Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Perspective

Upside Down Boy by here we wander
Upside Down Boy, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Words and images. Images and words. They are intertwined here. When there are no inspiring images, there also seem to be no words.

Perhaps I need to take Sawyer's advice (see photo above) and find a new perspective to be inspired, either to take more photos or write more words.

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday like most - enjoying time off from school and work, spending time with family, enjoying good food, and spending lots of time on the road.

Last Wednesday night was our first of three Thanksgiving dinners. We made the short trip to Grammy and Pappy's house to spend part of the holiday with Josh's immediate family. Grammy, a long-time ER nurse, was working this holiday.

Thursday morning we packed up and headed out early. We traveled across the state and back, first to spend time with my extended family in the morning and early afternoon in the far western part of the state and then back to the central part of the state to spend late afternoon and evening with Josh's extended family.

It was a twelve-hour day, with a little over five hours of total driving. The boys did well, all things considered.

We lost Connor between the first and second meal, an invitation to spend the rest of the weekend with Grandma and Grandpa at the lake, as an only grandchild, was too much for him to resist.

Part of our drive shared the same road, before we headed to our next meal and they headed another direction back to the lake. They followed us for a while, but at Connor and Grandma's urging, they eventually came flying around us on a straight stretch of road. It was a silver streak of Camaro with a little boy grinning from the back seat.

Yes, he was enjoying himself already.

Friday Josh went back to work for the first day of his double-shift, and the twins and I very purposefully did not do anything. We played outside, enjoying one of the last warm days of the season.

Saturday we headed down to the lake to visit ourselves. We spent the day outside again, enjoying the sunshine before the rain and cold moved back in on Sunday.

And then we came back home in time for the boys to get to bed on Sunday night.

Back to school. Back to work. Back to reality ...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

They Come In Twos

Toothless by here we wander
Toothless, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Apparently Connor's teeth like to come out in twos. At the beginning of the year, he lost his two bottom teeth within days of one another. Here's the photo of the first two teeth to go.

This week, he lost both of his two front teeth. Both of them had been loose for quite a while, and we were all surprised they lasted as long as they did.

But the last one was stubborn, and would likely still be there for a while yet if not for a little brotherly love.

You see, every afternoon, Connor and Xander come tearing into the house and start on their favorite game together - chasing each other across the house as fast as they can and then jumping onto Xander's bed (if you run in a straight line from the living room and through the hallway, you run straight into Xander's bedroom). Then you tickle each other until someone breaks and makes a run back the other way, where you then jump into the leather chair in the corner of our living room. Sounds fun, no?

It looks a little something like this photo from earlier in the week, you know, when one tooth was still there.

Today's version was a little different. During the tickle session, Xander apparently decided he'd had enough and lashed out. With his foot. And a well-placed kick to Connor's mouth. The tooth came out, as did a few tears and quite a bit of blood.

But it's all good, Connor assures me. The tooth fairy will come see him again tonight, and last time he got money. He's hoping for more money, and maybe a sticker, too. You know, like the one he got a really, really long time ago with his first tooth. Which the tooth fairy didn't really remember. But he did. And he's really hoping the tooth fairy can find one.

The tooth fairy hopes so, too.

"My Best Friend"

Handsome by here we wander
Handsome, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
For every moment that is hard, there is another moment that wipes it all away.

Friends. That's not really something to celebrate with your kids. It's just part of growing up. Kids go to school, they make friends. They come and they go with time. It's just what happens.

Except it's not. Not when your kids have autism. And things like language issues and social issues that go along with it.

A few weeks ago, I got an email for the school's special education coordinator. She was passing through the cafeteria at lunch and overheard a little boy telling his classmates that another little boy was his best friend.

That little boy was talking about Xander, telling his classmates that Xander was his best friend.

Xander is not your typical friend, of course. His autism is not quite as severe as Sawyer's autism, but it's still there. There are still language issues and social issues.

Xander does have some language, and while it's usually functional, it is typically scripted. He memorizes phrases and situations, or mimics things that you say to him. He is integrated into the classroom with the help of his aide, but he still has challenges. Like Sawyer, he has trouble sitting still for long periods of time and can also be subject to loud vocalizations that are often out of context with the classroom.

But there's a little boy in that classroom that likes him, that calls him his best friend. He looks past the differences and sees a little boy that he likes.

That is an incredible moment, one we celebrate.

The email from school made me smile.

The following emails from other teachers that went into more detail about how this little boy always sits by Xander at lunch and how he always sticks by him at recess, were even more amazing.

And the moment last week at the Thanksgiving lunch, when that same little boy's mother came up to me and introduced herself and her son, well that moment was even more amazing. She said her little boy always talks about Xander and what the two of them have done at school that day. She told me how sweet my little boy was when she came into the classroom, and she told me that her son has even gone so far to add Xander into his nightly prayers, which he says for each member of his family.

There are not words to describe how that moment felt, how much it meant.

For every really hard moment (see post below), there is an even better moment like this one. People who look past the differences, who see the amazing little boys in spite of their autism.

Those are the moments I keep close, the ones that give me hope for the future.

What You See

Bounce by here we wander
Bounce, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Sometimes I wish that the world could see the little boy that I see. Now I realize that I have had several years to get to know him, and that I have a more vested interest in him than most, but still, I wish.

I wish others could see that he is so much more than a little boy who doesn't talk yet, who sometimes does things that the rest of us don't quite understand.

Last week I went to the boys' school for their Thanksgiving lunch with family and friends. And while I sat at the table with Sawyer, I couldn't help but notice the two little boys across the table from us.

They were never mean, and they never said anything directly to us. But I know those looks, and I can hear those words.

Why doesn't he talk? Why does he make those noises instead? Why does he keep getting up to instead of eating?

Simple, harmless questions. Two little boys who were simply curious. It could have been Connor and one of his little friends. In fact, Connor has asked a lot of those same questions before.

But in that moment I just kept thinking about how the rest of the world - the world that does not really know him and may never take the time to get to know him - how they see my little boy.

And it's hard. Hard to know that they only see a small part of him, that they see his differences and his challenges without bothering to see his strengths.

Because he has a smile that can light up a room, a laugh that is pure joy. He is smart, with a sneaky sense of humor. He is persistent, and always goes after what he wants. He is not afraid to fail, and he doesn't really care what anyone else thinks. He is simply who he is, and that's enough for him.

And for me. He is an amazing little boy, and I couldn't be more proud of who he is, or how hard he works every single day to make sense of a world that he doesn't always understand.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sleep ...

Sometimes it is so elusive ... and sometimes it simply crashes into him.

Sawyer has had a rough sleep pattern the last few weeks. The change of season and time certainly play a part. The rest is simply his internal clock, so different from the rest of ours.

There have been a lot days that have started around 4 o'clock in the morning. There have been a lot of nights with only five or six hours of sleep.

And then Saturday night there was the oddest of all, asleep by 7 o'clock one evening all the way until 6 o'clock the next morning. Sawyer doesn't do all night, and he certainly doesn't do 11 hours on any given night.

And now this, sound asleep at school by lunch time. Who knows how long he will sleep, or what, if anything, it might mean for tonight. A vicious cycle, round and round we go ...



Special thanks to Sawyer's teacher Mrs. K for sharing the photos.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Asleep By 7 o'clock ...

Asleep By 7 o'clock ... by here we wander
Asleep By 7 o'clock ..., a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
This really does not bode well for the middle of the night.

Three Brothers

Three Brothers by here we wander
Three Brothers, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Fall has always been my favorite time of year in our part of the world. It's that perfect balance between summer's heat and winter's cold. I love the bright blue skies, the changing leaves, and the general lack of rain. It is pretty close to perfection.

Today was one of those days. It was a little overcast, but still warm enough to be outside without jackets or even socks. The boys and I are not fans of socks, if you haven't noticed. They're all about the Crocs, and I'm all about a good pair of flip flops. Even in the dead of winter, but I digress.

It's another work day for Daddy, so that means the boys and I had the whole day to either drive each other crazy or find a way to entertain ourselves.

We had the requisite screen time this morning, while I took some time to sleep in and eventually wake up to the day. Then the boys played with toys for a while, until it turned into chasing each other all over the house and destroying their rooms.

That's usually my sign to take them out for some fresh air. And I was ready for it, too. All three boys love to go outside. Sawyer loves it most, but Connor's a close second. Xander either really loves it or really hates it, so he's my in between one. Today he was loving it like the other two, so we stayed out for a few hours.

Bouncing. Swinging. Coloring with chalk. It doesn't get much better for my boys.

I love to watch them play together, though it's never typical play. Usually Connor chases Xander and tickles him. Sawyer likes to be close, but not too close, to the action. He likes the extra bouncers on the trampoline, as it makes him go higher than he can go on his own. Of course, it also usually breaks down into tears and hitting, but I think that part is probably pretty typical for three brothers close in age.

Just another day in the life ...

A Night Out (with the Boys)

Three Boys by here we wander
Three Boys, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Too often, we hesitate to take the boys out. Connor is always willing and eager to go just about anywhere, but the twins are much harder to accommodate.

With Sawyer and Xander, it's hard to know what types of events they might enjoy, and even harder to plan for all the potential problems that might arise - big crowds, loud noises, lack of movement space, ability to bring along snacks or bribes. The list of potential problems can get pretty long.

Last night, we took the boys out anyway. Grammy and Pappy had made plans to go to a local rodeo that was in town, and asked if we might like to join them. While we thought Connor would like, we weren't really sure what to think about Sawyer and Xander. If there was lots of action and movement, they might be entertained. If it was loud and crowded, they might not.

We decided to take the chance. The rodeo was small, and the arena was enormous. That helped in terms of crowd and noise. But there was still the announcer on the loudspeaker to contend with. Both boys had their hands over their ears at times, Sawyer especially.

Of course, there were concession stands. And those can overcome quite a lot. There was cotton candy (only for Connor, the twins have texture issues with pure sugar apparently), popcorn and Pepsi. The Pepsi was the biggest hit. I had also come prepared with Goldfish, gummy worms, and even Twizzlers bites.

It lasted about two hours. The boys were pretty good the first half, but got restless the second half. The seats that closed when you got up were not helpful, especially for two little boys who are fascinated with motion. Sawyer was done about 10 minutes in, so he got lots of walks and room to dance around.

Connor wanted to buy everything in sight. He wanted an expensive cowboy hat (which he would likely never wear again), and he really, really wanted the light-up swords that the three little boys in front of us all had in their hands. Didn't happen. We told him to enjoy the show.

During one of the intermissions, some people crowded into our row to talk to some other people seated below us. That didn't turn out so well, as they were blocking Sawyer's path back in to the recently acquired concession stand treats. He may have reached out and slapped a little girl standing in his way. Yeah, that was fun.

But otherwise, the night went pretty well. It was not peaceful, I missed as much of the show as I actually saw trying to keep fidgety little boys seated and from screaming too loudly (it was not a quiet place, but still you don't want your kids to be the ones screaming the whole time).

Connor had a good time, and while it probably wasn't either Sawyer or Xander's idea of a good time, it was good for them. One of these days, they're going to have to go out into this world and find their way. It's not always fun, but they need to learn how to be a part of it anyway.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Toothless

Snaggle Tooth by here we wander
Snaggle Tooth, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
For the longest time, Connor's two front teeth have been extremely loose. He enjoys wiggling them back and forth, which is kind of gross and probably pretty typical of all little kids, especially little boys.

Last week one of them finally fell out. Connor was incredibly excited, of course, because that meant the tooth fairy was going to come and see him.

And the tooth fairy apparently is pretty rich, because he woke up to five dollars instead of his tooth. Perhaps the teeth have been so loose for so long that the tooth fairy was simply unprepared with smaller change. Perhaps.

Connor's smile is a bit off these days. The tooth that fell out was actually the second one to become loose. This oddly angled tooth has been loose for what seems like forever. But apparently the teeth coming in behind these two are wedging it into all kinds of odd shapes.

Here's hoping the tooth fairy gets to make another visit again soon. Because I'm not sure how much longer I can deal with watching Connor wiggle that one, oddly placed tooth.

A Day at School

What Noise? by here we wander
What Noise?, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
On Wednesday, the boys' school invited family and friends to enjoy Thanksgiving lunch with their kids. It was a big day.

Normally these type of events never work out quite right. Until last year, the boys had always been at separate schools and generally events seemed to fall on the same day at the same time at two locations in opposite directions. But this year, the stars aligned. Sawyer's lunch was at 10:45, Xander's followed at 11:15 and then Connor's was at 11:35.

And ideally I would have gotten a photo of each of the boys at lunch. But quite honestly, it was such a busy, loud place that I had trouble just getting the kids to eat, much less stop and take pictures. It also was really crowded, so elbow room for photos wasn't very ideal.

With Sawyer, I spent most of lunch attempting to have him to sit still and stop dancing in the crowded aisles. He also had a tendency to knock his food around, often onto the floor. While we have a five-second rule at home, this doesn't exactly apply at school.

Xander doesn't eat the school lunch like his brothers, being the pickiest of all three eaters. So he got to sit at his table first, and with the help of his school noise-blocking earphones, the even louder noise and chaos of the cafeteria didn't phase him at all. He actually ate all of his lunch and didn't have any trouble (which explains why I was able to snap his photo).

The problem for Xander came when it was time for him to leave. Because I was staying for Connor's lunch. He did not approve, at all. He was giving his aide all kinds of trouble, screaming and falling down on the floor. So I walked with him to his next location, knowing Connor was well entertained, as Grammy and Aunt Kelly had shown up to join him for lunch as well.

I missed a big part of Connor's lunch, but he was perfectly entertained by his classmates. He spent most of it laughing and being silly, and didn't really eat until the last few minutes when he started shoveling everything into his mouth. I'm beginning to see why he comes home so hungry, I think.

It was a good day. I got to see and talk to most of the boys teachers, as well as a few other classmates' parents. It's great to see the boys in a place where they are clearly doing so well and where they are in good and loving hands with their team. I always worry about the twins, since they can't tell me how their day is going or whether they are enjoying their new school. It was nice to see all of them going about their school day with a smile on their faces.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It Looks So Simple ...

Sweet Angel by here we wander
Sweet Angel, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
But it's not.

Sawyer has always struggled the most with sleep. Or perhaps more accurately, we have always struggled the most with trying to get Sawyer to sleep.

The truth is the kid really only needs about six hours of sleep on any given day. That's it. So when you try to put him to bed at a decent hour for a five-year old, say around 9 o'clock, that doesn't get you very far into the night.

Not once, but TWICE this week alone, he has woken up at just after 3 o'clock in the morning. One of those nights, he didn't even go to bed until after 10 o'clock the night before.

The time change has not helped, of course. But it's more than that. It's simply his internal clock. Apparently 3 a.m. is when he's ready to start his day.

The rest of us, not so much.

So it's a struggle to balance what he needs with what the rest of us need. And it's a vicious cycle that just keeps going and going.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Seven (In Pictures)








Seven



It has happened in the blink of an eye. My big boy just turned seven.

And lucky him, his birthday just happened to fall on election day, so he had the day off. Grandma and Grandpa drove up early. They offered to keep the twins so that Josh and I could take Connor out for lunch and to visit the new "super-secret" place that we've been hinting to him about for a few weeks. He has decided it's the "Christmas & Birthday Store," which seems kind of appropriate.

So we started off with lunch at Cracker Barrel. His choice, though Mommy would never argue. His first request was McDonald's, at which point I quickly and quietly suggested he might want to think bigger and better. And then we took him to the "super-secret" place, which was in fact his birthday present. We enrolled him in an indoor baseball facility for a year. It offers indoor space for practice (batting cages with or without machines, fielding practice, and also private or small-group lessons). He is all about baseball, so we figured it would be a good gift. He walked in and his eyes got big. He just stood there, not saying a word (and that's saying something, in case you don't know him that well). We got checked in and took our tokens to one of the batting cages with the pitching machine. He took 72 pitches, and connected on most of the later ones (it took him a while to get back into it, and the machine pitched a little bit faster than his coach did last season).

Our last stop of the day was something kind of different. Daddy is a firefighter. And every year the firefighters do a toy drive for underprivileged kids. We stopped at the store and let Connor pick out several toys to donate to the program. He wanted to pick up everything. Sometimes two of everything. Which was impressive, because he knew that none of these toys were for him.

Next up was speech therapy (no school on his birthday, but it was still Tuesday, and that still means speech therapy for both of his brothers). We dropped Connor back off at the house, where Grandma and Grandpa were going to stay with him, and we took the twins to their therapy. He got to spend most of that time playing outside in the back yard, enjoying the last of this week's warm and sunny weather on the swings and the trampoline.

And last but not least was dinner with the extended family. Grandma and Grandpa were there, of course. Grammy, Pappy and Grandma JoAnn arrived next. Then Uncle Brian and Cousins Austin and Kyndal. Aunt Kelly was working, but she stopped by yesterday with cupcakes and presents, and also stayed to play with the boys for quite a while.

We picked up pizza and wings for dinner. There was a Hot Wheels cake and homemade cupcakes (Connor helped with the icing and sprinkles). There were lots and lots of presents. A big marble run. An electronic bank that counts your money and encourages you to save. Cash. Baseball figures. Books. Lots of cards.

It was a good day.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Three Brothers

Three Brothers by here we wander
Three Brothers, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
It's a rare thing when all three boys sit down together to play. Today it happened, for several hours.

It was another beautiful fall day in our part of the world, and I was determined that it would not be another Saturday spent in front of screens (no matter how much Mommy might like college football). I may or may not have cheated with a movie at 6 o'clock this morning when Sawyer decided to get up for the day. But Mommy doesn't do 6 o'clock, certainly not on Saturdays.

The rest of the day was spent playing. We spent a few hours in the play room rediscovering toys. My first trick was to clean up a little and figure out what might interest the boys. They are pretty much incapable of finding anything on their own. Apparently organizing toys into bins means that they disappear. But I digress ... I pulled the trusty Hot Wheels track from the bottom of one of the toy boxes and spent some time reassembling all of the pieces. And then I had to get more batteries. Would it be incredibly wrong to ask people just to get the boys batteries for Christmas? Because that's really all they need to make their old toys seem new, and Mommy may or may not change them very often.

But anyway, new batteries were installed. And this is where the three of them quickly migrated, to the newly assembled and operational Hot Wheels track. They spent hours testing out cars, seeing which ones still had four functioning wheels and which ones could go the fastest while still staying on the track. Xander may or may not have enjoyed spending most of his time blocking or crashing cars. Connor and Sawyer were content to watch them go and go really fast.

And lest the picture above be too deceiving that the boys were playing harmoniously for hours, I feel the need to show you the following, which is more typical of their interactions ...



Next up in our day was to enjoy the gorgeous weather while it lasts. We moved outside for the next few hours. There was a lot of swinging, a lot of bouncing on the trampoline, and quite a bit of chalk coloring on the patio and on the wooden play set. There were attempts at tennis (don't ask) and fetch with the puppy (he's good at retrieving it once, but then he likes to just chew on it). We had icees and took lots of pictures of the afternoon.

And then it was time for dinner, a little more playing in the sun room while I cleaned up from dinner, then baths and bed.

And Mommy may or may not have turned the television back on for some college football (LSU at Alabama, that's pretty much a championship game that requires viewing). I also may or may not have gotten out the laptop to upload pictures and blog. Ahem.

The good news is the kids had a single movie of screen time (all at the crack of dawn when sane people are still asleep). And that was it. All day long. They played (albeit with some help and prodding and refereeing), both with toys in their play room and outside in the back yard.

And we all survived. My back might be a little more sore than normal. But I have a feeling this is probably my new normal, what with my having back surgery a few months ago and all.

Just another day in the life ...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Little Big Things

Just a wave ... it's quick, fleeting, and if you blink, you might even miss it. But it's there. A greeting. That's such a small thing for so many, but not in our house and not for two of our boys.

One day a few weeks ago this video appeared in a text message on my phone. Sawyer, with prompting (and instant rewarding) from his teacher, waved good morning.


Like I said, it probably wouldn't be such a big deal for most people.

But for Sawyer, it is.

He hasn't waved to us since this photo was taken.

That was January 2007.

He was just a year old.

Special thanks again to Sawyer's teacher Mrs. K for sharing - we feel so lucky to have the boys in another good school program with amazing people helping them on their journey.

School Days

Every day at school should include a little sensory time. Or a lot, if you can manage it. At least that's what Sawyer and Xander both would tell you. They're both inside of the tunnel, and perfectly happy to be there together. Sometimes it's the little things that make your day ...

Special thanks to Sawyer's teacher Mrs. K for sharing the photo (and the moment) from their school day!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Day at the Park

A Day at the Park by here we wander
A Day at the Park, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Another beautiful fall day in our part of the world ... so we took the whole family up to the neighborhood park for a little afternoon adventure.

I have a feeling these days are quickly coming to an end. We'll enjoy them while they last.

More photos are here.

School Pictures

The good news is there was no crying and fighting this year.

The bad news is that they are still standard school pictures.

Blue cloud background, fake smiles (or half smiles for the twins), and very little personality. We order them, of course, for posterity's sake.

But the school pictures are not the photos on my walls. Nope, those are snapshots. I like big brown eyes with the sky reflected back inside of them, spontaneous (or sometimes tickle-induced) smiles, and big belly laughs. You won't see any of those in school pictures.

But just in case you wanted to see those, too ...



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick-or-Treat

And They're Off .... by here we wander
And They're Off ...., a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Halloween. Connor has been looking forward to it for weeks. He picked out his own costume, was excited about it, and couldn't wait for the night to arrive.

The twins may or may not have been anticipating the night. It's hard to tell. They talk about it at school, and Xander will even say "Happy Halloween," but that's no indication of just how much he understands about the day or the night to come.

Grammy and Pappy joined us on our night of fun. Pappy offered to stay at the house with Cousin Louie and pass out candy in the front yard. The rest of us were going to take the boys down the street and back, and see how things went.

Costumes were our first challenge. Connor's went on easily, of course. He was a ninja, complete with samurai swords on his back. He was more than eager to play the part.

Sawyer was a soldier, and his costume went on just fine, but he kept trying to take it off. And when we wouldn't let him, then he thought it was time to go. Like RIGHT NOW. And he kept pulling everyone to the doors.

And then there was Xander. He kicked and screamed and cried and pulled it off more times than I care to count. And he only had a muscle shirt to wear over his other clothes. It was a struggle.

But once 6 o'clock came and it was time to leave, they all went out the door just fine. Connor running far ahead, Xander close on his heals, and Sawyer lagging behind. He likes to stay close, and as usual, likes to do things in his own time and his own way.

We got up and down the street with minor issues. The boys liked to ring the doorbell multiple time (annoying, we know, so our apologies to all the neighbors). They also were not opposed to just opening the front door if someone took longer than say two seconds.

Connor and Xander had it down. They were quickly looking for the next house with their front porch lights on, holding out their bags and saying "Thank You" after each offering, even if they sometimes forgot to say "Trick-or-Treat" first.

Sawyer was done after the first trip down the street. He was happy and fine, but it quickly lost it's appeal. He enjoyed a big green sucker, which seemed to be the highlight of the night, and was simply done. He stayed at the house with Grammy and Pappy while Josh and I took Connor and Xander on for more.

Connor actually gave out first. He was tired. He was whiny. And his costume was starting to annoy him. I ended up walking him back to the house while Josh and Xander made the final loop around the block.

Lots of candy. The boys seemed to have a good time, for the most part. It was fun to see friends and neighbors and their kids all dressed up.

Halloween is just one more reason we love the neighborhood we live in these days. Almost everyone has their light on, and even if they're out trick-or-treating themselves, they leaves baskets of candy on the front porch. It's a fun, family-friendly place to live ... and to trick-or-treat!

Snapshot Sunday (Tuesday)

Drama King by here we wander
Drama King, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Our little drama king.

Adventures of a Big Boy

Straight from the pumpkin patch back to the mountains with Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Brian, and Cousins Austin and Kyndal. Pappy calls it the "rough life tour" when we talk about Connor's adventures.

So here is Connor's weekend in the mountains in pictures (special thanks to Grandma from the lake for sending them while they are still vacationing the rest of the week).

By the creek, getting a helping hand from Grandpa.

In the creek, getting a helping hand from Uncle Brian while cousins Austin and Kyndal look on.

 In the pool with cousins.

 About to wreck his go-kart, apparently.

 And having fun with Cousin Kyndal on one of the kiddie rides.

Clearly it is hard to be Connor. Field trip to the pumpkin patch on Friday. Trip the mountains Friday afternoon. Back late Sunday night for school on Monday and trick-or-treat on Monday night.