Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring!


Spring!, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Even though it's rainy and cold today, I am determined to remember that just a week or so ago it was sunny, warm and near 80 degrees. That's definitely unusual in our part of the world for this time of year, but it was a wonderful two-week break in the middle of all the snow and ice and cold we've had this winter.

So I'm holding onto it pretty hard ... and apparently I'm not the only one. My oldest son is just like me. He might even be worse. He keeps seeing the trees and flowers coming out and talking about how Spring is finally here. Baseball is on his mind, of course, but we'll talk more about that later.

The funniest thing he said to me was one afternoon on the drive home from school. I had already been getting the "it's a nice day to visit the park" routine pretty often. We usually opted for the back yard instead, because I was pretty sure the bathrooms were still closed for the season, and that can be problematic. But every day he had a new request of something outside we could be doing.

But this day in particular he was not thinking of the park. He was dreaming bigger. It was one of the really warm days, near 80 degrees, when he actually wore shorts to school and didn't even bother to take his jacket. It was that nice.

So there we are, driving home from school, playing our usual 1,000 questions. Then out of no where, the kid comes up with this.

"It's pretty warm today. I think it's time to get the boat back out."

Um, what?

That's rushing the season even for me, and I love the boat, too. It's March, after all. This week there have been highs in the 30s and I even scraped snow of my windshield last weekend at work. So I don't think it's quite boating weather, just yet.

But you gotta love the kid for trying. That's Mommy's boy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Enjoying the Moment


Rock Star, originally uploaded by cheryl.

We've had a few weeks of really nice weather in our part of the world. The twins have loved it. Connor can't tear himself away from the computer to enjoy it much, but Sawyer and Xander are always willing. They are definitely Mommy's boys.

Sawyer is usually first to "request" going outside, meaning he walks over to the bench that stores the boys shoes and pulls out his red Crocs. He then leads you to the sunroom door that goes to the backyard and puts your hand on the locks. Xander sees what's happening, and usually follows close behind, grabbing his own orange Crocs and heading out shortly after. He even willingly gives up the computer to do so. And, if you don't him, that's saying a lot.

So the last few days we've spent several hours each afternoon in the backyard, mostly swinging. The twins will do so for hours and hours, as long as someone is willing to help push them. That's not a skill they've mastered just yet, though it might be something we need to work on this summer. I love to be outside as much as they do, but I like to sit and enjoy it a little bit, too.

But who can resist them? Xander is constantly saying "I ... want ... more .... swing ... please!" And Sawyer has been quite the little signer lately. He walks up to you, grins and puts his hand over his chest in the "please" sign. It's adorable. And impossible to resist.

So they swing. I push. We enjoy the moment.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bait & Switch


Bait & Switch, originally uploaded by cheryl.

For years, we have been dreading this particular visit. We have actually put it off longer than we should have, simply because we knew how it was going to go. But the time had finally come - the twins needed to have their first dental visit.

In our state, there are several requirements that have to be fulfilled prior to school registration. We've skated the issue a couple of times already, with the twins starting school at age three and all. But next year is different. We've moved with the sole desire of getting the boys into a great neighborhood elementary school, one that does not necessarily have enough capacity even for those who live inside the district. So we thought having all of the paperwork in order might help, and a dental visit is one of the requirements.

And of course, we also want them to have healthy teeth. Yes, that's important, too. But we still might have put it off a while longer if not for the school issue. And if that doesn't make sense just yet, it will very soon.

Today was the day. We had actually asked around and gotten some recommendations for a nearby children's dentistry practice. While we did not feel the need to take Connor to such a place - he simply comes with us to our perfectly typical dental office - we thought it would be best to take the twins somewhere that specializes with children, particularly somewhere that had experience with children with autism.

This practice does. It also has things like a pony carousel in the waiting room, which also included a bright, colorful tent, bead sorting toys, video games and a flat screen television playing Up on a continuous loop. Xander rode the carousel about 15 times. Really. You have to get tokens from the front desk, and we did, over and over again. The receptionist loved his cute little voice saying "I ... want ... more ... horse ride ... please!" She would have given him anything he asked for, I think.

Sawyer was content to ride once or twice, but mostly spent the short time we were in the waiting room lounging in the middle of the floor playing the iXL. He's become obsessed lately. Which is why I tucked it into my bag before I picked the boys up from school.

I was not looking forward to this encounter. The twins, had they known what was in store, also would not have looked forward to it. As it was, they were happily entertained in the waiting room until the dental hygenist came through the dreaded door. They both immediately screamed in protest.

We managed to get them behind the door, where they roamed around for a bit before breaking out in more screams. People were coming at them with things, and they were not happy about it. Two hygenists were going to work on the boys simultaneously, but quickly realized that plan was not going to work. Not at all.

They both screamed like banshees and took off in opposite directions.

The good new is we were the first appointment after the office closed for lunch. There was no one in the waiting room to be terrified by such screams.

We eventually corralled them in the exam area (with brightly colored equipment and giraffes hanging on the walls). Sawyer was the first victim. He was simply closest. One hygenist stayed with us, and the other one tailed Xander to keep him from buring the place down (he tried to push a couple of rather ominous looking buttons, you know, like emergency shut-off valves and the like).

Sawyer had his teeth brushed and even had one of the children's flossers put to use. He screamed, of course. And he cried. I held him in front of me, my legs over his to keep him from kicking and my arms around his in a bear hug. It was 10 minutes of pure torture for him. And then the actual dentist came for the exam. It was quick, thorough and positive. Despite his oral defensiveness, we've apparently been doing a good job of keeping his teeth clean. No problems for him at all.

We all breathed a collective sigh of relief. One down, one to go.

The staff was less relieved when I informed them that Sawyer was actually the more easygoing of the two, that Xander is our fiesty one. They all raised their eyebrows at that, let me tell you.

We calmed Sawyer down enough to sit on a nearby bench with his iXL while I grabbed Xander for his turn. The screaming and crying and kicking started immediately. I sat with him on the table much the same way, only I struggled more to keep him still. He wanted to kick, wave his arms and wiggle his head all at the same time. Sawyer had managed to keep his head mostly still and I just had to contain the limbs. Did I mention more fiesty? Yes, that would be Xander.

More brushing and flossing and examining. Another clean bill of health. And the humorous observation that the boys dental structures were exactly the same. Did I not mention they were idential twins? It was still funny to hear the dentist say it, as though it suprised him.

And then it was over. The boys got more tokens, to get treats out of a candy-like dispenser in the back area. We came home with Mardi Gras beads and a random heart-shaped eraser. They also got to bring home baggies with new toothbrushes (Cars theme, even), toothpaste and flossers. They were simply happy to escape back to the relative safety of the waiting room. We took another turn on the carousel while they finished up the paperwork and scheduled the next appoint.

And then it was over.

It was bad, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Xander used to scream the minute to took him into any clinical looking office. Both boys happily settled into the waiting room. They despised the actual dental work, but that was to be expected. And it was the first time, so maybe the worst is over (she says doubtfully).

But the staff was amazing. They were incredibly patient and understanding, working through the boys issues to finish the task at hand. They smiled and laughed, and every word and phrase out of their mouth spoke to how much they wanted to make the process easy for the boys and for me, both for this visit and for future visits. We were welcomed to stop by any time, even just to let the boys ride the carousel or walk through the back area without being touched, just to help them become more familiar with the place or the people.

While it would be nice if all of us went to the same dentist, could schedule appointments together as a family, that just isn't realistic for us. Sawyer and Xander have very different needs than the rest of us, and I think we've found a place that understands that and will make the process as easy and painless as possible for everyone. I was incredibly impressed, and would recommend this group to anyone searching for a pediatric dentist.

It will always be a rare form of torture for the boys, having a relative stranger poke around in their mouths, but perhaps a few carousel rides and an animated movie or two will blunt the trauma a little bit. Here's hoping anyway!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Country Boys


The Creek, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Our kids have always been city kids. Not big city, by any means, but city none the less. The state university is here, and several large employers are here, and it's the second largest city in the state. Our old house was in a subdivision created from an old farm, with a few sections of untouched (at least for now) farmland in between. We used to walk to that section all the time, just to let the boys roam outside of sidewalks and fenced in yards. They loved it. They loved it so much they cried if we strolled past it without stopping.

We've moved several times in our marriage, always to another house in another subdivision with neighbors only a few feet and a fence away. Josh and I have lived in five houses in the span of ten years. The kids have lived in three different houses, counting the one we live in now.

As we start thinking long-term, we are once again faced with a question that's always been in the back of our minds. City, or further out? Josh and I both grew up further out, with Josh probably a little further out than even I was - his county only had one high school to my county's four. With it's close proximity (about 20 minutes) to the city we currenly live in, his county has stayed small.

And we can't decide if maybe someday we'd like to build our "final" house there.

There will always be the question of timing. When is a good time to build that last house? How soon will I give up the bigger (read: better-funded and better equipped to handle special education needs) school system that our boys are currently enrolled in? Will I ever? Am I willing to give up having a grocery store and city park within walking distance? What about work - how far are we willing to drive every day to get to and from work? Or doctors appointments, or other things?

There are so many questions still.

Some things have come up that have made us start considering some property as either another investment or a long-term place to live. We've taken the boys out to this piece of property a few times, and they seem to love it out there. The open spaces. The creek (which is great for throwing sticks into for hours upon hours). The room to run and yell without anyone noticing or caring in the least.

There are selling points, obviously. But the question still remains. Are we city people, or are we country people? Only time will tell ...

Adventures of a Big Boy


Splish, Splash!, originally uploaded by cheryl.

In case you didn't know, Connor leads a pretty charmed life.

We are blessed that we have a big, supportive family who frequently takes him away for one-on-one time that he desperately seeks (and needs) but doesn't always get with two younger brothers (who both also happen to have autism). In six short years, he's managed to see quite a bit of the world - mostly here in our home state and the surrounding states, but a few further away as well.

This past weekend was a long weekend off from school, and Aunt Kelly called late in the week to surprise Connor with an invitation to join her and her family on an overnight visit to The Great Wolf Lodge. For those of you without children, it's a huge indoor water world with family suites to spend as many nights as you can stand. Connor could live there forever, but they just went for a few days. Connor didn't even know he was going until I showed up at his school at lunchtime on Thursday (their last day of the week) to pick him up.

"Why are you here?" he asked me. And then, "Why are we going home early?"

The office staff had already inquired and knew where he was going. Three of the four wanted to join him, and smiled as I explained what he was in for the next few days. He was quite ready to leave school at that point, I assure you. He was even self-possessed enough to request lunch on the way home, since he'd missed his (which he, of course, pointed out). He requested "chicken place" which is code for Raising Cane's.

Did I mention charmed?

We stopped and picked up lunch. We headed home for a quick bite to eat before Aunt Kelly arrived to pick him up. Sitting in his booster seat in the front of her truck, he simply waved and went on his way. He's our have suitcase, will travel child. And he was perfectly ready to go on his next adventure.

It's also worth noting that the poor kid was double-booked. We had to cancel a much-anticipated play-date with a friend so he could go with Aunt Kelly. We rescheduled that for this week, so it all worked out. Two good things, instead of one. Connor wants everyone to know he's open for bookings, but he will definitely have to consult his travel calendar before making any definite plans!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pure, Simple Joy


Pure Joy, originally uploaded by cheryl.

There are times when I think that people with autism know more joy than the rest of us - simply because they do not care in the least what anyone else thinks or what anyone else expects. Sawyer's smile, when he swings, is one of those things. It is pure, simple joy. He loves it. All of it. Being outside. The motion. The twisting. The freefall. He simply loves it. And he couldn't care less what anyone else is doing or thinking about in this moment. Because this moment is his to simply enjoy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Puzzle Boy


Spell Boy, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Xander is our spell boy, usually. But Sawyer is our puzzle boy. He LOVES them. He can work them quicker than either of his brothers, regardless of what type of puzzle it is. Something about patterns and shapes comes easily to him, so here his is, working the word puzzles with considerable ease.

Today was just another early morning at home. Xander was up at 5:30. Connor and Sawyer had to be woken up at 6:30 to get Connor off to school. We dropped him off about 7:25 and made it back home around 7:45 (when Connor's school actually starts). I stayed up to make cookies for the twins' teachers, so Saw settled in with his favorite movie Hoodwinked and his puzzles. Xander spent the morning rearranging magnetic letters on the refrigerator - spelling words today instead of just nice, perfectly (and I do mean perfectly) straight rows. We did have more than two hours before they had to be at school, after all.

Just another day in the life ...  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Not Homework!


Like This, originally uploaded by cheryl.

It's a special kind of torture. It's not enough that he has to get up early - really, really early, if you ask him - and go to school all day long. And all day is really, really long if you ask him. To add insult to injury, the poor kid actually has to do homework, too.

Every night he has sight words and an easy reader, usually with a library book, too. But tonight Daddy went one step further. Connor's letters are not particularly clear when he writes, so Daddy had him practicing his letters at the table while we were making dinner.

Torture, Connor says. Pure torture.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oops!

Most parents of five-year olds are probably not nearly as excited or amused when their children develop new words. After all, most five-year olds have a pretty extensive vocabulary already. Any words they’re adding are usually not “good” words.

My potty-mouthed six year old is learning the hard way that some words are good and others are not – usually by the loss of privileges for repeated use of bad ones. At the moment, he’s particularly fond of “butt” and “stupid” and also the derivatives that include “head” at the end of both. And I am equally fond of revoking his television and computer privileges for repeated usage.

But I digress … I was talking about one of my five-year olds.

You see, Xander is not your typical five-year old. He has autism, and his speech progression has been anything but typical. Both twins started with very basic babbling and initial words – ball, mama, dada, bye, etc. Around their second birthday, they slowly faded until they were completely gone, as though the effort of speaking simply wasn’t worth it anymore.

Slowly but surely, Xander’s words have come back. They started with spontaneous words in the middle of babble. Not even small words, but things like “apple juice” and “garage” in the middle of nothing. He progressed to making basic requests, like “eat” or “milk” or “cracker” or other simple requests.

These days, the boy is a parrot. He will say just about anything you say, especially if it involves him getting something that he wants. Like food. Or computer time. Or balloons. You know, things that really motivate him.

We have worked with him to get him from things like “juice, please” to saying “I want juice, please.” It still takes prompting, but not nearly as much. He knows that we expect him to use words to get things he wants. And he usually tries, though the result is often very scripted. There are certain words or phrases that are always used in certain situations. That’s simply how his brain is wired. Words and language do not come easily, but memorization – knowing what to say at what time in order to get the desired result – does come pretty easily for him. His memory is actually quite impressive.

And lately, he’s picking up more and more.

One of my favorites is a new one. “Oops!” or even better, “Oopsie!” when he drops something or something falls. It’s adorable. The word, the way he says it, the genuine expression on his face. Adorable.

And amazing. I know most people probably can’t see it, can’t imagine why words like “oops” are important coming out of a five-year old’s mouth. But they are. They’re huge.

And we can only hope that one day his twin brother, who also has autism, will say equally adorable and amazing things.

Right now Sawyer is at the spontaneous words in the middle of random vocalizations. There are few if any consistent words, but there are real, whole words that sometimes come out of his mouth. We always turn, do a double-take, to hear them. Because we have not heard his voice since before his second birthday. And we cannot wait to hear it again.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Perspective

The other day I was talking to an old high school friend (okay, we were Facebook messaging, but still, we were communicating). She was telling me about how raising a child with autism had given her a greater appreciation for the little moments as she watcher her younger son, who does not have autism, grow up.

I whole-heartedly agreed. Autism does give you a new appreciation for the little things.

My world is upside down compared to hers, my first born does not have autism, but his younger (identical twin) brothers do. Watching them follow so closely behind their brother in age but not milestones has been difficult. The line between where they should be and where they actually are is so clearly drawn because their brother is just 14 months older.

But that doesn't mean I don't stop and appreciate the little moments. Because I do.

Xander uses words. He was silent for so long, and there was no guarantee they would ever come. But they did, slowly but surely, the words are there again.

Sawyer answers to his name and even looks you in the eyes, even if only briefly. It wasn't always the case. Very early on, there were days when he was completely lost inside of himself, sitting in his favorite corner of the house, staring out the window watching leaves blow for hours upon hours without ever once looking up or noticing anyone else, even those sitting right beside him.

Xander plays with his brother. It's fleeting, usually involves some kind of sensory input (chasing or running or tickling), but it's there. The boys have always preferred doing their own thing, playing with toys in their very own, very individual way.

Sawyer will hold your hand, and will even allow brief hugs and kisses. There was a time when he wouldn't let you touch him, when he would arch and scream and cry at the slightest touch. Now he reaches out, grabs my hand and holds on. And at bedtime, he pulls me close and holds on tight, wanting me to stay with him until he falls asleep.

Xander lets you read with him. Both boys always preferred to flip through books on their own, mostly just to see the quick motion of the pages turning. Xander didn't even like letting you sit on his bed with him at bedtime. Now, every single night, we "read" the same book. It's an ABC and 123 book, of course. We go through each letter of the alphabet naming words that start with each one, then we count all the way to 100. He snuggles close, and he usually wants to read it again.

Sawyer tries new foods and drinks. The boys have both been extremely pick eaters, very sensitive to taste and touch and smell. Xander still is, but Sawyer is slowly trying more and more. He will put something up to his closed mouth, where he will smell first and then open his mouth the tiniest bit to taste. Sometimes he will eat something new - like a pizza roll, and sometimes he will push it away. But it's still a huge improvement over where he was, where Xander still is, of simply pushing away anything he doesn't recognize.

Xander loves going to school. He no longer bangs his head against his car seat in protest in car line. He doesn't struggle to put on his backpack or get out of the truck. He bounces out, and often without so much as a "bye-bye, see you later" or backward glance, he runs into his classroom.

Sawyer smiles. There were times when he walked around with an empty expression, as though nothing interested him or made him happy. Now he smiles, and he laughs. We don't always know the reason for those smiles or laughter, but they are beautiful to see.

Xander says "love you!" It's another script, something he's learned to say during our bed time ritual. But he stops what he's doing, he looks up at you, and he repeats it back to you with a smile.

All little moments, all easily lost in the day-to-day of school and work and life. But not for us. Because we know, how incredibly long and hard our boys have had to work to get to that point. They are wired differently. The things that come naturally to others do not come easily to them. They have to learn things that go against their own sense of normal. And we take time to celebrate each little moment as it comes.

We also enjoy the little moments with their big brother.

Connor talking to us, telling us how he feels or what he needs.

Connor playing with his brothers, even though they will not play exactly the way he would like or the way his friends would play.

Connor doing his homework, because he simply can.

Connor saying "I love you" every five minutes and meaning it.

Connor trying everything we eat and telling us it's either "really good" if he likes or "disgusting" if he doesn't.

Connor making friends everywhere he goes.

Connor having this amazingly big personality and fearless attitude about trying and doing new things.

Connor simply being Connor.

Autism definitely makes you more aware. You watch and you study, because you're always trying to figure out ways to reach your children, to make life easier or better for them. You simply don't have a choice. And while you're busy watching and studying, you also notice the little things.

This life isn't always easy, but it certainly makes you appreciate the good parts that much more.

Sick, or Just Pretending?

While a temperature is pretty hard to fake, I'm begining to suspect my children are not really sick. I think they just wanted to stay home from school.

I will even grant you that Connor looked really, really pitiful on Monday. He slept pretty much all day and had to be woken up to take his perscription medication. He even dozed in odd places and uncomfortable positions - he was just exhausted. But yesterday and today, he's been the opposite of pitiful. He's been hyper and chatty and playful and completely needy. You know, normal.

Xander was sent home with a temperature on Tuesday, but he never even remotely looked sick at home. He did sleep late that morning, and also again this morning, but his mood and his behavior have been fine both days. He's been eating and drinking and playing like normal. I've never gotten a temperature over 98 at home.

So who knows. Perhaps Connor was starting to get sick, and then the medication stopped it in its tracks. I have no idea what Xander's issue was, but both of them appear fine.

I'm pretty sure everyone's going back to school tomorrow. Then Mommy can rest for a few days before she works this weekend.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

They All Fall Down ...


"Sick" Boys, originally uploaded by cheryl.

And our next victim is our previous victim ... Xander is a two-time winner this week. Staples last Friday, fever today. We got his phone call about an hour after we dropped him off at school.

We wondered about him this morning. He slept in, which isn't much like him anymore. But he was also wide awake at 3 o'clock in the morning for several hours, so we kind of thought he might just be sleeping in.

Nope. His teachers called half way through his day to report a low-grade fever, and he was picked up and brought back home. Where he proceeded to play computer as though nothing was even remotely wrong with him. He hasn't slept, hasn't seemed the least bit tired or unwell. And he's been eating and drinking just fine.

That makes two of them. Connor, who was quite pitiful most of the day yesterday and even late last night, woke up like his normal self. He's been chatty, playful, silly and has been eating and drinking just like normal. He has been medicated, so perhaps that's the reason he feels well. Or perhaps he had a false positive on his flu test. Who knows.

We're probably going to keep both of them home again tomorrow, just to be sure. But Thursday they're most likely going back to school. Mommy can only take so much togetherness, especially when they feel well enough to follow me around the house and pester me to death. If I hear "Hey, Mom!" one more time from the first sick boy, it might be an early bedtime for everyone.

Sick boys, sort of. Tired Mommy, absolutely.

Monday, March 7, 2011

When It Rains ...


Pitiful, originally uploaded by cheryl.

... apparently it pours.

If Xander splitting the back of his head open and visiting the ER Friday night was not enough, we can now add having an incredibly sick big brother to the list. Around 11 o'clock this morning we received a phone call from Connor's school. He had apparently just been laying around in class all morning and was finally sent to the nurse's office. Turns out he has a temperature of 103.3.

The kid never once complained. Sure, he was really tired yesterday afternoon and took a rather long nap on the couch in the middle of the day. But he'd also stayed up late on Friday night during a sleepover with his cousins, was up early Saturday morning and played all day long. We just thought it was a busy weekend catching up to him.

Even this morning, he seemed fine. Sure, he complained about getting out of bed. But he does that EVERY morning. He never once mentioned not feeling well. And he's usually pretty quick to complain if he feels the slightest bit unwell - he happens to like cherry Tylenol more than most.

So while I was busy cursing all three of my children for picking a school day to sleep in past 6:30 (something they hardly ever do, certainly never on a non-school day, or a day like yesterday when Josh and I passed in the garage - me coming home from my all-night shift at the hospital so that he could go to work on his 24-hour shift at the fire station), I pushed and pulled Connor into getting up, dressed and his teeth brushed before school. And then I woke up both of his brothers and threw on their Crocs and sweatshirts as I handed them sippy cups of milk and dry cereal and pushed them all into my truck.

Connor was Mr. Chatty all the way to school, just like normal. Today's conversation was about how he was going to buy a boat when he gets bigger (he is so MY child), how he wonders if lakes have sharks and if sharks can chomp boats in half and make them sink. I tell him sharks are only in the ocean, and his reply is that we'll only go to lakes, or stay real close to the beach if we go into the ocean, so we won't sink too far. Love this kid sometimes, he's so funny.

See, no alarm bells ringing anywhere. He's up, he's eating and drinking, he's chatty. He climbs out of the truck and waves as he heads into school. All perfectly normal things.

Until the phone call comes. He's sound asleep in the nurse's office when Josh picks him up (he was already out on that side of town). At home, he immediately falls asleep on the couch. I have to wake him up to the hastily scheduled doctor's appointment. Normally we're not rush to the pediatrician type people. But my kids don't normally have fevers over 103, and he simply looked pitiful. And I was suddenly remembering last week when he kept telling me his ears hurt, they were dirty and he needed to clean them. At the time, I assumed it was his typical fascination with q-tips. Today I thought perhaps it was simply an ear infection causing the temperature.

And maybe it was, because he definitely has an ear infection. But he also tested positive for the flu, which I wasn't expected at all. Tired, yes. Flu, never even crossed my mind.

I guess the good news is he tested negative for strep, which our pediatrician said was also going around. She said she'd seen multiple cases this week of both strep and the flu at the same time. Lovely.

So Connor missed school most of today. He will miss again tomorrow, and likely most of the week from what our pediatrician thinks. He's been prescribed two nasty medications - amoxocillin and tamaflu - in addition to the cherry Tylenol for his fever.

It's going to be a fun week ...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rough & Tumble Boys


The Damage, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Do you remember last spring, when Sawyer did this?

Sawyer has always been our cautious, somewhat hesitant child. I did not expect him to be the first to visit the emergency room, to need stitches or staples or whatever. But first he was. He and his brothers were playing in Xander’s bedroom, and the back of his head met the sharp corner of the chest of drawers. I had to pile all three boys into my truck and drive them to the urgent treatment center. The day ended with random acts of kindness from strangers, a transfer to another urgent treatment center that could actually do staples (not stitches, which the doctor felt would be better on a head injury) and staples in the back of my cautious child’s head.

Now Xander, on the other hand, is the opposite of cautious. He is full of energy and drama, just like his big brother. He is also fearless, and like his twin brother, has a high threshold for pain (which makes him even more fearless, if that’s possible). He is the one I fully expected to take the emergency room for stitches and staples and broken bones. You can’t bounce and climb and jump your way through life the way he does without a few scratches and bumps. He is constantly covered in head to toe bruises that cannot be explained beyond his rough and tumble personality. (Flinging yourself down on the floor with every mild outrage might have something to do with it, too).

That would be the back of Xander's head you see in the photo, with staples hidden under his long hair. Friday was his turn.

Josh was at home with the boys, awaiting the arrival of their two cousins who would be spending the night with them. I had just left for work. Xander was climbing in the play room, as usual. He slipped, and cut a deep gash into the back of his head. Clearly, not to be outdone by his brother, he was brought to the emergency room where he, too, received staples in the back of his head.

Six, in fact. And he wins, because he needed more than Sawyer's three last spring. Xander very much likes to win, so someday this will make him very happy.

Xander did as well as could be expected. He cried when they tried to examine him. He was really put out with Mommy that she only stepped away from her job (at the hospital) for a little while to visit and then had to go back to work. He did not like having the bandage adjusted or the anesthesia applied. And he really, really did not like the staples being put in the back of his head.

But Grammy (who was also working at the hospital, in the emergency room, as a matter of fact) made him a latex glove balloon, which he loved. It almost made up for the other bad things. And he got to come up and visit Mommy on the floor where she works, and she has suckers in her department, so that made him pretty happy, too. He was again pissed to leave Mommy, but managed just fine when he saw the elevator again.

And that was his adventure.

I really hope Connor is not next. Because apparently my boys have a little competition going on to see who can injure themselves the worst. My cautious child went first (very likely pushed or assisted by one of his more rambunctious brothers). My mischievous child was next. And that only leaves the first born.

Although you shouldn't rule out the other two either. Because even though you would think they have learned their lesson, that's clearly not the case. Our most recent bruiser was back to climbing the very same night he came home from the ER, bloody tee shirt, bandaged head and all. Clearly he learned a lot from his adventure.

Welcome to life with three rough and tumble little boys.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Baby Chicks!


Baby Chicks!, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Friday afternoon parents were invited to Connor's school for a "Chick Party" with the class. With Daddy off from work, he was in charge of getting the twins to and from school so that I could catch a nap before work and then head off to Connor's party at the end of the school day.

Connor's kindergarten teacher - Ms. W - has been teaching a life cycle segment at school that involved watching eggs develop into baby chicks. Connor has talked about the project non-stop at home, and the class was beyond excited at the party. It was one of those moments where you truly admire the teachers for what they do every single day in the classroom with twenty-some hyperactive children.

There was cake and punch. The kids got to show off their baby chick project folders and work. And everyone got to gently touch the chicks in their boxes under the heat lamps. The kids couldn't wait for that last part. There was also a silly chick story and also some class singing and dancing at the end.

I had a couple of cute class photos of the singing and dancing part, but of course that privacy waiver you sign at the beginning of the school year prevents me from posting any of those. I included a few of Connor and one of his teacher with the cake.

It was a fun day.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Day in the Life


Cookie Monster, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Today was a busy day (meaning Mommy didn't get to nap after her usual 6:30 wake-up time)!

Connor was actually up before I was this morning. Shocking, I know. But before you get too carried away, please keep in mind that the kid went to bed at 6 o'clock yesterday evening. He broke down in tears during homework, a sure sign that the kid is tired. So Daddy put him in bed, and within five minutes (if that) he was out cold. And stayed out until about 6:15 this morning.

So we started our day by dropping off Connor at school. Then the twins and I came back home as usual. This is where my nap usually comes in, as the boys don't have to be at their school until 10:35.

But not today. Today we were on a mission. Sawyer's very awesome teacher (who he's been with for the entire three years he's been in Early Start) is out on maternity leave. Her new baby boy arrived this week, so we were making cookies for her! Sawyer insisted on taste testing - he didn't want Mrs. R to get any bad cookies. He had about four - uncooked - for his breakfast. He approved, right up until they were cooked, at which point he wanted nothing more to do with them.

So then we headed out to the twins school. It was their turn to be dropped off. And then I headed over to one of the local hospitals to say hi, see the baby, take a few pictures (of course) and drop off our tasty treats. He is adorable - with a full head of thick, dark hair. And he was incredibly sweet, not making a single noise the whole time I was there!

Then it was back home to take care of the first baby. Buster and I took our usual walk around the block, where he barked at anything and everything that moved. And a few things that didn't, like the lawn guy's equipment on the sidewalk across the street. He's quite fierce, or so he thinks.

And then it was time for school pick-ups. Twins first at 1:35, then a quick stop at Raising Cane's for a snack in car line, while we wait at Connor's school until he's dismissed at 2:35. The bad news is that the restaurant mixed up our order, which we of course didn't notice until we were sitting in car line. The boys were not happy. We drank the large Coke, but left the food alone. We would be making another stop back by on the way home. I had paid for the largest meal and ended up with the smallest one - not my idea of a good deal. The good news is that they felt so bad about the mix-up they let us keep the small meal and gave us the one we were supposed to get in the first place. And another large Coke. Connor and Sawyer had more chicken fingers than they could eat. Xander wanted no part of any of it. He ate yogurt at home instead.

We also stopped for gas on the way home. Seventy-five dollars later, my truck now has a full tank of gas. Not fun, since we do that at least once a week, if not more, just for school drop-offs and pick-ups. But what are you going to do?

And then we spent a quiet night at home. Homework first for Connor, which he was eager to start. He knows there will be no computer time until it's done. And he did well during his sight words and his little reader book, so he got to enjoy some computer time (the learning game from school, not the internet). The twins got to finish up the movie they watched during homework - WordWorld, of course.

And now the house is all quiet. For a few hours anyway.

And then we'll start all over again tomorrow ...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bubble Boy


"More Bubbles, Please", originally uploaded by cheryl.

So the boys actually convinced me to go outside today. Well, actually their incessant use of the computer convinced me. It's getting a bit ridiculous, the way we let screens occupy them for so much of their day. If you let them, they would stay on the computer playing games all day long. Of course, Mommy likes her computer, too, so maybe she understands. A little. But if it's not the computer, it's the television. They are beyond obsessed at this point. It's like a constant background in our house, and it has to stop.

Warmer weather means less screens and more play. We are so ready for that.

Today we dug our bubbles out of the garage and headed out into the back yard. Xander followed me around saying "Bubbles ... more bubbles ... please!" every five seconds. Literally. If you tried to put the cap back on, the words were already coming out of his mouth.

Even Sawyer expected bubbles the whole time. He would just pick up the bottle and thrust it into my hands. You know, as in, "Here, lady, make yourself useful!" That's what his expression said, anyway.

So, we had bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles. Because that meant we were all outside. Playing. Enjoying the (sort-of) warm weather. Not watching screens.

P.S. Please ignore the boy's dirty mouth (and sweatshirt). We may or may not have stopped for our daily Frosty after the twins got out of school. In fact, Xander may or may not have started shouting "Choc-late!" as soon as he got into the truck, you know, rather than at least waiting until the Wendy's was in sight. What can I say, he's a Mommy's boy. We like our daily dose of "Choc-late!"

Spring Fever


I Want to Go Outside!, originally uploaded by cheryl.

All of the boys, but especially Sawyer, have been showing signs of Spring fever. We are tired of the cold and wet and snow and ice. We're tired of the house, and quite frankly, each other a lot of the time. We're ready for sunshine and warm weather. Sawyer will even settle for the appearance of these things, as you see in the photo above. It was maybe 45 degrees that day, and he was prepared to go outside in his sweatpants, t-shirts and red Crocs (with no socks, of course).

Unfortunately, he didn't get his way that afternoon. It was a little on the cold side and a lot on the wet (and therefore muddy) side. Plus we were right in the middle of preparing dinner, so it just didn't happen. Poor kid, he was not happy about that at all. We've made it out a few afternoons, but this just wasn't one of them.

But Spring can officially show up any time now. Connor is impatient for baseball to begin again (the twins, not so much). We all miss walking up to the neighborhood park or just spending afternoons in the back yard. Buster also misses walking, but with two ACL surgeries on his back legs, we don't do those in snow or ice or even rain (sorry, puppy)! We're ready to get back outside.

Here's hoping the warm weather comes back and stays back!