Birthdays and Words

Last weekend was simply great. I had a birthday on Saturday – which is awesome in and of itself – but on top of it I was so lucky to have my parents up for a visit.

Right before my parents arrived on Friday night, Graham and I were setting the table. He said, "Oh, Mommy! We should make a menu so they know what we'll be eating!"

Right before my parents arrived on Friday night, Graham and I were setting the table. He said, “Oh, Mommy! We should make a menu so they know what we’ll be eating!”

I got to plan a day of fun. :)

We went out to breakfast, hit up the Dane County Farmer’s Market (favorite quote from my mom, marveling at the size and attendance: “They do this every weekend?!”), popped into the state capitol building (a first for me!), visited Clasen’s European Bakery, and ate some birthday cake from Trefzger’s bakery in Peoria, IL (a long-standing family favorite, from my mom’s growing-up days). Then everyone took naps after lunch. :) That night, mom and dad babysat the boys while Andy and I got to escape for dinner and a movie. It was a perfect day.

We stopped into the Wisconsin State Capitol building to look around while we were downtown at the farmer's market

We stopped into the Wisconsin State Capitol building to look around while we were downtown at the farmer’s market

We also stopped into a toy shop on Capitol Square. Reid did some hat modeling.

We also stopped into a toy shop on Capitol Square. Reid did some hat modeling.

Reid rode on "papa"s shoulders after the toy stop - he's clapping his hands at some violinists out front of the store (just off camera)

Reid rode on “papa”s shoulders after the toy stop – he’s clapping his hands at some violinists out front of the store (just off camera)

My beautiful birthday cake. Lemon chiffon - yum! yum!

My beautiful birthday cake. Lemon chiffon – yum! yum!

Reid reenacted his first birthday

Reid reenacted his first birthday

Lots of lovely greetings from family!!

Lots of lovely greetings from family!!

While they were here, Mom and Dad, Andy and I put our heads together and picked a date and location for a camping trip – together! Mom and Dad are going to come with us next time! Graham is so excited he is not going to be able to wait until August to go!

Graham, camping out on his bedroom floor

Graham, camping out on his bedroom floor

Today [Tuesday] I kissed my boys good-bye and headed to Chicago for some focus groups. I’ll stay the night here and head back to see their sweet and silly smiling faces tomorrow.


Tonight, when I called home, Baby Reid yelled, “HELLO!!” over the phone. That kid just keeps picking up more and more words!! (We just recently banned the pacifier except for sleep, because his doctor was a little eyebrow-raise-y at how few words and sounds he was making at his 18-month checkup.) Things he has literally started saying in the last week as a result of the stay on daytime pacifier use:

“Weid” (Reid)
“Go-go”/”ya-yoh” (Hugo)
“Coo-KEE!” (Cookie)
“Bye-bye, Papa!” (First sentence, saying good-bye to Dad while he was visiting)
“Howp” (Help, not yet heard at home – but they say he says it at school!)
“Shoe” (Formerly “SHTHHH”)
… and generally tons of babbling sounds

I will say that, as a result, we have found a couple of instances of Reid sucking his thumb, but as annoying of a habit as that would be to have to break, it wouldn’t be as impedent to language development. So, as they say, we’re picking our battles. If it’s not one thing, it’s another, no?

Epilogue: Superfluous shot of the boys playing nicely together. Not fighting. No biting (::ahem::). Just… civility. Like the cover of a parenting brochure. ::contented sigh::

7-graham and reid play

Reid’s First Year in Review

My video tribute to our littlest boy’s first year of life.

(What did you think I’d forget? I was just set back a little… given the cross-country move and temporary living arrangment. I didn’t get the Mac back until January. I’d say two months isn’t too shabby with all that we’ve had going on.)

Enjoy! I tried to make it as sweet as he is, but he sets the bar so stinking high!! :)

Song: “Sweet Disposition”, Temper Trap

Graham Turns 4: The Birthday

That last post leads us to the birthday celebration itself. February 5th was an all-round great day.

The party thing stumped me for a little while. It’s an interesting conundrum since we just moved to the area. We don’t really have established friends yet, and while we have adults we could have invited over, Graham is old enough now that he wants to party with his people – not ours. (Go figure!) Daycare parties are territory I’m not ready to broach. He only ever talks about one friend he has there, and inviting his entire class when he’s only been there 3 months seemed odd.

So, we decided to keep the party just us this year. Andy & I did everything we could to make it super special for him.




Something simple and all about him. It turned out to be absolutely perfect. Big parties with lots of people tend to overwhelm our guy – at least so far they have – so our little all-about-you day was just what he needed.

I included a little video clip of the present-opening at the end of this post so you can see how amped he was.

One of the big gifts this year was a ‘big boy’ chair from Grandpa Craig & Grandma Sue.

Anyone who has been reading this site the last three years has seen the establishment that IS the RED CHAIR. Graham loves it. It’s just for him – down to the personalized embroidery. It’s his size. It’s…. errr :::record scratch:::


Correction: It was his size. Time for an upgrade!


Much better!

We had ballooons, T.V. in the morning, unprecedented “fruity weekend cereal” before school on a Wednesday.


That night, we ordered sausage pizza (Graham’s favorite), ate tons of birthday cake (everybody’s favorite) and watched A Bug’s Life in our movie room.


A great day for a great kid. Happy, happy birthday, my G. I love you to pieces!

Want to see the birthday boy, in action? Here you go!

Note about the green Jell-o. We’d had it the night before at dinner, and he’d asked me to put that in his cake. Culinary innovator, that one!

Graham Turns 4: The Year in Review

It was a mere four years ago that we were all watching the Winter Olympics last. But me?

I was watching them with this little thing in my arms.


And now here we are again, but four years later.


Where has time gone? And when I look back at just one year ago – to pictures of his third birthday celebration, I realize that he’s changed a ton just in the last year.


So it goes with children, I guess. He looks like such a baby in that picture, doesn’t he?

My Graham. G. Gray. Bubba. Big Bro.

It’s funny. When I was pregnant with Reid, I had very real fears about losing touch with my first-born. That I’d miss things. And sure, let’s be honest, I’ve missed things. But what’s weird is that I feel like I have learned so much about Graham this year. Moreso than from the previous three years combined.

The great thing about Graham is that he gives you 110%. Always. Whatever emotional state he’s in. It’s 110% percent.

If he’s happy; he’s ecstatic. If he’s upset: HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE. If it’s quiet at the dinner table, he says, “So, Mommy, what did you do at work today?” If he’s scared, he talks his way through his fears.

To wit, if I could only use two words to define Graham, they would be Passion and Spirit.














And, oh, the goofiness. It will resuscitate me after a terrible day and just about send me to the looney bin when I’m needing some good, quiet behavior. It’s useless trying to reprimand him for it, because he usually just makes me laugh in spite of myself.

Yes, Graham can keep his adults on their toes and seem like a tough nut to crack, but don’t let his vivacious exterior fool you. There is a huge heart beating just below the surface. Graham is a sensitive, old soul to his very core, and I’ll be honest:

There were times when we forgot that this year.

Graham got in a teacher relationship at school in Texas that wasn’t good for him. He struggled there. He struggled at home. We tried to clamp down tighter to get his behavior in check, and his spirit just worked harder to break free. Every day when I would drop him off at school, I’d get a stern face from his teacher, and, “We had another bad day yesterday.” Another bad day. After another. After another. Then, “We can’t keep doing this.” Then, “Something is going to have to change.”

I’ll be honest. I was worried we would be asked to leave the school. It led to a pretty unhappy few months for everyone involved, because we were desperate to course-correct.

And guess, what? We were trying so hard to control what we couldn’t that we forgot to nourish what we could. To get Graham feeling confident on the inside so he could shine through to the outside.







This last picture? That is the woman who turned it all around for Graham – and ultimately us – when the school director moved him to her class.

She called him “Sunshine.” She gave him hugs and kisses. When he did something cool in class, she showed him off to his friends and teachers. She was calm, firm, kind and had high expectations for Graham. She yoked him with responsibility, and he worked so hard to show her that he was worthy of her praise. So hard to not disappoint her.

She celebrated with him. She saw misbehavior in class and traced it back to needs that weren’t being met. I am tearing up writing this, just like I would tear up at my every feeble attempt to tell her how unbelievably grateful we are that God placed her in our path.

Our angel.

Whew. :::flaps hands in front of eyes::: Okay, where were we?

Graham, as all kids his age, adores asking questions.

And okay, I’ll admit it: I was [naively] looking forward to the question stage. Little did I realize, that they would often be completely unanswerable questions.

For instance, last month he unpacked a rogue shot glass from a moving box, pointed at the thick part at the bottom and said:

“Why can’t I touch that?”

Me: “Touch what?”
Graham: “Touch that.”
Me: “What, the thick part?”
Graham: “Yeah.”
Me: “You want to know why you can’t touch, what… the inside of the thick part?”
Graham: “Yeah.”
Me: “I don’t know, hon. Because it’s the middle.”
Graham, now frustrated and yelling at the shot glass: “WHY IS IT TRYING TO HAVE A MIDDLE!?!?!?”

See? Completely unanswerable. And, at times, frustrating for all involved.

I say ‘keep it coming,’ though. We make a point of praising Graham for asking good questions. Because, after all, nobody is supposed to know all the answers – but it’s the good question-askers who can really make a difference. Plus, that’s basically all I do for a living: ask questions.

Which brings me to my heart-swelling topic: the boy is a chip of the old block. He both loves science…


… and food. Cooking, to be exact. The second I get into the kitchen, Graham is pulling a chair to the counter asking if he can chop or measure anything for me.




But the thing he loves most of all in this world? Moreso than even me or Andy?

Baby Reid.






Oh, does this boy ever LOVE being a big brother. He is both loving and fiercely protective. He knows what Little Bro needs – often better than Andy & I do – and will go to bat for him when he thinks we’re not getting it right.

Finally, even though the milestones aren’t as many now that G is getting a little older, there were some firsts in Year 4.

First movie in the theater: Monsters University



Loved it.

First trip to the dentist?


Nailed it. (Seen here with Dr. Findley… or, as Graham calls him “Dr. Friendly.”)

Of course, we had our cross-country move to Wisconsin. Graham is loving the snow. Rock on, buddy. There’s tons of it to be had!



(Try and get this guy to pick up a shovel 10 years from now. I dare ya!)

So, that about sums this year up. It’s probably enough for one sitting, dontcha think? Tune in tomorrow for a [much, much shorter] post about G’s 4th birthday celebration itself. :)

Happy Birthday, Baby Reid

365 days. One full, hold-on-to-your-hats, dizzying ride around the sun.

Our baby boy is one year old today.

Yes, this guy.

10 days
Raise your hand if you remember that Reid was born with brown hair??

I remember a year ago with vague flashes of memory. I remember that Reid caused some really convincing false labor two times before he ultimately got his eviction notice. I was the Braxton Hicks queen of them all. Every night I had timeable contractions. Every night they got closer and closer together. Then I would go to bed, wake up not contracting, get dressed and go to work.

Then December 4th, we left Graham with my mom and headed to the hospital. My water broke at 8:00 a.m. and four hours later, Reid William was born – at 12:08 a.m.

As with Graham, it was the easiest labor & delivery ever. (They seriously need to put me on A Baby Story, because my experience would make first time mommies a lot less nervous for delivery. But then again, it would make terrible T.V.)

Reid arrived on the scene peaceful and content. Day 2 brought some fussies, but we figured him out pretty quickly.


“Wrap me up and feed me milk, and I’ll take it easy on your ears. Deal?”

Reid was pretty much my maternity leave buddy for 3 months. We hung out. Watched some T.V. Ate Christmas cookies. Thought seriously about sleeping a couple of times.

Then the smiles came and with them, his sunny personality.

Where Graham was slapstick and drama, Reid was a ready smile for anyone who looked his way.

Bumbo Smiles
Who could forget the ear infection that would not clear? The unprecedented three rounds of uber-antibiotic shots – one in each leg all three times. Sunk deep into those meaty hamhocks halfway to the thighbone. Dr. G, in his no-nonsense way telling me that we had two choices, do this ridiculous shot nonsense again or, at the ripe old age of 4 months, tubes. We made the right choice, after seeing what comes out of said tubes after each particularly nasty cold!

I had no idea just how many firsts we would have with our second child.

photo 3
This is about the time that Graham realized that being a big brother had big payoffs.

He has more love for Baby Reid than I have seen him have for anyone else, bar none. Fierce protector. Thoughtful teacher. Willing playmate. (And, sometimes, overzealous snitch.) 😉

One of the things that I love most about this baby is his willingness to just roll with it. Yes, right now at 12 months, he’s getting a healthy respect for the uncertainty of life. Getting more sensitive and quick to frighten. But for the most part he is a go-with-the-flow, feel the wind blow through your hair kinda kid.

So very literally, sometimes.

7 months - vacation
With Reid, I played dress-up. Every chance I got, I put this kid in a cutesy outfit. He makes such a great Ken doll. 😉

7 months
And boy, did we have to make sure and change clothes a lot at our house because did Reid ever grow quickly! Especially between 6 and 10 months. In the 90th %iles for everything!

9 months
Reid is a voracious eater. His thighs tell no lies, so they say. (Just kidding, nobody says that. Except me. Just now.)

10 months
For Halloween this year, we dressed the boys in matching outfits. Graham as Tigger. And Reid as the cutest Pooh Bear you ever did see.

He’s so clever – bringing his own treats for trick-or-treating. 😉

Shortly after, we moved out of Texas. (Always remember, Baby Reid, you were born there. You have dual citizenship!!) Onto Wisconsin. He took that all in stride too, of course. All said, this year we learned that he doesn’t really love car. Especially the last hour or two of a long drive. Thankfully for everybody we eliminated a big travel ordeal for one large branch of the family visits!

Reid has been acclimating to life here quite well. On the one hand, he’s had a pretty big sleep regression, but on the other – we get to look at him in all kinds of different adorable hats!! Life’s a tradeoff.

bird hat
Reid, it has been a joy to watch you grow over the last year, and it’s frankly so hard for me to remember you as itty bitty. Hard to believe you were not always this broad, strapping boy we know today. With cheeks that insist on stretching out for miles. And dimples that knock the breath right out of my body.

So, here we are. One year old, and you have brought us so many laughs and so, so much love.

This time last year, we had absolutely no idea who you were. Today, I absolutely can’t imagine life without you.

Happy Birthday, my sweet, sweet angel baby.