Friday, January 31, 2014

Could you define that?

During Matthew's reading lesson yesterday:

Matthew: "Glob?"

Me: Nope.

Matthew: "Globe."

Me: Yes. How do you know it's "globe"?

Matthew: Because of the "e" at the end.

Me: Right. You know what a globe is, right?

Matthew: Yep. It's the thing that goes around and around and is smaller... (thoughtful pause)... than God.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

2013: Beachy Birthdays

Pardon the retrospective...

We celebrated both Matthew and Esme's birthdays at the Outer Banks last year, awaaaay back in September. We traveled on Esme's actual fourth birthday, then had her party at the beach house when the cousins arrived the following day. It was very a pink affair...









Matthew's birthday, at the end of the week, was a little less pink and a little more.... Angry Birds.

I see so much Don Nalle in this next one...

Oh, and speaking of Don Nalle, the K'Nex set we got Matthew was a serious bonding opportunity for Grandpop and his boys.

Mommy confessional: having made one birthday cake (cupcakes, actually) already that week, I was caked out when it came to Matthew's birthday. He wanted an Angry Birds cake to go along with his theme, and I just wasn't excited about making a gluten-free Angry Birds cake on our second-to-last day at the beach with our semi-outfitted beach house kitchen and my assortment of tools from home. So we put frosting on some banana bread, and I asked Matthew if it would be ok to take him out for ice cream and save the fancy cake for home.

He said yes.

Mommy confessional P.S.: I still haven't made the Angry Birds cake.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Graham Boy: Sweet Miscellany

Graham's eyebrows just might be his trademark at this point in his life. He has really big, blue eyes, and as long as his brows are up, those bright eyes might be the first thing you notice about him. But if he's in a serious or shy mood, and his eyebrows are down, he has a whole different look. It's not exactly friendly.... actually, "scowl" seems to be the word that most people use to identify it. I don't think he usually means it as such, but let's just say it will be an area where he'll need to practice self-awareness.

Here's a fictional yet typical conversation between Graham and me.

Me: Graham, let's put on your coat. (Getting out his blue coat)

Graham: Nooooo!

Me: No, you may not say "no" to Mommy; let's put on your coat so we can go get in the car.

Graham: Cah?

Me: Yep, we gotta go. Come on, let's put on your coat.

Graham: (Pointing to vest in the closet) Jaja?

Me: Oh, you want to wear this vest under your blue coat?

Graham: (As if it was all my idea) OK!

That cheerful "OK" at the end is classic Graham. It's quite a nice way of responding to someone who has finally figured out what he wanted all along--rather diplomatic, you might say.


Practically, I should mention that Graham's eczema is sooo much better than it was, especially in that first year. He still has patches where he's always dry and itchy and needs regular moisture--mainly his legs, and especially his ankles and the tops of his feet. And right now, with the very cold temperatures, his arms and upper back are suffering too. On particularly bad days, I'll sometimes give him some Benadryl to ease the itching. But his face is always clear and soft, and I very rarely have to pull out a steroid cream for a breakout that's gone raw or oozy. We're so grateful for that.

Dave and I absolutely love Graham's current stage. I don't think there's a night that goes by where one of us (usually whoever put him to bed) doesn't say, "Graham is so cute," and go on to tell a story about something he did recently. Every single day he's coming out with new words, showing new understanding, engaging with others in new ways. It's rather thrilling to be the parent of a two-year old.

Bedtime is especially sweet with Graham He's often in a jolly mood, perhaps due to the one-on-one attention he gets from whichever parent is diapering, moisturizing, jammying, and teeth-brushing him. After the bedtime work is done, we sit and rock him in our arms and pray over him and sing, and he puts his index finger up and pokes at our faces. "Eye. Nose. Head. Ear. Aaaah." (That's his word for mouth.) He loves to be kissed and tickled and teased at this hour and has the most delighted and delightful giggle I can possibly imagine. Oh, those big, happy eyes, so full of pure, unpolluted pleasure. I never want to actually put him in the bed and leave the room. I really have to drag myself away.

Come to think of it, I guess that's testimony to some growth for me as a parent. I used to be so desperate to get the kids down and be free at last--grown up time!!! ("OK-g'night-love-you-see you-in-the-morning-mwah!" [Closing door firmly.] "YESSSSSS!" [Happy dance/exhausted slump against wall.]) Don't get me wrong, I still look forward to the peace and serenity of 8 to 10 pm, but I so often wish I could just freeze those bedside moments and live in them forever.

Now lest I mislead anyone, I will say that Graham is a fully normal two-year old who does a whole lot of screaming and a fair bit of throwing himself on the floor in all out temper-tantrums. And I definitely have times where I'm angry with him. (This evening, for example. Me: [between gritted teeth as I haul him up the stairs] "Don't fight me, kid." Graham: [choking back tears] "OK. Mama.")

But oh, man, how I do love him in between times.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lunchtime with Esme

One family day, as we all (except Graham) sat around the table for a late lunch, I noticed that all eyes were riveted on my hands as I crumbled a granola bar into my fruit-and-yogurt bowl. "Wow," I said, "everyone is staring at my hands."

"It's strangely fascinating," replied my husband, without taking his eyes from my food.

"Yeah," agreed Meg, still riveted.

"Yeah," echoed Matthew, entranced.

"I don't really think so," said Esme cooly, taking a bite of her mac 'n' cheese.

(Es continues to be our independent child, definitely ok with forming her own opinions and sticking to them!)

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Graham Boy: Language


Graham's Language
This kid is a talker--maybe not among strangers, but definitely here at home. It's always a little hard to remember our other kids' stages well enough to compare accurately, but Dave and I both think he's well ahead of any of our other kids, verbally speaking, at age two. No big surprise there; he hears a lot of words around here!


I'm sure I won't be exhaustive in capturing his lingo, but I'll at least share some Grahammy-faves:

  • "Met" (Meg)
  • "Machoo" (Matthew)
  • "Ez" (Esme)
  • "Set... GO!" (Sometimes he adds the "Weady" at the beginning, but only occasionally. Shouting "GO!" is often his way of telling Daddy that he wants to be thrown in the air again, or insisting that Mommy plant more of those ticklish kisses on his neck.)
  • "Here go" (here you go)
  • "Up dere" or "Ower dere" (to indicate the location of something he wants)
  • "Where you" (Where are you?)
  • "Foo" (food)
  • "Yolo" (yogurt)
  • "Banana"
  • "Puz" (grapes)
  • "Apple" (any fruit besides banana and grapes)
  • "Cracker" (he pretty much survived on crackers for several months)
  • "Waduh" (water)
  • "Budduh" (new alternate pronunciation of water)
  • "Mahmellow" (marshmallow--his fave treat)
  • "Woah" (bowl--this one's new as of this morning)
  • "Shoe"
  • "Coat"
  • "Jaja" (jacket)
  • "ipada" (ipad)
  • "Guppy" (Bubble Guppies)
  • "Botch" (watch, as in, "I wan botch Guppy ipada")
  • "muh" (more)
  • "Buh-puh" (Grandpop)
  • "Nana!" (Usually exclaimed as we round the bend on Nana's street and he realizes her house is about to come into view)
  • "Ow-sigh" (outside)
  • "Kah" (car)
  • "Nigh-nigh" (Beside obvious uses, Graham also uses this phrase to mean "fan," a machine that, at our house, is always required for anyone to go nigh-nigh.)
  • "Bah" (ball)
  • "Woof" (any dog, or Clifford specifically)
  • "Goggie" (alternate for dog)
  • "Ligh" (light)
  • "Boo-pah" (diaper)
  • "Way" (pray)
  • "Fadah" (Father, as in "Dear Father, thank you for...")
  • "Ka-kow" (answer to "What the fox say?")
  • "Luh you" (love you)
To be continued...

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The Graham Boy: Loves

It's four days from Graham's second birthday. On my sidebar, I allude to Graham's "still unfurling" personality and of course, even at two, there is much yet to be revealed. However, a lot of unfurling has happened since I last wrote about our youngest, so I thought I might fill in some of the gaps. This might take a couple of posts, but we'll start with some of the things Graham particularly likes these days.


Graham's Loves
Graham loves trucks, especially in our several books that feature photographs of real ones. Graham is enamored of doggies, and seizes every opportunity to imitate their panting sound. He always goes to bed with his arm wrapped tightly around our stuffed Clifford ("The Big Red Dog"), and his head covered with his doggie hat with the ear flaps. Graham is extremely fond of the ipad. In fact, he loves it so much that I've just put it away for several days (or perhaps longer) in an attempt to loosen his little heart's death grip on it. Graham adores a Nickelodeon show called "Bubble Guppies," especially the catchy theme song, which never fails to get him bouncing. Oh, yes, he's still quite the little dancer and commences bopping when he hears almost any song with a good beat. His perennial favorite is Toby Mac's "Me Without You."

Graham has a thing for coats, jackets, and shoes and can often be seen modeling his brother's or sisters' outerwear around the house. (I'm a big fan of him in Esme's shiny purple coat with the hot pink fur trim.) Graham is thrilled by any physical play with Mommy or Daddy, and enjoys being tossed, flipped, bounced, tickled, or kissed, typically demanding more with sparkling eyes and a huge grin. Graham's most beloved foods are kidney beans, coconut milk yogurt, gluten free Rice Krispies with coconut milk, oatmeal, fruit, hot dogs, and most meats. Graham craves outside time and always expresses extreme disappointment if someone is going outside and has the gall not to take him along.

Most of all though, Graham still passionately worships... the vacuum cleaner. You'd have to see it to believe it. Sometimes the first thing he does on waking in the morning is run to the closet, open it, and beg, "Datyoo? Datyoo?" He's happiest when someone is running a vacuum. Having one or both of our vacuums in the middle of the living room, with the cord unwound and sprawled all over the floor, is an acceptable second best. Putting a vacuum cleaner away in Graham's presence, or even attempting to wind the cord, is still the cue for him to flip out. "Noooooooooo! Datyoooooooooo!" Followed by tears, screams, throwing self on floor, etc.

What is it about the vacuum cleaner, you ask? We have no idea. We're still utterly mystified by the whole thing. I should mention, though, that on researching toy vacuums for a possible birthday present, I began to notice a pattern in the customer reviews. Thoughts such as, "Our 18-month old is OBSESSED with vacuums," kept cropping up, along with one that ran, "Our two year old stands by the closet and screams whenever we put the vacuum away." I'm not making that up. Evidently, vacuum-passion is somewhat endemic among American toddlers. Someone really should fund a study on this phenomenon.

To be continued...

Sunday, January 05, 2014

It's Alive!!

Hey, friends and family--it's been a while. It's been so long, in fact, that I imagine some of you will never see this post, because you've stopped visiting here. In which case, addressing you as "you" becomes rather silly, no to mention existentially meaningless.

I won't waste your time with excuses and explanations about last year's blogging failures. I'll just say this: I still see great personal value in writing here about my family's life, and I hope to resume blogging somewhat regularly. But I don't have a precise plan in mind at this point, so no promises.

For now, an update of sorts, in the form of a list. It's a list of ten things about our family--not the top ten things, mind you... just ten things based on my stream-of-consciousness.

1. We missed the first church service of 2014 today (Dave excepted). Graham has a bad cold, Esme had croup and now has general misery with a fever, and Meg and Matthew are working on (so far) mild colds. I'm sad for my babies, but I have to admit to smirking sometimes when they all start coughing at the same time. Makes me feel like head nurse in a TB ward.

2. We didn't send out Christmas cards again this year, so please don't feel slighted or worried that you didn't receive one. But we do LOVE getting and reading your cards, so thank you very much to all who included us on their lists!

3. My sister Lena, after three months of training in France, followed by unexpected visa-related hurdles and great uncertainty, is now safely in Senegal, where she and her teammates will spend the next three months doing mission work. We're so grateful and relieved that she made it!

4. There are so very many photo ops that I missed last year, and many photos I did take and failed to post here in 2013. But here's one of my favorite shots of the whole year, taken in September. I'm so glad I didn't miss this one.


That guy in the center of the shot, the one who looks a bit like my husband? He's a pretty special guy.

5. Dave got inspired/fed up on New Year's Day and rearranged our living room furniture. This is the first time we've done this since... I think... 2007. The room is much more open now, and we like it!

6. Our 2013 Christmas tree was named John F. Kennedy, in honor of the 50th anniversary of JFK's untimely death. I don't know if I'll ever post a picture of John F. Kennedy the Tree, but he was a very good looking, youngish fellow, so it seemed fitting.

7. Winter Storm Ion (uh... "Hercules" followed by "Ion"? Seriously?) has been easy on us so far. We had a passing patch of freezing rain and a bit more non-freezing rain, and plenty of fog we still have. All said, it was a very gloomy day outside, but nothing remotely so dramatic as what much of the country saw. Our thoughts are with dear ones in central Michigan, who are no doubt having a very different experience.

8. Yesterday I took Matthew and Meg and our friend Michelle to see a production of The King and I at our local regional theatre. It was very enjoyable. Today, Matthew could be heard going around the house repeating "Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!"

9. Assuming poor health doesn't prevent it, we'll resume school on Tuesday after a lovely and productive winter break. We did lots of crafting and gift making this year leading up to Christmas, and I was able to take advantage of the break from school to make headway with several organization and cleaning projects. So encouraging.

10. We're so glad that Jesus is alive. Quite honestly, looking out on a new year can be as intimidating as it is inspiring to me, but oh... knowing that my King and my soul's Friend will be there with me at every moment, loving me most tenderly and faithfully... that's where it's at, friends.

Happy New Year and love from the Wilcox family!