Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pomp and Circumstances

May 14, 2011 is a day that I've dreaded for four years. When Joseph and Stephen graduated from high school in 2007, Bob and I both knew there was a chance that they would graduate at the same time and there would be no way we could attend both graduations. In 2008, Zach started law school - a three year program - and I knew the results could be tragic. They were. I would have loved for all of us to attend all three graduations, but it's just physically impossible to be in Waco, Houston, and Norman, OK at the same time. (This leads in to my new graduation worry - what if my kids go to three different colleges and all graduate on the same day - it's just too much to think about - they are all going to have to go to the same school so that I don't have to choose between my children).
In January, we found out that all three would be graduating on May 14. Bob, of course, would attend Stephen's graduation, my parents would go to Joseph's graduation, and as the genetically closest person to Zach in the universe, I got to go to Zach's graduation. We had hoped that each graduate would have a designated triplet, but due to Joseph's two day graduation extravaganza, Mom and Joe decided to opt out, and so Bob and his family took Ryan and James to Stephen's graduation. Michael and I headed south for the middle child's graduation.
Ryan tries to get Uncle Stephen, recent graduate, to help him fly while James looks somewhat curious about the potential outcome.
James sports Aunt Mellie's beads. I hear that he did a great job at the graduation. I'm sure that he was very content to color for a significant period of time.
Ryan doing what he does best - having a good time. Everybody needs to take a minute to stop and roll around in the grass.
The Newhouse boys with the grad. Note Uncle Stephen's sporty green tie that coordinates with his stole.
A proud big brother! We are so blessed to have Stephen in our lives. I'm pretty sure that Bob couldn't have been more impressed with how wonderfully Stephen has turned out. In the fall, he'll be returning to Baylor to get a masters in Sports Management. The scholarship he received puts him in charge of taking care of the Baylor baseball team. I wonder if he'll end up a coach or managing the daily operations of some major league team. Either way, I know that he's going to be very successful.
The happy graduate! I'm pretty sure Melanie's smile was bigger, and I know she's ecstatic that he's going to not only be the first college graduate but also the first advanced degree in the family.
Michael and I headed down to Houston to hang out with Uncle Zach and Aunt Mandy on Friday afternoon. Zach was actually in Haslet for an interview! We are all hopeful that he'll get the job lawyering and move back to the area. As with all good things, we have to wait to hear if he's got the job.
Michael and I had a great time just the two of us. I hope in the future to get to spend some quality one on one time with each of the boys. Michael was very happy to be at Uncle Zach's (in fact, today, we were looking at wedding pictures and he identified the back of Uncle Zach's head). The graduation was good, I guess. We spent most of the time there were speeches out in the lobby, but we made it back to the seats for the big event.
Uncle Zach's erudite pose.
The juris doctorate and his trophy wife.
The proudest sibling EVER and her genetically closest relative with her favorite middle child.
Sportin' Uncle Zach's funny hat.
On the way home on Sunday, Michael and I took the opportunity to visit Sam Sam Houston Houston. He was a little freaked out by the big face, but before we left, I got him to pat Sam's nose.
Someone did not want to have his picture taken in front of some strange giant statue.
Mom & Michael in front of Sam. Note that Michael is holding the cork from our celebratory morning mimosas. He held that cork from Houston until we got lunch in Waxahachie. No trip with Mom would be complete without an ice cream, so we stopped and got a treat before we got home.Unfortunately, there were no Newhouses at Joseph's graduation. The only consolation I have is that he'll graduate again, and I can go to that graduation. Mom, Joe, and Faith said that it was quite a shindig. Apparently on Friday night they had a lights and graduates show complete with fireworks and a famous speaker.
The next day at the actual commencement, Joseph really paid attention to the speeches (or at least pretended to). Apparently, OU's graduation for the school of liberal arts was pretty crazy as they graduated in pairs. I wish I could have seen it, but there's always next time.
Proud papa and sister post-graduation.
The ladies love Joey!
Joseph, college graduate! I am so exceedingly proud of him. In the fall, Baylor will get another uncle. Joseph will be doing a five year doctoral program in English. With both Joseph and Stephen in town, I'm sure there will be at least one or two visits to Waco.
When Zach graduated from college, I got him a sword. Seemed like an appropriate gift for Joseph as well - here he assumes a beat-down stance and challenges Bob to a duel (of course Bob was in Florida, but that's neither here nor there). I am so glad that the graduations are over, and we are so proud of our Uncles!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reunited and It Feels So Good

Recently, the family attended the 2nd NICU reunion. It was held at Nash Farm, and the boys had a wonderful time. They did it up big with a bounce house, pony rides, lots of food, and Ryan's favorite - choochootrains.
Here are our three hanging in a tree. They had such a good time running around and exploring everything. It took Michael a bit to warm up to the bounce house and the pony, but I'm pretty sure all three had a great time.
Bob, the kids, and I took along our posse to help us corral the kids. Mom, Faith, Jim, and Kathy made sure that it was all hands on deck. We got fingerprints from the Grapevine police, and Ryan was definitely the best at getting printed. Hopefully, he'll only need to be printed again for something fantastic like being admitted to the bar or for security clearance for the CIA.
The bounce, or lay around and let others bounce you, house was tons of fun. The boys really liked jumping. At first, only Ryan and James would go in, but on our second time around Michael actually climbed up on his own. I had to grab him out quickly to pull off his shoes. I guess he just needs time to warm up to the idea of something new.
James is a first rate jumper. He likes to land on his butt and bounce. He also likes to jump jump on the bed as well. All three of the kids have just learned how to jump. For the longest time, they would say jump, lift their arms and kind of bounce on their toes, but now they can actually leave the ground - especially in their beds. Those crib rails make fantastic holds for crazy jumping. You can hear the springs on the bed squeak as they go higher and higher. I'm pretty sure one of them is going to vault out and do a flip in the air cementing his prowess as a fist class gymnast.
The horse was definitely a hit with Ryan. He loves to ride his horse at home, and he was fascinated by the actual horse.
James enjoyed his time on the horse. He did such a great job holding on. I can't believe how grown up they are getting. It wasn't that long ago that I had to hold on to them for dear life when they rode the carousel, and now they can ride a pony without assistance.
There was a ton of food, and we fed the boys well. I was so excited about the cupcake, but one of the kids dropped mine icing side down on the floor, so I was denied the tasty goodness. James loves the icing on cupcakes. I'm pretty sure he doesn't care one bit about the cake, but the icing he's all over. Michael did enjoy eating and drinking juice, and after we had a little snack, his attitude started to change.
Michael makes an appearance in the bounce house while Daddy watches all the tricks the boys can do - like standing up and sitting down.
James goes rogue and checks out the cow behind the fence. I tried to get a picture but neither James nor the cow was willing to pose.
Daddy takes a turn escorting the pony. James cried and tried to return to the pony when we made him get off. Thankfully there were tractors to ride for a distraction.
Michael did NOT want to go on the horse. The guide told me that we should just try walking around and he would settle down. It worked, but when the ride was over, Michael didn't waste much time dismounting.
Tractor time! The tractors served as a great entertainment while we waited for our turn on the choo choo. James will drive anything with a wheel just like Ryan will play anything that he can pretend is a guitar, and Michael will count whenever possible - he can make it all the way to 4 by himself.
Ryan is always poised for action. Even when sitting on a tractor, he's always about to take off for some new adventure. He absolutely loves riding in the car identifying all the trucks and cars which he says byebye to as they pass us or we pass them.
A tip of the hat from farmer Michael. The boys got these hats from Baylor, and they love them. Michael likes to make our horse at home wear the hats when he's done wearing his.
Aunt Faith takes the boys for a ride on the train (James is between Ryan and Faith - you can see his legs if not his head). After this first ride, we went several times as the crowd thinned out and lots of room became available.
Last year, Faith took the kids on this same train, but she had to take them one by one and hold them. This year, all four of them rode together and the boys loved every second of it. We probably wont be in town for next year's reunion, so it was wonderful fun to see everyone. I saw my neighbor from antepartum that ended up back in the hospital with a blood clot in her leg after her beautiful little girl was born. We were so happy to see each other and to see how wonderfully well all of our kids are doing. Looking around, you would never guess that those kids started life off a little small and in need of lots of care. It just makes me realize how wonderful it is to live in a time where kids born months early not only survive but thrive. How blessed we are!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

G'Night Campers!

Last weekend, Bob and I decided to take the boys to the camp. We invited Jim and Kathy along to enjoy its rustic flair and to help us corral the kids. They worked extremely hard, and Bob and I appreciate their efforts on our behalf. The last time we went to the camp, it was 4th of July, and we sold our house. Sadly, it was not our good luck charm a second time, and we are still trying to find someone to live in our beautiful dream home so that we can move to Florida and commune with alligators. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Grandma, her new sporty ride, and a fallen mimosa tree. The boys had a great time, and we stayed outside in the tent so that we could have a little family adventure with the kids. The first morning, Michael discovered we were in the same location and spent about an hour climbing on top of us at 4:30 as I tried to sleep. James crawled in the bed and snuggled with Daddy, and Ryan roamed around the tent for three or four minutes before he realized that Bob and I were in there with him. The kids had a wonderful time, and so did the rest of us. Grandma was, as always, a gracious hostess, and for the first time, I brought the food and planned the meals. I think it went pretty well. On Saturday, the kids spent the whole day exploring.
Except for the part of the day when it rained, and they sat on Momo's bed and watched YoYoYo. Enraptured, there's no other word for it.
Michael and Daddy discuss how to go up and down the stairs carefully. By the time we left, they were pros.
Ryan makes the climb. That candle on the shelf suffered quite a few mishaps as Ry tried to remove the "balls" from the garland around it. My Momo Chapman would have loved to see that.
Ryan sports the party hat.
Tiny Tom Sawyer.
James gives Daddy a push in the right direction - it's time to explore!
The boys hanging out on the dock. If my Popo could see this dry dock, it would make him sick. While we were at the camp, Bob and Jim tried to put the shed back to Popo acceptable conditions. He had shelves and fishing rods labeled and little notes everywhere. It's good to know that OCD runs in the family, and that I'm not the only one who loves a labelmaker. We found Popo's good rod and reel marked with a paper plate that said "Do not use. JFC." Makes me tear up just thinking about it.
Into the woods.
Ryan takes time to roll around on the ground while sporting the new beads Momo brought him.
Momo and Michael exploring the woods.

Grandpa gives James a ride in the canoe.
Michael on walkabout with his best friend and his Momo.
Ryan tends Momo's weed (ahem, herb) garden.
Ryan and Daddy test out the 4-wheeler.
Three little riders before the trauma (Michael must sense that something is about to happen as he has a definite pout on his face).
Ryan takes the reigns from Daddy while his brothers close in on his prime position.
Michael knows that all true great men keep their blankets with them when mastering fine machinery.
James throws up an arm and rides that bull, I mean that 4-wheeler, like a champ.

This is a very triplet video. At first glance, it's just one kid doing a Tyson on another, but you must watch closely to fully understand the true brilliance of these 18 seconds. A little background, Ryan had the 4-wheeler to himself, but his brothers wanted to ride too. Michael got the front seat, James got the back, and that left Ryan in the middle. The quickest way to get rid of Michael was to bite him, but by being the Mike Tyson of the group, Ryan also was removed from the vehicle. The man to watch in this is James. When Ryan bites Michael, James claps. He knows that they are going to have to get off the 4-wheeler, and he will be left to ride it like none other. Nicely played, James, nicely played.
James and Grandma play solitaire. Well, it started off as solitaire but became James plays with cards.
Riding the 4-wheeler with Daddy. James and Ryan really loved it, but Michael took one trip around the circle then called it quits. Michael sure does hate noisy things, and the 4-wheeler is pretty noisy.

One thing about being the camera woman, you sometimes forget that your inane conversations are also recorded while you chronicle those precious life moments.
James attempts a nap time jailbreak. Thankfully, he is too short to reach the zippers on our "two-person" tent. (Bob and I recently set up the tent to see if it would fit in Zach's house to contain the kids. He told me it was a two person tent, but I'm pretty sure this tent is much larger than Zach's entire living room. We fit a queen air mattress, a kids tent (5'x6'), and still had room to walk around. I've never owned a tent that you can stand up in, so this is definitely luxurious camping).
Momo and Michael relax on the porch. Michael enjoys a slice of watermelon. Good times.
James takes a trip (or should I say a scooch) down the stairs. I'm sure that he has the dock in his sights. One of the few benefits of the water being abysmally low is not having to worry about the kids falling off the dock and drowning.
Ryan and Michael need a little ice to cool off from all their running around.
The boys help Daddy put new ice in the ice chest - a very important skill passed down from fathers to sons the world over.
Momo & Ryan go on walkabout once again. Note our tent palace placed strategically next to the fallen mimosa tree and only slightly on the downhill slant. One of the reasons we went to the camp was to meet with the guy who used to work with Bob and had our new territory. We went to dinner at the Fin and Feather with him and his girlfriend. We had a very nice time, but while we were gone, the boys ate, took a bath, and then the Grands put them to bed. Almost immediately, the wind started to blow so hard the tent was folding in half, and the Grands moved the kids inside with their little tent. The kids refused to go in their tent, and we ended up breaking the zipper trying to shove them inside. This meant Bob and I moved everyone back into the big tent in hopes that the kids would settle down and go to sleep. It eventually worked, but around 1:30 a.m. Ryan woke up and was extremely restless. He and I went inside to get some milk. He then proceeded to throw up on me - hitting my mouth, my hair, filling my bra with chunks of "yuck," and making it all the way down my shirt to my PJ pants. Needless to say, he and I spent the night in the recliner. Thankfully, the next morning he seemed fine and had a nice day. Tragically, I only packed one vomit covered bra and had to go all 1972 feminist all day (something I don't mind doing in the privacy of my own home, but definitely makes me feel self-conscious about swinging low in public). We had a wonderful time and managed to avoid tragedy when Momo found James' blanket and we met on the road and retrieved it. We also stopped by and saw Uncle JP and Aunt Sue on our way home, so overall, it was a great trip even if it included a $40 barely consumable meal at the DQ.