Monday, August 30, 2010

July, July, July

So, here is the big news: BABY #3 IS ON THE WAY! I found out really early this time. I took one of those Early Response HPTs when I was just 3 weeks and 3 days along. Three weeks is the longest I've ever kept a pregnancy under's hard to keep my own good news a secret :)

I am due on April 22nd, just a couple of weeks after Ethan's 3rd birthday. Wait a second, wasn't I due with Ethan just a couple of weeks after Caleb's birthday? It seems that July is the magic month for us to get pregnant :) And here's a little irony for you: morning sickness hit me hard the day after I decided to homeschool this year. Oh well, we're doing what we can for now. I should be feeling better by early October, so we'll make up for it then.

The baby is due April 22nd. It looks like all three kids will have birthdays within a few weeks of each other. Ethan's birthday is 12 days after Caleb's, and, if this baby is born at 39 weeks like Ethan was, it's birthday will be 12 days after Ethan's birthday. I love that timing because the birthdays are far enough apart that we can do something special for each child (like a family dinner or a day activity), but close enough that we can do one big party or one big trip or one big present for all three kids.

We are excited! (And we will be even more excited when this morning sickness is over!)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Super Man Costume

Over a month ago, Ethan was sitting on my lap when I selected and purchased a Superman costume from an ebay seller. He helped me pick it out (at least, he thought he did), and he was very excited when I explained that it would come in the mail in a few days. This explanation sunk in deep, because he proceeded to accompany me to the mailbox every single day for the next three weeks. After about a week, I got back online to see how much longer the package was going to take. During that session, I realized that the costume was shipping from Hong Kong (that's why it was so cheap!). After about two weeks, we got one of those little postcard slips in our screen door saying that an attempted delivery had taken place and now we could go to the post office to get our package. (Don't you love those things?) I tried sending the card back in with a request for a redelivery, since I hate, despise and abominate going to the Post Office, but that didn't work and instead I got a "FINAL NOTICE" saying I'd better come pick up my package or it would be sent back to Hong Kong. So, a full month after originally placing the order, the boys and I braved the Post Office. They were extremely good that day (the boys, not the postal workers), and Ethan was ecstatic when I opened the package and showed him the costume. He put it on right then and there and wore it for the next two days straight. And now, finally, I can go to the mailbox each day without comforting a disappointed little boy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

To School or Not To School

So, my blogging reticence of late has been due to the big question that has plagued me relentlessly for the past couple of weeks. As I've mentioned here before, we had planned all summer to send Caleb to a church preschool this fall. The class I wanted him to be in, which meets 3 days a week, was full, so we had him on the role for a class that meets 4 days a week. The closer we got to school starting, the more and more apprehensive and doubtful I was feeling. Being me, I made long lists of pros and cons for preschool vs. keeping him home, but I just couldn't make a decision.

What I most wanted to do was keep Caleb home this year and enjoy the last year (assuming I don't homeschool) for all three of us to be together all the time. Unfortunately, I live in Alabama, and there is tremendous social pressure to do things "THE WAY" (for you foreigners, this means "the way everybody else does things in Alabama"). I had moms looking at me like I was insane when Caleb wasn't in preschool at age 2, and now they look at me like I've grown horns if I mention the possibility of keeping him home at age 4.

Here are some of the favorite questions:
"How will he be ready for kindergarten?"
"How will he learn to line up with other kids and be a part of a group?"
"What about socialization?"
"How will you get anything done if you have your kids all the time?"

Although I think these are valid questions, and I have turned them all over in my mind ad nauseam, it does bother me that I get such a one-dimensional response from almost everyone I talk to. I wish there was a little more room in the culture here to do things a little differently without encountering so much resistance. Besides, Caleb did go to preschool two days a week last year, and I think he has a good handle on lining up now :)

Regardless of the self-doubt created by so many incredulous people, I finally decided that Caleb (and my housework) could survive another year without preschool. I am planning for us to do homeschooling activities 3-4 days a week, and then just go places and play the other days. I am really happy with this decision for a lot of reasons. I was dreading separating my two little buddies so that Caleb could go to school. They play so well together and love each other so much, I would hate for school to change that, especially a year earlier than necessary. I was also dreading having Caleb gone four mornings a week. If he continues to nap, that would mean that I could spend time with him before 9:00 am when we left for school and after 4:30 pm when he woke up from his nap. That's just a little bit more than Marcus gets to see him while working full time! The biggest reason that I feel very good about this choice is that there are so many more things I want to teach Caleb myself before I send him out into the "school" world. This is such an ideal time for learning, and I want more time for his good character traits to solidify and to work on more good habits and attitudes before he is bombarded with academics and competition and peer influences. There will be plenty of years in the future for all that.

So, for better or worse, we are going to be a homeschooling family this year. Below is the daily agenda I put together (modeled after a friend's who is using the same curriculum) for the days that we do school. I plan to start on Monday, August 30th, after the curriculum and other materials I have ordered come in. It seems like a lot, but the structured activities will only take 15-20 minutes each, in keeping with a preschool attention span. Plus, most of this stuff is pure fun for them anyway.

Breakfast--Practice weekdays, months, seasons, weather, address & phone numbers
Devotional--Recite Lord’s Prayer together and practice this week’s memory verse
Bible Reading--Mommy reads her Bible silently while boys look at picture Bibles
Exercise--Push-ups, abs, squats, stretch; kids participate as much as they can
Get Ready--Get dressed, brush teeth & hair, tidy room, make bed
Read--Read Five in a Row book and other books aloud
Cleaning Time--Mommy does chores for day while kids play (or help if they can)
"FIAR" Activity--Alternate subject lessons throughout week from Five in a Row
Table Time--Coloring, scissors & glue, handwriting, drawing practice, etc.
Spanish Time--Listen to Hear Say CD, look at pics and practice saying words
Games/Puzzles--Play board or card game or do a big puzzle together
Outings/Errands--Groceries, gym, outside, etc.
Lunch & Nap--Ethan & Mommy sleep…Caleb sleeps or has quiet time in his room
Phonics/Math--Alternate reading practice & math workbook with Caleb

Monday, August 23, 2010

Swimming Party

We went to a birthday pool party this weekend, and it was a lot of fun. It was from 6:00 to 8:00 in the evening, which is my favorite time of day to swim: we can be outside and the temperature is perfect and nobody has to wear sunscreen. Caleb was willing to wear his goggles for the first time, as well, so he spent more time underwater than he has before. He is still doing very well keeping himself afloat in the water. He hasn't worn any flotation help all summer, and he is getting more and more comfortable handling himself in the water. Ethan, armed with his swim vest, is a little fish. He absolutely loves the water and has no qualms about going completely under. He loves his goggles as well. He is so comfortable in the water that he may be swimming on his own next summer. Enjoy the pictures!

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's In There Somewhere

I had the funniest and, at the same time, most rewarding conversation with Caleb the other day. It was just after his nap, and he was grumpy. He was sitting in the playroom amongst some toys with a sour expression on his face. I was folding clothes a few feet away from him, and I decided to use a little humor to cheer him up. I told him that I was glad to see that he was complying with the "No Happiness" hour I had declared. I warned him that if I saw one drop of happiness squeezing out of the corner of his mouth, he would have to go to time out. Of course, he started grinning a bit in spite of himself, so I kept going. I told him in a very sour voice that I was grumpy and I wanted everyone else to be grumpy, too. He surprised me by replying very seriously that it wasn't right for me to try to make other people grumpy with my grumpiness, and I needed to go to my room until I had a better attitude. I loved hearing one of my sermonettes from his little mouth, so I kept the game going with more phrases and ideas that he frequently sends my way.

Mommy: (glowering) I am just grumpy because nobody ever does what I want them to do!
Caleb: (very seriously) Mommy, you can't make other people do what you want them to do.
Mommy: (angrily) But I HAVE to! I will never, ever be happy again 'cause nobody does what I want!
Caleb: (very soberly) Mommy, it is your choice whether you will be happy or not, but you can't make people do what you want. (a bit more cheerfully) You can ask them nicely, and they might do what you want, if you ask nicely.
Mommy: (glumly) But sometimes I ask nicely and they STILL don't listen to me.
Caleb: That's just the way it is, Mommy. There is nothing you can do to make people do what you want all the time.

At this point I laughed out loud, and he joined me, effectively ending the role play. But I was very happy to hear him articulate so well the lessons that I'm not ever sure are sinking in. I guess this proves that they are in there somewhere!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Potty Seats & Pull-ups

This past week, the boys have said two big goodbyes. The first goodbye was to the two Baby Bjorn potty seats that Ethan has been using for the past six months. He is big enough to use the "big" potty all the time now, and I am tired of emptying/cleaning the small ones. So they have enjoyed one final thorough cleaning and have been retired to the closet with all of the other baby/toddler things we don't use anymore.

The second big goodbye was to Caleb's nighttime Pull-ups. This happened more by accident. We ran out of 4T/5T Pull-ups and I didn't realize it until a couple hours before bedtime. He had been complaining about wearing Pull-ups at night for a while, but since he is still wet 2-3 times a week, we had been making him wear them. So, since we ran out of them, I decided to give nighttime dryness another try. (We tried this almost a year ago, and he was wet half the time, so we went back to Pull-ups.) I stripped the bed of all bedding except the cotton mattress cover and Caleb's little "blankie," so there would be less bedding to wash. It has been a week without Pull-ups, and he has been dry four times. The trick seems to be to wake him up about an hour-and-a-half or so after he falls asleep. He seems to be emptying his bladder at the end of his first sleep cycle (about 90 minutes into his sleep). If we catch him before that happens, he stays dry all the rest of the night.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Writing & Numbers

Lately, Caleb and Ethan have both been really into writing their letters. We have these Kumon Write-and-Wipe dry erase cards that they can trace each letter on. Both boys seem to be right-handed. Caleb can write his name without tracing, but he still likes tracing the letters. Ethan absolutely loves it. I am amazed at his attention span. He writes all 26 letters five or six times a day. He traces all the cards, goes back through and erases each one, and then starts over again. He likes tracing his name on handwriting worksheets, too, and he is trying valiantly to write his name on his own without tracing, but he's not quite there yet.
Last night, Caleb finally understood how to recognize numbers higher than 20. He did a connect-the-dot picture with 60 dots, and while we were doing it together, he figured out the pattern. We have explained it to him before, but this time it clicked.
It is SO FUN to see them learn new things. Yesterday was one of those days that I really wanted to ditch the idea of school and teach the boys at home. I just wish there was some way to do half-and-half. Like half a day of school, in which all the subjects I don't like are taught, so I could teach everything I love at home :)

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Plan (10 minutes)
Scan pantry, fridge & freezer
Decide what dishes to prepare tonight
Select meat and put in fridge to thaw

Prepare (45-60 minutes)
Marinate/tenderize meat
Dice vegetables.
Boil pasta or rice or potatoes.
Put meat on grill or in oven.
Clean dishes and utensils while cooking.
Set the table with plates, cups, forks, napkins, S&P, etc.
Mix up sauce/seasoning for starch.
Dice cooked meat and veggies on kids' plates.
Serve up everything else on plates.
Call "Dinner Time!" down the stairs and corral energetic boys into their seats.
Go over prayer and dinner table etiquette once again.

Eat (5-10 minutes)
Daddy scarfs down everything on plate.
Caleb picks at food for a few minutes and then asks to be excused.
Ethan eats quickly and messily.
Mommy takes bites in between trips back into the kitchen to get requested items.

Clean Up (20 minutes)
Clear the table.
Scrape & rinse plates and other dishes.
Load & run dishwasher.
Wipe down table, counters & stovetop.
Hand-wash pans.
Sweep area around kids' chairs with broom and dustpan.

I am very grateful to have the time and means to cook healthy meals from scratch, but I do sometimes get a little discouraged by the very short time we actually spend at the table together, especially in proportion to the hour-and-a-half of prep/clean-up. I hope that our time at the table will be more than 5-10 minutes as the kids get older, but for now, I'll just be glad that we're not Amish.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Little Teacher

While cleaning up the dishes from breakfast, I heard this conversation:

Ethan: Ca-web, will you share your fruit snack with me? (Caleb's reward for waking up dry)
Caleb: Yes, I will, but you need to wait until after I finish my waffles.
(a few minutes later, while both boys are eating waffles)
Ethan: Ca-web, please give me some fruit snacks?
Caleb: I will give you just one fruit snack now, Ethan. I wanted to give you two, but you didn't listen to me and wait until I was done with my waffles, so you can only have one.

Hi-lar-i-ous :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Insightful Moment

Yesterday, we spent the morning at a friend's pool. We haven't been swimming much since our trip to Florida because Caleb got burnt out on wearing sun screen while we were on vacation. Since then, every time we have been invited for a pool play date, I have asked the boys if they wanted to go, and Caleb has consistently declined (and convinced Ethan to do the same). Today, I decided that we really needed to go again before summer is over, so I didn't give him a choice.

All the way to the pool, he talked about how much he doesn't like sun screen and how much it burns his face and his eyes, and how he really doesn't want to go to the pool. When we arrived, I put sunscreen and hats on both boys, and they jumped in the pool. Sure enough, the first time Caleb's eyes hit the water, he started wailing that the sun screen was burning his eyes. I truly don't know how much is drama and how much is real discomfort, because I only put the sunscreen on his nose and on his face up to just above his cheekbones, staying clear of just under his eyes and his forehead (since he wears a hat). I think it is actually the chlorine that is stinging his eyes, but he thinks it is the sunscreen, and nothing can convince him otherwise.

So Caleb spiraled down into a full-out angry meltdown about the sun screen. Public meltdowns have been few and far between with Caleb, but this one was a doozy. I picked up a furious Caleb, placed him in a lounge chair and told him to stay there until he was done with his fit. He wailed that he wanted to go home and stated vehemently he would NOT stop crying unless I took him home RIGHT NOW. I told him that we were not going home because we had just arrived and Ethan and I were going to have a good time, whether he chose to or not. He kept crying loudly, so I told him that he could cry quietly as much as he wanted to, but if he continued to disturb everyone around with his crying, he was going to get a spanking. He lowered the volume right away and soon ceased crying altogether (since most of the motivation was disturbing everyone around him).

Ethan and I were having a blast in the kiddie pool and on the splash pad, and, after a while, Caleb piped up with: "Mommy, why don't you and Ethan go somewhere else and I will stay here." I knew he was wanting to get up and play, but he didn't want to be observed swallowing his pride. He watched us for a few more minutes, and then he finally got up and played happily with all of us for the next three hours. I had almost forgotten about the original incident when we were packing up our stuff to leave, until Caleb initiated this conversation:

Caleb: Mommy, you were right earlier.
Mommy: About what, son?
Caleb: You know, when I was crying? You were right that going home was not the best choice. I stopped crying and I had a lot of fun.
Mommy: Yes you did, Caleb. I'm very proud of you for getting control of yourself and changing your attitude. It is very hard to do that, but you did it.
Caleb: Yes, I did. Sometimes I am stronger than I know I am.
Mommy: (chuckling) Yes, you are, my son. Yes, you are :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Noccalula Falls Park

This weekend, we took a last-minute day trip to Gadsden, Alabama to visit Noccalula Falls Park. We were invited by another family, and we all had a great time. Noccolula Park is a city park a little over an hour from home that is kind of a hodge podge of a things that kids love: a big park, a climbing rock maze, a large and varied petting zoo (including a bunch of white-tailed deer), a lioness (not part of the petting zoo :), hiking trails, and, best of all, a train that you can ride as much as you want through the three train stations in the park. We rode that loop at least four times during the five hours we were there. I think the kids' favorite thing to do, other than riding the train, was picking the tall grass outside the animals' cages and feeding them through the fence. Noccalula Falls Park will definitely be a favorite spot for us from now on, and especially in the spring and the fall when it is not so hot outside.

Seth, Thomas, Ethan & Caleb
Thomas, Tripp, Seth & Amy

Monday, August 9, 2010

Surf Trip

I know Marcus went on this trip almost a month ago, but I just got ahold of the pictures a few days ago, so here is the post :)

Every year that we've been married (except for maybe the years each of our kids were born), Marcus has added a notch or two to his "I've been to 20-million foreign countries belt." (When we got married, we were close to tied, but I haven't left the country since 2003, so I am WAY behind now.) This year, Marcus's international trip was to El Salvador with his dad and brother. They spent a week enjoying the sun and the surf in La Libertad, El Salvador. The trip started out a little rocky, since they were actually deboarded from their flight in Miami when it was canceled for maintenance reasons. Thankfully, Mike had purchased travel insurance, so they were able to stay in a nice hotel and enjoy an evening in Miami without any extra expense. They flew to El Salvador without delay the next morning, only to be joined by their luggage and surf boards four days later.

In spite of the travel hassles, they all had a wonderful time together: talking, surfing, eating & sleeping in. I am very happy that Marcus came home relaxed, refreshed and even a little bit tanned :) He works very hard all year long, and this trip is the one week out of the year that he can really relax for days on end. Then again, it would be hard to do anything but relax in such a beautiful environment. Enjoy the pictures :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Imaginative Play

Caleb and Ethan's imaginative play has really been something else lately. Many days, they play together for hours, with virtually no conflict. The seven hours of morning and early afternoon that used to be full of going to the zoo, the science center, etc, are now filled with creating elaborate imaginary worlds in the play room. Caleb's imagination seems to know no bounds, and Ethan is becoming just as creative as his brother.

In the midst of whatever story/situation they set up and play-act in, they are usually pretending to be some character from a book or a movie that is completely unrelated to the current scenario. For example, Superman (Ethan) and Ursula (Caleb) will be orchestrating a pirate adventure in which the pirates are kidnapping animals from a zoo and selling them on the black market (in their words "selling them to ugly guys for lots of money"). Usually, they take on a "main" persona for the whole day, and even like me to call them by that name. (Sometimes I oblige them, and sometimes I don't.)

Ethan almost always pretends to be one superhero or another. His current favorite is Wolverine (though he has absolutely no knowledge of Wolverine, other than a page in his superhero coloring book), though Batman, Superman, and a pirate are frequent favorites as well.

Caleb, at the moment, is on a Disney Princess kick. He was"Ariel" for about four days in a row, and yesterday he pretended to be Aurora (from Sleeping Beauty) all day. Before the princess kick, his favorites were Aladdin, Spiderman and Venom.

I let them pretend as much as they want at home, but they do have to shed their persona's and answer to their given names when we go out. This is not accomplished without resistance, but, when it comes to a conflict of wills, nothing much is :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Magic House

I read this post, The Magic House, on my friend's blog this morning, and I really wish I'd thought of writing it myself :) With his permission, I have copied and pasted it here:

I was talking with the CFO the other night about how we live in a Magic House. She was intrigued and decided to play my little game. She indulges me from time to time as I have very little adult interaction during the day. She said "Really?" I then began to explain all the "Magic" that seems to happen in and around the house. (I may turn this into a childrens' book so don't even think of stealing this idea or the totally cool illustrations I have in my head that go along with the story.)
  • Empty cups that are set down suddenly appear in the sink and/or dishwasher.
  • The towels never seem to get dirty.
  • The clothes that we wear every day seem to reappear in our drawers, folded!
  • The toys that were left out before nap time have migrated back to their bins.
  • The bed makes itself every morning.
  • Come to think of it, the sheets never seem to get dirty either.
  • The van never runs out of gas and the CFO's company car even refills itself sometimes.
  • Batteries rarely go dead, and, if they do, they seem to recharge overnight.
  • After dinner the table cleans itself and the dishes take themselves to the dishwasher.
  • The soap dispensers at each and every sink in the house never run out of soap.
  • The toilet paper holders, tissue boxes, and paper towel holder all automatically refill.
  • Knives stay sharp.
  • Meals are cooked, but the pots and pans stay clean.
  • The children rarely smell funny:
  • Dirt does not stay on our floor very long.
  • Dust may sometimes be visible on our dark furniture, but it quickly disappears.
  • Air filters do not get very dirty and seem to change themselves.
  • When the grass gets too tall, it shrinks back down.
  • Annoying weeds frequently disappear.
  • Whenever a light burns out, it seems to fix itself.
  • The dog always has food to eat and water to drink.
  • All of the bills get paid (and most of them on time)
  • We never seem to run out of: soap, shampoo, detergent, toothpaste, dental floss, dishwasher soap, bread, milk, eggs and food in general.
I said: "is it little fairies doing all the work? Is it elves? Who knows? Or maybe it is like Disney World where they have all kinds of hidden tunnels where workers can move about the park without the guests knowing about it. Maybe we are the guests and our house has a team of workers that we don't know about. Maybe we should look for hidden tunnels..."

After listening to all this, all the while laughing where appropriate, the CFO nods and says "that is funny." Then she says, "You know what? We also have a magic bank account."


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ethan (Monthly Update)

Sorry, little Ethan, that your monthly update was overshadowed by the July 4th chaos last month. I'll make it up to you today :)

Ethan is 2-years-and-4-months-old today! He seems so old these days...much more like a little boy than a toddler. Ethan is devoted to his big brother. Caleb can talk him into just about anything. Ethan will wake up dry in the morning and we'll go downstairs to pick out his treat. Ethan will excitedly select a big marshmallow as his treat, but then Caleb jumps in and says, "Ethan, don't you want to pick the gum drops so you can have three of them and give one to me?" Ethan changes his choice without hesitation and delightedly hands his brother his choice of gum drops. Then he plays with the other two gum drops for a little while and leaves them on the counter, because he doesn't even like gum drops. (Once in a while, Ethan stands his ground, and I make Caleb back off without a second request.)

Ethan's generous spirit carries over to all his interactions with other kids, too, as long as they ask him nicely. As a rule, he will give anyone anything they want, as long as he is approached politely and respectfully. If someone tries to snatch something from him, or even reaches for it before he has replied, he will shout "NO!" and run away (still a vast improvement on the side swipe the offending child would have received four months ago). As long as he is given a choice, he absolutely loves to make other people/kids happy by giving them what they want.

Ethan's voracious appetite has slowed down some in recent months. He still eats very well, but he doesn't ask for food ten times a day like he used to. Because Caleb practices writing his name every day, Ethan has decided he wants to write his name. For the past two weeks, I've been printing out a handwriting sheet from with Ethan's name on it each day, and he traces the letters of his name. He has gotten very, very good at it, and I may start teaching him to do it without tracing. He still loves to color and draw. He thoroughly colors at least three pictures every single day, and sometimes as many as seven or eight.

Ethan is much more opinionated about his clothes than Caleb has ever been. He likes to pick out his own shirts and pants every morning, but, the problem is, he always wants to wear the same shirt and the same shorts. Obviously, the Superman shirt and the "soft" (cotton) shorts that he loves are usually dirty, but he still insists on looking through all his shirts and shorts for them most days. And after he is convinced they are not there, he laboriously sifts through what is there until he makes a decision. About half the time, I tell him that Mommy is going to choose today, and he can choose tomorrow.

Ethan's two favorite toys right now are his Superman figurine and a long, orange Tinker Toy stick. These two toys sleep with him, go on almost every car ride, and even sit on the floor next to his chair during meals. The Tinker Toy stick functions as as sword or a "shooting gun", depending on the play at hand, but it is ALWAYS with him. (I am forever reminding him that he is not allowed to jump off furniture or run with the stick in his hand.) The stick gets confiscated for one reason or another at least once a day, but it is back to being his constant companion as soon as priviliges are returned.

When Ethan was a baby and he cried so much for so many months, I worried about how difficult he might be as a toddler/preschooler. Those worries were like most worries: a big waste of time. He is an absolutely delightful little boy, full of overflowing affection, hilarious antics and unmitigated joy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thanks, Buddy

Caleb (running downstairs): Mommy! Something terrible happened! (a common introduction to some accident or mess)
Mommy: What happened?
Caleb: Let me tell you...I had to go pee pee, so I ran up the stairs to the baf-room, but my pee pee was coming too fast, and some of it went on the floor.
Mommy: Oh, well, can you show me where the pee pee is so we can clean it up?
Caleb (head cocked thoughtfully): Let me about this: go upstairs, and, if you slip on something wet, that is where the pee pee is.

Thanks, buddy. Really appreciate the help.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Friday night, we had some friends over for dinner: a friend from church (whose husband had just left on a mission trip) and her two kids and another couple with their son. We all had a delicious dinner together (if the cook can say such a thing :). After dinner, the four boys played in the play room and the five adults played Taboo (baby Lydia hung out with us while we played).

We were all amazed at how well the boys played together. They finished their dinner in about ten minutes and then played mostly independently from 7:00 pm until they went to bed at 11:30, with hardly any conflict. I think an adult had to intervene three times the whole evening. We've all been friends since these boys were two and three years old, and it is MUCH easier to have them all together at four and five than it was then. Ethan, the baby of the group, doesn't seem to have much trouble playing along with the big boys.

Anyway, they interacted so peacefully that us adults were able to talk and play games all evening. Baby Lydia got tired around 8:00, so she crashed in Ethan's retired crib. Around 10:30, we told Lydia's Mommy that she and her two were welcome to stay the night so she didn't have to wake up Lydia and drive home to a dark, empty house (something she and I both really dislike doing). She happily accepted, so we moved toward putting Caleb, Ethan and her son, Matthew, to bed. Jack, our other friends' son, wanted to join in on the sleepover, so he and his mother decided to stay the night as well. It was a little chaotic getting Caleb, Jack & Matthew to go to sleep in our boys' queen bed, but Marcus read them a book, Matthew's mom read them the riot act, and they finally conked out. I put Ethan down in our bed, but he fought sleep even longer than the big boys. Finally, around midnight, all five kids (and Marcus) were asleep. The other two Mommies and I stayed up talking until almost 2:00, when even we finally had to crash.

We were really hoping that the kids would sleep in a little, considering their unprecedented midnight bedtime, but they did not. Baby Lydia was up at 6:00 and her brother joined her shortly after. My boys slept in until 7:00, but they made up for the 7-hour night with a 4-hour afternoon nap. And they weren't even grumpy in the morning! We bid all our friends goodbye at around 8:30 am, and then the boys' and I headed on errands: the bank, the grocery store, Michael's, the library, and the shoe store to get them new shoes. That is a lot of errands for them even on a well-rested morning, but they were cheerful and cooperative all morning. Kids are so unpredictable!