Monday, November 30, 2009

Bragging Rights

Okay, so I'm certain every parent feels they have bragging rights about their children, but I have to claim my children to be absolutely amazing. They are gems. I am by no means taking full responsibility for their awesomeness - they are by nature wonderful kids - but I do think Greg and I have worked hard to help mould them, shaping at least the right direction. We are not perfect, nor is our parenting. We work on it every day. We acknowledge our shortcomings and work to improve. One step forward, two steps back most times. Yet our kids are great.

What brings this "I-feel-the-need-to-brag" moment about? Well, we went on a shopping trip to Birch Run, MI this past weekend, and numerous times we were given compliments regarding how well behaved our children were. And they really are. They are quiet and polite, well-mannered and calm. Not to say they don't have their moments - Isaiah and Braylon each fall victim to emotional reaction like their mom in the form of a temper tantrum, and sometimes it does happen in public. But they are for the most part exceptionally well behaved. I can take all three grocery shopping with no hesitation, and again when I did so today I had several people comment about what good boys they were being.

Of course much of it is nature - they were born good children, it is in their blood (thankfully they haven't seemed to have acquired some of our not-so-favourable characteristics). But I don't necessarily believe we were lucky to be blessed with good children, as many note, at least not entirely. I firmly believe we've had our hand in it too (so I suppose in a way I am bragging for a moment about Greg and I as well...). Though I often feel like a failure in a way, especially when I give in to an emotional response to their behaviour. Or in particular how Isaiah is still not fully potty trained; I have those moments questioning my ability to help him. Why can't I get my child to poo in the toilet? What is wrong with me as a parent? What am I doing wrong?

But then I also have those moments that I am proud of what I am doing. My boys often sleep all together. They play with one another so well. They rarely hit or punch, unless provoked. They are gentle and loving souls, in different ways. I am very blessed, and thankful for being so.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Letters to Santa

Our town's Santa Claus parade was this past Saturday and during the parade the post collects letters to Santa (rather than mailing). So the boys and I (yes, mostly me) sat down to write their letters to Santa a few days before the parade. I sort of wanted to highlight what they're each like right now, so they're not your typical letter to Santa. Anyhow, I'll post them regardless!

Dear Santa, November 20, 2009

My name is Caleb and this is my first Christmas (I am only 2 ½ months old, afterall)! I am very excited because my big brothers, Isaiah and Braylon, have told me all about it! Plus, I am becoming more alert with each passing day, taking in the world around me, so I am looking forward to seeing what the Christmas season is all about. I know I’ll get to spend the holidays with my loving family, and that is what is most important.

So far I have been a very good, sweet baby – I am very calm and quiet. I know my mom is busy with my two older brothers who are both toddlers (and therefore sometimes demanding of her time and energy), so I like to be as easy to care for as possible. Even though I am the youngest of three boys, though, my mom remembers to spend special time with me, and I love when she cuddles me tight. Daddy does too, especially on Sundays when he’s watching football. We have some great naps together, snuggled close. I’ve also been fortunate to have things of my own already, and what hand-me-downs I’ve been given have been worn well by my brothers before me, so I’m pretty lucky! I know there are far less fortunate children out there than to be the third of three boys, so I am going to give away all my clothes and toys once I am done using and playing with them.

I am growing every day, so I’ll likely be a little different come Christmas. Lately, I have been becoming very aware of my environment and like to smile in reaction to noises and familiar faces/voices. I love when my brothers remember to talk to me and when mommy is close-by. In fact, I am rather content to be simply placed in a room full of people; that in of itself is often enough to entertain me! I do, however, like to interact with my toys – my flailing arms are starting to show some sense of coordination when reaching for toys above me in my gym or dangling from the arch on my chair. As far as physical growth goes, I’ve had a very strong neck from birth, early able to hold my head up steady. I have gone through a serious bout of infant acne and am trying to beat cradle cap as I write, as heading into the winter season my skin is sensitive to the dry conditions. As a result, I’ve lost some of my locks since birth, but I’ve still a head full of hair! I love to sleep on my side, when not swaddled tightly, so that helps!

Anyway, Santa, I am looking forward to the holidays this year. Good luck finishing up with your list making toys in the workshop at the North Pole! Merry Christmas!

Love, Caleb (age 2 ½ months)

Dear Santa, November 20, 2009

My name is Braylon and I am almost 2 years old! I am writing to you this year as a middle brother, becoming a big brother to Caleb this past fall. My mommy says I am doing such a great job as a big brother. I love to hold my little baby brother, and I always remember to be gentle and loving with him. I adore planting kisses on his forehead, and I can’t wait for him to grow bigger so he can play with Isaiah and me. My older brother Isaiah is my best friend – I idolize him, I really look up to him. We play so well together, and I always want to do what he’s doing.

But sometimes I like my own things too. My favourite things to do are to play hockey and kick the ball around. This winter I am looking forward to getting out on the ice to learn how to skate. As you can tell, I prefer to be active – I’m not really into watching cartoons or reading books. I also enjoy playing cars with Isaiah. We have quite a few to play with, especially when we are rewarded for going potty well. I’m already trying potty since Isaiah is still being trained. I am a really good brother. I share well – whenever Isaiah wants something I am playing with, I give it to him willingly, even though he seldom returns the favour – and I just like to have fun. I am a very good little boy with a gentle soul and a happy, carefree spirit.

In fact, I’m getting so big. Mommy and daddy took my soother away for good a few weeks ago, and I hardly put up a fight. I’m also developing in terms of language – my words are really coming along. Even if no one else knows what I am saying, sometimes the intonation of what I intend to say is enough for my parents to understand. I can even sing along to children’s songs, without actually saying a single word, and my parents know which song I am trying to sing! I am a very good eater, except when I notice my brother has stopped eating and then sometimes I follow suit. And I really enjoy watching mommy cook supper or bake treats – I’m always asking to go up on the counter to help (or supervise). I love to cuddle still, even though I have my own comfort toy – a black lab fittingly called Raider. My brother Isaiah has one he calls Bailey! Together we love animals, especially feeding the ducks (I go nuts for ducks!). You could say I have my own quirks too, like how I always end up taking my socks off soon after mommy has dressed me in the morning; I like to be barefoot and free. Or how I am a very hesitant little boy – take, for instance, that I can climb up and down stairs, but I prefer to do so on my bum. I just like to be cautious! And even though I can be stubborn, I am full of personality. I love to ham it up, and just enjoy life! I am looking forward to turning two in the new year, and even though I am a late bloomer in some regards (like my teeth cutting in – I still only have 6 fully through), I have come a long way! But I am even more excited about Christmas first, so bring on the snow and festive spirit! I can’t wait to make some holiday memories this winter, Santa! I hope you’re just as excited making all the toys in your workshop for the good little boys and girls!

Merry Christmas!

Love, Braylon (age 21 ½ months)
Dear Santa, November 20, 2009
My name is Isaiah and I am three years old. I am already very excited for Christmas this year with my growing family. I am now big brother to Caleb, my baby brother, and Braylon too, who is only 14 months younger than me. He and I are the best of friends and I am looking forward to Caleb growing up so he can play with us. I am an excellent big brother. I am very gentle and loving with Caleb, and I’ve been a big help to mommy when she asks me to talk to him, trying to make him laugh, or put his soother back in when it slips out. He is such a sweet little boy. My little brother Braylon is the best! Sometimes I forget to play nicely with him, mostly because I used to be the only one vying for attention and I could play with everything by myself as I wanted. I can be very stubborn, and terribly independent, but I am becoming better at sharing and letting Braylon have a turn. At least I now always have a playmate!

My favourite things to play with are cars (especially Lightning McQueen), Thomas the Train, Little People, and animals. I have a vivid imagination; I am really good at making up stories for my toys, especially my animals, taking inspiration from the cartoons I watch, like Little Bear and Franklin. And I love watching cartoons! My mom says I am extremely bright and articulate, and most people find me well spoken for having just turned three. I also really enjoy reading and the school (pre-K books) my mom does with me. I know my numbers from 1 through 10, my ABCs, my colours and shapes, and I can also connect/circle objects and determine which is the smallest or largest. I love colouring (my favourite colour is red) and my motor skills are developing quickly since I can now colour much closer to the lines! I have an excellent memory as well. Sometimes I amaze my parents with the things I remember! I’m excited to actually go to “my” school next fall, not just because I like to learn but because I love playing outside on the equipment too! I really like the new set in town that my mom takes me to sometimes. Actually, I love being outdoors, riding my tricycle or helping daddy with work!

This Christmas will be my fourth, so I’m beginning to remember what it’s all about. I’ve already wondered if I’ve heard the bells of your sleigh, Santa, and I’ve been asking mommy and daddy about you and the North Pole (I’m very inquisitive at my age). I can’t wait for the holidays! Merry Christmas, Santa – say hi to Mrs. Claus and the reindeer for me, especially Rudolph!

Love, Isaiah (age 3)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Hallowe'en!

So I am well aware that Hallowe'en has long since passed - decorations are down in exchange for Christmas ones (and not only at the stores), the candy stash has been raided and depleted, and people have posted many a blog about various subjects since their own Hallowe'en post. But we're a little behind in the blogging world at this house, so I'm just now getting to posting my Hallowe'en pics (or possibly not - Caleb is starting to fuss, Braylon is spilling juice and Isaiah is needing to poop on the potty as I type so I'm back and forth).
Anyhow, Hallowe'en was a busy day for us. We took all three boys to the Backyardigans concert at Centennial Hall in London in the early afternoon. They were glued to the show the entire first half, poised motionless on my lap, one boy on each knee, clutching Tyrone and Tasha tightly in their hands, with an almost hypnotic trance effect with the characters dancing and singing on stage. The second half was not quite the same, but only because I had to nurse Caleb at intermission so their focus was interrupted. Anyhow, they both enjoyed the show tremendously - it was amazing to feel the energy surge through their bodies when the show began with them on my lap! And it was somewhat nostalgic as well because my mom used to take us to concerts when we were young - Raffi and Fred Penner, so not quite the same colourful entertainment, but a concert nonetheless!
Here they are coming on stage:
And toward the end of the show (post-climax of the storyline):
And the boys watching intently on my lap:
Immediately afterwards, we began our trek of visiting family and friends to show off our boys! It is completely exhausting to travel from house to house, unloading for 10 minutes just to pack them back up in the car seats once again, but a lot of our family and friends look forward to seeing them. And we did make it home to trick or treat up and down our street quickly as well as hand out candy to the last of the ghosts and goblins.
Here are our three characters dressed up:
Isaiah was a tiger, roaring at the door with hands outspread beside his face (for some type of added ferocity, I suppose).
Braylon was a spider (and the bulkiness came to help when he kept tripping down the street trying to keep in pace with his excited older brother who caught on to trick-or-treating fairly quickly, and was in a race to ring the next doorbell).
Caleb was a giraffe, though few saw his costume as he was bundled in the car seat for much of the day.
And here are two of the four pumpkins we (or might I correct, Greg) carved for our porch (we used templates to stencil the image on before cutting it out - except for the one we carved Rebelo in). Thank goodness we carved them before the actual day, since our day was so busy. They turned out fantastic, I think, and I can't wait to see what the boys pick next year! The kids on our street were amazed at the "artist" and come Hallowe'en we saw lots more pumpkins at our neighbours' houses that had templates used to carve haunted houses, ghosts, cats, bats, etc.!
Hallowe'en evening Greg and I managed to get out as well. We were originally going to a stag and doe in town, but despite Hallowe'en being Greg's favourite holiday of the year, we didn't get a costume together for either of us. That and Greg didn't want to go in the end, but since we'd already babysitters lined up (thanks Dad & Carol), we went to a movie instead... our first night out since Caleb was born. We saw "Couples Retreat" - a good laugh! And that was our day. Looking forward to the next holiday - Christmas - which tends to span a month or two around here once we get all the gatherings in. And I'll hopefully get to blogging more about the growing boys and our daily adventures at some point... cross your fingers!