Saturday, April 7, 2012

McQueens for a Day

In January, my favorite McQueens made a southern pilgrimage to the house of mouse.  We were so lucky that they took a day to come to Jacksonville to see us.  Despite the fact that it was a little chilly, we took the kids to the beach.  It was a fun day despite the bone chilling wind and freezing cold water.
Ryan and the Newhouse boys after a dip in the Atlantic.  It's hard to dig in the sand wrapped in a towel.
The McQueen Ladies and my best boy.
Molly and Nat - cheerleader & proud papa.
Sisters separated at birth who grew up in trailers in their grandparents' front yard.
Michael makes a castle, & Dee takes over the camera.  I've always been envious of her ability to take a great pictures.
Ryan and Moser no-longer-Poser.
Ryan gets serious about his work.  Dee and I both named our youngest child Ryan, and our middle children were born on the same day (a few years apart).  Poor Ian felt so horrible that he spent most of our day laying on the back seat of their van feeling like death warmed over.
Cold James and his pink nose.
Watch out Ryan, that sand angel is about to get a halo courtesy of Michael.
Best buds huddling together for warmth.
Sand sculptor extraordinaire.
Ryan and Molly take a turn passing the ball.
What a throwing technique.  Thank goodness Nat has good catching hands.
My papoose.
Ryan finds a puffer fish skeleton on the beach.  So much fun.
After the beach, we terrorized the local hidden gem - Chowder Ted's.  I think our (my) kids ran wild through the restaurant.  I'm pretty sure we might have gained a reputation.
Time for the McQueens to return to the Magic Kingdom - I think they might have a few stowaways in that van.
One last hug before they left.  We had such a good time with our McQueens.  I can't wait for us to get together again.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy to See You!

We left Tyler on December 26 at 5 a.m. eastern time, and we drove home with only two stops for the boys to stretch their legs.  By the time we made it home, the kids were so happy to be back in familiar surroundings with their things and their beds.  Michael went around the house greeting things.  Most especially his toys.  He'd tell each one "happy to see you, train; happy to see you, animals, happy to see you, horse."  
We left a pretty cold Texas and traded it in for a beautiful Florida.  We went to the park, and I dressed the kids in long sleeves.  By the time we left, all of us were sweating.  
Michael loved this sand box.  He kept sprinkling himself (and others) with sand.  I'm pretty sure I've still got sand in the car from this trip to the park.  We'd been to Sunshine Park with the Klocs and Jensens, and the kids had a great time, so we brought Daddy back with us.
James, as always, is a friendly guy and kept walking around visiting with other kids.  With Bob and I doing our "zone defense" in a fenced in park, it worked great.
Ryan is my pinkest child.  It doesn't take more than two or three minutes out in the heat for him to flush.  I'm sure he's going to hate this lovely feature when he starts blushing from shame or embarrassment.
James was most happy to have his horse back.  We go through phases of what the kids are really into and corresponding to what we watch on TV.  This was during a recent Secretariat phase.  He wanted to look like a jockey, and I guess Kermit's duds fit the bill.
Batman!  The kids are still in love with their superhero outfits.  Michael randomly declares himself Batman all the time.  Every once in a while, they will feel generous and switch superhero shirts, but it doesn't take long before each one wants "his" superhero back.
Zach & Mandy bought the boys an art easel.  I have removed any whiteboard markers, but I do allow chalk, and they love to draw.  Recently, Winnie the Pooh was a big player in our house, and during the "Backson Song," Owl draws a monster on the chalkboard.  Inevitably, during a Pooh watching there are several Backsons drawn on our chalkboard.
James sporting my sun hat.  I'm not sure that I'll ever get to wear it again since it has been claimed by triplets.
The band is back together.  The boys love to play their guitars, drums, and sing together.  I love how they coordinate all efforts.  Someone will decide it's band time (often Ryan or Michael), then they pass out the instruments, say "okay boys," and then count off.  It's absolutely hilarious.  Much grooving is done when there is a good song playing on TV.  Bruce Springsteen recently released an album, and Bob managed to get the boys (primarily Ryan who is our best parrot) to say "Bruce is the Boss."
Once we got home, we pulled out the wooden tracks Momo got for their birthday and added them to the ones they got for Christmas.  It's a bit of a chore to get the railroad together with all my helpers, so once it's up it tends to stay up for a while.
We all love to play trains.  Sadly, most of these sweet moments end with our toy terrorist stealing trains or refusing to share trains, beatings about the head and neck, hair pulling, crying, and a session of nose on the wall which may or may not lead to time in their beds.  I'm not the greatest at enforcing time out.  I probably let too much slide, but I do my best.  Occasionally, I have to pull out a spanking or two to get things taken care of, but for the most part, I don't have to discipline them too often.
One of the things that has been most exciting about the boys getting older is more freedom to go out and about.  I have learned that we must talk about our plans, expectations, and how we are going to act before an outing.  Once I give them the run down, they are pretty awesome.  We go to the zoo frequently by ourselves and have a wonderful time.  My current method of getting around is using the double stroller.  If everyone needs a seat, I lower the reclining seat in the back and stick two kids in that seat.  It works great.  If someone is unhappy and needs carrying or hugs, I put him on the handle bars, he grabs on to my neck and I hold his bottom and the handle as we stroll.  Most of the time, someone wants to walk.  Usually they do fantastic holding my hand, but I always use the backpacks just in case I need to keep someone close (typically my best runner - James).  Not only does this get the job done, it's easier to stay incognito with a double stroller.
One of our favorite Christmas gifts were all the Toy Story toys we received (thanks Ethan for showing us how much fun those kind of toys are).  Michael especially will take the whole basket to nap time with him.  I love how he says "Evil Dr. Pork Chop."  Recently, we've added the pork chop plane and a garbage truck to our collection.  I'm not going to mention how much fighting goes on over these two items, but I have considered purchasing a couple more.
We finally had to break down and find a doctor in Jacksonville.  I'm not sure if we'll stay there, but she's very nice and close to the house.  I miss Dr. Ghaffar.  The wait time was ridiculous, but all of our friends with small kids live so far away, and I'd like to find a doctor close to the house.  Ryan got another sty in his eye.  According to my internet research (gotta love the internet), stys are prone to returning in the same eye once you've had one.  This big guy took forever to disappear even after antibiotics and ointment.  Try holding a warm compress on the eye of a kid who is on perpetual go, and you'll wonder why all those fancy Star Trek medical advancements aren't real.
After Secretariat, Cars 2 with Finn McMissile became a HUGE player at our house.  My mom sent them lots of Cars toys for Valentines Day.  James laid claim to most of those race cars, and he really likes them.  Michael enjoys Finn and Sir Axlerod, and Ryan laid claim to the "hot wheels."  Ryan is very specific about which cars he wants and when he wants them.  There are special hot wheels that must be in his bed before sleep can occur.  He gives them names like his "Halloween Hot Wheels," which are skull shaped and reddish brown in color.
Michael taking a spin with the airport, an oldie, but a goodie.  When Bob went to NAMM, we took him to the airport, and for weeks, the boys talked non stop about Daddy going bye-bye on the airplane.
James puts the Dinosaur Train through its paces.  Around Christmas, Dinosaur Train was the be-all-end-all of shows.  It's still a favorite in the rotation, but Wild Kratts is now his favorite with the chosen episode the squirmy worms.  Michael is all about the Backyardigans clown episode, and Ryan is all Star Wars all the time (much to the delight of his father).
Grab the popcorn, it's time to watch Robot Monsters (i.e. Star Wars).  Ryan is his father's son.  He is learning at the feet of the master.  First, he loves "Brrrrrruuuuuuuuuccccccccceeeee!"  He's addicted to Star Wars and will go interrupt Bob during working hours to ask him to watch Star Wars.  As we watch the movies, Bob has pulled out his old Star Wars toys.  Chewbacca is known as "bacca the scaaaaarrrryyy wookie" if you ask Michael.  James likes the storm trooper robots.  Ryan has a wonderful gift of describing new things in the  context of what his vocabulary and understanding currently are.  He talks about Robot Dogs (At-At Walkers), the Snow Monster (the Wompa) which gets "hi-yaed" by Luke, he constantly is concerned about the fact that the froze Han (we are holding the Return of the Jedi for a bit), the different characters have snow outfits, and on and on it goes.  Of course as he learns the proper terms (which his father is careful to school him in), we lose those great descriptions, but I guess they have to grow up sometime.
Since coming back to Florida, I have tried to get more involved with our Jackpotts group.  We have started a Friday play group (which we really enjoy participating in).  Here, by my suggestion, we went to Sunshine Park.  It was a great place to visit with two parents not so desperate to engage in adult conversation, but with one parent and very mobile kids, it was a challenge to get to visit with my lady friends.  I prefer our house play dates that involve the kids touching other people's toys and Mommys talking about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
For some reason, I have forgotten that we live in the South and that I have given birth to boys.  I'm by no means a flaming liberal anti-gun activist, but I am not very comfortable with my two year olds being comfortable with guns.  I want them to think of them as weapons for extreme situations or as a means to provide food for the family and not everyday use.  I was always taught if you own a gun, you'd better know how to use it and be ready to TCB.  I'm not ready to TCB, so I prefer not to have my guns out and about.  My brother and I inherited some nice guns from my dad, but they are now at Grandma P's house.  I just don't want a footlocker of ammo and a mini-14 with three curious boys around.  Anyway, this mini-rant is here to say that at the park, lots of guns seemed to appear and be shared.  I do NOT understand why we bring extra toys to the park.  Is it so difficult to leave your gun in the car?  I bet it's not half as difficult as convincing James to return a borrowed gun and to leave the park.  I swear now, by all that is holy, I will not do this to other mothers no matter how much my boys beg.
In the last few weeks, the boys imaginations have really kicked in.  It is so amazing to see how they are comprehending, internalizing, and applying the things they are learning.  We watched a Wild Kratts about platypus eggs hatching and Michael spent all of the Easter Egg Dying trying to "hatch" the eggs.
My sweet Michael sitting with Mommy.  I love cuddling with my boys.  I know that when they are 40, I probably won't get them to sit on my lap, but I sure am enjoying having my snuggles now.
My baby.  I can't believe how big they are getting.  The other day, we measured the kids, and James is the shortest at 39.5 inches.  Ryan and Michael are both a smidge over 40 inches.  They are wearing 4-5T clothes.  How did it happen so fast?
The superheroes hold a convention in the dog bed.
Superheroes also have an artistic side.
Currently, Michael's namesake godfathers share an apartment at Baylor, and Uncle Stephen gave the boys these wonderful Baylor shirts for Christmas.  We have had lots of reason to show our pride and say GO BEARS in the last few weeks.  Hopefully those baseball Bears make us all proud as well.  I have a feeling that I might have to figure out how to pay for three private Baptist college tuitions unless the Gators convert them in the mean time.
My pah-fye-urr lovin' man.  We are trying to wean him off of the pacifier (half-heartedly).  He has started accidentally biting through the nipples and telling me that they don't work.  Hopefully this will help either make him more responsible with the one or two that "work" or encourage him to learn to live without it.  We'll see.  I've always said I don't care if he carries it to kindergarden in his pocket.  He's pretty much fine without it during the day if you take it away from him, but he can't seem to go to sleep without it.
Ryan is my most independent child.  He will decide he wants something and go get it.  He's gotten more and more clever, and I am running out of hiding places.  He is most deserving of his nickname "Eagle Eye."
I would describe Michael as a unique child as this photo of him laying naked on the floor with his blanket over him eating ice cream would attest.  He loves to read books especially the monkey book and Rise and Shine.  He is the best singer we have.  A rendition of the Veggie Tales theme song could last a half hour.  He will tell you if you are allowed to sing.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Newhouse Family Christmas

Early Christmas morning, Bob, the boys, Emma, & I headed back to Tyler for the Newhouse Christmas.  We started with a delicious breakfast prepared by Grandma before we tore into some presents.  Ryan made sure to visit "his" drums before getting down to business.
Time for PRESENTS!
Usually, the Newhouse Christmas is at our house, but this year, since our house is in Florida, Sue & John Paul hosted Christmas.  It was a strange year for us.  It was the first time I failed to decorate the house for Christmas, and we didn't even put up a tree.  Thankfully, we were surrounded by Christmas cheer all over Texas.
The boys model their Thomas outfits from Momo Campbell.  They really loved these vests, I'm not sure if it's Thomas or the vest that they enjoy the most.
Grandma & Grandpa gave us pirate hats.  Meet Pirate Captain James.  Instead of an eye patch, he's sporting a pah-fye-ur.
Pirate Captain Michael gets duded up.
The pirate and his Aunt Sue check out their booty together.
The stars of the Christmas Show.  This year, the boys took turns opening gifts.  They didn't argue over who got to open what.  In fact, I think Ryan and Michael ended up opening most of the gifts after a great deal of prompting from Mom & Dad.  I have a feeling that in future years, we won't have such a pleasant sharing of the gifts.
Grandpa, Ryan, and James play trains.
Aunt Sue & Uncle JP play Spiderman basketball with the boys.  They made sure that even though there is only one hoop, there were at least three balls.
Uncle JP demonstrates the finer techniques of basketball.  Ryan adores JP.  Anytime we talk about Aunt Sue, he always asks, "Where's JP?"
The dads hanging out, doing what they do best, watching TV.
The next morning, we got up extremely early, loaded Duke, Emma, and the kids in the car, and headed home.  We were so proud of the kids.  They did such a wonderful job.  We made it all the way home in one day (sixteen long hours in the car).  Bob and I were so proud of them.  I think they were so exhausted, that they just wanted to get home to their own beds.
Ryan trying to get someone to play with him.  Love that smile.