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.


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.


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.


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…


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.



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.’


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!)


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!


Greetings, Friends and Family! We have finally returned from the Minneapple – and with a variety of stories and new experiences under our belts, figuratively speaking.

Let’s start with the basics. My cousin Courtney (remember her?) got married this weekend in Minneapolis, so we decided to share in the joyous occasion. The wedding was on Friday, and the cost of flights between Dallas and the Twin Cities were less-than-stellar, so we booked on miles. Booking on miles gave us, erm, limited options on flight days/times, so we made the most of it. We flew out on Wednesday morning, stayed through Saturday afternoon, and not only saw family but got some major sightseeing in as well.

That’s where we begin. When we arrived Wednesday morning, it was raining. Our hotel was near downtown and didn’t have availability until the afternoon, so we decided to catch lunch. We happened upon the Target flagship store (very near the Target headquarters) on Nicollet Mall, bought a couple of umbrellas, and then quickly decided that we were better served figuring out the Skyway system. This was clutch in the bustling metropolis, at lunchtime, in the rain, with a hungry toddler who insisted on holding one of our two umbrellas ALL BY HIMSELF.

We found our lunch spot and warmed up with some English comfort food at Brit’s Pub.

Graham prefers his cheese toasties "Well Skewered"

This was the first of many yummy meals we enjoyed…

Andy after brunch at the News Room downtown


Trying to hide my annoyance at Graham's salad-stealing. Doolittle's Woodfire Grill, Eagan.

It didn’t take us too long [downtown, in the rain] to realize we’d made a grievous error by not bringing our umbrella stroller with us. Going anywhere in downtown Minneapolis with Graham took 2.5 times as long as it would’ve with a stroller.

So, we rectified the mistake. We stopped by the Target flagship store again, but they were out of the $15 umbrella strollers that I desired, having only a $38 version… with pink and brown flowers all over it. I couldn’t do it. This sent us to the suburbs after naptime for a stroller for our boy.

"We go buy dis stroller."

He chose rocket ships over dinosaurs, just FYI.

The stroller ended up being pretty clutch, as we set out for some major sightseeing after that point. Our hotel was in the mill district, so we set out one morning to see the sights nearby. The mill district is now defunct, but the ruins are still standing – making for some very intriguing skyline.

A shot from the hill at Gold Medal Park. The Mill District is an eery blend of "old dilapidated" and "new modern".

Classic. Mom needs a break, Graham is going strong!

We took a long, winding, rather circuitous route to the top. And Graham ran straight back down the side. Boys.

We also made it to a Twins game on Thursday. We met up with Mom and Dad for the first time there. Graham couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw them at the park!  Target Stadium is gorgeous – a brand new facility downtown, just opened last year. Graham had a hotdog and potato chips and some of his dad’s Dippin’ Dots ice cream in a mini-helmet. We made it through seven entire innings of the game before it got to be very evident that a nap was needed. We rode the train to and from the hotel, which officially gave Graham his first train experience. He was so excited.

Seven innings strong! Just kidding - this is the first inning. ;)

Of course, we got to catch up with family while we were in the city.  My Uncle John and Aunt Audrey live in town, so we caught up with them, along with my Uncle Mark who’d flown in from Long Beach for the occasion.

Playing blocks with Granpda - he's so funny!


Mark, Mom and me

Dad is so excited for pie. Hehe.

Graham took this picture - can you tell?? :)

And finally – the wedding. The ceremony was at the Chapel at Fort Snelling, where my Great Great Grandfather Horatio Van Cleve served before going on to become a decently notable general in the Civil War. Very classic and beautiful.

The handsome men. Can you spot my cousin Stewart? Hint: there is a ton of Van Cleve family resemblance...

My pretty cousin, Betsy. The Maid of Honor. Stewart's twin, as a matter of fact. Or he's her twin, or... I don't know the twin pecking order here.

Uncle John and the beautiful bride, Courtney

Congratulations, Courtney and Josh!

The reception was at a restored movie theater, the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown (U of M campus). Such a cool place, but unfortunately none of our pictures turned out, save for two.

THE cake. But we had to leave before we could eat any. Damnit.

Graham demands MORE COWBELL!!!

So that was our trip in a nutshell. We had a great time. Graham had less sleep across a four day stretch than he’s ever had, so we’re in major catchup mode now. He was a trooper, but we definitely learned we’ve got some serious limits on what we can do – compared to if it were just Andy and I. Limits sounds so negative, though, because traveling with this little booger is such a blast. Seeing new sights through his eyes and perspective is just crazy awesome. It makes us appreciate all the little things too. Toddlers are great for that.

Congrats, again, Courtney and Josh!


Rob and Allison’s Wedding

Alternate title: “How we survived air travel with an almost-8-month-old.”

Before we went to bed Thursday night, Andy said, “You know, after this flight, Graham will have traveled more times at 8 months old than I did in my first 20 years of life.

And what a traveler he is! Little dude didn’t disappoint this time either. But my oh my, packing for a non-family destination is a horse of a different color. Instead of having the moms buy us diapers, wipes and formula, we filled half a suitcase with them. Not only that, but Graham is eating solids now, so in went several tubs of Gerber fruits and vegetables, a ziploc of oatmeal, a couple travel bowls and spoons, and a big bag of Cheerios. For the flight, the diaper bag was stuffed to absolute capacity, complete with a large Vera cosmetic bag full of toys, which, of course, we left on the plane on the way to Chicago. The only thing we forgot was dish soap and a bottle brush so that we could wash bottles in the hotel sink. Yeah. Wouldn’t have thought about that either, would you?

I was very excited about this trip, because we finally got an opportunity to put Graham in some of his fall outfits. And shoes! Instead of going barefoot wherever he goes, the kid has little navy sneakers that velcro. So adorable. Here’s a shot of him in the car, ready to go!

Yes, Graham wore the hat all the way through DFW airport, on the plane (until he fell asleep), then all the way through O’Hare, getting the rental car and into the hotel. This little man made tons of stranger-friends as a result. Cubs and Sox fans alike. We either got people singing the tune of “Starting him off right!” or “He’s going to learn some hard lessons early,” but all of Graham’s travel buddies got an equally big kick out of him.

As for the actual weekend, Graham got to meet all our friends from D-town for the first time at breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Shortly after, Graham dressed up in his suit and accompanied us to the wedding ceremony, where we got to meet more of our friends from home. G thought good and hard about falling asleep for the service, but we ended up standing and sitting so many times in the first part of the ceremony, that he woke up and decided to talk over the officiant. He and I watched the entire thing from the narthex.

That afternoon, we all went back to the hotel for a nap, then drove a couple miles from the hotel and dropped Graham off with his babysitter for the evening, Sandy – Michelle’s mom. I still can’t get over how lucky we were that the wedding was so close to them. Otherwise, I’m not really sure what we would have done. I will forever be grateful for their services. :)

We stayed out until about 11:00, and by the time we got Graham and got back to the hotel and in bed, it was midnight. I, of course, couldn’t sleep, being so wound up from the day, and then – after I actually did fall asleep – we had people congregate to excitedly recap their evening o’ fun right outside our door at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 am. Graham, then, awoke at 5:45 am, and I felt like death. Out of coffee in the room, hotel’s supply of coffee not set out in the lobby yet, we got in the car and drove to get the biggest cup of coffee that McDonald’s has.

We narrowly made our plane home, accidentally reading the arrival time as our departure time, then being surprised at the American Airline’s courtesy call which came while we were still at the hotel 2 hours before the flight. I still don’t know how we made it. I do know that Graham made the trip home in footed pajamas and a sweater.

So, great time! I’m not apt to do it again very soon, but I’m really glad we made the effort for this occasion. Did you know all my boys are married now? Jeff, Ben, E.J., Rob. I didn’t realize that until the reception. Two of us have kids, one has one on the way. The other two, newlyweds. When did we grow up?

Tony and Erin’s Wedding

I finally got pictures up from Tony and Erin’s wedding in the Photographs section. I feel like I’m not going to do the wedding justice in the write-up, because Andy and I are right in the middle of a scramble. Actually, it’s 6:30 in the morning – the only time I actually get to sit down and collect myself before work! But we had a wonderful time this weekend, so I think it deserves a blurb at the very least.

Andy and I flew out to St. Louis on Friday. We met up with Mom and Dad for lunch and a few wedding-related errands that afternoon. Friday night was, of course, the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Here we got to catch up with family – most of whom we hadn’t seen since our own wedding back in 2006. Some folks we hadn’t seen for even longer than that! Saturday was a blur, as wedding days typically are. I was a bridesmaid, and Andy was a groomsman. We both managed to meet up with the extended family – both sides at once, amazingly – at breakfast Saturday morning. Then the typical wedding-day craziness ensued.

Tony and Erin’s ceremony was absolutely heart-warming. I really have never seen my brother so happy and relaxed. A huge smile on his face the whole ceremony. Erin’s pastor officiated, and Grandpa P jumped up to the altar to conduct the exchange of rings. I went through three Kleenexes, and as I told many people after the ceremony, I didn’t even cry at my own wedding! It just made my heart smile that these two found each other. You’ve never (and, yes, I do mean never) seen two people who complement each other better than Tony and Erin.

Enjoy the pics!

Kylee’s Wedding

This weekend, Andy and I flew to Illinois and back in an 18-hour period. Why? Because my college roommate married her high school sweetheart on Saturday. :) This girl was my rock in college. Truly and honestly, she is the sweetest girl I have ever known, and possibly will ever know in my lifetime. When you live with someone, for better or worse, you learn who they are. There gets to be a time when a person has to let down their guard. Not to mention you witness first hand excitement, exhaustion, stress, etc. So yes, Kylee is good down to her very core, and she has always been there when I needed her.

So OF COURSE we went to her wedding this weekend – deep in the heart of rural Illinois. It was a surprisingly large wedding. (They ran out of seats in the sanctuary!) Andy and I got a coveted aisle seat. When Kylee saw us during her walk down the aisle, she waved. Then, as she and her new husband were releasing their guests from the pews after the ceremony, the already-teary bride burst into a fresh set of tears as she greeted us. “I can’t believe you’re HERE,” she said. That made it well worth the trip.

We took some pictures, and you can find them here. Enjoy!