Run-On Sentence

Sometimes this site can really get ahead of me. Or… behind me, is more accurate. I guess.

We’ve been muddling through the winter months, as we do. Ask any Wisconsinite about this winter and the answer will generally be the same. A theme of: “It really hasn’t been that bad. Ready for it to be over though.”

IMG_2486

Funny because we’ve had constant snowcover on the ground since January (not November, please note) and the mailbox is looking a little nervous about the encroaching snow bank at the end of the drive. (He’s about shoulder-deep at this point.) But, you know, not bad.

We had a lovely Christmas season. Pointedly NOT a white Christmas, however. I managed to feel slighted. We more than made up for it with a season surrounded by family. My mom (poor sick dad couldn’t come!) came up the weekend before Christmas, Andy’s family all came in for Christmas itself and Mark, Marilyn and Eric made the trip down from Wausau the weekend following.  Just perfect. I swear my heaven might be standing in my kitchen churning out food for people. And so nice to have adults in the house for a change – people who don’t flail about on the floor and act like they’re gagging on poison when I serve something other than chicken nuggets and pizza.

January was basically a giant game of “Which cold do you have and have I had that one already?” We all lost horribly. Multiple times. On two occasions, Reid got taken to the doctor when I thought a fever on Day 10 of the cold signaled some other looming infection… only to be told that it was just another virus starting probably. One time that was coupled with breathing issues, but we were told that “we’ll tolerate a little labored breathing, but watch him.” Like… it’s okay if he only chokes a little.

IMG_2385

I happened to interpret “watch him” as “obsessively and continuously count his breaths per minute while he sleeps to ascertain if he is in respiratory distress”. So, asthma is fun. In fact, I’m finishing up my own ‘prednisone burst’ as we speak for a little bronchitis that I swore was fine until Andy was like, “YOU SOUND TERRIBLE, TAKE THE MEDICINE.”

February started like no February should. We lost my Great Uncle Mark unexpectedly, and everyone was completely rocked.

Mark and Marilyn live a couple hours north of here and have been such blessings in our lives. Graham and Reid know them like they know their grandparents or their aunts and uncles. My mind is busy listing this enormous list of things that Mark and Marilyn have done for us… just even since we’ve gotten to Wisconsin, though the list certainly doesn’t start there. Visits to our home, trips for family events, subscriptions to kids magazines, care packages, Christmas presents, recommendation to a local CSA. You name it. Mark was my grandpa’s little brother. I could hear a little of him in Mark’s laugh. None of us were ready for him to go. He certainly will be missed in our little family.

Mark’s death set me off on a little journey of which I’ll share just a bit. Listening to stories about Mark – who was a social worker in the health field, retired from an inpatient care and hospice center in Wausau – were inspiring. Those who knew him spoke of his presence. He cared deeply for others and made constant efforts to reach out and comfort or otherwise support those around him. His funeral was on a weekday and the church pews were filled.

I’ve told Andy before, but I want to be that blessing for others. I may be very much engrossed in the business of mothering and providing for my little family now, but as my boys become more self-sufficient, I want to pay attention with how we’re filling our days.

In fact, I was so moved that I reached out to our local hospice organization to start the lengthy process of becoming a hospice volunteer. That lengthy process is going to be a little lengthier than usual, because I immediately disqualified myself by having a family member who has died recently. They’re giving me a year to air out, but come this time next year once they’re feeling better about my mental state 😉 I’ll be beginning the process again. The disqualification is fair. It was Mark’s death that led me to them. Just not in the way that they think.

Deep thoughts from deep within the snowbanks of Wisconsin. We dream of summer now… and camping. Swim lessons for G. Perhaps getting Reid to sit through a meal without shoving his plate away from him and demanding, “No, COOKIES.”

Because 2-year-olds.

But mostly we’re just… getting along. Which is mostly why I’m not writing. There are days that go by when the TV never turns on. We talk and play and sing songs and tell stories. We race remote control cars around the house and think up our next projects. When we get stir crazy we go out and play in the snow. When that gets too cold, we come in and drink cocoa. When all’s said and done? It’s not a bad way to live.

IMG_2596

IMG_2425
IMG_2442
IMG_2484
IMG_2488
IMG_2497
IMG_2498
IMG_2552
IMG_2623
IMG_2642
IMG_2653
IMG_2661

 

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.

IMG_1866

 

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.”

10830557_825720754136668_4945189187274490504_o

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.

10517674_911755848849555_2505479678265941395_n

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

IMG_1871

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”. :)

10731186_911755958849544_1308974710831038470_n

Everyone singing “Happy Birthday” (kind of?).
IMG_1876

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!

1013639_911756285516178_2820394194079425058_n

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?

IMG_1877

IMG_1882

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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. :)

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

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!

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.

9-photobomb

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

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. :)

10155889_706317992743612_6807821612339698900_n

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.

IMG_2249

Carsten is all set to go!

IMG_2254

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

IMG_2262

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

IMG_2293

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!

IMG_2326

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

IMG_2343

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.

IMG_2354

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.

IMG_2372

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.

IMG_2374

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.

IMG_2382

We rushed the routine a little…. whoops.

IMG_2385

Graham was such a great egg-finder!

IMG_2388

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!

IMG_2393

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

IMG_2408

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

IMG_2416

Gabriel showing off his spit ball pitch.

IMG_2419

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

IMG_2439

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

IMG_2438

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!