Friday, April 29, 2011

Color Bubbles


Color Bubbles, originally uploaded by cheryl.

The Easter Bunny may or may not have thought the new Crayola Color Bubbles were a good idea for a certain little boy in our house. Well, two little boys, really. The twins LOVE bubbles. It's one of their many obsessions, and one they will try to make you keep doing over and over and over again.

Today we finally broke out the color bubbles.

It was a bit ... how do I say this ... messy.

This picture of Connor, this is after we had already cleaned up. Our hands and arms were too dirty to even think about touching the camera during the actual bubble blowing process. So this is the after photo, as in after we took the garden hose and sprayed down our entire arms up to our shirt sleeves. Clearly, we didn't spray our faces off.

Color bubbles are pretty, I'll grant you. They're fun and different and the twins absolutely LOVED them. Connor even enjoyed them. Until he looked down at his hands.

You see, my boys like to run around popping said bubbles as they try to float away. They don't just watch them float by, oh no, they have to touch them. And today, they all turned green in the process.

So here's my humble opinion on color bubbles. Fun, interesting and good every once in a while to break up the monotony. But, make sure you meet certain conditions. Stay away from anything you don't want to have color spots all over it (at least until it rains, as it was pretty washable on every surface we saw today). Wear old clothes, as they're going to get spots on them that may or may not come out in the first wash. Or, better yet, wait until the middle of summer and break them out when you're already doing something messy or with limited clothing - you know, like swimming or running through the sprinkler.

And, finally, be prepared to have color spots all over you. My hand turned green where I was holding the bubbles and the extra stuff dripped back down. My toes turned green for the same reason. I had green bubbles bursting in my hair and on my face. I had dots all over my clothes and my skin (and I wasn't even chasing the darned things like the boys were, I was just blowing them for goodness sakes).

Let's just say everyone had a bath pretty quickly after they came inside tonight. Consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Fast One


Silly, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Though I can't be positive, of course, I am pretty sure my oldest son pulled a fast one on me today.

Yesterday, when I picked him up in car line at school, his teacher mentioned that he had not been himself and to keep an eye on him, as several of his classmates had been out sick recently and something was definitely going around.

Ominous words, those, for a mother with three school-aged children.

We made it home, and his cranky disposition reared it's ugly head. He was sent to his room for hitting one of his brothers, with no apparent provocation other than he happened to be standing beside him. And once in his room, he promptly fell asleep. And stayed that way. From about four o'clock yesterday afternoon until just after 6:30 this morning when I went in his room to see about school for the day.

Of course, you can't tell how well a child feels when you have to wake them up (after 14 hours of sleep, no less). With elementary school starting so early, there's no chance of observing behavior, you have to make an instant decision.

This is where I made my mistake. I asked him, "Do you feel any better? Do you want to go to school today?"

He skipped over the first question and just answered the second one.

It took several hours to realize this fact, but eventually I did. He was tired, and still a bit crabby, but he doesn't appear sick. His low-grade fever that I thought he had this morning was probably a result of too many covers, not an actual fever. Though lazy and lifeless the first few hours awake, the rest of the day he's been eating and drinking and bouncing around like a wild child.

So he may have gotten one over on me today. But he's going back to school tomorrow. I've learned my lesson, I'm not even going to ask. If he's sick, I'll just get a phone call later in the day. But the funny thing about that is on the days when he's complained of not feeling well and not wanting to go to school, I've never gotten that phone call. I'm pretty sure I won't get one tomorrow either.

Sneaky big boy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We Are House Puppies


We are House Puppies, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Grammy and Pappy are out of town this week on vacation, and Cousin Louie came to our house to stay. He was incredibly excited to see us, but was not at all impressed with his accommodations.

The two puppies together get wild and loud, and we often resort to putting them into the back yard to get some of that wild energy out. They're happy to go, at first, but quickly change their minds.

They are house puppies, they tell us. And the really want back inside now, please.

Louie would also like to request a different sleeping arrangement. We had both puppies in the sun room, where Buster usually sleeps, but they kept getting into it. Louie is a bit of a pest, and Buster kept growling and snapping at him. We finally moved his bed into the nice, quiet living room. But that didn't suit Louie either. He would like to request that he not be expected to sleep in a room by himself. He whimpered half the night because we did not let him sleep in one of the bedrooms (which have carpet, and are thus off limits to someone who sheds the way Louie does).

It's tough, being spoiled house puppies.

Batter, Batter ... Swing


Batter, Batter ... Swing, originally uploaded by cheryl.

It's back, much to the twins displeasure. Baseball.

Yesterday was a particularly long and trying day for the boys. Practice first at one field, then driving across town in rush hour to another field for the actual game. The twins were beyond pissed when we got to the second field and the stroller reappeared. Bubbles couldn't even save that injustice.

Grandma and Grandpa surprised us by driving into town for the afternoon. They stopped over to watch Connor practice and play most of his game (he was supposed to play earlier and at the same location as practice, but league issues still persist with the t-ball field and the game was pushed back at an alternate field). Then they went across town to watch Uncle Brian coach Cousin Austin in his later game. We were invited to join them, but didn't think the twins (or Connor either) would be up for a third baseball field in as many hours.

Connor had fun. He was dirty on the practice field before the coach even arrived, slipping and sliding on the wet, grassy practice field. When it was game time, he got even dirtier. He persists on sliding to the ground to catch ground balls (seems logical, right?) and also persists in sliding into home regardless of whether anyone is even attempting to tag him out or not. Sliding is baseball, apparently. He does much better this year fielding, and can throw pretty well when he takes the time to aim the ball. He usually hits the ball, but not as well as if the coach (and the league) would let him have the tee up higher. He's a high-ball hitter, and that's apparently a league no-no.

The twins did okay. Practice went pretty well. We kept them contained in the stroller, but we usually bring drinks, snacks and yesterday we even took their new bubbles to entertain them. That worked for most of practice and part of the game. But it all eventually lost its appeal and chaos ensued. Screaming. Whining. Shoe throwing. Trying to escape the stroller by any means possible.

After the day was said and done, Josh and I decided we probably need to take the divide and conquer approach when we're both off from work (as we were yesterday). One person can take Connor to baseball, and other can keep the twins at home.

It would be nice if we could all enjoy it together, but clearly that's not going to happen any time soon.

Easter


Oooh ..., originally uploaded by cheryl.

Easter came bright and early to our house. Connor wasn't quite ready for it, not yet anyway.

The twins had been up for a little while, but we were waiting on Daddy to make it home after his shift at the fire station, so Connor got to sleep in until about 7:30 Easter morning. He would have slept longer, but quickly got into the spirit of things (even if he does still look dazed in most of the photos from the day).

Xander was quite surprised and interested to see what the Easter Bunny had brought. There were hidden eggs with candy throughout the house, which was fun. And there were also toys and more candy on the dining room table. He was particularly excited about the bubbles, and once those were spied, nothing else could tempt him. Not candy or movies or toys. Bubbles.

Connor was excited to see all of the stuff, even the things that were not necessarily for him. His favorite, of course, was the Hot Wheels race track and the new color change Hot Wheels (this has made bath time the most fun ever for all three of the boys - two of them are interested in the cars, Sawyer is interested in the ice water we take in there to make the cars change colors).

Sawyer wasn't into Easter at all. He came out of his room slowly, made a stop at the bathroom (even though he had just been about 20 minutes before when I first heard him wake up), then finally made his way into the dining room. He promptly covered his hands with his ears and  turned away. Not impressed.

We helped all three of the boys get their baskets and start looking for hidden eggs. Sawyer was dropping eggs into other people's baskets, not really caring where they went or who found what. Connor was hoarding them all. Xander would alternate between picking up an egg and coveting his bubbles. The bubbles ultimately won, as he put his basket down and Connor quickly called dibs. Sawyer eventually started lining up a few eggs, working on a pattern and then getting angry when they started rolling on him.

And that was our morning. The boys had a little bit of candy, but mostly were content to play with (or look at) new toys. The bubbles would have to wait, as it was still pouring down rain (which it's been doing for days and days in our part of the world). Next up was pancakes and bacon for breakfast, and then a lazy day around the house munching on more candy.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Look Mom, No Hands!


Look Mom, No Hands, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Sawyer has always done everything on his own terms. He has always been the most cautious of the three boys, slow to accept change and careful before trying new things. That's just him.

And look at him now - swinging, pretty high up I might add, with no hands.

He has come so far.

In fact, he's using those hands in more ways than ever, whether it's letting go of the swings or whether it's showing you what he wants or actually telling you something.

From the very early stages of intervention, speech therapy has been part of the twins lives. We worked early and often with teaching both of the twins basic sign language - things like "eat," "drink," "more," "all done," "please," "thank you" - you know, the basics.

Both boys have long understood the signs, as we usually speak the words and sign these simple concepts to them. Xander used them early and often, and has recently discarded them for words and sentences. We are still hopeful Sawyer will get to that point someday to, but for right now, we're celebrating the fact that he's started actually signing to us.

Keep in mind, the kid has always understood the signs. He would even take your hands and make the signs, but would hardly ever use his own hands to make them. He would allow you to do hand-over-hand with him, but he preferred to use your hands, as though his own did not work.

About a month or so ago, he started signing for us. And he hasn't stopped since.

We get lots of "more" and "please" together. He sometimes does "eat," always refuses to do "drink" and is usually unwilling to do "all done" because it usually is a preferred activity we're requesting him to finish.

But he's signing. He's telling us what he wants. He's pointing to objects, making choices between two objects, and clearly indicating "yes" or "no" when offered things. These are HUGE steps for him. Huge.

It's really quite adorable when he signs to you. But what's worse is that he knows it. He's seen the power of signs, and he's all for using them - ALL THE TIME.

Now we come to that critical point of finding balance - of rewarding him for using signs to make requests, but also not giving in to every single whim. He also happens to be our needy child. He wants something - usually food or snacks - pretty much all of the time.

This new development is eerily similar to Xander's path, just a little bit later. Sporadic words, then consistent signing. Like I said, he likes to do things in his own time and his own way. But we're excited for how far he's come, and so incredibly hopeful for the places he will eventually go.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Here We Go Again ...


Little Fielder, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Heaven help us, we appear to have a second child interested in baseball.

It started with Connor watching his older cousin Austin playing, of course. And now it's turned into Xander watching big brother Connor playing.

The twins still hate to watch Connor's practices and games. Mostly that's because they're constrained in the double stroller still (for our sanity's sake). Last week at Connor's first official practice of Spring baseball, Xander actually said something that sound eerily like, "Baseball, please!" at one point.

I assumed he was saying he wanted a ball to toss around, too. He loves to toss things up into the air and watch them fall, after all, so it seemed a natural assumption. And perhaps I also didn't want to acknowledge the statement's possible truth. Could he really mean he wants to play baseball, too?

Fast forward to last night. The boys and I spent most of the afternoon in the back yard after school. There was swinging, and a little frisbee tossing, followed by a make-shift baseball practice for Connor.

Or so I thought.

When I brought out the tee, the bat and ball, and the gloves, not one, but two little boys came running. Connor and Xander both wanted to play. I convinced Xander to field with me so Connor could bat first. The little guy actually put on Connor's glove (most likely a wrong-handed glove, as Xander is a true lefty and Connor is only a lefty when he bats), and went to it. He wanted me to stop the ball for him some of the time, but then he held out his glove and wanted me to toss it to him. Then he ran across the yard to put it back on the tee for Connor, before coming back out to join me in the field. He seemed to enjoy chasing after the ball.

Eventually, much to Connor's displeasure, we traded places. It was Xander's turn to bat.

The kid isn't bad. He started out on the right, but it was a really awkward hold on the bat for him, so I turned him around to the left. And that's where he stayed, finding his spot and sending the ball sailing across the yard. He pulled that one eye open, one eye closed trick, lining up the bat and ball on a practice swing (made me think of a golfer) and then took a real, hard swing in the exact right spot.

Nearly every single time.

Like most kids, he wants to stand right on top of the tee. I worked with him on standing further back, so he could swing all the way through and that's when the ball really started flying. He grinned and jumped up and down every time he hit it.

As I said, heaven help us.

Can you imagine trying to fit in not one but two different baseball schedules into our lives? Connor has two games and two practices this week alone (some of them make-ups from last week's rains, and likely to be rescheduled again if the weather forecast is accurate at all).

Because I can't imagine it, not right now.

For now, we'll keep inviting him to the back yard game, to gauge his true interest and his ability to follow instructions. And then we might have to look into some options. At the very least, we might have to get him the right kind of glove.

So it begins ... again ...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Three Brothers


Three Brothers, originally uploaded by cheryl.

One of the things that sometimes keeps me up nights is thinking about the future.

With autism, there are no definite answers about today, much less tomorrow or twenty years from now. I worry about the relationship between our three boys, about the burden we will be passing to Connor at some point in our lives. I worry that he will someday resent his brothers, even more than he does now when they get more time and attention than he does.

It is simply the nature of the beast. He is so much more independent right now, so much more able to take care of himself. His brothers require much more help, more guidance through every day things. We try to take time out for special one-on-one things with each of the boys, but Connor is unquestionable shorted when it comes to time from Mommy and Daddy.

Two things in the last two days have given me hope. Perhaps they have been there all along, and I have not noticed them. Perhaps I am often too busy doing for any one of the boys at any given time, to step back and see what is going on among the three of them.

Yesterday, the boys were outside playing as I was getting dinner ready. We were grilling steaks outside, and I had vegetables cooking inside. I was in and out quite a bit. I asked Connor to keep an eye out for his brothers, to make sure they did not play on or around the hot grill or climb on the fence (so far they have not, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they discover chain-link is actually easily scaled for climbers of their experience).

Connor agreed, with little enthusiasm or happiness in the task.

It's moments like those that make me worry, when I wonder if I am already asking him to be his brothers' keeper when he should not have to be, when he should be free to enjoy his childhood as simply a child, not a big brother to two special needs brothers.

But the request was made, and I went back inside to finish up. The steaks were almost done, and the twins, who never eat the same meal as the rest of us, needed their plates prepared. And it was in that moment, as I was preparing their separate meal, that I looked out the window.

I stopped what I was doing and just stood there, watching in awe.

Connor was pushing Sawyer on the swing. His little brother has not yet mastered the art of swinging, though he desperately loves to swing and will do so for hours upon hours if there is a willing assistant. Connor stood there, pushing Sawyer. He was smiling as he did so, asking Sawyer if he liked it and if he wanted to go higher.

Unprompted help. Freely given, and done with a smile.

Sawyer was not answering, of course. He doesn't talk to us yet. But he was smiling, and vocalizing his happy sounds he always does on the swings. And that was enough.

Hope.

The second thing happened today after baseball practice. The twins hate the mere mention of the word baseball. Going to practices and games, being constrained in the stroller for long periods of time, is sheer torture for them.

After a particularly long and hard first practice of the season, I felt all the boys had earned a much-deserved stop at the neighborhood park by the baseball field. I was quickly grabbed by Sawyer to commence pushing on the swings. And there I was held, drug back by his tiny little hands each time I tried to step away to do something with the others.

Xander found a sign to capture his attention. Letters. Words. He was in heaven. He walks around, studying the same sign from every possible angle and distance (at least as much as I would let him get away with). He stayed in his own world and didn't really seem to enjoy the park itself, just the sign.

Connor quickly found another teammate who had also stopped to play. They were running around, making up games and having a big time. Connor kept noticing Xander on the edges, studying his sign. He actually stopped playing with his little friend and called out to his brother. He waved him up to the play set he was on, telling him that he needed to see the slide.

Xander actually responded. He walked over, climbed up, and started to go down one of the slides. Connor wanted him to see the other one, so he called him up again, led him over, and they both took off down the curved slide, laughing the whole time.

Despite having friends of his own around, despite already playing a game with them, he noticed his little brother and engaged him. He got him to respond, to do something that made them both laugh together.

These are the moments that give me so much hope.

We certainly have no idea what the future holds for any of our boys. They are much too young at this point to think about as adults, but we have so much hope for their future. For each of them as individuals, and for all of them as brothers.

So It Begins ...


The Park Is That Way, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Spring is finally here. Well, it's been here for a little while actually. But Spring baseball has officially started, and as far as one member of our family is concerned, that is all that really matters.

Today was Connor's first on-field practice for Spring baseball (the indoor one doesn't count, he says). It was after school, so we had to rush home to do homework, have a quick snack, and then head out to find the new park. No more walking to practice and games this year. With league overcrowding, the t-ball and rookie leagues have moved to another neighborhood park - about 10 minutes away, so not bad, just not within walking distance anymore.

We started packing up early. Connor put his baseball pants and last year's jersey on as soon as homework was done, you know, a full hour before it was time to think about leaving. We had to pack our little cooler of snacks (or bribes, depending on your frame of mind), Connor's baseball bag and his Gatorade, the stroller, and assorted toys to entertain the twins.

What we didn't think to pack was the camera. Bad Mommy. That's why you get grainy cell phone images only today.

Off we went, into 5 o'clock traffic to find this other neighborhood park. It wasn't too bad, even that time of day. Getting out of our subdivision was the hardest part, as both exits are onto major interior roadways that are packed at rush hour.

We parked on the street next to a nice, recently spruced up baseball field. Surely this was it. There was a little neighborhood park right next to it, within viewing distance of the field. How convenient. The twins immediately headed there, since we were a few minutes early anyway.

I knew this would end badly. They would not be allowed to stay, not until we got Connor started with his new team and his new coach. But with few players and no coach in sight, I let them go. They could either scream now or later, and why not later if it would make them happy for a little while.

Of course, it also turns out this was not the practice field (it's the game field). The practice field was around the paved path, under the hill, clearly NOT in sight of the park. The twins cried louder the further we wheeled over the hill.

It was a long practice, let me tell you. Only an hour, but long none the less. The twins screamed pretty much the whole time. They stopped long enough to devour a sucker in seconds. And they accepted the bribes (the iXL for Sawyer and Connor's handheld DIDJ game for Xander. They lasted all of five minutes before they were chucked on the ground.

Like I said, a long practice.

Connor enjoyed it though. He ran around. He goofed off with the other boys. He caught a few balls and had a really good hit (after a few misses, the coach finally raised the tee - he was the tallest boy on his team). He was hot and tired, but still ready to run for the park as soon as it was over.

And we stayed there for an hour. I felt the boys all deserved it, especially the twins who were strapped into the stroller watching practice. Sawyer wanted to swing, of course. Xander found a sign with letters and words, which occupied him the entire time. And Connor found a teammate who was also there playing, so they ran around together making up games as they went along.

It was a good way to end a long day. Connor was clearly excited that baseball is back. The twins not so much. They're in for a long couple of months, I'm afraid. Connor's first game of the season is tomorrow afternoon. Then there is at least one practice and one game every week until early June.

Do you hear the twins sighing in frustration? Or is it too hard to hear with Connor screaming in excitement.

Sigh. If only we could make everyone happy all of the time. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Little Reader


Little Reader, originally uploaded by cheryl.

For kindergarten, Connor's nightly homework includes reviewing sight words (think flash cards) and self-reading these little reader books that he brings home from school.

With warmer weather in our part of the world (and baseball starting soon), squeezing in homework before bedtime is going to get tricky. Tonight we had a play friend over right after school, and spent most of the afternoon outside, even after his friend went home.

As it got later, I decided to bring Connor's homework outside to him. We went through all of his sight words (like 80 or something ridiculous). He knows just about all of them, though he sometimes gets lazy and doesn't want to tell them to you. He has actually completed all he will need to know to pass kindergarten at this point, so he's ahead of the game in this area.

The second part is the little reader books. With all of his sight words mastered, he actually does really well with these books, too. It's not like you or I reading the book, of course, but he generally knows all but a few words (which I helpfully supply after he attempts to sound them out).

Tonight we were reading this page. He was studying the picture first, one of the strategies he's being taught in school to help him learn comprehension. While he was studying the picture, his little brother walked up and climbed into my lap. My fingers were hovering over the first sentence, waiting for Connor to start reading.

Only he wasn't the one who started reading.

No, that would be Xander.

He read the entire first line of a book he had never seen or heard before. Completely unprompted and without the slightest bit of assistance. He simply read it.

We have long suspected that his sight word list would far exceed Connor's, and that perhaps he was beginning to have some pre-reading skills if not basic reading skills. But the kid still astonishes us at times.

Reading. Without any prompting, any help or even being taught at this point.

Autism or not, Xander doesn't have any trouble learning the things he wants to learn. Letters and words excite him, make him happy. Clearly he's further along than even we suspected.

Reading. Not scripting, reciting from memory. But actual reading.

That's my boy.

Kindergarten Humor


Kindergarten Humor, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Kindergarten. It's opened up so many things for Connor. One of the things I'm least excited about is his evolving sense of humor. Potty humor, to be exact.

Underpants.

Poop.

Naked.

All of these words bring about bouts of uncontrollable laughter. With no other context than simply the word, usually stated out of no where and relating to nothing at all. The kid cracks himself up with this stuff.

And I'm so over it.

Today he had friend from class over after school. Both of them were endlessly amused by saying these words to each other, randomly and also without context. For hours.

Please tell me that once kindergarten ends, his humor will evolve. Please tell me he will eventually move on to something (though equally annoying), less disgusting. Like knock-knock jokes. Please.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

While the Boys Were Away ...


The Remodeled Sun Room, originally uploaded by cheryl.

... Daddy most certainly did not play. He spent his two days off from the fire department remodeling our sun room. He ripped up all of the hideous green (think pool-table green) indoor-outdoor carpet that was original to the house (see here for the before photo). He cleaned and scrubbed, and then put down a brand new tile floor. And then he cleaned and scrubbed some more (because grout is messy). I even helped clean a few times, too, trying to get all the grout haze off the new tile.

We won't even talk about how he moved all of the existing furniture out by himself, especially the ridiculously heavy old-school television. The couch was probably pretty tricky, too, since it has to be angled to come through the sun room door into the house, up a few steps. But he did it all while the boys and I were at the lake. We came home to a brand new sun room!

This week we have a few finishing touches to add. He's already painted the quarter round to trim the edge, but we haven't nailed that down yet. We also have plans to make the room more kid-friendly, which includes installing a flat-panel television with a built-in DVD player (mounted high on the wall to prevent mishaps) and adding some simple toy storage. We pulled out the old dresser and table that had been in there, because rather than being used as they were intended, the boys mostly just climbed on them. Sawyer in particular was fond of climbing on the table to steal people's drinks off the kitchen counter (there is a pass-through window between the two rooms).

So it's still a work in progress, but the biggest and hardest part - the floor - is done. The kids are missing their television, of course, but have been busy playing with their toys in the new, improved play room We'll eventually get the television installed.

Buster also approves. He's taken to laying on the new area rug instead of the expensive, customized dog bed we ordered a few months back from Lands End.

So it goes.

To Sleep ... Or Not To Sleep


Sleepy Boy, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Sleep. It shouldn't be so complicated. But it usually is.

Spring Break wreaked havoc on our normal routines, but that was to be expected. It didn't really effect the twins as much as it did Connor, who had a lot of late nights and busy days on his adventure to the lake. He had been a bear to put to bed and to wake up in the mornings, but his routine will eventually return to normal.

The twins, on the other hand, have never had much of a routine. And of the two of them, Sawyer is the least predictable. The last two mornings, I've had to wake everyone up at 6:30 to get us all ready and out the door to drop Connor off at school. Any other day, the twins would be wide awake sometime between 5 and 6 in the morning.

Even after waking them both up, neither of them have been ready for bed at their usual time (between 8 and 9 o'clock). Xander will go willingly and just stay in his bed reading his favorite book or talking to himself. Sawyer will drive you crazy. It usually starts with his really loud vocalizations, then is followed by banging himself into his headboard (with his knee or his foot, depending on his mood). It sounds like the house is being torn apart. He eventually bounces across his room, still vocalizing.

Last night he did all of these things. For three hours after he was put in his room for bed time.

A little after 11, I went into his room to get him. We made the requisite stop at the bathroom, because he'd been awake for a really long time since his last visit. He then proceeded to bounce across the living room, still loudly vocalizing, until I made him sit down on the couch with me. I wouldn't let him bounce up, as he so desperately wanted (and tried numerous times) to do.

After all of three minutes sitting on the couch, he promptly fell asleep laying on my legs. He didn't move the whole time we were there, nor did he flinch when I picked him up and carried him to his bed an hour or so later. I had to wake him up yet again this morning at 6:30.

Sigh.

The battle continues.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Few Days Away


Silly Connor, originally uploaded by cheryl.

This week is Spring Break from school for the kids. Connor started his early, hitching a ride with Uncle Brian and Cousins Austin and Kyndal last Saturday to Grandma and Grandpa's cabin at the lake. The three cousins had a great time playing the first half of the week. Mommy and little brothers headed down a few days later for a few nights away from home, too.

We spent a few days relaxing, enjoying the warm (if windy) weather. We got to visit with Grandma and Grandpa. We played outside and rode the three-wheeler around the neighborhood. We took a trip into town for some groceries and a visit to the McDonald's playland. We even picked up some bubbles while we were there. That was the highlight of Xander's trip.

It was a nice break in our usually busy schedule of school and work and car line. Time with family. Good food and good times. And maybe just a little silliness, too.

Connor opted to stay the rest of the week. So he's having even more fun than the rest of us. We had to come back home so Mommy could work this weekend. Not everyone can lead the good life, right Connor?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring Break!


Frisbee Boy, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Warm weather has returned to our part of the world just in time for Spring Break.

One of our boys started his break yesterday when he caught a ride with Uncle Brian and Cousins Austin and Kyndal on their way to visit Grandma and Grandpa at the lake. Uncle Brian took pity on him when I told him that Connor was in tears when he found out Austin and Kyndal were going to the lake before him. So Connor ended up as a surprise visitor for Grandma and Grandpa.

With Connor away, the twins and I had the backyard to ourselves today. Sawyer was all about the swings, of course. And Xander was all about the frisbee. He's obsessed. He loves to watch it sail through the air, chase it down, then bring it back to start the process all over again. We spent hours soaking up the sun and enjoying the warm weather.

Connor is off having fun at the lake with his cousins. The twins and I will join them later in the week for a few days visit of our own. Spring Break is here!

The New Office


The New Office, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Five years. That's how long it's been since I worked full-time. I stopped working right before the twins were born, and decided I would take a few years off to take care of the kids. Five years later, I'm still not ready to go back. Not to a full-time job, or the full-time hours.

Luckily, I've been able to keep my hand in my old career. I left my last employer on such good terms (I like to think it's because I helped them find a great replacement before I left) that they referred me to one of their clients who was looking for some part-time help.

In my other life, before kids, I was in marketing and graphic design. I worked at a marketing agency right out of college, then took a job as the marketing manager for a local architecture firm. It was full of long weeks, late nights and weekend conferences. And that just wasn't going to work with three young boys at home.

So I took some time off. And I was lucky enough to get that one referral at just the right time. It turned out to be a great opportunity, starting with a one-time project that turned into a part-time job. I basically do my old job on a project-by-project basis, with a few in-office meetings scheduled around the boys' crazy school schedules and the bulk of the work done from the comfort of my own home. And it's turned into more work. I have a second client interested in some part-time work.

And that means I needed a full-time home office. One that wasn't constantly overtaken by three computer-obsessed little boys. Or stalked by those same little boys if I happened to be there, trying to work, during daytime hours. (Just take a look at the background of the above photo, where two little boys have taken over the original office).

So now I have a new laptop. And new computer software (CS5, anyone?). And I'm ready to work again. From home. Or car line. Or the back yard. Or wherever I happen to be at the moment.

After all, as Connor mentioned last week. It's getting warm again. It's almost time to get the boat back out. Maybe I can catch some sun and waves while I work this summer.

I kind of like this part-time work. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to love my new office, wherever it may be.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring = Baseball = Love



Fierce, originally uploaded by cheryl.

It’s that time of year again. One little boy in our house is particularly excited, because something he dearly loves is about to start again.

Baseball.

You’ll forgive the rest of us for not being quite so excited. Practices. Games. White baseball pants (really, who didn’t think that one through?). Little boys running wild everywhere, sometimes paying attention to the game and sometimes just doing their own thing.

But we’ll look beyond those things. It’s not about us, not really. This is something for Connor. It’s one of the few things that he has asked to do, one of the few things that is simply for him.

This year he is a Knight. That in and of itself has him excited. One of his favorite toys is a Lego castle play set. So much more impressive than last year’s Blue Jays, though for those of us who know baseball, I can’t think of any major league teams with a Knight as their mascot.

But Connor is too young to care about major league teams, thank goodness. At some point he will get his new team colors and uniforms. He will be particularly excited to have a new hat. Surely at some point that will come.

We love that his league is so close to our house. But the league seems a little disorganized to us. Part of that sure comes from the fact that Uncle Brian and Cousin Austin play in the most competitive league in our area, and they’ve had practice and game schedules up for weeks. They even had tryouts, which are long since over. So perhaps our frame of reference is a bit off. Or perhaps, if Connor continues down this path, we’re going to have to look at other, more organized and competitive leagues as he gets older.

Besides, we may have two little boys interested in baseball. During last week’s warm weather, we spent a lot of time out in the backyard. One afternoon we got Connor’s baseball gear out for a little practice. Xander was quite interested in all of it. Throwing the baseball. Catching the baseball with the glove (albeit one that fit the wrong hand for our lefty). Hitting the ball off of the tee. He seemed to love it.

Sigh.

After living most of my childhood at the baseball field, perhaps I was hopeful the kids might pick up a different sport. I know Daddy, as a former soccer player, was hoping they might take that route. But it’s still early yet. We’ll let them go their own way, and make sure they have opportunities to see and try different things.

It is about them, after all. We’re just along for the ride.