Pearl Jam, Milwaukee

When I meet new parents, I often ask what they like to do for fun. When they inevitably stare out into space – trying to remember what it was that they used to do when they had the luxury of free time – I reword my question thusly:

“You know, … what survived kids?”

This always brings an immediate response of one (maybe two) things that they still do that’s just for them. “We go bowling,” or “I brew beer in my garage.” Etc. For Andy and I, the answer is concerts & music. We make time to go see our bands live when they come around on tour.

So, last night, Andy and I hired a sitter and ditched the boys in pursuit of mid-week musical goodness. Pearl Jam’s penultimate performance on their Lightning Bolt album tour. This is sort of poetic, because it was in November last year that they hit Dallas, just a couple of weeks after we’d packed our things and vacated the state of Texas. I had to work, so I stayed behind in Wisconsin with the boys while Andy flew to Dallas and met up with his brother, Brian, to watch the show.

Last night was my turn, and it was worth the wait.

Concerts are sort of boring to read about, I think (unless you’re an uber-fan), so I’ll sum up with: Those guys pulled out all the stops. And, no, really. I mean it. They looked a little tour-worn, but you could also tell they wanted to play it out with style.

As for Andy and I, mid-week concerts are getting harder to do. Andy had to work on Monday, and I had to coordinate getting the kids from school and set up with a babysitter in time for us to leave, drive to Milwaukee, find something to eat, get tickets from Will Call, and get into our seats before the show started. They had no opening band, so the pressure was on to get there on time. Stressful.

Andy’s still smiling though!

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Anticipation!

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Selfie before the show started. They were having trouble getting people in the doors efficiently (hence all the empty seats behind us), so the show began a little late.

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We had great seats – thanks, Ten Club!

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They started with a song off their new album (Pendulum) and, a few songs later, played Baba O’Riley with Rick Nielsen. Yep, a usual closer about 4 songs in. That was the first right turn of the night.

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Next up, they played Yield, their 1998 album. I can’t really, fully explain how transcendent this was, but you’re going to have to trust me… every out-of-their-mind Pearl Jam fan was like, “OMG. OMG. They’re *@$%#ing playing YIELD.” This statement from all the concert-goers in the fan club section and commenters from jealous Twitter/Instagram/Facebookers who weren’t in attendance. In reality, they could have been playing any album front to back, but for some reason, we were all convinced that this was the best choice they could have ever made.

I can’t help but laugh in spite of myself. In the moment, we – a bunch of grown adults – were acting like kids who just came home from trick-or-treating only to be told we were now going to open Christmas presents. In the groggy morning after, all I can do is chuckle at how excited we all were.

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At some point, someone from the crowd threw a Packers Cheesehead [hat] on-stage. Eddie, after much debating what to do, said something to the effect of “I’m from Chicago man, I can’t wear this.” A risky move – being in football-crazed Wisconsin, but he made the right call – the crowd erupted in cheers. He made a bet that he had a decent Chicago backing and he was right.

He made amends later, though.

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The show kept going and going and going and going. Andy and I were so amped about this… until it got to be 11:00. Then 11:15. Then 11:30, and they were showing no signs of stopping. Three songs deep into the third encore, they didn’t even seem to be slowing down. Eddie was talking to the crowd, and Andy and I did something completely unprecedented.

We left. :( Snapshot in time to be certain: We were an hour and 20 minutes from home, it was 11:30 and we’d told our sitter we’d be home at midnight. We looked at each other, nodded, and headed for the door with another few couples. Eddie seemed to be leading into something, so the other couples stopped on the stairs to watch. I shook my head at Andy and said, “If I don’t keep going I’ll never leave.”

We hit the lobby of the arena when Yellow Ledbetter started playing. We both froze in our tracks and at least one of us yelled guttural pain sounds at missing it. Andy said, “Do we go back?!” I shook my head, we had to go. Come to find out this morning, they played two more songs after that. We wouldn’t have been leaving until Midnight.

So, yes. Concerts have survived kids to be sure, but even that – for now – doesn’t look the same as it used to. Someday we’ll get back in the swing, but for now, I’m happy to be part of it even if just for a little while.

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.

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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!

Zoo Run Run

Well, this was a big weekend! I ran my first ever 10K race, and nailed it thankyouverymuch.

I look back over this past summer and almost can’t believe that I couldn’t run any distance without getting seriously winded back in April. I had goals all along the way:

Goal 1: Complete a Couch-to-5K running program (3.1 miles)

Goal 2: Be able to run the 4 mile loop in my neighborhood.

Goal 3: Run 10K (6.2 miles)

Check, check & check.

I’ve gotten so into running, in fact, this looming winter had Andy and I trying to figure out how to keep this fitness regimen from coming to a screeching halt for the season. I mean, I don’t mind dressing for cold weather, but unless you have running spikes, there is no way to run on ice and snow safely. And 5 months of unrelenting snow and ice is what we had last winter.

After much discussion, we decided to buy a treadmill. I actually found a like-new one on Craigslist this week, and we brought it home yesterday. While moving this [extremely heavy] piece of fitness equipment into the house, I tweaked my back. This usually means pain and complete muscle lockdown until I can get a chiropractor to look at it.

Yesterday was spent on my back, with ice, popping Advil and googling how to know whether or not you can compete in a race due to injury. And no, the irony is not lost on me that I almost botched a race I’ve been training for for 6 weeks because I was busy making sure that I could continue to run through the winter months.

Thankfully, I woke up less stiff this morning, and running – as it turned out – didn’t aggravate the injury at all. Huge thanks for tiny blessings.

So, this morning, this is what I was staring at at 8:55 a.m.

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And after 1 hour, 4 minutes and 42 seconds, I looked sort of like this:

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A little bit about the race itself:

It was incredibly difficult not to run too fast out of the gate. Usually I’m comfortable pacing at 10:30 min/mile to start with, but this time I felt like I was really putting on the brakes and my pace was right at 10:00 min/mile. So I went with it. Being Wisconsin, there were hills a-plenty, but I’m used to that, so it wasn’t a huge deal. After about 3 miles, the pack who was running my pace stabilized, and with a mile left I turned up the heat and left them all behind. :)

The boys cheered me on at the finish line. And maaaaybe 30 seconds after I finished, Graham was whining for a snack. Glory doesn’t last long when kids are in the mix.

Next up was the Roo Run Run, a race for the little guys. There was a 1-mile, 1/2-mile and 1/4-mile event. I signed Graham up for the 1/4 mile because he’s been fascinated with my running while I’ve been training. We had to wait around for quite a bit for his event to start, but we found ways to keep ourselves occupied.

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Baby Reid has already begun his Rocky-style training for next year’s Roo Run Run.

We had a little hiccup with Graham’s race. The starting line was so congested with parents and kids that I sort of had to direct him through a crowd of parents to the crowd of kids at the starting line by shouting and pointing my finger. Not the best plan. I got him where he was supposed to be, and I took my place in front of the starting line to cheer him on except… all the kids ran by me and Graham didn’t!

My heart was in my throat. But after all the kids cleared out, I saw a race volunteer holding Graham’s hand. I ran up to him, and with red eyes he said, “I didn’t know where the starting line was!” Poor baby. BUT, he rallied really quickly and took off.

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He ran the entire thing by himself, worked SO HARD the whole time and at the end, he got a medal with all the other kids.

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He was jumping up and down and said, “I ran it all by myself!!!!!” It’s a solid 5 hours after the race concluded, and Graham is still wearing his medal and his race shirt.

So that’s our day! Two successful races. It consumed our morning, but we had so much fun!

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How to Catch a Reid

Who doesn’t love a little Baby Reid in the middle of their day – I do!

Reid is a babbling fool. He enjoys talking, even if he’s not saying a word. He tries really hard, and sometimes he gets so excited he just bellows (or squeaks!)

Yeah, the hat? He insists on wearing it in the car. But when the car arrives at its destination it’s “ALL DONE, HAT!” Last night, when we got home from the drug store, he said, “HOME! All done, hat!”

If Reid is locomoting between two places, he’s moving like a fullback. There is no exception to this. They say men lead with their chests and women with their hips when they walk. Reid leads with his head. He is constantly running at a 25-degree angle, slanted forward, barreling to.. wherever.

To that end, if you have the pleasure of greeting Reid when he is excited to see you, try not to be gullible enough to crouch down to catch him in his adorable running hug. Keep your feet firmly planted in a standing position with your knees slightly bent. It better absorbs the shock from the tackle.

“Tackle,” by the way, is one of his few words. It’s starting to become the tip of the iceberg. He also loves all things with wheels. He’s fairly non-discriminating in his vehicular interest, but he can say “car” and – more recently – “choo-choo” so he does tend to gravitate toward those objects.

After dinner most nights, he suddently realizes that he has an urgent need to play with his cars. He’ll motion “All done” after dinner, remove his bib and say, “All duh… play car??!?” One night, he stood straight up from his little chair in the middle of an episode of Curious George and said, “MOMMY!! PLAY CAR!!” Like he’s worried we’re going to tragically run out of time and head to bed before he’s had his due.

It’s a mini-Reid update. I just can’t stop watching this video today. ;)

Let it Go, On-the-Go

Graham has a LeapReader and thoroughly enjoys it. I think he’s a little young for the “read on your own” features, because he seems a little overwhelmed by sitting down with a book. But – something I didn’t realize when we bought it put it on Graham’s wishlist* – it also plays audiobooks and music. Basically, it’s a little like a mini mp3 player.

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He totes this thing on car trips and to “the boring places” like haircuts and oil changes. He plugs in his headphones and plays his own little set of tunes.

Funny thing is – there is only one audiobook and a couple songs on there: the demo versions that the LeapFrog company preloaded on the device. Today, I changed all that. Graham is now the proud owner of the Frozen soundtrack.

His reaction was priceless. In fact, he wanted me to shoot some video so he could tell us about it.

(I didn’t edit the clip, it lags a little at the end, but I thought the “I just sing it…” was hilarious.)

Other than 24/7 access to Frozen songs, we’ve had a pretty slow week around here. We made some cookies this weekend. Reid’s teacher in the infant room resigned to be a nanny, and has now become our a-mazing babysitter, so we made for the hills (figuratively speaking) and went on a date night last night.

Other random updates:

- I have now run 6.5 miles two additional weekends and have suffered no ill effects from the distance like I did that first time. The actual 10K race is next weekend, and I’m feeling equal parts confident and ready for it to be over. Graham is also entered into the race for the 1/4-mile kiddie sprint. Should be fun.

- We lost the caterpillar I wrote about last entry. I replaced it with a big fat woolly worm (pictured below) and we mysteriously LOST THAT ONE TOO. I am going on the record to say that I’m not OK with the number of larval insects on the loose in my house. Probably they are both inside Hugo’s tummy, if we’re being honest. No more caterpillars will be coming indoors this season.

That’s about it from here. Hope you had great weekends wherever they may have led you!

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*Brainfart! We didn’t actually buy this for Graham! I thought really hard about it and researched it thoroughly but the people who made it happen? His Grandpa Craig and Grandma Sue. :) talk about a gift with longevity!