Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Many Days of Christmas

There was early Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa, who drove up with presents for the boys a few weeks before Christmas. It took only a matter of moments for wrapping paper and candy wrappers to cover the floor.

There was Christmas Day at home, after Daddy made it back from his overnight shift at the fire station. A couple of sleepy boys (and one sleepy Mommy, who stayed up late wrapping the many presents we keep hidden in a closet until Christmas morning) rolled out of bed to open up presents. Again, in moments the floor was covered in wrapping paper and candy wrappers. Clearly we are a presents AND candy kind of family.

There was Christmas Afternoon at Grammy and Pappy's house with extended family. Lots of food. Lots of family. A gift exchange game. And presents exchanged between close family members.

The rest of our Christmas photos can be found here ...

Within just a few days, Christmas was quickly taken down and stowed away for next year. It was time to start packing up for the beach ...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fire Department Christmas Party

Just because it will make everyone smile ... Connor and Xander did pretty well this year. Sawyer was not really impressed. He just wanted to go back to the food. And the red Gatorade, as you can see from the ring around his mouth.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Christmas Fun

A gingerbread man by Sawyer (with Wonka candy, which is GFCF). A gingerbread Christmas tree by Connor. And a rice crispy train by Xander (also GFCF). All in Sunday evening craft session around the dining room table.

And just to keep it honest. There may have been some yelling during our evening of fun. You know, when little people kept trying to get up from the table with sticky or icing-covered fingers and do things like touch my camera, or the refrigerator, or the pantry, or anything that wasn't their craft. Or when they tried to walk into the living room covered with icing and candy-coated fingers. Yeah, there was that.

We survived though. And it actually worked out really well that Xander's train was the last one ready to work on. All three boys came over to help, which Xander wasn't sure he appreciated, but it was very cute to see all three boys working on the same project together.

Three boys. Three very cute and very different projects. A Sunday evening of fun.

Mommy & The Boys (Two of Them, Anyway)

Welcome to our new favorite restaurant, Red Robin.

You see, Red Robin has an extensive gluten-free menu, which means the twins can actually eat something besides french fries. Trust me, Wendy's and Chick-fil-a get really old, really fast.

One of my favorite things about Red Robin is that Xander has started requesting and eating a hamburger (on a gluten-free bun) with his french fries and Coke. This is a BIG step forward. Big.

Mmm, yummy! Xander says it after nearly every bite of his hamburger. And it's one of the cutest things ever.

Sawyer usually opts for the grilled chicken on a gluten-free bun. He eats the bun first, then shreds the chicken to eat it (discarding the pieces with black from the grill). He didn't make today's trip with us, as he was enjoying the indoor pool with his buddy M.

Connor has yet to try the restaurant's signature burger. On the last two trips, he's had spaghetti with french fries and today it was pizza with a side salad. Clearly he would prefer Italian. Although he actually requested Mexican as we were heading down the road to the restaurant.

Maybe he can hit up someone for Mexican when he goes to his martial arts classes next week. He usually gets some one-on-one time with one of us (Mommy, Daddy, Pappy or Aunt Kelly) who take him. Perhaps he can talk us into some Chipotle on the way home.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Waiting for Christmas

The Tree by here we wander
The Tree, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
A few years ago, when Connor was in first grade, one of his classmates came in an announced to a group of kids that there was no Santa, his mom had told him that it was just something parents told kids after they bought presents. Connor has been a skeptic ever since.

It doesn't stop him from wondering what he's getting mind you, but he just doesn't believe. That takes some of the fun out of it for us as parents, since he's the only one who really understands the tradition. The twins have never really shown much outward interest in the holidays. If anything, they tend to be annoyed and overwhelmed by all of the changes in schedule and general chaos that happens from Thanksgiving until early January.

Until this year. This year Xander has been excited for Christmas. He was happy to see the "pretty Christmas tree" come home when Josh and Connor came back from their annual visit to the tree farm to cut one down. He even wanted to (and actually did) help us with ornaments this year. He loves to push the two Keepsake sound ornaments (one of Connor's Hot Wheels racers and one is the countdown ornament that sings a Christmas carol). He's even started saying "Christmas tree, presents!" It's the first time he's expressed any interest in anything about Christmas.

So the holidays are a little more magical around our house this time around. Connor may not believe, but he's still anxiously awaiting the arrival of Christmas. And Xander may not believe or totally understand, but he's anticipating the day and understanding the events that will take place.

Sawyer still doesn't show much interest, beyond appreciating the twinkle of Christmas lights on the tree and on houses as we drive through town at night.

But that's something, too. He's noticing things around him, he's showing interest in his environment, and he's not upset by something being slightly different.

Magical, indeed.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Snaphot Sunday (A Little Late)

Sunset at the Lake by here we wander
Sunset at the Lake, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
It was taken on a Saturday night, so it should have been the Snapshot Sunday after Thanksgiving. Better late than never, right?

Thanksgiving Travels

Three Boys by here we wander
Three Boys, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
It's a long, long day.

We cross the state and circle back, eating two very large Thanksgiving meals in the process, before the day is done. We leave early in the morning and get home really late at night.

The boys handle it well. But it's a lot for one day. One set of relatives they don't see very often, and then thinking we are done. Only to stop to see another set of relatives they don't see very often. All with food that they want but can't have.

We managed to pack enough of their favorites to keep them from going hungry. We even tried to stop and get them some french fries in between, but they were not fans (for whatever reason).

Add to that the fact that we tend to attempt to dress them up a little from their usual sweat pants and t-shirts, and it just makes for a long, uncomfortable day.

But they survived.

Daddy's phone and Angry Birds may or may not have helped. When they weren't fighting over who's turn it was, anyway.

One holiday down ... one more to go.

Saying Good-Bye

No Picture by here we wander
No Picture, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
One of the wonderful things out the waiver program the boys are now participating in is the amazing people we have been able to find to come work with them.

One of the hard parts is having to say good-bye. Many of our community living support workers are students. They're finishing up various degrees and beginning their careers. Often in other places.

Xander's beloved B is graduating from her master's program in occupational therapy this Saturday. She leaving for her first of two clinical internships. So we had to say good-bye.

We are going to miss her. She's been such an amazing friend and teacher to Xander. We have seen so much progress and so much independence under her care. And she has taken him on so many fun, new adventures these last six months. It's going to be a long time before he stops asking for her on her usual days.

Days at the indoor pool. Afternoons at the bowling alley and arcade. Trips to the indoor climbing gymnasium (and their arcade). Rotating lunch and dinner dates at Wendy's, Chick-fil-a, Cracker Barrel and Red Robin. Eating his first real hamburger! Learning to play tennis on the courts. Going to the playground to slide and swing. Trying miniature golf for the very first time. Making his own plate at the kid's pottery place in town. Visiting the children's museum downtown. Seeing the Christmas lights at the big park. So many, many fun adventures ...

We wish B lots of luck and love as she continues on her journey. We are so thankful she was part of ours, even if only for a little while. She's always going to be part of "Team Xander" ...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Road Trip


Once a year just isn't enough. And the time always seems to pass much to quickly. But with busy lives, jobs and families of our own, we take what we can get.

Haley and I were college roommates. The computer matched us, and it did a pretty good job. We'll not talk about what it did the second year ...

Once a year we meet in her hometown, where her parents still live. It's the halfway driving point for her and for me. And her amazing parents are always wonderfully willing hosts and babysitters for her two girls.

We get to do a little shopping, a little eating, some drinking and lots of just catching up on each other's lives. Between us there are five kids - ages 9, 8, 8, 5 and nearly 1. She has all girls. I have all boys. Not a lot in common, but common ground just the same.

So grateful that my husband willingly offers to keep our boys at home for the long weekend. He even gave up his truck for the weekend, as mine was acting up and not up for the six-hour round-trip drive. So thankful that Haley's amazing parents always welcome us into their home and make sure we have a great time (dinners out, home-cooked meals, happy children playing while we catch up, and even a  trip to the circus for all of us the last day)!

Mostly, I'm happy that Haley and I have been able to stay in touch despite the distance, the busy lives and jobs and families. Good friends are just as important as family, even if we don't get to see them nearly as often.

And I got to meet this sweet little one for the first time ...

Good times ...

Birthday Boy

So ... we're running a little behind here on the blog. Our big boy turned nine last month. And because of the way the days fell, he ended up not with just a birthday, but an entire birthday weekend.

His actual birthday involved a trip to Cracker Barrel, his choice, with just Mommy and Daddy while Grammy and Pappy kept little brothers at home.

Grammy and Pappy actually kept the boys for us on Saturday as well. And Connor got to go with Mommy and Daddy to watch an SEC football game.

And then there was Sunday. Connor's birthday request was to actually go to a new indoor entertainment center that offers several fun things for kids to do. So we went. He got to ride in go-karts (with an adult, as you have to be 10 to drive on your own ... maybe next year)! He got to play arcade games. 

We saved the miniature golf for another day, as we had extended family in town waiting for a late lunch, cake and presents.

We picked up Buffalo Wild Wings on the way home, also his choice, and enjoyed a good meal with family. Cake and presents followed.

And that's the birthday weekend that was. It's hard to be him. Really.