Six Years Old

Oh my, how ready you were to be six! More ready than I, I’m afraid.

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So much has happened for you this year, kiddo. You graduated 4K in May and preschool a few months later. Which then, of course, thrust us full speed into Kindergarten. Again… you were totally ready. I – as usual – had reservations about the transition. You basically held my hand through it.

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As with most changes, it hasn’t been without its bumps. I’m now on a first-name basis with the school principal, and I exchange regular emails with your Kindergarten teacher. We even gave your school bus driver a little Christmas gift this year because of the – uh – hiccups we’ve had as you’ve learned how to conduct yourself on the school bus.

But this is the magic of you – are you ready?

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Whatever ill-advised decisions you make and whatever frustrations you inspire in the grown-ups around you, we are all still 110% Team Graham. And we can’t help ourselves.

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We’ve talked at length about this with you, so I feel confident that as I write it here – even if you read this as a grown-up – you’ll nod your head in agreement at this being included in your story.

There are things that are not as easy for you as they are for everyone else. It has felt like a very long road to getting a grasp on what these things are – and you, your father and I are all still in the process of figuring all this out. Things that most people take for granted are very real, everyday challenges for you. Interactions with peers. Structured activities. Changes you weren’t expecting.

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Stuff that is so unconsciously secondhand nature for most of us that – when I take stock of how much of your day you either have to a) consciously navigate or b) be met with negative consequences by peers and grown-ups – I am utterly awed at how it is you wake up with such pure energy and joy to face your day each morning. Most of us would just throw our covers back over our heads until someone dragged us out of bed by force.

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Graham, honey – you are my hero. And it’s not just me either. Your dad, your teachers and your principal all see you. And we root for you every day – much in the way that one might root for an underdog sports team. The deck may be stacked against you in certain situations, but when you succeed – we are ALL going crazy in the stands.

I hope you feel the love and support around you, dear boy, because oh you are so very, very loved.

This year hasn’t all been about the challenges though. There has been some downright incredible stuff going on around here!

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This summer, we peaked. (Apparently.) We went to the Wilderness indoor waterpark resort in the Wisconsin Dells, and you have theretofore dubbed that the greatest day of your life. You do add that it’s a record you’re hoping to beat with, say, your wedding day or something like that. But point taken: we had a blast.

You and I also took a teacher in-service day and traveled down to Chicago so you could see the big city. You *loved* it. Every part of it: pigeons to skyscrapers.

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We’re also having fun while I’m between jobs hanging out after school together. You’ve gone so far as to say that, “Mom, when you do get a job, it’ll be a happy day for you, but a sad day for me.” Because ultimately, you’d be going back to after school care. That one stings a little, but I totally and completely get it. So we’re just enjoying every day that we do get to spend together while we can.

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Graham Andrew, you are a joy – plain and simple. As you get older, your dad and I are having so much fun rediscovering and considering the world through your eyes. I couldn’t ask for a better firstborn.

I love you like flowers love sunshine.

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Forever and always,

Your mom

Happy 3rd Birthday, Reid!

Okay, I give. Reid’s birthday was a whole month ago! I blame unemployment for completely turning all routines I once had on their ear. But did you know? My baby boy turned 3 on December 4.

THREE. The baby. Not so much a baby anymore.

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Yes, folks, we celebrated the birth of a brand new threenager.

Proof. We give a slice of cake to a smiling, happy kid. Ready to make his wish and blow out the candles….

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… until literally halfway through the “Happy Birthday” song, when he realizes that everything about this situation does not live up to his expectation. The song ends, Reid pushes his slice of cake halfway across the table and bursts into tears.

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It is going to be a great year! Ha.

No, but seriously. All the lofty, fragile expectations and bold assertions that this year may bring, I’m ready.

To my Reid: you are an enigma. You have got this amazing spirit and fortitude. Quiet ambition. The smallest among us, you work so hard to look and play the part. You never wonder if you’re ready for something, you just assume that you are. Which means your Dad and I have to keep our eyes on you!

First name: “Reid”, Middle name: “Ready for Anything”.

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The flipside of not wondering if you’re ready for something is: you assert when something is not for you. Two things you’re not into? Water and Noise. These are your kryptonite right now.

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(Which made the water park vacation in the Wisconsin Dells a WHOLE NOTTA NOPES as far as you were concerned.)

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Only by suiting you up in this ridiculous getup [above] were you able to splash (FEET ONLY, THANKS) with a tenuous smile. The rest of the vacation looked like this.

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This year has been one of mastery and discovery. Toddler skills such as walking and feeding yourself having long been accomplished, you have started to truly enjoy your surroundings and be a buddy to all of us.

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If there was one Big Reveal about you this year, it’s that you are a complete ham. We always pegged your brother for being a comedian, but you hold your own, young one.

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Yet again – you bring balance to that goofy side with a sweet snuggly side.

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You are definitely all about Dad right now. A total Daddy’s boy… many times to my detriment. You’ll be so passionate about Dad doing things for you that if I even attempt to help you, you don’t hesitate to ball up a fist and slug me hard. We’re working on that… Many mornings, you’ll toddle into our bedroom, walk right up to my side of the bed and say, “Mommy! I going to be nice to you today!” It doesn’t always last, but I appreciate the fresh attempt every morning.

You are also still big into your milk. You slam two sippy cups of milk a day – one in the morning, and one before dinner. We’re in the process of cutting you back now, but all year this year, you were not able to function without these daily doses of dairy. When it was time to make a cup, you’d watch us pour a cup of milk and wait patiently on the microwave to ding. You’d yell “Milk’s ready!” and we’d snap on a lid and hand it to you. Once the milk hit your lips, that cup stayed attached to your mouth until you’d completely drained the cup. After it was gone, you’d hold up the cup, shake it a little and yell, “Empty milk!!” then chuck the sippy cup as hard as you could across the room.

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Big things for you this year?

You were cleared of all other allergies except peanuts, of course (oh, and cats). It was a huge thing – for Mommy at least – to be able to allow tree nuts back into the house. It at least doubled our cereal options alone!

No more diapers! You decided you were done with diapers late this summer. As with everything else, once you’d made up your mind that it was behind you, it was. Potty training was fast. You definitely made it easy!

Words, words, words. There is nothing you can’t say. You have a bit of a lisp, which is adorable. And right now you either start most sentences with “Because” or end them with “Though.” We’re not sure why except that you hear us using these words all the time and you think it makes you sound grown up. Examples: “Because I stayed dry last night! Because I didn’t wet my pull-up!” or “I want some milk, though.” Also – if something is big in size, you call it “a bigger”. So if someone calls you a little kid, you retort “No, I’m not. I’m a bigger!” Or if someone is trying to give you a small amount of milk, you’ll say, “I want a bigger!”

Kid, I can’t believe that just over three years ago I had no idea who you were. This strong, solid little boy who hits hard and hugs harder. You have an easy spirit. Also a temper that will burn hot then fizzle because you’d rather just make up and not fight anymore. You are this great balance of love and fury. Energy and joy. I am so honored to be your mom. Happy Birthday, big guy.

Five Years Old

You won’t understand this for a very long time but I dreamed about you, son. I didn’t know what you would look like, but I had a place set at my table for you. I knew that I wanted a family, and I knew that our introduction would change things forever.

I was so right. And I also had nooo idea.

I thought sleep deprivation would be hard, but I didn’t know that the only way your father or I would ever get shuteye again was to teach you how to sleep.

I thought I would be firm and make sure you knew your limits. I had no idea that you would also be tough and push me until I exceeded mine.

I thought I would show you things but you, in your brief five years of life, have made me look at the world in ways I never have before.

I never understood how a mother could yell at her children in public for just being healthy, normal kids. Until I did it.

I have said since Year 1 that Motherhood is everything and nothing that I thought it would be.

But you, kid? You are everything I dreamed you would be. And more.

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Your dad and I were talking about you the other night. This happens on almost a daily basis, just so you know. Once we’ve managed to feed, bathe and tuck you boys into bed at night, we flop on the couch and marvel at the past day (and how much energy it took to get through it!)

On this particular night, we were recounting something that you had said that day and realized three things:

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1. You have empathy beyond your years.

This past Monday, when our Great Uncle Mark died, I knew I had to tell you but I had no idea how I was going to get through it. I was worried that you would be shaken, but when I broke into tears after telling you, you grabbed my hand and said, “It’s going to be OK, mommy,” then you hugged me and said, “What can I do for you?” Even your 4K teacher, Mr. Joel, says there are times when you say things that are so sweet he darn near needs to take a minute in the hallway to collect himself.

You are constantly reading a room. I honestly think this is why you have a tendency to get so overwhelmed when you are around a lot of people for an extended period. You take on the emotions of those around you, and hell if that isn’t a lot for a 5-year-old. It’s a lot for anybody.

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2. You are eloquent, articulate and brave.

It sounds like three things, but I promise they’re related.

You have a way of using words to articulate a thought or feeling that is both transcendent and perfectly your age. Like when I took a blanket out of the dryer and covered you in it. You squeezed your eyes shut, curled your toes and said, “Ooooh that is soaking warm!” I secretly hope you’ll write someday – just because I don’t want to miss out on those thoughts after you’ve grown and left me.

And brave. Oh buddy. I admire how you use those words of yours to stand up to your father and I. Just like this morning, when I was shouting upstairs, impatiently asking you to get downstairs and into the car. You came down the stairs and said, “Mom, how would you feel if I yelled at you on your birthday? .. Bad, right? Well that’s how I’m feeling right now.” Just a reminder, you’re five

Yes, there are times (many, actually) I wish you’d just stand down, but when I find myself wishing you were a little more easygoing, I realize that if you’re brave to stand up to us, you’re brave enough to stand up to your friends. Or other adults who aren’t making sense. It’s why we try so hard to ingrain the importance of respect. But keep it up, dude.

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3. You love special things.

You call them “special deals,” and you live for them. There is nothing you enjoy more than getting a break in the routine – to have successfully negotiated a bonus. Whether it’s something small like two bowls of cereal on a schoolday or something bigger like a pizza party movie night.

You’re starting to see the merit in enjoying other people’s special deals too and getting excited for them. That is a big sign of growing up, buddy.

This year has brought so much more than just those three things though. This has really been a breakout year for you, kiddo.

You’ve started cooking in a big way.

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You joined a tee-ball team.

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You started putting your own outfits together and getting dressed in the morning. (I promise, it’s gotten way better since!)

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You started 4K.

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You, with some help from dad, have started using real tools in the workshop.

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You discovered your love for camping…

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… and for weddings. (No, really.)

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You ran in your first race!

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You started writing in a big way. Reading is close behind!

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And you’ve made real friendships.

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Graham, I am so, so proud of who you are and of this wonderful little boy you are becoming. We have so much ahead of us this year, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Happy birthday, sweet boy.

www.erinmoorephoto.com

Happy 2nd Birthday, Reid

Two years old.

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I feel like the normal thing to do for this post is wax poetic about how I can’t believe how fast time has gone – how we’ve blinked and already somehow here we are… but really? I’m practically speechless that only two years have passed since we first met you.

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I hope that this is because I haven’t taken one single day for granted. It’s certainly not because it’s been any kind of a hardship. You have been pure joy since you arrived on the scene.

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Reid, so much has happened this year. Our worlds have spun around us and every single one of us has faltered through these transitions except for you. You – the tiniest among us – have been our steady.

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You are such a buddy – to anyone you’re around, really. We all love hanging out with you. But your best playmate is brother. You call him “Mammy,” and he loves it. He loves you, kid. (Your dad and I could never get away with calling him that!)

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Arguably, though, your favorite person in the whole world is your Grandpa P. He is your absolute hero. If you hear his voice in another room, you stop what you’re doing, yell, “PAPA!” and run off in search of him. Poor Grandma has been shunned so many times in favor of good ol’ Papa. In fact, it’s not hard to find pictures of you with him, because when he is visiting – you are always with him.

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Also? You are a complete and utter ham, just like your brother. Maybe it runs in the family. You love making us all laugh – but some of it isn’t intentional. You have a flare for mommy’s accessories, which – might I say – perfectly complement this husky frame you have going. You absolutely light up a room.

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You also seem to have realized from early on that you catch more flies with honey, because you sure do turn on the charm at key moments. Guess you do have a little southern in you yet.

 

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Buddy, you’re it. I don’t know how I got so lucky that you joined our little family, but I thank God every day that you did. I love you so much my sweet Baby Bear. Happy 2nd Birthday, my darling.

www.erinmoorephoto.com

Thanksgiving 2014

We are back from a great weekend at Mom and Dad’s. No thanks to a Halloween-weekend visit cancelled due to illness, it has been quite some time since we had seen Grandpa and Grandma. Even longer since we’ve had a chance to visit with Michael & Rose and Tony & Erin (along with their respective crews).

Wednesday afternoon – after Andy worked that morning – we all piled in the car and listened to Graham complain for 4 straight hours about the amount of snacks he’d been allowed to have. This trip was an unprecedented non-stop trip for us! Andy disagrees with this, saying we’ve done a non-stop trip twice before, but I feel like I would have remembered this. Plus it’s my blog, so I get to be right. Unprecedented.

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When we arrived, we had a taco dinner (now Graham’s favorite) with mom and dad, and quickly turned around to get the boys ready for bed. Gotta love bedtime at Grandpa and Grandma’s, we get to pass around the work! Namely bedtime story-reading.

Thanksgiving Day came and went. Amazing turkey (Yordy, of course) and other sides that complemented the turkey. Dad taught Graham how to make his rolls – which is to say he gave Graham instructions along the way while Graham insisted he “already knew that.”

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Desserts were out of control. I brought two pies, Erin brought one and Rose brought cookies, so I guess maybe we should talk to each other next time? Gabriel informed me that the pumpkin pie I brought wasn’t very good then proceeded to list the reasons to support his assertion. I tended to agree with him, if I’m on the hunt for pumpkin another year, I’ll look elsewhere. Graham, though, jumped to my defense while scarfing down his piece of pie and said, “I love your pie, mommy! It’s so yummy!!” Sweet kid.

On Friday, we had two big events:

1. Family photo: I have no pics of this. It was chaos. Besides, during the kids-only pic, I was crouched behind the loveseat assuring Graham that he wasn’t going to fall off.

2. Reid & Grace’s birthday party! Reid is turning two on Thursday, guys. Grace is turning 1 a week later. When does time slow down? Can anyone tell me? No, wait. Please don’t. I don’t think I’m going to like the answer.

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This picture cracks me up. All the patience for posed picture-taking is GONE at this point.

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Wasn’t the cake super adorable? Walmart, for the win! Reid kept Big Bird’s tow truck, and Grace kept Elmo’s car. Reid calls this “Happy Cake”. :)

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Everyone singing “Happy Birthday” (kind of?).
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Reid made out like a bandit. Happy Birthday potato head, pegboard puzzle, new toy cars.. perfect. He was very excited to be the center of attention. It happens so little!

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Grace got her inaugural piece of sweet-lovin’-goodness and made the most out of every bite.

The rest of the kids had fun at the party, too. With hats and noisemakers, who wouldn’t?

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The rest of the weekend, we just caught up. Mom and Dad offered to take the kids Friday night (YESYESYES) so Andy and I could go on a date. We hit up a restaurant called Taproot – totally yummy! – in Decatur’s beautifully redone downtown area. There has been a lot of investment and energy put into it, and it shows. So fun to spend an evening down there. We also caught Dumb and Dumber To. Wasn’t sure I was going to be able to summon the same kind of energy for these characters again, but it was a great ride. Recommended. :)

I’m so glad that we got a chance to catch up with everyone. Amazing how even though we are 12 hours closer to home, our lives still manage to get in the way of connecting frequently. Maybe in 2015 we can make it a more-usual occurrence.