Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch by here we wander
Pumpkin Patch, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Thirty-five degrees. Perfect pumpkin patch weather, right?

Not so much, but it was the day that Connor's first grade class was scheduled to go, and that's what we did on Friday.

It started off with the informative video about the orchard (in an open air tent). Next was the tour of operations. Then the token sample of apple cider. Followed by the requisite hay ride through the wet and muddy fields. Then the kids picked pumpkins from the bins in front of the store (too muddy to go into the fields). Next was lunch (also in the open air tent)

And last was a quick trip to the playground. The big slides, the rolling tubes, the pedal tractors. Lots and lots of fun. For just a little while, then back to the buses for the ride back to school.

It was cold. But that didn't stop Connor from having a big time. He had a smile on his face the whole day.

And because it wasn't enough to have a school adventure, he had another one lined up right after ...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Day at the Park

Double Trouble by here we wander
Double Trouble, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Yesterday the boys and I took advantage of the beautiful weather in our part of the world. Rain is scheduled to move in the rest of the week, and the 70 degree temperatures are probably just about gone for the season. So we took a walk (okay, stroller ride for them) up to the local neighborhood park.

Xander went straight for the slide. Sometimes I don't think he sees anything else at the park. Up and down, up and down. The whole time we were there. He did take a little break to climb and swing on both the hanging rings and the spinning rings. But the slide always called him back.

Sawyer took the first half of our adventure to clean the excess mulch off the play equipment. It bothers him that mulch is all over the metal play structure, so he cleans it all off. And then he's done. Next he tried to get all the drinks from the stroller, repeatedly. Finally he gave up and went for the swings.

And then it started to get dark and cold. We were hopeful Connor and Daddy might join us on our adventure, but Connor was finishing up homework when we left. They actually met us on the way home, where Connor was attempting (with Daddy's helping hands) to ride his bike without training wheels. It was not going well. He was quite pissed by the time we ran into him. It's too hard was a frequent refrain, even as he coasted down a level section of sidewalk without falling.

Perhaps not as long as the twins might have liked, and not at all for Connor who had homework to finish, but it was a nice visit to the park on a beautiful fall day. Taking time to enjoy the little moments, before the season ends.

Weekend Away

At least once a year, I'm lucky enough to get a weekend away. Josh usually keeps the boys at home, sometimes with help from the grandparents, but usually on his own. Boys weekend for them, and often a girls weekend for me. My weekends away are usually with one of my oldest and best friends, my first-year college roommate Haley. We take turns visiting each other's houses, but we also sometimes meet in the middle at her parents' home, about a three-hour drive from each of our houses. And that's what we decided to do this year ... meet in the middle. I got to visit not only with her and her little girl, but also with her wonderful parents at their home in the mountains.

As a builder's wife, I really enjoyed touring their new (a few years old, but still brand new to me) home. It's beautiful, set right on the side of a mountain with hills all around. It was a peaceful retreat for the weekend.

And here is where we spent the majority of our time. It was too cold to enjoy the pool this year (solar panels not installed yet, so maybe another time), but we made good use of the outdoor living room and fire place. We went through a lot of firewood and spent hours relaxing in the big comfy chairs around a warm, inviting fire. Haley and I even managed to start one all by ourselves, which was a little impressive considering we'd used up all of the starter logs and the wood was a little damp. We won't mention it may have taken several hours, and quite a few handfuls of the expensive pine needle mulch from the landscaping. That's our secret.

Sunday afternoon was a perfect fall day. We all spent it curled around the outdoor fireplace. We even had dinner (courtesy of Poppa Bill and Mimi Karen) and a show (courtesy of Miss Claire). Big steaks and fresh veggies on the grill, wine by the fire, and salad and baked potatoes, too. Claire was happy to entertain us with lots of song and dance numbers, and did so for hours upon hours. It was a nice, relaxing way to end the weekend.

We also spent some time downtown. We did a little shopping, a lot of browsing, and just enjoyed a fun fall weekend catching up. Claire wouldn't dream of leaving her Mimi Karen, so Haley and I got to spend a lot of girl time talking about life and love and everything in between.

Good friends are hard to find and often even harder to keep. Time, distance, kids and busy lives often get in the way. But 15 years later, Haley and I still manage to find time. Maybe not as often as we'd like, but we definitely make it worthwhile in the time we do have together. It was an amazing weekend, and a great break from the day-to-day life with three busy little boys and their big puppy!

Special thanks to Mimi Karen and Poppa Bill for hosting our weekend getaway and being such amazing hosts and people!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Snapshot (Tuesday) Sunday

The Capitol by here we wander
The Capitol, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.

Girls weekend with a really great friend from college (and her wonderful family) in her hometown!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

First Field Trip. Ever.

Two Little Pumpkins by here we wander
Two Little Pumpkins, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
The twins spent their first three school years in Early Start. By nature of the program, field trips just aren't possible. But this year the boys have moved up to kindergarten, and the school experience has broadened.

The day is longer. There are more classmates, more teachers, even more classrooms (two special classes each day, on a six day rotation, in different rooms with different teachers). Lunch is in the cafeteria instead of the room. There are trips to the library and the gym. It's just a whole other world.

All in all, the boys have transitioned well. We have been impressed with their ability to adapt to the whole experience. We have also been impressed with the new team in place to work with them during the day.

Last week, the boys had their first ever field trip. A few days before said trip, it occurred to me that neither of the boys had ever riden on a school bus. But their teachers were already working on strategies to help them - bringing comfort items and snacks, using picture schedules to prepare them for what was coming.

And, as it turns out, the bus was not that big of a deal. Both boys loved the bus. And I knew it shortly after they arrived, because I had a text message from one of their teachers (see why I love their team?).

Both boys had one of their aides with them on the trip. Grammy and Pappy also met the boys at their destination - a local pumpkin patch. I was, unfortunately, already scheduled to make my post-op follow-up visit with the surgeon. So I had to sit this one out.

Now the boys have all been to pumpkin patches before. We usually take them once or twice every year, often with help from Grammy and Pappy. We had never been to this particular one (which is saying something, because we've been to several). But the boys wandered around and had a pretty good time. Sawyer was less impressed than Xander, but that's par for the course.

The boys brought home the pumpkins you see above. And while pretty, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. When we've done the pumpkin patch thing in the past, the kids always bring home a  medium-size pumpkin. Nothing huge, but at least big enough for a face or a jack-o-lantern carving if you're so inclined. Not so much this year. Connor would have noticed and been disappointed, but Sawyer and Xander were not really concerned. So I guess it's a good thing Connor's upcoming trip is one of the other, larger patches. I'm sure he will bring home a bigger pumpkin later this month.

The point is the boys had a good day. They managed their first ever field trip (and school bus ride) without incident. They, along with their aides, were part of the same experience as all of the other kindergarten classmates.

They are adapting. It's never going to be a typical journey for them, but they are finding their own way. Every single day, I am impressed with how well they are doing, and how lucky we have been to have another great group of people working with our boys.

Adventures of a Big Boy

Connor has a hard life.

First grade is tough. He has at least an hour of homework every night. Seriously (which is a bit ridiculous, as I don't remember homework until like fourth grade, but I digress). His brothers are not the best of playmates, to say the least. About the only game he can get them to play is chase, and that's generally short-lived if he can even get them to agree to play. He also would like to mention how unfair it is that he has "chores" to do around the house, and his brothers do not. And that he has to do homework to earn screen time, while his brothers simply get to play. I'm sure he would add more grievances to the list, but those are the big ones.

Like I said, he has a hard life.

Take last week for instance. Fall Break was approaching. Connor has been booked for a few months. Have I mentioned that Connor is our have-suitcase-will-travel child? He's actually quite popular, and his calendar fills up fast with people offering to take him on trips and fun adventures. This particular break got an early request from Grandma and Grandpa at the lake. Connor was going to the mountains.

That's right. Swimming pools. Race cars. Putt putt golf. Eating out two or three times a day. Hard times.

Grandma and Grandpa came up to our house to pick him up. We even let him leave school right after lunch so they could get on the road a little sooner and make it to their condo in time to check-in before the office staff left for the day. I actually got to drive their new car to school to pick him up, which was  fun little adventure for me (the car just rumbles, and I love it). But as soon as I got Connor back home, he was practically kicking me out of the car to get on the road. The mountains, and his one-on-one status as the only child around for miles, was waiting.

Fall Break included three nights and four days in the mountains. He got to swim every single night (most likely followed by popcorn and Pepsi before bed). He spent two whole mornings at the "Track" riding race cars, bumper cars, ferris wheels and a whole assortment of other children's rides. He got to pick where they went to eat for lunch and dinner nearly every day. And he managed to avoid the actual mountains for most of the trip. He got talked into one short hike (on a paved trail to a waterfall) and one other drive through the mountains where they stopped to play in the creek. The swimming pool and race cars called to him much more than the mountains, apparently.

The last night and day was spent back at Grandma and Grandpa's cabin at the lake. He once again enjoyed the status of only child around for miles, meaning you get pretty much whatever you ask for within reasonable limits. That's his idea of a good time.

On Sunday, they came back into town. We met up with Uncle Brian and Cousins Austin and Kyndal for dinner at one of our favorites, Cracker Barrel. He barely made it into bed by his normal school bed time.

Yes, he has a hard life. It's hard to be him.

Snapshot Sunday (Thursday)

Clearly I'm falling a little behind on my Snapshot Sunday posts. We've had a busy few weeks, including this past weekend where this cake made it's appearance at Josh's high school reunion (15 years - yes, we are getting old). The ice and the bottles were edible (mostly sugar, I think), too.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Guess Where I Went?

Connor in the Mountains by here we wander
Connor in the Mountains, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Click on the picture for Connor's take on his Fall Break (in the caption). More details to come ...

Just Because (Part II)



Because when you like to play with photography, you sometimes miss the better shot. I loved the one of Xander's big brown eyes open wide in the previous post, but I love how similar the boys look when they smile. I don't ever really have trouble telling our identical twins apart, in person or in pictures, until they smile. It broadens Xander's face, and they look much more alike. So here are two black and whites, with both of my babies smiling their happy smile.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Just Because ...


It was a beautiful fall day in our part of the world. The twins and I ventured out into the back yard before the sun disappeared (way too early these days, if you ask me). We've had a busy couple of weeks, and I promise to eventually post some fun stories and updates - like where big boy is spending his fall break (clearly not with us), the words that our quiet one said for his teachers at school, how the twins did on their first school field trip (and first school bus ride ever), why I love our school district, what's happening this weekend and next, and a few other random things besides. I have a list (of course she does), and I will eventually get to it. But right now I am buried in a freelance project that already has me spending way too much time on my computer (and sitting on Sawyer's exercise ball instead of a chair - stupid back surgery)! Soon, very soon. But for now ... my two babies who are home with me on their fall break ... in my all-time favorite kind of photograph, black and white.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Swing = Love

Sly Grin by here we wander
Sly Grin, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Aunt Kelly was Sawyer's hero for the day. She came over to visit and took the boys out into the back yard to play.

Their first stop was the trampoline for a little bounce therapy. Sawyer loves it, especially when someone bigger is in there to make him bounce really, really high. Mommy is banned after surgery, and Daddy avoids it for back issues, too. That leaves cousins and friends, and Aunt Kelly.

Next up was to quickly grab Aunt Kelly's unattended Cherry Pepsi. That makes everything even better, right? Sawyer is a notorious drink stealer, so this didn't come as much of a surprise. He waits until the second you're not looking and sneaks in for the kill. He almost always gets it.

And last but not least was the swings. Sawyer LOVES the swings. He's even taught himself how to push a little. Though he's never adverse to you helping him out in going really high. But he'll swing himself, or twist himself, and be equally happy.

Trampoline. Cherry Pepsi. Swings. Aunt Kelly rocks, and today was a good day.

Pretend Baseball



Have I mentioned Connor is incredibly sad that baseball has ended? So much so that when Aunt Kelly came over this afternoon to visit and took the boys out into the back yard, he made up a game of pretend baseball while bouncing on the trampoline. Sawyer says even the pretend version sucks (notice the hands over the ears). Baseball or no, it was a beautiful fall day in our part of the world today.

Who's Sick Today?

How Many Screens? by here we wander
How Many Screens?, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
It's a game we've been playing all week long. And we're all kind of tired of it.

It started with Sawyer the middle of last week. Nasty stomach virus going around school. He managed to stay at school, but it was messy. Xander followed late last week, but also stayed at school.

Monday morning it hit Connor even harder. He got sick at school, as in all over the carpet in the classroom. That was my first phone call of the week. He came home early Monday, and then stayed home on Tuesday just to be safe (low-grade fever Monday with the illness).

My second phone call of the week came on Wednesday. Xander was going through round two, also with a low-grade fever. He came home, then stayed home again today just to be safe. Tomorrow is still up in the air for him. Though clearly it's not stopping him from enjoying his screens (yes, wiped down with Clorox wipes after each session).

Musical sickness, apparently. Daddy even complained he wasn't feeling well after working all day (and night) yesterday. I told him it was just being assigned to the ambulance instead of the fire truck for his shift - that would be enough to do it for me.

This was all we needed as I continue to recover from my recent surgery. The last two days, I've done probably ten loads of laundry - sheets, mattress pads, comforters, towels, clothes, anything and everything that can go into the washer on sanitize setting. I've also gone through several cans of Lysol and several containers of Clorox wipes trying to keep things contained.

As much as I love fall, this part - the musical sickness every year at the change of seasons - I could do without.

Here's hoping it stops soon. Before it makes me sick, too.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

And the Season Ends ...

Batting Gloves by here we wander
Batting Gloves, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Connor is already asking about Spring. His brothers are still cheering the end, which was late Sunday afternoon. Or at least they would be ...

This week finds all of the boys battling various stages of a stomach virus. Connor is the latest victim. After a big weekend, wrapped up with his last game of the Fall Ball season and dinner out with the extended family, we got a call 30 minutes into the school day that he had thrown up in his classroom. Nice.

So now we're eating lots of crackers, drinking lots of Sprite, and using a lot of Lysol at the moment.

Good times.