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.”

Building Immunity

Seriously. Reid is sick again.

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I’m pretty sure this [above] is what I looked like this afternoon. Reid is not only on Day 3 of a head/chest cold but now also has a stomach bug as well.

Yes, absolutely correct, for those of you paying close attention. He did, in fact, have a stomach virus two weeks ago to the day. He apparently has been lucky enough to pick up some other strain. Probably from his 2-year well visit to the pediatrician on Friday. Kid is cutting a tooth, so in addition to climbing on every vinyl chair in the doctor’s waiting room and flipping through all the books, he was also chewing on his fingers non-stop.

But, hey, whaddyagonnado.

Thankfully this time around, I was able to get him psyched about “grape juice” (shh, don’t tell him, but it’s Pedialyte). Both kids went on a Pedialyte strike for about a year, making hydration more of a challenge in times like these. Big thanks for small blessings, I guess.

In other news, I got Christmas cards out this weekend and Christmas decorations distributed in the house. I never realized just how difficult it would be to decorate a new house with a previous home’s decorations. It took forever, and it’s definitely going to be a work in progress over the next couple of years.

Andy and I also got outside today and conjured up some exterior decorations. I’ll see if I can snap a pic one of these days. We were able to repurpose some lit garland from the old house. Very unfortunately, 3 of the 4 strands had half their strands out. This, we realized after it was attached to the roofline.

Yeah.

I was like, “Well, these won’t be lit garland this year.” Andy was like, “Yeah, that’s going to bother me.” Suffice it to say, stringing lights on garland on an extension ladder in 34 degrees was an experience I hope not to relive soon.

Okay, ever. But it does look pretty. Proof coming soon.

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.

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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.”

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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.

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

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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”. :)

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

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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?

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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::

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. :)))

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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. :)

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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!)

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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!

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. :)

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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.

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Carsten is all set to go!

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

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

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We rushed the routine a little…. whoops.

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Graham was such a great egg-finder!

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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!

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

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

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Gabriel showing off his spit ball pitch.

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

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

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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!