Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Happened to Fall?

It's my favorite time of year, when the humidity drops and the leaves start to change colors and blow off in the wind. Sure, I miss summer and spending lazy afternoons on the lake or at the pool, but I still love fall. It's a more comfortable time to enjoy the outdoors without having to resort to water to cool off.

You can play in the backyard for hours without being hot or cold, just enjoying being outside and away from all the technology that draws you in (our boys are becoming increasingly addicted to computer games, and we're having to limit screen time much to their collective displeasure). You can go for walks without needing a shower the minute you step back inside. And it's unbelievable beautiful outside this time of year in our part of the world.

But we apparently had the extent of fall a few weeks ago, in what should have been the end of summer. Now it's cloudy and rainy for days at a time, and it's almost cold. We went directly from the air conditioning to the heat in a matter of hours. My kids have gone from shorts and tank tops to jeans and long-sleeves almost over night. Which means I'm in the middle of rearranging closets and restocking back-up clothes (both at school and in our truck).

Perhaps it's because it's so fleeting that I like it so much. Or perhaps mother nature just likes to mess with us. So it goes . . .

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who Needs Sleep?

There's going to be at least one tired little boy in the morning come school time. Connor sometimes doesn't think he wants to go to bed at a normal time, you know, between 8 and 9 o'clock. Tonight we found him sneaking down the stairs about 10 o'clock.

I'm not sure if he's afraid he's going to miss something or if he was just too wound up from that Mountain Dew at lunch (we met up with some of Mommy's friends from her last job, and he got to tag along). But the kid wasn't ready for bed. I found him twice "reading" his new library books in bed, and had to tell him lights out. And then he tried to sneak his way into our Netflix movie for the night.

I think I know a certain little boy who's going to say "Not yet!" in the morning when I tell him time to wake up for school. And believe me, I'm right there with him. Heaven help us when real school begins, we have trouble with a 9 o'clock start time that's only five minutes from our house!

Not yet . . .

Monday, September 28, 2009

Spell Me a Song

My youngest child is fascinated (obsessed, shall we say) by letters. He randomly recites them, spells words (usually that he's seen on his favorite show, Word World), and spells anything he sees written (absolutely anywhere). Let's just say he loves his letters.

And he's even taken it a step further.

Back before I could convince the twins to sit still to listen to a book before bed (now a requirement for preschool, at least for one of them), I used to sing to them. Nothing fancy and certainly nothing that sounds very good, but just your typical children's songs. Our favorite (mostly because it was one of the few I could remember the words to) was always "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," which Connor used to request nightly. The twins would listen, but didn't really seem to care either way. They still don't.

But Xander has added a new request. And he cares very much. He doesn't just want me to sing it to him at night, he likes to sing it all day long if you're willing. It's the "ABC song." You know, just saying the alphabet in that sing-song voice, adding the line "Now I know my ABCs, next time won't you sing with me?" to the end. That song. All day long.

One recital is never enough, either. It must be done over and over again until you finally just make him move on to something else. And if you happen to stop midway through, he will prompt you with the letter that is next (because obviously you've forgotten and need some help). He even prompts you at the end, saying "Now!" for the first part and "Ne-time!" for the latter (which should be "next time"). He knows the letters inside and out. He also knows that last line, though he will only prompt you with the first word(s) to get you to say it.

I guess the good news is he knows his letters at three and a half, right?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

After the rains and when fall begins, a beautiful Sunday afternoon at the lake.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Under the Weather

It's not enough that it's rained the whole weekend at the lake. To add insult to injury, Connor's had the misfortune of not feeling well. He was kind of tired yesterday, which we assumed was from an early morning of school and then the long drive down. But today it turned into a pretty high fever and sleeping from about 1 o'clock this afternoon to around 8 o'clock tonight. And then he only lasted long enough for a warm bath (he was soaked through from his fever) and a little Pepsi (after refusing water, Sprite, juice and any thing else we could think of). Poor little man.

He's woken up a few times, and even as miserable as he feels, he still has the energy to ask about going out in the boat.

"I think it's sunny outside," he says, noticing a little bit of light. "Let's check the weather," he'll say, pointing to the laptop that's in his room. "We go boating now that it's sunny."

Maybe tomorrow. That's what we tell him. But even if the weather cooperates, I'm not sure he's going to be up for it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Photo Flashback

Big boy learning to love suckers very early in his life. (September 19, 2005)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Open House

Today was Open House at Early Start. It was a chance for parents to come in, to let the kids show you around their space and to talk with their teachers and therapists. Though I've been in their classrooms quite a bit (mostly during family story time that happens about once a month) and though we have a good dialogue with their teachers and therapists (via notes in their folders and e-mails), I kind of thought the kids might enjoy it.

And about the time we normally get ready for school, the little guys were both hovering under the stairs where we keep their backpacks. They seemed to think it was time for school. So off we went, Connor included. We did leave the backpacks at home, much to their displeasure. We also parked in the back, which they didn't think too much of either (you're supposed to pull into the carpool area, of course).

But, they seemed to enjoy the hour or so we spent inside. We stopped in Xander's room first, because it's the first one you come to. All the kids made themselves right at home, checking things out and sitting down to play. They all made quick moves for the two computer stations in the back, too.

Xander, holding his favorite toy of the day. We even had to take it with us on our next stop in Sawyer's classroom, but his teacher was nice enough to let us borrow it (to avoid the meltdown we both knew would follow if he had to leave it behind).

And here's Sawyer showing off his favorite classroom activity, the calendar song. He also had a big grin for his teacher when she walked in to see us in Xander's classroom as we arrived.

Big brother couldn't be left out of course, so here he is hamming for the camera while Mommy was talking to the boys speech therapist.

It was a good visit. The boys enjoyed themselves, and I got to hear a few stories about the boys and how they're doing and see them in their daily environment. School has been so good for both of them, in so many ways. There is better engagement from both. There's language emerging from Xander and signs and sounds from Sawyer. There slowly learning to try new things and to reach out to new people.

We are so thankful to have them in a place that they both enjoy and that has helped them so very much in the last year. And we're lucky that they're going to be there again next year, with the same teachers and therapists that they know and love. For two boys who very much need and like routine, it couldn't have worked out better.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

School Boy

Today in class, Connor and his friends made bird feeders with pine cones and bird seed (and some unknown sticky substance that makes the seed stick to the pine cone, hence the plastic sandwich bag). We, of course, had to hang it up right that second, even though it was actually raining and had been for a while (so it was kind of wet and nasty in the yard). And it had to go up high, so the "squirrels won't get it." You know, because we have so many of those in our front yard.

Oh, and that look on his face. That would be attitude. The kind that gets you sent to your room for being mean to your little brothers as soon as we all get home from their school. After a long day yesterday and an early morning today with school, he was very cranky. And tired. He fell asleep within minutes of being sent to his room. Two hours later I woke him back up so he might go to bed sometime tonight. We're still waiting on that part, at almost 11. Good times.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Grandma and Grandpa from the lake drove up today to do a little visiting and a little shopping. Connor and I met them after we dropped off the little guys at their school. We helped them shop for a few hours, including several spent looking at the toy sections of various stores. And then went to pick brothers up from school so we could meet up with them again (along with Uncle Brian) for lunch across town.

The plan for the end of the day was to watch cousin Austin play a game of fall baseball. After several days of rain, a late afternoon shower (of all of 10 minutes) finally did it in. The field was too wet to play on, which meant that the park was too muddy for the boys to even be released from the stroller. Good thing Grandma and Grandpa were on hand to amuse the little guys, as you can tell by their photo.

This is about 30 minutes in and at least 10 mini Twizzlers later. Oh, and they might be a little happy from the large Coke and Mountain Dew they had at Arby's for lunch. Maybe. And Grandma and Grandpa were taking turns being tickle monster.

Connor, on the other hand, was completely free. He jumped in every single mud puddle he could find. His shoes and socks were soaked within five minutes. But he didn't seem to mind that part at all.

And after he got over his initial bout of shyness, Connor found a good play buddy in cousin Austin while Coach Brian was talking with the other players and their parents. Not the end of the day we expected, but still a good time.

Oh, and Grandpa says it would have been a much cheaper day if he'd just stayed home. Two visits to Kohl's, some for the kids and some for the grandkids (holidays are coming up, you know, and Grandma likes to be done in early October at the latest), and three different stops at Target later, he was glad to get back on the road to the lake. There aren't nearly as many places to shop down there!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Without Words

Three little boys, three different ways of communicating.

One of them, the oldest, talks all the time. He talks as though its part of breathing. Unless, of course, you take him to school where he won't say a single word, at least not yet, not in his new classroom with his new teachers and new friends (only two familiar faces from his class last year).

One of them, the youngest (by all of three minutes), talks a little, mostly when he wants to. That, thankfully, has been happening a little bit more lately. The words are sometimes perfect and sometimes not, and the ones he uses most often are generally paired with the signs for emphasis. But, he's making an effort, sounding things out and being pretty consistent and appropriate most of the time. He has words, and he's adding more of them all the time.

And then there is the last one, the middle child (by all of three minutes), the "quirky and cool" one. There are still no words. There is vocalization, jabbering that starts the minute he wakes up (usually around 6:30 a.m.) from the moment he crashes into sleep (usually about 9 p.m.). Sometimes the sounds even seem to be like the words you're saying to him. You might even hear a random word or two in the mix (or at least you think you do), but never with any specific meaning or consistency.

Sawyer communicates solely through actions right now. He pushes and pulls you places and points you in the direction of whatever he thinks he wants. He grabs hold of your hand and wraps it in his and leads you where he wants to go. He picks up an item (his backpack, for instance) to let you know he's ready to go (to school, of course). He wraps his little arms around you and squeezes as hard as he can to give you a hug, or he pushes his cheek as hard as he can into your to give you a "kiss" on his terms. He pushes away things he doesn't want or doesn't like. He falls down on the floor if you tell him you're going somewhere he doesn't want to go.

He understands what you're saying and what you're asking of him, and he "tells" you in his own way whether or not he's going to comply. He is determined and persistent, and he is also consistent and generally appropriate in his actions. He simply doesn't use words.

When we started this journey last year, our speech therapist began introducing signs to both of the twins. Both of them picked them up pretty quickly, meaning that they understood what the signs meant and how to make them. It did not, of course, mean that they were willing to make them. It has been a struggle for both boys. Xander finally came around, learning that if he made the signs he could better get the things he wanted (it's all about motivation for him).

Sawyer has been slower. He knows the signs, recognizes them and even knows how to make them. He just doesn't do it very often on his own. He's much more likely to allow hand-over-hand signing, where someone else takes his hands and "helps" him to make the sign. He typically likes to take your hands and make the sign with your hands, which I'm told is quite common. He will, on occasion, spontaneously make an appropriate sign (usually "more," which was one of the first signs that the therapist worked with them on and that has long been a universal sign for both of the twins).

But, today, Sawyer had a moment at school that his teachers have not seen before. They were working on assigning the classroom jobs (one job for each student to help with that week), and Sawyer's name was the last one on the carpet (along with four other students who were absent). His teacher helped him, hand-over-hand, select his name and choose his job for the week, then signed "all done" to him and told him he could go play with the others. He apparently stood there, looking first at her and then back at those last four names. Then he signed "more," wanting to pick up another name and place it on the job board. He signed "more" for each name that was left until they were all assigned.

Sawyer has never independently signed at school, without either hand-over-hand assistance or using someone else's hands. He was independently signing, doing so appropriately and consistently until the activity was finished.

So there may not be words, at least not yet, but there are signs. And there is progress, moving a little bit further forward each and every day. And that's how we do things around here, taking things one step at a time, one day at a time. He'll get there, he'll just do it in his own time and very much in his own way.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

It was too hard to choose . . . swing time was happy time this week.

If I did have to choose, Xander would have won. He looked happiest of all.

Sawyer was happy, too, but his shots were all a bit more blurry.

And Connor was fake smiling, so his eyes kept closing.

But, all in all, a good day.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

To Grammy's House We Go

This weekend is my one weekend of the month to work, meaning that I actually work both Saturday and Sunday instead of just one day. Josh has his usual Saturday class, and he's also trying to get caught up on some work he's doing at one of his houses. And that means that Grammy and Pappy were nice enough to watch the boys both days this weekend, picking them up this morning and keeping them overnight at their house.

Today's schedule included a trip to the local fall festival in a nearby town, one we've attended several years in the past. I can smell the funnel cakes now, just thinking about it. There were also plans for a trip to a local wildlife sanctuary, and maybe watching a little bit of college football, too, as the home team was playing its big rival game today.

Tomorrow is another fall festival, the one held at the university club where Grammy and Pappy are members and often invite us out for dinners and for swimming. The boys and I did this one last year with Grammy and Aunt Kelly and Cousin Katie, too. Hopefully the weather will hold out and they can enjoy it again tomorrow.

And I know I'm going to enjoy sleeping in tomorrow. Sawyer will be kicking the door at Grammy's house at 6 in the morning and Connor will be standing at the foot of her bed whispering (loudly), "Grammy? Grammy? You awake yet?"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Photo Flashback

Daddy and the first baby when he was about 6 months. (September 23, 2003)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hard Day's Play

Two of my children like to sleep. One hardly ever sleeps. It's funny that Xander seems so much like his older brother and so little like his (identical) twin brother, but that's how it goes. They're big play buddies during the day, and today they both wore themselves out (with a little help from one of Connor's book club buddies, who came over to play for a while after the twins got out of school).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quoted & Noted

When Connor was first learning to talk, he had some pretty cute "words" that he liked to say to us. My favorite of his was probably "tuck" for "truck," because he was fascinated with them and said it all the time.

And since Xander is the one who's coming up with new words these days, trying more and more to talk to us, he is the one who's starting to say those cute things. I hear my new favorite at just about every meal. Picky little things that the twins are, they eat the same things a lot.

"More!" Xander both says and signs to me, looking down at his plate.

"More what?" I ask, knowing exactly what he wants and where this is going.

"Eat!" he says and signs, then combines the two using both words and signs. "Eat more!"

"Eat more what?" I ask, still knowing.

"Apple-some! More apple-some!" he says, with a big grin for me because he knows that he is telling me what I want to hear and what I have been asking.

It's not perfect, of course, because what he really wants is "applesauce," but it's there. Apple-some. And I know what it means. He says it consistently, as he's digging his spoon into the empty spot on his plate where the applesauce recently was.

Small steps, but big moments. Appropriate signs and words. Attempts at new words. Responding to direct questions with appropriate answers. All good things.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pure Joy

For him and for me. I LOVE this smile. A year ago, you didn't see it hardly at all. Now it seems like it's there more often than not. And I LOVE that, too.

It was almost Snapshot Sunday for this week, but after seeing that he had that distinction last week, I opted to post today. Surely someone else will do something cute by then (and I will be able to capture it with my camera)!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall is Really Here

It was a sad day at our house for the boys. The kiddie pool and its assorted toys were all deflated and put away for the season. Connor, of course, took it the hardest.

It's been relatively warm lately, but not that warm, especially when you have to get clean water every few days and lows are in the 50s. The water stays cool and the temperatures don't warm up fast enough during the day to warm the water. I was spending more time keeping the kids out of it (on our way to play in the yard) than actually letting them in it, so it just seemed like it was time.

We've also already had our share of the sniffles at the house. The good news, I suppose, is that I've had it worse than any of the boys. It's going on three weeks now for me, and thankfully I haven't contaminated anyone else (knock on wood). The boys have had random coughing spells and runny noses, but nothing to keep them home from school yet. Definitely no fevers and nothing as prolonged as mine has been. We're crossing our fingers that it stays that way, though Xander's cough was sounding a bit rough as the day wore on.

So, the bad news is our summer of fun is coming to an end. We love the water, or at least the boys and I do, and we'll miss it. But, the good news is that fall is really here. The boys are back in school (which all of them seem to like), there are fall festivals around the corner, and it will be time to trick-or-treat before you know it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Quoted & Noted

If you're wondering what our day was like, Connor has summed it up for you.

"Mommy is at work, and Daddy is at the big-kids school," he says in his serious voice. "And Grammy and Pappy came over here to play and watch babies! Aunt Kelly, too, but only for 10 minutes!"

That's what he told me when I asked him about his day tonight before bed. Though he fibbed a little, because Aunt Kelly was here for a few hours. Grammy had also mentioned that he said the first part to her earlier in the day, about Mommy being at work and Daddy being at the big-kids school. That part, at least, was true. I did work, and Josh's EMT class is on Saturdays. Sort of a big-kids school, I guess.

If you haven't noticed, Connor is a bit obsessed with school lately. We count down the nights he has left before he goes back to preschool (both before it started and now between the days when he actually goes). And when we drive past a couple of "big-kids schools" in our daily routine, he always thinks he's ready to go there, too.

"I go there when I get a little bit bigger. I go to the big-kids school and I ride the school bus!"

Let's hope he's always this excited about school, though I highly doubt it. He may be like our cousin Jason, who Pappy likes to tell on. He apparently went to the first day of kindergarten and told the teachers that he had learned enough and he was quitting!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Photo Flashback

Who's ready to eat? Little man Xander. (September 19, 2006)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Little Moments

One of the things I wasn't really looking forward to about Connor's first day of school yesterday was that mandatory parent meeting that started 15 minutes after we dropped him off with his new class. Not because I don't like coffee and doughnuts (well, the doughnuts anyway). But because I knew I would have the twins with me.

And I knew they would have to be unrestrained. Waiting. In an unfamiliar room that was alternately quiet and loud. Being expected to sit still, or, at the very least, not dancing across the room in circles. Having to be quiet while the director went over the policies and procedures. In short, having to do something that they generally don't like to do and don't do very well. So, yeah, no doughnuts after all.

But, despite that, I was a little bit surprised and impressed.

Yes, there was some inappropriate jabbering and spelling during the director's speech. Yes, there was some unrestrained dancing, though it was limited to distracting only the four people sitting in our small corner. There was even some random kicking, by Xander, who was laying down on one of the seats and who couldn't stop kicking the person who had the misfortune to sit closest to us. It was what it was.

But there was a little moment, among all of the others, that stood out. The grandmother of one of Connor's classmates from last year was sitting across from us. She kept smiling and trying to engage the boys in little waves or grins. Sawyer was too busy bouncing on my lap and slapping his hands onto mine to be bothered. But Xander, he noticed.

And more than that, he engaged. He would watch her, flashing a big grin after she smiled at him. Eventually, it escalated to him hiding behind my shoulder and peeking his head out to look at her, expecting her to still be there smiling at him (which she, of course, was because who can resist my mischievous little devil when he's being so cute?) It lasted for the last five minutes of the program.

Engagement. Spontaneous and unforced interaction. Prolonged contact. All with a big smile on his face. That little moment made up for all the rest, for all the worries about how they would do in the situation, how I would manage them both on my own without restraints, and whether or not we could make it through the whole program without having to leave. It was so worth it.

Sometimes I worry that we're overlooking Xander. His delays are not the same as his brother's. It seems more a reluctance, a stubbornness that keeps him quiet. He knows language. He has words and even phrases. He can be consistent and appropriate, when he chooses to be. And though his social skills are not what you would call typical for his age, they are much more present than this brother's.

And it's these little moments, that are happening more and more often of late, that reassure us. It makes us hopeful that his path will not be the same, will not be quite as difficult as the one his brother will have. They're both moving forward, of course, which is all that matters. Each one of our boys, coming along in their own time and their own way.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Day, FINALLY!

It was a really, REALLY, long time in coming, at least as far as Connor was concerned. But today was his first day back to preschool. He was so excited that he was up with Sawyer, you know, before 7 a.m.!

It was hard to keep him occupied, even after Mommy came downstairs at a much more respectable 8 a.m., because he was so ready to go to school. And we only had 45 minutes to pass by that time. He spent most of it chasing his little brother around on the Lightning McQueen trucks (which I've taken my first moment of peace to banish back upstairs because they're driving me crazy)! He managed to eat a little dry cereal and some strawberry milk, but not much. He's going to be hungry come snack time.

That's another new thing this year. Each classroom has their own way of doing snack time, and last year's class was the snack helper method, where parents bring in a snack for the whole class in rotations (meaning you do it about four times a year). His new classroom is individual snacks, which means we have to pack him something every day that is just for him. He helped me pick out today's snack - Minute Maid fruit punch juice box, club crackers with cheese dip, and chocolate pudding.

I have a feeling this part is going to get old before the school year is out. I kind of prefer the snack helper method, if for no other reason than the kids might be exposed to new kinds of foods than what we do at home all the time. But we'll figure it out. He's at least old enough (and verbal enough) to help me decide what he wants, both when we're grocery shopping and when it's time to pack his snack. That helps more than you can possibly imagine.

So we made it to school and waited in line with everyone else, though at a safe distance down the long hallway. The twins were not terribly excited to be back in the double-stroller in an unfamiliar hallway at Connor's school.

All in all, the boys did well. Connor was nervous and had to be kind of pushed into the room, but he listened as his teacher told him how they are to hang up their bags every day by their name tag and then take their folder out to put it inside the basket on the shelf. He even spoke when she asked him if he thought he could do that, which was an improvement from what Josh said about the open house (you know, where he didn't say a single word to anyone). He still looked uncertain as I backed out of the room, but I wasn't worried. There were toy trucks on the floor, and he was eyeing them pretty hard. He'll come around, just like he always does.

The twins did okay in the hallway, where I had to leave them (the double-stroller has its limits, and it's too big for the classroom door). I had to sign "wait" to Xander a few times, who kept pointing at the latch and wanting to be released from the restraint harness. And then we made our way to another room for the mandatory parent meeting to go over the handbook. It was all pretty standard stuff, especially since Connor was here last year, but we attended anyway.

Once again, we had to leave the stroller outside in the hallway, but this time I had to take the boys in with me. They did okay. We sat near some grandparents of one of Connor's classmates from last year. Both were wiggly and a bit loud, especially Xander who kept spelling words and randomly reciting letters. But they weren't too much of a distraction, I hope. Sawyer sat on my lap for most of it, and was relatively quiet except for a burst or two of his usual jabber and his need to smack my hands with his repeatedly (he desperately needed to both move and have a little sensory moment, apparently).

And then it was time to go home. We had about an hour before they needed to be dropped off at their school. We spent a little time playing, having a light breakfast (still working on getting them to eat their school lunches), and going potty before it was time to load back into the truck.

And so it begins, our new routine. Earlier days, four trips to and from school instead of just two, and a window of peace in the middle for Mommy. It's busy and sometimes chaotic, but it's good to get back into the routine. I think the boys have been missing school, that outside interaction and chance to expand their horizons a little bit. And I know I've been missing a little break in the day!

Book Club for Boys!

Like everything lately, Connor was in a hurry to leave last night for our "Book Club for Boys" meeting. Unfortunately for him, a storm was rolling in about the time we needed to leave. We opted to wait it out for a little bit, much to his displeasure. But we were treated with this amazing view on our drive out into the country, where his friend who was hosting lives.

Last night's theme was children's literary classics. Our host had three books picked out, but we only managed to get through two of them. Little boys tend to have short attention spans, especially around other little boys and the need to play with all those new toys in an unfamiliar house!

Our first book was The Gingerbread Man, which I hadn't read in ages and I'm pretty sure Connor had never read before. It went over extremely well, especially since it ended with our snack of the evening - homemade gingerbread cookies topped with sugar!

The second book was The Three Billy Goats Gruff which we had checked out recently from the library. I read it to the twins a few times, but Connor missed out because it was while he was away at the beach with Grandma and Grandpa. So this one was new to him, too. At the end, the host handed out little hand-held masks for each of the boys so we could recreate the story. One got to be the mean, old troll. The other three boys were the Billy Goats Gruff trying to pass him on the bridge. Two out of four played their part well. The other two, Connor included, were too bashful to play.

And after that the boys went upstairs to play while the mothers had a chance to plan some of the next meetings and to just talk. Connor and I love going to these meetings - they're educational and fun. And a tasty treat is usually involved, too, though I missed out on my part of that last night. You see, the host sent some of the extra cookies home with us at the end of the night, and Connor offered to hold ours while we drove. Guess who ate both of the cookies on the way home.

"You can have a different one later," he told me, already munching on my gingerbread man.

I probably should have seen that coming, huh?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

One More Day

At nearly five, Connor is one of those kids who actually looks forward to school. He's been counting down the days for weeks now. And the first thing he told me again this morning was that he only has "One more night left!"

Though he's not in full-time school, he is going one more day per week this year (the MWF schedule instead of the TR schedule). His Mommy & me time is going to be cut back a little, but we'd been saving up for one last good day of summer vacation while brothers were in school. First, he wanted to go to the library. Next, he tried the park. Then he thought of the toy store. And finally, he saw that Mommy was taking him downtown to the children's museum, which he has always called the "boat school" from his love of one particular exhibit (three guesses what it involves).

We spent a few hours playing, even randomly running into a few of the moms who were at my last girls night out. Alas, their children are quite a bit younger than mine, so Connor wasn't up for socializing. We moved on. And on and on and on. The kid moves so fast through exhibits that your head will spin, except, of course, for one particular exhibit. We ended our day at the river exhibit, with, you guessed it, the boats. He also snuck in one last adventure in the cave (which is one the way from the boats to the exit) and then we were done.

The photos above were taken as we were heading back out to the truck. In the first one, I'm asking him to smile because I like the look with all of the leaves on the sidewalk and the tree framing the top. He's not cooperating. But I mention we might have to skip lunch if he can't be a good boy, and low and behold if the smile doesn't magically appear. It's all about motivation.

So then we headed out for lunch. He wanted, of course, McDonald's. I vetoed and told him to try again. Chick-fil-a was the quick second, visions of the indoor playground already making his eyes glass over. Nope, not enough time today to eat and to play. I suggested Sonic, which is my favorite. He agreed, but didn't seem excited. He likes to "go in and eat" when we do lunch out. Sonic doesn't really have that, and one storm had already rolled through while we were at the museum, so I wasn't up for sitting outside on the picnic tables. Finally, I suggested pizza from Fazolis, which would be on our route back to pick up his brothers. He seemed excited, and our choice was made.

I opted for the daily special, a half-order of spaghetti and a small slice of pizza. I got Connor the kids meal with a single pizza slice and a drink. I should have known better. He demolished his slice and about 3/4 of mine, and was of course still hungry. So I purchased two more slices, and he ate another half of one before proclaiming himself full. Next time he just gets a regular pizza meal on the adult menu, it would have been much cheaper.

And then it's time to head back to pick up brothers. He tries for the library again (which is on our way) and also the park (also on our way). Not quite enough time, though we will be a few minutes earlier than usual. We pull up in time to see Sawyer's class out on the playground near the car pool. This is never good. When he sees our truck, he's ready to go. Today was no exception. He went crying and screaming back into the building to get ready to come home.

A few minutes more and both boys come bouncing out the door, clearly ready to go. Xander is wearing someone else's pants, having gone through both extra sets of clothes at school today (never a good sign). Sawyer is fine, at least until we make it home. That's when both of the twins like to be "jumped" out of the truck onto the garage floor. Xander was first today (with a little pushing and shoving, as per usual).

Unfortunately, Sawyer didn't want to wait for Mommy to turn back around. He just jumped. And then he hit, hard. He caught himself, or at least I think he did. He cried as he often does when something scares him or catches him off guard, but he wouldn't let me put him down for a long time. And when I did, I of course notice that he's favoring one foot pretty heavily. Lovely. I feel around, but there's nothing unusual and not even any swelling (Mommy's had a few sprained ankles herself over the years). He's still going easy on it, even now, but he's moving around a lot more than he was at first. Good stuff.

So that's been our day, so far. I'm still keeping an eye out for Sawyer's ankle, because with the whole non-verbal and high-pain tolerance thing, who knows what really happened when he jumped out of the truck. And in a few hours, Connor and I will get ready and head out for his monthly "Book Club for Boys" meeting.

Nothing like cramming it all in before school starts, right? Oh well, Connor doesn't seem to mind. I'm pretty sure he's having a good day.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Day in the Life

7:30 a.m.
One of my little people starts kicking the door to his room.

7:50 a.m.
One of my little people comes downstairs and joins me on the couch, tickling my feet to see if I'm just pretending to still be asleep (the couch and I have been good friends this week, since it's the only place I've been able to sleep and breathe at the same time with my cold). He continues to do so until I'm forced to kick him back. A morning person, I am not.

7:55 a.m.
I give in, get up and start folding up the blanket off the couch. I mention going upstairs to let the little guys out, but Connor wants to do it and I'm too tired and still not breathing well enough to argue. He "gets the babies" from upstairs, and I now have three little people dancing around me and pulling me in different directions. One wants the television turned on. Another wants to potty. And the last one wants his milk and cereal. All in good time, people.

8:25 a.m.
The boys all have sippy cups of milk and small bowls of dry cereal. Everyone has been potty and the television is now on. Two of the boys are simultaneously dancing and eating dry cereal (and holding their sippy cups underneath one of their arms, lest someone steal it while it is sitting on the couch). The other is half-asleep on the couch, complaining that babies are too noisy in the mornings and bother him (tell me about it, kid). But he's also sipping and munching, and anxiously awaiting the new PBS kids' show about dragons on trains. Exciting stuff. I wander upstairs to brush my teeth and put on something other than the tanktop and boy shorts I've been sleeping in, you know, just in case we leave the house at some point.

9:15 a.m.
Thunder rumbles and rain moves in. Daddy has left for work, and it's looking like a rather nasty holiday at home for me and the boys. And then the power goes off. This, of course, is a tragedy. The boys were dancing to and watching the new dragons and trains show. They are not happy to have it go off. It also means the pancakes Mommy had been thinking about making were off the table. No power, no stove. They settled for a breakfast of yogurt, pineapple, grapes and mini chocolate doughnuts. I opted out.

9:35 a.m.
Breakfast is over, it's still raining outside, and the power is still out. Now what? We clean up the mess, leave the little people strapped in and break out the arts and crafts tote. For Connor, that means coloring one of the huge Lightning McQueen murals with crayons. For Xander, it means using the Crayola TaDoodles paint pens (and getting more paint on his hands and the table than anywhere else, but at least it's washable). For Sawyer, it meant doing his homework - decorating his "me" (think gingerbread man shape) cut out. I, of course, did most of the work. He was not interested, though he did condescend to put quite a few stickers on at the end. Then, in true Sawyer fashion, he lined up the letter stamps I had been using for the rest of table time. Xander also had a homework sheet to do, which he also was not interested in doing. It was a lesson where you match the colors to the fruits or vegetables that are the same color. I tried making little dots with crayon beside each one, getting him to tell me the colors. I kept getting "No!" and his hand pushing me away while reaching for another crayon. We made it through, but just barely. He was not impressed with homework.

10:45 a.m.
Table time is getting old and the natives are restless. I go upstairs in search of new toys to put out in the play room. I find the McDonald's kitchen and the Lightning McQueen cars. Both drive me crazy, but this is going to be a long day and we need a diversion. Connor, the only one not strapped in, is already terribly upset that Sawyer used all of his stickers to complete his homework, particularly the last two train stickers. And, I grant you, they actually are his stickers - received from the "treasure box" in his classroom last year, but I also must point out that he will more than likely spend the rest of the afternoon riding around on the twins' Lightning McQueen car. There is no "mine" at our house. Three boys, community toys. But for Connor, the world has ended. I dig in the tote and find some press-on tattoos that I think he might like. The tears stop as soon as the wet washcloth goes over the tattoo to begin the transfer. He's excited. There are pictures, at his request. I even clean up the other two and release them. Sawyer runs for the kitchen, Connor and Xander begin chasing each other on the ride-along cars (see, I told you he would be riding on their car). General chaos ensues. I also attempt to fold a load of laundry during this time, but as luck would have it, that's when Sawyer decided to pull his escape act and go prancing out Buster's dog door into the storm. He's dripping wet and muddy. Good times.

11:05 a.m.
I have to chase the twins back downstairs. They love to play in Connor's room and mess up the books on his bookshelf. Sawyer even likes to take the board books into the hallway and throw them down the stairs. That makes Connor think about books, so he pulls out some of his most recent library books and wants to read on the couch. He brings four, which we read while the little guys continue playing. Xander doesn't like our books, but he does run upstairs and find one of Connor's (a Lightning McQueen comic book) that he likes and sits down beside us to "read," too. Sawyer is not into the books. He only likes them at bedtime, when he gets Mommy all to himself with a silly Dr. Seuss book, those are his favorite.

11:25 a.m.
The power comes back on. Thank heavens. The kids are still pretty well occupied with the new toys, though I do go into the pantry and find a few more to pull out, just in case. I finish cleaning up all the paint and crayon on the table and floor from our morning arts and crafts session, and also post the new artwork in the gallery (aka, the fridge). We turn on the television in anticipation of the twins' favorite - Word World. That buys me another half hour.

12:00 p.m.
The natives are hungry. They're milling around in the kitchen, trying to open cabinet doors and the refrigerator. They may not talk, but they certainly communicate. I convince them to play (and leave the kitchen), so I can make something. We (meaning Connor and I) opt for chicken nuggets, french fries and macaroni & cheese (healthy, we know). It takes a little while, but they're pretty well occupied with toys and the television.

12:25 p.m.
Lunch time. Two little people are strapped back in and one just sits down. Connor is pleased with lunch and eats most of his and part of Xander's, too. He also thinks ketchup should be a food group all by itself. The twins only liked the french fries and are going to be hungry before dinner time arrives. I have time to take a few bites before plates and cups are thrown across the table (another bit of communication without words, meaning "I'm done!").

12:40 p.m.
Now what? I send them back to playing while I try to clean things up. That takes a good thirty minutes in and of itself. I also have to keep walking into the office and smacking a certain little person's hands. He likes to (a) turn the printer on and off and (b) make the CD drives pop in and out on the computer. It's a constant battle.

1:15 p.m.
The lunch mess is cleaned up and the kids are still playing. I try to sneak in some computer time now that the power is back on. I soon have three little people climbing all over me. They'd like to play computer games, but I'm not in the mood. We shut it back down and go back to playing.

1:45 p.m.
Aunt Kelly arrives. Connor has a new play buddy and drags her off in every direction he can think of. The twins somehow acquire Connor's new beach ball from the pantry and are having a big time tossing it all over the house, though there is quite a bit of fighting over who gets to have it. I find another smaller blow-up ball and the fighting lessens, though occasional skirmishes continue. One is bigger than the other, after all. Sawyer convinces Aunt Kelly he needs yet another sucker (probably how the beach ball found it's escape from the pantry) and Connor sweet talks his way into some orange soda from the refrigerator. Guests are good, they say.

3:35 p.m.
Aunt Kelly needs to head home, much to Connor's displeasure. The beach balls are still causing problems, so they go back into the pantry. I turn on our first movie of the day, Hoodwinked. Connor is not interested, but the twins are perfectly happy to dance to it. Connor and I work on the calendar in his room and updating the one in the office.

5:00 p.m.
The movie is over and everyone is bored. Time for dinner. We opt for leftovers tonight. Connor gets bacon (one of his favorites) with mandarin oranges and applesauce. The twins get green beans and corn with mandarin oranges and applesauce. It goes well, until Sawyer decides he's finished and shoves his plate across the table. Usually, it stops a few inches out of his reach. Tonight he was really finished, and it landed on the floor beside Connor (yes, all those leftover green beans and corn that he didn't bother to eat). This time I clean up the mess before I release them. Otherwise Lightning McQueen cars are going to be going through the green beans and corn.

5:35 p.m.
Back to playing for a little while. I make some kool-aid and load the dishwasher to run a cycle. I also sneak some computer time, but soon have two little boys pulling on my arms. I send them back to playing, but before long they're back upstairs in Connor's room jumping on his bed and tossing books all over the place.

5:50 p.m.
And that's when I opt for a stroller walk / bike ride. Buster is so excited he can hardly contain himself. He also can't help but step on my toes and swish his tail in the boys faces while I try to help them with their shoes. He's excitable that way. We make our short loop with the twins in the stroller, Connor on his Big Wheel, and Buster on the leash. We drop Buster back off, and head around the other block for Connor's "Other walk!" that he just has to have. We also manage to take the trash out to the road for tomorrow's pick up day.

6:35 p.m.
It's still early and the natives are going to be restless again. Daddy is still working, and I'm running out of ideas I tell them to leave their shoes on and I take them straight from the stroller out into the yard for some outdoor play time. Icees are, of course, requested and granted. Photos are taken. There is lots of swinging and sliding and dumping all the toys into the fort (per usual, thanks to Sawyer). I also bring out sippy cups of water that are largely ignored (my boys are not fans unless they're completely dehydrated, then they might consider it). We watched the dark clouds roll in again (though no rain this time) and the helicopters and airplanes fly over. We even watched the birds, and there were a lot tonight for some reason. We also caught bugs, or "gnat bugs" as Connor called them. He caught them, I just smacked them. He wanted to stay out long enough to catch lightning bugs, but I'm afraid he would be disappointed. You don't see those much where we live, he'll have to wait for another visit to Grandma & Grandpa's house at the lake for that. And, besides that, Mommy was ready to call it a day.

7:50 p.m.
We (meaning I) pick up all the outside toys and put them back in the storage container. We round up all the (mostly unused) sippy cups of water and head inside. We take off our shoes and put them in the bench under the stairs, put the cups in the sink and, if you're a twin, you cry when Mommy says it's time to take a bath. We stomp our feet and refuse to walk up the steps, so Mommy has to pick us up and carry us up the stairs crying and screaming and kicking, one under each arm. Such torture. Connor has to be forced out of the bathroom, wanting so much to help get things started but only getting in the way and turning the water on too hot. He eventually settles on his bed with some books so I can take care of his brothers. Baths are commenced, including the dreaded washing of the hair that will erupt in serious screaming if you even think about getting water in their ears (or alternately causing them to do something, like cover their ears with their hands, and get water in their own ears). Once the twins are out, Connor gets himself started on his bath while I tend to his brothers. Teeth are reluctantly brushed, lotion applied and pajamas put on. Nightlights and music are turned on, and story time begins. Xander likes a quick kiss and pushes you out. Sawyer clutches on for dear life and begs you to stay until he falls asleep. Both get about 10 minutes of Mommy's time alone, looking at board books or just cuddling in bed.

8:25 p.m.
We finish up Connor's bath, brush his teeth at the sink (he likes to spit it out and get a drink when he's done), then get his lotion and pajamas. We mark an "x" off on the calendar (a new ritual, to go with his recent interest in time, more specifically, the number of days until he gets to go to school). We climb in bed and read two books, sometimes more, never less. Then he asks me to stay "for a little while" with him. And I usually do, even though I'm tired and ready for a break myself. Because one of these days, he's going to grow up on us and not want any part of things like story time or talking about our day before we go to bed.

8:45 p.m.
Daddy comes home just in time to say good-night. I close the door behind us while Connor's still talking, always begging for just one more minute or one more thing (a drink, a hug, a kiss, a high-five, and you get the idea). I finish spraying stain remover on the laundry (three little boys can be hard on clothes. especially when markers and paint were involved) and put the dirty clothes in the hamper. I hang the towels back up in the bathroom and turn out the lights.

9:00 p.m.
It's my turn for a shower, for some comfortable clothes and a little peace before bed. It's also time for dinner, because I didn't have (or take, depending on how you look at it) the time to eat when the boys did. And it's time to look through the days photos and maybe post a blog or two (just one long one tonight).

11:35 p.m.
Wrap things up and head to bed.

Tomorrow it will start all over again at the same time. We'll also be adding back in the twins preschool, from 10:35 to 1:35 every week day (except holidays, like today) and on Wednesday Connor's school will begin, from 9 to 12 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

This is a day in the life. Happy Labor Day, indeed!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Future skateboarder? He's not, but it sure looks like he's studying that slide as a good place to ride down on a board. He is my wild child, after all.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Family Reunion

Every Labor Day weekend, Josh's extended family gets together for a reunion at a small local park. Some, like us, travel only a few minutes across town. Others travel from several states away just to come. There are over a hundred people at times, though today's turnout was a little less than that (football is starting for the home team today, after all).

It's a chance to visit with several generations and branches of the family, enjoy a potluck lunch, and for the kids to run around on the playground with all the "cousins." And that means we spent a big part of our day chasing three little boys in three different directions around the playground. But, other than Sawyer trying to steal a whole container of cookies at one point while we were both occupied with his brothers, it went pretty well. And, in fairness, they did have M&Ms all over them. What little boy could resist?

Sawer taking a break from bouncing to sitting for a change. He liked the see-saw best of all, of course, but bouncing the ball was a close second.

Xander getting his game face on. His favorite was the slides though.

Connor thinking that the goal is a little too high for him to make. He eventually gave up and found a play friend to chase around the rest of the day.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Things that Happened Today

One of my children came to me and said "My nose is runnin' and won't stop!" That in and of itself is not bad. The fact that he was dripping blood on the floor was a bit of a problem. What was worse, is when I asked him why he had stuck his sucker stick up his nose (which is very clearly what he had done, you know, right after actually eating the sucker), he said "Because it needed to." Okay, makes sense, right?

Two of my children managed to steal about four cookies off the cookie sheet before they were baked today. The third one took four by himself (that would be my cookie monster, Sawyer). The husband's annual family reunion is tomorrow, so we did a bit of baking (and tasting apparently) this afternoon.

Josh had to lock the puppy in his room this morning, by closing the doggie door from the inside. Note, the reason had absolutely nothing to do with the puppy. It's to keep our newest escape artist from opening the door to Buster's room (with the child safety knob still in place) and then making his way outside to either walk on the stone path through the yard or to put all the pool toys into the (currently empty) kiddie pool. That's Sawyer's idea of a good time. You know, when he wakes up at 6 in the morning, like he did today.

My pickiest eater of all had not one or even two, but four and a half servings of green beans for dinner. That would be in addition to the large serving of white corn and the two servings of mandarin oranges and his entire sippy cup of milk. He also ate an entire chocolate chip cookie, this time actually baked. That would be this child, my skinny mini.

All totally random. All totally true.

Photo Flashback

Floor time is happy time. Sawyer left, Xander right. (September 9, 2006)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Two Days, Two Friends

Fate is conspiring against me.

Connor has been a little sad to find out that he's not going back to the same classroom, you know, with the same teachers and same friends this year. He keeps talking about how much he likes the yellow classroom and his old friends, not his new friends. Pretty typical stuff for an almost five-year old, I'm sure.

So yesterday we happened on one of his classmates at the grocery store. He, being in the silent and bashful mode, wouldn't say a word. Today we ran into another former classmate, this time at the library for story time. Still didn't say a word. Not until we started home.

"I want to go back to the yellow room," he told me. "I want to see my friends again!"

You know, the ones he won't even talk to when we happen to see them. Those friends. It's hard to be four, I suppose.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Silent Treatment

At home, he simply talks and talks and talks. You know, like talking is required for breathing. That's the side of him that we see. But take him somewhere new, somewhere remotely unfamiliar, and you get bashful and silent.

And that was what he was today at his school open house. Mr. Chatty didn't say a single word, or so I'm told. We even ran into one of his old classmates at the grocery store this afternoon (we were running errands while brothers were in school). Not a single word to her or her mother. Only after they were out of hearing did he say something about one of "my friends from school."

Let's hope it doesn't take half the year for him to become himself in his new classroom. I remember almost falling out of my seat last school year when his teachers told me how quiet he was in school. My son? Quiet? Surely you have the wrong child. But no, apparently not.

Time will tell . . .

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Going, Going, Gone

It took less than twenty-four hours. Connor is gone again.

Pappy was in town and decided it would be a nice surprise for Grammy if he brought Connor over for a few hours this afternoon. They've been missing their oldest grandson.

He'll come home later tonight because he has his school open house tomorrow, and he wouldn't miss that for the world.

Ten days. That's how many days Connor spent at home in the month of August. If school wasn't starting soon, I'd say September might be looking the same.

A Beautiful Day

Okay, so I'm probably setting a bad precedent by taking him to the park on his first day home while his brothers are in school. I understand. But have you looked outside? It's beautiful! Cloudless bright blue skies, cool breeze and highs in the low 70s! This is Mommy's kind of weather and her favorite time of the year. And we decided today was a good day for the park. We'll deal with the fallout later.

And, just to make myself feel better, we came home for lunch. He wanted Chick-fil-a, of course, but I knew that really would be setting us up for disappointment later on. So we enjoyed the weather outside at the park (in our new shirt, even, thanks to Grandma & Grandpa) and then came back home to take the puppy for a much-needed walk around the block (Connor on his Big Wheel, of course) and to have lunch.

Not a bad first day home, right? And even better, he gets to visit his school tomorrow for open house with his new teachers and classmates. He's so excited about school he's counting down the days!