Easter 2014

Last weekend was a great visit with family. We traveled to Illinois for the Easter weekend and were able to catch up with a bunch of family! Maybe most importantly, Andy and I were finally able to meet Grace! Little Grace was recuperating after a bug, so she may not have felt like 100% but it made no difference to this auntie. We got a proper introduction and snuggles. Girl didn’t even make it into the house before she was in my arms. :)

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Look at us three! All grown up and peppered with children!

We had such a great time! It had only been a couple months since our last visit, but now that we only live 4 hours away it somehow felt like an exceedingly long gap.

Saturday, we had Tony’s family over and we did a cousins’ Easter egg hunt in mom and dad’s backyard.

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Carsten is all set to go!

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Graham dominated. But he shared his eggs after the fact. After a little motherly encouragement. Ahem.

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McKenna held court. She acquired a couple of eggs and was perfectly content to admire them by her basket.

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Reid was all about finding eggs until he realized there was something INSIDE the eggs. Then he had a completely different mission. EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE.

Later that day, after nap, we dyed Easter eggs!

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Hahaha – isn’t this picture great?? I am such a cool mom. NOT.

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Reid hanging with his ultimate hero. Dad trumps all other people, including me and Andy. He would be happy if Dad would just carry him around 100% of the time. Thanks.

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My G. Love this guy.

Guess what? After we all went to bed, the Easter Bunny came and hid all our eggs! And came with baskets (which we didn’t really get pictures of). The main event was the egg hunt, after all.

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Ready for the hunt!

Sidebar: You see that cluster of white bunnies on the floor behind Graham? The smallest bunny is his bunny. It’s one of two almost identical bunnies: one is white, the other grayish-brown. This bunny’s name is “Easter”. Saturday night, he had his two bunnies in bed with him and before I left the room he held Easter bunny out to me and said, “Here Mommy, take ‘Easter’. He has a lotta work to do tonight!” So precious.

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Reid is not a morning person. He needs a little time to warm up. The first 15 minutes after he wakes up, you’ll find him in somebody’s lap drinking his cup of milk. Sacred morning routine.

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We rushed the routine a little…. whoops.

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Graham was such a great egg-finder!

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Success on the egg hunt! Now, breakfast for the hungry hunters!

The rest of the day was spent at church and then hanging around Mom and Dad’s house. Both Michael & Tony’s families came over after their church services and we got a little cousin time in!

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Mom and Reid having some quiet time, reading his new Easter books.

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Graham, still in church clothes [sans polo], playing in the backyard. His khakis were totally grass-stained. It was awesome. :)

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Gabriel showing off his spit ball pitch.

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Elijah being Elijah. Found some really great rocks. Transported them around the yard…

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… in my brothers’ old – yet awesome – Tonka dump truck.

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I love this picture. Shows the scene of all of us. Graham playing in dirt. Elijah off to the left working the dump truck. Me, Tony & Gabriel (and my Dad, off to the left of this picture) tossing a baseball around.

It was a really beautiful weekend. We’re all so ready for spring up here. This Easter weekend we took full advantage of the warm sunny days!

Hope your Easter weekend was just as wonderful!

 

Cross-Country Club

Once in awhile, I look over at Reid, and I’m like…

… DANG, kid, with the growing! Always with the growing. He is RELENTLESS.

He and his brother both, actually. In light of this, we decided it was high time we get Boy 1 and Boy 2 up to see our Illinois family. And so, a trip was planned.

Now… when it comes to travel, Andy and I don’t really like to behave as if we lived in the 21st century. No. We decided at some point in our Texas existence that driving to central Illinois was “do-able”. On the upper limit of do-able, but do-able all the same.

When it was just Andy and I, we could make the trip in 12 hours – given we planned our stops right and ate in the car. When we added Graham last year, he added a couple of hours. Mostly this was because we then had to stop for meals. (No eating in carseats, folks. Choking hazard. It’s one of two things I am always on the lookout for. Throwing up is the other one. Hee.) 12 hours became 14 with Graham in tow and… well ugh. But you know what? G handled it AMAZINGLY well, so we persevered. Sure, driving 14 hours is a major bummer, but there are a lot of upsides. Cost, packing convenience, less hassle in majorly crowded places, less chance of a kid running off… I know. I’m grasping at straws.

But seriously:

Graham is an absolutely amazing traveler. Just give him a DVD player and an entire wallet of enticing DVDs to shun in lieu of one single movie to be played on repeat no less than 8 times, and he is golden.

This time, when we added Baby Reid to the mix, he also added an hour.

Pay no mind to the hastily snapped romper…

Even when we tried making diaper changes super quick! That every-3-hour bottle schedule is a killer. Because we’d stop for a meal, Reid would eat, it’d be an hour before we got back on the road, thanks to Graham’s leisurely dining tendencies and potty stops for all, then we’d have to stop another two hours later. Yikes.

A bottle-stop at a rest area, while brother and Daddy played on the playground

Sidenote: Reid likes his bottles warmer than room temp. This, at first, stumped me. How does one handle this on the road? A Thermos, that’s how! Put some pretty warm water in the Thermos in the morning, and that bottle was the perfect temp all the way to the Heartland. Just make sure the Thermos is big enough to carry 30-40 oz of water!

Back to the story…

Baby Reid, too, handled the trip amazingly well. We got up and on the road by 6:30 a.m. Graham was so good about asking about Grandma’s house without whining about it. Especially since, thanks to the Fusion hybrid, we only had to stop for gas once, at about Rolla, MO. Graham burned off a little energy here by dancing around. Unfortunately, both boys like to shut off the megawatt charm when the camera comes out, but this is as close as we could capture.

And guess what? He didn’t nap. NOPE. NOT EVEN ONCE. He was that excited to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s. Didn’t want to risk missing it. So we told him that it had to get dark before we got there. He hung in the entire way.

And we eventually made it! Yayayayay! Around 9:30 that night.

The next day, Grandpa and Grandma took off with Graham for some errands around downtown. They took him to Del’s Popcorn Shop on Merchant Street. Such a favorite. He chose some yummy Swedish Fish to take home (pictured below, in hand).

Later that day, Erin dropped by so we could meet our sweet new niece, McKenna. So nice to hold an itty bitty baby. Seems like Reid hardly spent any time in that itty-bitty stage. ::sigh::

I told Andy that he looked so good holding a girl. He looked back, point blank and said, “Don’t get any ideas.” Hahaha. Too soon, too soon. I get it. I have 6-month-old euphoria.

Carsten and I caught up – getting particularly enthralled by the use of my front-facing phone camera.

Amazing fun!

 Isn’t he the cutest? I have sworn since he was about a year old that he should be recorded for some cute baby/young child Foley sound effects.

Aaaaanyway. We planned the trip back with good timing, because it just so happened that my big bro’s birthday was that Sunday! (Which was also the day planned for McKenna’s baptism, so being the quick thinkers that we are – we celebrated Michael’s birthday on Saturday.)

With food! Because we, as a family, are at our best when we are fed.

There is no arguing this point.

Boom: empirical evidence of happiness. (Aren’t we a good-looking bunch too?!)

And seeing as how a Memorial Day, burger cook-out, birthday mash-up theme was in order, we took the hybrid approach to the cake as well.

Haha – awesome, no? I amused myself and the 7-and-under set by pretending I didn’t know that this was cake. I had boys yelling at me that “NO. Aunt Debbie/Mom… it’s CAKE! NOT A CHEESEBURGER!” I, of course, countered that I was “pret-ty sure [Anthony Crispino-style] it was a cheeseburger.”

Pretty fun to have those boys standing at the table, laughing so hard, pointing their fingers at me and yelling that it was CAKE!

And golly – how cute is this boys table anyway? (This, the calm before the feeding frenzy!)

And of course, our queen who will one day rule them all!

Of course, Graham can’t seem to handle getting together with family without coming down with some sort of illness. This time was no different. He caught some sort of stomach bug that was minor in nature, but enough of a thing to keep him home from the baptism on Sunday morning. That meant lots of hanging out in PJ’s with Daddy.

Reid, meanwhile, spiffed up with Mommy and headed out to the baptism with the rest of the family!

I love seersucker on a good Southern boy.

Tony’s church is about 10-15 minutes away from Mom and Dad’s house. I would so love to be that close and not be 10-15 HOURS away.

Michael, Rose & crew. Guess what?? Another one on the way! :::squeeeeeeeee:::

Baby girl was baptized in a wonderful ceremony. Soon after, we all gathered in Mt. Zion for lunch!

Baby Reid and Michael getting acquainted again. Michael had the priviledge of feeding Reid his first ever bottle back in January. It was a very crazy morning when they were visiting us in Texas, and Graham managed to come down with a wicked case of strep. (I know! G is very rarely sick. Only for major family gatherings, I guess!)

The guest of honor! She is the sweetest baby girl ever.

So sad that the next day, Monday, we had to leave it all behind and drive back home. The first part of the drive was overcast, kinda like my mood always is when we leave.

The boys were less than thrilled to be going back home. On a number of occasions, Graham asked if we could please just go back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. In fact, so little was there to look forward to on Monday, that there were actually naps to be had in the backseat.

A little bit of a mood-brightener for a final story:

On one of our stops at an Oklahoma welcome center/rest stop, Graham insisted on picking up some glossy cards from one of, I’d say, a hundred stacks of brochures. I took the cards from him, handed him one back, then put the rest on the table. He said, “NOO. I want one for me, one for you and one for Daddy.” Then he looked at the card in his hand, looked at the stack and said, “So I need TWO more cards.”

… WHAT?! When exactly did he start doing math?!?

(Folks who don’t have children in daycare through early childhood. These are discoveries that you make on a fairly regular basis. Like realizing that Graham could count all the way to 15 one day. Those kinds of things.)

I was so proud I let him have the three cards.

Plus now, should we ever find an Eskimo Joe’s or their world famous T-shirts, we will know its complete history.

So we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.

Home from Home

And we’re BACK, ladies and gentlemen! Andy and I have driven 1500 miles, give or take, in the last week. We went back to Illinois for the Thanksgiving holiday. While we were there, Mom, Rose, Erin, Jodi and Kelly threw me what is surely a top contender for the cutest baby shower ever. I’ve uploaded pictures to my Photographs section, so you can go see. I have more pictures from our time with family, but I’m going to leave it at one album for tonight. I need some downtime!

Alligator, Debater, Emancipator, Denominator

About a month ago, Andy and I found this online. One of the kids in youth group told us about a musician, Sufjan Stevens, who has set the lofty goal of creating a commemorative album about each of the 50 states. He said that he’d already made the album for our home state, Illinois.

Later, back at the ranch, Andy googled said album and found that there was an entire track devoted to Decatur, IL. All in all, it’s a good song really. Good tune. Kind of makes you want to sway back and forth with your hands in the air. Or is that just me? Anyhow, there are some very key Decatur references in the song. If you’re from there or are very familiar with it, this is good for a chuckle. If you’re not, then – well – just enjoy the song.

Starstruck

Matt Damon has been hanging out in Decatur, IL lately shooting on-site for his latest film, The Informant. Mom tells me the town is starstruck, and um, of course!! The Herald and Review paparazzi have been following him around place to place, and the daily newspaper reports where he has been the day before. I’ve put the pictures from the Herald and Review website up here. Looks like Matt had to put on a bit of weight for this role. Scott Bakula is tramping around town too, along with Ben Affleck. (I don’t have any pictures of Ben.) Matt Damon is playing the lead role – Mark Whitacre – but I’m not sure who Scott is playing? He’s seen wearing tight jeans and a gray t-shirt in all the pictures I’ve seen him in, so who knows?

Some fun insider facts from my informant on the recent filming. One day, they converted the old Bridgestone place (by the YWCA downtown) to a car dealership [see below] and they blew snow all over the streets and sidewalks to make it look like winter. The movie people put an ad in the newspaper for one day, supposedly, asking for circa 1990s modeled cars and were absolutely inundated with responses, so they had to pull the ad. (More proof that salt doesn’t completely decimate our cars to the point of vehicular turnover once every 5 years.) One of my mom’s friend’s gray Mercedes will be appearing the the film.

Quite a bit of the filming has taken place at the Holiday Inn, which a lot of our wedding guests stayed at while they were in town. Apparently many of the FBI meetings went down here. Also, Mark Whitacre’s home is located down in Mowequa (30 minutes south of Decatur). The home had just recently been sold to a surgeon, who had just moved all his family’s belongings in when the production company asked that they please vacate the home and take all their stuff with them again. The studio then completely redecorated and furnished the home to look as it did back during the 90s when all this stuff was going down.

This whole thing would certainly not be as fun for the residents of Decatur if Steve Soderbergh weren’t the director of the film. I’d think most directors would be shooting this film back in L.A. where they could easily recreate these things in a studio. But Soderbergh is all about keeping an element of truth, or at the very least telling a distinctive story about, the locations he films in. (Think of his previous movies: Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic) It’s been a ride for the Decatur-ites. And I really wish I’d been on it to!