Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Predictable Play

The boys indulged in snow cones at the snack bar!

After swim class, we ventured over to a nearby park: Forest Park. What a find! The park had it all: two playgrounds, a pool, a miniature golf course, a carousel and (drum roll) a snack bar. (You can just imagine what the boys loved most!) When we arrived at the park, the boys rushed out of the car. They're totally predictable; I knew once they jetted out of the vehicle exactly where each boy would land first.

Caleb and Connor gravitated towards a pack of boys near the slide. The pack embraced the boys and Caleb seized the leadership role. The boys settled on pirate play (good pirates, that is!). They sailed their vessel (slide) among the rough seas (mulch) scouting out bad guys (girls) while protecting their booty (silly bands).

As for Cooper, he jumped onto the rotating chair first, of course. Keep in mind, Cooper gets motion sick. This little fact never stopped him from seeking out equipment with maximum rotation and extreme movement. Once he started twirling, I held my breath and thought, "Why didn't I bring extra clothes." But he completed about a hundred rotations successfully and then scooted off the chair. His face appeared a little greenish and he began stumbling around like he just walked out of happy hour, but in typically Cooper fashion in a matter of minutes he's back leaping off play equipment and thundering down slides.

Collin, my dog lover, rushed towards the nearest pooch shouting "woof, woof." Collin adores dogs.. a little too much! He treats dogs the way I've seen older siblings treat new baby brothers or sisters. He grabs, hugs, swats, pulls and smoothers until I'm sure the dog just wants to roll over and play dead. Gentleness is a learned skill, and we're not quite there.

Forest park was wonderful, and nice for the boys to engage in the familiar at someplace new!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Swim Successes

With summer camps a memory, we've moved onto swim lessons this week. Caleb and Connor are taking a week's worth of private swim lessons from a family owned swim school operation. This is the second year Caleb has participated in the lessons. Last year, he progressed immensely in just a week and even seemed to become fond of his instructors (no small feat!). Still basking in Caleb's successes, we eagerly signed Connor up for lessons too.

The boys willingly entered the pool and latched onto their male instructors. Both boys seemed to be listening and attempting to master the requested skill. Connor happily blew bubbles, back floated and made arm circles and leg kicks in tandem (sans instructor) in the shallow portion of the pool. Moving on, Isaiah propelled Connor to the deep end and requested Connor repeat those same skills.

Connor immediately panicked. He began to cry and begged the instructor to return him to the shallow end. Isaiah remained firm and insisted Connor attempt the learned techniques. I stood poolside, anxiously awaiting Connor's response. After shedding a few more tears, he flipped onto his back allowing Isaiah to cradle his head. Then he outstretched his arms and raised his belly. He was the deep end...and practically on his own.

By the end of the lesson, I witnessed Connor jumping into the deep end, front crawling to his instructor and flipping into back float position practically on cue. I was bursting with happiness just by observing Connor's newfound confidence. He swam to the side and emerged from the pool. I greeted him with a bear hug and told him I was proud of him. He replied, "That was fun."

I'm pleased that Connor is learning to swim, but I think the best lessons he's learning from the week transcend the pool. He's learned to face his fears, overcome hurdles and then relish the successes that come with a little confidence and hard work. I'm proud of him for how he acting in swim lessons, but for reasons that don't even involve water!

(Sorry no pictures today, I was too involved in watching the lessons to think about pictures!)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Happy Helpers

Most days I feel a sense of accomplishment just by getting the dinner dishes squared away. But as I gaze around my house, I'm well aware of all that needs to be done. Somedays I choose to shield my eyes from any dust and grime just so my mental to do list can remain dormant for just once!

Today I decided to tackle a few projects. First in the queue: weeding the flower beds. (I'm not sure you can even call them flower beds anymore; I think the flower surrendered to the legions of attacking weeds!)

I decided to enlist Cooper as my assistant in evicting our unwanted guests. Cooper's shown an interest in gardening, and I reasoned it's never too early to groom the boys for yard work! (With four sons, Chris and I continue to hold out hope that at least we'll have free yard work someday!)

After about an hour of "weeding," I think we successfully uprooted about ten weeds. My fellow gardener, Cooper, proved to be a little high maintenance. And, his sidekick Collin threw in a few extra challenges. Here's how it went:

Me: O.K. Cooper. See how I pull the weed from the root. Do you want a try?

Cooper: I need a shovel out of the garage.

I retrieve the shovel from the garage. (By the way, he requested the snow shovel!) Then, I notice Collin bustling along in his Diego trike dangerously close to the road. I fetch Collin and reposition him near our work.

Me: O.K. Cooper, let's see if we can get the next weed out.

Cooper: I need gardening gloves.

I snatch a pair of gardening gloves from the garage. Collin is again closing in on the street. I run to his vehicle, situate his trike along the weeds, and begin again.

Me: Cooper, can we pull out just one more weed?

Cooper: I don't want flower gardening gloves. I want the blue gloves.

I exchange the gloves. Now, I'm beginning to think Collin's bike may have a magnetic pull to the road as he scurries away from the weeds moving quickly towards the street.

At this point, I call a halt to the gardening and we head into the kitchen.

Cookie making is the next task at hand. This is one job that elicits several volunteers. The boys happily assist me in retrieving ingredients from the pantry and dumping the contents in our mixer.

The recipe calls for dry ingredients, baking soda among them. Cooper offers to retrieve the bag. I start to sweat! You see, a 13.5 pound Arm and Hammer baking soda bag (thanks to Costco) occupies a shelf in our pantry. I was very hesitant to purchase such a ginormous bag. Historically, staples inadvertently (and sometimes advertently) take a tumble in our pantry, splattering the contents all over the floor. But I adore baking and knew it would be used.

As I suspected, Cooper tipped the bag. White powder cascaded over the side and fell into a heap on the floor. I peered at the powdery white mess with sadness and a little irritation.

Right at that moment, Caleb piped up, "Mom, leave the baking soda on the floor." He continued, "If our house is robbed, we'll catch the thief's footprints in the white powder and then we can identify the bad guy from those indentations." Clever thinking, but the powder would have to be cleaned.

After the cooking, I put a halt on completing any more tasks. Despite our efforts, I think my to do list elongated a little bit with all my "help!"

Friday, June 25, 2010

Show Time

Cooper having fun in the morning!

This afternoon I took the three older boys to Toy Story 3. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more: the boys or me?

Every time I go to the movie theater, I wonder whether it's worth the money. Won't Netflix offer the same flick in just a few weeks? But, there's just something magical about watching a movie IN the theater. I'm sure the theater "treats" have something to do with the appeal. The boys and I always split a tub of buttery popcorn. Sometimes the popcorn is paired with a fizzy gallon-sized sprite (a huge treat for boys whose liquid intake rarely deviates from milk or juice!). At this point, I'm not sure they even need a movie. I imagine they would be perfectly content to just guzzle popcorn amid swigs of sprite.

But once the theater darkens and the first preview begins, a hush falls over the boys. They are mesmerized with the two story screen and the amplified sound. I'm sure their little minds are thinking, "And we thought TV was pretty amazing?"

Toy Story 3 was adorable. It chronicled the journey of Andy's toys in their quest to discover their ultimate home. Amazingly enough, Andy is preparing for college in this movie and his toys may not make the same journey. The movie centered on children growing up and everyone around (toys included) adapting to that change. While watching the movie, I teetered between laughing out loud to holding back tears during some of the truly touching moments. (I know what you're thinking...isn't it just a cartoon?)

At the end of the movie, Cooper occupied my lap with his legs swinging over my knees. I was clutching his arms with my palms. I could still feel squishy baby fat shrouding his biceps. Just feeling his gushy flesh gave me comfort. He's still so little and I'm in no rush for that to change!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

House Party

Cooper on the slide before they decided to add the garden hose!

The boys had camp again this morning. By the afternoon, we were scratching our heads, pondering just what to do. I offered some suggestions, but each idea was dismissed and no consensus could be reached. By default, that meant an afternoon at home.

I was a little bummed. Sometimes taking the boys out of the house is easier than keeping them within the confines of our walls. At home, the boys seemed to get bored easy. Once bored, mischief and roughhousing quickly follow suit. Sometimes I yearn to just place them in the car so they'll all be fastened into one place, unable to destroy a room or pound on a brother.

But the afternoon was actually quite pleasant. The boys crafted their own water slide by rigging the garden hose onto the play-set slide. Once the slide became amply moist, the first boy positioned himself on the slide's apex. The slick surface made each boy whiz down the slide in rapid succession. I think the combination of speed and potential for injury made it that much more appealing to each boy.

After about a zillion slides and some sore tushies, we took a break for a little TV time and dinner. As soon as the last bite was consumed, we headed outdoors to maximize on the sunshine and outdoor play. This time the boys and I competed on in a series of running races. I was fully prepared to let them win or at least put up a good race. But, they actually were pretty fast. I felt a little winded just trying to keep up with my three year old!

After Connor took a tumble on the cement and blood began to gush, we brought the party inside. Connor is the son that will milk an injury for all its worth (probably gets it from his mother!). Of course, I love to cuddle. So, I nursed his injury on the couch with Wheel of Fortune blaring from our TV. Slowly, the other boys and Chris trickled around the screen. Pretty soon, the six of us were snuggled on the couches shouting out letters and attempting to solve the puzzles. Intermittently, Chris and I would bicker over whether the hostess was really Vanna (we finally agreed it was actually Vanna...with a little work done!).

The afternoon and evening taught me fun can be had at home. Sometimes, enjoyment is best found in the simple things...slick slides, driveway races and Wheel of Fortune.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I had a babysitter scheduled for this evening. At 7 p.m., his mom showed up on our door steps a little frazzled. Her babysitting son had been in a car accident. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt, but the car was a little banged up. (The whole interaction made me think our current bickering issues were going to seem trivial compared to what challenges may arise in less than a decade!)

I told his anxious mom to go home. She needed to spend time with her son, and my plans could be altered. Then I broke the news to the older boys, "No babysitter." I followed up with a recap of the accident.

(Funny sidebar: During my discourse, Connor ask if he should sing a sad song. I asked him why. He said in all the sad parts of movies a sad song is playing in the background! His comments made me chuckle!)

The boys were practically in hysterics upon hearing the news: no babysitter, just mom. You see, babysitters are a big deal to the boys. Babysitters do things like let them watch TV for hours. Babysitters don't balk when they ask to play an endless amount of electronic games. Babysitters give them "midnight snacks" at 7 p.m. Babysitters let them eat sugary treats...and drink juice with a meal...and bring snacks in front of the TV. Why wouldn't they love babysitters?

Although it's hard to compete with my teenage counterparts, I offered the boys a couple of "treats" during bedtime. We're not a family that easily deviates from routine, so something like this is shocking and welcomed (generally) by the under eight crew. The boys did partake in some "midnight snacks" (as my non-time telling sons referred to it). Frosty O cereal and bagels smothered with creamy peanut butter served as a precursor to our bedtime books.

After snacks, I actually read to Cooper alone. The experience was a huge treat. I was able to cuddle Cooper and just Cooper, spending time with him as an individual and embracing his unique personality.

During that time, Caleb taught Connor how to play Uno. I observed some of the tutorial. Caleb relished in his role as "teacher" and provided some good instructions to his younger brother. (Although I did catch him offering a couple of "pointers" that I suspected may benefit the teacher more than the student.)

The night did not progress as planned. Car accidents and tantrums could have turned the evening sour. But, we learned sometimes breaking our routine can be delightful too!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Celebrations

Memaw and the boys pre-swim!

Caleb's finally tall enough for the big water slide (a major milestone!)

Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful fathers that surround us! It's been a weekend of celebrating for our family.

Yesterday, we celebrated with my dad (or Papa as he's known by the boys). We left the manner of celebrating up to Papa and he chose to take the boys to the Plainfield water park. I'm sure that's just the way he wanted to celebrate, but it was just like him to think about an outing that would "wow" the boys. The boys had a blast whizzing down the slides, operating the water guns and floating along the "lazy river."

Today, we're celebrating with Chris, allowing him his choice of afternoon activity. Chris said the best gift we could give him was free time (something I can definitely understand). This afternoon he traded in his scrubs for his handyman gear. He's using his afternoon to scratch off several lines of his "honey do" list (before it expands again).

On this Father's Day I'd like to say a few words about the father's in our lives:

My Dad (Papa): Thanks for being the dad you can compliment in specifics, not just generalities. You aren't just an involved dad, you were the dad who attended every game, match, award ceremony and graduation. In fact, despite your busy work schedule, I can't remember you missing one of anything. You aren't just the dad who kept in touch, you were the Dad who wrote me letters in college and who sends his grandkids postcards just to brighten their day. You aren't just the dad who helps out, you were the dad that attended Boy Scout camp with his grandson when he needed someone else there. I could go on, but thanks for just being you.

Chris: Before we had kids, I assumed you'd be a good dad. After all, I imagined that pediatrics training would be put to good use. You have surpassed all my expectations! One of the things I admire about you the most is that you're extremely involved. I've seen you chaperone field trips (one that was in hour and a half school bus trip with a bunch of kindergartners!), participate in boy scout meetings, watch ball games, attend story times, and watch school plays. You've done all these things happily while still maintaining your grueling work schedule, because I know you have a deep desire to be an active, loving parent to your boys. I know the boys are blessed to have you, and will one day reflect on how happy their childhood was because you were in it.

Grandpa Wood (Chris's Dad): When I see you with the boys, I can see a sparkle in your eye. I think you're enjoying watching the activity and observing just some of the mischief that arises when they work in tandem. Even though we don't live close, I hope the boys know their grandfather well and the bond of family stays strong.

Hope everyone has a wonderful day of celebrating!

Friday, June 18, 2010

How Resourceful!

A pile of household goods and clothing is laying in my garage awaiting a trip to Goodwill. Among the pile is a hand held breast pump. (One item I will gladly donate!) Cooper was rummaging among the pile when he unearthed the pump. I'm sure the little wheels in his head were turning trying to determine just what the heck he discovered. But his resourcefulness encouraged him to invent uses for his new "find."

First, the pump became a gun. This should come as no surprise, as everything in our house can be turned into a gun! He ran around the yard, armed with his pump/weapon slaying the bad guys. (I'm sure those bad guys were just a wee bit confused that his choice of firearm was plastic and shaped in a cone.)

Next the pump was used as a garden tool. Who needs a shovel or a hoe when you have a perfectly good breast pump to use? The pump mashed, scooped and rearranged his potted dirt and rocks. He had a ball and kept telling me what a good gardener he was (an unconventional gardener in the least).

Being that the pump providing Cooper with so much entertainment, I'm questioning whether the pump should remain a fixture in the Wood house. It's definitely been put to use once or twice in this house, but I think retirement is in its future. Sorry Cooper!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Beautiful Music

Just around the age of eighteen months, all of my boys have developed a crush. The object of their affection is crimson, furry and highly energetic. You guessed it: Elmo.

Collin has followed his brother's lead, and is head over heals for that fury monster. Collin's admiration is a recent development. You see, he hasn't had much exposure to Elmo or Sesame Street in his one plus year on Earth. (Encouraging his seven year old brother to watch Big Bird over Batman is a pretty hard sell!) But, we've found pockets of time to laugh at Snuffaluffagus or Bert and Ernie. Collin enjoys watching the antics of the rest of the Sesame Street gang, but when Elmo arrives on the screen he's bursting with excitement unable to contain his delight!

Today Collin and I turned on a few minutes of Elmo's World. Collin's eyes twinkled, he flashed a grin and jumped out of his seat in anticipation. He begun to chat Elmo (or more like, "Melmo"). Then, he attempted to sing the introductory song to Elmo's World. I don't think he's ready for show choir, but for a seventeen month old he did pretty well. He only attempted one line from the song, "Na Na Na Na." He repeated those sounds over and over. At the time, I realized this was the first time I'd heard him sing!

Thinking about his song makes me giggle. It was funny, and cute, and I was glad to witness a singing voice that was truly beautiful music to my ears.

(P.S. Thanks for all of your sweet comments about Caleb's Boy Scout camp experience. He has had a successful rest of the week! Thanks to my Dad and Chris for taking the time to attend camp this week!)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Something beautiful that emerged from the storm.

Caleb and Chris on his first day of Boy Scout camp.

The weather has been extremely unpredictable the last few days. The mornings and early afternoons have tended to be clear. Then suddenly the skies darkens and voluminous clouds burst releasing a fleet of liquid pellets. Thunder cracks and lightning bolts streak through the sky. But just as quickly as it started, a sunbeam pierces through the clouds and calmness is restored. Caleb's behavior has mirrored the weather. Calm one minute, the next we're bracing for, or riding out a storm.

This week Caleb is attending Boy Scout camp. First day went wonderful. Chris and Caleb were able to experience all the masculine sports they could handle: archery, bb guns and an array of other male activities. I heaved a sigh of relief. Boy scout camp was going to be a hit, I just knew it!

Day two was not so successful. The day ended with me receiving a litany of grievances related to my son. To say that moment was discouraging would be an understatement. To say that experience was sad would just be wrong. The best word I can use to describe it is "heartbreaking." I remember my pediatrician telling me recently I needed to separate myself emotionally from my children's behavior. At that time I thought, "Can anyone really do that?" I certainly can't. Today was a prime example.

I talked to his camp counselor further this evening. We brainstormed ways to make camp a successful experience for Caleb and everyone else. I hope tomorrow the weather stays calm and consistent, and Caleb follows suit!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Unlikely Sleeping Quarters

For the last two years Cooper and Connor have shared a room. We spent a lot of time making the room just right for two active boy's boys. Primary colors canvas the walls. Masculine toys and books can be found in every nook and cranny. Bunk beds flank the North wall of the room with sports themed bedspreads adorning each twin mattress. In our minds, the room seemed complete and conducive to daytime leisure and nighttime slumber.

That being said, quite frequently Cooper bypasses his comfy haven for unlikely sleeping quarters. Often several hours after bedtime, we'll practically trip over a 3 year old bundle curled up in the hall. (One time we actually found him in the closet!)

I always wonder, "Why?" But, I think that's a question I ask myself all day long...why end at night?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Blame Game

Collin's deeply distraught that I placed him off my hip to take this photo!

I checked my voice mail this afternoon. A friend had inadvertently (or maybe her child has accidently) dialed my number. You could tell because no formal message was ever left. The message consisted of muffled voices and conversations unrelated to anything concerning our family. In the 30 seconds I inadvertently eavesdropped, no startling revelations or embarrassing monologues were overheard. That being said, I'm sure my friend would be mortified.

Thinking about the message, made me hope that today's family conversations weren't broadcasts! You see today my patience was corroding, taking with it all hopes to be the parent that would make the Supernanny proud.

Of course it's always someone else's fault, right? Today I guess I'll place the blame on the heads of four little boys. Connor was a ball of emotion that rivaled the likes of any teenage girl. Cooper was "oppositional." If I were to say, "The sky's blue." He'd scream, "It's purple." He'd carry on until you'd finally cry "uncle" and admit, "The sky has a purplish tint." The only time Collin would stop wailing was when he was being held. The whole day I pined for an extra limb dreaming of the days when I could actually unload a dishwasher or prepare dinner with TWO working hands! And, Caleb was well.......

That being said, ultimately the blame does rest on me. Whatever challenges come my way, I need to parent them with love, patience and self control. It's just somedays are harder than others.

If today you received an inadvertent call from the Woods, my apologies. But tell me, did anyone receive a call?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Plan B

Caleb takes the wheel.

Cooper found something he is actually allowed to climb!
How appropriate!

No swimsuits needed, just water!

We awoke to the patter of rain. Connor's t ball game was cancelled. The boys were climbing up the walls, desperately needing something to do. We needed a plan B. I remembered my friend Betsy recommended a children's museum in Lafayette. At the time I thought, "Someday we'll have to go." Well, today was that someday!

The kids and I made the trek to the Imagination Station in Lafayette. It's a children's science museum that could only be described as "petite." What it lacks in size, it makes up for in activity. The boys gallivanted among the exhibits and hands on displays. Although they thoroughly enjoyed manning the controls on several aircraft exhibits, the legos were the biggest hit. The boys discovered a colossal tub of legos. It was like they hit the jackpot. I seriously think I could have dropped the boys off at 8 a.m. and picked them up at 5 p.m. only to have found them at the same spot crafting structures and vehicles from the plethora of lego pieces.

After a couple of hours, hunger encouraged them to bid the legos adieu. We stopped at Subway to refuel and then with the rain a distant memory we visited a nearby park. The boys and I were expected some swings and maybe a slide. Boy were we surprised! The park had an expansive playground that was accompanied by an amazing FREE zoo (not huge, but FREE!).

The zoo was adorable. The boys loved observing the animals. We were able to get closer to a kangaroo than I ever thought possible. Cooper got extremely close to a rooster. So close that he spent the remainder of the zoo trip clutching rooster feathers. (I'm sure that rooster will never be the same!)

At the conclusion of our zoo trip, the boys discovered some water fountains shooting from the ground. We were grossly unprepared for any water play, but this didn't discourage the boys. They frolicked among the spraying water, enjoying their respite from the heat and humidity. I watched them as their faces were beaming and squeals and giggles emerged as they splashed, darted and leaped over the shoots.

We made it to the cars will all the boys drenched down to their socks. With no back-up clothes, they traveled au naturel on the trip home but they didn't mind.

We're all sad Connor missed his game, but Plan B was pretty wonderful too!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Strawberries and Stairs


We ventured downtown today for one sweet reason: the Strawberry Festival. Every year our family makes the pilgrimage downtown knowing our journey ends with a spoon in one hand and a whopping portion of decadent strawberry shortcake in another.

After camp today, the boys and I hit the downtown streets. Once upon a time, the hum of the city was background music to me as I worked and lived among the hustle and bustle. Urban living was divine; I only needed to place a foot out my door to experience it all. Life was so much easier then!

Taking four boys downtown is a wee bit more challenging, but we arrived at the festival with empty bellies and great anticipation. After a spell in line, the boys and I clutched two orders of the "works." The "works" includes: syrupy strawberries, home cooked flakey shortbread biscuits, creamy vanilla ice cream topped off with a mound of fluffy whip cream. We had barely sat down when I noticed one of the orders had been consumed. Gripping their spoons, the boys barreled through the treats with gooey streaks of white and red streaming down their faces. They were in heaven and the "works" soon transformed into a sweet memory.

After scarfing down their treats, the boys begged to ascend the Soldiers' and Sailors' monument. Reflecting on how little we travel downtown, I agreed to the adventure (and an adventure it was!). We took the elevator up the monument to reach the structure's apex. At the top, Connor kept saying, "I love going up the Eiffel tower." I corrected him a few times and then made a mental note to provide him with a geography tutorial in the future!

The line for the descending elevator was outrageously long, so the boys decided they wanted to take the stairs. Wow, that was a workout! I ended up holding 27 pound Collin as I journeyed down 331 steps. The other boys were great sports about it and seemed to thrive on the activity. Cooper found the darkened stairwell a wee bit spooky and kept saying, "I don't like the Indiana bat cave!"

We made it to street level and eventually our car with full bellies and sore muscles. The day holds fond memories of sweets, stairs, strawberries and smiles.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Welcome Letter

Dear New Kitchen Rug:

Welcome to the family. We hope you enjoy your time laying around the kitchen. Considering we have four growing boys, we will spend lots of time with you and around your presence in the coming months and years.

I took your picture today because I want to remember how you looked when you first arrived. Although my intention is to keep you looking the same, historically items age pretty quickly in this house, especially in the kitchen. You see our four little ones are learning to master tidy "big boy" eating. It's not a skill you learn overnight and accidents do happen (on a daily basis it seems).

Our prior rug put in five years of hard service and had the "scars" to prove it. Liquid streaks garnished its exterior. Peanut butter smears adorned most of its periphery, remnants of plummeted open faced sandwiches that landed in such a way to maximize spillage. Squishy gooey substances like raisins and blueberries were ground into the surface, too icky to be removed easily so they remained longer than I care to recall. And, of course, the poor rug lived through three potty training boys (need I say more!).

But, we have high hopes for you (and them). We hope you are a member of the family for awhile, but don't look like it!


The Woods

Monday, June 7, 2010

Things I learned at camp

First day of camp!

Caleb and Connor started Zion Nature camp this week. I don't know who was more excited: the boys or me? Don't get me wrong, summer has been a lot of fun, but having two boys in camp for three hours a day does bring a smile to my face.

Caleb waltzed into the camp with no hesitations (after all animals are his passion)! Connor's entrance was a wee bit meeker and with much reservation. Despite his qualms, we bid the boys adieu and exited the nature center.

Three hours later we retrieved the boys. I asked Teresa, the camp counselor, about the boys' morning. She recounted Connor's reluctance to join the camp, but added that Caleb eased the transition with encouraging words and supportive gestures.

I thought about that later. How happy I am that they have each other. When Connor was born I imagined how the two would interact later in life. At that time, I envisioned a day like today when an older brother brings comfort to a little brother just by being there.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Seeing Sunday School

Caleb's boy scout uniform on another day.

I was fully intending to just drop Caleb off when I escorted him to the Sunday School wing. But, his teacher needed extra adult hands. I couldn't say no, and I'm glad I didn't! Attending Caleb's Sunday School class was an experience, to say the least.

Once I was acclimated to the classroom, I was able to take it all in. The 8 o'clock Sunday school hour historically produces low attendance, and those in attendance includes several special needs' children (small classroom=less stimulation + more attention). Needless to say, the classroom had a different dynamic. I first noticed a little boy clutching the American flag, marching around the circumference of the room. Pretty soon, another little boy followed suit grasping his own flag.

The other children seemed oblivious to the impromptu patriotic parade, as they colored and pasted. A few minutes later, Caleb opened the large duffel bag he dragged into class. He produced the contents of the bag: his Boy Scout uniform and awards. He threw his uniform over his church clothes and requested the other children's attention. Then, he began a discourse on the Boy Scouts and his awards. All the while, the parade marched on.

A few minutes later, the Bible lesson began. The teachers did an amazing job making a three-dimensional replica of the Biblical lesson. In fact, I think he did too good a job because the kids were utterly fascinated with his craftsmanship. The end of the story called for fire to rain down from heaven. Being that the church would probably frown on him producing flames, he used silly string to mimic the appearance of fire. The kids were beside themselves. Silly church! It was like he produced the Jonas Brothers. They wanted to touch it, to talk about it, to try it. He tried his best to bring them back to the lesson, but it was silly string after all!

The whole morning was funny, and interesting, and unconventional and wonderful. I was so glad I was able to see these wonderful children, perfectly made in the image of God.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Three Year Old Tirade

At a better moment during the day!

It started out with a "no." No, you can't have money to purchase candy at the pool concession stand. The three year old who uttered the request was floored at my rejection. But he recovered, and appeared to have moved on despite his disappointment. I heaved a sigh of relief and resumed monitoring the other boys frolicking in the water.

A few minutes later I spied Cooper scavenging through my pool tote. He located my wallet and proceeded to retrieve several shiny coins from its chambers. I immediately confronted my kleptomaniac offspring. He first denied any and all malfeasance (but he was still clutching the coins!). He suddenly realized the holes in his "didn't do it" defense and then decreed the injustice of it all. How could I deny him candy? At this point, his transgressions were mounting: lying, stealing, anger, and it kept going.

Now Cooper was at the point of no return, something I haven't witnessed in a long time and especially in public (by any of my kids). He was in a tizzy...a meltdown....a rage. He cried. He screamed. He began a tirade. He flailed around with arms and legs swinging.

I scooped up my inconsolable child and declared to his siblings we were leaving the pool. Fortunately, his brothers quickly fell in line (I think they sensed the magnitude of the situation). I'm sure we were quite a sight. I was balancing the baby on one hip, grasping the stroller and pool tote with a free hand and clutching my screaming three year old with my remaining limb.

Of course there were stares. When you're in that situation, you'll always catch one or two eye rolls and sighs. But, I'm always impressed with the bystander moms. I believe a mom sisterhood emerges in those situations and genuine support oozes from the pores of sympathetic mothers and lands on the afflicted mom, strengthening her core. One such "sister" approached me during the chaos and said, "I've been there. Keep it up." Her words were golden to me; a beacon in the midst of the storm.

We all made it to the car (fortunately). Cooper voiced his disappointment for the remainder of the car ride. Eventually he admitted the errors in his ways. Apologizes were forthcoming. Reconciliation was swift. But, I could sure use a little rest after the ordeal!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lunch under the Arches

In a family with four kids rarely can they all agree on a proposed outing. Two kids may want to swim, while one feels passionate about the library and a fourth doesn't want to venture out at all. However, there is one destination I know will be greeted enthusiastically by all four boys: McDonalds. If we mention a proposed trip to the Golden Arches, cheers erupt and high fives are exchanged.

For a summer treat, I escorted the boys to McDonalds for lunch. The boys scarfed down their greasy fares. (Connor shoved down a fistful at a time.) Then sloshed it down with single serving milk jars.

After lunch, the boys romped around the outdoor play land while a multitude of potential playmates swirled around. They were having so much fun, I was even able to sit on a bench for a few minutes and just watch the commotion from afar. (How I miss sitting!)

Lunch was a delight and fun was had by all!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oh Boy!

We have some prejudices swirling around the house (at least with the two older boys). They are of the mindset that only those with the Y chromosome are worthy of play. My thought is it's temporary. I'm thinking once puberty kicks in, opinions will shift and we'll be pining for the days of old when girls were considered "icky."

Cooper, on the other hand, may just be ahead of his time. He actually adores female companions. I'm thinking he's the one who may just have the last laugh by the time prom rolls around.

Today we babysat Frances, an adorable four year old girl who only has a sister. When Francis was dropped off she was clutching a stash of girlie toys. (I'm assuming she was bracing herself for a houseful of trucks.) She dumped her bag, and first unveiled her Strawberry Shortcake home. Cooper was thrilled. He positioned his Batcave parallel to the Strawberry shaped structure and the play ensued in a harmonious fashion.

Suddenly, Caleb and Connor decided the Strawberry Shortcake house needed to be attacked and a battle scene should be displayed. Poor Frances...I'm sure the Strawberry Shortcake house was never used for warfare in the past! But Frances rolled with it, and Strawberry Shortcake seemed to flourish as "artillery" was used against her and her homestead.

Girl sensitivity is a skill we're working on. It sure would help to have some sisters, but today we had Frances!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Sweet Day

Caught brown handed!

One of the things I've learned as a parent is that you can't judge how a day went until the kids are actually asleep in bed. A day can breeze by swimmingly, and then totally disintegrate within a matter of nanoseconds at the end of the day. Such was the case this evening.

The day was fabulous. We've fallen into a summer routine with the boys voicing few qualms or hesitations. We even attempted the pool again with a greater degree of success. As we hit the 6 o'clock hour a peaceful haze blanketed the Wood household.

I was scrubbing dinner dishes when I noticed Collin poised at my feet with a grin plastered on his face. I took a double take and noticed a brown powdery substance spattered on his skin and clothes. My first thought was, "Where's the rest?" It didn't take long for me to follow the powdery trail to the pantry. There lie an overturned cocoa can with cocoa remnants clustered in a brown powdery pool on the tiles. From Collin's appearance, he must have greeted the runaway cocoa with fervor. I'm gathering he tasted the spillage and then romped among the remains (maybe even rolled).

The pantry and coca culprit were cleaned and bedtime routine began. A few minutes later, Cooper and Connor emerged from their room. Both had a gooey blue substance smattered on their body. Cooper even had a blue goo mound crowning his skull. Upon further investigation, I discovered the substance's identity: toothpaste. A bath was in order for Cooper. Connor's bath fell second in line. Memories of my pleasant day were beginning to erode.

I finished Cooper's bath and wandered into Collin's room. There I saw Connor and Collin nestled among a slew of blankets and stuffed toys. Connor was holding a children's book and reading out loud to his little brother who was snuggling at his feet. My anger was washed away as I gawked at a scene I can only describe as "precious." The chocolate covered pantry and toothpaste encrusted hair becomes a distant memory that was replaced by something sweeter.

Today was a day that was good.