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.”

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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.

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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.

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Walking!

We’ve had quite a day around here! Baby Reid is officially a walker!

Reid has been starting to take independent steps this week. And by “independent steps,” I mean he figured out how to shift his weight and lift one foot off the ground to take one single step without holding onto anything. Before tonight he’d been yet to string two steps together.

I was practicing with him after dinner while Andy was helping Graham in another room. He was walking toward his favorite target – an overstuffed armchair. He took two steps, wobbled but caught himself and straightened back up. He stood there, turned around and smiled at me like, “whoa, I didn’t fall down!” then took a couple more steps.

So that’s pretty much when it clicked. Andy grabbed the video camera real quick, and this is what we got.

(You can hear Graham in the first clip fretting about how his mystery-flavored sucker [with a purple wrapper] didn’t have “the matching” colored sucker inside. These things are important, you know.)

Also of [lesser] note for today: we had a big snowfall. Official snowfall for Madison = 5.5″ but whatever dude. It was way more than that! (Also, figure we already had about 3-4 inches on the ground.)

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A shot of our balcony.
I’m such a great photog – no need to say it.

Graham, Reid & I decided to give the boys’ Christmas gift to Andy a couple days earlier: snow boots! Graham and Andy christened them with a big play session in the snow this afternoon.

And after that? Hot chocolate and marshmallows. Or, as Graham calls them “smarshmallows.” (I like his version better.) He’s been dying to try hot cocoa. He says [Curious] George drinks it, and today finally he got his chance.

Graham hot chocolate

A hit. Obviously.

Perhaps needless to say, we are sort of euphoric this evening. What a great day. Hope you all had a great day too!  :)

Baby, It’s $*&%*!#@ Cold Outside

Let’s bookmark this post and have me read it in late February. That should be a hoot.* These temps will surely feel like a heat wave by that point.

*Add “a hoot” to the dictionary of colloquial phrases here in Wisconsin. Ranks up there with “bless your heart” in the south.

It’s getting cold, guys. Like, pretty darn cold. While we were still in Dallas, I was told unequivocally that we should wait to get coats until we actually got to Wisconsin. They make them differently here.

And they do! Kind of. Humorously – and I am 100% as guilty of this as everyone else who gave me this advice – we, as a people, are still thinking in the brick-and-mortar store mindset. I totally could have hopped on landsend.com and eddiebauer.com down in DFW as easily as I could have when I waited to get here to Madison. Ohhh well.

So, preparation! I bought the boys’ coats first. They had nothing in their respective wardrobes to battle the cold. After a couple of frustrating size mix-ups on Lands End’s behalf, we got snowsuits and coats for the boys!

First up, Graham. This fella is SUPER stoked about his whole outfit. Loves the hat. Loves the coat. Loves the pants. Loves the boots. Even loves the gloves that don’t fit and have to go back.

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Then comes Reid, who is not stoked about this entire experience. In fact, he’s rather paralyzed by it all.

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In the spirit of swinging too hard in the other direction and causing HYPERthermia, we stripped off a layer.

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THIS is doable.

Also, how cute is he?! How cute are they both?! #mommygoggles

Yep, just hashtagged right in the middle of a blog post. Not sure how I expect to trend on a self-hosted blog that gets under 100 readers, but eh. Details.

I also got a coat for me. :) Thanks Eddie Bauer!

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So excited was I to show this coat to you that I classily took a selfie in the women’s restroom this morning on its maiden voyage. This may not display, how do we say, executive maturity.

Thankfully for everyone, I am not an executive.

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Think how excited I was that we – minus Andy, who has a coat on his Christmas list – are ready for bitterly cold winter weather!

And guess what? Wisconsin – you delivered!!

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My Minneapolis family is in tears laughing at this piteous display of “cold” weather, because they had temps of 2° this morning.

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Looks like it’s not going to warm up anytime soon either.

And somehow, in a bizarre twist of fate, DALLAS got socked upside the head with a wicked ice storm last night. Meanwhile, it’s cold – but beautiful – here. But cold.

Also, as I mentioned in the beginning of this entry, please direct my attention to this post in late February when all four of Madison’s lakes are frozen solid, and I haven’t seen the ground in a good 2 months. We’ll see how “cold” I think this really is and how well all our coats really work.

:::shiver:::

Wisconsin House Inspection

Why, good morning, Wisconsin!

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We had our first, totally official snowfall. Now, yes. It did snow on my first day of work, but nothing stuck around for more than a half day or so, so this I count as the first snow. I slid around on the road. I had to wear snow boots. The works.

Speak of the devil, my Columbia snow boots. I bought them right before I went on a ski vacation with the Fischers during Christmas break of my freshman year in college. Some 13 years ago.

Ahem.

I wore them throughout college. Not bad to have a pair of snow/hiking boots around when you go to college in Illinois. My roommates and labmates have even indicated that they remember them, which is either a reallyreally good thing or a reallyreally bad thing.

Then they went on a shelf when we moved to Texas, where I spent the next 7 years repeatedly convincing myself that I still needed them.

Then ah-ha, victory! We decided to move to Wisconsin!

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Michelle warned me that this was tempting fate. Her Columbia boots dry-rotted straight off her feet on a ski trip not too long ago. So, this morning, before I put them on, I inspected them meticulously.

ZERO signs of stress. No cracks, no discoloration, nothing.

And yet, after dropping the boys at daycare, I looked down while enjoying a pre-inspection cup of coffee at the McDonald’s with Andy and WHAT IN THE SAM HILL.

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I cannot stress enough how perfect these boots were when I left the house. And how necrotic they looked not even 1 hour later.

Mercifully, I had a pair of red pumps with me to wear at work, but I had to wear these nasty boots for the house inspection. Well. At least from the walk between the car and the house, because it was snowing after all. We took our shoes off in the foyer for the duration of the inspection itself.

So the inspection? I took about 600 pictures of the interior of the house. How many of the outside? Zero. Ha. So, okay, you saw a little picture of it in an earlier post. You’ll have to wait until moving day to see pics of the rest, I guess.

Before I get to the house pictures, the inspection went great. There was absolutely nothing wrong or anything that needed to be fixed. So basically, Andy and I got a chance to marinate in the glow of pre-homeownership for a few hours. It was glorious.

How do I love this house? Let me count the ways.

***DISCLAIMER: I’m going totally self-indulgent here. It’s shallow, it’s selfish, it’s basically gag-inducing. If you have no interest in this, which – who could blame you – feel free to close the post now. Or skim through the pics if you’re curious and then close. I’ll be back to normal next post. But to not act excited about this house would be disingenous. So, here we are. :)

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The dining room is, indeed a basic box-of-a-room [off to the right of the front door] with questionable color (lavender was never my thing) and dicey window dressings. But there’s room for grandma’s dining room table and chairs. And a walk through (from that back corner door) past a walk-in pantry to the kitchen.

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Lots of nice light in here!

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There is an office off to the left of the front door. It’s a big office. There are a pair of pocket glass doors on the opposite wall that close it off from the family room. There is also an ethernet cable jack in here. Andy is in love. Also, the piano might go in here. Plenty of space for it, anyway. It’s a possibility

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Walking down the hallway from the front door and off to the left is the main floor living area or family room. (Or, if you walk through the office pocket doors, you’d be standing in this room too.) That fireplace has a MANTLE people! I am so excited to finally have one!! The fireplace is gas and operated with a wallswitch.

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Turn 180 degrees from that last picture and you’re staring into the kitchen! Lots of space in here. I’m looking for a place to put our big buffet that we had in the old house and am not seeing it, so it’ll have to move to an adjoining room. Argh. I love that piece. Upgrades from our last house? Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. New last year.

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5 burners on this stove.

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I am basically weeping right now.

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And now I’m awestruck and speechless. Never would I ever have imagined I would have such appliances in any house I owned. And that water dispenser? It has a child lock.

Aww silky silky now.

I couldn’t get a good shot of the main floor bedroom suite. If you scroll up and look at that picture where Andy is standing in the kitchen, you can see down the hallway past the fridge on the right. As you walk down that hallway, the laundry room is off to your left. Then a full bathroom with a tub/shower. Then you walk into a bedroom (which is connected but can be shut off from the bathroom) and, if you walk through the bedroom, you ultimately end in an anteroom that they finished out to be a hobby room of sorts. There they have an extra fridge, a desk, and a craft table. In that room is also an access to the exterior. A perfect mother-in-law’s suite (that’s what they used to call them in Texas, anyway).  A main floor guest suite for any of you who want to come visit!

Off the kitchen again is the access to the basement…

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… which is where I feel like I’m Alice and have fallen into the rabbit hole. They’ve renovated an entire side of this basement as a full-on movie theater. This picture [above] is the view coming down the stairs and is actually a view of a pair of closet doors. Just simple storage. There is another set of doors that look like the closet doors on the left but that open into…

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… the movie theater. Seats six. The chairs recline. The lights dim. The setup pulls no punches. I never wanted a theater room. I’m sort of mixed on it now, but rest assured, Andy LOVES it. Graham is pretty much going to die.

Basically, we are going to need family therapy in about 5 years because the boys will be entrenched down here while I’m upstairs glowing in my kitchen and we will never see each other.

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Or maybe….

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… maybe I’ll pop down once in awhile. 😉

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Off to the left of the stairs (the theater room was off to the right) is a family room space. Rest assured, this *will* become Kid-topia.

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Past the playroom is a no-holds-barred workout room. Complete with rubber flooring. I was like, “Man – these people are SERIOUS about their fitness!” but then we realized that the husband is an Olympic volleyball player. So yeah. Pretty serious.

This will be the guitar room, by the way.

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Past the fitness/guitar room is our unfinished storage area. Again, we weep tears of joy. There are no basements in Texas. Let the crap accumulation BEGIN.

The upstairs is an upstairs. The master bedroom is up there. I was going to show a picture of it, but it’s really just a room with other people’s furniture in it. Imagine a box. With some closets. :) It will be sooo nice to be on the same floor as the kids. We were logging MAJOR steps when the boys were itty bitty babies and learning how to sleep through the night!

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The boys’ bathroom is a dual-sink dealie. Above is one sink – the other is on the opposite wall. There’s a bathtub and toilet in here too.

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Here is one of the two other (non-master) bedrooms upstairs. I imagine this will be Graham’s room. Bet he’ll pick it just because of the color. 😉

So that’s basically it! I can’t wait to move in! It will be sometime in January. We know we want to paint the walls, just to give things a fresh look and bring the color scheme closer to our decorating palette. It would be nice to do that before moving in. We shall see.

The great thing is, there is no buyer’s remorse. We spent more time in the house, and we are exponentially more excited about it.

OH. And maybe the best part? I clocked my drive to work from the house. In the snow…

15 minutes. BAM.

Spring Headlines

Obviously, I’ve fallen short for an effort to capture full-detail stories, but here are my best attempt at some headlines from the last couple of weeks!

Graham Contends for Title of Best Big Bro EVAH

My heart catches in my throat so much these days because Graham just, time and time again, bends over backward to love on his little Reid. In fact, G even goes so far as to call him “my baby”. If I pick up Graham from school early for a doc’s appointment or a swim class or something, he’ll worry aloud halfway to our destination about the status of his absent brother.

“Reid is in the baby class, Mommy? … Daddy’s picking up Reid? … Where is Reid? … Is Reid in the baby class at school?”

And so on and so forth.

Graham tells me what Reid does or doesn’t need when he’s crying – insisting that he knows Reid better than I do. This weekend when Reid started fussing, without a word, Graham got up, got Reid’s pacifier stuck it in his mouth, held it in long enough for Reid to get ahold of it, then got Reid’s little bunny [to be introduced later this entry] and gave it to him to snuggle. My heart stopped in the best way possible. 😉

Andy Celebrates his 30th Birthday – Again!

I made the traditional frosted angelfood birthday cake complete with the traditional 3-candle salute. 😉 (Past, present and future!) We all sang “Happy Birthday” – except Reid, who toasted Andy’s birthday in his own way: by guzzling down 6-ounces of milk.

There were presents too – clothes, tools, gym membership (HINT HINT… j/k. actually just trying to gift my husband some de-stressing time) and a new picture frame from the boys complete with a print of their latest sitting.

Graham was amped about there being an ACTUAL (read: not made up) birthday in the house, and Reid, well, Reid did what Reid does best…

… sat there looking completely adorable.

Happy 31st, Baby!

Spring is in the Air

The boys had their annual Bonnet Parade and Easter Egg Hunt at school on March 22nd. It’s a tradition there to have the kids make spring-themed hats and parade around school showing off their efforts.

The weather was very cold outside, so the administration decided to keep kids indoors this year. We entered the school and the first thing we saw was Reid’s face through the window of his baby class wearing this little number:

O.M.G.

Andy and I suffered an instant and simultaneous death-by-cuteness. Nothing like a baby wearing an enormous flower on his head, completely unaware that anything is not as it should be.

Graham shared a similar reaction.

The kid could NOT stop laughing at his little brother.

Like… could not stop. Ever. It kind of went like this:

“HahahAHhAhAha… Look at Reid!! Look at Reid!! HAhaHahaHAhAhah Look at Reid!!!!”

So funny. But it didn’t make for an easy group pic. This was the best we could get.

Graham’s visor, if you’re curious, has green tissue paper leaves on it with a fuzzy red and yellow caterpillar crawling on it. Super adorable. Not that you can tell. He’s too busy busting a gut at the sight of his baby brother.

Happy Easter!

Easter followed shortly thereafter.

I sang at church, making for a super crazy day. The Easter Bunny visited our house, leaving these baskets…

… and hiding the eggs we’d dyed the day before.

 

I swear Paas egg dye has gotten crazy better since we dyed eggs as kids. I also credit Pinterest for giving me an idea on how to give the eggs a bit of extra time to absorb some color:

Ombre eggs! This was essentially a practice in serial dilutions. Drop an egg in an inch of dye, and keep adding water at given increments until the egg is covered. Not that I care much for the fade-tastic trend, this was merely a way to keep anxious and impatient preschooler’s hands and mind occupied long enough to let the eggshells take up some dye. I think G did a really nice job!

So we hunted the Bunny’s eggs, ate some chocolate, got dressed and went to church, came home for naps, then proceeded to join up with friends at the Reeves’s annual Easter celebration.

Reid met all the little kiddos, but Mason was his favorite. :)

We hunted eggs there too!

Graham (bottom of the above picture) dominated – being well over a year older than everyone. He even got into a groove of cracking eggs open with one hand, taking the candy inside, then handing the empty egg shell to one of the little kids. (Don’t worry, we had him practice finding eggs and giving them – intact – to the toddlers too!)

Remember the little bunny from Reid’s Easter basket?

Reid LOVES him. I was shocked. I think the Easter Bunny got Graham and Reid matching bunnies just because he thought it was cute.

*ahem*

But apparently the Easter Bunny is smarter than I am, because Reid completely adores his rabbit. Arguably more than Graham loves his, but eh – too close to call. The bunnies were both hits for these little boys!

Miscellaneous Things Happen In Between Times

Apparently Reid is old enough for the Exersaucer now!

Or, as Graham calls it, the “Extra Sauce”. Reid loves himself a little ‘extra sauce’. I think he’s caught on a little quicker than Graham did. I have a very poor memory when it comes to, well, EVERYTHING relating to Graham’s babyhood, so maybe don’t take me at my word.

He grabs on to toys, spins them, bounces his legs, and spins in a slow circle as he explores what’s around him. Reid definitely prefers to be sitting (or standing?) upright. He is a man on the go and has no patience for laying about.

Somebody hold me, please.

The week of Andy’s birthday we caught Eric Clapton (and the Wallflowers – weird combo, no?) live at the American Airlines center. We had awesome seats and I think it *may* have been in my top 3 concerts ever. Seriously, that good.

We also saw Scott Weiland at the House of Blues the week following Clapton’s concert. It basically rated my worst concert experience, to date. Scott had two opening acts, one of which was actually really good but not our style (anybody a metalhead? anybody?) the other was more our style but.. yikes. Then Scott decided to make an appearance at 10:58 p.m. For those non-regular concert-goers – that’s actually SUPER late to start a headline act. Most are well finished by that hour, what with noise regulations in cities and whatnot. He appeared an HOUR AND A HALF after the second opening act left the stage.

Since we had a sitter, to whom we’d promised to be home by midnight, we had to leave the show at 11:30. It was just as well, though because, as one reviewer put it, he “then spent the next 70 minutes dismantling whatever legacy [Stone Temple Pilots] has left.”

Yikes x infinity

Lastly, Graham’s been trying out a couple of lessons. We started ice skating a few weeks ago:

I’m not sure if he likes skating or if he likes the suckers (okay, he likes the suckers) but he’s been catching on really well! Graham REALLY likes the idea of being able to skate like his daddy, but he’s not all that willing to put in the work needed to get there. I feel ya, buddy. Sometimes a guy just wants to be instantly good at something and not have to work so hard at it! Sometimes a girl does, too. 😉

He’s also gearing up for summer with swim lessons too!

He took to lessons this year like a fish to water (no pun intended). He is LOVING getting in the pool, and his teacher is really excited about his quick progress. Yay Graham!

So, as you can see, we’ve been keeping quite busy around our house! The weather is, well, not trying to become spring-like at ALL. It’s been cold and rainy around here.

Graham’s been totally digging wearing his raincoat to school. (“It has dinosaurs on it!! RAWR!”) And Reid’s been managing to keep warm too!

In sorta related news: If you know of anyone whose kid has a larger-than-life noggin and needs to keep warm during brisky spring or fall weather (I think you need something warmer for winter) – I officially recommend L’ovedbaby’s Cute Cap knit hats. Reid’s been wearing the 3-6 month size since he was about 2 months old. They have been lifesavers in this unseasonably cold spring!

Today is better, the boys are off to school in short outfits, so progress is being made. I’ll be back on this week to post about Reid’s 4 Month doctor’s checkup and The Ear Infection that Does Not End. Another post for another time. Thanks for sticking with me for such a long entry!