Graham Turns 4: The Year in Review

It was a mere four years ago that we were all watching the Winter Olympics last. But me?

I was watching them with this little thing in my arms.


And now here we are again, but four years later.


Where has time gone? And when I look back at just one year ago – to pictures of his third birthday celebration, I realize that he’s changed a ton just in the last year.


So it goes with children, I guess. He looks like such a baby in that picture, doesn’t he?

My Graham. G. Gray. Bubba. Big Bro.

It’s funny. When I was pregnant with Reid, I had very real fears about losing touch with my first-born. That I’d miss things. And sure, let’s be honest, I’ve missed things. But what’s weird is that I feel like I have learned so much about Graham this year. Moreso than from the previous three years combined.

The great thing about Graham is that he gives you 110%. Always. Whatever emotional state he’s in. It’s 110% percent.

If he’s happy; he’s ecstatic. If he’s upset: HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE. If it’s quiet at the dinner table, he says, “So, Mommy, what did you do at work today?” If he’s scared, he talks his way through his fears.

To wit, if I could only use two words to define Graham, they would be Passion and Spirit.














And, oh, the goofiness. It will resuscitate me after a terrible day and just about send me to the looney bin when I’m needing some good, quiet behavior. It’s useless trying to reprimand him for it, because he usually just makes me laugh in spite of myself.

Yes, Graham can keep his adults on their toes and seem like a tough nut to crack, but don’t let his vivacious exterior fool you. There is a huge heart beating just below the surface. Graham is a sensitive, old soul to his very core, and I’ll be honest:

There were times when we forgot that this year.

Graham got in a teacher relationship at school in Texas that wasn’t good for him. He struggled there. He struggled at home. We tried to clamp down tighter to get his behavior in check, and his spirit just worked harder to break free. Every day when I would drop him off at school, I’d get a stern face from his teacher, and, “We had another bad day yesterday.” Another bad day. After another. After another. Then, “We can’t keep doing this.” Then, “Something is going to have to change.”

I’ll be honest. I was worried we would be asked to leave the school. It led to a pretty unhappy few months for everyone involved, because we were desperate to course-correct.

And guess, what? We were trying so hard to control what we couldn’t that we forgot to nourish what we could. To get Graham feeling confident on the inside so he could shine through to the outside.







This last picture? That is the woman who turned it all around for Graham – and ultimately us – when the school director moved him to her class.

She called him “Sunshine.” She gave him hugs and kisses. When he did something cool in class, she showed him off to his friends and teachers. She was calm, firm, kind and had high expectations for Graham. She yoked him with responsibility, and he worked so hard to show her that he was worthy of her praise. So hard to not disappoint her.

She celebrated with him. She saw misbehavior in class and traced it back to needs that weren’t being met. I am tearing up writing this, just like I would tear up at my every feeble attempt to tell her how unbelievably grateful we are that God placed her in our path.

Our angel.

Whew. :::flaps hands in front of eyes::: Okay, where were we?

Graham, as all kids his age, adores asking questions.

And okay, I’ll admit it: I was [naively] looking forward to the question stage. Little did I realize, that they would often be completely unanswerable questions.

For instance, last month he unpacked a rogue shot glass from a moving box, pointed at the thick part at the bottom and said:

“Why can’t I touch that?”

Me: “Touch what?”
Graham: “Touch that.”
Me: “What, the thick part?”
Graham: “Yeah.”
Me: “You want to know why you can’t touch, what… the inside of the thick part?”
Graham: “Yeah.”
Me: “I don’t know, hon. Because it’s the middle.”
Graham, now frustrated and yelling at the shot glass: “WHY IS IT TRYING TO HAVE A MIDDLE!?!?!?”

See? Completely unanswerable. And, at times, frustrating for all involved.

I say ‘keep it coming,’ though. We make a point of praising Graham for asking good questions. Because, after all, nobody is supposed to know all the answers – but it’s the good question-askers who can really make a difference. Plus, that’s basically all I do for a living: ask questions.

Which brings me to my heart-swelling topic: the boy is a chip of the old block. He both loves science…


… and food. Cooking, to be exact. The second I get into the kitchen, Graham is pulling a chair to the counter asking if he can chop or measure anything for me.




But the thing he loves most of all in this world? Moreso than even me or Andy?

Baby Reid.






Oh, does this boy ever LOVE being a big brother. He is both loving and fiercely protective. He knows what Little Bro needs – often better than Andy & I do – and will go to bat for him when he thinks we’re not getting it right.

Finally, even though the milestones aren’t as many now that G is getting a little older, there were some firsts in Year 4.

First movie in the theater: Monsters University



Loved it.

First trip to the dentist?


Nailed it. (Seen here with Dr. Findley… or, as Graham calls him “Dr. Friendly.”)

Of course, we had our cross-country move to Wisconsin. Graham is loving the snow. Rock on, buddy. There’s tons of it to be had!



(Try and get this guy to pick up a shovel 10 years from now. I dare ya!)

So, that about sums this year up. It’s probably enough for one sitting, dontcha think? Tune in tomorrow for a [much, much shorter] post about G’s 4th birthday celebration itself. :)


  1. Love this Ode to G!!!

  2. I love, love, love your love letters to your children.  Probably because you are able to communicate the love and frustration most parents have while still illustrating your special connection that makes your relationship unique.  I was waiting for this post for a few days, and it didn’t disappoint.  Graham is lucky to have such a running journal of his life.

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