Friend Lion (and YES, the Armadillo!)

This story has two parts.

Part 1: The Acquisition of Friend Lion

We had a family errand run yesterday. First stop – get Graham’s hair cut. Reid and I stopped in Anthropologie to pass the time. Anthropologie is also known as the place where Reid calls all the clothes “jammies”. Hilarious if you’re familiar with the store.

There, we happened on a stuffed lion. I held it out to Reid and said, “Look Reid, a friend!” Reid took this about as literally as anyone could. He hugged it tight around the neck and didn’t let go. He carried it around the store, introducing “Friend” to every shopper he saw – complete with a huge double-dimpled smile.

Ultimately, it was time to put Friend away and leave the store, but we all know where this is going. Reid dutifully  put Friend back where we’d found him, patted him on the head, said, “Bye, Friend,” and walked away – shoulders slumped. I checked Friend’s price tag, and found that he was 50% off. Thus, our latest acquisition.

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I’ve never seen Reid buddy up with any stuffed animal like this. Friend is real, you guys. He takes naps, needs to be buckled in shopping carts, gets hungry for breakfast – you name it.

Part 2: Guilt

Last night, after a happy homecoming with Friend lion, I read Reid a favorite book, But Not the Hippopotamus.

If you’re familiar with this one – it’s about a bunch of animal friends doing fun stuff with each other around town… but this poor hippopotamus is left out of everything. Spoiler alert: the animal friends come around and ask the hippopotamus to join them.

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It kinda takes this dark turn at the end though, because after the Hippopotamus joins his new friends, we find out that they all left out the Armadillo.

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And yes, that is how sad and pitiful the poor armadillo looks at the end of the book.

After I closed the book, Reid immediately hopped off the chair ran over to his cache of stuffed animals and plucked out this stuffed armadillo that I’d bought him just before we moved out of Texas. Reid has never paid any attention to the thing before, but now that he is aware the emotional turmoil of being left out, I think he doesn’t want the armadillo to be sad anymore.

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This was Reid, after breakfast. Armadillo and Friend lion slept in bed with him last night, ate breakfast with him, and subsequently rode to school in his lap.

Because no book is going to tell Reid who to be friends with!

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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The Kid Loves His Dairy

I took Reid in for a recheck on his breathing at the doctor today, and – Hallelujah – the medicine cocktail/regimen we have him on appears to be working! This marks the first cold he’s had in I-can’t-remember-how-long that we haven’t landed ourselves in the doctor on Day 10-or-so for some sort of medical intervention. (I make that distinction – this was just a recheck after all.) His doc also said that if the nebulizer cocktail is working, there is a chance we’re going to avoid ear infections (someone tell me how that works) in the future. Which means maybe no second set of tubes. :::fingers crossed:::

That makes this a good day.

Reid and I marched victoriously out to the waiting area to collect our coats (because all good Wisconsin public places have AMPLE coat hooks/hangers at the ready and yes, WE ARE STILL WEARING COATS SOMEHOW), and Reid smiled sweetly at me, raised his eyebrows and said, “Go home now?”

I explained that, no buddy, you are going back to see Mr. Danny and Ms. Emily at school. He looked so disappointed, so he tried again. “No school. Go home?” Again with the raised eyebrows.

I elaborated further with an artificially gung-ho voice, “Nope! You’re going back to school! We’ll see friieeeeends and play tooooooys and eat lunch…”

Reid looked at his feet for a minute, then looked up at me again and said, “Eat lunch?” “Yep, eat lunch.” Because of course that’s what he latched onto. He considered that then with fresh hope said, “CHEESE?!”

I shrugged and said, “Maybe?” Reid looked at the door and yelled, “LET’S GO!”

Silly Baby

Reid is home with me today. Wheezing again. He’s taking it like a champ, but we did go see the doctor today to see why his Flovent/albuterol cocktail doesn’t keep him breathing easily during a flareup.

Clearly, he takes this all in stride – as demonstrated below.

He thinks he sounds funny when he’s wheezing, and he has this funny little chipmunk laugh that he does. I wanted to get it on video and ended up just rolling tape and getting a good collection of Reid’s daily antics. It’s perfect. He is a little hamball. Just imagine what it’s like when he and Graham get together! We get nothing done!

On the breathing front, we now have a higher dose of Flovent, and we now have a nebulizer to administer meds when he has a cold to hopefully get his two medicines administered more effectively. Here’s hoping!

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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