Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Day at the Park with Friends



Summer is definitely here. The Book Club boys are all out of school, and we had time to squeeze in one last play date before our second member relocates to the Virginia. We decided to meet at a local city park by the lake for some play time, some catching up and a picnic lunch!

The boys (as well as younger siblings, one brother for T and one sister for C) had a big time. They chased each other all over the playground, went down slides and on swings, and had a great time just being outside. The parents had a chance to visit and get out of the house, too!

We stopped midway through for a picnic lunch on blankets under a big shade tree, where everyone munched and enjoyed some down time from the warm day.

It was a perfect afternoon. We missed our fourth book club family, the one who's already relocated to Colorado, but they were with us in spirit.

Photos from the day are here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Watch Up!"


And There He Goes ..., originally uploaded by cheryl.

It's been happening more and more. Words. Phrases. Verbal communication.

All are very hard won, have to be something he really cares about or wants. But the words are finally starting to come for one of our twins.

Just a year or so ago, I could have listed all the single words Xander might say. They wouldn't have filled up a single page. Earlier in the year I sent a list to his speech therapist at school of words we were hearing at home, the ones being used consistently and appropriately. Now I could not even list them all.

One of my favorites, though there are many, is when he comes up to me and says this one.

"Watch," he says, pulling on my hand. He wants to take me to the living room, specifically to the locked cabinet where we keep the children's DVDs. "Watch," he'll say again, pulling eagerly on my hand. And when we finally make it to the cabinet, the small phrase will come.

"Watch Up!"

It's his favorite. Pixar's Up.

So we watch it. Pretty often, actually. You'd be surprised at how much he gets these days. Words are powerful, and I think he's starting to see that. He's trying so much more, and repeating almost everything you say to him.

It's still about motivation, about wanting or needing something. But it's such a long way from where we started.

Yes, we watch Up a lot. And I'm okay with that.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cousins & Friends


Too Cute, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Yesterday we spent the day with family, celebrating a cousin's upcoming marriage with a family shower at an extended family member's home out in the county. It's a beautiful home set back off the road on a lot of land (at least by our subdivision standards here in town). It was a great day.

The boys spent most of the time playing and did relatively well. Connor had the best time, enjoying his good friend J from school (also a distant cousin) and one of his best family playmates, cousin R. They were cute, bossing (or attempting to boss) all the other kids around.

It was great to catch up with family and friends, to enjoy a barbecue in great weather, and to celebrate cousin M's upcoming wedding.

For those who don't know her, cousin M was one of our first sitters for the boys, keeping Connor at our house several days a week for the first year or so of his life. He doesn't necessarily remember it, but we do. We loved having family that we knew and trusted taking care of our first born. We're excited she's starting on a new journey in her life!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

So Long, Farewell


Triple Stoller, originally uploaded by cheryl.

The time has finally come.

Earlier this week we went through a lot of our old baby and kid stuff from the attic. Cousins Katie and Brigid drove up for the afternoon to check out what Katie dubbed Cheryl's 'R' Us that we staged in Connor's room while he was away.

We gave a lot of stuff away. We threw some stuff away. And this is the last remaining unused piece of baby gear. It served us well. It saved my sanity more times than I can count those very early years. And even up until the end, when it was almost too heavy to push (well over 100 lbs of kids inside).

Here's a fun flashback photo, in case you've forgotten.

But now it's time. Yesterday I cleaned it back up. It's the one thing that should be worth a little money, since we paid over $750 for it when it was new and it's still in really good shape. We're going to try to sell it. Anyone in the market for a triple stroller?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Summer is Here!


Not Happy, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Sort of.

We made our first trip out on the boat today, but the water was still much too cold for any swimming. Much to Connor's displeasure, as you can tell.

He dipped his toes in, just like I did, and proclaimed it to feel good. I asked if it was maybe just a little bit cold, and he finally conceded that much. But then he also said in the very next breath that he was ready to go!

We did a little floating, a little riding and a lot of snacking. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Grandma and the twins stayed back at the cabin, but Connor, Grandpa and I spent a fun afternoon on the lake!

The rest of the photos are here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

On the Road Again


Sleepy Twins, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Another year, another birthday. And that means another trip to the lake. For as long as I can remember, I have been going to the lake for my birthday. It's always been my favorite thing to do and a great way to spend my birthday. This year was no different.

After the twins were finished with school Monday afternoon, I loaded them into the truck and we headed straight down the interstate. I had already packed our things, and luckily enough, it was family story time in Sawyer's class on Friday, so I was able to get both boys ready to go (meaning a quick potty break at the last minute) before school was over for the day.

Apparently a whole week of school was hard work on them, because they both fell asleep shortly into the two-hour drive. It was a quiet one, at least until we were almost there.

We enjoyed Mommy's favorite homemade meal - a slow-cooked roast with noodles and some whipped icing birthday cake for dessert. We got to visit with Grandma and Grandpa and spend a lot of time playing outside. The boys had a big time.

Birthdays at the lake. It doesn't get much better than that!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Traveling Man


Ridin' the Ranger, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Last week after Connor's end-of-year preschool program, he went home with Grandma and Grandpa to the lake for an extended visit. As you can see, he's having a big time already.

Connor loves to be the only kid around. He loves to be singled out for extended overnight stays and to get to be the center of attention. He's our have suitcase, will travel kid.

He's been having a big time just playing baseball in the driveway with Grandpa, riding on Grandpa's new toy (the ranger, pictured above), grilling out and just getting lots of love and attention. What's not to like, right?

It's a rough life, but someone has to live it. Or so he tells us.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mirror Images



Do you know which one is which?

When I tell people that I have twins, they often ask if they are identical. Sawyer and Xander are, though people who know them don't have trouble telling them apart. Their expressions, if not simply their behavior, set them apart.

But sometimes, they do look exactly alike. Mirror images, almost, of one other. I thought they did today, laughing in the back seat while waiting for the teachers in the car line at school this morning.

Changes

There are a lot of things going on right now, but one of the biggest changes has to do with me.

About a year ago, I picked up a part-time office job at a little furniture store. It was a little extra cash and a lot of sanity for me to go back into the world a little bit. When I applied for that job, I also applied at a couple of other places. One of those other places called a few weeks ago, nearly a year later. They had an opening and wanted to know if I was interested.

After going in to meet with them, I decided to accept. I'm going to be doing patient access (or what everyone else simply calls registration) at one of the larger local hospitals. It's still part-time, though it is more hours. But it has the added bonus of offering benefits. We haven't had good benefits since I stopped working four and a half years ago, just before the twins were born. In fact, that was pretty much all I gave up to stop working (if you count what would have been left of my salary with three kids in full-time child care). But this new job has benefits - really good ones - and it also happens to pay better. Win, win.

The bad news is that it came during a time when several other things were already going on. First, I had to give notice at my existing job, which took a little longer than I would have liked. My leaving would have left the other two girls I worked with without a weekend off this month if I hadn't agreed to stay a bit longer than I really wanted to. I couldn't do that to them after working with them for nearly a year, even if I was ready to leave right that moment.

Second, I got a phone call two days into my training for my new job (while also finishing up the old one) to do another freelance project for the commercial builder who often hires me to help with their proposal process on big contracts. It was a small project, and even though the timing was bad, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to continue a relationship I have enjoyed. It's nice to keep my hand in my original line of work, even if only periodically.

For the last two or three weeks, I have been working three different jobs and averaging at least 60 and sometimes 70 hours of work a week. And, of course, I'm still taking care of three kids in my "down time" from work.

I am exhausted.

More so than I can ever remember being. But those two jobs have wrapped up, the furniture store this past Saturday and the freelance project last night. That was a good feeling, even if I do go in to work at my new job again tonight. At least I'm back to one part-time job.

The new job is going to be about three nights a week (two weekdays and then every other weekend), each night for a 10-hour shift. And it really is a night job. It's 9p to 7:30a. As a night person (and very much NOT a morning person), I think it's going to work. Josh is going to get the kids up and ready for school on the days after I work, so I can sleep in a quiet house until it's time to pick them up in the afternoons.

I'm still in training right now, because there's a lot to learn, but I've already spent a few weeks training on that shift. But so far, I really like it. I don't mind the hours, have been able to get enough sleep the mornings after, and feel like it's going to be a good change in the long term.

So that's where I am right now. Changes, lots of them, in the coming months ...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

To the Dentist


To the Dentist, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Today Connor had his very first visit with the dentist. Yes, we're a little behind on such things, we know. But we finally got around to it, and he had his first visit today.

It went incredibly well.

On the way there, he kept telling me his teeth were already clean - that he brushed them last night. I had tried to explain over the last few days what a dentist was, why we need to go there on a regular basis, and what might happen during his first visit. He didn't seem too excited.

He was still a little hesitant going inside. We had never been to this place before, so he wasn't exactly sure about it. Until he saw the waiting area. With toys. And even a PlayStation in the corner. He was over there before I could sign him in.

The actual visit itself was fine. He sat down in the chair, despite looking a bit nervous, and after a moment or two of his usual bashfulness, he eventually started talking with the tech. He got to choose his flavor of toothpaste for the "teeth tickling" part of his visit. He liked that - both the flavor and the cleaning. Then the tech flossed for him (not so much a fan of this part). Next was his fluoride treatment, where again he got to choose a flavor. After that the dentist, Dr. Tim, came in to have a look. All good, with the exception of a chip on one of his back teeth (apparently rare and hard to do at his age, as it's usually the front teeth that get chips or are even knocked out). And last, but not least, he got to pick his favorite color toothbrush to take home with some sample toothpaste and some of that blue rinse stuff.

All in all, it was a good visit. Even the tech and the dentist talked about how well he did (though they may say that to everyone for all I know). He was given good marks for his brushing, though he was admonished to quit biting his nails. When the tech asked, very nicely, if he could try to learn to stop biting his nails, his reply was very simple.

Um, no.

Yes, that's really what he told her.

But other than that, he did great. He even got to pick a toy out of the "treasure box," though I practically had to choose for him. There were too many options and he was taking entirely too long. But he was happy in the end, and he's been talking about what a great job he did at the dentist all day long!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day



To all the mothers out there, but especially to our mothers (the boys' grandmothers)!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

School Days


Getting Comfy, originally uploaded by cheryl.

So, you would never know it by this photo, but all of the mothers were invited to Xander's classroom today for a little Mother's Day celebration. He, of course, was having no part of it. The rest of the class was up front singing songs (or standing in group at least), but he was all over the classroom. He sat on my lap for a while, then made his way here to the reading center, then to a puzzle center, then across the room to the computer center and wherever else he wanted to go.

My presence at school is not exactly helpful. I see this with both boys a lot. And that's not to say they would participate if I wasn't there, they may or may not. But my being there makes them think they are done for the day - done listening, done participating, done doing anything they don't want to do.

School is not easy for them, will never be easy for them. It will never be the experience that Connor enjoys so much. But that is what it is. And both of the twins are doing remarkably well from where they were a year ago.

During today's party, Xander did condescend to let his teacher hand him my gifts (made by the kids, with a little help from the teachers) and he did actually carry them to me, though begrudgingly. But the important thing is that he did eventually follow her directions. He also managed an appropriate hug a time or two before wandering back off to a preferred activity. He even let another little girl play with him (spelling with some bean bag letters) at the end of the day. It was cute to see them interacting, because he so rarely wants to share anything he likes. And I won't say he wanted to share with her, but he did so without complaint at least.

We celebrate the small things. A direction followed. Appropriate social greetings or responses. Give and take play. Social interaction. Sharing even when he doesn't want to. All steps forward from last year. All things to build on for next year.

Connor's World

Life is busy in our house right now. Here's the short version.

Connor's only has four more days of preschool. Ever. His final day and final preschool program is next Friday. Every day up until then is filled with something fun - movie and Happy Meal day, swim day, family picnic day, program day - where he may or may not sing. He knows the songs, clearly, as he sings them all the time at home. But on stage, well that's another question.

This has also been an adventure week for him. Aunt Kelly came over yesterday to spend the afternoon with him. He was treated to Chuck E. Cheese where he got to enjoy pizza and Pepsi, games and toys, and even a little shopping for things like new water guns and a Mother's Day balloon for me (which the kids have seen much more of than I have).

Today he was picked up by Grammy for an overnight visit and another trip to visit the extended family. He was quite excited for "dark" to get here, since that's when we told him Grammy would be stopping by to get him. As soon as she pulled in, he ran upstairs to get his overnight bag. Bye-bye, see you later, indeed.

It's a hard life, but someone has to live it. Right?