Sunday, May 31, 2009

Water Babies

A Sensory Day

Some days, Sawyer craves specific sensory input. It can be visual (usually objects in motion or some play of shadow and light), oral (things he feels the need to taste), or simply touch (different textures, pressures, movements).

Today, he wanted to know what the world tasted like.

Marshmallow creme on a cinnamon graham cracker. Mmm. It met with his approval.

The slippery, wet side of the plastic kiddie pool. Not so much. He'd make a face, but then go right back to it. Perhaps the feel is more important than the taste.

And finally, the best of all. Chocolate.

If a food is not part of his regular diet, he's always cautious. Some times he will simply wave it away. But if it looks tempting, as Daddy's chocolate bar did, then he takes what we call little sippy bites. It usually involves the barest touch to his tongue at quick intervals, like he's checking for poison or something. If it meets his approval, he'll eat it. If not, he'll push it away.

As you can see, chocolate passed his taste test. All in all, the world tasted pretty good today.

Snapshot Sunday

Look at that expression. Attitude. And hatefulness. We were, of course, torturing him at the moment. We were asking him to, gasp, share the toys with his brothers. His response was to stalk off with as many toys as he could fit into his wagon and shoot us the look. Fun times.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Trade Off

Tonight Josh and I had a night out. Grammy and Pappy offered to come over and watch the kids for the evening. And we did our usual, dinner at a sit-down restaurant, some time at the book store browsing, and even a walk at the neighborhood park. A few hours of peace.

It came at a price.

You see, the grandparents generally like to actually see the kids when they come over. They're not looking to play with them for a few minutes and then put them in bed at their usual time like we do at the end of a typical day. They want to visit and to play, not to sit in our house while the boys sleep.

So, good children that we are, we planned ahead and put the kids down for a late nap about 3:30 p.m. They all fell asleep and were not exactly thrilled to be gotten back up, but they eventually rolled out. And then Grammy and Pappy got to enjoy some quality time with all of the boys. They had frozen pizza for dinner (and the twins weren't falling asleep for a change, having actually slept during their naps). They took the puppies and the kids for a stroller walk through the neighborhood. They played outside on the play set. There were icees and candy bars and Gatorade and even Pepsi's to enjoy. Good times for everyone.

And then we came home. To find all three boys still outside playing and having a big time. Without the slightest trace of being tired or even remotely ready for bed. At 9 p.m. That doesn't happen very often in our house, let me tell you.

The good news is that the boys actually slept during their "nap" time, which is certainly not a safe bet for our three. They gave up naps long ago and have not once looked back. Today it worked out. Josh and I had a few quiet hours before the sitters even arrived. And then we left while two of them were still sleeping and therefore missed the cranky response to being woken up before they were ready. And just so you understand, my children who don't understand the concept of naps, would sleep for about six hours and then be ready to wake up about the time most sane people are going to bed. Trust me on this, we know.

The bad news is we had three perfectly awake little boys who were less than thrilled to be marched upstairs for baths and bed. That only one of the three willingly put his head down and appeared ready to sleep. That one waited the entire thirty minutes it took to calm Sawyer down enough to even think about leaving him so that he could be read to. That I left that last little boy's room at 10 p.m. and could still hear at least two boys awake. That's the bad news.

But that's how it works. Sometimes in order to get what you want, you have to give up something else. No Netflix movie tonight for the adults, who are too tired to stay up that late. Especially since we'll probably have some early risers tomorrow morning. But we had a few hours of peace in the middle of the afternoon (which is usually the cranky time of day) and we had a few hours away from the house while the grandparents got to visit with their grandkids (and not have cranky boys that simply needed to be put in bed). That's the trade off.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Another Day in the Life

Today was another beautiful day in our part of the world. Sunny, warm (but not hot) and lots of blue skies. The little guys had school, so Connor and I dropped them off at their normal time. Then we headed back home to take the puppy on a much-needed walk.

Connor is never very excited about these walks. He likes to complain "Shew, I tired!" every five steps (sometimes less) and make them generally unpleasant for all of us. I warned him that he had to be good on this walk if he wanted to do something fun this afternoon.

He, of course, asked "What we do today?" I mentioned we might go to the park, if he could be a good boy and help take Buster on a walk, without his usual complaint.

And he made it most of the way around before he almost slipped up. It started to come out, that "Shew" escaped before he even thought about it, I'm sure. But one look from Mommy (arched eyebrow included) and he quickly amended it. "Shew, long way around!"

A complaint, of course, but not the one I had warned him about. And not another peep out of him the whole way home. He remembered, and kept his promise. And Mommy kept hers.

Off to the park we went.

We naturally spent a lot of time on the circular swing. We also ran through the forts and slid down slides for hours on end. We even walked across the bridge and looked at ducks several times.

And then we had to leave to pick up brothers from school. A quick lunch for everyone, and then back outside for more fun.

The kiddie pool is a big hit. Look at Sawyer's irrepressible grin. Even Xander, my non-water baby (at least until this summer), was all over it. Connor, of course, couldn't contain himself. He splashed half of the water out onto the deck in the first 10 minutes we were outside.

We stayed for hours. Daddy even came home and joined us. I kept my position in the sun with my latest classic of choice. Daddy took the newspaper and some snacks under the shade of the umbrella. The kids naturally swarmed, in search of treats. Back yard (or deck, as it were) fun at its best.

And tired little boys. Xander fell asleep at the dinner table, at 6 p.m. Sawyer and Connor went up around 7:30 p.m. All out within minutes of their heads touching the pillow.

Until tomorrow, probably very early . . .

Photo Flashback

Isn't it time to send them back yet, Connor wonders. Sawyer left, Xander right. (May 23, 2006)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not Quite What We Had in Mind

Look who thinks the pool was set up just for him. He starts out by taking a drink from outside the pool, which is bad enough when you consider the drool factor. But then he just walks right in like he owns the place. Next he's jumping around and splashing, wagging his tail and ready to play (with his rather sharp toe nails). Not exactly what we had in mind.

It looks like the puppy is going to have to be gated off the deck this summer, and he's not going to like that one bit. How else is he going to stay cool and bark like a crazy dog every time someone dares to walk through his yard (you know, on the public sidewalk)? It's necessary to scare the people walking (and often their dogs) and to annoy the neighbors, apparently.

Otherwise, the kiddie pool is going to stay covered in muddy paw prints and dog hair, and that was not the plan when we rearranged the deck this summer. Buster playing in the pool was a small issue last summer, but usually only when the cover that came with the pool wasn't put back on soon enough. Unfortunately, said cover tore (possibly from a big puppy stepping on it) and no longer exists.

Perhaps if we're nice puppy owners (or slightly crazy), we might invest in one of the really inexpensive plastic pools to keep on the concrete deck below. Buster can keep cool this summer without ruining the kids' pool for them, and the neighbors (hopefully) will avoid crazy barking dog (who, of course, barks on cue as I type from the currently still accessible deck). Win, win.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Last Call

Why do I have the feeling that one of my boys is going to be resentful at the end of next week? Perhaps because that is when his little brothers will finish up their preschool for the year, and the days of "Mommy & Me" will be over for a while!

Connor's school ended a few weeks ago, so we've been having a lot of days together. Sometimes it's just errands like grocery shopping or taking Buster for a walk around the block. Some days it's cleaning the house or the truck (he actually likes to help, so much so that he will even occasionally ask to do one of these things during the day)! Other days we do fun things, like pick up new books from the library (and read a few while we're there, too). Or we spend the afternoon at one of our favorite parks or even the children's museum downtown. Or we do what we did today, we go out for lunch!

Our new favorite has been Chick-fil-a, for a couple of reasons. First, I've had some really good coupons (free kid's meal with purchase of regular meal), so we can do it as cheaply as we could McDonald's, which is the only take-out the twins eat consistently. Second, they have an indoor play area with other kids coming and going that isn't affected by the rain (something the McDonald's on this side of town doesn't have). And last, the staff is friendly and doesn't seem to object to me sitting at a table outside the play area, sipping on my Coke (with free, often brought-to-the-table, refills) and reading my latest book.

And I would love to tell you I'm the mother who takes advantage of the healthy options on the kid's meal, you know, the fruit cup instead of french fries and the milk instead of the Coke. But I'm not. I kind of see it as a treat for both of us, so we get the good stuff. We have fruit and milk at home with every single meal, and we don't do Coke for the kids at the house. (At least not at our house, right Grandma?) But those options are there, if they're important to you.

The one thing I try to remember is to bring a jacket, regardless of the outside temperature. It's usually cool in there if you're just sitting for a while, like I am. Connor, of course, comes out of the play area covered in sweat from running and jumping and playing. No jacket necessary for the kids.

We usually spend two hours for lunch, and that's two hours we're not sitting at home or getting on each others' nerves. It's also only about $6. And if Connor is willing to part with his toy, he can even get an ice cream cone or cup for free (they'll trade you the toy for the dessert). Today he was willing, as it was a book he already had at home.

A good day. One he's going to miss in a few weeks, I'm sure.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book Club for Boys!

Just before preschool ended for the summer, the mother of one of Connor's classmates sent around an e-mail about starting a book club for boys. Though I've never been one to join much (three boys, one mother issue), it sounded like fun. I knew that Connor would enjoy seeing his friends from school over the summer, and it would be something fun to break up our days at home (siblings are also welcome, if we can't work out other arrangements, so that helps).

The idea is to have a fun play date that also incorporates learning through books and projects. His friend's mom was nice enough to host the first one, to give us an idea of what to plan when our turn comes around. Today's theme was space, which included rocket ships and astronauts and moon rocks! And also some random playing at the end of the day!

The last three. Connor and two of the boys, getting ready to play a fun game of "Elefun," where the blower pushes out butterflies for everyone to catch.

The GeoTrax. A very fun toy that Connor had never seen or played with before. He's in the back, operating the train with the remote control. Two other friends are also there, in addition to a little brother who was along for the day.

The host (wearing his space suit, which the other boys were too bashful to attempt today) and one of the other little boys.

Group shot. This one includes everyone, if you count Connor's reflection in the mirror to the left. He couldn't be torn away from the GeoTrax train!

Craft time. The boys, with the help of their friend's mother, were using coffee filters and food coloring to create earth images, which they later glued on black construction paper. We have ours up on the refrigerator gallery!

A fun day with friends. Connor had a great time, even if he was a little bashful at first (as always). He was excited when I told him that's where we were going while brothers' were at school. And he was really excited when I told him we would do it again in a few weeks, and that we would even have one at our house sometime this summer!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Yes, you may hate us now. We're okay with that. This would be the view from the back of Grandma & Grandpa's boat.

Someone's having a good time, don't you think?

Three boys all in a row. Connor in red, Xander in the middle, and Sawyer on the edge.

Sun and waves. That's what it's all about for summer.

And the back porch swing. That's about as good as it gets on land.

And the castle (ahem, cabin) on the hill. Every room on the back looks out over the water. Not a bad way to retire, according to Grandma & Grandpa. They're nice enough to let us come visit.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Come on, kid, drop it! Buster gets himself into position for a chance at the coveted icee. Poor Buster. Xander didn't drop a single bite!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Summer Time

Today it's backyard (or deck, as it were) pools and icees. Tomorrow it's sun and waves at the lake. Summer is officially here, and we love it!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Look Who's Found a Friend

Slowly but surely, we're seeing progress. A little boy who doesn't like to interact with others, who prefers to play on his own terms and very much in his own space, has found a friend. A lot of his classmates have taken to him, cheering him on and encouraging him as he tries to navigate a traditional preschool classroom.

One little girl in particular has taken him on as her project. She loves to "help" him find his way through the classroom, and he, in turn, loves to let her help him. He's even gone so far as to start taking her by the hand, instead of his teachers, and leading her to areas where he needs (or wants, I should say) help.

She also helps him with the day-to-day routine of things, like when he tries to stand during circle time. She will sign "sit" to him, as the teachers do, and then gently take his hand and lead him back down to his seat on the carpet. Sometimes he will even pull her behind him, put her arms around his waist, and then sit in front of her (as you see above, thanks to Mrs. Russell for the picture).

That's my boy. If he finds a willing accomplice, he's going to latch on for dear life. He's very good at figuring out who will help him gets the things he wants and needs in this world. And we love watching him come along, in his own time and in his own way. That's just who he is.

Photo Flashback

Aww, isn't he cute and cuddly and little? It lasted about three months!
Now he's big and cuddly and cute! (May 19, 2003)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Can I Start Counting Back Yet?

How about this year I go back a year instead of forward? Because then I can be in my twenties again, instead of another year into my thirties! Connor's seems to enjoy being four. It looks like I did too, so why not?

Tonight, my parents will be in town to help celebrate my birthday. We're all meeting for dinner, including Uncle Brian and cousins Austin and Kyndal (Aunt Andrea teaches dance tonight) and then Connor will be heading back to the lake with Grandma and Grandpa. The little guys and I will head back down there sometime over the holiday weekend to enjoy the water and bring him back home. Not a bad way to spend your birthday weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Little Helper

Finally, after four and a half years, my son is starting to be useful (kidding, of course).

Today we ran errands in the morning while his brothers were at school. We got them home and fed and settled in with some toys and a movie (their favorite way to unwind after school), and then we headed outside to wash my truck. It's needed it for a while, and Connor likes to "help" with things like that.

Of course, you must take his help for what it is - that of a four-year old. His favorite part, of course, is to spray the hose. And he does pretty well. He gets most of the truck, occasionally the flowers that line the driveway, and pretty frequently his mother and even himself. Accidentally, of course. And he also takes the sponges and brushes and works his little heart out. All while talking in his usual non-stop, not even bothering to breath way.

We're outside maybe five minutes, and he suddenly tells me we're done. I haven't moved from the front bumper, which is covered in bugs from a recent long trip. I take a look at his "work" to see what he's talking about. Sure enough, there's a twelve-inch line of clean all the way around my truck, about three feet from the ground. He's taken his sponge and rubbed a clean line on every inch at that exact height. The rest of it, well he can't bend over and clean at the same time, and he's not tall enough to reach! Or so he tells me.

I convince him to keep working a while. He has a big time using the brush to scrub our relatively new tires (which are still very dirty from the warehouse, apparently). He also gets to use the brush on the floor mats. While he's busy with that and the occasional hose down (with my direction and often assistance), I finish up the rest of the truck.

We finish just as the movie is rolling the credits and the little guys are dancing (it's probably their favorite part of the movie). A little one-on-one time with the big boy while also accomplishing something that needs to be done. Just another day in the life . . .

Oh, and I have good news and bad news about the truck. The bad news is that it's back home but not exactly fixed. The second garage (the one that specializes in computer / electrical issues) couldn't replicate the problem. After three hours, it only refused to start one time, after which it started immediately on the second try. So, it's basically a ticking time bomb. It's just a matter of when and where it's going to do it again. Probably in the car pool line at school. Or in the garage on the way to pick the kids up from school. That's my luck. The good news is that the second garage didn't charge us anything for their time or effort. They just said to give them a call if (they were nice enough not to say "when" even though we all know that's the case) it happens again. And we will. Because we like the way they do business.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Small Slice of Heaven

How can you not enjoy a day like this one? Bright sunshine. Cloudless blue skies. Warm, but not too hot. Perfection (even if my photography does not quite capture it).

Two of my boys are in school for a few hours. My husband was nice enough to take the other one with him to work today (he builds houses, so Connor is probably once again playing in the dirt or merely happy to be sitting in the front seat of Daddy's truck like a big boy, sipping on Gatorade and running countless errands).

And that left me here, alone in my own house for the first time in what feels like forever, for nearly three hours! I did one dutiful thing and took the big puppy for his daily walk (much easier and more pleasant without a particular preschooler complaining he's tired every five steps).

And then I did absolutely nothing.

I took the new Entertainment Weekly out on the deck, propped my feet up on another deck chair, soaked in some sun and read the magazine cover to cover without a single interruption (Buster pushing on me to find what precious little shade there is under the table does not count).

Now I'm going to grab some lunch before my husband returns with all three kids. Maybe having car trouble every once in a while isn't so bad after all. Or perhaps this is just my early birthday present from my husband? The calendar rolls over another year on Thursday. Whatever it is, I'll take it.

Here's hoping you're enjoying your afternoon and getting to enjoy some of this great weather!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Love & Hate

All my life, I have loved cars. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that my father was an auto mechanic and that he loved cars. We always had fun cars, cars that went really fast and looked really good. We also always had lots of cars, at least three and sometimes as many as five. For two licensed drivers, one of whom (my mother) rarely drove since my parents carpooled to work together. When she did drive, she drove one of the Corvettes (yes, my parents had more than one and still have them, actually).

I grew up driving a 1974 Camaro. I loved that car (my friend Haley took that picture for her photography class when we were in college together, where I was still driving it)! It was fast and fun, even if I didn't know the first thing about keeping it running. I could talk about and understand quite a bit in terms of concepts, but don't ask me to open the hood and actually do something. That's what Dad's are for, right?

And I love my car now (though it's not technically a car). I've had my shiny white Tahoe Z-71 for going on five years now. It's nearly paid for and still looks good. It's large enough to fit our entire family, including three boys in bulky car seats and the extra large puppy, if we're feeling that adventurous. And that was luck, by the way, seeing as how we had it long before the first child, much less the three kids who came along in less than two years. It's served us well, and we kind of assumed it would serve us well for a while.

Lately it's been having some issues. First it randomly refuses to start. On a date night, no less, when we had to call one of our babysitters to come pick us up and take us back home (good thing there were two that night, huh?). We get lucky and it starts long enough to be driven to the local garage. They diagnose an alternator problem, so it's replaced for a few hundred dollars. A month later, Connor and I climb in to go pick up the little guys from preschool. You know, the one that's only five minutes away and that we literally leave about eight minutes before school is actually over. It randomly doesn't want to start again. So this time it's towed to the garage, some bare wires in the ignition are blamed and it's repaired for less than a hundred dollars. All seems well.

And then the tires decide to fall off. Literally. On the long drive to Grandma and Grandpa's house at the lake, one of the rear tires blows and is left a shredded mess. The truck is actually resting not on a flat tire but on the bare rim on the gravel right-of-way. Nice. So Dad once again saves the day. He and my brother drive out (were about 30 minutes away) and change the tire. I drive it back home and promptly return to the same garage for a new set of tires. Lots of money later, we're rolling again. All seems well.

Until last night. On the drive back from our cousin's graduation party, we pull in to Grammy and Pappy's house to drop off Aunt Kelly and pick up Connor's things (he'd been on an overnight visit, originally for a tractor-pull that was cancelled due to weather and actually for a day at the indoor swimming pool). The truck simply shuts itself off and refuses to start. We call our resident auto mechanic who works Sunday nights (my Dad), try a few tricks, and eventually give up. Josh pushes it out of the way (several forward and backward attempts, because the power steering also dies and makes it nearly impossible to turn).

Our options are not fun. Josh's parents have an extra car, but his brother is using it. None of their cars would get all of the kids home in one trip anyway. We ditch the kids with Aunt Kelly, Uncle Luke and his girlfriend Lizzy. Then we borrow Aunt Kelly's car, load it up with our stuff, and drive back to our house thirty minutes away. We unload our stuff and check on the neglected puppy. Then I head back in Aunt Kelly's car while Josh drives his truck. I am nice enough to fill up Aunt Kelly's car, since it would be close to empty after our hour long drive.

And, truth be told, this part was actually fun, since I haven't been in a fun, sporty car in a while. Aunt Kelly is cool like that, she has a rather new Mitsubishi Eclipse with a lot of pick-up and great handling (not that I was testing it, of course). Let's just say I was definitely not in one of our trucks! It brought back fun memories of Camaros and Corvettes! And my recent Mustang obsession.

But that was the only fun part. For the third time in three months, my truck is not cooperating with the same issue. Lots of money and attempts to repair it seem useless at this point. A random starter issue that just will not go away. It was towed once again to the garage this morning, where they couldn't figure out the problem. They did, however, manage to get it started. An old mechanic's trick, so they joked, of simply banging hard on the fuse box (we assume it's an electrical / computer issue at this point that messing with the starter). We paid the towing bill, discounted, since we do quite a bit of business with this garage (they were nice enough to comp it totally last time).

And then we drove to another garage that specializes in electrical and computer issues. Josh and the kids were in his truck, and I was in mine. That's where it is now, waiting for the next diagnosis and hopefully repair.

Growing up, I guess I always took for granted that things worked. My Dad is a car guy, and he's handy with just about anything. That helps. Josh and I, were not car people. He's handy, but not when it comes to automobiles. I also took for granted that if one car was acting up, well, you simply just went deeper into the garage and got a different one. That was how it worked.

Unfortunately, not for us. Josh is having to adjust his work schedule around preschool drop-off and pick-up. We've got three kids in car seats within inches of each other in the back seat of his truck, which means they're constantly touching and annoying one another. They're also closer to us, so they're a whole lot louder. Fun times.

The good news is that we do have two vehicles that can accommodate our entire family, car seats and all. The bad news is that's it been inconvenient for Josh's work and for our schedule. I've always loved my car, but right now it's testing the limits. I don't ask for much, really, Just that it starts, you know, and then runs, like it's supposed to.

A Beautiful Day

Today was one of those absolutely amazing days in our part of the world. Sunny, with a cloudless blue sky that seems to go on forever. Cool breeze that feels more like fall than almost summer. A great day to be outside, and to take the little guys on one of our long stroller walks.

Mommy misses those, especially since she can no longer push the triple stroller and Connor is always "too tired" to walk more than a single block. So today she shipped him off with Daddy, who had some errands to run and didn't mind him tagging along. He likes to do that, to put his booster seat in the front of Daddy's truck and ride around like a big boy. It worked out for everyone.

All in all, we probably venture about three miles round trip. Our subdivision is a small part of the master plan for an old farm on the edge of the urban service area. The four-lane boulevard (currently unmarked and just used as two) is divided by a grassy median and flanked with sidewalks all the way from our finished section to another finished section, winding about a mile through open fields and ponds and rolling farmland.

It's a pleasant walk (or stroll), and the boys are usually pretty content in our double side-by-side stroller. Xander usually likes to hold a stick or a long piece of grass or a random flower (or weed, as most people would call it). He points to passing cars and planes and helicopters that fly overhead and seems to like hearing me tell him about each one. Sawyer watches, taking it all in, but seldom points to anything and doesn't seem to care about my commentary. Content. Happy to be outside and on the move.

It takes about an hour, give or take, and gives us all a much needed break from the walls that often close in at our house. Fresh air and good weather. Something a little different and something so simple. A beautiful day.

A Day with the Family

Yesterday we traveled to visit the extended family and help one of our cousins celebrate his high school graduation. The kids were not exactly thrilled to be there, mostly because they fell asleep on the hour and a half drive up there.

But they eventually warmed up to it. There was plenty of snacks and food, after all. And there was a big backyard with a swing and bubbles and chalk and balls and lots of people to help entertain them. They came around.

We also learned that one of our sons has an extremely high threshold for pain. We actually suspect it of all of them, because none of them are quick to cry over things that appear physically painful. Xander definitely proved the point where he is concerned.

The bad thing about big gatherings is that we as parents often take for granted that someone else is watching the kids, whether it be the other parent, a favorite aunt or uncle, or a fun-loving cousin. Part of you just takes a deep breath, especially when you're around family, and thinks you can have a little break from the constant need for supervision. There are lots of people there to keep them out of trouble.

I was in the kitchen, doing who knows what. Someone called from outside on the back porch and I started that way, assuming the kids were still safely in the living room munching on M&Ms (our first bribe of the afternoon, provided upon arrival to help with their crankiness) with Josh. That's where I'd seen them last. He apparently assumed they were following me outside.

And they were. Through the kitchen, crowded with people and overflowing with hot dishes on the stove top and casseroles fresh from the oven. My two boys, one of whom has lately shown a fascination with stoves and ovens, were making their way through the kitchen largely unsupervised. There were people in there, of course, but no one who was actively watching them.

Xander apparently touched something, or at least we suspect he did. He never cried or screamed or in any way indicated anything was wrong. He merely came to the back door and held his arms out for me to help him down the steps, which I did. And then he took off, ready to play.

About half an hour later, as I was sitting on the backyard swing with my good swinging buddy (if there's a swing, trust me, Sawyer is going to be in it). Xander came walking up and climbed into my lap. So we sat there, just swinging and watching all the activity around us.

That's when I happened to look down. I was rubbing on his hands as he sat in my lap and just happened to see something strage on one of his hands. At first I thought an allergic reation or a bug bite. In that quick glance, I only saw red and puffy. When I turned it over, I knew it was something more. There was a large blister about three inches long and an inch wide at the base of his thumb on the left hand (you know, that perfect grab position). It was a burn blister, and not a pretty one.

Even me looking at it didn't bother him. He eventually squirmed away and just started playing again. He didn't hold out his hand to have it kissed, as Connor would have done. He didn't hold it out screaming or crying, as most normal children would have done. He simply went on like nothing had ever happened. He played, without even really favoring the hand. He picked up balls, put pressure on it when he was pushing or pulling things, and just acted like everything was fine.

Yeah, I would have been screaming and crying and begging for cold water or ice (or maybe both) if it had been me. Not a word. No screaming or tears. Nothing. And that's kind of scary. If you don't feel something like that enough to be bothered by it, what will you feel? Stomach ache? Broken bone? Like I said, a bit scary.

But all seems to be well. The blister actually popped at school today, so he's beginning to heal. Not that he's noticed mind you. Still running and jumping and playing. Like it never even happened.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

And so ends his first year of preschool. All but one of his classmates, who was out sick, were on stage for their year-end program. They were all cute, even if some of them didn't sing very much (ahem, Connor).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Quoted & Noted

The boys and I are sitting around the dining room table, eating a late (as usual) breakfast. Our good puppy is outside, barking at the neighbors dogs yet again. They're small and yappy, he's big and territorial. He sounds fierce, even though he's not really.

Connor is complaining about Buster, telling me that I need to tell him to "hush," which I frequently do. Today I am just tired and trying to read a section of the paper during breakfast. I don't feel like getting up to go "hush" the dog, so after saying it's okay and trying to let it go, I then attempt to ignore my son's repeated requests. You know, where he says the exact same thing over and over again in his most annoying of voices. After about the tenth repetition, I have had it and simply tell him to hush.

He looks at me with big, disapproving eyes and shakes his head a little.

"Mommy no hush me. Mommy hush Buster," he says, quietly but firmly, refusing eye contact. I merely look at him. He knows better than to tell Mommy "no" about anything. We've had this conversation many, many times. Mommies are allowed to say no, children are not (at least not in that tone of voice). He peeks a glance at me, but quickly looks away and continues shaking his head. "Not nice to hush Connor," he mutters under his breath as he goes back to his breakfast.

Perhaps not. But, contrary to popular belief in our house, four-year olds don't rule the world.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Okay, Maybe Just Once

Can I Just Wave My Arms

What Me, Sing?

Last Day of School

This is Connor, not singing, at the year-end program at preschool. In fairness, he did actually sing a few choruses for a few songs later on, but the first half was this silent, rather angry looking little boy in his engineer's cap (the theme was "Crossroads Express" and involved all kinds of transportation).

Video will appear later.

Photo Flashback

Do you know who we are? Sawyer is sticking his tongue out at you, and Xander is fascinated by the ceiling fan. (May 09, 2006)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kids at School

A few photos of the kids at school, shared with us by their teachers.

Connor working on a craft at the Christmas party (they're making reindeer food with oatmeal and sprinkles).

Connor giving his classmate "the look," you know, the one that says you're a little too close in my space and you're doing it all wrong anyway. That look.

And here is Xander and his favorite friend taking a look at the calendar, even borrowing the teacher's pointer in the process! Little sneaks.

Xander enjoying the calendar solo. Both of the little guys love this segment of the school day. Letters, numbers and order. What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dinner at the Club

Tonight we were brave. We took all of the boys out to a fancy, sit-down dinner. Grammy and Pappy are members of the local university club, and they invited the whole family out for dinner together. So we loaded up the boys and met up with Grammy, Pappy, Aunt Kelly, Luke and Lizzie for dinner.

The boys have been here before, once or twice for the fall festival, lots of times to swim in the outdoor pools and play on the playgrounds in the summer, but also to eat a time or two in the family-friendly basement dining area. That's where we took them tonight, and it was a good thing, since the twins were in rare form (meaning rather loud and not exactly on their best behavior). Today, of course, was the day they decided to nap at 4 p.m. and they weren't exactly thrilled to be getting up or going anywhere a few hours later. Xander actually took me by the hand and led me to the gate at the stairs, where he proceeded to walk up and lay down in his bed and start sucking his thumb. Yeah, that's our luck.

The boys did pretty well. Connor certainly enjoyed eating what he called "steak" (actually a really tender and delicious pot roast) from the plates of those of us who ordered the buffet. Never mind that we ordered him chicken fingers and french fries, which he didn't bother to touch! The little guys munched on treats from the diaper bag (ring pops and dry cereal) and their french fries. I don't think they touched the chicken or the fruit either. So it goes.

I did feel a little sorry for the other people in our little room. The boys were a bit loud at times, especially when I left the room to visit the buffet. Sawyer in particular was not happy about this at all. But they did pretty well considering how little we actually take them out for these types of things and the fact that they picked today of all days to actually want to nap.

Here are a few pictures from our evening adventure.

This is the club house, which used to be a private residence until it was purchased from the original owner's estate by the university and turned into a large dining hall.

Xander is happy to finally be outside and free from his chair, as you can see by his big grin.

A rare moment of calm for Sawyer (who had a whole ring pop of his own and part of Xander's, too, during dinner).

Silly Connor, hiding behind his pine cone so Mommy couldn't take his photo.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On the Mend

Of course he's tired right now. He came sneaking into our room at 6:40 this morning! This is definitely a habit that's going to have to be stopped in its tracks, sick or not.

Not only did he come in much too early, but he then proceeded to crawl over Mommy and push her to the last six inches of the bed (and it's a king-size bed!) She eventually gave up and went to sleep in his room (yes, the one that still smells like pee nearly a year after potty training!).

Mommy is not a morning person. She might even be what some people would call hostile in the mornings. Especially if there is not a reason to be awake at such a ridiculous hour, which there wasn't, since our first preschool drop off isn't until 9 a.m. Heaven help the parents who take their kids to the morning session of preschool, it's from 7 until 10 a.m. I don't even want to think about getting three kids up and ready at that hour, much less myself.

Despite the early wake up, he seems to be doing better. He's still not eating much, but he's drinking plenty of fluids. The fever is gone, and there are even moments of play and laughter and constant chatter (you know, his usual). He insisted on going to school this morning, even though Mommy wasn't so sure, and he received a good report from his teachers, including participation in today's field day events outside and actually eating a good portion of their morning snack. He came bouncing home with a inflatable soccer ball, a scorecard with lots of stickers and a shiny medal around his neck. Apparently it was worth going, even if he wasn't at 100 percent today.

After a good report from school, we even made plans for a late lunch at McDonald's with Grandma and Grandpa who were in town today and Uncle Brian who was going to meet us on his afternoon lunch break from work. Again, he didn't eat much, but he drank quite a bit and even played at the indoor play area for quite a while. We spent a couple of hours there, and then he came home and immediately crashed on the couch. He's still there, about two hours later.

Lots of fluids, a little more rest, and hopefully he'll be back to his usual self again tomorrow. Here's hoping, because he has a big week at school, if he can manage it!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Still Pitiful

Poor kid, of all the times to not feel well. This is supposed to be a fun and exciting last week of school. Tomorrow is the school field day, where most of the day will be spent outside playing with the other kids and classes. Thursday is the class party and field trip to the local arboretum, where there will be a picnic lunch and outdoor toy fun. And Friday is the school program, where he will have his chance to sing the songs we've been hearing for what feels like months on stage in front of all the parents and guests.

At times he appears better and will get up and play, but he's still crashing. The fever comes and goes, but the children's Motrin appears to help with that. There's no appetite, unless eating a lot of Club crackers and drinking a lot of Sprite counts. There's been no more throwing up, thank goodness. But there's been lots of pitiful and lots of whining and general neediness.

Here's hoping he starts to feel better soon. Otherwise, the poor kid is going to miss out on one of the best weeks of his first year at preschool!

A Day for Mommy

As a former marketing major, I know that holidays like Mother's Day are largely created by the media and corporate America. But how they came to be and how you choose to celebrate them are two entirely different things.

Ours at home was simple, the way we prefer most things around here. It's an unstated rule that I get to sleep in on Mother's Day (even though I had also slept in the day before while Daddy got up with the kids). Sometimes I wake up to the smell of sausage and biscuits downstairs (my favorite home made breakfast). Sometimes I wake up to cards on the night stand.

This year, our four year old is still a bit under the weather. The first thing I got for Mother's Day was to snuggle with him under the covers in my bed. When he woke up, he came padding softly into our room and walked around to my side of the bed. I opened one eye to look at him, still pretty much asleep, and held out a hand. He took it and hopped up into bed and over me to the middle. Then he burrowed himself under the covers with me and backed into my arms. Daddy snuck out, and we slept for another hour or so.

"Mom," he whispered. "Hey, Mom!" a little louder. I'm pretty sure I mumbled something incoherent in response. "I'm going downstairs now, 'kay?" I maybe nodded. Or perhaps more mumbling of non-words, all the while thinking why on earth do you wake someone up to tell them you're leaving the bed? But the thought didn't last long, because I wasn't fully awake.

So I slept for another hour, until about 10:30 a.m.

This time the not-completely well four-year old and the husband appeared. The little one was holding my card, shoving it directly under my nose with an enthusiasm I couldn't quite match in my sleepy state. Josh had a plate with some of the best breakfast ever, the one I used to stop and pick up before work so often that the fast-food people started to know me by name and order. A sausage biscuit, two hashbrowns and a large Coke. A lot of times I would even forgo the sausage biscuit. Nothing like fried grease and Coke to start your day, right?

My husband had gotten the little guys up from bed, taken them downstairs with some toys and a WordWorld DVD, and then left for his breakfast errand. He even stopped by the delicious bakery downtown and picked up pastries and doughnuts for dessert. I was supposed to have a cherry and cream cheese danish on my plate, but instead had cut-up pieces of glazed and chocolate doughnut. Apparently my kids felt they were entitled to first dibs, seeing as how they were actually awake when he came home!

And then there was my card, probably the most appropriate and amusing one ever. It was a musical Hallmark card, that said something to the effect of "who do the kids ask for whenever they want anything?" When you opened it up, there were three cartoon character kids, and a really annoying chorus of inquisitive and eventually whining voices saying "Mom? (pause) Mom? (pause) Mo-o-om?" over and over again. Yeah, that pretty much sums up life with three toddlers (and only one of them actually says that word, one clutches at my hand all day and the other uses his eyes to "look" me into doing what he wants).

So I started my day with a snuggle, a little extra sleep, a delicious breakfast, and a laugh. I couldn't ask for more on my Mother's Day.

The rest of the day was pretty typical. The not-so-well one camped out on the couch, nodding off to college baseball and animated movies, and the other two played outside on the play sets. I made a phone call to my parents to catch up and wish my Mom a happy Mother's Day, and had the bonus of talking with both of them at the same time since they both picked up from different locations in their house!

At the end of the day, we headed out to Grammy and Pappy's house to celebrate the day with Josh's extended family. There was food, laughter, catching up and lots of playing. Not a bad way to spend any day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

These are the moments, being silly and laughing at yourself.

(Okay, I fudged a little. This photo is actually from last week. I noticed it when I was archiving to CDs a few nights ago and pulled it into PhotoShop for a little editing. I loved the way it turned out and had to share!)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ready to Fly

I always did love Daddy best, Sawyer says, as he soars high up in the air.

Me, too, Xander agrees. Daddy rocks.

Perhaps a trampoline is going to be in our near future?

And if you're wondering, big brother is feeling a little better. The fever has gone down, he's been up and playing some, but he was not up for being tossed in the air. Cuddling with his blanket and a few toys, watching movies on the couch is still more his speed today.

One Pitiful Little Boy

For once, there is a legitimate reason to be pitiful. Connor woke up yesterday not feeling well. He was slow to come downstairs, which isn't alarming in and of itself. Often, once he goes downstairs and sees that no one else is up, he will go back to his room and read books on his bed until the rest of us are awake.

But he wasn't in his room, he was just sitting on the couch staring at nothing, curled up onto one of the pillows. We assumed he was tired. Then he requested breakfast and milk, which he took one look at and refused. Mommy was not impressed at all. After not eating the breakfast he had just asked for and that I had just fixed, he sat down on the couch and started complaining about being cold, even though the temperature inside was inching up toward eighty (and time to turn the air back on).

At this point, despite the signs, Mommy still didn't think much about it. In fact, she rather harshly told him if he was cold then the best place for him to be was under the covers in his bed upstairs. To my surprise, he did just that. And was asleep within minutes, shivering under the covers (which I noticed after it finally occurred to me that he was probably sick and I went back upstairs to check on him).

Poor little man. And poor parents. We were supposed to have a night out last night, thanks to Grammy and Pappy who had offered to come over and watch the boys. We decided that probably wasn't a good idea, as we didn't want to risk getting anyone else sick if we could help it. And that turned out to be a very good call on our part. Little man decided to throw up on Mommy and the couch shortly thereafter.

Today is not much better. He's been adamant about staying downstairs, despite nodding off frequently during the animated movies we've been watching. We took his temperature, which gave us the sad face reading of 100.8. He's hot to the touch and shivering under a fleece blanket in a warm house. He's had some Children's Motrin, which I'm hoping doesn't have the same fate as yesterdays attempt at Tylenol (you know, right before he threw up).

Right now, he's sipping Sprite from a sippy cup and eating a few club crackers while watching The Jungle Book, when his brothers will leave him in peace. And that's not very often. For some reason, Daddy got one of Sawyer's old Lightning McQueen sippy cups out for the Sprite this morning. And guess who's been trying to steal it ever since. He actually managed to get it once, during one of Connor's nodding sessions, before I could stop him. Mommy is really hoping that whatever Connor has is not contagious, because I'm pretty sure Sawyer took a big drink from that cup.

That's certainly all I need. Happy almost Mother's Day, indeed.

Friday, May 8, 2009

All About Me, Part II

It seems I forgot to mention one of the more humorous things I learned from the home-visit this morning with Xander's teachers. He has never enjoyed being dropped off at school, I know, but he's always very excited to see my truck pull up outside of school to take him home.

There's a car pool lane, where teachers help students in and out of the cars (about three cars at a time). Xander sees my truck from inside the classroom (his teacher has decided he does better waiting in the classroom where he can still play, rather than lining up in the hall with the other kids). He takes off running. He pushes past other kids, and definitely makes sure that he pushes past his brother.

You see, he wants to get there first. Mommy has the bad habit of picking up the first one, and then leading the second one by the hand (they're heavy these days, okay) and it's a busy little traffic area with the parents picking kids up, people leaving for the day, and the school buses leaving. Xander is determined to be the one who gets picked up, and he doesn't mind if he has to race past his brother (or knock him down either, for that matter). He wants to be first.

This, of course, is from the kid who stuck his little arm and fist up on the operating table (during my c-section), as if to say "What about me?" after the doctor had delivered his brother first. My doctor still talks about it to this day.

He wants to be first.

Cookie Monster

Though we didn't manage to get his picture pinching at the cookies on the baking sheet (before they were even cooked), we did get pictures of him anxiously waiting by the oven. Mommy had to guard the oven door to keep him from pulling it open every few seconds for a peek and a sniff.

And not to worry, they had already cooled before we let him actually reach his hands up there for a bite. Josh gave him one at this stage.

But one was not enough. As I was putting the next batch into the oven, I turned around and found this. He climbed up on top of the trash can that sits at the end of the bar and was helping himself to yet another cookie (this would make three, counting the first one that Josh gave to him and another one that I let him have at the table).

Mmm. Best cookies ever, he says.

Still munching. Our little cookie monster.

It's funny how most of the time he grabs your hands and gets you to reach something for him. But with these cookies, he just dives right in himself. Perhaps he's worried you will want to share. I still say that with Sawyer, it all comes down to whether or not he wants to do something. It's not can he do it, but will he do it.

If there's a cookie involved, the answer is yes. Absolutely.

The cookies were actually a treat for Josh's parents, who had offered to come over and watch the boys tonight so we could have a night out. Unfortunately, that's not to be. Connor has decided he doesn't feel well - a fever, lack of appetite, lots of sleeping and general pitifulness which probably means a virus. We didn't want to run the risk of getting either of them sick this weekend, so we called and cancelled.

We did at least get to offer a few to Xander's teachers, who had enjoyed them a few weeks ago when I took some into school. We're not above bribing teachers with treats, not at all. Actually, we just like to make people smile and those cookies are definitely good for that. A big thanks to Julie, whose blog I follow, for sharing her great recipe online! They're exceptionally easy to make (trust me, I don't bake unless it's from a box). And Sawyer promises you'll love them!