Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is School Over Yet?

Bumpin', originally uploaded by cheryl.

Connor very much wishes that it was - as of right now. Or maybe even yesterday.

We spent the holiday weekend at the lake, and he had a big time. So big, that he really, really didn't want to leave last night. He was sad and chatty the whole way home, which was way past his bedtime.

This morning, he was nearly impossible to get  up and get dressed. He didn't touch his milk or dry cereal. He actually fell back asleep in the car just a few minutes out of our driveway. He also slept a few hours at school, according to his teacher.

Clearly he thought summer break should have started today. He was one tired little boy after a big, fun weekend away.

I'm guessing an early bed time is in order, but wish us luck in actually accomplishing it. It's another sunny, beautiful day in our part of the world. And it doesn't get dark until well after bed time, so it's usually a battle.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again ...

The New Tube, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Two guesses how the boys and I are spending our holiday weekend. Hint, it involves lots of sun and water, good food and time with family.

The boys and I drove down to spend the holiday weekend at the lake with Grandma and Grandpa. Cousins Austin and Kyndal (and Uncle Brian) will be joining us for part of the weekend, which will make Connor's day. He loves hanging out with his cousins.

Today we took the boat out on the water for the first time. The water is a little high and a lot dirty (in places). It's not nearly as much fun riding when you're dodging logs (not sticks, mind you, but entire trees floating in the lake). But after a short ride, and a few pulls of the new tube, we found a clean spot with a good breeze and lots of sun.

The twins spent their first afternoon on the water actually enjoying themselves the entire time (minus the first few minutes of adjusting to the wind and noise, in which both boys had their hands over their ears). They sat on the back deck, dipping their toes in the water and splashing. They both even climbed on the new tube and splashed around - a first for both of them. Sawyer also took a few dips, including on unplanned tumble off the tube.

Did I mention the water was freezing? As in really, really cold. Even Connor complained, and he's not one to complain about water. Not that it stopped him from getting wet. He rode the tube, which got him pretty wet (the new one splashes him when he rides solo because he's not heavy enough to weight the back down), and then he just jumped off the tube in the end to swim back to the boat. Where he then proceeded to take several jumps off the back deck, on purpose mind you, and then took one unplanned tumble when Xander pushed him (so Connor says, and in all truth, it was quite likely).

I also found myself in the freezing cold water. I was nice enough to ride the tube with Connor, to help weight it down so he might actually enjoy a ride without being splashed in the face the whole time. And toward the end, we were both about to roll over on it, so I took one for the team and simply let go. And I got thrown into the icy water. I also took another dip, trying to see if Sawyer wanted in the water - he really seemed to want to, but not that time. He slowly inched himself in on the ladder a while later. I also took another unplanned dip when one of our boys (yes, Xander, I'm talking about you) decided to chuck his juice box into the lake. I know the lake was already dirty, but we simply don't do things like that and leave it there. So I climbed in to retrieve. At this point I was already numb with cold anyway, so it wasn't so bad.

You can't go on the lake without getting in, right? Apparently Connor, Sawyer and I all thought so. The rest of the family decided they could actually pass and wait for a warmer day. Regardless, we all had a fun day on the water. A nice break from school and work and baseball and the crazy schedule that is our life.

Sun. Water. Waves. The good stuff.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Secret Piano Man

Happy, originally uploaded by cheryl.

At first, Sawyer didn't even acknowledge that a piano had arrived in our house. The other two boys were very interested, constantly stopping by to feel the wood panels, to sit down and push back the cover and finger (or occasionally bang) the keys. It was usually short, but it was something they kept coming back to over and over again.

Not Sawyer. What piano, he seemed to say, with his total lack of interest.

But, as with so many things, he was simply taking his own time and finding his own way to the newest addition to our house.

Now he, too, stops by the piano. It's always incredibly quick (so much so that I still, to this day, have not been able to snap a picture of him at the keys). He's sneaky, that one. He stops by, never sits but simply stands, then pushes back the cover and "walks" the keys - always starting at the highest one and going to the lowest. Then he closes the cover and quickly walks away.

If you happen to catch him there, he quickly closes the cover and walks away, finished with the sequence or not.

What piano, he seems to say, as he pretends he was never there.

It seems all three boys - even the stealthy one - like the piano.

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's A Hard Life ...

Three Brothers, originally uploaded by cheryl.

It's tough to be them, let me tell you.

The day started with doughnuts. There were cartoons and cereal and milk. A trip to the park complete with Gatorade (even though part of it was spent taking baseball photos - see below). Pizza for lunch. A favorite movie (or two). A few hours in the backyard on the play set, with chalk and bubbles and icees, too. And then the lightning drove us inside. Where they watched another movie. You know, on the new flat screen television in their very own play room.

It's a hard life, they say. But someone has to live it. 

Baseball 2011

Group Photo, originally uploaded by cheryl.

The season is quickly coming to a close. Connor will be extremely disappointed. The twins will be ecstatic. And that's pretty much standard for our house - what one boy loves, the other two do not. What another loves, the other two do not. And so on.

Sunday was our scheduled (okay, our make-up) picture day. In fairness, it rained last weekend. A lot. Just like it's rained much of the season. So I won't even start on the my personal opinion about the league scheduling. That's another post for another day ...

The boys were asked to arrive early. That was good and bad. Most of the team did assemble about 15 minutes before our scheduled time slot. But then the boys just spent that time running around, chasing each other and climbing trees. In the 80 degree heat. You can bet there were some sweaty, blotchy little boys for photos. I guess that just means we'll see how good at retouching the photographers are, right?

The twins were not at all pleased with our day. Josh was working, so it was just me and the boys. And that meant that all of us had to go for pictures. We went early enough that the boys at least got to play on the playground for a while, but not long enough in their opinion (there is no long enough, of course).

They screamed. They tried to escape. Xander begged for Connor's scooter (which he doesn't yet know how to ride). They drank an entire Gatorade in seconds and then wanted more.

Fun times.

But Connor enjoyed it. He ran around, laughing and playing with his teammates. All the boys were smiling and happy, and that was a great thing. Despite a less than perfect season, despite some serious league issues, the boys are still having fun as it all winds down.

And that really is what matters most.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Connor's World

Chocolate makes you fat.

Is this fried? Fried stuff isn't good for you.

Does this have sugar in it? Sugar is bad.

Will this make me stronger?

Suddenly my six-year old is a health nut. I blame his school. Clearly they are teaching him good eating habits, which in turn has him questioning every morsel of food that comes near him.

I should be thankful, of course. Good eating habits are certainly a good thing to be learning and school, and clearly, my son is taking this lesson to heart. He thinks about - and talks about - it all the time.

And if I were a healthy person, I would probably appreciate it more. But as it is, I come from a good Southern family who likes to batter everything and then throw it in the deep fry. I'm also partial to adding bacon grease to just about everything. And my sweet tea, well let's just say there's a little bit of tea mixed in with all that sugar.

So Connor has suddenly become the food police. It started out with odd, unconnected questions and statements. But the truth hit me the other night as we sat around the table eating dinner.

What were we having, you ask?

Fried pork chops, batter dipped with egg and flour and cooked in (canola at least) oil. Fried potatoes with onion cooked in (let's be honest) bacon grease. Green beans with country ham, onions and, yes, more bacon grease. And a little bit of that sweet tea.

Healthy, no?

The kid questioned every single bite. He told me I should have baked the pork chops - no oil. Then he told me that baked potatoes would have been better for us, too. And he doesn't really like green beans, so he didn't have any bright ideas for them. But the tea he didn't complain about. He likes it just the way it is, though he did ask about the sugar and then commented that it certainly wouldn't make him stronger. Not that he was asking for white milk, you understand, because he doesn't really like that anymore.

Of course, none of his comments stopped him from actually eating that night. He had two pork chops and two helpings of fried potatoes. And I don't even remember how much tea he drank. But he told me all about it, around each bite.

And he does so every time we eat. Even when we're eating out, at some of his favorite places. Yes, he's telling me how bad things are even as he takes yet another bite of something bad - like chicken fingers (fried, in oil), french fries (fried, in oil), Coke (way too much sugar), ice cream (chocolate makes you fat).

Perhaps I should offer him a nice, big salad next time. You know, while the rest of us enjoy our Southern fried foods. Think he'd go for that?

And I certainly won't tell him about the double-chocolate Klondike ice cream I'm eating right now. He wouldn't be interested in something like that, I'm sure.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fisher Price Rocks

iXL Fun, originally uploaded by cheryl.

It could have been bad. As in very, very bad.

One night a few weeks ago I was giving all three boys a bath at the end of the day. It's a process, let me tell you. It usually takes about two hours, to get each one a bath, their teeth brushed, a book or two read and each of the boys into their rooms for the night (notice I didn't say asleep, because that usually takes much, much longer, right Saw?).

Anyway, I was giving the boys their baths. Connor went first, as he usually likes to do (not sure why, since it's the precursor to bed, but he really does ask to go first). Often, after he is finished, both twins climb in together. Probably more routine than anything, as we always gave them their bath together. At some point their going to outgrow it, as they're almost too big to fit in there together now. But they were together, and Xander usually finishes up first. He's always willing to brush his teeth and jump (yes jump) out of the tub.

So, Connor was already clean and into his room for the night. I was getting Xander into his pajamas and ready for our usual story (Sesame Street ABC & 123, every single night). That meant Sawyer was in the tub all by himself.

Or so I thought.

He's sneaky these days, that one. While he should have been finishing up in the tub, eating his ice and splashing his color change Hot Wheels around (hence the ice), he was in fact dripping water all across our floors. He decided he wanted to play the iXL some more.

Do you see where this is going?

Because he found it in the play room, brought it back to the bathroom (yes, still dripping all the way), and then climbed back into the tub. The iXL took a bath of its own.

Once I finished with Xander, I went back into the bathroom to check on Sawyer. And that's when I saw the dripping wet iXL laying on the bathroom cabinet.


I was sure the best-Christmas-gift-ever was finished. I mean, really. Computers and water do not mix well together. I remembered all the stories about wet cell phones, and tried some simple remedies. I dried it off as much as I could with a towel, took it to the kitchen and disassembled it as much as I could with a screwdriver. And then I set it up on it's side to drain.

It did not look good. I could literally see water rolling around underneath the touch screen.

But I had a wet and unhappy little boy (who may or may not have gotten yelled at for taking his electronic toy into the tub) who needed to be put into bed. That was done quickly, with none of the usual reading or cuddling that he prefers. He was really unhappy after that, but it couldn't be helped. I was trying to save one of the twins' favorite toys.

So I dug around in my bathroom for the hair dryer that I never use. I pulled it out and took it to the kitchen, where I used the "cool" setting to try to dry out the circuit boards. I had very little expectation of it working.

Then I left it overnight to dry.

The next day, I tried putting fresh batteries into it. It came on to the main screen (which was impressive). But sadly, that's all it would do.

I took the batteries back out and left it hidden in a cabinet for a few more days. And then I tried again.

And it actually turned on, good as new. I was completely shocked, and totally impressed. Fisher-Price rocks. They made a water-resistant mini-computer for kids. The twins would have been incredibly disappointed if it had been destroyed.

But now, I make sure I put it out of reach before bath time. Let's not push our luck.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Piano Man (or Two)

Gentle Hands, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Yes, just what we needed. Something else in our house that makes a lot of noise. But there it is. And two of the boys are thrilled. The third didn't even acknowledge its presence. Buster hid every time the other two "played" it.

This is actually Grammy's piano. It's been at her house as long as I've been around the family, but Grammy decided it was time to treat herself to a new piano, so this one got passed down to us, as the boys have enjoyed "playing" it at her house quite a bit.

The good news is that - for the most part - the boys are rather gentle with it. They finger more than they bang. But clearly, as you can see from the photo, sometimes the temptation to bang is a little too much. Xander is much more likely to regress than Connor, but they both have their moments.

Today was the first day it was really set up and in place. The boys "played" probably twenty different times during the day. Most were short-lived, five or ten minutes, but they kept coming back for more.

So we're going to be a music house, apparently. Well, some of us anyway ...

The Swing

In Motion, originally uploaded by cheryl.

It was a Christmas gift, and it's been hung up in his room since sometime in January. But it's only been in the last few weeks that he's really started enjoying it - on his own, anyway.

Perhaps it just took some time to get used to it, feel comfortable with it. Or perhaps it just took a few months - a few heavier cousins test-driving it (and stretching it out) - to make it just right. For whatever reason, Sawyer has finally found his own way of getting into and enjoying his swing.

Early in the morning, when he knows the rest of us are still sleeping and will not appreciate an early wake-up call, he bounces around his room. Late at night when he doesn't want to go to bed with the rest of us, he wraps himself into his swing and bounces around his room. In the middle of the day when his brothers noise and activity gets to be too much for him, he retreats to his room and his swing. He will stay there for hours and hours, and it's fun to watch him lose himself into something he clearly enjoys.

Tight spaces. Motion. Good things. Simple things that make one little boy incredibly happy.

We're Still Here ...

Sort of. Between work and school and baseball, there isn't much time to be anywhere. What little time we do find, we usually spend outside on the swings or blowing bubbles. It is nearly summer, after all. The kiddie pool will come out soon, I'm sure.

More importantly, I've been pretending that the days and the weeks are not passing by in record time. That kindergarten is not almost over for one of our boys and about to start for two more.

I am so not ready.

Just last week Josh and I went to the boys new neighborhood school, a special meeting for new parents to the school (mostly kindergartners, but some others as well). We will have a first grader and two kindergartners there next year.

Last week both of the twins came home with their "Welcome to Kindergarten" backpacks full of supplies and practice materials for the summer. I wanted to send them back.

Two kindergartners. I cannot believe that Sawyer and Xander are really leaving Early Start. I am so not ready to let them leave. I don't want to give up their school, which is so familiar and so wonderful. I don't want to give up their teachers, who have worked with them these last three school years and who know them so well and work so hard to help them move forward. I am not ready to leave behind the speech therapist who has helped Xander find his words, and even helped Sawyer find a few every once in a while, too. I am not ready to leave the assistant teachers who have taken our boys as their own, who stand beside them day in and day out, pushing, prodding, always encouraging them.

Monday is the big day - the transition meeting. That's code for a really, really long IEP meeting with a whole bunch of people there. The original team, and the new team. The teachers, the therapists, the facilitator. The people who will help us figure out how to move the boys from Early Start to kindergarten and beyond.

Have I mentioned I am not ready?

I've made my notes, of course. And I've thought about what I think needs to be in place and how to approach such a dramatic change. But that still doesn't mean I'm ready. That I have to like it. Because I'm not. And I don't. Not yet anyway.

Don't misunderstand. We love the new school. We have heard nothing but wonderful things about the school, and the meeting we just went to only confirmed our hopes. Class sizes are intentionally kept small in kindergarten, smaller even than the school Connor currently attends (which we've also really loved). They talk about how important communication is, especially for kindergartners and their parents. We think it's a great school and that all of the boys will do well there.

It's just change. And that never comes easily in our house. Certainly not for the boys, and sometimes not for the rest of us. So I worry about it. I dread it. I pretend that it's not really happening, not yet anyway. I've done a pretty good job of doing that all school year long.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to face it bright and early on Monday morning. I'm going to have to think about things like how incredibly big and not quite contained the school is and how much the boys will have to move throughout it during a typical day, about how the boys are going to get through the pretty hard-core curriculum we've seen Connor move through this school year, about how they're going to manage going from three-hour school days to seven-hour school days, about how their limited communication is going to translate in a classroom that has a lot less freedom and play time built into the day. Good, fun stuff. Really.

Sigh. Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Another Day, Another Baseball Game ...

Little League, originally uploaded by cheryl.

Every day Connor asks if he has baseball, either practice or a game. Every day, without fail. The kid LOVES baseball.

Today he actually got the answer he was looking for - it was game day. And the boys actually got to play on the new little league field for the first time. You know, now that the season is more than half over and after last week's game was played on a grassy field without a diamond, but I digress ...

The team was all excited and happy to play. And that's a good thing, because truth be told, the boys aren't very good. Connor is one of the few players with any baseball experience, and his is limited to a short fall season last year. The other players all seem small, and young, and often have no clue what's going on with the game. It can make watching painful at times, but the boys don't seem to mind. They all run and jump and cheer. They even happily give high-fives and yell "Good game!" to the other team at the end.

And that's what matters, I suppose. It's supposed to be fun, right?

The twins were less than thrilled to see another baseball field. They generally start screaming the minute we bypass the park (swings for Sawyer, the signs for Xander) and head over the hill to the baseball field. It doesn't really end until the game is over, though you can quiet it for a moment with candy or snacks or drinks. The bubbles used to work, but apparently they've lost their appeal. The boys were having none of that today.

Luckily, Grammy and Pappy and Aunt Kelly all came out to watch Connor play. After the first few innings, Grammy and Pappy offered to take the twins over to the park for a little while. And that was better, for a little while. They were pissed all over again when it was time to leave the park.

But we tried to make it up to them. Grammy and Pappy invited us out to dinner after the game, and even let Connor pick the place. After we nixed his first choice of McDonald's (really, kid, really?), we got him to think bigger and he suggested Cracker Barrel. Aunt Kelly had to go to work, so she couldn't join us. The rest of us stopped back by our house, which is just a few minutes away, so we could drop off the stroller and Cousin Louie (who would get to hang out with Buster), and then we all loaded into the truck and headed out.

It was a good night. Baseball for Connor. Park for the twins. Good food and good company for the rest of us. Just another day at the ball field ...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Three Brothers

Three Brothers, originally uploaded by cheryl.

It's rare, seeing our three boys play something together. But every once in a while, the moment happens. It's usually fleeting, broken up by loss of interest by one one or hatefulness of another, but it's sometimes there.

Saturday afternoon it was there.

The boys and I had gone to the local neighborhood park to celebrate opening day of Connor's little league (just a few weeks late because of all the rain). It was chaotic and wild, especially since I was there with all three boys on my own. The twins hated the stroller. Connor wanted to play a game, not participate in a ceremony. I stood there wondering what I had been thinking to bring them all up there myself.

Grammy and Pappy and Louie found us, and came to the rescue. They took the twins over the free inflatable section, where they bounced and slid to their hearts content while the ceremony was going on (and most of the people were there watching and not bouncing or sliding).

I got to focus on Connor during the ceremony, sneaking onto the field for some close-up shots of him with his teammates during their introduction. He had fun in the end, though still not as much fun as an actual game.

We met up with Grammy, Pappy and brothers, where he, too, got to bounce and slide. I went back to wait in the ridiculously long line for icees - one green and one red.

It turned into a good day. And we finished the afternoon off by spending the beautiful day outside in the back yard. We had sidewalk chalk and bubbles, two of the boys favorites. And they actually played together. Connor was blowing bubbles and the others were watching and chasing.

Three brothers, playing together. Rare. Fleeting. And always incredibly amazing to see.