Boys Love Balls!

The boys’ ball-throwing abilities have drastically improved since the last writing. Houston’s arm packs a surprisingly forceful throw, which is usually right on target to boot. Daddy has been working diligently with Houston, and it has surely paid off.

Mommy manages to snap a shot of Daddy & the 3 Amigos on the twins’ 1st birthday.

Gabriel has been into balls for quite a while now, so his solo ball talents are pretty fine tuned. What he’s really working on now are his interpersonal ball skills. Gabe loves to play ball with other people, doing a great job of taking turns throwing or rolling it back and forth. It’s amazing how quickly he caught on to this concept.

Zeke is a bit more into loner ball. He enjoys a good toss every now and again, but also finds much pleasure in victoriously holding balls over his head, as well as chewing the heck out of our leak-prone football.

Last Wednesday, I took the dudes over to Miss Heather’s house for a play date. She lives right beside railroad tracks, so I thought Houston would get a kick out of seeing “choo-choo twains” up close and personal. Miss Heather also has a hot-dog dog and a rooster, who put on a hilarious display when play fighting. Needless to say, all the boys were amused by the spectacle.

“Thanks for working with me on my football skills, Daddy,” says Houston.

Also while we were there, Zeke stood up all on his own (not holding onto to anything or anyone) and then took a step toward Miss Heather before falling down on his bum. He has only taken a few steps since then, but has gotten really good at the unassisted standing thing.

In fact, Zeke likes to clap for himself while performing the feat, and sometimes even throws in a celebratory butt-bouncing jig for good measure. Like Daddy says, Zeke (who we used to say was the quiet, reserved child) has really come out of his shell recently, proving that he is the groovy dancer of the bunch.

Gabriel, who has been the heavy-metal singer of the family for a while now, started doing solo standing in the last few days, but hasn’t yet taken an unassisted step that I have seen. Perhaps he’s taking his time, enjoying crawling for all its possibilities, or maybe he’s just setting himself apart from his twin … similar to how his applause consists of raucously slapping his knees, instead of clapping his hands like Zeke.

“One day I shall slam dunk this basketball,” thinks Zeke.

The twins had their one-year appointment last Tuesday. Gabriel weighed 21 pounds, 5 1/2 ounces and measured 28 5/8″ long. Zeke weighed 21 pounds and measured 28″ long. Both boys are in about the 25th percentile as far as weight goes, and Gabriel is in the same range for his height, but Zeke is is only in the 5th percentile for height. The doc says this is normal, especially considering that they were nearly six weeks premature, and then Zeke spent another week bed-bound in a hospital recovering after his lung surgery.

Gabriel and Zeke are such strong, vivacious, healthy boys that it’s weird to know they’re kind of small for their age. It’s hard for us to wrap our heads around it since Houston is and has always been near the 100th percentile for his height and weight. I mean that boy is donning 4T clothes and a size-10 shoe, and is nearly busting out of his size-6 diaper. But like everyone knows, kids are all different, so we try not to dwell on the comparisons.

Gabriel wonders, “Which ball will be the most fun?”

Similar to the aforementioned speedy ball advancements, it’s as if Houston’s vocabulary and capacity for sentence structure grew enormously overnight. His articulations are too numerous to name, but here are a few favorites:

  • “Whoa,” “Oh, no,” and “Oh, man!” = various exclamations
  • “Cap ball” = football
  • “Pee dee butter” = peanut butter
  • “Pee-you Grams” = something stinks and Gramsey taught him the saying
  • “Ready go set” = he’ll get the order right eventually
  • “Dis” = this (used when pointing to things)
  • “Gay-bo” = Gabriel (both brothers are no longer Zeke)
  • When making a call on his toy phone, Daddy asked, who are you calling? “Dick.” Who is Dick? “Papa.” Yep, that’s Papa’s real name. Whatta smarty britches!

Houston likes to study the DVD case when viewing “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Houston is extremely excited about Halloween. We have been watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” often in these build-up weeks to the holiday. Here are some of Houston’s related translations:

  • “Hah-ween” = Halloween
  • “Gate Punk-un” = Great Pumpkin
  • “Char-yee Yount” = Charlie Brown
  • “Why-nus” = Linus
  • “Soopy” = Snoopy
  • “Ghose” = ghost
  • “Skeh-ton” = skeleton

Click the above photo of Houston to check out all the early October pics. Click the very top photo of Daddy and the boys to see a few more recent shots.

The twins’ birthday pics are forthcoming. I’m just waiting on Granny’s photos, and then I’ll have lots of adorable pics taken by the both of us available for your viewing pleasure. I’ll also be uploading some awesome professional photos soon.

Number 9

Nine years ago today Stephen and I tied the knot. Back then, we were liberal agnostics, living a carefree life in a college town. Now, we’re libertarian-leaning Christians, living the high-stress, but utterly rewarding life of proud parents to three boys. My how times have changed!

Gone are the days when all the boys will stay still long enough to snap a photo.

Speaking of change, all these photos come from a play date Houston (then 19 months old) had with our good friends’ kid, Matthew (then 10 months old), last January. Having recently rediscovered the pics in an e-mail that Matthew’s mom, Beth, sent me long ago, I perused the shots and decided they were too cute not to post on the blog. Click the above photo to view pics from that fun-filled day, as well as a few shots of another play date from early last year.

And change seems to be such a constant when raising so many young hoodlums. Just when we celebrate a new milestone, contend with a new transition and handle a new growth or development, it’s as if we have barely enough time to adjust to the physical transformation or mental maturation before change sets in again.

It’s amazing, yes, but also quite exhausting at times. At the end of most days, I am still astonished that the kids, Daddy and I survived fairly unscathed and are all a bit stronger, wiser and no worse for the wear.

Even back then, Houston enjoys flaunting his physical power by sitting on babies.

Now that an increasingly mobile Gabriel and Zeke aren’t puking so much, we’re beginning to let them crawl and cruise around the living room. This is proving to be a difficult transition since they’re used to having the run of the hallway and two baby-proofed bedrooms, where they can virtually explore to their hearts’ content, tearing down, throwing, banging and chewing on anything in their path.

Obviously, our living room doesn’t fit that description, with electronics, books, cords and lots of other adult gear everywhere within their reach, thus, the attending adult must be extremely alert and hands-on when monitoring the kids. Plus, the twins are not that accustomed to hearing “No!” during their explorations, so the household change is even that much more daunting.

Zeke (left) & Gabriel around 3 months old … can’t believe how big and loud they are now!

Some other stuff:

  • Gabriel will mimic an adult saying, “Uh oh.” Gramsey and Papa discovered this during their time baby sitting the kids last weekend.
  • Both Gabriel and Zeke have natural talent at throwing the football and basketball. (Sharing the balls, however, is another story.) Saying, “Yay!” after Zeke’s throw elicits a boisterous response in him.
  • Houston can now slam-dunk the basketball in his net and is getting much better at catching balls, thanks to much practice with Daddy.
  • Gabriel held up his arm when gesturing “bye” to Miss Heather today, and Zeke actually waved to her. Smart boys!

Houston dons a fancy “drool scarf” — a wardrobe staple during his time teething.

  • Gabe’s teething is in full swing. His lot of newly revealed teeth is causing him to whine and drool up a storm. Zeke’s teeth are still hiding below the surface, just waiting to wreak havoc. I’ll have to dress those boys in drool scarves sooner rather than later.
  • Houston likes to “fwy” (fly) off his changing table like “Soo-pare man.” He also enjoys “numping” (jumping) off of anything and insists on taking off his socks as to attain proper grip on the landing.
  • Houston has taken to saying “cool;” telling Mommy “careful” when he thinks I’m being clumsy when handling him; repeating a phrase that Mommy or Daddy say and adding “too” to the end of it; and adding “self” to the end of a phrase about himself.

Kickin’ the Binky & Battling Zombies

Houston has officially kicked the binky. Stephen and I decided a long time ago that once he had depleted his rather large stash of the oral-soothing devices, we wouldn’t buy anymore.

Fat & happy post-pigging out, Gabriel (left) & Zeke fiddle while their food digests.

Well, upon close inspection of his last remaining pacifier, it was evident by the tears and gashes that it had to go. I gave him one last hurrah with his dear old sleeping companion last night, and then we threw it in the trash this morning. And as of this writing, Houston has fallen asleep for a nap and for the night tonight quite successfully and without much fuss over his beloved binky.

Yes, Houston is a good boy, although we are still struggling a bit trying to get him to be nicer to the twins. He especially picks on Gabriel, who pretty much worships his big brother. And I think that’s exactly why Houston shows such an affinity for being mean to Gabe. Zeke oftentimes tends to be a loner when he’s playing, whereas Gabriel wants to be with Houston. Therefore, when Houston pushes him down or steals his toy, Gabriel reacts quite dramatically, of course, satisfying big brother’s mischievous ways.

It’s even more disheartening since Gabriel loves to share. He’s always moving food over to Zeke’s high chair tray or holding up toys for me or brothers to play with. So he takes Houston’s stinginess particularly personally. All in all, the 3 Amigos get along as well as can be expected, considering that Houston’s in the heat of his terrible twos and the twins are still babies.

Houston plays w/ “choo choo twains” @ the Children’s Museum.

Zeke has become a real a live wire, and here we thought he was going to be the mellow one. (Dare I say we won’t have a mellow one in this crew of sassy boys.) He screeches at Houston to leave him alone and holds his own when battling one-on-one with Gabriel. Zeke wasn’t going to let a little lung surgery hold him back, uh uh.

In addition to sucking his thumb, Zeke has also taken to cuddling with blankets, similar to Linus. He must always hold the blanket with his right hand (his thumb-sucking hand), while pressing the soft material and usually the washing-instruction tag, as well, up to his his face. Zeke will even pull blankets out of his crib in order to have them to crawl around with while playing in the nursery. And when a blankie is nowhere to be found, a stuffed animal and its tag will normally suffice.

Zeke (left) & Gabriel check out Dixie’s old toy — a hand-me-down from Miss Shawn.

I sometimes say the twins are like little zombies. You know how in the movies zombies just keep coming at you, crawling over you and on top of you, drooling madly, eventually overtaking the victim? Gabriel and Zeke get really excited when Mommy comes to play and do the same thing. Even though their wiggly attack is affectionate, they dig their toenails into my legs, rip my flesh to pull themselves up onto me, pull the fuzzy hairs on the back of my neck, tear down the neck of my shirt, and drool and/or puke on me. They’re usually making some crazy zombie-type grunts during all this, too.

I’m not sure if it’s because of their challenging time in utero or because they still share a crib and are used to beating each other up or just because they are strong little dudes who simply cannot contain their zest for life.

My boys are some good darn eaters. The twins are now eating virtually all table foods and loving every minute of it. (The only trouble I’m having is getting them to stop spitting food, which they seem to think is some sort of game.) At dinner tonight, Gabriel and Zeke even devoured some tilapia cooked in teriyaki, and Houston tried his hand at a tossed salad. He really likes raw carrots and celery, but had some trouble getting the slippery lettuce down his throat without incident.

Granny catches a pose w/ the 3 Amigos!

FYI, some of you have been asking about what to give to Gabriel and Zeke for their 1st birthday on October 16. Instead of a gift per se, please consider donating in their names to one of the following non-profits:

To check out some additions to the September – Part 3 gallery, click the pic of Granny and the boys. To view all the late September shots, click the very top photo of the twins. And to view photos of Houston on his play date with Uncle Greg and Auntie Merdy, click the pic of him with the trains. (Note: Some of these are blurry, I suppose because they were shot with an iPhone, but they’re still worth viewing.)