How to Catch a Reid

Who doesn’t love a little Baby Reid in the middle of their day – I do!

Reid is a babbling fool. He enjoys talking, even if he’s not saying a word. He tries really hard, and sometimes he gets so excited he just bellows (or squeaks!)

Yeah, the hat? He insists on wearing it in the car. But when the car arrives at its destination it’s “ALL DONE, HAT!” Last night, when we got home from the drug store, he said, “HOME! All done, hat!”

If Reid is locomoting between two places, he’s moving like a fullback. There is no exception to this. They say men lead with their chests and women with their hips when they walk. Reid leads with his head. He is constantly running at a 25-degree angle, slanted forward, barreling to.. wherever.

To that end, if you have the pleasure of greeting Reid when he is excited to see you, try not to be gullible enough to crouch down to catch him in his adorable running hug. Keep your feet firmly planted in a standing position with your knees slightly bent. It better absorbs the shock from the tackle.

“Tackle,” by the way, is one of his few words. It’s starting to become the tip of the iceberg. He also loves all things with wheels. He’s fairly non-discriminating in his vehicular interest, but he can say “car” and – more recently – “choo-choo” so he does tend to gravitate toward those objects.

After dinner most nights, he suddently realizes that he has an urgent need to play with his cars. He’ll motion “All done” after dinner, remove his bib and say, “All duh… play car??!?” One night, he stood straight up from his little chair in the middle of an episode of Curious George and said, “MOMMY!! PLAY CAR!!” Like he’s worried we’re going to tragically run out of time and head to bed before he’s had his due.

It’s a mini-Reid update. I just can’t stop watching this video today. 😉

Let it Go, On-the-Go

Graham has a LeapReader and thoroughly enjoys it. I think he’s a little young for the “read on your own” features, because he seems a little overwhelmed by sitting down with a book. But – something I didn’t realize when we bought it put it on Graham’s wishlist* – it also plays audiobooks and music. Basically, it’s a little like a mini mp3 player.

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He totes this thing on car trips and to “the boring places” like haircuts and oil changes. He plugs in his headphones and plays his own little set of tunes.

Funny thing is – there is only one audiobook and a couple songs on there: the demo versions that the LeapFrog company preloaded on the device. Today, I changed all that. Graham is now the proud owner of the Frozen soundtrack.

His reaction was priceless. In fact, he wanted me to shoot some video so he could tell us about it.

(I didn’t edit the clip, it lags a little at the end, but I thought the “I just sing it…” was hilarious.)

Other than 24/7 access to Frozen songs, we’ve had a pretty slow week around here. We made some cookies this weekend. Reid’s teacher in the infant room resigned to be a nanny, and has now become our a-mazing babysitter, so we made for the hills (figuratively speaking) and went on a date night last night.

Other random updates:

– I have now run 6.5 miles two additional weekends and have suffered no ill effects from the distance like I did that first time. The actual 10K race is next weekend, and I’m feeling equal parts confident and ready for it to be over. Graham is also entered into the race for the 1/4-mile kiddie sprint. Should be fun.

– We lost the caterpillar I wrote about last entry. I replaced it with a big fat woolly worm (pictured below) and we mysteriously LOST THAT ONE TOO. I am going on the record to say that I’m not OK with the number of larval insects on the loose in my house. Probably they are both inside Hugo’s tummy, if we’re being honest. No more caterpillars will be coming indoors this season.

That’s about it from here. Hope you had great weekends wherever they may have led you!

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*Brainfart! We didn’t actually buy this for Graham! I thought really hard about it and researched it thoroughly but the people who made it happen? His Grandpa Craig and Grandma Sue. :) talk about a gift with longevity!

Making it Work

There are moments when I realize that my kids are living the lives of kids in a dual-working-parent household, and their willingness to go with the flow makes me so utterly grateful.

Camping and other weekend trips are fun, but reality soon sets back in. Since weekends and evenings are the only free time Andy and I have, those mundane daily chores like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, mowing the lawn, etc. all get pushed to the narrow space we have after work, mealtime and bedtime for the kids.

Last night, I tried something a little different and loaded Graham into the car right after dinner (a dinner comprised of frozen pizza and chicken patty sandwiches, no less) to do our grocery shopping (to avoid future frozen pizza and chicken patty sandwich nights). In order to abbreviate the time it would take to corral a 4-year-old through the grocery store, I told Graham he’d have to sit in the cart for the first half of the shopping trip. If, however, he chose to stay in the cart the whole time, I’d let him have a treat at the end.

Hashtag BRIBERY

Pushing through the store, Graham and I chatted about games he plays at recess, discussed sugar content in cereals, and thought up funny [read: gross] new names for my recipes. We were at our last stop in the store, picking out yogurt flavors and whining over the removal of aspartame in Yoplait Light (okay, that was just me), that I looked at my tall, gangly preschooler in the baby seat of the cart and became overwhelmed with emotion.

I used to wonder how Andy and I would make it work – having kids while we both work outside the home. I realize now that it’s the kids that make it possible. Sounds like a Catch-22, I get it. It just struck me last night that it’s not just Andy and I doing our parts to make a happy home, the boys pitch in to make that possible too. I wasn’t able to sit down for a minute between dishes and the boys’ bathtimes, I was pushing a cart around the grocery store. But, likewise, Graham wasn’t watching his nightly episode of Curious George after dinner either. Instead, we were making jokes and catching up on the day together.

That trip was both a sacrifice of routine and a gift of time together.

I gave Graham a big sappy hug, right there in the middle of the cultured dairy section, and thanked him for being such a great little boy and making his mommy so happy.

There Are No Perfect Parents

My career move into consumer science has put me unexpectedly in touch with human psychology.

And I love it.

I have gained so many insights into not only myself but also my relationships with others that I have become so much more comfortable in my own skin and confident in my approach to life. I’ve also come to deeply appreciate the value of gaining another thinking person’s reflection on the places where I’m stuck.

Andy and I sought out one such person in Dallas when we realized we’d shaken our toolbox completely empty when it came to our kids. We had been in so many parent-teacher conferences with little Graham and had seen first-hand the difference that approach makes in his confidence and well-being.

That’s where our lives intersected with Ms. Amy. Ms. Amy is a certified play therapist in Dallas.

::record scratch::

Play therapist? Yep, play therapist. A psychology professional who deals exclusively with kids under age 18. Let me go ahead and address some of my FAQ from friends & family who have discussed this whole “Ms. Amy” thing with us:

1. Graham is a perfectly normal preschool-aged boy, why would you take him to a counselor?

This has never been about fixing Graham. “Fixing” would imply that there was something wrong with Graham in the first place. No, what we needed was someone to help us understand Graham. And once she understood Graham, she then helped us diagnose what specifically is and isn’t working in our approach to parenting him. I think taking him to a play counselor says less about him as a little boy and more about me as a struggling parent.

2. Aren’t you worried about what Graham will think about being taken to a counselor when he’s old enough to understand? Will he label himself as a kid who needed counseling and carry that with him through life? 

I think we – as a society – need to shift our thinking about counseling, therapy & mental health as a whole. This hush-hush stigma that we have is perpetuating the shame that goes along with seeking help. There should never be shame about seeking out a healthier, well-adjusted, happier life. Period. To that end, Andy and I have committed to talk to Graham and Reid about the ugly stuff. The hard to talk about things. I don’t actually really count our month-long relationship with Ms. Amy as ‘the ugly stuff’ but you get the point maybe. Hiding these visits with her from him or others actually implies that there’s something there to be hidden. Hiding perpetuates shame. Shame begets more hiding. Time to break the cycle. Hence – I’m talking about it here!

Those are pretty much the two items that keep popping up. But you know what? I am so thankful that Andy and I took the steps to see Ms. Amy while we were in Dallas, because I just had to do a phone consult with her a few weeks ago.

Graham all of the sudden had a significant spike in separation anxiety about a month ago, and I placed a call to Ms. Amy. Before we got started on the current topic, she asked how Graham was and how we were doing after our big move. I told her that we still use all the tools that she gave us – even if we’re not perfectly consistent at it, we try really hard. She let me finish my thought, then interjected:

“Debbie, there are no perfect parents. There’s no such thing. What there are, are parents who love their children so much that they are willing to keep trying to do better the next time. And that’s what these children need.”

And it’s funny, you know? The “mommy wars” are real. And hurtful. We are all trying our hardest, and then we turn around and snipe another parent for not trying hard enough. Or for doing the wrong thing. Like it’s a black-and-white matter – a right-or-wrong answer. Like there are perfect parents. Instead of shaking our heads in 100% empathy and saying,

 “I know, it’s so hard, isn’t it?”

Just a Little Bit

Hey – do you think I can write a post every day for awhile? They may be short (I can hear the “hallelujah”s already), they may be pointless (probably), but they will be here. Are you with me? Let’s go!

We had an amazing visit with Brian and Michelle last weekend, and we’ve just about turned the guest room over again because we have Andy’s parents due to arrive tomorrow. Visits, ahoy! How come it took until June for people to start visiting?!

Oh right, Wisconsin. Fair enough, people. Fair enough!

We are so happy to have people up to our house. So happy, in fact, that Andy bought 6 tiki torches at the Menards on Sunday. That means that, on the tiki torch scale of hosting excitement, we are at a 6.

We have also been busy in between. Take last night for instance: After cooking, serving & cleaning up after dinner, Andy installed a ceiling fan in Baby Reid’s room and mowed the lawn, and I bathed both boys, tucked them into bed and then made a pan of enchiladas.

Tonight, Graham has his third t-ball practice. I’ll be honest, I think I succumbed to Millennial parenting peer pressure and signed him up for team sports too early. I admit it. The first week he was nervous about it. Last week was so much better because his cousin Charlie played on his team. This week, he’s pretty excited to put on his green shirt and hat. But the whole ‘organized sports’ thing? He could live without it. Only 3 more weeks after this, though, so we’ll ride this wave to shore.

That’s all for now. I’ll post some snapshots of our visit soon enough. Just probably not before this weekend. :)