Thursday, April 30, 2009

Notice Anything Different?

Summer time, summer hair. Or, as the boys like to tell it, summer torture. My three little guys with much less hair than yesterday.

He just looks sneaky, doesn't he? He is, trust me.

I'll take the happy smile, even with the averted eyes.

And, well, this one is just plain silly. He was adamant that Mommy not get a good picture to post. I like this one anyway. It suits him.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cookies & Kindness

Never underestimate the power of kindness or of saying thank you to people who have been kind to you.

With all of our recent issues with my truck lately, we've been late to preschool pickup a few times. I always call, and I always apologize. And I know people understand that these things happen, but still. I am not that person. I'm habitually early, that's just who I am. Kids can complicate that, of course, but I work hard to be on time.

It was difficult to know that my actions, however unintentional, were keeping people after their work day should have ended. And I kept trying to think of something to do that would let them know that I understood their time was valuable and that I appreciated what they had done to help us out. I tried to think of the things that used to make me happy when I worked outside the home, those unexpected moments of kindness from other people. It always came back to food (that's who I am, too)! And that made me think of the best chocolate chip cookies ever (found on one of my favorite sites here). Who doesn't like homemade chocolate chip cookies?

So, I baked a batch the day of our most recent late pickup. It was only five minutes late this time, mostly a result of being a one-car family and unexpected traffic, instead of the 40 minutes last time, when my truck wouldn't start and the husband had to drive home from across town to get car seats and then go on to school to get the boys.

The next morning, I dropped the kids off as usual and then pulled around to the little parking area in back. I walked the cookies inside (with a little note thanking the staff for all that they do to help our boys) and just handed them to the first person I saw, who happened to be Xander's teacher. Her answering smile was enough to know that I had made a good choice.

Just about every teacher I have seen since that morning has said thank-you and told me how much they enjoyed the cookies. A small gesture of thanks goes a long way. A good cookie doesn't hurt either!

I also included the recipe in the beginner cookbook that I made for our cousins Kate & Josh's wedding. Below is the JPEG file of the recipe in that format, and if you double-click on it, you can either print or save it for yourself if you want!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quoted & Noted

"Mommy," my four-year old says, waiting for me to stop what I'm doing and look at him before he continues. He needs my full attention, apparently. "I need to tell you somethin'."

"Yes, Baby?" I ask.

"Someday," he begins, looking down in that bashful way of his. "Someday soon we go to the beach!" As he says this last part, he raises his eyes with hopeful expectation and his little voice rises with each word, as though he just cannot contain himself anymore.

You see, last summer Grammy and her family took a trip to the beach. They invited Connor and he went along to become the life of the party. He remembers that trip. He usually names off every single person who went with them, as though reminding me which trip to the beach he's talking about (we sometimes go at Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa, too).

But he knows this trip was during warm weather, you see. Kind of like what we've had the last few weeks. So every day, at least four or five times a day, since the weather turned warm, we have this conversation.

"Someday soon we go to the beach!"

Perhaps he thinks that if he says it often enough, it might come true. So, if anyone is going to the beach in the near future, I know a little stow-away who swears to be a good little boy. He does hope there is a pool though, because that's equally as (perhaps even more) important than the beach.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thank Goodness for Daddies

And big brothers. They do things like drive 35 minutes out of the way on a Sunday afternoon to come change your flat tire on the side of the road. (And I'm sure if I'd been closer to home, I would say husbands.)

Yesterday the little guys and I were on our way to the lake to help celebrate Uncle Brian's 35th birthday with the family. Of course, that would be the day that one of my truck tires decides to blow out, while we're driving. The good news is that no one was hurt, my truck is just fine (albeit with a very ugly, slightly smaller spare), and the day went on just as planned after an hour delay and a little help from my Dad and my brother.

In all honesty, we have a lot to be thankful for after yesterday.

On the ride down, my usually good little rider, Sawyer, decided to become Houdini. He managed to wiggle his arms out of the rather snug five-point harness on his car seat. He was still strapped in by the waist, but not as safely as he should have been. There's not a lot of places to stop on the stretches of road we were driving when I noticed what he had done, but we happened to "miss" our cycle at a stop light. I hopped out and got him strapped back in correctly, about 20 minutes before the tire decided to blow.

Thankfully, when the tire did blow, I was on a nice wide road with a large gravel right-of-way. I wasn't making a quick phone call or messing with the kids in the back. I was just driving, not going as fast as I might have been and certainly going at least 20 miles less than I would have been on the Interstate (which is the first part of our drive). There was no one behind us at the time, and it was easy to just pull it off the road. The kids were happily strapped in, and easily amused with a little juice, a few suckers and the portable DVD player until help could arrive.

When I got out to take a look, it looked pretty bad. The whole side of the tire had pulled away. That particular wheel was actually resting on the rim, because there was nothing left of the inner tire at all. It could have damaged either the rim or the back fender, but it didn't. The only damage was the tire itself.

So, while it was not quite the Sunday afternoon drive we were imagining, it turned out just fine. Daddies and big brothers saved the day (even if they did have to get a little hot and dirty in the process).

The husband did so today, helping me do carpool and taking my truck to the garage to get a new set of tires installed, just in case. We may not drive my car a whole lot in terms of distance, but we have very special cargo pretty much all of the time. A new set of tires was not exactly in the budget right now, but that's how it goes. And they're worth every penny.

(Oh, and I do realize that it would have been a much more appropriate - and cool - photo to have taken it while the blown tire was actually on the truck. I just didn't think about it at the time. I was thinking about calling to get some help and making sure the little guys were pacified. Plus, the people driving by might have thought I was a little bit crazy if I was taking pictures of the problem instead of trying to fix it!)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

It was hard to hold this one. He was playing one minute and giving Buster a big, random hug the next, all with the cutest expression on his face. He's been pretty cute this week, he bumped out the other image (also of him) that I had been holding for today.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Field of Dreams

Today all the little guys and I went out to the little league baseball fields to watch cousins Austin and Kyndal play their Saturday games. Grandma and Grandpa even drove up from the lake to watch, too! And then the three oldest cousins (Austin, Kyndal and Connor) went back for a fun overnight visit to the lake. The rest of us will join them tomorrow for a birthday dinner for Uncle Brian (and to get the kids back home in time for school)!

Here are some of my favorites from the day.

Cousin Austin winding up to throw (wearing his Daddy's old number, of course).

Probably my overall favorite - the ball in the air and his face full of determination.

And the follow through.

And back to his regular position, catching for the team.

Token shot of the little guys, who did very well considering how long we were out there and the warm temperatures. And yes, that's another blue mouth for Sawyer. Ring pops definitely help. Connor was too busy playing to pose for pictures today, but he was there, too.

And Kyndal wasn't quite up for her game today, so we don't have any pictures of her playing. Maybe another time.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Special Birthday Wishes

You can see more of baby Claire on her blog here.

Photo Flashback

Do you recognize this chubby-cheeked baby? It may not be who you think it is. This is Xander, before the baby fat melted away.

And that makes this one Sawyer, who had a very bad reaction to his first experience with grass in the back yard. Pissed is how I would describe it.

And the big man, pointing his stick at the camera.

There were several good ones from this afternoon in history, and it was too hard to pick just one. (April 25, 2007)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

All About Me

How much do I love to see that smile? It's so sweet and so natural.

This morning was our in-home visit with Sawyer's preschool teachers. We talked about the progress he's made and the areas where he might still need some help. And all of us were happy to see the dramatic difference that only a few months of preschool have had for him and to think of the possibilities of next year.

That smile, it used to be pretty elusive. You would sometimes go days or even weeks without seeing it. And those eyes, they hardly ever looked at you and never for more than a quick glance that would just as quickly dart away. Now that smile is almost always a tickle or a kiss away. And those eyes, those beautiful brown eyes, they will look directly at you and hold yours from time to time. That's big.

As we got ready to send the little guys to preschool, we had a lot of worries and fears about how the transition would go. But it seems to be going well. He has lapsed on the drop-off the last few weeks, mostly because he was out sick for almost a week right after Spring Break, but even that is getting better.

And here are some other things you might not expect to hear.

Sawyer likes to hug the girls in his class. I have never seen him walk up and initiate any contact with other kids, ever, if there wasn't food involved (remember the park incident). How cute is my little flirt?

A little boy in his class has befriended him and is always concerned on the days when he's not in school. He kept seeing Xander, who is in the other class, walk past in the hallway and wanting to know why Sawyer was going to the wrong place!

Sawyer has even gotten to the point that he will let other kids play near, and occasionally with, him. His classmates all want to sit by him and play with him. They love it when he gets excited about something the class is doing, which isn't always the case.

Usually it's some kind of singing or music that draws him in, and he loves the "calendar" section of the day, where they discuss the months of the year and the days of the week and even the weather. There are songs, you see, and he loves that. He also loves to arrange the months on the marker board, and has the uncanny ability to put them all back in the exact right order even after mixing them all up.

One of the most impressive things of all is that he has been sitting still, unrestrained, during circle time the last few days. My little boy never sits still. He stands up and dances for an entire two hour children's movie. He's in constant motion, always hopping and dancing and moving. But he's learning to be still at appropriate times.

And last, something I have always suspected but was glad to hear others say. Sawyer doesn't have any trouble hearing what is said or even understanding what it said. For him, it's an issue of whether or not he wants to hear it (and comply with it). He hears. He knows. He just may not care what you're telling him or asking him to do.

Small steps. Big moments. All good things, and I couldn't be more proud of or happy for him.

(If you're wondering, Xander's in-home visit will be in early May, so I'll do something similar for him then.)

It's Hard to Be Me

It's so hard to be four. Really.

Here is the extremely pitiful and pouting (note the protruding lower lip) Connor. He was mad at Mommy for making him come down off the deck, to PLAY. You know, after he had whined and begged to go outside and play on the play set from the minute we got home from preschool.

And now, seconds later, it's all better. Mommy was asking him to show her the pitiful face so she could take a picture, and that quickly turned into a game of "can't catch me" with the camera and a fit of giggles.

It's so hard to be four.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Word, New Friend

Today was family story time in Xander's preschool classroom. Once a month, the teachers invite family members in for a special reading by someone from the community (or sometimes just the teacher) and a copy of the book is sent home to add to the child's collection. Connor and I have made several of these visits, knowing that one of these days I might actually make it back to work and not be able to fit in all these little extra moments of seeing the kids actually at school.

After story time, I had a chance to talk with both of his teachers. It seems Xander has made a good friend, a little boy named Jacob. He even said his name today, out loud, on the way back in from recess. He does that, from time to time, saying real words out loud that you may or may not hear again for months. Time will tell on this one, of course, but it's the first name I think I've ever heard (or heard of) him saying.

And although it shouldn't surprise me at all, it did a little bit. Jacob, like Sawyer, has autism.

When it came time to register the twins in preschool, we decided to separate them so that Xander might have a chance to be around more traditional peers, more talkative peers. His biggest delay seems to be speech, without many of the social limitations that Sawyer seems to have. But of all the kids in the class to befriend, Xander picked the one who is most like his twin brother (although his friend is more verbal). For whatever reason, Xander is comfortable with him and that's just fine. He's moving forward. Friends. Words (names even), out loud. Listening and participating. Transitioning. All good things.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mommy & Me

As the one who loves to take pictures, I'm rarely in them. One of these days the boys are going to grow up and ask what Mommy used to look like, so I decided to play with the camera's self-timer today and take some shots with the boys. Here are my favorites.

Love Connor's expression. That one's definitely a Mommy's boy. I look a little drugged, which I am (head cold), but his expression was too cute to resist.

We both look sneaky in this one, which fits Xander's personality perfectly. I was tickling him to make him laugh for the shot.

And then there is the most elusive of the three, Sawyer. Some days he's fine with the camera, other days he hates it. Today he just wanted to escape, although he was fascinated enough by the flashing light (the self-timer warning) on the front of the camera to actually look at it instead of away from it.

No Sick Days

If there is a downside to being the stay-at-home parent, it's that you're on duty 24-7. Sure, there's a lot of downtime or simply fun time, like afternoons at the park or the pool or whatever. But days like yesterday, when I could feel the onset of a sinus cold, are not fun. There are no sick days for Mommy.

And, of course, I had to start getting sick the night before Connor's preschool field trip, to the local children's theatre to see a production about pirates. We had already paid in advance, and the show must go on. Luckily, Daddy needed to run an errand down town this morning, so he offered to take him. I'm not sure I could have made it through a front-row seat to a loud children's show with a pretty severe headache and ringing ears. I'm not even sure I could have managed getting us there and parked with my fuzzy head.

Option number two was to stay home with the little guys, get them dressed and fed and ready for school. That went pretty well, despite Sawyer's recent aversion to being dropped off at school. And it would be nice to tell you I came home to rest in the empty house, but that didn't happen either. The floors were quite disgusting after a week of wet puppy and messy boys, so I swept and washed them. I also took the same needy puppy for a much-needed walk (it's been raining here since Sunday morning).

Essentially, the day must go on. Kids have to go to and from preschool. Meals have to be made. Whims gratified (at least enough to keep the screaming at bay, for the headache, of course). Laundry and housework must be done.

The one break I did take, a little siesta on the office couch (protected by baby gates), resulted in chaos - couch cushions all over the floor, toys scattered from one end of the house to the other, and some shaken pastries. What, you ask? Oh, my two little guys have discovered that by moving the trash can around, you can climb on top of it and reach things on the island bar in the kitchen. Like the container of pastries, which they proceeded to shake until they're more like pastry bites. Kind of like the cookies from earlier in the week.

It's been an interesting day, to say the least. Here's hoping that my second night on the couch helps with the cold (and doesn't infect the rest of the family) and that the little people will stay in bed longer than the 7:30 a.m. they came bouncing down the stairs this morning. If she can't call in sick, she at least expects to sleep in until our normal 8 a.m. or so!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Quoted & Noted

"Mom, I have to tell you somethin'," my four-year old begins.

I ask him what that might be.

"I still love you!" he says sweetly.

And no, he doesn't want anything. He just likes to hear himself talk, I'm pretty sure. Because I hear this, and hundreds of other little things, all day long. The kid just cannot stop talking. And most of it is harmless chatter. Some of it, like this little conversation, is very sweet. A lot of it is the endless questions of why and how and when and where and who.

He's four, and he's curious and talkative. That combination can make for some really, really long days. And I try really hard to be patient with him, though I don't always succeed. But in the back of my mind, as I'm nodding or answering questions for the thousandth time that day, I can't help but think of his two little brothers and how I wish they would do the same. Maybe someday . . .

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Big brothers are jerks. Xander is reacting to his big brother "stealing" the toy golf balls he just rolled down the slide. The ones that he, of course, fully expected to pick up after he slid down himself. Have I mentioned this one is feisty and dramatic? He is.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

All Played Out

Two beautiful days of warm weather and lots of outside play. One very tired little boy. Also bad, if you're wondering. He's in the time-out chair for wrestling with Xander (meaning that he likes to pin him to the ground until he screams the house down).

Just Another Day

Warm weather means we spend a lot of our time outside these days. We swing and slide, a lot. We also play frisbee and golf (if fighting over the white plastic golf balls counts). And Connor and I even play a little t-ball and soccer. We also have a lot of great snacks. Today it was ice water, icees, and suckers. Just another day in the life . . .

Connor trying to blow the petals off the dandelion.

Sawyer taking an ice water break from sliding.

Xander handing me a dandelion to blow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Fun

It's been a fun, busy day in our part of the world.

Connor and I started off by dropping brothers off at their school and then heading over to the local park on the lake. We, of course, spent a lot of time on his favorite swing ever. We also went potty on a tree for the first time in public (with Mommy anyway) because the bathrooms were all locked! Always nice, I know, but it couldn't be helped.

After about an hour at the park, we went to lunch at one of our favorites, Chick-fil-a (which he always calls "Chick-a-say"). He also wondered aloud about Grandma and Grandpa coming to meet with us, since we met there last time they were in town. What a memory that kid has!

Then we went back to the house for the last half an hour that brothers were in school to give Buster a much-needed walk. Connor actually ended up staying at the house, "helping" Daddy, who was home on his lunch break. And that worked out to my advantage, seeing as how the kid can't walk more than 10 steps without saying "Shew, I tired!" and trying to sit down. He can run around all day and play, mind you, but walking is a whole different story.

But, I digress. We eventually went back to school to get brothers, windows down of course. The warm weather made that a necessity any time we were driving today. And seeing as how Mommy's truck was ridiculously dirty and covered in dry flowers (buds off the trees, I suppose), Connor and I washed Mommy's truck after we got back home while little brothers enjoyed a movie and a snack (three boys in the driveway on our busy road is a few too many for safety and they were a bit tired after being in school all morning).

When the work was done, it was time to play again. We all spent several hours out in the yard, playing with our new Easter toys and other outdoor toys. The boys had on shorts and short-sleeves for the first time this year! They even drank water in their sippy cups, which is definitely rare for them.

Here are my two big boys, swinging all by themselves (okay, with a little pushing from Mommy). It's taken a long time to get them to this stage, but Mommy's hips are eternally grateful. Swinging in those child swings for hours at a time is not exactly fun for Mommy!

And here's Connor practicing a soccer kick with his new goal. This one was actually a Christmas gift from Aunt Kelly that we've had on hold until the nice weather arrived. Hopefully it's here to stay.

Like I said, fun but busy. Here's hoping your day was just as nice!

Photo Flashback

Matching little people. Xander, left, is fascinated by the ceiling fan. Sawyer, right, is an early television addict. It was on quite a bit, unfortunately, to pacify the 14 month old who was not happy to have these two new additions to the family! (April 21, 2006)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Small Steps

When the twins turned three, they aged out of the state program that provided in-home therapy and began the transfer process to the local school system (where they get peer interaction, group therapy and teacher instruction for three hours every day). It's only been about two months, and you can begin to see changes already. I especially see them in Sawyer.

Two months ago, this picture would have been impossible. When he stopped looking directly at people, he also stopped looking directly at the camera. And that laughter, although it is sometimes completely random, today it was because Aunt Kelly was chasing him and tickling him in the back yard. There was a reason for that bright smile and that deep belly laugh.

Better eye contact, both more often and for longer periods of time. Better decision making, albeit by pushing (if he doesn't want it) or pulling (if he does). Less tantrums, both in quantity and the length of time they actually last if he must tantrum. Walking up and hugging the girls in his class (little flirt)! Participating in group activities, turn taking and transitioning. My, oh, my.

There aren't dramatic changes, of course. He isn't suddenly speaking words or saying sentences. He still dances more often than he sits still, and he doesn't show much interest in other people or traditional play. But there are small steps, little signs of progress. And they are so nice to see.

One step at a time, one day at a time . . .

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Single-Car Family

The good news is that my truck is fixed again and it was relatively inexpensive this time (less than $100). The bad news is that we were a single-car family for two days, and that wasn't fun. Daddy didn't get much work done, Mommy was driving an even bigger and unfamiliar truck to drop off and pick up the kids, and the kids (who, let's face it, like their routine) weren't quite sure what to think about it all.

Both of them kept walking up to my truck when it was in the garage (and not starting). And after it was towed away (which Connor got to see and loved, by the way), the little guys kept looking around the empty garage like they couldn't figure out where it went. And even once they got used to getting into Daddy's truck, Xander was still pretty pissed every time all five of us had to go somewhere, because he couldn't see through Mommy's head in the passenger seat. Sawyer, on the other hand, didn't mind Daddy's big head in the way. He just looked out the side windows and seemed content to take in the new view. And both of them enjoyed kicking us in the back, which I'm pretty sure my Dad still gripes about from when I was a kid and we had a small car!

So, it wasn't fun, but it could have been worse. At least the kids and I weren't stranded somewhere when it decided to stop working. Their teachers were understanding that we were late for pickup the day it stopped working. And, we're lucky enough to have two large trucks in the family, which means all three cars seats will work in either one. Connor is just in his booster in this photo (from the back of Daddy's truck), but the full car seat will actually fit, too. When all five us weren't riding at the same time, he even got to ride in the front seat in his booster. He really liked that. And the tape measure, too.

Big boy, indeed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quoted & Noted

We have a pretty serious problem of little boys pulling the couch apart every time you turn your back. Three bottom cushions come off the sectional, along with three throw pillows. They are constantly being turned into makeshift forts, houses and even trampolines.

It drives Mommy crazy.

With the economy as it is, and our single-income family, we're probably going to have that couch for a while. I'd prefer that it not be coming in holes any time soon. You know, like the leather ottoman that used to have a zippered storage compartment underneath. Did you notice the words "used to have" in that sentence? One of my ingenious children (I will not mention names, Connor Elias) decided that particular piece of furniture made a great boat when it was turned upside down. His 45 or so pounds did not meet the weight limits of the (cloth) zippered storage compartment, so it tore into a giant hole and made all of the fabric hang down underneath (until Mommy finally gave in and just cut it off with scissors). Now there's no more compartment, just a big empty hole.

That said, we've been working with the boys about leaving Mommy's couch alone. Their name stated in a loud, obviously irritated voice by Mommy is usually enough to get all of them scrambling either away from the scene of the crime or to shove the cushions back on any which way they can as fast as they can. Today it took a new turn. Connor had already been chastised (and threatened with immediate bed time) once this evening. The second time I saw him messing with the cushions, he was quick to cut me off before I could even get to the middle name.

"I not do it," he insisted, still shoving the cushion back on. "Xander pull cushions off. Xander bad boy, go to bed RIGHT NOW!" he added, putting it back and letting it go. And there he stood, glaring at his younger brother (who was, in fact, guilty as charged) and Connor was looking as innocent as could be (which I am inclined to believe, in this ONE instance).

So what does he then do? He proceeds to shout at his brother. "Xander-Mander (our often nickname around the house, substituted, I guess, because he doesn't know his middle name)! You bad, bad boy. You leave Mommy's couch 'lone. You bad, you go bed right now!" And he pushed on his back, for emphasis, trying to move him toward the stairs.

My, oh, my. Perhaps Mommy yells a bit too much these days. Four-year olds (and three year-olds, too, for that matter) will do that too you, I think. Especially my oldest, who's full of attitude and non-compliance these days. Good times.

The Gallery

Connor checking out the inside of his "streamer" that he made at school. Sawyer (with a lot of help from his teacher, I'm sure) made the smaller one. And the cross is, of course, from Connor's preschool (it's in a nearby Christian church).

Spring is in the air, and in the school curriculum. Connor brought home this one one day last week.

A full week of artwork. Connor made the "lion" and the "lamb" as they discuss Spring weather in his class. The white paper with small dots (actually marshmallows from Lucky Charms) was a matching activity from Sawyer's class. The red circle with white dots (again marshmallows) was part of Xander's curriculum on healthy teeth and gums. And finally, the yellow abstract is Xander having fun with painting (no help needed on this one)! The photograph is also of Xander, sent home by his teacher around Valentine's day.

Connor's lion again. The red star is either a flower (my interpretation) or a wand (Connor's interpretation) that Xander made in his class. And the shamrock is from Connor's class, I think. We also made one at home for Sawyer's class, but I don't think this is it.

The frog puppet is Connor's creation from school. The flower / wand again from Xander. And the abstract painting (that I think looks like a pretty fall tree) is from Xander's class. I'm guessing he had a bit of help on this one, because his style is more color every inch of blank space with something, preferable a dot or a long swipe.

There, that's a much happier kind of post. I thought you might appreciate it after all the "fun stuff" of late.

Sing a Song (or Two or Three)

My four-year old is preparing for the big end-of-school year program at preschool. It's a musical, like most of their performances. How do I know this? Because he's constantly singing. I will share with you a sample, just so you know we're having a little bit of fun in our house despite the rain!

"The train pulls into the station, into the station, early in the morning. The itsy-bitsy spider up the water spout, down came the rain and washed the water spout. Our god is a big, big god. Big, big god. Big, big god. The train pulls into the station, early in the morning. Early in the morning. Ol' roof time."

And yes, it's all jumbled together like that. It's shouted (as opposed to, you know, actually singing), and it's very monotone. There are no pauses, no breaks for changing into a different song. I have no idea what the train pulling into the station is about, though I believe I've heard "Big, Big God" and the "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" before. And for those of you who have followed along for a while, you will of course remember "ol' roof time" as his version of "all 'round town" from the childhood favorite "Wheels on the Bus" song.

No wonder the twins like to cover their ears a lot. Can you blame them?

Fun Stuff

It's been a rough couple of weeks. Sick kids. Tired parents. And of course, when it rains, it pours. The good news is that everyone seems healthy at the moment. The bad news is some of the important things that make our life work keep breaking.

The washing machine is broken. Again. I average two loads of laundry every single day, so that's not good news. The replacement belt we put on a few months ago is shredded again, which means the problem is more serious than something we can do ourselves. So we'll probably have to call a repair technician, who will of course charge hundreds of dollars just to grace the doorstep, not to mention what we will be charged for the tech to actually stay and fix the machine. Did I mention that it was an expensive front-loading machine that's only about five years old, which means it's just out of warranty. Good stuff.

And if that was not enough, my truck has decided that it doesn't want to start. Again. About a month ago, Josh and I went on a much needed night out with Grammy offering to keep the boys. The truck randomly wouldn't start after the meal. We had to call her assistant, Aunt Kelly, to pick us up (who quipped - "What, did you have too much to drink?" - which is pretty funny if you know us, since we're not exactly big drinkers). The battery had just been replaced during a routine oil change (it tested low in part of their routine checks), so we knew it wasn't that. It randomly started up the next morning when Josh went back to check on it, so we drove it straight to the garage. They ran some diagnostics and replaced the alternator. Several hundred dollars later, we thought the problem was solved.

Until today. It was time to pick up the little guys, who had managed to have their first incident free day of school in weeks. I helped Connor into his car seat and got ready to go. I turned the key, and nothing. The mysterious no start yet again. New battery. New alternator. The only thing missing is apparently a new starter or some new wiring that connects all of these essential pieces. Of course, I'm not going to be able to pick up the little guys now. Josh is luckily across town (instead of in another county, as he sometimes is) and heads back over to pick them up. About 30 minutes after I should have picked them up. More fun stuff.

I'm ready for the rain to stop now. Really.

Monday, April 13, 2009

So It Goes

Three boys, in three different classrooms, at two different schools. I'm not sure why I thought having them in school would make my life a bit easier, because it really doesn't. It just means that some or all of us are in the truck a lot more than we used to be. And it means a lot more frustration when I make plans for the times when they're supposed to be in school and, for whatever reason, are not.

Today is Monday, which means Sawyer and Xander have preschool. Two classrooms, one school. Not too bad, right? Not unless Sawyer decides he's not feeling well yet again, which he did. He missed all of last week except for Monday, essentially giving him a two week break from school (that one day doesn't count in my book). So, when one of his teacher's called to report him not doing well, Connor and I stopped mid-lunch and went back to school to pick him up. Luckily we had already finished our planned errands - a trip to the library for more Curious George (and other assorted) books and to the grocery store for the essentials like milk and bread.

And when we got to school, Sawyer was, indeed, quite pitiful. He was warm to the touch and inconsolable even being rocked by one of his teachers her nice, quiet office. Of course, he calmed down a bit in my arms. We talked to his teachers for a while and then made our way back to the truck.

We had 20 minutes before Xander would be dismissed (though we could have taken him as we left, as the teachers offered to get him ready). I chose to leave him in class, as he was having a good day and enjoying himself. We went to the truck where Connor finished what was left of his ham sandwich (we just brought his lunch with us). I found a few suckers in my day bag and passed them back to each of the boys. We were going to wait it out in the truck.

And you know what, Sawyer was perfectly fine. He was calm and alert, looking around and babbling just like always. He didn't want any of my offered juice (emergency diaper bag stash), but he took his sucker and just sat buckled in his seat looking around. No tears, no discomfort or unhappiness. Just fine.

I think he's suffering from a little bit of lingering sickness (or more likely, tiredness, from being sick for over a week) and having a bit of a hard time transitioning back into the school routine. And now that he's eating again, he may be having some digestive issues (common, unfortunately, for both of the twins) in addition to the other things.

So it goes. As long as he continues eating and playing well at home, we'll keep trying to send him to school. Hopefully whatever is lingering will stop, and he can get back into being my happy little school boy. I'm ready to see him dancing and smiling by the back door, waiting for his backpack and jacket, so we can go to school. I miss that little boy right now, and I bet he does, too.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Morning

Two little boys come down for a fun surprise on Easter morning (one is still sleeping).

Easter Morning, Part II

The sleepyhead finally comes down . . . and walks right past all the Easter stuff.

Snapshot Sunday

Identical twins. A week of sickness (and not eating anything) for Sawyer has made them even more so. Points if you can tell them apart (hint, the expressions give them away for us - one is more feisty, one is more focused).

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Two Again

Two of the three playing outside on this pretty Saturday afternoon.

This week has been the story of two little boys. It seems one of the three has been in a different place all week. One day it was Connor who was gone (spending a fun afternoon out with Aunt Kelly). Several days it was Xander, who was away at school by himself.

Sawyer has been sick most of the week, and absent from school every day since Monday. A large part of his days have been spent either napping in his room or resting on the couch. He has moments of energy and appearances of normalcy, but they are short lived, so far. We did take him to school on Friday for his Easter egg hunt, though his big brother did most of the hunting (and hoarding) of the eggs. While energetic and enthusiastic at school, he came home to take yet another four hour nap.

It's been a rough week, to say the least.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Photo Flashback

Easter Bunnies are scary sometimes. Connor running away from Grammy and the Easter Bunny on an attempted visit a few years back. (April 07, 2007)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Beautiful Day

The sun and warmer weather has finally returned, which is nice, since it actually snowed two days earlier this week! Sawyer was still not quite himself, so I kept him home again, but this afternoon he came around a bit and I'm even hopeful he might get to go to school tomorrow (and actually enjoy his Easter party, too)!

The little guys and I took advantage of Connor's absence and did something we don't get to do often anymore - we took one of our long, winding stroller rides for miles. Mommy has certainly missed the exercise and the peace that comes from these walks. It's nice not to hear someone (ahem, Connor) complaining "Shew, I tired!" every five seconds only to get home and proceed to run around for hours without stopping. Clearly it's more about not wanting to walk than it is about being tired.

But, I digress. The little guys and I got out for a few hours to enjoy this beautiful spring day. We took Buster on his short walk first, and then we did our usual route through the neighborhood where we live and the one next to it that's still largely under construction (probably about 4 miles all told). We even stopped by our favorite field and played for a little bit. Sawyer wasn't up to much more than standing there and looking around, so we didn't stay as long as sometimes. But still, it was a nice little trip. Nice to be out of the house and away from the television, and to see how pretty it is here in the early spring.

Here's hoping your day was just as nice.

Easter Party

Aren't I handsome? That's what he seems to be asking us with that look.

Today was a special day for all the moms in Connor's preschool class - it was "Muffins for Moms" day. All of the moms got to come in and have a special breakfast and receive a special handmade gift from their child. Connor is proudly showing off his flower picture frame of himself. There was also a butterfly stenciled card with more of the same flowers and his name (sort of) written inside. He starts off well, with the "CON" part, but he writes so big that the end gets very squished and hard to read!

You might remember a similar day not too long ago for dads, where Connor made another picture frame that said "I love you to pieces" that was decorated with puzzle pieces. Have I mentioned how much we love his preschool and his teachers? We do.

Today was also the school Easter egg hunt, where the kids all brought in filled eggs that were "hidden" (aka dropped all over the floor in plain sight) in the music room. The kids had a "counting exercise" to get their eggs. My son, of course, had to return a few after all was said and done. He had more than his fair share of 14 filled eggs - he was closer to 20 before I tossed a few back on the ground. And smart little guy that he is, he was discriminating as he picked up eggs. He bypassed a whole bunch of eggs, opting for some that were slightly larger (more than half of his were this bigger size) and also for the sports themed eggs (little footballs, baseballs and soccer balls).

After school, he was in for an even bigger treat. Aunt Kelly came over to take him out for the afternoon. They're going to watch Monsters v. Aliens at the theatre, with popcorn and coke, of course (since he refused to eat any lunch for me before he left). There also was talk of picking up a late lunch / early dinner and taking it to the park for the rest of this beautiful afternoon.

It's rough being Connor, let me tell you. Rough.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Better Day

Though still not 100 percent, the little guy is improving. He's started eating a few things - mostly fruit snacks and marshmallows - but that's better than nothing. He's actually drinking apple juice again, as opposed to just sipping it and holding the cool cup against his head. And he was even well enough to request going outside (and was even willing to swing by himself a few times in the presence of the camera)! Just look at that grin. Mommy loves it (the grin, and that he's willing to swing all by himself a little bit these days).

He's currently napping, which just goes to show that he's not totally back to himself yet. There is energy at times, but there's also still crashing. But it's a whole lot better than Monday night or even yesterday. Hopefully he'll be well enough to return to school tomorrow. When he feels well, he seems to really enjoy going.

Connor's World

After yesterday's misadventures, I'll go with something a little more fun today. My four-year old is full of lots of random thoughts and directives. And yes, he expects all of them to be followed. That's a product of being our "have suitcase, will travel" child (usually with grandparents or other people who love him and spoil him).

"I do that, when I get a lil' bigger." This is his answer to absolutely everything, especially if you tell him not now. He's decided if he's not allowed to do it when he wants to, then perhaps he must wait until he's a little older and a little bigger. Today he said it as I was driving. As in, he'd like to drive. "I do that, when I get a lil' bigger."

"Someday Grandma and Grandpa get a big house," he muses on our way home from the lake. I chuckle, because Grandma and Grandpa already have a very big house at the lake. But I also ask why, just because I'm curious where this is going. "Then they put a big houseboat in the garage." Ah, that explains it. You see, most of the boats on the lake this time of year are either fishing boats or houseboats. He'd seen a lot on his visit and thought his grandparents needed to get one. But they can't have one until they get a bigger house, so it will fit in their garage. You know, with their other boat and the cars and the truck.

"I not picking my nose!" he proclaims, completely out of no where and without being either looked at or spoken to. That would be the first sign that he is, indeed, picking at the sore he's scratched to death on the inside of his nose and now has blood running down his face.

"Hush, Louie. Hush!" he shouts. "No bark!" Clearly he listens to his mother sometimes. Because she's been saying this a lot this week, as he barks at everything and nothing and drives the neighbors crazy!

"Not today," he says, completely decided. We hear this one a lot. If he's not ready to do something, even if it was not a request, he simply says it. "Not today."

"I do it by myself!" This one is usually shouted in frustration. Whether it's trying to take his clothes off or put them on, whether he's trying to get out of the car seat and the truck, or whether he's simply working with some toys. He's very independent at times.

"You help me?" he alternately asks. He can also be very needy. If he's feeling particularly ignored (say the last few days, when little brother has been sick and pitiful), then he needs help with everything from opening the bathroom door to sitting with him while he goes potty.

So, now you know what our world sounds like these days. There are, of course, many, many more. But these are the ones we hear the most right now (and that I can think of as I type).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just Keeps Getting Better

After a not so good day, Connor and I had a not so good evening. Tuesday is swimming lessons, so we packed his bag, loaded him into the truck and headed to the indoor pool (about 25 minutes away in a neighboring city). We signed ourselves in, went down to the locker rooms to change and waited the last five minutes on the bleachers for class to begin.

The first thing that appeared wrong was the that the kiddie pool was roped off with caution tape and completely empty. Still, we waited. There was another group of little kids in the big pool with life jackets, so I thought that would be the earlier class. And it was, but it was Level II. When their class finished (about the time ours should have started), I checked with that lifeguard. She said all Level I classes would be cancelled until the kiddie pool reopened, and someone should have called us to let us know.

Yes, that would have been nice. Especially since we'd already driven out and had gotten a little boy dressed and ready to swim. She told us we could stay and swim in the big pool if we wanted, but it was not to be. I didn't bring a swim suit, because I usually just stand on the edge of the kiddie pool and let him play on his own after the lessons. It doesn't require me to be covered in chlorine for him to have a good time. He was not having one tonight, and was quite pitiful as we went to get undressed and go back home. He stayed pitiful until he fell asleep several hours later.

Of course, this was partly our own doing. We decided to go wireless last week, meaning we cancelled our home phone which had long seemed pointless. And we've not missed it, at least not much. The only downside is that I didn't think about all the places that would only have our home phone listed, like say the swimming lessons form, and would be unable to contact us. I sent out the new contact info to friends and family, even to the school teachers, but I didn't think about swimming lessons.

It's supposed to be a simple six week class - except that it hasn't been. Spring Break was one interruption (pre-planned). One week it was cancelled because of roof repairs. And now it's cancelled for at least two weeks while they install new drain covers (a federal mandate). We've made it to three actual lessons over six whole weeks. We still have three left and who knows when those will actually happen.

So it goes.

One of Those Days

With Spring Break last week, we weren't sure what to expect from our little guys going back to school. They did amazingly well. No tears or tantrums at drop off, good reports from their teachers on their first day back, and an afternoon of inside play at home (despite the crazy weather that has it snowing here in April)!

Josh has a busy work week, so I knew I was in for some long days this week with the boys. Last night was the first. He left yesterday morning before 7 and didn't get home until almost 8 last night, about an hour after the boys were given their tearful baths (Connor because he was in trouble and going to bed early, and the little guys because they don't like winter baths (dry skin issues)) and then put to bed.

And that's when things started to go from bad to worse.

Sawyer woke up a few hours after going down with a fever and an ear ache and possible ear infection (we're guessing, since he kept messing with one of his ears). He was pitiful and miserable. Which means so was Mommy. He refused all attempts at medicine (even his beloved Tylenol that he normally begs for) and wouldn't take any juice or water, either. I was in and out of his room for hours at a time all night last night until about 4 a.m., when he finally managed to settle into some form of continuous, if not restful, sleep.

Josh left for work before 7 again. And that meant I had three boys to get to two different preschools at two different start times. Even when everyone is feeling well, that makes for a long day.

So I got up and got dressed. On my way down, I let Xander out of his room, as he was the only one awake. Then I got busy trying to get milk and dry cereal ready and let the dogs out into the snow for their morning business (and dry them off before they came back in or drove the neighbors crazy with their barking). Sometime in the middle of that, Connor made his way downstairs to the couch. I went to check on Sawyer, who was still miserable and pitiful and restless, but sleeping. I got clothes for all the boys and took them downstairs, as we only had about an hour to get everyone ready for our first trip to school to drop Connor off. I got the two well ones dressed, noticing out of the corner of my eye that Xander was having trouble going to the bathroom (not all that uncommon for the twins, unfortunately).

But I needed to get Sawyer up, so I went back upstairs. He came willingly, but was not happy to be immediately placed on the couch. He wanted to be held, and I wanted to hold him, but we had to get ready to go. So I got him some Tylenol, which he actually took, and then got him dressed and comfortable in the chair (it's leather and cool, and I thought it might help since he was still feverish) with some juice and dry cereal. And then I went back to Xander, and we spent some quality potty time together (not fun, if you're wondering, because the twins are so not ready for potty training even if they don't fight being put on the potty anymore). Then it was time to drop Connor off. So we loaded into the truck (double stroller and all) and took Connor to school. And that wasn't much fun, considering I had two unhappy twins in tow.

That was trip one.

Then we came back to the house so I could get Xander some breakfast before school (Sawyer wasn't up for it). Another attempted potty session with no result. And then we cleaned up our breakfast mess and packed up to take Xander to school. Also not much fun, considering it was the second time I was dragging out the poor sick kid to drop a brother off at school, though at least it's only a drop off and he didn't have to leave his car seat this time.

That was trip two.

Finally, a break. I bring Sawyer back home with me and get him settled and comfortable on the couch with his favorite movie, Chicken Little, and another attempt at juice. He sips, but mostly passes on it. I try to get a few loads of laundry done, including the completely soaked through sheets and blanket from his feverish night. Even if the sheets were clean, it would do no good to put him in bed to rest. We still have two brothers to pick up from school at two different times.

And then the phone rings.

That's never a good sign. It's Xander's teacher, who is concerned about his bathroom issue. I was halfway afraid of something like that. But, the issue is not at all uncommon, and it usually works itself out within an hour or so. Not today, apparently. So I once again drag the sick and pitiful child back to school, where we pick up his uncomfortable and unhappy twin brother (who, by the way proceeds, to come home, take care of his business within minutes and then run around like his usual happy self).

With Xander coming home early, we then have fifteen minutes to wait in the parking lot until big brother's preschool ends. Neither of the twins is happy to be sitting and waiting, but I am at least smart enough not to take them inside early today where they will scream the place down. We wait for people to start exiting before we even think about going in. Better to wait, so we can get in and get out quickly.

And then Connor comes out, wearing different clothes than the ones I dropped him off in. He's in his "back up" outfit. He's been completely potty trained for a while now, and accidents are extremely rare. I can't remember the last time he actually had one. And he's never had one at school before, ever. Of course, in the madness that was our morning, I didn't bother to ask if he had gone potty before we left (he usually gets up and does so himself). Apparently not today.

And that has been my day, so far.

I have one sick child who's finally sleeping (though still not peacefully) on freshly laundered sheets. I have a second child who didn't feel well, but has finally gotten over his problem and is now playing just fine. And I have a third wandering around in blue jeans with holes in the knees and a t-shirt that also somehow has a hole in it, too (the back up outfit, which, as it turns out, is probably not so suitable for school attire). And I also have two dogs who continue to drive each other (and me and the kids and the neighbors crazy) with their constant barking and begging to come in and out, you know, to get away from one another!

And that's just in the first 12 hours today, not counting the 12 last night that didn't involve nearly enough sleep. I've said it before, I'm sure, but it truly has been one of those days.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dog Days

Running around barking at everything and nothing. Shadowing my every single move in the house. Running inside and out (and getting wet, muddy paw prints all over the clean floor. Chasing each other and driving each other completely crazy. Terrorizing the poor little girl (about Connor's age) - who has the misfortune to live behind us right now - every single time she sets foot in her yard. Stalking anyone who even thinks about getting some food from the kitchen.

Apparently these things make you tired. And snore.

And I thought toddlers were needy.

"I'm . . . Not . . . Tired . . . "

After a week on the go with Grandma and Grandpa, we knew that he was tired. But he fought it hard and refused to nap yesterday, even after several attempts to read in bed and then "rest" a while. Instead, he fell asleep here, sitting up on the couch, at 5:30 p.m. Josh carried him up to bed, where he slept in until this morning, getting up at his usual time just before 8 a.m.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Is it bad when you can see yourself in your child, you know, mostly in the photos with attitude?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Paradise Lost

Today the little guys and I traveled to the lake to visit with Grandma and Grandpa and to bring Connor back home from his extended Spring Break. Or, as he probably thinks, to steal him from paradise and take him back to the real world.

He's had more than a week of being the center of the world (a role he likes, I assure you). The transition back will be rough. He will not understand that "no" does in fact mean "no," that no amount of tears or pitiful looks will change that fact. He will not understand that every whim is not to be instantly gratified or that he cannot have every thing that his heart desires. He does not understand that he is not in charge. Essentially, life as he knows it is over.

He really hopes Grandma is reading, and that she will come save him again soon. Or, at the very least, talk some sense into Mommy.