4K Graduation

Oh my big boy. Graham had his 4K (school district preschool) and Preschool (daycare class) graduations this week. It’s a little  cliché to say it, but I really can’t believe how time has flown.

The picture below shows Graham on his first (L) and last (R) days of 4K. I see these pics on Facebook, and I’m always amazed at how the kids have grown. I almost didn’t snap a ‘last day’ shot because I didn’t think Graham had grown that much.

First Last Day 4K

Oh, you know, only like 6 INCHES.

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First up was Preschool graduation. These are the kids who go to daycare together. (Their futures are so bright, they have to wear shades!) At this ceremony we got to see them participate in their circle time routine. What day is it, what will tomorrow be and what was yesterday. How to spell their names in English and Spanish. Those sorts of things. They told a collaborative story about the three little pigs. Totally awesome.

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Next up was 4K graduation at a local park pavilion. The 4K program took place in the same daycare building that he’s normally in, but in a different classroom. Additional kids are bussed in from the district, and the teacher is employed through the district as well.

Our teacher was Mr. Joel.

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God bless, Mr. Joel. It was so awesome to have a male influence for Graham. He’s had 100% female teachers thus far, and I think it was so cool to have the male approach to corralling a room full of preschoolers. Graham would come home with baseball analogies (Mr. Joel is a coach) and told us one time that the reason we wear gloves in winter is because our fingers will get frostbite and fall off. So great.

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These are Graham’s buddies. He really has made great friends in the time that we’ve been in Wisconsin. One of these kids will be at the same school as Graham, and two of them will be joining him in the same after-school care program, so they won’t be saying goodbye just yet. :)

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School has been a journey for Graham – and will continue to be – but he deserves to wear that smile. This child has been in school since he was 12 weeks old, and since his first day he’s had to shift between a mom-and-dad-run house and a teacher-run classroom. There’s a lot of learning and acclimating to be done, and he has totally rocked it. Way to go, buddy. We are so proud of you!

An iPhone For Your Thoughts

“I wish my phone could record my thoughts.”

That was Graham’s final thought to Andy as Andy was saying ‘goodnight’ the other evening. G uses one of our old phones as an alarm in the morning. He has an alarm clock, but it’s a buzzer and lord knows no one wants to start the day that way. Andy had the idea earlier this year to wipe an old iPhone and let Graham have it for that purpose.

Andy grabbed the phone off the nightstand (what Graham calls his “desk”) and put the Apple Voice Memo app back on the phone. A quick tutorial and Graham was set up with the ability to record his every thought with the push of a button.

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Yesterday was the pilot day. He came down with his phone and asked if anyone wanted to hear the thoughts he had after lights out. Most of them were just short, muffled clips of him clearly figuring out the Start/Stop recording button. A few were of him making silly noises into the phone. There was one were Graham’s voice came on after a couple of seconds and said, “We’ll talk about the Pez tomorrow. Tell Daddy about the Pez tomorrow.”

At breakfast, Andy and I were chatting about something and Graham interrupted. I scolded him lightly and just as he was about to launch into a diatribe about how I never let him talk about anything, I offered that he could go record his thought on his phone if he needed help remembering what he wanted to ask. His eyes lit up and he darted down the hall to get his phone. 

Last night while Andy was making dinner, Graham was recording ideas on the living room couch and he came over and said, “Mommy, do you want to record something on my phone? It’s recording now.” I chirped something saccharine into the phone about how happy I was to leave a message and how much I looooved Graham.

Graham finished that clip out, then he walked over to Andy and asked him the same thing. Andy turned from the stove, bent into the phone and shouted, “ROLLERBEES!!! CAPTAIN CRUNCH!!! …” and some other random ridiculous words. The clip of these phrases layered with the sound of two little boys’ belly laughs is audio proof that dads still understand little boys better than their mommies do. (Although I have made significant progress over the past 5 years, I must say.)

I personally can’t wait to hear what he feels is interesting enough to document. Definitely a mom thing to say – but Graham has such a beautiful mind. He doesn’t see his world the way a lot of other people do. I’m glad to have just a little record of it. Even if that means I’m sorting through clips of fart noises to get there.

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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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It’s What Jesus Would Have Wanted

At Thanksgiving, Mom and Dad got the boys a book called The Sparkle Box to read this Christmas season. It’s a book that has a sweet message – that our gift to Jesus for his birthday can be intentional actions to help other people in some way. In the book, they give examples like donating blankets and food for the homeless, money to build wells in Africa, etc.

Graham and I read the book last night and talked about it a bit. We’ll just say: I think this book came at a good time – he’s definitely intoxicated by Christmas this year. He’s also four, so reconciling Jesus’s-Birthday-Christmas with Santa-Presents-Christmas is difficult. I gave him some examples of how he might be able to do things for other people. Things like helping Ms. Peggy clean up toys or including a lonely classmate in a game.

That’s pretty much where we left it. This is definitely less exhilarating conversation for a 4-year-old than where in the house he thinks Buddy the Elf is going to be when he wakes up the next morning, but I was still glad that he was thinking about it.

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This morning, I had preschool drop-off duty. Normally Andy does this (and I pick them up) but today I left for a work trip to Chicago, so I offered to flip-flop schedules with him. Andy got the kids’ coats and backpacks on, and I loaded them into the car. I noticed Graham holding a note, but I didn’t ask about it. Honestly, he always has something odd in his hands when he leaves the house.

When we arrived at school, I unloaded the kids from their carseats. Graham started heading into school, but he turned on his heel and ran back to the car. “Mom! I left my note!”

We got the note from the car, and I asked him what was on it. He handed it to me and I opened it. It was a yellow, lined piece of paper that had one thing written on it in Andy’s writing:

“Honey Bunches of Oats”

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I handed it back to Graham, “Did you take Daddy’s grocery list?” I knew Andy had poured him a bowl of that particular cereal this morning – maybe we’d run out. He said, “No, I had Daddy write it down for me.”  “Why did you want him to write it down?”

Graham looked at me like I had two heads, “Because it’s good cereal.”

Naturally.

We walked a little further and he continued, “I thought I could tell my friends in Ms. Peggy’s class about it… That can be my nice thing I do for my friends for Jesus’s birthday.”

“Recommend a good cereal…”

“Yep.”

That’s the Way Life is, Mom

have to share a conversation I had with Graham – 4.5 years old – last night. Over his plate of chicken nuggets.

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Graham: “Mom, let’s pretend that you’re a girl and I’m a girl so we can get married.”

Me: “First of all, I am a girl, so we don’t have to pretend that I am. Second, why do we both have to be girls to get married?”

Graham: “Because sometimes it’s a girl and a girl. And sometimes it’s a boy and a boy. That’s just the way life is, Mom.”

Me: “Oh yeah?”

Graham: “Yep.”

Me: “Who’s been talking to you about this?”

Graham: “Sophie” [another preschooler friend of his, quite precocious I might add ;)]

Me: “Ahh.”

Graham: “I talk to Sophie and Greta a lot. They know a lot about life.”

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The end. I was slayed. We moved on. It was no big deal for Graham. He’s still the age where he thinks he can marry his mom, so there’s clearly no need to go into the adult-world complications of marriage and relationships and who gets to do what and who deems what OK and not OK. There were no emotions coloring this conversation. Graham is ruled by a word of black and white. Emotions really only surface when it is a question of fairness or basic human need. Today for him the facts are simple – sometimes it is a girl and a girl. And sometimes it is a boy and a boy.

Because that’s just the way life is.