Busy Fall!

We are in October, arguably my favorite month for inexplicable reasons, and enjoying every second. These past few days have been completely water-logged, but we are making the most of it. Evening cups of coffee… fires in the fireplace… I’ve got a good book going thanks to stumbling across a book sale at the library. (The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – great read so far!)

We have been B-U-S-Y people the last few weeks!

It all started with my cousin, Betsy’s, wedding. We, of course, had an amazing time. Last time we were in Minneapolis was in July 2012. I was pregnant with Reid and Graham was 2.5 years old.

Here I am with my cousins Courtney and Stewart (a.k.a one of the Minnesota Twins). If you want a tearjerker, have the bride’s twin brother officiate the wedding. Betsy’s momma may have walked her down the aisle, but Stewart made it pretty apparent that there was more than one person giving her away that day. ::sniff::

betsys wedding 1

Always a happy time when we get to meet up with Mom and Dad. Graham was elated to not only go to a wedding (his *most* favorite event) but ALSO see Grandpa and Grandma. Combine this with being able to stay in a hotel and the excitement was pretty much at an 11 all weekend.

mom and dad wedding

I may not be able to select bows, tights and dresses for formalwear, but I like to think I’m pretty good at getting these boys as dapper as possible. Reid got to re-wear his button-down and tie combo but we added a sweater vest to complete the ensemble. Ended up being the perfect weight for Minnesota fall.

Rwedding

Graham – who has decided he loves his sport coat – sported a new bowtie and, under that jacket, a pair of suspenders. What with the tendency to have his pants slip right off those narrow hips of his, he was completely stoked at the mere idea of suspenders. Totally functional. I think he’d wear these every day if I’d let him.

Gwedding

The beautiful bride (a.k.a. the other half of the Minnesota Twins – haha, you thought I was talking about baseball earlier, didn’t you??) and her handsome groom. :) So excited for these two. :)))

betsys wedding 2

We danced well into the night. Yet again, the boys hung in there through the reception so they could get to the dancing. Graham not only danced with his Grandma & the bride, he also asked another little girl to dance 100% without prompting from any adult. She was too shy to take him up on it, and he was pretty disappointed about it. Eventually he recovered though. Clearly.

betsys wedding 3

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During the day on the day of the wedding, Reid was sneezing a notable amount. I told Andy, “Great, he’s starting a cold.” ‘Tis the season right? Sure enough, a runny nose started the next day and so Reid caught a cold. No big deal.

Until it was a big deal. Reid went to bed on Tuesday night with his temperature running 1 degree above normal. (I know, I wrote it off too.) He woke up the next morning with some difficulty breathing. Off to the doctor.

Trip to doctor

In general, his spirits were good, which was GREAT. But given his elevated temp 5 days into the cold and the fact that his doc heard wheezing all throughout his chest, we were given a breathing treatment in the doc’s office. Thankfully, his lung sounds improved after the treatment, so we didn’t have to march off to get a chest x-ray. We were debriefed on Enterovirus D68 and sent home with explicit instructions to call if anything changed.

Rsick

We spent the rest of the day snuggling and giving inhaler meds, and we got lucky: even though he’d gone to bed with whistling and wheezing lungs, he woke up with NO breathing struggles. Woohoo! Mark that as another virus down on the books.

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We’ve been thinking a lot about Halloween costumes around here. After much discussing what he and Reid could be for Halloween, Graham settled on Milk and Cookies. One day last week – after picking the kids up early from school – I carted the kids off to the fabric store so I could figure out how to make the boys look like a delicious snack.

I’ll paraphrase by saying: taking two mobile preschoolers to a FABRIC STORE after school is a terrible idea. After the 1000th request not to run/yell/pull things off shelves/beg me to buy something, Graham disappeared into a different aisle and yelled, “MOM!!!! I WANT TO BE CAPTAIN AMERICA!!!!!”

He had found the Marvel superheroes fabric. I don’t even know if Captain America is a Marvel hero (I can never remember Marvel vs. DC), but it had spurred an idea in Graham. I, completely over the idea of making the kids’ costumes this year, pressed Graham to commit that he reeeeeeeally wanted to do that. He was 110% sure. So, I said, “Then we’re going to Target.”

To Target, we went. And after a bit of costume-trying…

hotdog

We landed on a Captain America costume for Graham and a Spider-man costume for Reid. (“Reid, you want to be Spiderman for Halloween?” “YEAHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”)

We tried on the costumes that night, and they are perfect. A little bit, I feel like we’ve wandered into what moms of girls have described to me as “Disney Princess Territory,” only for boys. But they love them. And I don’t have to slave over a sewing machine for hours over the next few weeks. Win-win.

superheroes

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This weekend, we signed up for a mini-session with a local photographer. It’s been a year-and-a-half since we’ve last had our pictures taken. My biggest goal is getting a capture of us as a family, but updated pics of the boys were needed. We’re still waiting on the proofs, but I snapped a couple while we were waiting on the photographer to finish with another family.

graham 4yrs

reid 1y10mos

We’ll summarize by saying: there’s a reason I hired this out. The boys are not only completely in-motion at every moment but also impatient at being told to do ridiculous things like a) “stand still” or b) “look this way” or c) “smile”. My iPhone pics are cute, but I have a lot of ‘cute’. I wanted more ‘framers.’

Outsourced.

Our photographer Erin Moore – a mom of 4 girls, I might add – was amazing. And based on the sneak peeks from our session, I think we’ve got a couple winners at least. :)

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Those are the big things. A couple of honorable mentions:

1. We think Reid might be a lefty. He’s got some serious fine-motor prowess with that left hand. If you give him that same marker in his right hand, he grips it in his fist and does huge broad strokes. Left hand? Pencil grip and tiny marks. (Also, I know he needs a haircut!)

lefty

2. The boys’ daycare just moved into a brand new building this week. Absolutely phenomenal! The last building was sort of this dumpy old-looking house. Great program, less-than-desirable facility. Now they’re in a beautiful facility too. We are all loving the change!

So “that’s it.” That’s all we’ve been up to. Next up – the holidays and much travel to many places to see much family! Here we go!

Some Updates

We’ve been busy around here lately.

Andy transitioned to full time employee (from being a contractor) last Monday. This means lots of fun things like quarterly bonus eligibility and a company phone, but we are just excited that he’s now gainfully employed in a non-temporary way.

This job, when he took it, was contract-to-hire, so we had line of sight to this change but Andy still had to impress them well enough to keep the job. Way to go, dear!

In his spare time, Andy holes up in the garage and saws wood into pieces. Every so often he sands. When the stars align, he’s been known to glue a piece or two together. I have no idea what he’s doing out there except for the fact that he is doing and that makes him happy. Good enough for me!

Graham continues to keep us on our toes. He is making friends at his ‘new’ daycare, which we are all thrilled about. He played tee ball for six weeks this summer. He loved being on the team, but after Week 3, he pretty much devoted his time seeking out opportunities to stall the game and get laughs out of the other kids. Maybe next year.

Graham starts 4K in a couple of weeks. He is very excited and even has a new backpack to show for it. The 4K program is funded through our school district and hosted by local daycares – of which Graham’s current daycare is one. This means we will drop him off in the daycare class in the morning, he will play, eat, nap there and in the afternoon he will put on his backpack and walk to the 4K classroom to join other kids from the community. Really, it’s a lot of shuffling. But they make a big deal about the shuffling, and he’s excited to shuffle with other kids in his class. So we roll with it.

Reid is learning new words all the time and figuring out (FINALLY, thank you God!!) how to put some words to what he wants. This makes life better for everyone. He relies a lot on signs still and generally prefers moving around to speaking, but we’ve made progress in the verbal department.

Reid’s favorite show is Sesame Street. He loves Elmo and Big Bird.

There is also a distinct possibility that Reid is the reincarnation of Andre the Giant. His mission in life is to tackle someone. Mainly Graham, but Andy or I will do in a pinch. When the boys are watching a TV show, and Graham isn’t interested in rough-housing, you can tell it takes concerted energy and concentration on Reid’s part not to tackle his brother.

As for me, I continue to become adjusted to my new work environment. I work with some really great people and things are constantly evolving. It keeps me on my toes.

I’m still running. My regular run loop now is 4 miles, and I don’t get lost anymore! A few of the girls I work with signed up for a race in late September, and I signed up too. I was very excited to run a[n organized] 5K again, and I told them so. Immediate mock-shaming commenced because they had all signed up for the 10K loop. Uh.

I caved to peer pressure. I am now training for a 10K. Hold me.

In related news, I am trying to get ahead of some asthma issues. I’ve been having attacks since coming to Wisconsin for the first time in my life, so I’m trying to get to the bottom of it. Predominant theory is allergies. Getting asthma in your 30s is awesome.

That’s an update on us! Debbie, out!

Transitioning Schools Again

Can you believe we’ve been in Madison a little over 4 months now? Time flies when it’s -20 degrees outside!

When we first pulled into town, we had a lot of settling in to do. One of the big things we needed to find was daycare. As much as Andy loved staying home with the boys during the day – and I say that with and without sarcasm; full-time stay-at-home parents will understand the nuance there – we needed to find childcare arrangements for them so Andy could get his job hunt underway.

Only, it wasn’t as straightforward as we’d hoped. Center-based daycares aren’t as prevalent here. There is an in-home network of daycares, but we struggled to find one that could take both boys. You see, different regulations are in place for kids under 2 and for kids over 2. We obviously have both. And in-home daycares that had two full-time openings who had certifications to watch both age groups were scarce. And those who were available weren’t great about returning phone calls.

Thankfully, my company hooked us up with a relocation assistance agency, and childcare arrangements are one of the things that they will help with. Our agency found us *one* school that could take both boys. And it was reasonably close to our apartment. We did a bit of Internet researching and found that reviews from parents were overall quite positive.

Done!

Now, however we are in our house, which is not really near our apartment, by Madison standards anyway. Once we knew where we’d be setting down roots for the long term, we started evaluating daycares in the area. We found one. (Again, not many center-based daycares here.) It’s sort of perfect. The director is great. The curriculum and values are right in line with what we hope for in a school. The menu is fabulous – whole grains, fresh fruits, the whole bit. The facility looks good – and they’re even breaking ground on a brand new building, just catty corner across the street, that should be done this September.

Of course they had a waiting list until June of this year. But we got on it, because six months of a longer daycare commute is better than an indefinitely long daycare commute. I mean, look at the difference here.

School Trip

No brainer.

And guess what? We got some great news yesterday – one of the families that attends that daycare is moving, so two spots have opened up for our guys!

I was so excited I told Graham about it while he was making my coffee this morning.

“Guess what, buddy? You and Reid are going to be starting a new school soon!”

He looked at me, deadly silent. Face drawn. Then his cheeks started to flush and his eyes filled with tears. His bottom lip started quivering.

“But, but,” he said, his voice tight, “but… I don’t want to leave Miss Tricia.” The tears started spilling down his cheeks. He was trying to hold it together, and it made me start welling up.

I tried meekly to reassure him. I hadn’t really thought through my announcement. We have to give 4 weeks notice at his current daycare, so this transition won’t even happen for quite awhile (in Graham-terms anyway). He’s been younger for all his other big transitions. It stands to reason he would eventually hit an age and an awareness that this wouldn’t all just roll off his back. And hit that age, we have. Apparently.

Andy and I asked him if he could tell us what he’s feeling – why he feels upset – so we could talk about it.

“I’m just.. I’m nervous… that I’ll be.. shy.

Words that just broke my heart into little tiny pieces. Because he found just absolutely the perfect words for it. He worries. He’s anxious. That he’ll be by himself. He won’t know anybody. Won’t have any friends to run off with and play together. That he will have to screw up the courage to talk to someone and risk being rejected or laughed at. Being told to go away. Because these are the things that he deals with every day. The stories that he tells when he comes home from school are stories of relationships. And who was nasty to him. And who smiled at him at naptime and made him feel happy. Who tackles him all the time. He gets it. Heck, he LIVES it.

Basically, he used to go to daycare but, all of the sudden, now he goes to school.

Graham has these bursts of eloquence that are so beyond his chronological age. Or at least what I expect from a just-turned-four-year-old. This could totally be in the realm of normal. But regardless, the only course of action after the exchange we’d just had is a long hug where he could bury his face in my shoulder and cry about the teacher and friends he would miss and have to say good-bye too.

Being four is just hard sometimes.

Graham’s Christmas Program

I’ve never been to a Christmas Program before, and this was worth the wait. Graham’s daycare here had a little Christmas special for the parents. We got the best song we could on camera.

We, being new and totally naive to all of it, didn’t get there early enough to get a good seat for videoing. So, you’ll see that I start out trying to zoom in past a guy and a lady’s heads, but then I cut and passed the camera to Andy, who said he had a better view (and did, frankly.)

Things to note:

  1. This is the best rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” for 3-year-olds. Bar none.
  2. His voice definitely projects when he’s confident he knows the words.
  3. THE BOW AT THE END. Oh my word.

Clearly, I am just a-bubble at my offspring singing Christmas songs on stage. 

Enjoy!

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas”

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year!

Now let’s do a little clapping,
Now let’s do a little clapping,
Now let’s do a little clapping
And spread Christmas cheer!

Now let’s do a little jumping,
Now let’s do a little jumping,
Now let’s do a little jumping
And spread Christmas cheer!

Now let’s do a little waving,
Now let’s do a little waving,
Now let’s do a little waving
And spread Christmas cheer!

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year!

Day 3: Getting Better, I Think

I was all pumped to write a light-hearted post tonight. Today was better! Much better! Breaths of relief, sunshine, downtime, progress… the whole nine yards!

But Andy and I had words while I was putting Graham to bed, and now he’s out running errands so… no resolution. We all know how great *that* feels.

No need to air the laundry, of course. The tiff was just that… a tiny thing. Built of stresses pent up from appliances that aren’t great, an apartment that’s just a liiiittle too small and things that are just generally out of order with no ease of established process. We don’t have the steps to the dance of keeping a household down here yet. Every so often we bicker like newlyweds. 😉

I’m going to unhealthily compartmentalize that for a second so I can update you on Day 3. :)

Today, we took heaping gulps of hope for a more comfortable future here, in the form of starting to look at child care options, putting together a list of houses to start viewing [tomorrow!!!] and getting pre-approval for a mortgage.

And also, it stopped raining and the sun shone brightly this afternoon. It was like living in a book, it was that perfect.

More on the two items: daycare and houses.

Daycare is going to be a bit different from what we’re used to in Dallas. Apparently most folks do in-home daycares here. It’s going to be far different from the highly-structured, big-classroom settings that Graham has dealt with. Part of me loves the idea of the kids being in a more intimate, homey setting. The other part of me worries about Graham’s school-readiness. (Mostly because I knew we had that box checked and double-checked with the program he was in back in Texas.) Either way, for Andy to get to a place where he can interview for jobs, we need some sort of childcare set up for part time. We’ve got a call in to two different in-home daycares and a visit scheduled with a center-based daycare tomorrow morning at 9:30.

Houses. Oh, houses! We’ve learned a bit more since we last toured homes in September, so we sent our realtor a few revisions – mostly to area & school requirements – to our search criteria, and he sent us a large list to scan through. The revised list of homes on the market that he sent back had a bunch that were doable and a handful that we’re actually excited about. Tomorrow, one of us (cue a heated game of rock/paper/scissors), is going to preview 12 homes to see if they’re worthy of calling Home.

Also had a talk with a mortgage broker, one that our local realtor highly recommended. He gave us two thumbs-up on the loan pre-approval, so we should be ready to make some offers if/when we see something! He also offered to get Andy in touch with local businesses and circulate his resume a bit. Normally I’d be a little “yeah, yeah…” at this, but the guy’s office is located on the Capitol square downtown, so I feel like he must have some sort of street cred to back that up.

Not much else is new. Hugo’s still refining the art of sullying the common greenspaces on command, so send him – uh – urgent(?) thoughts if you have a moment. We also made it out of the house in a semi-big way this afternoon. We walked the mall this afternoon and ate dinner out at a brewhouse. Not too shabby. Felt GREAT to be out!

Will keep you posted on progress tomorrow! Wish us luck!