Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Beach Boys

Last weekend, Bob and I loaded up the kids and headed south to Houston to see my brother Zach & his wife Mandy. We haven't stayed with Zach since before the boys were born, and the last time we stayed with them, my beloved Jeep got stolen (it was found, but we had to sell it to buy the suburban so that we would have a car all of our kids would fit in). Therefore, when Zach & Mandy invited us down for the weekend, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend some quality time together. Our original plan was to take the kids to the children's museum, but when I found out that we had to pay for the kids, Bob and I decided that there was no way the kids would appreciate the museum enough to justify the cost. Zach & Mandy suggested we spend the day in Galveston.
After a stop at Walmart to grab some sunscreen and sand toys, we headed out for the beach. The boys took a little nap on the way to the beach, so when we pulled up, they were raring to go. I brought swimsuits with us, but we headed down to take a walk on the sand before I changed the boys pants (this was my first mistake quickly followed by leaving the sunscreen in the car).
As soon as they stepped on the sand, the boys started checking things out. James would stop every couple of steps and try and pick up the sand in his hands.
Ryan was eager to go everywhere. He wanted to play in the sand, go in the water, check out the kites that the other beach-goers were flying, pick up the dead jellyfish, and get into anything and everything.
Michael liked walking on the sand, but he really liked scooping it up and putting it in the bucket (or in his mouth, whichever he felt needed more sand). He was the last to go into the water, but by the time we were ready to go, Michael had conquered quite a few waves.
Daddy and Ryan contemplate the seaweed and water while Mommy hopes that his shorts remain dry. Good luck with that, Mommy.
Michael, still scooping sand, refuses to even look at the water while all that yummy sand is out and ready for a little tasting.
James loves squishy things between his toes. He tries to have the best of both worlds with a little water and a little shoveling.
Ryan finally cons Daddy into the water - shoes and all. This boy is not afraid of anything, and he was dying to get his whole body wet. Note that the pants are starting to get wet, and that unprepared Mom has yet to put his swim trunks on him.
Uncle Zach takes control of the big shovel and James, Aunt Mandy holds down the fort with the sand castle builders, and Daddy does his impression of my son John - one shoe off and one shoe on - while I focus on getting as many pictures as possible.
Digging Duo - the Newhouse boys know how to move some sand. I tried to show Michael how to sift the sand. He preferred to focus on his shoveling skills. I'm not sure how long he squatted in that position, but I'm pretty sure that there is no way on earth I could squat like that for as long as he did without my whole bottom half going numb. It's truly tragic what age and eating with relish does to us.
Ryan and Michael get up close and personal with the sand while James frolicked in the waves.
More digging to China from young Michael. Ryan displays his adroit skills and master shoveling techniques.
Finally, Michael stands up and Ryan squats. Due to Michael's obsession with the sand, he was the last to completely ruin his shorts.
The family at the beach. I didn't manage to get that shot of all five of us standing for a "candid" shot in front of the breaking surf, so I'll just have to settle for this much more accurate portrayal of our outing.
James and Mandy are having a great time. Smiles all around.
Finally, James has some badly smeared sunscreen on. We decided to leave their shorts on so that we would have dry clothes to wear to lunch. I have an extra set of clothes in the diaper bag, but only one extra set. I guess being a mother of three kids, I should have three outfits, but that sure does make the diaper bag heavy and takes up room for diapers. Oh well, I guess I'd better bite the bullet and get three outfits in there.
Swing low, sweet seat of pants, Ryan is trying to show his stuff. Tragically, these shorts were already too big, and the grandmas sewed the fronts to make them more fitted, but the material just couldn't hold up to all that sand and water. They started dragging low on everyone.
Daddy shows off his sand castle skills. I say a sand castle shaped bucket is cheating, but you gotta go with what works.
Michael, ever industrious and focused continues his quest to master the sand both on the beach and in his mouth.
I love this shot. Three little monkeys showing off their Target brand diapers and having the time of their lives. This picture makes me think if we end up in Jacksonville near the beach, that might not be so horrible.
Michael squints into the sun but is having so much fun. I love the little dimple.
Still concentrating on digging, but his tell-tale wet pants speak of his foray into the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe this summer we can visit Momo and take a drive to Holly Beach - one of my favorite places to go as a kid and formerly one of the dirtiest beaches in the world prior to the hurricane. Since the hurricane it's been a no swimming zone, but you can't spend the day crabbing without a brief stop at Holly Beach.
Ryan and Uncle Zach wait in line for some tasty grub at The Spot across the street from the beach. The kids were starving and luckily I had a few animal crackers and goldfish in my diaper bag to stave off three "I need food NOW" meltdowns.
Poor James was so tired and grumpy. He wanted to get his goldfish by himself, but since I left our previous goldfish container at some random restaurant, his little hand doesn't fit in this container. Very frustrating for a tired young man. We finally found a table, and The Spot has a condiment bar. While we waited for our food, Michael ate a ton of sliced tomatoes, Ryan had pickles, mayo, and ketchup, and James had several pickles as well. It was very nice to have seafood on the beach, and after we finished lunch, the troops loaded up and headed back to Houston.
Here James sports his bamboo cane. We had to stop Uncle Zach from burning it to bits the night before. James was very excited to tromp around the backyard wielding his cane. The phrase "none shall pass" definitely comes to mind.
Ryan, needing to spend a little more time in the water, hangs out in the pool that the neighbors lent Zach & Mandy. I admire Mandy's friendly nature. She always knows who all of her neighbors are. Bob and I have lived here four years and only really know the neighbors across the street. I guess we are either shy or anti-social.

James and Aunt Mandu survey the backyard making plans for shenanigans. Bob, the kids, and I had a great time with them, and I think they enjoyed having us there as well. Maybe sometime in the future, Aunt Mandy and Uncle Zach can make us a cousin to play with.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Three for the Road

Since the boys started moving on their own, it's been harder and harder to get pictures of all three together. Generally, we only get a 3 for 1 shot when they are either sleepy or restrained. I'm not sure about Michael & Ryan, but in this picture James looks ready to pass out.
Here the boys are waiting for their high chairs at Mimi's. The lure of coloring on those place mats is just enticing. I can't believe how grown up they look sitting in the booth like this. I can just picture the three of them sitting in a booth ordering their own food. Time just seems to keep flying by. I'm pretty sure it was just yesterday that they were tiny, helpless little babies who slept most of the day, and now they can tell you that they want more milk and want to color.
Breakfast time! We have definitely hit the picky toddler stage. I'm pretty sure James hasn't eaten meat in weeks despite my urging. When Michael doesn't like something, he just tosses it off the tray (or puts it on Ryan's tray), and Ryan will eat anything as long as he can dip it in some type of sauce. The other day, he ate an unnatural amount of mayo on a lettuce leaf.
This is the kids' favorite pass time. James and Ryan especially love to draw and color. Michael also likes to color for a bit, and all of them will crawl into their chairs on their own now.
I love Michael's hair in this picture. He constantly has his hands in his hair. I'm pretty sure that if we shaved him bald, he might die on the spot.
Here the boys pose with Grandma on her birthday. After she blew out her candles, Ryan and James made me relight the candles several times so they could "blow" them out. I think if we practice a little bit, they might actually blow out their own candles on their second birthday.
Since Bob has been home for two whole weeks, we decided to celebrate by taking a road trip to see Zach & Mandy in Houston. The boys did fantastic. They didn't sleep much, but we were able to make the entire drive without stopping. They are great travelers.
While we stayed at Uncle Zach & Aunt Mandy's house, the boys slept in a tent. We practiced at home first, and it was a wee bit traumatic for the boys and for Mommy. The first nap time was a chomp fest with Michael leading the fray. I snuck upstairs to watch them through the mesh in the top, and Michael was taking his blanket and attacking his brothers, covering their heads, and then biting them. He is the kind of guy that likes to keep the joke going even when it's only funny to him. By the time we got to Zach & Mandy's the kids did pretty well in the tent. They busted out on Saturday morning, so on Saturday night, we had to zip tie the zipper so that they would remain inside. Overall, it was a great road trip, and we had a blast.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Go, Ryan, Go!

Kinetic energy, according to wikipedia & my 12th grade physics teacher Mrs. Matthews, is the energy an object possesses due to its motion. I'm pretty sure if we could bottle Ryan's kinetic energy, it would power the entire Texas energy grid. Ryan is always in motion. Bob says that he literally bounces off of the walls. He climbs, runs, jumps (although he doesn't actually leave the ground, he just bounces up and down and says "jump"), crawls under beds, and goes anywhere he wants.
I find most of Ryan's pictures are slightly blurry as he is always moving and the iPhone camera doesn't seem to capture motion as well as it does the more sedentary subjects. Ryan loves to read. Usually when he reads to himself, he pulls all of the books out of the basket and spreads them around himself. His favorite book is still Goodnight Moon, which has made it's way to his bed. He reads it to himself every night. It's pretty cute to hear him talking to himself while he's flipping the pages of his book.
Ryan has great musical talent. He likes to play the xylophone, the keyboard, and his guitar. He has a mean drumbeat, and his favorite thing to do at Grandma's house is "play" the piano. He is a very sweet little boy. All three of the boys amaze me at their thoughtfulness in regards for each other. If one of them goes to get milk, he'll bring his brothers milk. They share and hug and generally make me proud to be their mother. Of course, there are still lots of quarrels over toys and other things. For the last few days, we have been practicing sleeping together in a tent. We are going to Uncle Zach & Aunt Mandu's for the weekend, and this is the first time we will be traveling since the boys can climb out of their cribs. In order to keep them wrangled, we have purchased a small tent. We figure that since they are used to their crib tents that they would feel comfortable in a tent, and it could protect Zach & Mandy's stuff should anyone get the desire to go exploring in the middle of the night. The first nap time with the tent almost drove me to drink as young Michael is a bit of a bully when left to his own devices. They did much better in the tent at night time. I guess exhaustion is the way to curb the fighting. This morning, only James came down with noticeable bite marks, and hopefully tomorrow it will be even better.The boys love to drive. They will tackle anything with a wheel attached. Ryan loves Papa Joe's tractor. The other day, he helped me move the car from the driveway to the street (since we park the burb in the garage, any time we want to go somewhere with the kids, we have to shuffle the cars around). He sat on my lap and helped me steer. Let's just say that I don't think he'll be getting his license any time soon and that I've never had that much trouble moving a vehicle 20 feet. Today, Ryan and Michael spent a good ten minutes playing in the Suburban when they followed me to the garage to get a drink. I'm not sure if this is just general boy behavior or if we need to lay off watching the movie Cars.
Ryan might just be a firefighter when he grows up just like Anne. Well, maybe. Ryan does seem to be fearless as of right now. He will climb the outside of the stairs and get himself "stuck" in all kinds of interesting places. Today, I found him in the fertilizer spreader in my parents' backyard. He is brave, but he is also prone to hurting himself. Ryan definitely displays his status as the youngest when it comes to getting hurt. It's always a wee bit dramatic with wails, gnashing of teeth, and rolling about on the floor, but as soon as he gets a hug from Mommy, he's off to his next adventure. I must admit that I find his antics endearing. Of course if he's 13 and still pumping out the drama, I might have to reconsider.
Outside is Ryan's ultimate destination. He will throw a huge fit if someone goes in or out of the backdoor and he's not allowed into the toddler paradise. He has observed how to open the screen door and tries to turn the knob on the lock himself. Thankfully, our door is a little tricky and he hasn't quite mastered the technique or I'm pretty sure we'd never see him indoors again. Last weekend, Bob tested the sprinklers and the only one who loved running through the sprinklers was Ryan. In fact, we were outside when Bob briefly turned on a section of the sprinklers and Ryan was most irritated when they abruptly turned off.
In general, Ryan is very laid back. He rarely starts fights with his brothers, and his patient demeanor won him the coveted middle position in the high chair line up - enabling him to steal from two brothers' trays. When wrestling, he usually ends up on the bottom, but he has quite a jumping belly flop move that can knock the wind out of unsuspecting inhabitants of the floor - human and canine.
Ryan has gained the nickname "Mr. Longfingers" as there is no location which is safe from his wandering hands. He will roll his zebra ride-on toy or train over to the tall part of the bar so that he can reach what he wants with minimal effort. This has made for some interesting items being illicitly obtained. Today, Longfingers was in the kitchen when a glass lid magically fell on the floor and shattered into millions of tiny pieces.
Here Ryan appears satisfied with his rock band guitar, but don't be fooled, he definitely wants the guitar AND the mic.
My sweet prince reading himself Goodnight Moon. Ryan is such a smart little guy. He puts things together faster than I could imagine. While Bob was out of town, we did several video chats. Ryan would bring me the computer and say, "Daddy." He likes to stand on top of your feet and check out whatever you are doing. He will point to the cabinet where his colors are and then run to his chair to get settled in for coloring.
Toothbrushing is a very important skill to have. Ryan is usually the first to spot the toothbrushes and demand an opportunity to practice good oral hygiene.
Writing in your journal is serious business. The boys all love to color and use their pencils. I used to let them choose their own colors, but they start squabbling over the designated colors. When possible, I've always given James red, Michael blue, and Ryan green. Ironically, that's the color they pick first. I guess I predestined them to like those colors. They like other colors as well, but they don't like their brother using their designated color unless it was a gift he chose to bestow upon said brother (for example, James and Ryan like to switch colors because Ryan likes to use lots of different colors and James is a generous soul).
Now that we are getting closer to two, the boys are getting much better with their utensils. Every once in a while, they even eat off of plates on the table rather than on their trays. They love to use their forks, but occasionally, Michael will put the food on his spoon or fork, then pick it off and eat it with his hands. I guess old habits die hard. Ryan is the king of the finish and toss. When the kids (especially Ryan) are finished with a meal, they like to toss the offending items remaining on their trays onto the floor - this problem is especially exacerbated by the dogs. Today, Ryan and Michael were eating pineapple out of the tupperware. They would eat a piece and then "share" one with Duke. Very thoughtful and generous boys, they are.
Ryan does like to give hugs and cuddle. He will stop for love. Here he gets a good cuddle with Grandpa, the originator of second breakfast. The other day, Ryan got mad at Grandpa for finishing his cereal (despite the fact that he gave half of it to Ryan who sat in the chair next to him at the table and demanded alternating bites). What can I say, the boy likes to eat, he definitely comes by that one honestly.

Last weekend, Bob's sister Sue and JP came for Kathy's birthday. Ryan was in fine form showing off all of his mad skills. He does like to perform for his admirers. My favorite are his stellar dance moves. The arm waving and bouncing are exquisite. He loves music of all kinds, and one of his favorite things to do is to hold the iPhone and dance to the music, and if he's feelin' it he'll sing along. He loves to strum Daddy's guitar, too. Maybe he'll be a famous musician. (Or learn enough guitar to impress the ladies and become a world famous rocket scientist). Either way, I'm pretty sure he'll be on the go.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Michael, Man of Beads

As they are getting older, each of the boys are exhibiting definite individual personality quirks. Michael LOVES to play games and to pester people. At dinner the other night, he pinched Kathy, she jumped and let out a little cry. Michael then proceeded to tease her for the next ten minutes. He gets a mischievous gleam in his eyes and goes for the gusto (much like an older Newhouse male who should probably remain nameless but contributed half of his DNA).
Taking full advantage of Aunt Faith's bed. Michael loves to laze about on the bed. He typically tries to lead one of us to my locked bedroom door in order to go relax on the bed for a bit. The door is locked because otherwise, we'd never get the kids out of our room.
Thanks to Amy, Michael occasionally likes to put things in his shirt and walk around with them. He will try to do it himself, but inevitably, I have to place it just so, in order to keep the item firmly in place while he walks around showing it off.
At Grandma & Papa Joe's house, Michael loves to jump on the trampoline. He did not approve of all of the people at the birthday party bouncing around and refused to even get near the bounce house much less get in it. Michael is somewhat shy and hates large crowds - even if it's a large crowd of ten kids.
Running wild through the backyard. Since the weather has warmed up, we usually head outside for a few minutes every day. It's gotten to the point that you can't say the word outside without following through or else three large wails will assail your ears. While outside, the kids entertain themselves in a variety of ways, but Michael's favorite is to sit on the big swing (he refuses to sit in his baby swing) and allow you to push him.
Here, Michael gives the much neglected Duke a pat. All dogs are "dukes," and this happens to be their favorite Duke. Depending on how much credit you give him, Michael's first word could have been Duke, but it happened so early that I'm not sure if it was just a fun sound to repeat or an actual word, so the jury's out.
The little drummer boy. The kids absolutely love this drum and all of the musical instruments we keep inside. I'm sure that as they get older, they'll still love music. Hopefully they will have more musical talent than their mother. I like to sing, but not many like to listen, and that is the extent of my musical ability.
Speaking of singers, Michael seems to know his way around this microphone. I believe that this microphone was stolen by Ryan then clunked Michael in the head as he tried to retrieve it thus promptly ending our family rock band night.
This picture I took with my new iPhone with flash. It's pretty cool, and I am hoping to get some higher quality pictures. The real camera seems to do a much better job (as it should), but that darn iPhone is so convenient that most of our pictures end up being taken by it.
Michael is happy to have good dental hygiene. I'm pretty sure that he enjoys rubbing the toothbrush on his swollen back molars more than the actual tooth brushing, but a mom will take what she can get.
Michael is most easily bored with coloring. He does like to do it and has branched out from drawing single lines across the page to full on scribbling, but he does tire of it much sooner than his brothers which leads to his writing implement and his paper being tossed to the ground in disgust.
Michael was the first of the kids to throw up this past week. He didn't feel good for quite a while. A day or two later, we thought he was fine, and we went out to eat at a restaurant with my grandma. Michael proceeded to throw up in his plate before the food came (James threw up afterwards and managed to get some puke in my pants pocket - oh the smells). Here he is looking pretty puny but very sweet.
King of beads. We did a little exploring with Daddy in the media room this week and found these old Mardi Gras beads in a basket of toys I used to keep for Faith. Michael loves these beads. He likes to put them all around his neck (sometimes several times with each strand making me very nervous). He is such a ham running around the house sporting his colorful Mr. T look.