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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Bike Parade Through The Years

Our precious preschool puts on a bike parade each year. Now that all three children have participated, it's fun to see just how much each of them has grown! 

2014 was our first year here and it is incredible to see our big, grown up, almost 3rd grader here on a balance bike! Look at how precious the "car wash" is for these kids to go through! I don't even think we had our moving shipment delivered yet at the date of this parade, so I certainly was not put together enough to decorate the bike. 

2015 was the year I learned at that inflated balloons are a bad idea to tie to the back of a bicycle. The colorful balloons were instantly tangled and popped and dangled as a limp clump of color at the back of her bike the whole time. This little ray of sunshine didn't mind one bit. She is all smiles and energy this year too. 

Alex joins in on the fun in 2016 with his blue scooter. His lefthanded-ness had become clear when he started scooting, using the opposite foot to propel himself. He is a natural scooter-kid.

Gretchen is still enjoying the parade - and I have a rare year of having all children participating in the bike parade, and I was able to take photos without chasing anyone around. This was the year I was pregnant with Graham.

The absolute height of my decorating skill was 2017 when Jon brought home this fantastic balloon "G" from a work event. It fit perfectly on Alex's bike handles and he thoroughly enjoyed having a decorated bike. Note that this was our "cold" year at the bike parade. If I remember correctly it was around 70F and everyone is in jeans and long sleeves. Texas is funny like that.

Alex graduated to a larger, SpiderMan bike in 2018. It's the little things like the slight bend in his elbow and his long-looking legs on that big bike that let me know how much he has grown since last year!

Welcome to the bike parade, Graham! 2019 is your year, where you inherit Alex's blue scooter, he follows suit by bringing his big red and black scooter, and you both have precious letter decorations courtesy of cousin Lydia. I am pretty sure Graham is right-handed, but he uses the same foot as his brother to power this scooter and I find it adorable. 

2019 is the last bike parade year for Alex. It is also a new location for their preschool, and I am thrilled that this tradition lives on.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter in Dallas

Growing up, "visiting family" meant going to Wisconsin. Lots and lots of my extended family live in Wisconsin, and those that didn't would also periodically return to visit the dairy state. This meant that in order to see my cousins that didn't live in Wisconsin, we needed to match up our yearly trip with their yearly trip - and that only happened some of the time. 

Luckily now that we live in Texas, we are able to drive to see some of this extended family who live in our home state. I have a number of cousins, aunt and uncles that live across the major metro cities in Texas, so now we can visit family more than once a year, and spend weekends or other small gatherings together without any major travel involved. This is what we did for Easter. We headed due north for a nice weekend with cousins, staying with my Aunt Linn and Uncle Greg. As an extra bonus for the holiday, we had additional cousins come in from Colorado to match nicely with our kids and keep us out far too late one of the nights. 

My uncle John invited us to an Easter egg hunt and party where we made the MAJOR mistake of arriving 1 minute late. This started our Easter celebration off with utter chaos - "We're not going to get ANY eggs!!!!" - and a few tears. The joy of Easter. Note the lack of eggs in Gretchen's basket. We learned a bit about gratitude and appreciation that morning, and the tears quickly dried when her sweet cousins offered to share the melted molten lava chocolate candy that comes from holding an egg hunt in Texas at midday. 
Here is 40 year veteran Ranger's employee Papa John with some of the kid troop. All smiles, and a beautiful day.

Look at the soft side of Uncle John!
Gretchen and Justice are two peas in a pod. Insta-friends, like-minded, it's really great to watch them together. 

The end of the egg hunt was a brilliantly crafted raffle. Each child received a ticket, waited for their number, and then EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM won. The ticket dictated the order in which they could choose their present, but every child left with a gift. Incredible. 
Waiting for raffle numbers
Beautiful Julia calling out winning numbers
The rest of our day was spent at my cousin's gorgeous new pool, dying eggs and grilling out. Lots of fun, laughs and I even snuck in a nap. It was a great weekend, with lots of plans to see these cousins far more than once a year. 

Wearing gloves during egg-dying: J'Vette's mom-mastery!

The water was juuuuust chilly enough to keep this one on the side.

38 years young

We left early enough on Sunday morning to make it back home and celebrate Daddy's birthday. Happy Birthday Daddy! Happy Easter Everyone!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Graham Turns Two

This sweet child. Our third. Our last. The punctuation mark at the end of our family sentence.

He is strong. He is stubborn. He is unbelievably cute. He melts hearts one minute and makes you want to pull out your hair the next. I've been told every family has one - and this unpredictable, precious and opinionated baby boy is our "one".

He has started speaking more, he is most definitely one of the big kids. He loves Bubble Guppies and Ernie (specifically, the Sesame Street episode #3137 which he had dubbed "Ernie Moon") he loves his owl and elephant lovies, his tickers (when he's not biting through them) and his older brother and sister (Aquis: Alex and Guys: Gretchen).

His other true love is "Ms. Ka", who's real name is Erika and is one of the most loving teachers at his preschool. He adores her and I am so very thankful for that.

As every third child knows, they do not get the one-on-one, tailored treatment that the first and second children tend to receive. In addition, our family had the rare and fantastic privilege of having Candy Miranda help us out in our Buenos Aires apartment during Gretchen and Alex's birth. Graham has taken things into his own hands, since birth, and demanded his attention in the way that only a third-born can. 

Ms. Ka!
Graham has also had the experience of being a baby while his mother was diagnosed and treated for brain cancer. So, without understanding why, he was cared for by a village of family and friends when I physically or mentally could not do it myself. He did so very well with this revolving door of family and friends who helped feed him, play with him and put him down for naps and bedtime each night. Daddy is the master, but many other helpers were available when Mom just could not be. I struggle with that as a parent - lucky for me, he seemingly does not. 

He walks confidently into preschool each day. He demands the things that he wants. He takes your hand, walks you to the refrigerator to show you which yogurt is acceptable for lunch - then refuses the first 3 spoons you try to give him to eat it. But he loves to laugh, and he loves to make everyone else laugh too. He always has a scrape, and pats his own shoulder when he's sad to show that he wants to be held. He will read the same 2 books before bed every night, (it's a rotating two, currently The Jungle Book: an Animal Primer and Big Red Barn) and insist that he sit in the chair and you sit on the ottoman and read the book to him while he holds it. He knows what he wants - and what he doesn't, and I love him fiercely.

So when October rolled around and our new neighbors were planning a precious, dinosaur-themed birthday party for their son (who is a week older than Graham), we joked about how we just didn't have life together enough to throw a party. We got him a few presents and had a chocolate pie out of the freezer for his birthday - I'm still undergoing chemo and I'm exhausted, have no taste for food and have pretty much stopped cooking altogether. But our neighbors are incredible - they not only included Graham in their party, but bought a "2" candle just for him AND had a custom Two-Rex shirt made for him and their son to match. Thank goodness for this village.

Our baby man is two. Hallelujah and God help us.

Happy Birthday Big Guy!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

End of An Era

Tomorrow our big little guy turns five years old. FIVE. In my mind this is the age that begins Big Kid. In that spirit, when a new stage begins, something must come to an end, and I think we're ready to say farewell to #AlexHatesEverything.

In 2016, our sweet, sensitive, cuddly 2 year old was still pretty quiet most of the time and a real joy to be around. But there were times - when something seemingly minor would happen - and Alex would melt into a teary, drooling mess of unclear words mixed with yell-crying. Often, this was followed by long periods of pouting, anger and frustration. This is not new behavior, many parents have the same struggle, but my answer to this was to start photographing the tantrums and allowing myself a little comic release. So in January 2017, #AlexHatesEverything was born.

Over the last two years we have seen an incredible maturing of our little guy. He is now a big brother, with a full, generously used vocabulary who has his own, measured way of doing things. His tantrums have virtually disappeared, being replaced by more of a side-eye look and crossed arms. Honestly, the hashtag photos were helpful in showing Alex how silly he looked when he lost his cool. And for anyone who has seen these photos and thought they were mean or unfair, know that no one has laughed harder than Alex while looking at himself losing his mind over a sandwich or the wrong bowl or because it was time to go home. Not to mention how cathartic for mom - who often time had to spend an hour coaxing her toddler while chasing down her 4/5 year old while also (at times) very pregnant.

I want these photos to be captured in our family records to look back on, as we do with most of the items in this blog. So here's to the end of an era. Our little boy spent his last day as a 4 year old happy, reasonable and very excited for his upcoming birthDAY and celebration over the weekend.

Enjoy #AlexHatesEverything one more time.... and stay tuned.... I feel in my bones that there may be a future for #GrahamHatesEverything.

Alex hates getting only one chocolate granola bar. 

Alex hates finishing his sandwich. 

Alex hates listening to Sirius/XM 90s on 9.

I call this series "Alex hates Fridays".

Alex hates getting the mail. 

Alex hates rain. 

Don't you DARE split the last cupcake. Alex hates half desserts.  

Alex hates "just coming right home" after gymnastics. 

Ales hates when you fill his kid-sized grocery cart with salad. 

Alex hates it when he can't ride ALL the scooters in the neighborhood. 

Alex hates being told to get a Kleenex [and not use his shirt]. 

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Alex hates getting "only two things" for lunch. 

Alex hates half-marathons

Alex hates all fruits except watermelon. Which is one of the few we don't have on hand.

Alex hates leaving Pump It Up to go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. It's a tough life. 

Alex hates dinnertime.

Alex hates not helping our neighbors paint.

Alex hates Easter parties. 

Alex hates when last night's babysitter is gone in the morning. 

Alex hates vineyards

Alex hates half-full snack bowls. "I don't want 11! I want like 100 animal crackers!"

Alex hates the wide turn radius of his new car

Alex hates not impulse-purchasing toys on Christmas Eve

Alex hates jokes

Alex hates small bowls

Alex hates "Baby Painting"

Alex hates only one snack after soccer

Alex Hates Water Safety
Alex Hates Independance
Alex hates Family Photo Sessions