Sunday, July 22, 2012

May Is Ptomey Time

Not long after we left Texas, my parents and Faith came to Florida for a visit.  We had such a wonderful time.  We mixed a bit of touristy stuff in with hanging out around the house.  For our first stop, we left all the boys at home, and the girls headed out to the Kingsley Plantation.  It was such a neat place.  We had a private tour thanks to one of the wonderful park rangers, and Mom and I loved it while Faith said it wasn't as bad as she thought.
An afternoon amongst all that history made me simultaneously miss teaching and want to become a park ranger.  I debated about including a long historical narrative here but decided it might get too lengthy, so I'll save it for the kids - it's never to early to learn the lessons of the past.
It was fun to learn about some of the Spanish/English heritage of our new home state.  It's strange to be somewhere where Remember the Alamo and Sam Houston mean nothing.  We forced Faith to pose for lots of pictures which she grumbled about but will one day appreciate.
Mom, Faith, and I in a tiny, tiny slave cabin.  The white material these are made out of is a material called tabby made from sand and seashells.  It was really amazing that these structures have lasted as long as they have.
Following our day at the plantation, we took a drive south down A1A to admire the big houses and to see the beautiful beaches in the Guana Tolomato Matanzas Reserve.  
Not only did we make a quick stop at the beach, we also went to Marineland to see the dolphins.
The boys loved how the dolphins would come by and wave their tails at them.  Our little beach bunnies love those sea creatures.  They are obsessed with the Turtle movie made by Sea World and Dolphin Tale.
Papa Joe enjoyed the view of both the beach and the kids communing with the dolphins.
Grandma and her hat enjoyed watching those dolphins frolic almost as much as the boys did.
Michael gives Grandma a tour of Marineland.
We spent a lovely afternoon enjoying the beach and the dolphins.  On Saturday, we went to Huguenot Park where you can drive your car on the beach.  They boys enjoyed driving right up to the water and having watermelon at the car.
I'm pretty sure that given the opportunity, James could eat his body weight in watermelon as his slightly red face and ring around the collar indicate.
Ryan and Daddy having chips.  By this point, Grandma had drug Michael behind her through the water, and he refused to go back in and spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out in the car and talking to Papa Joe through the window.  When we had our special date, I had to promise Michael that I wouldn't let him fall in the water before he would go in.  Since then, he's returned to full water baby.  Thankfully, Grandma didn't scar him for life.
The beach bums having a snack before heading back into the water.  By the time we left, the tide was coming in and the water was lapping at our wheels.
We got a lot of looks driving down the beach headed for the exit, and Bob was starting to get grumpy that people were staring at us (he is much more sensitive and aware of people noticing our triplets than I am - I tend to be blissfully oblivious).  He looked in the rear-view mirror, and all the boys were wearing their stormtrooper masks from Star Wars.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of it.  It must have been a pretty funny sight to see - a suburban with three stormtroopers riding in carseats.
Not only did we have lots of outings while Grandma, Papa Joe, and Aunt Faith were here, we also had a couple of family events with the Newhouses including a Mother's Day shrimp boil prepared by the menfolk while the ladies went to get pedicures (I could get used to that!).
During our sojourn outside, James stole the camera and started taking pictures.  He did a pretty good job on this shot of Ryan despite the slight finger on the left.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize that James had taken the camera and had to search the backyard for it.  I found it near the play house, thankfully.
One of the best parts of being outside is the opportunity to shoot Robot Dogs (AT-AT Walkers from Star Wars) with your gun.  The boys run all over the back yard shooting at them and playing like they are Han, Luke, and Ben.  The obsession my children (especially Ryan) have with Star Wars is borderline ridiculous considering they are only three.  Ryan refers to me as Princess Leia.  "Princess Leia, I'm hungry; Princess Leia, I've got poops, etc."  I must call him Luke Skywalker, or he will tell me "I no Ryan, I Luke Skywalker."  James has always been "my Han Solo" while Michael spent a little time being Chewbacca the Scary Wookie but was later renamed Ben because Michael didn't want to be Chewbacca.  Bob is "my Darth Vader fadder," Jim and Kathy are "my Uncle Owen and my Aunt Beru."  Uncle Joseph is the snow monster, Grandma & Papa Joe are medical droids, and depending on the day, Uncle Stephen is Yoda.  We are quite a Star Wars family.
All of the boys enjoy Star Wars, and Bob has several action figures from his childhood that the boys love to play with.  James loves Boba Fett and "stormy troopers."  Ryan is all about Luke Skywalker with a dash of Han Solo, and Michael is all Jabba all the time.  
Ryan letting everyone know where to find those pesky robot dogs so that they can go and save Princess Leia.
A vacation at our house just wouldn't be complete without some strange mundane task to accomplish.  The boys had a dentist appointment so Mom and Faith came along while we sent Papa Joe and Grandpa out to go fishing.  After the appointment, we picked up Grandma Kathy and went looking for something new and fun to do.
We found a great pirate park right off of the river.  We were able to walk out onto the floating dock and see the tiny fish and the guys illegally fishing from it.  We saw a pelican up close.
Ryan loved getting to give the globe a little spin, and James kept his eyes peeled for scurvy knaves on the attack.
After we'd been there a bit, the boys noticed a rather large puddle in the parking lot.  They had a blast rolling around and jumping in the water.  We didn't have any extra clothes, so after we drug them out of the water kicking and screaming, I put clean diapers on them and we headed home.
Whether in the ocean, the back yard, or jumping into a puddle, it's never a dull moment with these boys.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

April May Lead You Home

In April, Bob knew he would have a couple of trips back to back.  When he realized that, my wonderful husband suggested that the boys and I take a trip back to Texas.  I was so excited by the prospect, but a little nervous about going cross country with the kids on my own.  My biggest fear was how to use the bathroom on the road with the kids.  I know that it's ridiculous, but being upon the throne is a very vulnerable position to be in public with three kids running around inside a tiny stall aching to break free.  It's a frightening prospect.  Believe me.
The first leg of our trip was 12 hours.  Bob and I got up around 3 a.m., loaded up the sleeping babies, said goodbye, and the boys and I headed out.  We drove over six hours before we made our first get out of the car stop four miles from the Mississippi state line.  The boys did great.  We stopped at a small gas station next to a busy travel plaza.  I changed diapers and immediately realized we were no longer in Florida.  We had packed a Florida wardrobe - shorts and sandals.  I dug out the one pair of jeans I brought for the kids and the one long sleeve shirt.  The bathroom went well.  We held hands, walked into the store, I peed really fast, and we headed back to the car.  We were back on the road in 45 minutes.  I think I'm still patting myself on the back for that one.  The next time we got out of the car was at Momo's house 
The boys immediately found the ladder leading to the zip line Uncle Frank had installed in the backyard.  Hours of fun climbing and making Mom worry ensued.
The three man crew climbs the ladder prompting Mom & Momo to lower the ladder for the safety of the crew and the sanity of the adults.
Ryan loves to listen for the ocean.  He went through a phase where he would listen to cups, buckets, random shallow dishes, all in an attempt to hear the ocean.  He was so happy to find the shells in Momo's backyard.
James & Michael take a listen too.  We definitely do things as a group.  If one kid does it, the other two are not far behind.  The boys did such a wonderful job on the drive, but once they made it out of the car, it was full steam ahead.  We had such a nice time playing in the backyard.
Momo's best chef, Ryan, gets in on making some dinner.  After dinner, we headed out to take a drive to put the kids to sleep.
I was not sure how the sleeping arrangements would work, but Grandma sat with the sleeping boys in the car while I ran in at WalMart and bought three sleeping bags.  The boys love their "Nemo Cars" beds.  Over the course of our two week trip, we got into a pattern of the boys falling asleep with me in the bed, a stealthy move to the sleeping bag, and an eventual return to my bed.  I think it was the two worst weeks of sleep I've ever had.
While we were on our Louisiana stop, we met up with my best buddy from elementary school who I hadn't seen in twenty years.  Carrie and her boys met us at the playground in Lake Charles.  The boys loved this park.  It was fenced and not too crowded, so it worked out great for our guys to play there.
After the park, we stopped and got snow cones at the world's best snow cone stand that I frequented as a child.  Sadly, I forgot to order my favorite grape/cherry combo as I was flustered by the fact that my husband locked our dog in the house and put the child safety lock on before leaving the state.  Oops.  Thankfully, a trip to the hardware store and a talented Grandpa freed Duke from the horrors of having to go without a meal.
Momo put a small step ladder under this tree so that Ryan could "climb" it.  It is possible that we watch too much TV, but Ryan told me that he was a "hungry hungry herbivore like Dinosaur Train."  Our new friends liked climbing up our ladder, too.
Since I wasn't 100% sure about our trip, I didn't want to tell my mom and get her hopes up.  After keeping it to myself for a while, I decided to tell the rest of the family, but surprise mom.  Luckily she's really gullible, so I called while I was on the way from Grandma's to Mom's and told her that I was just leaving playgroup in Jacksonville.  When we knocked on the front door, she was so shocked that the kids just pushed past her and went directly to the toys in the living room.
Uncle Joseph came up from Waco, Uncle Zach & Aunt Mandy came over to visit with us, and Grandma, Aunt Faith, & Papa Joe were so happy to see us.  Almost as happy as we were to see them.  Aunt Mandy & Aunt Faith both did an excellent job of keeping our arrival a secret.  They were quite proud of themselves.

Uncle Zach and Uncle JoeJoes introduced the boys to the controller fake out as they played Mario Kart.  James adores racing games (shocking, I know).  He and Ryan were both so happy to get to play with the uncles.

On Sunday, we went to church at Shepherd of Life.  We are still looking for the right fit here in Jacksonville, so it felt so nice to walk into our church home and see some of the people who have meant so much to us over the years.  After church, we met Aunt Mellie and went to the track to see the horses.
Usually, when we go to the races, we have a big group of people to help us contain the kids.  Aunt Mellie, after years and years of Joe wrangling, is a pro at child entertainment.  We did great just the five of us.
I'm pretty sure that Melanie is the biggest spoiler of the kids.  She arrives with treats, toys, and a "let me make all your dreams come true" attitude.  The kids associate her with Chuck E. Cheese.  Every time they see a CEC ad, they say "we went there with Aunt Mellie."
Ryan and Aunt M getting their love on.
James was in horse heaven.  We were right at the fence near the gate.  My little observer of details noticed that the guy leads the horse into the gate, the gate makes a ching noise, the bell rings, the gate opens, and then they are off.  When we got home, James and Michael used their horse, led it and the rider into the hallway door, pulled the wooden chair with slats like a gate in front of the opening, then made the noise the gate makes, and moved it out of the way and yelled "and they're off."  Ryan is a big player in this game as well, but James and Michael have it down to an art complete with the horse bucking and refusing to go easily into the gate.  It's quite show.
Michael loves popcorn.  He kept dipping the popcorn into the coke.  GROSS.
We took a day trip to see our Baylor uncles in Waco.  The boys still talk about the baseball stadium.  We were able to watch a little bit of batting practice, and Uncle Stephen made sure everyone got a ball. They had a blast.  We watched the Baylor baseball team as they went through the playoffs this summer, and the boys loved rooting for Uncle Stevie and their Bears.
Since all but one of the boys uncles have attended Baylor, I think that unless one of these Florida universities makes a big impact, they might have to fulfill the family Baylor tradition.  I always wanted to go to LSU because my Uncle Kent (and my great grandma) went there.  Maybe our guys will end up Baylor Bears.  Who knows what the future holds.
Ryan learned what it means to "feed the beaver."
Posing with the bear statues was so much fun.  Uncle Joseph is just starting to settle into his Baylor status.  He still has mad loyalty to his beloved Sooners, but I think he's starting to embrace the bear.
Uncle Stephen teaches the boys how to ride "bear" back.
Uncle Stephen had to finish working, so we made Uncle Joseph take us to see the real bears.
Those bears are true Baylor bears - why be out in the hot sun when you can be inside your air conditioned lair.  After the bear watching, we went back to Uncle Joseph & Uncle Stephen's apartment to visit and watch Star Wars.  They have a nice little place despite the current cricket infestation I've been hearing about.
Before we left Haslet, our good friends Riley and Mykayla (and Lainie) came to see us.  It was so great to see them.  I think Riley grows a foot every time I see him.
Mykayla showing off.  She is so precious.  It's hard to believe that between Lainie, Anne, and I, Mykayla is the only girl we've managed to produce.  She is the undisputed princess.
We spent most of our time at Grandma & Papa Joe's either fishing in the living room (Papa Joe is determined to get someone in our family to care about fishing) or playing outside on the trampoline or tractor.  I had such a great time seeing my family and friends.  Poor Bob missed out, but he'll be making the next trip with us, and maybe we can convince Grandma to keep the kids while we go see some major league baseball.
From Haslet, we headed to Tyler to see Aunt Sue & Uncle JP.  Ryan is still JP's biggest fan.  The boys had a great time, but the first night, they were pretty upset that our long drive did not lead to their beds.  They all rushed the door at bedtime and tried to go to the car to go home.  The next day, they had a great time, but two weeks is pretty much the limit of their tolerance for being away from the familiar.
Aunt Sue's birthday is in early May, so we brought her a cake to celebrate.  The boys LOVE to sing happy birthday and lick candles.  I'm pretty sure they could do it professionally.
We went to the fancy Sonic playground in Tyler.  It was one of the nicest playgrounds I've been to AND they bring you food when you press a button.  Heaven.
We spent a good while playing at Sonic and playing outside at Aunt Sue's.  She and JP have blackberries growing around their house.  The boys really enjoyed picking and eating the blackberries off of the vine.
Uncle JP lost a lot of quarters in this machine much to the delight of his nephews.
Perhaps the best thing about Texas is riding lawnmowers.  Both Papa Joe and Uncle JP are quite willing to give the boys tractor rides.  Ryan would spend all day riding on a tractor, but for some reason, Michael refused to try it with Uncle JP.  Michael just seems to need time to warm up to an idea. I've learned that anytime we do something new, Ryan goes first, then James, and Michael goes last.  He just needs the time it takes to figure out what is going and decide how he's going to approach it.
The trip from Sue's to Jacksonville is 14 hours.  I thought that was just a little too long to attempt on our own, so we headed back to Louisiana to see Momo.  The trip from Tyler to Sulphur was pretty awful.  Ryan and Michael spent the whole time fighting.  The boys were all a little sick, and the amount of snot that flowed from Michael's nose was truly alarming as he and Ryan went at it.  I actually had to pull the car over and deal with them.  Thankfully, it was the only bad hour of the trip, but I thought I might have to kill either myself or them.
The kids had a great time everywhere we went, but I think they liked Momo's house because it was all triplets all the time.  Mom said that when she went to Grandma's in May, she took mom around the backyard and showed her everything the boys did.  I'm pretty sure the adoration is mutual between the boys and their Momo.
I have such wonderful memories of my great grandparents on both sides of the family, and I hope that they boys are able to have many, many years of fun times at Momo's house.  One of the drawbacks to having kids at an advanced age is that there aren't as many great grandparents around.  I am counting on Grandma to stick around for the duration.
We spent Tuesday hanging out with Momo (who looks so much like my Momo - her mother - in this picture that I have to do a double take every time I see it).  On Wednesday, we got up at 4 a.m. and drove home.  The ride went well but it was not as lovely as the first leg of our journey.  We were so happy to be home.  I'm pretty sure Duke & Emma missed us almost as much as Grandma & Papa.  Bob was still out of town when we got home, and the boys were not too keen on that even though we'd talked about it several times on the ride home.
On Saturday, Daddy came home, and our little family was reunited once again.  It's always good to go on an adventure, but it's even better to come back home.  I was so happy to see our crib tents that I kissed them.