In December, our family has been exceedingly blessed. Bob has been able to spend much of the month at home with the kids and me (although as of now, he's going to be gone for the majority of January - if his current schedule holds, he'll only be home 3 days all month long). While he's away, I send him pictures of the kids doing all of their everyday things. This is a rare picture where all three kids are actually in focus. These little guys are always on the move. Ninety percent of my pictures are blurry or of the back of someone's head while they run on to the next intriguing thing).
I love that James is doing his Virgin Mary pose in this picture. The boys love their blankets. They would carry them everywhere if it weren't for parental intervention. Michael likes to hold his blanket to his face and chew it, Ryan has rubbed the tag on his blanket to shreds (I'm not sure what I'm going to do when this tag has been rubbed out of existence), and James likes to wear his as a cape/head wrap. They know which blanket is theirs, and there are often rumbles if someone dares to grab his brother's blanket.
Here are my happy boys on the couch with their daddy. The kids love TV. I've tried to limit the amount of TV they watch, but there is something almost magical about saying, "let's watch Yo Gabba Gabba" and having 30 minutes of peace and stillness. Most of the time, they have particular locations where they prefer to watch TV. Michael likes to rest his chin on the TV stand or on the little table beside the couch for his TV consumption. He chants "gabba gabba" and throws his arms in the air at the end of the opening credits. James likes to stand really close to the TV and cranes his head back. It is the most uncomfortable position I've ever seen. You can grab him, and he'll sit on the couch with you, but you must be careful to never interrupt his line of vision to the TV or there will be consequences. Ryan is a less avid TV watcher and will sit on your lap until he gets bored or distracted by some cool toy he likes to play with. Currently, he's been bringing me the camel, cow, donkey, and sheep little people from his nativity set so that I can make them "talk."
Here my boys enjoy a cookie with daddy while watching TV. Bob and I are doing our best to train them in the ways of all things couch potato. I have tried to feed them healthy, balanced meals with limited sweets, but the holidays demand a few tasty treats. The kids are great eaters, although as they get older, they are getting pickier. James and Michael will shake their heads no to certain items. Michael will also fling down the offending items that make their way onto his tray with great abandon. Ryan likes to do a full tray cleaning when he is finished with his tray, running his hands wildly around the tray with several flourishes of food flinging. Ryan clears his tray with style. All of the boys will rub their hands together to signal they are all done - they learned this neat trick from Grandpa Newhouse, and it seems to have lessened the amount of food that is left behind for the clean-up crew (aka the dogs - I would never want to have young children without a hungry pooch to do the heavy lifting when it comes to floor cleaning).
The boys favorite Christmas time activity has been to go see the Christmas tree. Before they go upstairs at nap time and bed time, they stop by the formal living room to admire the tree. They like to "rearrange" the ornaments (our tree is somewhat bare near the bottom and over time, the more sentimental ornaments have managed to migrate to the upper reaches of the tree). Here James shows off the drum that I got from Grandmama & Papa's house. I'm sure that this drum should be relocated and James is just the man for the job.
Michael stops to see what Mom is doing while on a quest to fondle as many ornaments and lights as possible. He has misplaced this pacifier (it's making me a bit crazy, but since we have a back up, I've been trying to let go, but my OCD is definitely impacted by the incomplete set).
Here Ryan is in the midst of saying his new favorite phrase, "how beautiful." Of course, when he says it, it sounds more like "how boooo." It is fantastic. I'll say, "Ryan, let's go look at the Christmas tree," and he'll say "how boooo." Lately, more and more things are "how boooo." The other morning, I came out of the bedroom with my PJs on, and he said "how boooo." That boy knows the way to his mother's heart.
My little Christmas elves doing a bit of redecorating. By Christmas Day, all three of them figured out how to turn the lights on by flipping the switch on the power strip. Those little monkeys are super smart. They are so observant. Tonight, we played rock band for the first time in forever. We thought we could give the kids non-working instruments and they would be happy. Sir James figured out that he wanted the guitar with the red glowing PS3 button and would not be satisfied with any substitutes and thus ended our foray into full family entertainment.
Still decorating. This year, I put the garland on the banisters, hung the mistletoe, and put out a couple of sit around things which the kids love to move about the living room. Their favorite Christmas sit-arounds are the two singing snowmen things Kathy got them from Hallmark. They LOVE those. Since they are soft and virtually triplet proof (if you don't count the broken candy cane ladder on one of them), we've kept them in the main room, and the kids like to push the buttons on them incessantly. I think they are amongst the things I'll be most happy to see go back into the attic.
Ryan spies the band. Every year, Bob's parents give him musical instrument ornaments (ironic, isn't it as we currently make our living selling similar instruments). Ryan likes for me to hold him up so he can see all of the guitars and drums and such. James also likes to see the band, but he doesn't get to see it as often since he likes to try and strum the guitars with their delicate strings.
Ryan does a tour of the tree looking for the perfect ornament to yank off the tree and relocate. I'm sure that he found the perfect victim - I mean ornament.
Michael gives the tree a thorough touching. He makes sure to touch each branch, light, and ornament precisely. Bob thinks that Michael might have inherited some of my more OCD tendencies. I say, it couldn't have happened to a nicer kid, and at least I'll have one son with a preference for specific pens and a love of organization.
James admires his booty. This red ball receives particular attention from the relocation experts. I think it's the combination of velvety fabric and tassel that makes it a fan favorite. I've been reluctant to take the tree down (I always hate to see it go, even if it is a fire hazard). I know the boys will miss seeing it, too, and I'm 100% positive that next year they will be happy to see it return.