Some Updates

We’ve been busy around here lately.

Andy transitioned to full time employee (from being a contractor) last Monday. This means lots of fun things like quarterly bonus eligibility and a company phone, but we are just excited that he’s now gainfully employed in a non-temporary way.

This job, when he took it, was contract-to-hire, so we had line of sight to this change but Andy still had to impress them well enough to keep the job. Way to go, dear!

In his spare time, Andy holes up in the garage and saws wood into pieces. Every so often he sands. When the stars align, he’s been known to glue a piece or two together. I have no idea what he’s doing out there except for the fact that he is doing and that makes him happy. Good enough for me!

Graham continues to keep us on our toes. He is making friends at his ‘new’ daycare, which we are all thrilled about. He played tee ball for six weeks this summer. He loved being on the team, but after Week 3, he pretty much devoted his time seeking out opportunities to stall the game and get laughs out of the other kids. Maybe next year.

Graham starts 4K in a couple of weeks. He is very excited and even has a new backpack to show for it. The 4K program is funded through our school district and hosted by local daycares – of which Graham’s current daycare is one. This means we will drop him off in the daycare class in the morning, he will play, eat, nap there and in the afternoon he will put on his backpack and walk to the 4K classroom to join other kids from the community. Really, it’s a lot of shuffling. But they make a big deal about the shuffling, and he’s excited to shuffle with other kids in his class. So we roll with it.

Reid is learning new words all the time and figuring out (FINALLY, thank you God!!) how to put some words to what he wants. This makes life better for everyone. He relies a lot on signs still and generally prefers moving around to speaking, but we’ve made progress in the verbal department.

Reid’s favorite show is Sesame Street. He loves Elmo and Big Bird.

There is also a distinct possibility that Reid is the reincarnation of Andre the Giant. His mission in life is to tackle someone. Mainly Graham, but Andy or I will do in a pinch. When the boys are watching a TV show, and Graham isn’t interested in rough-housing, you can tell it takes concerted energy and concentration on Reid’s part not to tackle his brother.

As for me, I continue to become adjusted to my new work environment. I work with some really great people and things are constantly evolving. It keeps me on my toes.

I’m still running. My regular run loop now is 4 miles, and I don’t get lost anymore! A few of the girls I work with signed up for a race in late September, and I signed up too. I was very excited to run a[n organized] 5K again, and I told them so. Immediate mock-shaming commenced because they had all signed up for the 10K loop. Uh.

I caved to peer pressure. I am now training for a 10K. Hold me.

In related news, I am trying to get ahead of some asthma issues. I’ve been having attacks since coming to Wisconsin for the first time in my life, so I’m trying to get to the bottom of it. Predominant theory is allergies. Getting asthma in your 30s is awesome.

That’s an update on us! Debbie, out!

Making it Work

There are moments when I realize that my kids are living the lives of kids in a dual-working-parent household, and their willingness to go with the flow makes me so utterly grateful.

Camping and other weekend trips are fun, but reality soon sets back in. Since weekends and evenings are the only free time Andy and I have, those mundane daily chores like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, mowing the lawn, etc. all get pushed to the narrow space we have after work, mealtime and bedtime for the kids.

Last night, I tried something a little different and loaded Graham into the car right after dinner (a dinner comprised of frozen pizza and chicken patty sandwiches, no less) to do our grocery shopping (to avoid future frozen pizza and chicken patty sandwich nights). In order to abbreviate the time it would take to corral a 4-year-old through the grocery store, I told Graham he’d have to sit in the cart for the first half of the shopping trip. If, however, he chose to stay in the cart the whole time, I’d let him have a treat at the end.

Hashtag BRIBERY

Pushing through the store, Graham and I chatted about games he plays at recess, discussed sugar content in cereals, and thought up funny [read: gross] new names for my recipes. We were at our last stop in the store, picking out yogurt flavors and whining over the removal of aspartame in Yoplait Light (okay, that was just me), that I looked at my tall, gangly preschooler in the baby seat of the cart and became overwhelmed with emotion.

I used to wonder how Andy and I would make it work – having kids while we both work outside the home. I realize now that it’s the kids that make it possible. Sounds like a Catch-22, I get it. It just struck me last night that it’s not just Andy and I doing our parts to make a happy home, the boys pitch in to make that possible too. I wasn’t able to sit down for a minute between dishes and the boys’ bathtimes, I was pushing a cart around the grocery store. But, likewise, Graham wasn’t watching his nightly episode of Curious George after dinner either. Instead, we were making jokes and catching up on the day together.

That trip was both a sacrifice of routine and a gift of time together.

I gave Graham a big sappy hug, right there in the middle of the cultured dairy section, and thanked him for being such a great little boy and making his mommy so happy.

There Are No Perfect Parents

My career move into consumer science has put me unexpectedly in touch with human psychology.

And I love it.

I have gained so many insights into not only myself but also my relationships with others that I have become so much more comfortable in my own skin and confident in my approach to life. I’ve also come to deeply appreciate the value of gaining another thinking person’s reflection on the places where I’m stuck.

Andy and I sought out one such person in Dallas when we realized we’d shaken our toolbox completely empty when it came to our kids. We had been in so many parent-teacher conferences with little Graham and had seen first-hand the difference that approach makes in his confidence and well-being.

That’s where our lives intersected with Ms. Amy. Ms. Amy is a certified play therapist in Dallas.

::record scratch::

Play therapist? Yep, play therapist. A psychology professional who deals exclusively with kids under age 18. Let me go ahead and address some of my FAQ from friends & family who have discussed this whole “Ms. Amy” thing with us:

1. Graham is a perfectly normal preschool-aged boy, why would you take him to a counselor?

This has never been about fixing Graham. “Fixing” would imply that there was something wrong with Graham in the first place. No, what we needed was someone to help us understand Graham. And once she understood Graham, she then helped us diagnose what specifically is and isn’t working in our approach to parenting him. I think taking him to a play counselor says less about him as a little boy and more about me as a struggling parent.

2. Aren’t you worried about what Graham will think about being taken to a counselor when he’s old enough to understand? Will he label himself as a kid who needed counseling and carry that with him through life? 

I think we – as a society – need to shift our thinking about counseling, therapy & mental health as a whole. This hush-hush stigma that we have is perpetuating the shame that goes along with seeking help. There should never be shame about seeking out a healthier, well-adjusted, happier life. Period. To that end, Andy and I have committed to talk to Graham and Reid about the ugly stuff. The hard to talk about things. I don’t actually really count our month-long relationship with Ms. Amy as ‘the ugly stuff’ but you get the point maybe. Hiding these visits with her from him or others actually implies that there’s something there to be hidden. Hiding perpetuates shame. Shame begets more hiding. Time to break the cycle. Hence – I’m talking about it here!

Those are pretty much the two items that keep popping up. But you know what? I am so thankful that Andy and I took the steps to see Ms. Amy while we were in Dallas, because I just had to do a phone consult with her a few weeks ago.

Graham all of the sudden had a significant spike in separation anxiety about a month ago, and I placed a call to Ms. Amy. Before we got started on the current topic, she asked how Graham was and how we were doing after our big move. I told her that we still use all the tools that she gave us – even if we’re not perfectly consistent at it, we try really hard. She let me finish my thought, then interjected:

“Debbie, there are no perfect parents. There’s no such thing. What there are, are parents who love their children so much that they are willing to keep trying to do better the next time. And that’s what these children need.”

And it’s funny, you know? The “mommy wars” are real. And hurtful. We are all trying our hardest, and then we turn around and snipe another parent for not trying hard enough. Or for doing the wrong thing. Like it’s a black-and-white matter – a right-or-wrong answer. Like there are perfect parents. Instead of shaking our heads in 100% empathy and saying,

 ”I know, it’s so hard, isn’t it?”

Sick Day

Well, Reid got kicked out of school yesterday afternoon. I got that stomach-dropping call from daycare in the middle of the afternoon. (Daycare and school moms know it: when the school’s phone number pops up on the phone, and you know they’re calling about one of your kids. There’s a moment before you answer when a flash of panic/dread spikes and quickly recedes because you know it could be really bad or it could be nothing.)

Reid’s teacher said he had a temp of 101.5, so I dropped everything to pick him up.

I gave him some Advil when I got home and the fever broke. He lingered around 100 when I put him to bed, but when I went to check on him before *I* went to bed, he was the definition of burning up. I’ve never felt a kid so hot. Took his temp again: 103.5.

Yeah – we stayed home from school today.

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Reidy woke up with a temp around 102, so I’ve been letting him simmer without Advil. He doesn’t seem uncomfortable, just tired. He ate two bowls of cereal then went back to sleep.

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He looks downright happy here, right?

Reid slept from 9 – Noon and woke up for lunch.

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Here he actually didn’t have much of an appetite. Ate half his yogurt, most of his milk and most of a slice of cheese before the cheese became distasteful and he started to try and scrape it out of his mouth.

I sort of wonder if he has a sore throat. (But just try and look down a toddler’s throat. TRY IT. Doctors must spend their entire third year of medical school just perfecting the toddler throat check. Impossible!)

We sat and watched T.V. for a bit, and Reid started asking for his baby[doll]. I went and got it and, for kicks, got a baby bottle out of the cupboard. He loves babies but is even more excited about them after having his cousin Kate here this weekend.

Reid is a natural.

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We took turns feeding the baby.

Then I turned on some Barney, and he loved it. O Lord Almighty, what have I done??

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Then by around 1:15 (mind you, he woke up at Noon) he looked like this:

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So back to bed for Bonzo.

Craig and Susan – having been fully informed of the presence of whatever-this-is in the house – decided we should still keep our weekend plans for a visit. They arrive here midafternoon! Then only time will tell what our weekend plans end up being. Can’t wait! Just hope Reid shakes whatever has him down!

Just a Little Bit

Hey – do you think I can write a post every day for awhile? They may be short (I can hear the “hallelujah”s already), they may be pointless (probably), but they will be here. Are you with me? Let’s go!

We had an amazing visit with Brian and Michelle last weekend, and we’ve just about turned the guest room over again because we have Andy’s parents due to arrive tomorrow. Visits, ahoy! How come it took until June for people to start visiting?!

Oh right, Wisconsin. Fair enough, people. Fair enough!

We are so happy to have people up to our house. So happy, in fact, that Andy bought 6 tiki torches at the Menards on Sunday. That means that, on the tiki torch scale of hosting excitement, we are at a 6.

We have also been busy in between. Take last night for instance: After cooking, serving & cleaning up after dinner, Andy installed a ceiling fan in Baby Reid’s room and mowed the lawn, and I bathed both boys, tucked them into bed and then made a pan of enchiladas.

Tonight, Graham has his third t-ball practice. I’ll be honest, I think I succumbed to Millennial parenting peer pressure and signed him up for team sports too early. I admit it. The first week he was nervous about it. Last week was so much better because his cousin Charlie played on his team. This week, he’s pretty excited to put on his green shirt and hat. But the whole ‘organized sports’ thing? He could live without it. Only 3 more weeks after this, though, so we’ll ride this wave to shore.

That’s all for now. I’ll post some snapshots of our visit soon enough. Just probably not before this weekend. :)