to watch it happen.

I would love to have just a fraction of that energy, that ability to be constantly on the go and alert, doing and moving from ungodly hours in the morning until late in the day. He generally wakes up before the rest of us, dancing and jabbering in his room. The minute you open up his door, he comes bouncing down the hall and the stairs and heads straight for one of his favorite toys (this morning, it was the magnetic letters). He dances and plays and doesn't sit down for a minute (which will probably be one of his biggest trials at school). He rarely naps. He hardly sits, except to eat. He's constantly in motion. And he just keeps going and going until it all comes crashing to a stop.

Tonight was later than some nights. He has been known to fall asleep at the dinner table on particularly long days. But tonight it was going on 9 when I got the little guys cleaned up and into their rooms for bed time. He played right up until the end, even after getting up shortly after 6 this morning and going without a nap. After I put his pajamas on, he climbed right into bed, found his favorite spot (on top of the two pillows at the head of the bed), and started falling. Asleep, that is.

You can always see it with him. It starts with a wide-eyed expression, a bit of a blank stare. It's fleeting, and then it's gone. Within seconds, his eyes are closed and he's down for the count. Lights, sounds, movement. Doesn't affect him at all. He's out cold.

I think I'd read one page of his Dr. Seuss board book (so maybe five words). If that. Xander was still bouncing on the bed beside him (since I was solo tonight, I got them dressed and read their story together before I took Xander to his new room). Nothing. Out cold. And he hasn't moved a muscle since, nearly three hours later.

Wouldn't you love to have that energy? And then enjoy that immediate release. No worries, no tossing or turning or thinking about what tomorrow will bring or what needs to be done. Just sleep.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Sawyer was the first one up today (as Mommy had her camera out and ready, he knew swinging was not going to happen, not just yet anyway)!

Xander followed close behind (he couldn't care less about the camera, he just loves to slide).

And the "take my picture" kid of the family, Connor, couldn't stand to be left out. He was practically pushing Xander up the ladder so he could get his turn and have his picture taken.

Three boys. Three almost identical shots. That's what happens when you just know what's going to happen . . . monkey see, monkey do.

Quoted & Noted

"It's share time!" he says, very forcefully and exaggerating the "share" part of it. "No tell me hush, time to talk, it's share time!"

Somehow, some way, he's using "share time" from school - where the kids bring in an item to talk about during circle time every day - to justify his need for non-stop talking. I don't even want to know how the connection was made. Perhaps because he's not nearly as talkative at school as he is at home. Or perhaps because he's asked and expected to talk at that time.

In passing, I once asked his teacher if she had trouble keeping him quiet during class, thinking this might be an area where he would need work. She stared at me blankly, as if I had said something so completely ridiculous she wasn't sure she heard me correctly. She recovered, then told me that they didn't have that problem with him, that he actually had to be prompted into talking. Prompted! This from the boy who never, ever stops talking at home, or in the car, or in the grocery or anywhere except school, apparently.

And don't think that I don't see the irony. I absolutely do. One child who talks as though it's more essential than breathing. Two who are completely uninterested in talking (at least with words). One child who we constantly beg for just a few minutes of peace, only to hear things like this . . .

"No tell me hush, time to talk, it's share time!"

And two who we would give almost anything to hear words from.

Not a lot, mind you. Just a few, every once in a while, that would be nice.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Stars Align

Sometimes it all just comes together.

Today, my three boys, none of whom think taking a nap is something they should do anymore, all came home tired (about 2 p.m., when we were bringing the little guys home from school). Sawyer had actually fallen asleep at school, which was not unexpected, as he was awake very early this morning dancing in his room. He even let me carry him upstairs and put him in bed when we got home, which he usually fights, even if he is tired or has been sleeping at school. And Xander and Connor both went willingly upstairs to lay down, which shows how tired they both were.

So, they all slept. At the same time. For the first time in I don't know how long.

And, one of my movies from Netflix had just arrived in the mail today.

The house is still quiet, two hours and a movie later. One large batch of home-made chocolate chip cookies later (I found the recipe here - and they are delicious). They're just cooling, mind you, I haven't actually eaten a whole batch!

Not yet, anyway.

Who knows what the night will bring. After all, everything comes at its price. You can't get afternoon naps without pushing back bedtime. And for Sawyer, that push back time may be well into the early hours of the morning.

So it goes . . .

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Swim Lessons

Because, clearly, he's afraid of the water. That blur would be him. Legs in the air, a little bit of blue swimming trunks near the water, and a red swim shirt already submerged head first.

As you can see, we're more afraid of the fact that he has absolutely no fear of the water, even though he's a self-taught dog-paddler who barely keeps his head above water and is prone to jumping in whether anyone is there to help him or not.

Let's just say that the first words the instructor said to us were that he was Level II, not the Level I in which he was enrolled. But, since Level II is already full, he is allowed to stay and she will just work with him on a more advanced level so that we can skip Level II and move to Level III next time.

My water baby. I should have known, but after reading the class descriptions I just wasn't sure. He would either be one of the more advanced in Level I or one of the least advanced in Level II. And he's shy at first, so I was worried he might need to work up to it.

But, as you can see from the photo above, not so much. He was hesitant with his teacher at first, but before long he was jumping in every time she turned her back (instead of sitting on the wall like he was supposed to be doing, you know, taking turns).

All in all, not a bad first time for lessons. He needs to learn to listen to his teacher and to not be a distraction while she's working with the others. I mean, really, there are only four other kids in the class. That's not asking for much patience. But I'm not four, so maybe it is.

One down. Five more to go, at least for this round. He seems to like it, and is only sad that it doesn't last longer than 30 minutes. Perhaps we'll have to go early next time, so he can play a little before. Perhaps . . . if he's good (which he hasn't been lately).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spell Boy

"Es-sa!" (translated, "S"!)

In terms of actual words, he still doesn't say a whole lot for his age. You hear the occasional "No, no, no!" and "Yes, yes, yes!" (which are extremely cute in their own way, especially now that he's using them in the appropriate context, you know, if repetitively counts). You also hear a random word here and there, often one much more complex than you would expect for someone who doesn't really, well, talk.

But, here lately, he's been fascinated with letters (obsessed, really). He knows all the upper letters by sight and some of the lower case letters, too. He can also say them in order, on days when he is so inclined, all the way from A to Z.

Here lately, he's been doing something else. He walks around spelling words. Out loud.

It's nothing to hear "sh-S-H-O-E - shu" or "F-R-I-E-N-D-fa-nd" from him. He also says / spells "music" and "canoe" and "boat" and "pie" as well. He doesn't try to say all of them, but does try to say some of them. "Shoe" is far and away his favorite. He spells it all the time. I'm sure people think it's odd, hearing him spell shoe as he walks in to and out from school, as we go though the drive-thru, as we shop at the grocery, as we walk around the block, and just about anywhere we go.

And while we will claim some credit for his new ability (not much, really), because we do encourage the spelling and the trying to speak on a few levels. We almost always repeat them back to him (which he demands, in his oh-so-impatient way). And we do things like making letters on the MagnaDoodle for what feels like hours, and we even get out the magnetic letters (that end up all over the house) for the boys to play with on a pretty much a daily basis.

But the majority of the credit has to go to PBS - and his two favorite shows of all time - SuperWhy and Word World. If you have toddlers, and your not adverse to television, these shows are actually kind of cute. And clearly they have some educational value. My three year old knows his letters. And it's the first thing that's interested him enough to actually try to speak.

Small steps . . .

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

He looks so sweet and innocent. Actually, he's laying down at the opening of the play set, so his little brother can't climb up and slide. Imagine that.