Monday, August 31, 2009

Big Boy Returns

After spending a week at the beach and a few nights at the lake on each end of the trip, Connor returned home today with Grandma and Grandpa. They came up shortly after the twins got out of preschool, and spent the afternoon with us watching a little Word World and playing in the yard on the slides and swings. They even treated us to McDonald's before they headed back to the lake, which all three of the boys enjoyed immensely. Xander even discovered a new food group - the apple pie!

Connor came home bearing lots of good stories (swimming, eating, and shopping - in that order) and gifts. He has a few new cars and trucks and a beach ball to play with, and he helped Grandma pick out some new fall and winter clothes at one of their stops at the outlet mall. He may or may not have helped pick out the little guys clothes, I'm not sure. He likes to shop, especially when toys or trucks are involved (or, in the case of clothes, when he can pick out things with trucks on them). Grandma usually indulges him in a few small things here and there. He also came back with a little bit of attitude and some serious sleep deprivation, but that, too, was to be expected.

All the boys are in bed early tonight, the result of runny noses and mild coughs (the change in weather usually does them all in this time of year, though Mommy loves the cooler days and nights). Connor was also in desperate need of some sleep. Every little thing set him off tonight, from not wanting to wait for Daddy to make it home to walk (after our McDonald's trip), from not being able to catch up to Daddy (who was pushing the stroller on our walk) while he was riding on his Big Wheel, to turning the bike over every five minutes from not paying attention. He was simply done.

So it was early baths and bed for everyone. Xander is happily snoozing. Sawyer is still awake and probably will be for a while, from the sound of it (what with his two-hour nap this afternoon after school). And Connor is sound asleep. It took minutes, if not seconds. He was one tired little boy.

Of course, with his last breath before falling asleep, he was already talking about his next trip. He's only planning on spending three nights here, he tells me. Not sure who's house he thinks he going to next, but he's pretty certain it won't be ours. He's definitely our "have suitcase, will travel" kid, that's for sure, always ready for that next adventure.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Escape artist. The doggie door has apparently become the kiddie door, at least as far as Sawyer is concerned. He loves to go out back and walk on the paving stones we put down for Buster's path between his room and the deck (the one that got our house muddy every single time it rained). What's worse, the kid has learned how to open the door to Buster's room just for this reason, the door that still has the child safety knob on it. Now, how much longer before he figures out he can do the same thing to the pantry, where the suckers are kept?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Long Trip Home

Yesterday was Connor's last day to enjoy the beach and the pool with Grandma and Grandpa, and he made the most of it. Their week of sun, waves and water has ended, and today they got up early to begin the long journey back home. I bet it seems longer on the way back. It always did to me.

Date Night

For the first time in months, Josh and I took some time for us. Since I began my part-time job early this summer, our babysitting favors have mostly been used on the Saturdays when I'm scheduled to work and Josh has to be in class. But last night was a free pass. Grammy and Pappy came over to keep the little guys company, and we spent a few hours away.

We even mixed it up - a little - from our normal routine. You see, we still hadn't managed to see the latest Harry Potter movie (which has been out for months now), and it only had two showings. One in the middle of the day and one at 6 last night. Normally we eat first and then see the movie, if we're doing both. As it was, we barely made the movie in time. I even missed half of the New Moon trailer, which was disappointing. I'd almost rather I hadn't seen any of it if I couldn't see all of it! But I digress.

We watched Harry, and though it was good, I still have a hard time paying the current rate of $18 for a movie night. It seems ridiculous. Between either just waiting to buy the DVD or watching it on Netflix, the theatre is slowly losing its appeal. There aren't many movies that I'm going to be willing to pay that much to see. And truth be told, last night was more about a much-needed break away from the house than it was the movie.

After the movie we opted for a more casual restaurant (it was Friday night, after all, and here in our small part of the world apparently everyone goes out to eat and you usually have a really, really long wait). I'd been craving wings, so we went to BW3s for some wings, rings and preseason NFL. It was loud and made us feel a bit old, but it was fun. And dinner was light enough that we even opted for a Graeter's ice cream cone afterward.

It was a good night. I'm pretty sure it's the first time in a while that we've come home and our children have actually been in bed. Maybe that $18 was worth it after all.

Friday, August 28, 2009

School Days

Our first full week of preschool has come and gone for the twins. It's hard to believe they're starting another year and also that they will have one more after this one. All told, they will be in the same classroom with the same teachers and therapists for two and a half years, counting the second semester they attended last year, which we love. A familiar environment is good for our boys.

I have to admit, I was a little worried about the transition back in. They've been out of school since early June, and our routine and structure kind of went out the window this summer. My part-time job has actually made it even more unpredictable since I spend a few nights missing both dinner and bed time routines, and those nights are not necessarily the same ones each week. Add to that Josh's busy work schedule, his Saturday class, and our trips and adventures, and the boys would be lucky to find even one day that was like another one all summer.

But, despite a worried look and a little whimpering here and there, the start of the school year has gone remarkably well. The boys have adapted to our new morning routine of having breakfast a bit earlier than usual and also a bit lighter than they would prefer. We're still working on getting them to eat the school lunch, and eating less before school is hopefully going to help. I've had mixed reports. Some days the boys are eating (even trying a new item or two) and some days they're not touching anything. Sadly, that also is par for the course with them. We'll keep trying.

The drop-off and pick-up routine is the same as last year, and they seem to be having no trouble with that part. I've even managed to be on-time, early most of the time, so far. We'll see how that goes next week when Connor returns.

Sawyer did give me a pitiful look the very first day, but I think it was more the chaos of all the people and having to walk part of the way in the grass. I'm assuming it was some of the new parents, but people had simply parked in the drop-off line and then walked their kids into the school. My options were to either wait forever in the line behind the parked cars or go ahead and walk them in the grass. I opted for what I thought was going to be the least traumatic. My kids don't do well with waiting, certainly not when their anxious anyway. So we walked, there was a little whimpering, and then he was fine.

And other than that first day, it's been fine. Xander did give me a look this morning, as I apparently stepped over the imaginary line, you know, too far away from the truck and too close to the school. He seemed to think, for whatever reason, that I was coming in with him today and was not exactly happy when I tried to hand him off to one of the teachers. Clearly, I need wait for the teachers to come take them by the truck, and I should never even think about walking toward the door to the school unless I plan to go in. That's the message I got from him today.

There have been, of course, a few potty training accidents. Sawyer, knock on wood, has been accident free so far (and, on an even better, non-school related note, I think he's finally figured out number two. We've been accident free at home for several weeks now, though I've been afraid to jinx it by mentioning it.) Xander, our "I have to go every 15 minutes!" child, has had a few accidents at school, mostly from his bad habit of telling people "No!" when he sometimes means yes. Also from his inability to give up things he really enjoys to do something as necessary as going potty. Recess has been his downfall most of the time. But that's why we send not one but two extra sets of clothes in for the boys. They've really only been potty training since school let out, so a little over three months now.

The other good news about preschool is that they seem to be enjoying it. Both of them are generally happy and ready to go in the mornings. Xander even pulls his shoes out long before it's time to go (he likes to go, anywhere really, and does this a lot). Both of them generally come when I say "Time for school, Mommy's truck!"

If they dislike any of the routine, it's the waiting in the truck before the teachers come out to get them. There's not much we can do about that. Mostly I play silly games with Xander, who will recite his ABCs, spell words, count on his fingers or play "Boo!" with me from his seat. Sawyer will sometimes pay attention, sometimes not. Usually he giggles, possibly at us, possibly at something else entirely, and watches the things going on around us (sometimes the buses coming and going, today it was the professional lawn mowers whizzing in the field across the parking lot). Sometimes I even grab one of the children's books, from the library or our own, and try reading a story. That's hit or miss with both of them.

It's too early in the year to get any detailed reports from the teachers, but I have had several passing comments that suggest they're doing well. Sawyer seems to be smiling and happy most days, and he's vocalizing quite a bit (just not in words, of course). Xander is showing off some of his newly acquired skills, saying words and letters and requesting interaction here and there (mostly in the form of wanting you to repeat what he says). He's also often covered in paint or marker, and I know that means he's been having a good time.

And, I've saved the best for last. It will make you smile, or at least it did me. Xander's teacher told me in passing that he doesn't seem to even notice his brother is there. Xander's class was walking outside to recess and Sawyer's class was in the hallway doing an activity. Xander walked right past his brother without bothering to even look at him or acknowledge in any way that he was there. The other kids noticed, of course, because there was another little boy who looked just like Xander, but he couldn't have cared less.

In some ways, it makes me sad. Most brothers would say something or somehow acknowledge each other if they passed in the hallways at school (or at least I would think so anyway). But, in other ways, it makes me glad that I requested two separate classrooms for them. I wanted to see how Xander would do in a separate environment than his brother, if some of his language might return and some of his quirky behavior might be less pronounced. Because, you see, part of me has always felt that some of the things Xander does is because he's imitating his brother. Not all of it, mind you, but some of it.

Xander is like Connor in that he likes your attention (or mine, anyway), and I think he's picked up on certain behaviors that Sawyer has that draw attention. Take, for instance, covering your ears when you don't like something. Both of the boys do it. With Sawyer, it appears to be two things, sometimes both apply and sometimes only one. It's either a defense against a sound that is irritating to him (loud, certain frequencies) or a defense against something he doesn't like (an activity, something you're saying to him, or just a general sensory overload that he doesn't want to deal with). With Xander, he does it when he doesn't like what you're saying, and he immediately looks at you as his hands start to go up. He expects you to respond in some way.

It's just a theory, of course, but one of the reasons I thought separate classrooms would be best. With three little guys so close in age, there haven't been as many opportunities for social interaction outside of each other. And, I can't help but smile at the fact that Xander is finding his own way and doing his own thing at school. If that means walking past his brother right now, I'm okay with that.

Photo Flashback

Trying on Uncle Luke's motorcycle helmet. The scary thing was that it actually fit on his big head, you know, at two and a half. (August 22, 2007)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's a Hard Life

Take a little swim in the ocean.

Take a little swim in the pool.

Is there more to life?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Little Peace

With Connor still away on vacation and the twins away at their first full week of preschool, I've had three whole hours to myself each day this week. Three hours of complete peace and quiet. You have no idea how nice that's been or how much I needed the break.

Summer vacation has been fun, but it also means that the kids and I spend all day every day together, except for the few nights and weekends I sneak away to work (and those don't count as free time, though they are a nice little break, too). Just think of it. All day, starting around 8 a.m. (earlier for boys, of course, but I won't let them up before that hour), with no naps, lots of potty sessions and drinks and meals and snacks, and virtually always at least one little person hovering at my feet wanting me to do something. And it goes on like that until usually 8 at night.

Three whole hours. Of course, I did spend the first two days getting some things off my to-do list. I've been putting office paper work off all summer long, so I had three months worth of receipts and statements to enter and reconcile. It took five hours. I spent that other hour running to the grocery, enjoying the total peace of shopping without anyone tagging along.

Today was the first day I took an actual break. I did throw in a few extra loads of laundry, but that only takes a few minutes here and there. I sat down and watched a movie, start to finish and without interruptions. In total peace. In the middle of the afternoon.

I didn't even let the puppy in, because let's be honest, he's sometimes the neediest child of all. I didn't want those pitiful eyes looking up at me begging for a walk, knowing that it's hot and humid outside and neither one of us would enjoy it anyway. Tonight, after work when it's dark and cool, I promise.

Now, I have two days left of total peace. I haven't decided about those yet, but I do know that they're not going to involve work of any kind. That's why I spent the first two days working, so I could enjoy the end of the week without it hanging over my head.

And then next week Connor returns from vacation, we have his preschool orientation and then he starts preschool the following week, after Labor Day. Then my freedom gets cut back to about an hour a day three days a week, when the school schedules overlap. The rest of the time I'm just driving the boys to and from their respective schools.

But we'll not think about that. Not yet anyway. I still have two more days all to myself!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

From Three to Two

It happens from time to time, usually when Connor is off on one of his big adventures. We go from having three little people to just two. And you wouldn't think it would make that much of a difference, but it does.

There's suddenly enough hands to go around, for one thing. We usually try, at least once, to take the little guys out for a real dinner somewhere. Not that they actually eat it, mind you, but we want them to have the experience, to spend more time in public and social settings. They need that.

Tonight we took them to the IHOP, one of our favorites. We don't do quiet or fancy, not with our boys. We do fast (though not tonight, unfortunately) and easy, and preferably noisy. Because that's what it takes. The boys spent most of the time we were there alternately bouncing in the booth seats (thank goodness there was no one around us) and taking turns underneath the table. The ring pops we brought along as a distraction didn't do much except make the bouncing bigger (sugar rush, apparently). They did manage to eat the yogurt that the waitress was kind enough to offer at the end of the meal.

We didn't order them anything for a couple of reasons. First, they usually won't eat food from anywhere other than McDonald's. And, in trying to reinforce the school lunch, we're on a slightly altered schedule at home anyway. I try both not to feed them a big breakfast (around 9:30) and also not to offer them a second lunch when they come home (around 1:30) in hopes that they will actually start eating the school lunch that is served around 11:45. We used to do late breakfast (around 10 or 10:30) and then late lunch (around 1 or 1:30). But clearly that wasn't helping with the school lunches. And the new schedule means that the twins are hovering in the kitchen starting about 3 o'clock. I usually try to hold them off until at least 4 or 4:30, but that's still before Josh comes in from work.

So they ate before we left. And they bounced while we were there. It wasn't the most peaceful meal ever, but it was a meal out and another experience for them. From three to two, just for a little while.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

The beach, on a Monday.

Of course, Mommy did have a fun girls night out, so she can't complain. Movie and then a stop at Old Chicago for pizza and drinks. Mmm.

It's no Hot Wheels in the sand, mind you, but I'll take it. I'm more of a fresh water girl anyway. Give the me the boat and skis any day over the sand and the salt. Perhaps my little guys get their texture issues from me after all!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Day with Friends

One of my Mommy's old college buddies and good friends brought her little boy up for a visit today. And even though he didn't get in the kiddie pool, which was awful tempting (despite being very, very cold), he did get to spend some time in the yard on the swings and the slides. Connor will be sorry to have missed a play buddy, but I'm sure he's enjoying himself at the beach (see below). The twins aren't very good play buddies just yet, but they had a lot of fun just playing outside beside of our friends anyway. And Mommy certainly had a good time catching up with an old friend!

Are We There Yet?

Connor has made it to the beach with Grandma and Grandpa, and Grandma was nice enough to send a few photos to share.

Here's the big boy trying to keep himself awake on the 10-hour ride in Grandpa's truck. Looks like he's either yawning or saying "Ha, ha, suckers, I'm going to the beach and you're not!" You decide.

Putting our new plastic bucket to use on the beach. He had to take both of them, of course. "I need one for sand and one for water," he explained to me as we were packing, clearly exasperated with Mommy for not getting it sooner.

Big waves, for the Atlantic anyway. Connor and Grandpa splashing.

Connor getting a helping hand from Grandpa, though judging by the grin on his face he's seems like he's doing just fine.

Connor splashing in the "beach-pool" in the rain!

It's been a busy first day from the looks of things. But a good one, if that grin is any indication. Our world traveler, he lives a pretty good life whether he knows it yet or not!

Snapshot Sunday

So good you have to close your eyes. Xander enjoying an icee in the backyard one afternoon this week.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Beach!

In honor of our big boy, who traveled early this morning from the lake all the way to the beach and who is hopefully settling in for a good night of sleep. After his popcorn and Pepsi, of course. He is with Grandma and Grandpa, after all. This photo was taken Christmas 2006, when he was just over two years old. I'm sure Grandma will send some pictures (hint, hint) this week if they have the internet in their condo. I'm also sure that same smile from two and a half years ago is going to be on his face all week long. It's a rough life, being four (nearly five)!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Photo Flashback

Xander checking himself out in the camera viewfinder. (August 11, 2007)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quoted & Noted

For the past few days - all day and every day - my four-year old has been asking me about his upcoming trip to the beach. He knew that the big day was getting closer, and today it finally arrived.

It was the first thing he asked about when he came crawling down the stairs, still half-asleep and not really ready to be awake just after 8 this morning.

"I go to the beach today?"

Yes, baby.

He asked about it every five minutes. He didn't want to eat breakfast this morning, assuming of course that he would be having a meal on his way. When I told him Grandma and Grandpa weren't coming until after his brothers came home from school this afternoon, then he was ready to ship them off to school right that minute. You know, at 9:30, even though school doesn't start until 10:35.

While his brothers were in school, we ran a few errands. We picked up some library books, which usually takes a while, what with the flipping through board books and working the puzzles in the children's section. Not today. He was in a hurry. Grandma and Grandpa were on their way.

We also had to stop at the grocery store. He didn't want to go, but once inside the toy aisle called his name and we did browse for a few minutes, looking that things he kept trying to persuade me to buy (no such luck, kiddo). But then he suddenly remembered what day it was, and it was time to get moving again.

"We go pay now and go home. Grandma and Grandpa are coming."

This afternoon, baby, after school. Around 2 p.m.

So we finish our errands, head back home and take Buster on a much needed walk around the block (Connor is, of course, riding his Big Wheel). Then I ask him about lunch. Yet again, he's not hungry. He's going to eat later, you know, on the way. I convince him to have a little something, since he won't be on his way for a few hours yet.

Grandma and Grandpa pull in the drive at maybe 10 after 2. They're late, as far as Connor is concerned. He pulls his usual trick of hiding under the pool table for just a minute, and then he's bouncing around ready to go. As in, RIGHT NOW. It's time to go to the beach.

Of course, he's not really going until Saturday morning, which I've tried to explain numerous times. He's going to the lake today so that Grandpa doesn't have to drive two hours north the day before he drives 12 hours south. And Grandma is still terribly afraid he will cry if we try to drop him off at their house and then go back home without him, so that's not an option either.

So, much to his displeasure, they stayed to visit with us and his brothers for a while. We eventually packed and loaded him into Grandpa's truck. I could barely get a "Bye-bye, see you later!" out of him, so excited and ready to go was my son. But as the truck is backing out, I hear him pipe up from the back seat.

"Have good time. Be good. Take care of babies. You keep them off the stairs, 'kay?"

Such a sweet little boy, don't you think? And so very considerate of his little brothers. And laugh out loud funny. Where does he come up with this stuff?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A New Obsession

It seems Mommy is not the only one who is addicted to her computer. When the office gates came down a few weeks ago with all the others, the kids found a new favorite place to play. Most of the time, they're simply bringing in their usual toys into a previously off-limits area. But lately, the kids have been requesting to play games on the computer.

You might wonder how I know this, especially for the two who don't exactly speak. But trust me, I do. Connor has learned to love it during those visits at the lake that overlapped with cousin Austin. He's eleven, and he knows his way around the computer gaming world. He introduced Connor, even going so far as to give him a user name and password on some site I'd never even heard of. We have it written down somewhere, but we've not attempted it yet.

No, we stick with what Mommy knows. It has the kids favorite characters, since this is pretty much all we let them watch, and it's geared specifically to preschoolers. Connor loves them all, and we've only been on a few so far. The twins aren't able to do much yet, but they love to stand behind the screen and dance while either Connor or sometimes Mommy (for their benefit) plays. Xander gets so excited that he's literally jumping up and down and hitting you.

For Sawyer, his request comes in the form of dragging you to the computer and putting his fingers on the screen. He has a touch screen in his preschool classroom, you see. And he LOVES it.

For Xander, it's just climbing right up on top of the desk (who needs the chair, apparently) and pushing every button you possibly can until the computer reboots itself. His teachers are impressed that he's quickly mastered the control-alt-delete combo and constantly shuts down the computers in their classrooms. That's pretty impressive for a three-year old with limited reach on those small hands, to hit all three keys simultaneously. Xander also has issues with turning ours on and off, with playing with the CD drives and with turning the printer on and off. We're working on him.

While I tried to feed the little guys a late lunch after school (assuming, of course, that they had rejected the school lunch experiment), I wanted to give Connor something to do. He asked to play a computer game. So I got him started. Well, the twins didn't want much lunch, either because they weren't hungry (not likely) or because the sound of the game was too appealing (that's my vote).

So here is what I found after I finished cleaning up the kitchen from lunch.

Two twins, dancing behind big brother as he plays a Word World game.

Three boys completely engrossed in yet another screen (no, I'm not really excited by this picture, although it is a little bit cute).

Xander and Connor coming to blows over who gets to play. Xander is sneaking up on top of the desk (our monkey, of course) and Connor is trying to elbow him back down.

Brotherly love, right?

It's That Time

Today was the first day back to Early Start for the twins. I don't know how they felt about it, but Mommy was certainly ready for it to start back again. We've had a fun summer, but Mommy was running out of ideas to keep everyone happy and occupied all day, every day, so it's a welcome break in our daily routine, at least for me. Three whole hours with, at most, one child (Connor will start back after Labor Day, and then there will be two days of total freedom when their school times overlap, you know, for all of an hour)!

For the last week or so, I've been trying to prepare Sawyer and Xander for what was coming. We've been taking a look at their backpacks, getting those organized and ready. We've been talking about "school" and their teachers. We've even had two home visits, one from each set of teachers, before the big day. Both boys did well with those, offering even a grin or two while their teachers were here. Xander even showed off some of his new words from this summer.

So this morning Mommy got out of bed early, for her anyway. We had breakfast over and done with before Super Why even went off at 9:30. And that's impressive, if you're wondering. And then right at 10 a.m. we started getting ready. We need the extra time this year, what with potty training and all. So we had our potty sessions, for both boys, and we're successful (with a little help for Sawyer, of course). Then we lined everyone up to get ready.

Over the summer, we acquired the bench organizer in the photo above from a good friend of Josh's who had moved and didn't have room for it in his new place. He was nice enough to let us have it, and it was the perfect fit for the little alcove under our front steps. It's become the general staging area for all things little people in our house. All of their shoes - crocs, tennis shoes and house shoes - fit perfectly under the bench seat. Their jackets, backpacks and lunch bags hang up on the hooks, and their winter gear - gloves and hats and such - fit perfectly in the little baskets at the top.

And this is where we line them up and get them organized, or try to. It's still a work in progress. Connor does well, getting his shoes out and sitting on the bench to get help putting them on. The other two, well, you kind of have to chase them down and force their shoes on them. And then I carry their backpacks out to the truck because there's really no need for them to put them on only to take them off once they get to their car seats.

So we made one last minute potty stop (it had been 25 minutes, you know), and we were off. The drive to school only takes about five minutes, but we left a little early to allow for the first day madness. I was a little worried about Sawyer, who I noticed was covering his ears from the backseat. That's usually his sign of displeasure, and he usually does it when he doesn't recognize where we're going or sometimes, like today, when he knows exactly where we're going. But we pulled into the car pool line and both of them seemed fine.

There were tons of cars everywhere, including first-time parents walking their kids in and just parking in the car pool line. So it was a little crazy. I figured my guys were going to start getting angry about the wait, so I joined the others and walked them up to the drop off point to hand off with their teachers. They were both fine until this point, but Sawyer looked up at me with his pitiful face when it was time to change hands. This was clearly not what he had signed up for. He went with her, but he looked back over his shoulder with a bit of pitiful whining all the way into the building. I wasn't too upset, because I was pretty sure it wouldn't last. Both boys had done this off and on last year, but their teachers assured me it usually passed the minute they found themselves in a classroom full of toys.

And today was no different. Sawyer's teacher told me he had a great first day when she walked the boys out this afternoon. I didn't see Xander's teacher, but he seemed to be in a good mood as he was walking out. He had a few potty training accidents, which is surprising, because he's usually my good one. But he's also my frequent pottier (as in every 15 or 20 minutes), so I'm hopeful it will get better as the teachers get used to his signs and he gets comfortable in the classroom again. I just pulled out some more extra clothes to send in his backpack again tomorrow.

We also are experimenting once again with school lunches. We still have two extremely picky eaters on our hands, and I was hoping that by starting from the beginning with ordering school lunches like most of their classmates have, we might convince them to try a few new things. Here's hoping. Of course, Sawyer's teacher told me he wouldn't touch it all today, and he dragged me to the kitchen cabinet where I keep the kids plates practically the minute we walked in the door (right after I took them both potty, anyway)! I'm not sure about Xander, but he didn't eat much for me when I fixed them a small snack after school.

And that was our first day back. There were a few tears, a few potty accidents, probably not much lunch consumed, and the beginning of a new routine for a while. Not a bad first day.

Connor, in particular, probably liked it. We did some shopping - new school shoes for him, office stuff for us, and a new CD for Daddy who's taken up running - and then we finished off the day with lunch and play time at Chick-fil-a. I'm sure he was as ready for a fun day as Mommy was, and we had to squeeze it in before tomorrow when he heads back to the lake for a few days to prepare for his beach trip on Saturday! The kid definitely has it made.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Spell Boy

A fascination with letters? With a certain PBS kids' show called Word World? A photographic memory? High IQ?

Who knows.

What we do know is that Xander likes letters and he likes to spell. Sometimes he says his letters in perfect order, all but singing the ABC song to us. Sometimes he just says random letters that don't have any clear meaning (at least to us anyway). And by says, I mean he follows you around demanding you repeat each one he says or he just says it a little bit louder each time until you finally give in and say it back. Have I mentioned he's also slightly tenacious? Because he is.

Even more impressive for a three-year old, he sometimes just goes through a whole list of words that he knows how to spell. Shoe. Music. Ladder. Truck. Boat. Friend. Nest. Mug. Tub. Slide. And just about anything else that has appeared on either Word World, or it's close cousin, Super Why (also a PBS kids' show).

And, yes, he also likes to spell bear. It's probably his favorite with the wooden letters, though shoe wins the award for being said most often out loud.

S. H. O. E. Shoe! (Probably at least 10 times a day, every single day). That's our spell boy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Same Kid, Different Bucket

Connor has always loved the water. So much so, that during an evening outside a few years back he decided to jump right into the water bucket we keep outside for Buster (you know, our puppy). Cool and slime-filled (he is an English Mastiff, after all). It sounds appealing, right?

Three years later, he's still fascinated by buckets filled with water. Of course, this one is a little cleaner. It's the one we keep outside on the deck to corral all of the kiddie pool toys. If you've even been to a party at our house, it's also been (cleaned first and then) filled with ice and tasty beverages. But mostly, it's for the pool toys. And the kids love to dump all the toys into the pool and then fill it up with water. Don't ask me why, because I really have no idea. Connor's idea of fun today was to dump the toys into the pool, use one of the smaller buckets to fill it completely up with water (some is gone again by the time the photo is taken) and then hop inside.

You know, because a bucket of water is clearly much better than the much larger kiddie pool that is filled with water (and toys) right beside of it.

Awake, But Barely

This is what happens when you try to wake up before 6 a.m. Mommy and Daddy pretend they don't hear you, because that's way too early to be awake, and then you fall back asleep in front of the door, waiting for someone to rescue you. And then you don't actually wake back up until almost 9 a.m., because really, you're our sleepyhead anyway. Seems like you could have saved yourself (and us) the trouble and just stayed in your nice, comfy bed.

Sooner or later, we're going to have to set the twins free. From the beginning, we've kept all of the boys contained in their rooms with child safety knobs on the inside of their bedroom doors. It kept them from wandering down the halls, into the bathroom or the laundry room or from falling down the double set of stairs at the end of the hall. It's also kept us sane. Trust me.

Connor eventually won his freedom, what with the whole potty training and morning self-sufficiency thing. He can get himself up, take care of business, and make his way downstairs without any help these days, which is really, really nice.

But we're eventually going to have to wander into that not-so-fun stage of overnight potty training with the twins, where access to an actual potty will be important. They're not quite ready for that yet, but it probably won't be too much longer. And I'm not really looking forward to it. Not in the least.

The problem, of course, is getting them to stay in their rooms at all, much less until a decent hour in the morning. Because if our routine lately is any indication, running up and down the halls and the stairs never loses its appeal. Sawyer will even go so far as to run upstairs in the morning, throw open the door to Connor's room (with him still trying to sleep inside) and run in to his coveted bookshelf for some reading material. Did I mention he's also usually dancing and jabbering?

If he's awake, everyone else should be, too, right? And that is exactly what I don't look forward to with this next stage. His internal clock thinks the day begins anywhere from 6:30 to 7:30. Mine, and the other two boys, is much closer to 8 or 9. Good times.

Worn Out

A long week of playing and having fun finally caught up with Connor yesterday afternoon. Though he's not a fan of naps in general, he doesn't have a problem with taking a catnap here or there, especially if he's allowed to do so somewhere other than his room.

You could tell he was tired yesterday, laying around and not doing much, but every time I mentioned going upstairs to "rest" he would jump right up and start playing again. Anything but that, he seemed to think. But after fighting with himself for a while longer, he finally just gave in.

"I sleep downstairs for a little while," he said quietly.

He then proceeded to get the blanket off the couch in the office, walk back into the living room, and lay down on the couch. Where he promptly fell asleep, as in, within minutes he was softly snoring. Despite the radio being on, despite his two brothers running around and being their usual not quiet selves (for Xander that means lots of giggling and spelling, for Sawyer just dancing and jabbering), despite the chaos that is our family at home on a Sunday.

Yes, he was one tired little boy. He's probably going to need a few of these to catch back up on his sleep this week. Especially since he has another big week planned this week. Back to the lake for a day or two, and then off to the beach for a week.

Is it any wonder the kid is tired?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Quoted & Noted

"Mom?" my four-year old asks.

"Yes, baby," I answer, for what feels like the millionth time tonight.

"I go back school soon?"

"In September, just a few more weeks." I tell him. And, as an afterthought, "Brothers start school next week."

"Hmm," he says, clearly thinking hard. "I start school next week. Babies wait 'til September."

Um, it doesn't quite work like that since the twins are in a different kind of preschool. But I love the enthusiasm! Mommy's right there with you, kid, I promise! I'm ready for everyone to be back in school.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer Days

Big boy grins. Life doesn't get much better.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Day on the Water

Even though it almost rained on us before we got started (it started sprinkling as we pulled out of the drive), we had a fun day on the water. Grandma thought it was going to be hot, so she offered to keep the two little guys at the cabin while Grandpa, Connor and Mommy had an afternoon on the water.

Connor tried to talk us in to taking "babies," but only for a minute. Then he was just ready to go with or without them.

Happy just to be here.

Going over the waves with a big grin.

Getting ready for the first of three different rides on the tube.

Jumping in and splashing.

Happy and getting ready to ride for the first time of the day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Connor Goes Camping

It's a rough life, he says, but someone has to live it.

At the campground, with his Hot Wheels cars all lined up on the timbers.

Sitting in one of the big captain's chairs on the ride over.

Getting a little help from Grandpa on the monkey bars at the playground down the hill.

Eating breakfast outside (and complaining about the flies, too).

Getting ready to go for a tube ride behind the boat.

Like I said, he has it rough. We should all be so lucky.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Growing Up

Just last summer, Connor didn't even like riding back there with me holding onto him. It was too fast and too rough. Not last night, apparently, because he was doing it all by himself. He's still enjoying his visit with Grandma and Grandpa at the lake, and this is how they spent late yesterday afternoon. Is it any wonder the kid is always ready to leave and never really wants to come home? He leads a pretty charmed life, our oldest.

And I can't believe that he's going to be five in a few short months. Life has a way of moving quickly sometimes, even when it doesn't always feel that way in the day to day. Little man keeps getting bigger and growing up on us. How long before he's flipping off backwards like his Uncle Brian used to?

Good summer fun.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

I'm a big kid now. Connor riding his Big Wheels at the lake on his camping trip with Grandma and Grandpa over the weekend (thanks to Grandma for sending the photo).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Splish Splash

Hot and humid is definitely back in our part of the world. The boys and I spent yesterday afternoon in the back yard kiddie pool, and today they had a fun trip the club pool with Grammy and Pappy while Mommy worked and Daddy went to class.

Connor is, of course, away on one of his many summer adventures.

For the last few days, he's been camping at the lake with Grandma and Grandpa. They took the motorhome over to this little campground we love about 30 minutes from their house (you know, the cabin on the lake) all because my four-year old is fascinated with their camper and doesn't remember staying in it. Of course, that was before the twins came along (three and a half years ago) when he was all of a year old, which might explain why he doesn't remember it. Now they're back at the cabin for a few more days until the little guys and I can make it back down there to visit and bring him back home.

Summer may be slipping away, but it's still pretty fun (and wet) around our house!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Alternate Post

Because not everyone cares about "Tales from the Potty," here are the kids being silly yesterday.

Connor laughing and being silly, while hiding himself (or trying to) behind a tiny Dr. Seuss board book.

Our little ABC man, of course, is Xander.

And Sawyer, who wasn't interested in reading on the stairs, was, of course, dancing in front of the television (even though it wasn't actually on).

Notice how both of the twins have yogurt stains on their black t-shirts. This is why they're not usually in dark colors (or white, for that matter).

Tales from the Potty

Some of you may want to skip this one. You've been warned.

There is good news and bad news on the potty training front. In a complete reversal of roles from their early stages, Xander has the good news and Sawyer has the not so good.

As I've mentioned several times, both of the twins have digestive issues that make number two somewhat of an ordeal. It's been that way since birth. I'm sure a big part of it is their very limited diet, what with their sensory issues and their picky eating habits. The rest of it is likely pure stubbornness, but that's just a theory.

Early on, it showed itself in as many as six or seven dirty diapers each day, every day. That was fun, times two. Later, it came in the form of alternating diarrhea and constipation. Also fun, times two. And at last year's well visit, our pediatrician recommended putting them on Miralax as much as every other day if necessary to help with what seemed to be a worsening issue. We started out once a week, and ended up at pretty much every other day. And even with that, we were still getting phone calls from their teachers wondering if they were okay, because they were watching them go up on tip toes and straining to use the bathroom at school. Pretty much every single day.

They went from those early days of many, many dirty diapers to not having but maybe one number two a week, if that. Clearly not a good thing. When potty training came along, we decided to stop the Miralax (trust me on this, there's a good reason). We opted for that other, equally awful alternative, children's suppositories. That worked well for a while, but Xander got to be a master of holding even those in, for as much as six or seven hours at a time, which cannot be a good thing. Both of them also soon mastered the ability to dislodge the suppository and nothing else, which was not helpful at all.

One day last week, something just seemed to click. Xander is now going on the potty for number one and two, and doing so consistently. He had his first puddle accident yesterday after lunch, the first one since the first week of potty training. But other than that, he's been doing extremely well. He even walks himself into the bathroom (you need to be paying attention, of course, but he lets you know in his way what he needs). He also says "Pee-pee!" and "Poo-poo!" and "Good job!" on a consistent basis during the process. So, other than his natural tendency to pee every twenty minutes, he's doing great.

And then there's Sawyer. He did so well early on. He was consistent and even occasionally managed to go number two with very little fuss or issue. But lately he's relapsed. The first problem is that he now starts to pee the minute his pants come down. And that would be regardless of whether or not you've already raised the seat or even opened the lid. The second is one that I think we've created. Because he was getting so good at avoiding the intended purpose of the suppositories and he was still having trouble going number two, we opted to put him back on the Miralax. Not a good idea.

Let's just say that today, only two days into the Miralax routine, we've spent hours in the bathroom. He's been there almost all day. Because every time I let him up, a small (or large) stain appears in his big boy underwear. I have literally gone through almost two whole packages of diaper wipes today (as in, yes, I have opened up the holder and put in two brand new packages, the second of which is halfway gone). Wipes have been used both in cleaning him back up, and also in cleaning all the surfaces he continues to smear (that whole can't sit still thing is a real problem today).

And that's where we are right now. Xander is doing extremely well. Sawyer, not so much. So I guess it's back to the original plan. No Miralax, except under extreme situations where nothing else will work. Because I can't take too many more days like today. And I know his teachers won't want to either. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Play Buddies

It would be cute, if they both weren't so mischievous. But they are. Here are the two new play buddies (of late) taking turns reading and jumping off the bottom of the stairs. Xander looks guilty (which he is, since he knows he's not supposed to be playing - reading or otherwise - on the steps). Connor looks defiant (which he is, showing quite the attitude of late).

These two are fun to watch these days. Connor usually takes off running at full speed (he doesn't know any other way) and looks over his shoulder to see if Xander has taken the hint. If so, he just laughs and keeps going. If not, he yells "Come on, Xander!" over his shoulder. And little brother usually (as with everything the twins do, if the mood strikes them) follows along. Then Connor will shout instructions, which usually fall on deaf ears, but they figure out a way to chase and laugh and run and play together for 10 or 15 minutes at a time pretty much all day long.

The games they play usually don't make much sense. But they're four and a half and three and a half, so that's not much of a surprise. I just love to see them playing together. Xander, because it's a huge social step for him that makes us even more hopeful about his progress of late. And for Connor, it's nice to see him enjoying some of that brotherly interaction and fun that we kind of always expected with three little boys running around. You know, the kind that's been noticeably absent with two little brothers who don't talk and who aren't big on interaction or playing games that are not their own.

So, even though they weren't supposed to be playing on the steps, my reprimand was half-hearted. I couldn't quite hide the smile from seeing two of my boys laughing and playing together. Finally.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How to Torture Your Children

You take advantage of a very rainy afternoon (when you're contractor husband is home trying to catch up on office work), you enlist his help to hold their hands while you cut their hair with the clippers. The good news is the thunder and rain blocked out their screaming, so the neighbors won't be reporting us any time soon.

First man up, Xander, not liking it one little bit.

He's the biggest, and he also cries the loudest. He also kept repeating over and over, to no avail, "That's enough!" and "I all done now!"

And, believe it or not, the best of the three. He doesn't like it, don't get me wrong, but he doesn't fight it quite as much as the other two.

And that's how you torture your children.