Here in KC

Hello there! Quick post. No pics. Maybe I’ll just post pics in the next entry for catch-up  purposes.

We are wrapping up a weekend at Andy’s folks’ house in Kansas City. We have had a great visit. The car trip out was great. We’ve made it out to eat, to a natural history museum and Legoland. We had a visit out to Grandma Vena’s apartment, and tonight Andy’s Aunt Sue and Uncle Dave made a stop through.

Reid’s been cutting his two upper eye teeth, so he’s been a bit fussier than usual and we’ve been indulging his paci (he calls it “nonny”) habit more than we normally would. Otherwise, he’s showing off all his words. In fact – new this weekend – instead of saying “Where Grampa?” he’s saying, “Where Grampa go?”

Graham’s been entertaining himself with all of Uncle Michael’s spare toys that have been left around: namely a Batman mask and superhero Pez dispensers. Amazingly he has been sleeping in Michael’s room, Reid has been sleeping in the guest room and Andy and I have been sleeping in what was his room. Let me recap that for you:

We fill every room in the upstairs of Andy’s parents’ house.

How did that happen?

Last night, we drove downtown and hung out with my cousin, Lorien, and her boyfriend Ryan. We had a great time – ate Ethiopean food (cue the Billy Crystal joke from “When Harry Met Sally”) and played games back at Lorien’s condo. It was so nice to connect and have an evening that didn’t involve wiping mouths and refilling sippy cups!

Tomorrow we leave for home. Oddly enough I have to be in Chicago tomorrow night, so I’m picking up a rental car in Iowa City and leaving the boys to drive the remainder stretch of road back to Madison themselves. I’ll drive from Iowa to Chicago to watch some focus groups, then I’ll continue the drive home to Madison afterward.

Suffice it to say, I will be quite tired tomorrow. :) Aye aye aye.

Just a quick update from here! More later!

Weekend Trips & Baby Kate

We just got home from a couple of whirlwind weekend trips. Weekend before last, we piled in the car and traversed the Wisconsin-Illinois Interstate system to visit my parents. There, we celebrated my Dad’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, got our teeth cleaned, visited with Uncle Michael & Andy got a little catch-up time with friends before we piled back in the car and headed home.

Graham conquers Uncle Michael with huge foam pirate sword

Graham conquers Uncle Michael with huge foam pirate sword,
his balloon-animal-defense never stood a chance.

*This* weekend we made the voyage to Milwaukee. The trip wasn’t without its setbacks – Baby Reid threw up in the car upon arriving to the Milwaukee airport (on our way to Atlanta, no less), we forgot a umbrella stroller necessitating arm-disintegrating strength as we carried that sweet 30-lb sack of potatoes through the airport, and Graham did minor (but not insignificant) wall damage trying to be silly for Charlie’s benefit.

But I choose not to let those things define the visit because there is a baby girl to celebrate! We got to meet sweet baby Kate and all was right with the world.

Baby Reid meets his cousin in CUTEST INTRODUCTION EVER

Baby Reid meets his cousin in CUTEST INTRODUCTION EVER

Not only that, but we got our gang back together – even if just for a little bit. We fell into the visit just like it was old times back in the Big D.

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Except there are a lot of wonderful pint-sized additions now! (And a lot more conversations ditched halfway through to rescue something or someone from certain destruction!)

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If you want to see more great pictures from the visit, go see them at Michelle’s site: www.fischandmich.com

Bonus: On Saturday night, the boys were tucked into Charlie’s bunk bed and clearly carrying on some sort of rousing conversation. I snuck upstairs and slid my phone underneath the door to capture it. (The remaining adults were downstairs laughing about an SNL skit, by the way. Haha.)

Enjoy!

Note: Sorry about the low volume, once you get it adjusted, it should be easy enough to hear. If not, then there’s always the captions! :)

Just Another December Weekend

I tell you what. We’re a month in Madison and really starting to enjoy the little groove we’ve found here. Apartment living is… tight (and certainly less than ideal) but we’re learning to turn it to our advantage. As Michelle pointed out: there’s no pressure to do home improvement projects during your downtime.

So, then, fun it is!

Saturday morning, we made our favorite Christmas cookies, spritz! This was an experience with no flour sifter, stand mixer (or hand mixer, for that matter) and only one cookie sheet. The cookie sheet thing had to be rectified. (Hello $1 sheets from Walmart!) A colander makes a nice stand-in for a flour sifter too. :) The metal tablespoon I had to use to stir that stiff dough though is officially FOR THE BIRDS.

*ouch*

Andy showed Graham the fine art of cookie decorating. He is a natural!

Baby Reid helped too! (To be fair, those bananas don’t just eat themselves you know!)

Speaking of helping helpfulness, Baby Reid has really bloomed into quite a little assistant! His favorite chore is unloading the washer for us.

Of course, you have to catch the laundry before it hits the floor! (Especially because it’s a bathroom floor!)

He is very thorough at his job. Takes it very seriously.

We haven’t lost any socks in days!

After the weighty chores of baking cookies and laundry was finished on Saturday, we had Sunday to play the day away! Uncle Brian and Auntie M got the boys (but really, the whole family) a membership to the Madison Children’s museum. How cool is that? The place is about a 10-minute drive from the apartment, and that’s only because there are quite a few stoplights. 

Andy and Graham took their maiden voyage to scout it out on their day together Tuesday, so Sunday Baby Reid and I got the grand tour. :)

Including the coin donation funnel. I donated a dollar to something. Hope it was a good cause!

We built, we painted.

He’s a good little builder.

He’s not too bad either. :)

G climbed quite a bit too. And yes, that *is* as steep as it looks!

This structure was made out of old ocean buoys. Huge! In fact, that is a theme of this whole place. Tons of recovered and repurposed materials.

Yep, that’s my firstborn about 2 stories in the air. :S

Meanwhile, safe on solid ground, Baby Reid pursued his lifelong (hee.) passion of CARS CARS CARS.

How cute IS HE?!? AGH.

So yes, we had a lovely weekend. We stayed at the children’s museum that morning until the snow started, then we headed home, ate lunch and took some awesome naps while the snow blanketed the ground. Later in the afternoon, we pulled on all our warm snow gear and went out and played and played and played in the sparkly stuff.

The weather is cold, but life is good. We are thankful.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Let me turn the page, dear readers, and ask for a favor, if I may. In your prayers – at dinner, at bedtime, at church, whenever – would you please send up Andy’s mom, Susan? He’ll know what it’s in regards to. And that’s all we need right now.

Thanks. :)

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Merry Christmas from down here in Texas! We had a very memorable first Christmas with our little elf, Reid. Very memorable indeed!

Andy’s family made the trip in to meet the littlest guy and to celebrate the holiday together. Craig, Susan and Michael drove down from Kansas City, and Brian, Michelle and Charlie made their first trip back to Dallas since having moved to Atlanta. Yes, it was crazed at times having everyone under one roof (I’ll expound on that more later), but so awesome to have everyone together.

Uncle Michael hasn’t lost his touch with babies. :)

Craig, Susan and Michael drove in on the 23rd and Brian, Michelle and Charlie arrived on Christmas Eve. That night, the family (minus Reid and I, opting to stay out of crowds to avoid this righteous cold and flu season) attended Christmas Eve services and came home to a meal of lasagna, caesar salad, garlic bread and glazed carrots.

Graham served up the appetizers – cream cheese and pepper jelly – offering to make everyone cracker after cracker with spread on it. 😉

I seriously love that kid so much.

We also had the opportunity to partake in a new tradition that night. Michelle brought opłatki, which is part of a Polish Christmas tradition using a wafer where we all essentially take the time to wish each other a Merry Christmas. Loved it. :) Makes me feel like I’m making my distant Polish relatives proud.

Our family. Can you believe it? To think that Andy and I were just starry-eyed high school sweethearts at one point.

The boys.

And the expanded family. :)

Mama’s little Christmas cookie. Slept through most of the festivities!

Speaking of Christmas cookies – talk about a struggle getting two 2-year-olds to leave Santa some delicious treats! The glass of milk was no problem, but getting the boys to put cookies on a plate without eating them was practically not worth the effort. Charlie took a big bite out of one and put it on the plate. Graham put a couple of cookies out, but then grabbed his last Spritz cookie and shoved the whole thing in his mouth and made a run for it.

Sorry Santa!

Santa was merciful though and blessed our home with lots of goodies anyway. What a guy. (Note Reid’s infamous Christmas stocking at the center of the mantle. Ha!)

Charlie was the first little one up on Christmas morning.

Graham followed shortly thereafter. (If you think you notice some color under his left eye, you do. He had a run-in with Charlie and a drumstick on Christmas Eve.) Here we are finding the Play-Doh Santa left in his stocking. Santa also left him a Thomas train track (to go with the Thomas train that baby Reid gave Graham in the hospital) and a fire truck.

Charlie got a tricycle for Christmas this year! Don’t get too attached to the handlebar streamers though, they lasted mere hours before Charlie pulled them all out!

Charlie took every opportunity to get acquainted with his new cousin.

And we played a rousing game of baby torture in the form of several outfit changes. This one is my far-and-away favorite. Courtesy of Auntie M’s Black Friday endeavors.

As if that wasn’t enough… GUESS WHAT??

We had a white Christmas!! That’s right… snow and ice! What a great excuse to snuggle in and not go anywhere! Hot cocoa for everyone! :)

Brian and Michelle were staying down in Plano, but Christmas night we ALL stayed at our house. There was nary an upholstered surface in this house that didn’t have someone sleeping on it! Craig and Susan were on a pullout couch in Andy’s guitar room. Brian and Michael slept on our big sectional couch in the game room. Graham moved to an inflatable mattress on the floor of his room, and Michelle slept on his twin bed. Charlie slept in Reid’s room, and Reid was in his usual accommodations in the Pack n Play in our room.

These two boys were not upset at ALL to have the extra time together. :) Here, they’re sharing a bag of Goldfish crackers that Graham snagged from the pantry.

Charlie was happy to have some extra snuggle time with Reid.

Nothing like an impromptu sleepover, huh? It made me so happy to have everyone under one roof. In fact I told Andy so when we went to bed that night with the glow of the moon kicking off the snow in the backyard. What a wonderful, wonderful Christmas. Hope yours was wonderful too!

An Open Letter to Santa Claus

Dear Santa,

We had another rough start this year.

Based off last year’s impressive showing at Christmas, I was ready to give you a chance, but once I saw you up close… hey dude, you’re really intimidating. Do you know that?

Regardless of our tenuous face-to-face experiences, I wanted you to know that Christmas?  I totally get it. And I dig it. You are definitely in the right line of work, in my opinion.

Mom tells me you work really hard all year long at a place called the “Norf Poh” and she says this is your busy season.  That really sounds like the pits. Since we only see each other once a season (thank God) and you only come to our house one night for a really short time, I thought I might give you some suggestions about how to celebrate this season based on what we do around here.

First, there’s this thing called “Cookie Day”. You’re definitely going to want to get in on this. It’s a day when some of your favorite people surprise you by showing up at your house first thing in the morning. Then, you get assigned a play buddy and run around and eat pretzels all day long. You can eat as many as you want, no questions asked! The rest of your family stays busy in the kitchen playing with flour, banging on pots, making machines whir, opening and closing doors – basically playing like I play in the kitchen all year long. Then things start to smell really, really good and before you know it, someone hands you cookies!  It’s GREAT.

Do you go to school?  Or do you just go to Work like Mommy and Daddy? I hope you go to school, because if you do, you get to have parties. Party Day at school is kind of like Cookie Day. Everything seems like a totally normal day, until all of the sudden you come back in from playing outside and ALL THE MOMMIES ARE THERE!  Yes, IN YOUR CLASSROOM! It is great. Some daddies are there too. Party days are great, because the room is really pretty, you get to make neat things out of stuff people don’t normally let you touch (we made jingle bells, I hear you really like these), and then you can eat and eat and eat as much as you want.  Again – no questions asked!  I love parties.

Finally, I don’t know how you celebrate Christmas Eve, but we do it right, in my opinion.

First, very like Cookie Day, your family comes over to your house and surprises you.  Then you get to run around and play while everybody talks and laughs.  I got to see Grandpa and Grandma and Uncle Brian, Aunt Michelle, Charlie and Uncle Michael too!

Also on Christmas Eve, we all went to church pretty late, which is confusing because usually on days we go to church, it’s the very first thing we do!  I didn’t go to the nursery this time either, but instead got to stay with everybody. I did what I usually do at church – ran around, colored everything in sight and talked to everybody I saw – but Mom and Dad seemed really uptight about my doing this.  I got lots of shushes and everyone tried to get me to sit on their lap.  Joke’s on them, though, because we went to a service that was made just for little kids like Charlie and me.

There were lots of kids of all ages.  The service went really quickly.  Pastor Tommy hardly said two sentences in a row each time he talked, and then we’d sing Christmas carols. Pastor Tommy told us a story about a baby being born who seems really important to everyone. More important than you even.  (I know, I’m interested to hear more about this guy!  Is he as scary as you are? I’ll report back.) Anyway, then we played with glowsticks and went home. I was hoping we’d play with real candles, because I’ve been looking for a chance to get my hands on one of those, but these glow things were cool because everybody left me to my own devices.  It was probably for the best, now that I think about it.

Then we went home and played some more.  Mommy put a video together for everybody to see, so you can see what we did that night.  Pretty fun.

Christmas morning was quite the deal.  You outdid yourself, Santa.  I LOVE my kitchen – thank you!!!  I see you took my advice about having it unwrapped and assembled, all ready to play with!  And play I did.  I love it.  My Uncle Michael and you must have been in cahoots, because he got me a bunch of play food to go with it.  This year instead of having Grandpa, Grandma and Uncle Michael over, it was just Daddy, Mommy and me.  We opened presents, which… okay, I love presents, but it is SO overwhelming!  I need to take my time and just absorb things for awhile.  Every so often, I’d just need to sit down at my new table [that Grandpa and Grandma F got for me] and think.

Here’s another video that Mommy put together for our family to see what Christmas morning was like for us.

Like I said, you really did yourself proud.  Just because you clearly seem to know my tastes and interest, I guess I’ll go see you when you come around again next year. Maybe we’ll have more of a chat next time. I’m learning like a thousand new words every day, so I should be able to better tell you how I’m feeling.. if I can work up the courage.

After we unwrapped all our toys at home, we all got dressed and went over to Uncle Brian and Auntie M’s house.  Charlie was sleeping when we arrived, so I got to play with all his toys – score! Do you have a cousin? You should get one, because they are the best.

At Uncle Brian and Auntie M’s, it was like Christmas Eve all over again.  We played and played and played.  After a day of running around and figuring out new toys, Charlie and I worked up quite the appetite, and I ate a ton of dinner.  (I think Charlie just ate cheese – he must really like cheese, because it’s almost all he ever eats!)  We had twice-baked potatoes, which I thought were oatmeal at first.  Have you ever eaten a bite of twice-baked potato thinking it was oatmeal? It’s like the grossest oatmeal you’ve ever eaten. It got so much better once Mommy told me what it was.

In addition to the potato, I had cornmeal stuffing with sausage, green beans and tomatoes (two of my favorite veggies), and something called a Greenberg smoked turkey. It’s a lot like regular turkey, but so much better for some reason.  I loved it! What does Mrs. Claus make you eat for dinner? Maybe you should have her get this Greenberg turkey, because I think I heard Auntie M say they ship.

Santa, Christmas is exhausting. I don’t know how you do it. Maybe you want to celebrate like we do, because we have an awful lot of fun.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not an invitation. Please don’t show up at our house next year expecting to join our party, because you are terrifying.  Just to be clear.

But thanks for all you do for us, anyway. I think Christmas is awesome, and I’m glad you’re committed to working behind the scenes to make it that way.

See you next year, Santa!

Love,

Graham

P.S. Mommy posted a lot of the pictures she and Daddy took in our Photographs section, if you want to have a look!