Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm a Big Kid Now!

Or at least he thinks he is, anyway.

Mommy's idea to let Connor start riding his big wheels bike on our stroller walks has been a big hit. We've done it four times in two days, and he's requested it several other times, too. And a big part of the time we were supposed to be outside "washing" my truck today was actually spent riding his bike down the hill in our driveway. So much for my little helper, huh?

We're thinking about a big boy bike (with training wheels, of course) for his birthday. Maybe. If he's good.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Not Optional Tonight

Though not as much in the summer time, what with swimming and playing outside practically every single day in the heat, baths are sometimes optional in our house. The little guys scream like you would not believe (especially for kids who seem to enjoy the water so much at other times), and sometimes it's just not worth the effort. They're not fans of getting water in their ears, so actually washing their hair is quite the challenge.

But, like I said, summer time is a little different. Baths are more standard. And if not for the fact that we both swam in the kiddie pool and played outside for about 75 percent of our day, then tonight's meal would have cinched it anyway. Spaghetti. With fresh (meaning still warm and gooey) chocolate chip cookies from scratch (which Connor helped with, of course).

Messy kids are cute, right? As long as they're strapped in to their chairs, of course.

Xander is a good sharing fellow. Want some of his chewed on, still gooey chocolate chip cookie?

Sawyer, torn between two things he LOVES to do. Watching the leaves blow on the big, tall trees that tower over the back of our house and eating the really tasty cookies (this makes four, if you count the three he ate as cookie dough while we were waiting for the first batch to bake).

And Connor is the slow poke tonight. He just had to have more spaghetti and meat sauce. Right up until he saw me get the cookies for his brothers. We made him eat a little more food before he was, of course, granted his cookie (which he also didn't eat).

Ah, summer time.

Around the Block

Though still warm (mid-80s) in our part of the world, today offered a nice breeze and much lower humidity than the last few weeks. It's been a nice day to be outside for a change.

And since Connor, bless his heart, asks every single day "What we do today?" with that hopeful and expectant expression on his face, I decided we would try something new to mix up our routine of just swimming and playing in the yard. He would like to do something like go to the library or the boat school, or the park or out to eat, I'm sure. But we're still trying to stay close to home for potty training, so that wasn't in the cards today.

So, I loaded up the little guys in the stroller (in big boy underwear and shorts even), suckers in hand. And I pulled out Connor's big wheel tricycle for him. Thus far, we've only used it in the house. And he's actually skilled enough to use it these days, so our floors were beginning to see some scuff marks from him spinning the wheels to get started. I thought it was time to retire it to its intended use, outside.

We started off well. He loved coasting down the big hill that is our driveway and listened to Mommy when she told him to stay on the sidewalk and away from the road. Of course, just around that first bend, still on our property, the sidewalk starts to go uphill ever so slightly. It was too much, in Connor's opinion. He started whining and complaining about not being able to do it and his knees hurting. And, in fairness, his knees were practically at the handlebars. But we trudged on (I threatened we could just go back and take naps, which usually motivates my four-year old to try a little harder). And, we compromised. I put the stroller behind him and helped to "push" him with the stroller wheel on the inclines. He coasted on the down hills and pedaled on the flats. All in all, it went well.

There were still a few complaints about the knees on the handlebars. Mommy finally wised up and noticed that the seat could be lowered, and we fixed that problem. Though at this point, he was getting tired from our second trip around the block (he whined to not stop after the first one). But we made it back. He had fun. He listened well and didn't do anything that was unsafe. And, the little guys were content to ride in the stroller and were accident free.

So, all in all, a good trip. And a new outdoor activity I can enjoy when it's just me and the boys at home. Maybe next time we'll be brave enough to take Buster on his much-needed walk, too. But not today. I took two photos with my cell phone camera, so they're not that great. But you can get the idea at least.

My view from the back of the stroller. Connor liked to lead, and it also put him in a good position for us to push when he needed a little help on the hills.

Making a u-turn. He coasted down a hill and almost missed the turn back to our house. But he made his way back and even stopped to look both ways himself (without being prompted) before we crossed the road.

Week Four

It feels like so much longer than that, of course, but today begins week four of our summer vacation from school and week four in our potty training boot camp. And, surprisingly enough, there's been progress. A lot of progress.

Now, don't misunderstand, we're no where near completely done yet. In fact, we've not even started overnight training or taking trips away from home yet. That will come later, we hope.

But, there are getting to be fewer and fewer accidents at the house, at least in terms of puddles. We still have a few wet pairs of big boy underwear, but just little spots. They're starting to recognize what's going on and stopping before it turns into a big puddle on our floor. There are even moments where both of them will take us to the bathroom door and start to twist on the knob. Like I said, progress. Especially for two little boys who don't talk and are generally very reluctant to engage you for anything except getting them food or drinks (or especially candy) from the kitchen.

We also have a pretty good success rate of getting them to go rather quickly once we set them on the potty, as opposed to spending hours on the bathroom floor waiting for it to "accidentally" happen. Good news all the way around.

And I'm pretty sure I laughed at all the people who told me the first time around (with Connor) that it was more about training yourself than training them. I will concede it's partially true. Watching them and knowing their individual signs (which are totally different, by the way) of needing to go is just as important as anything. Xander dances around, usually pulling at the front of his underwear. Sawyer gets as still as can be, and is usually found hiding on or very near an HVAC register. And I'm sorry to say I don't have the first clue what Connor's sign was. That really feels like forever ago, even though it was only about year and a half ago.

And though I claim to be no expert in this area at all, I will also offer that I think taking a few weeks to stick closer to home (which makes summer vacation ideal), to keep the routine going, has been extremely beneficial, especially for our boys who function so much better on routine anyway. I also think letting them run around in just their big boy underwear (and sometimes a shorter t-shirt) makes your life easier. Trust me, you have enough laundry already without adding three or four (or ten, depending on what stage you're in) full outfits per child for the weeks of potty training. And last, but certainly not least, M&Ms have proved to be a very inexpensive and effective way to bribe my boys. The two little guys (just like Connor used to) hold out their hand expectantly after each and every successful trip.

That's it. That's my three week review and my two cents worth on potty training. Take it for what it's worth. We'll see what the rest of the summer brings, and hopefully we can send our little guys off to preschool in the fall with just a few changes of extra clothes in their backpacks and mostly potty trained!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Working Girl

For the first time in over three and a half years, I am part of the working (and getting paid for it) world again. Not a full-time job, of course, but working just the same. And, surprisingly, it's been good.

Part of me has always missed working. Not the days of early mornings, late nights, weekends, stress and crazy deadlines, mind you. I don't miss the old 7 to 6, five days a week routine at all. A job in marketing and young children do not work well together, let me tell you. But I did miss that sense of accomplishment that came from doing a job well, of actually having a to-do list and marking things off. I missed being productive, whether that was writing or designing. I missed talking to people and coming up with solutions to problems, writing a proposal and winning the big contract. And, of course, we've missed the steady income and the benefits.

So I took a part-time job, evenings and weekends, at a local furniture store. It's a long way from the marketing executive I used to be, but it works for right now. The job is a little bit of office work, a little bit of customer service, and a little bit of retail. Mostly it's keeping things organized (which I do pretty well, if I do say so myself). The pay is maybe half of what I used to get in the corporate world, but the hours make it work. If I were working during the day, then I would have to have a good sitter at home (one who can transport three kids in carseats to and from preschool on a daily basis) and that higher salary would simply pay the sitter (trust me on this, it's why I stopped working in the first place when the twins came along). So I would essentially be working just to pay someone else to come take care of my kids, and that just doesn't make sense to me.

This way, it's kind of the best of both worlds. I earn a little extra cash for the family. And it's the kind of job you don't have to take home with you. You just work your hours, mark things off your to-do list, and then you're done. It also means that I get a much-needed break from being the full-time at-home parent, and Josh gets to spend more time with the kids instead of working overtime trying to keep up with everything. Win, win.

Of course, you'll have to ask Josh about that whole win,win thing. He does have to feed and put three cranky boys to bed after working all day several nights each week.

Going back to work (and getting older), makes me question our whole system of education. To leave high school and jump immediately into college, without honestly knowing yourself well enough to know what you want out of life when you grow up, doesn't seem like the best idea in the world. I mean, I like marketing, don't get me wrong. And I'm good at it, which is one of the reasons I decided on communications as a major. But I don't think I ever stopped to think about how it would fit in with a family. Perhaps that's because I didn't expect to have such a large family so soon, but still. Who at 18 or 19 thinks about that? And most college programs are so structured that you have to begin as freshmen to actually graduate in four (or five, as most programs have become) years.

So, here I am, married with three kids at thirty-one years old. And I still wonder what I'm going to be when I grow up. Once the kids are in school during the day, do I want to go back to marketing? Or do I want to do something else altogether. Because it's not just about me anymore. Sure, I want to do something I enjoy (just like I did when I was 18). But I also want to do something that both helps pay the bills and also allows me to spend time with my kids while they grow up. Priorities shift. Needs change.

Good thing I have a few years before I have to grow up (ahem, before the kids are in school during the day), huh?

Snapshot Sunday

Tasting it. Xander having a fun day in the kiddie pool.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Two of a Kind

Okay, so not the best photograph ever, but cute just the same.

Just after breakfast, Josh got a call and needed to run by a jobsite to meet one of his contractors. He offered to take Connor with him, so both of them went upstairs to "get ready." Josh had just finished eating, so he wanted to brush his teeth and also get his hat and sunglasses. Connor merely followed. But as they started down the steps, Connor told him to "Wait, wait a second!" and then he took off running down the other hallway to his bedroom. He came running back with his hat and new sunglasses that we had just unpacked from his recent trip to the lake.

And then he proceeded to put them on, just like Daddy, with the hat first and the sunglasses resting on top of the bill. And even more adorable is the fact that today was the first day he got to wear his Father's Day present, a t-shirt that says "Dad's #1 Fan" from Old Navy, since he was actually at the lake on Father's Day.

Daddy and his mini me, two of a kind.

Friday, June 26, 2009

After the Rains

This was our view as we were leaving the lake tonight, at about 9:35 p.m. Not exactly what we had in mind for our day, but beautiful just the same.

The little guys and I got up and on the road just after breakfast, which doesn't exactly happen early in our house. I think we left about 10:35 a.m., if that gives you any indication. Connor had been staying with Grandma and Grandpa since last Wednesday, and we were traveling down to visit for the day and to bring him back home.

It was a typical summer day in our part of the world. Hot and humid and, as always, a pretty good chance of an afternoon thunderstorm. We had hoped to make it out on the boat, but knew the weather might not cooperate. It didn't.

And it wouldn't have been bad, really, except that we didn't notice it until after we already had the kids dressed, covered in sunscreen, and in the truck driving down the road to the boat ramp. For whatever reason, we all assumed that someone else had checked the weather radar. Mostly because Grandma usually won't even think about going out in the boat unless she's pretty darn sure it's not going to rain and she's not going to get wet. But none of us actually checked, we just assumed someone else had.

We packed up our things and climbed into the truck and headed out with three pretty excited little boys. And as we were rounding the last curve before the turn to the boat dock, we saw it. Dark clouds, moving in fast from the southwest, a sure sign that rain was on its way. So Grandpa used a nearby road to turn around (no small feat, in and of itself).

And that's when one very tired little boy lost it. Tears, screams and just general pitifulness ensued. I'll give you three guesses as to which one it was. And a hint, it was the one who's been used to having his way, at least for, oh, let's say the last week or so.

So we brought the kids back to the house and just played outside for a while, listening to the thunder as it got closer and eventually watching and feeling the cool breeze blow in the rain. Connor didn't make it very long with even this. Did I mention he was tired? And that he gets infinitely more stubborn the more tired he becomes?

After doing several things he knew he shouldn't have done, he eventually crossed one line too many. He took one of his playing sticks and tried to poke his brother in the eye. Not accidentally, mind you, but very deliberately. Grandma probably would have scolded him and made him sit down for a while. Mommy, on the other hand, knew where this was going. Bed. And I mean NOW. So I marched him upstairs and dumped him in bed, even though I could tell Grandma had already washed the sheets and remade the bed from his visit. Tired, hateful little boys need naps. And he was asleep within minutes.

And then he talked . . . ALL the way home. For two hours. Even with a movie playing and the radio on. But, at least he was in a good mood again. That counts for something, right?

Photo Flashback

I'll punch you in the face if you mess with me! Okay, not really, but it certainly looks like it. Don't mess with Sawyer. (June 19, 2007)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Surfer Boys

We're working on our tans and our highlights this week. Lots of sun means lots of time outside, splashing in the kiddie pool and picnic lunches under the umbrella.

It's a rough life, we know. But someone has to do it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And Now . . .

Back to our regularly scheduled programming. After a few days of peace and quiet, today was spent much like any other in the last few weeks. A few hours of potty training, broken up by some kiddie pool time (and even a visit from some friends), and then back to potty training.

The fun continues . . .

The little guys getting their feet wet. Buster wishing he could get past the gate for a quick dip.

Splashing with our friends John and James, who stopped by for a fun visit and impromptu lunch outside. It's always nice for the boys to be around other kids, especially when it's in an environment that we can control pretty easily. And Mommy always loves catching up with a friend, even if it is bits of conversation around keeping an eye out for danger and naughty children (mostly mine, who tend to push and not like to share) needing correction.

All in all, today was a good day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Night Away

Grandparents are wonderful. They do things like offer to take your children for a few days to give you a much-needed break. Connor has been splashing at the lake with Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) since the middle of last week. Sawyer and Xander left Sunday night with Grammy and Pappy (Josh's parents) and didn't come back until this evening.

There was peace and quiet in our house for a change. The floors were actually clean and stayed that way for more than 30 seconds. Not a single animated movie played. No one went pee-pee on the floor or in the dining room chairs. Books were read somewhere other than the bathroom floor. No one came bumming every single time you set foot in the kitchen. No one kicked the door at 6 a.m. wanting to go downstairs. There was, quite simply, peace and quiet for a few days.

It's funny how these breaks always leave you torn. On one hand, you really just want to kick back and relax a little bit. On the other, there are so many things that need to be done (and can be done much more easily and much more quickly without children around). It's always a struggle. And we did what we do much of the time. We compromised. We did a little bit of work, and we did a little bit of fun.

Yesterday was our break. Josh worked in the morning and early afternoon, after we both slept in until almost 10 a.m. (yes, hate us now). When he finished up about 2, we ran a few errands, one to the Sprint store about his erratic cell phone and one to the garage to pick up my erratic truck, yet again. We think, and fervently hope, that it's fixed this time.

And that's when our night out began. We went to one of our favorite restaurants, P.F. Chang's (also part of Grammy and Pappy's gift to us), where we gorged on appetizers and a small entree. Then we went to the new theatre next door and enjoyed stadium seating and reclining chairs. Though none of our must-see summer movies were out this week, we watched a cute and laugh-out-loud funny (at times) movie, The Proposal. Probably not worth 16 bucks, but an enjoyable way to spend the evening. We finished it off with ice cream from Maggie Moo's, which we'd never had before. Also good, and also probably not worth the 5 bucks per cone that we paid. But, actual nights out, with no kids waiting at home and no rushing back to let babysitters leave, are rare. It was after 10 p.m. when we got home, and that's late for us old married people. Usually, we're home before the kids are being put to bed by the sitters at 8.

A little break. A moment or two of peace. A chance to remember what it was like before we had three preschoolers running around (and two of them peeing on everything). Everyone needs that, right?

Monday, June 22, 2009

This is the Life

Is it any wonder that he's always ready to leave and never ready to come home?

It's in moments like these that I see myself in my son. That completely happy, blissful look on his face, as he sits in the front of the boat, soaking up the sun and the waves. That's mine. I've always loved the water. I practically grew up on it. Every summer of my life, we spent part of it on the water. We started out in tents and pickup trucks and eventually worked our way up to RVs with satellite television and air conditioning. Now, of course, there's Grandma and Grandpa's cabin. And I can take it any way it comes, though my kids have only known the latter (so far, anyway).

Summer sun. Deep, cool lake waters. Perfect for drifting or swimming. Ice cold Mountain Dews and barbeque Fritos. Early morning (or early evening) ski sessions. Ribeyes cooked over charcoal while the kids play in the yard. Campfires and late nights. Family. Home.

These are the moments. It was my parents' gift to me and my brother, and now its our gift (and also still theirs) to our kids (and their grandkids). This is the life . . .

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Who else but a four-year old would think to wear a snorkeling mask in 16 inches of water? Or in the lake, where those very goggles have found a final resting place. They don't float, apparently. And someone was very, very, very sad that they didn't . . . you know, after he purposefully let them go to try to win a swim race with cousin Kyndal. Oops.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's Mine!

No matter how many toys they have, it never fails, they always want the same one. Today it was the inexpensive (and broken, even) bucket. Both of them like watching water pour through the cracks in the side and the bottom (yes, it's that broken and we still let them play with it). Clearly they love it!

Have I mentioned spending a few hours in the kiddie pool every day is a wonderful way to break up the potty training? It's nice to get out of the bathroom every once in a while.

Up to No Good

As soon as the boat stops, let's make a jump for it! Connor and cousin Kyndal plotting on their adventure at the lake (thanks to Grandma & Grandpa for sending the picture).

Hugs & Kisses

There are certain things that come naturally to most kids, like affection. Most kids love hugs and kisses. Not so much with our twins. They go their own way a lot of the time, and this is simply not something that's ever been big with them. Connor, he's all over it. He begs for a hug (the kind where you pick him up, especially) and kisses all the time. He usually wants a hug or a kiss every time he moves a few feet away from you, you know, as a parting proof of your love and devotion to him (or at the very least, your attention). The little guys, well they're much more likely to stiff arm you and run away if you even dare to try. As far as asking for one, doesn't really happen. Ever.

Lately though, we're seeing small breaks in that armor. Little boys that used to squirm away from hugs, much less kisses, are starting to allow them. What's more, they're even initiating them on rare occasions. Always on their terms, mind you, but initiating just the same.

Sawyer has long been the master of the backwards hug. He likes to come up behind you and squeeze as tight as he can (your waist if you're sitting, your legs if you're not). He likes pressure, you see. To him, this is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone. A really, really tight squeeze. And he has even started to mimic a kiss on the cheek. Usually it's when you're holding him. He'll lean in for a very tight squeeze around your neck (his newest version of a hug), and then he will pull back to "kiss" you on the cheek. You do have to be careful, because that little open mouth pressure on the side of your cheek can quickly turn into a bite that will quickly become very, very painful (the pressure thing again). Not your typical hug and kiss, I know, but so much sweeter because they are his own.

Xander isn't much on hugs of any type. Unless he's upset. Then he just wants you to pick him up and hold him. Until it all goes away, which may be for a very long time. He's the dramatic one. But he has started to give kisses, usually when he's done something wrong and been chastised for it. He cannot stand for you to raise your voice in anger with him. He immediately starts crying (and will immediately stop the second he feels he has been forgiven). Usually he will lean in for a big open-mouth kiss in the middle of said crying. If you accept, he feels forgiven and then goes back on with his life, often doing the very thing that got him into trouble in the first place. His hugs and kisses are comfort and bargaining tools. Sneaky, that one. His sweetest moments are usually when you lay down with him at night. He likes to rub on your cheeks with one of his hands while he sucks the thumb of his other one. That's as close as you're going to get to a hug or kiss with him right now.

So even though the twins may not do it in traditional ways, the sentiment is still there. And that's what matters. Three boys. Three completely different ways of expressing themselves. All incredibly amazing and loved.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Photo Flashback

Hey, you! Xander taking a break near the baby gate at the stairs at Grandma & Grandpa's house at the lake. (June 13, 2007)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tales from the Potty

This, my friends, is where I have been spending an inordinate amount of my time lately. The good news is that one of my children is doing much, much better with the concept. The bad news is that the second one, not so much.

Xander gets points. He puts something in the potty about 90 percent of the time. If it happens on the floor, it's usually my fault for not taking him soon enough. He does occasionally get some on the bathroom floor, but that's okay, too. Still learning. He understands that once he goes potty, M&Ms and release will follow. He's all about that. He's even stood outside the bathroom door and said "pee-pee" (letters, of course, for him) a few times. He's getting there.

Sawyer is a work in progress. He knows what we're doing. But he doesn't like it and he doesn't want to cooperate. He will sit (with numerous commands and gestures) for as much as an hour and a half on the potty. There will be leakage. Clearly the kid needs to potty. He willfully stops himself and refuses. The minute you let him up, he will pee in one of his favorite spots. Usually on top of or right next to one of the HVAC registers. Even the one in the bathroom, inches away from the actual potty. Willful non-compliance, that one. But he still wants his candy. He knows it's kept under the cabinet and dispensed for good deeds. He watches as his brother comes and goes with such ease. He knows. He just doesn't want to.

So, there's been some progress and also not so much. We'll keep trying, for a while anyway. You know, until the extra paper towels and Clorox wipes run out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Take Me Out . . .

. . . to the old ball park. Buy me some icees and Mountain Dew. It's one, two, three, my turn to sit there (on the old wooden bench), or I'll pull you off and we'll both get thrown out. We'll run circles around the trees and races on the sidewalks. We'll cheer and we'll scream (not always for the team). And we'll be hot and sticky and worn out at the end of the day.

Okay, so maybe it doesn't go exactly like that. But that's a more accurate summary of our night at the ball field. Uncle Brian is the coach, so he hooked the two little people up with dugout seats. They liked it, when they weren't fighting over the primo spot (and being pulled out, as our little song suggests).

Grandma and Grandpa from the lake came up to watch one of Austin's last games of the season (and to bring Austin and Kyndal back from their lake visit). They picked up Connor early this afternoon (while I had the little guys down for a nap so that they might be in a good enough mood to go over later). We watched Austin's game, and then we loaded the three biggest ones back in the truck with Grandma and Grandpa for more fun adventures at the lake. The little guys came home with me. We'll head down to the lake sometime in the next week to pick our kids back up. Until then, the cousins will play.

Summer fun.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Day in the Life

Partly sunny with a chance of showers. That pretty much sums up the weather in our part of the world for this time of year. But it was more cloudy than sunny today, so we opted against filling the kiddie pool back up with water (we try to save the clean water for good, sunny days to get the most use out of it before it starts to turn green and collect things, like bugs and leaves).

So today we spent a few hours outside on the play sets.

The big boy, wearing one of Daddy's hats (which of course fits, since all three of our kids have head sizes that are off the charts). Clearly they are Josh's kids. And after giving Connor a hard time about matching outfits, check him out with his navy and orange hat, matching the orange t-shirt and navy Crocs (which you, of course, can't see here).

A big smile from Sawyer, who discovered he could actually swing by himself again. He takes it in spells. Today he did a little of both - some on his own, some with Mommy holding him (though not on these swings, as we would greatly exceed the weight limit of the plastic play set).

We're big on orange today, apparently. Xander in his orange t-shirt and Crocs, enjoying the big boy swings. He loves to swing by himself. He just needs a lot of pushing, what with the whole jumping off in mid-air every few seconds. Fearless.

I'd also like you to note that all three of my children were outside playing in regular clothes without any diapers or pull-ups in sight. That was our first step out of the house. It only lasted about an hour until both of the twins decided to pee without bothering to tell anyone, but still. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

Just another day in the life . . .

Monday, June 15, 2009

Week Two

A few months ago, life was easy. I'm sure I didn't recognize it quite as clearly as I do right now. Yes, we were doing a lot of running to and from school. There were busy mornings and even busy afternoons at times. But life was still relatively easy. A few meals here and there. A few pull-up changes. Playing and running errands.

The last few weeks, not so much.

We started off the first full week of summer break with the beginning of potty training boot camp. The pull-ups have been put away for a full week as of today, at least during the day. We're not big on doing THAT much laundry, so the night time phase will start later, after we see more progress on the day time phase. We already have a full load of little boy underwear going every single day.

The boys are doing okay. Not great, but not terrible either. I'd say about half of the time they're putting something in the potty instead of the floor. Two things have helped. One, going up to the attic and digging out the ridiculously expensive musical potty that we bought with our first attempt with Connor. Two little people require two places to potty, and we're not going to install a second toilet on the first floor just for this.

I'm actually not a big proponent of the kid potty anyway, but we learned that lesson the hard way with Connor. First, all the bells and whistles are just annoying and do NOTHING to encourage the kids to potty (at least not ours). We've actually taken the batteries out of those. Second, you have to dispose of the stuff in the regular toilet anyway, so why not save yourself the step. I highly recommend just getting a kids potty seat insert and step stool (we like the Baby Bjorne). And if for whatever reason you do want the kids potty to have in the bathroom (or wherever), but the simple, no frills Baby Bjorne. It's cheaper, doesn't have any annoying music or features, and doesn't take up too much space in your bathroom.

And let's face it, you need that extra space for you. Someone pretty much has to sit in the bathroom with the kids every hour or so, and usually you stay there a while before anything happens. There are tears and screams and attempted escapes. There's also a bored four-year constantly requesting things (mostly attention) while you're sitting in the bathroom playing warden. It's constant, from the minute they get changed out of their overnight pull-ups until they get put back into their overnight pull-ups.

The second thing that's helped us this week is that we've just stopped letting the boys get up until they actually do something. Five minutes. An hour. Doesn't matter. If they've had something to eat or drink recently or if they've been dancing around, they sit. And they stay until it's done. Because as sure as you give up and tell yourself maybe they didn't need to do anything, they will walk out of the bathroom directly to their favorite hiding spot and pee on the floor (and the couch and the toys and whatever else happens to be in the vicinity). They stay. I've read all four Twilight books over again this week. Ninety percent of it was while sitting on the bathroom floor.

That's the other annoying thing about potty training. Feeling the need to stick closer to home. I know repetition and routine are going to help, especially for my kids. And I know that some people say just take a few changes of clothes and go. Not going to happen. Not for me. Not at this stage of the game. Our house already smells like pee. The couch pretty much just needs to be burned at this point. The trucks and the car seats and the strollers are not going to, not if I can help it.

Our only breaks have been going outside to swim in the kiddie pool. The boys are probably actually tired of it at this point. But that's beside the point. Mommy needs the break. Connor needs the break. And the little guys do to, whether they know it or not.

So tell me . . . when does school start again?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Pure joy for my water baby. I love how much brighter that smile is these days. Happy boy.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Dress Code

So, the end has finally come. I knew it would happen sooner or later, but I just didn't think about it happening so soon.

The four-year old has completely learned to dress himself.

He just hasn't learned how to match.

Yesterday he came downstairs in a bright orange t-shirt with a brown train on it. And of all the shorts to match it, he picked a bright pair of orange shorts, just a shade or two off from the shirt.

It's going to drive his OCD mother a little crazy, though she has so far been able to let it go. At home is one thing. For school, probably not the same thing.

Today, it gets better. Today he's dressed in a nicely matched outfit. He has on a red t-shirt with a monster truck on it, and a pair of blue jeans. Long ones. The weather forecast for today is sunny and hot (above 80). If that were not enough, he's also been sleeping in a pair of long-sleeve pajamas and wakes up sweating because our house is 77 degrees in the summer. He cannot be talked out of them.

Apparently we still need a little work on the seasons and which clothes are appropriate for when.

He loves his new freedom though. Now, he can not only get himself up out of bed (and go potty, thank goodness), but he can also dress himself before he comes downstairs to play.

Some days that's good. Other days, we're probably going to have two outfits a day. Because dirt is apparently attracted to him, and he can't keep it clean in the usual hour that he's downstairs by himself before we come down.

The big boy just keeps getting bigger.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Photo Flashback

First official group portrait. That was fun, let me tell you. (June 15, 2006)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Water Babies

So what if it's rained most of the week, and a big part of today. The boys were perfectly happy to enjoy the kiddie pool under cloudy skies and intermittent showers (no lightning, of course). It just meant we didn't have to mess with sunscreen for a change! It also meant we all go a little time away from our home away from home this week, the bathroom and potty training! I think we all needed that break.

Connor opted out (without really knowing about it) by choosing to take Daddy up on his offer to go to work with him today. He got to help clean out a rental house and get it ready to paint (and hopefully sell).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tales from the Potty

Day three.

Kill me now.


I'm pretty sure I spent every waking moment except for maybe an hour sitting on the bathroom floor, warning two little boys to "Sit!" I can't remember the last time I actually sat down somewhere other than the bathroom floor during the day. And eating a meal, yeah, that didn't happen either, not until they were safely in bed in their absorbent diapers.

On the positive side, there was a little more success as far as something actually making it into the potty. Of course, there were also still a lot of puddles on the floor. You know, for the five minutes they were allowed out of the bathroom at a time. There was even some on the bathroom floor (if you have every tried to potty train a boy, you will understand).

There are only three pair of big boy underwear left on top of the bathroom cabinet. Three out of twenty-four.

I think there should be potty training experts. Clearly I am not one. I would totally pay someone to come over and do this for me. I would even pay some one a lot of money to do it. Any takers?

Cookie Monsters

With all the fun (attempted) potty training going on this week, we're sticking closer to home than sometimes to try to help with the transition. What better way to do something fun than to make chocolate chip cookies!

Here are all three of my cookie monsters raiding the unbaked cookie dough off the cookie sheet. Connor is even licking the spoon from the mixing bowl in addition to taking pinches of cookie dough off the sheet.

And here the twins are fighting over who gets to take a pinch.

Mmm. Best afternoon snack ever.

Xander getting in on the action (he usually doesn't care all that much).

Three boys, three tastes.

Finally, the finished cookies (after much impatience, whining and dancing around the kitchen and the oven).

Yes, we still strap them in. Wouldn't you?

Those are chocolate fingerprints waiting to happen.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tales from the Potty

Day two was not much better than day one.

All fourteen pair of underwear were soaking in the sink by day's end and a load of laundry was necessary to even finish out the day. I even picked up 10 more pair at the store tonight, just to give us a break on the laundry. On the plus side, we're probably saving about $8 every day in pull-ups, so we've broke even on the new underwear purchase and will now begin saving money (if we can hold out).

Some recognition of the potty process is appearing. And by that I mean that both boys will pee just enough to get their big boy underwear damp (but not always leave a big puddle, thank goodness). Mommy will then take them to the potty for as much as 30 minutes to try to get them to "finish," where they will do nothing on the potty and then proceed to go hide somewhere to wet their recently changed big boy underwear just a little bit again. This happens four or five times until they are actually "finished." So, do we see why I just picked up a lot more big boy underwear at the store?

There was one successful potty attempt actually on the potty. Points for Sawyer. The rest, well, let's just say the floor could stand a good cleaning. Again. And probably every night for the foreseeable future.

It would also help if we could somehow have two toilets in the one downstairs bathroom, because it never fails that while you're sitting in the bathroom with one of the twins, the other one is peeing all over the floor (or the furniture or the HVAC register). And then Connor is tattling all about it, over and over again until you acknowledge him (or scream at him, as it were). Patience is not a virtue I'm going to have the next few weeks, in case you were wondering. It's never very high with me, and right now it's pretty much non-existent.

Potty training is apparently a full-time job. And Josh and I are exhausted from having to watch two sneaky little people every waking minute of the day. I only hope we can hold out for a few weeks and give it an honest try. I think stopping and starting was part of our problem with Connor in the beginning. He eventually came around, at just about this age, though he did have the benefit of being able to talk to us while we were trying with him. We'll just have to see how it goes with the little guys.

Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, my computer time during the day is pretty much gone. You know, what with the whole someone peeing every five minutes or needing to sit on the potty (after peeing every five minutes) for at least 30 minutes trying to finish. Any new posts will probably be at night, after the kids have gone to bed.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Let the Fun Begin

Our goal this summer, though we have no idea how remotely achievable it might be, is to potty train the twins. I say this with absolutely no enthusiasm or expectations. They're three and a half, and have so far shown absolutely no willingness or readiness for the event.

We're adopting the old sink or swim method, where you jump all in (during the day only, because I am not that crazy). We plan to try it for a few weeks and see how it goes, so we are officially pull-up free at the moment. We will probably amend that for any time we leave the house, though I am going to try to keep them home for the most part to work on the process.

Today was the first day. It held some valuable lessons.

First, we don't have nearly enough pairs of underwear in their size. Would you like to know how many pair of underwear found themselves soaking in the laundry room sink? Twelve. This would be due, in large part, to the fact that Xander feels the need to relieve himself in small bursts approximately every 20 minutes, usually within five minutes after you've had him on the potty "trying" to go.

Second, Josh and I need to find a lot of reading material to keep us company. Would you like to know how many minutes both of us spent, often simultaneously in separate bathrooms, keeping a fidgeting toddler on the potty? I honestly didn't keep track, but let's do some basic math. We're taking both of them to sit on the potty every 45 minutes for the 12 hours a day that they're awake. It takes about 15 minutes for each "try" on the potty. Roughly translated, we're in the bathroom with someone for 30 minutes at a time with maybe 15 minute breaks between tries. All. Day. Long.

And I won't even mention the entire roll of paper towels, the nearly empty container of Clorox wipes or the amount of upholstery cleaner that was used on the couch and the leather chair in a single day. Or the number of times I found someone standing over an HVAC register as they were going potty. That might discourage people from coming over to visit.

It was the first day, after all. Surely it will get better, right? . . . . Right?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Post Script

Let's just say we have the most photogenic neighbor ever! He loved smiling for the camera. Isn't he the cutest thing ever? Mommy has been playing with her digital photography more and more lately, and just LOVED the way this shot turned out. His smile is not nearly as elusive as my boys! He was perfectly willing to smile and pose yesterday while he and his big sister were over playing in the backyard with the boys on the play sets.

Another Day, Another Swim

And everyone wonders how I've managed to acquire such a good tan so early in the summer. Let's see, perhaps it could be the hours we spend EVERY single day out on the deck by the (and sometimes inside) the kiddie pool. Perhaps.

Our newest water baby. Xander has always been kind of hit or miss as far as water goes. Sometimes he gets really into jumping in and out and splashing, and sometimes he wants absolutely nothing to do with it. But this summer, he's been the first one in just about every time we've gone out. Water baby that I've always been, Mommy loves it!

And Sawyer is feeling a bit off today. He hasn't had much to eat, and he wouldn't go near the pool (usually his favorite thing ever). He and Buster wanted very much to trade places today. He wanted to go swing. Buster wanted in the pool more than anything.

And last, but not least, my always water baby. I've never seen him turn it down or be ready to leave. EVER. Today was no different, even though the water was a bit on the cold side. We had to clean the pool and change the water today, since the bad puppy snuck in yesterday after Mommy forgot to close the gate. I'm really going to have to work to remember that this year, because changing the water every time is not fun. I have three impatient water babies to deal with!

A Night Away

A few weeks ago, Grammy set up a girl's night out for the family. The plan was to enjoy dinner and wine at one of Grammy's favorite restaurants, The Quirk, and then to head a few doors down to the local theatre for a comedy show.

So last night I left the boys with Josh and headed to a neighboring town to meet up with Grammy, Aunt Lynn, Aunt Sherry, Katie and Pappy (a late addition, taking Aunt Kelly's spot since she had to work). It was a great night out. The food was delicious, the show was entertaining, and the company was fun. What more can you ask for?

I only feel a little guilty that Josh couldn't go, too, especially since Pappy got to tag along. Maybe next time. We should probably work on finding an occasional sitter, you know, one that isn't actually part of the family! I'm sure Daddy is in just as much need of a break as I am!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Photo Flashback

Am I cute or what? Little big man. (June 10, 2005)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Saying Thanks

Our first year of preschool has come to a close. It took us a little while to get into the routine and the schedule, but we finally found our way. I think all of the boys enjoyed their experience once they got used to it.

Connor jumped right in with a "Bye-bye, Mommy, see you later!" and no backward glance. Sawyer found his way pretty quickly after getting over the initial shock of being abandoned at the truck. And Xander came around after a few weeks of getting comfortable in his new classroom.

Three boys. Two schools. Three different classrooms. And that means six different teachers (two in each room), a few administrators and special teachers and therapists, and a whole lot more people behind the scenes who helped our boys have a great school year, who are helping them along on their individual journeys.

The question was how to say thank-you. Once it again, it came back to the cookies. Everyone loves the cookies. So Mommy spent several hours baking a few weeks ago, during Connor's last week of school, and another few hours baking early this week. All told, there was about 300 cookies made, packaged and delivered. Oh, and a few snapshots of the boys to go along with them. Sweet treats from sweet little boys.

For the little guys teachers, their therapists, and the staff in general (total of 18).

For Connor's teachers, the program administrator and his music teacher.

And seriously, if you've not tried the recipe, you should. It's easy. My idea of baking is typically to open a box and follow the directions. But these are really simple. And the cookies are amazing (just ask Sawyer). I originally found them here, and our family (and the people we like to say thanks to) have been enjoying them ever since.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

(Indoor) Field Day!

Today was Sawyer's end-of-school party. The plan was to have field day games outside. Mother nature did not cooperate, sending a line of thunderstorms that started about the time we got to the car pool lane at school and ended about 20 minutes before the day was over. So field day moved, for the most part, inside.

Some things were too messy to move indoors. So the kids tossed water balloons (mostly) under the awning by the entry doors. Sawyer has decided at this point he's had enough, so he takes his balloon and waves "see you later" as he takes out in the rain (not really, but it sure looks that way, doesn't it). Actually he was just dancing in the rain (note the tip toes), which is one of the many things we love about this kid.

Indoor bubbles put a big smile on his face. There was more dancing as he chased the bubbles and popped them.

A big grin as he gets a hug from one of his favorite classmates during free play time.

The indoor sack race. He opted to sit this one out and just watch his classmates have fun.

So unbelievable he has to pinch his own cheeks! He LOVES computer time, and today's special activities gave him a little more time than usual to play. The class is equipped with a touch-screen, so the games are interactive without the use of a mouse, which is still too complicated for him. He had a big time playing with Thomas the Tank while the sack race was going on.

Big boy. He's come a long way for a little boy who doesn't like to have anything on his head. Now, he just walks over, puts on the headphones by himself, and starts playing. He just wishes he could do it ALL the time!

A fun day, even the the weather didn't cooperate all that well.