Category: Personal

I Have Returned…

June 15, 2020

Grahamspencerblog

(Spencer, 13  Graham, 15)

Hello Friends.

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it?  It’s actually been about six and a half years.  I’m doing the math in my head as I type this and I truly can’t believe it has been that long since I’ve been back to this space.  A LOT has happened.  A LOT is happening right now for all of us, isn’t it? The question of why I am back now is a lot simpler than the question of where I have been.  I’m back because I’ve been wanting to come back for a long time and earlier this year, when life was, you know, normal-ish, I set a goal for myself to get back to my blog.  Generally I’m not a big goal setter, but I have a Big Birthday coming up at the end of July and I thought setting some goals for this year would be helpful.  When I’m not actually in the kitchen cooking, or planning on what I will be cooking, I tend to be a procrastinator and sometimes a little lazy.  So as I made that list, it seemed ambitious.  Now, with life altered and a lot of time on my hands, I’ve been chipping away at the goals.  I have already surpassed doing 50 Peloton rides by the end of July, I’ve tackled pizza and sourdough among other baking challenges, and at long last, I’m back here in the land of food blogging.

I’ve missed this space so much.  So much.  Please let me say thank you so much for all of you who have reached out over the years, all of you who have asked me when I’m coming back, all of you who have continued to use the recipes on this site and have recommended it to friends.  It has continued to be a source of joy for me even as I went dark.  Once I get this post out of the way, I will get back to posting food photos and recipes.  I just need to tell you where I’ve been.

In January of 2014, I was felled by a terrible episode of depression.  It seemingly came out of nowhere.  One day I was fine, the next day I felt a little blue, and the next day I felt like I had been hit by a truck.  At first I chalked it up to coming off a busy holiday season with family in town but after the third day of terrible exhaustion, I went to see my doctor.  She told me I was showing signs of depression and gave me a prescription for Lexapro.  She also told me to try and find someone to talk to but “good luck with that because they all have really busy practices”.  (I no longer see this doctor.)  And thus began the next four years of my life.  Crushing soul sucking depression.  It runs in my family and I had had minor bouts of it in the past but absolutely nothing could have prepared me for how awful I felt.  It’s called mental illness for a reason, I was sick.  I felt sick.  Not sad.  Like a migraine without the headache is how I sometimes described it. But so much worse than that. The first year was absolutely paralyzingly awful.  I was seeing a psychiatrist who was not really helping me but I was too wasted to find someone else.  We were trying to find the right meds and the right dosage and all of that took so much TIME and so many side effects.  The few weeks of intense anxiety I felt while adjusting to Lexapro, on top of paralyzing depression, almost sent me over the edge.  I was just waiting and waiting to feel better.  Thankfully, my kids were still young enough to not really understand that something was drastically wrong with me.  They didn’t question why they were getting Oreos in their lunchboxes instead of homemade treats, or why I was in bed all the time.  They didn’t mind the spaghetti with jarred sauce that I made regularly and which should signal to anyone who has read this blog how bad I really felt.  I lost all my joy besides my kids.

After the first year and switching to a new psychiatrist and a different med, I felt a tiny bit better.  Joy was still in short supply and I had absolutely no energy and I was sleeping an alarming number of hours each day, but I didn’t feel that unspeakable awfulness.  The following year was a little better and by year four, I could say that once I was able to get myself out of bed, which was most of the time around noon, I felt more or less normal.  I was back to cooking and baking a bit, I had things I was looking forward to, I was a more active participant in my life.  That terrible weight sitting on my head had lifted.  I had gained a significant amount of weight (common with anti-depressants) and it seemed that most of my feeling terrible had transferred to how I looked.  I really felt all right but I had all this weight on me, a visible symptom of what I had been through.  By January of 2018, I felt ready to take control of the situation.  With my doctor’s blessing and plan for doing it safely, I went off my meds.  Very slowly I started exercising and I also got back to a healthy way of eating. Much more importantly, I found joy again in my life and rejoined my family and friends.

So what happened?  Why did it strike me the way it did?  These are two of the many questions I explored with the two doctors I saw.  Depression, of course, can just happen.  There doesn’t have to be a cause.  But for me, I realized, with the help of my doctors, that I had so many unexplored feelings about having a child with special needs.  We’ve known since Graham was 18 months old that something was wrong and his childhood and adolescence has had so many twists and turns.  But I had never really talked to anyone about how that felt.  I talked about him to people but it was more situational than emotional.  “We need to find a different school for him because his school is becoming a language immersion school and that won’t work for him.”  But not how that felt. How sad I was that he wasn’t “normal” and how exhausting it was to have to keep ahead of the game and find the right thing for him.  How I would think “Why me?” and then immediately feel guilty for thinking that when I had the gift of this amazing kid.  I think the deepest and most candid I got about these feelings were the posts I wrote here on my blog.

But even deeper than these unexplored feelings about having him as a child were/are my feelings about how I mother him.  Beyond the terrible guilt about sometimes wishing he was different, lies the shame in all the times I have yelled at him for things he can’t help.  The impatience I feel for things that are not his fault.  The worry I feel about his future, beyond the regular worry that I feel for Spencer, and how much despair I feel about that.  These are terrible dark things to feel and so painful to confront and I came away from the four years of feeling bad thinking, no wonder.  No wonder I got felled hard by these terrible things I was feeling and these terrible things I was telling myself.  I think the most valuable thing my doctor gave me, besides her unflagging empathy, is the idea that I am so incredibly hard on myself about how I mother Graham because I have very high standards about the mother I want to be and how I should mother him.  He’s an amazing giving loving person, so I should be more patient.  He can’t help it that he can’t keep track of his things, so I shouldn’t yell at him for losing his jacket.  My doctor helped normalize the things I was telling myself and was very adamant that I not “should myself to death”.

Now that I am on the other side of those four dark years, I have many thoughts and feelings about it.  I feel fear that it will all come crashing down again.  I worked really hard in therapy but I could have worked harder.  There are scary things that I explored but also scary things that I left alone.  Will that come back to haunt me?  I also have to deal with the fact that I lost my mid-40′s.  I have memories from those years, of course, but with a pall over them.  It was the dark time and it took up a significant chunk of my life.  When I expressed regret about that to my doctor, she asked me if I could have a magic pill to make it so that the depression never have happened, would I take it?  That’s a tough one but after thinking about it, I would say that no, I wouldn’t take the pill.  My life changed forever when I was 43 not because of anything I did, and that’s a twist that I have to own.  I came out the other side so grateful to feel better.  When I exercise, when I plan for and cook a big meal, when I am fully present with my family, I am extremely aware that it was not this way for a long while and to never take health, mental and otherwise, for granted.

Next up, a food post!



Nine

December 16, 2013

Deep deep sigh.

My son, my big boy, is nine years old.  His birthday was November 28th – Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and his birthday all in one this year.  I started doing these birthday posts when he was six – the age his younger brother is now, although it is only two more months before Spencer turns seven. I like to go back and reread these birthday posts more than any others here on my blog. I have a good memory but being able to capture little moments that slip through my mind’s cracks gives me a better sense of my family. The journey from eight years old to nine was a challenging one so truthfully, I’m not sad to leave eight behind. Even though Graham has become this huge person, not a little tiny boy anymore and that makes me sad, I’m just glad we are able to move on to the next year.

If you have been reading here long enough, you know that Graham has some challenges that do not have a name.  (You can read more posts about him here.)  He is not on the spectrum (Autism or Asperger’s), he is not dyslexic, he doesn’t have behavioral issues, and he is healthy as an ox. He probably has some kind of auditory processing disorder meaning that he doesn’t process language in the way that you and I do. He hears the words fine but doesn’t make sense of them in a timely manner, or sometimes at all. Language, as I have learned first hand, affects everything you do in your life. If you are not fluent in speaking and understanding, you are probably also not fluent in social language. He struggles to follow along in his classroom and he also struggles on the playground. Ever the cheerful and friendly child, he wants to join in games at recess but can’t follow the complex rules that sometimes go along with those games and frustration ensues.   Fortunately, in his case, frustration means walking away, not hauling off and hitting someone.  He also just doesn’t read people in quite the right way so kids sometimes find him annoying or inappropriate. It is heartbreaking to watch. All he wants is to connect, to be friends, and he just doesn’t go about it quite the right way. I watch Spencer, his junior by two years, navigate friendships effortlessly. But for Graham it is just so much harder. I will say that the older kids, especially the girls, adore him and he gets high fives whenever he sees them.

All along, Randy and I have held tight to the idea that public school is the best choice for Graham. Because he has been tested and has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), he has legal rights to services within the school. If we opt out and go to private school, we lose our rights to services during the school day. The burden would fall to us to get him extra help. Over the years, the schools he has attended have offered him quite a bit in the way of services, but it has never been quite enough, especially as he has gotten older and school has gotten more sophisticated. This past year it seemed they are always just falling short of what he really needs. This has been a frustrating process, to say the least. Both Randy and I believe that their hearts are in the right place, that they care deeply about Graham and want him to succeed, but for many complicated reasons, including funding, they are not able to give him quite enough help. Last year, at the end of our rope, we hired a lawyer to help us navigate the meetings and to help us speak the correct language to get what we want for him.

Through the process of many meetings and innumerable emails, not to mention an honest threat to sue the Oakland school district, Graham is now being helped more than before. He attends a special reading clinic every morning where he and one other student get intensive reaching coaching by a specialist. He still gets help with reading and writing during the school day, and he has an aide shadowing him at recess, to help him navigate the complex rules of the playground. He also goes to speech therapy twice a week. This kid works so hard. I have to wake him up most mornings, then he gets breakfast, then I pile the two boys in the car and drive to downtown Oakland where the reading clinic is. He spends an hour and forty minutes with no break practicing reading and pronunciation. He scores a ten out of ten almost every single day for his effort.  Then he gets on a bus and goes back to his regular school where he has just missed recess, and has to jump in with two feet to whatever is on the schedule that day. His teacher is kind and accommodating, telling him to get his wiggles out on the playground if he needs to, and offering him time to eat a snack, but it is still a big transition. One that he does every single day and will do through the end of the school year. Graham has homework every night that can take him up to an hour, with a lot of assistance, and it is so difficult for him. All through these long days with challenging expectations, he is cheerful and compliant. “How was school today?” is met, unfailingly, with “Great!”

I am so proud of him. I also continue to be frustrated by him. And that is where this post will sound like all the other birthday posts that I have written about Graham. I have this beautiful amazingly sweet tempered child, who tries his best every single day (how many of us can say that?), and much of the time, in addition to loving him, I am impatient with him. Homework is the time of day where I am tested. I sit with him as he struggles to recognize his spelling words (must they be written in cursive??) and watch as his math skills, which are very good, flee his brain as he contemplates word problems. Third grade is a big transition, the work is less linear, more complex. This does not work well for our child. Again, I am grateful to his teacher who is compassionate and understanding. She suggests that he does 20 minutes of homework only, set a timer, and whatever he finishes is great.  So far, that has made things a bit easier for all of us.

At his last IEP meeting, an emotional one where the school therapist shared her findings, and her deep affection for Graham, in a stirring way, Randy raised the difficult question. The one that has been in the back of our minds since he started school. “At what point do we hold him back?” It was one of those things that had been with me so long that it was startling to hear it voiced aloud. And even more startling was how they unequivocally told us that studies show that “retaining” students does them no good. They progress for a while and then continue to get stuck about where they did the previous year. Much better to keep assessing his needs and making accommodations for him along the way. I felt so much better after that was cleared up.  And I also worry.  Of course I worry.  How will this look in the future?  How will he continue to be in the classroom with typically developing kids without his very strong self esteem being impacted?

And then I remember what his pediatrician said long ago.  Before we knew what this was (and we still don’t), before he had started in school, just about when we realized that he wasn’t talking and all the babies his age were.  She told me that as long as he was making progress, we shouldn’t worry.  His peers will make progress too, most of the time faster than he will, so it won’t be a race.  He won’t necessarily catch up.  But as long as he is moving forward, that is what we need to hold on to.  And he is moving forward.  When he was starting developmental preschool and he was still wearing diapers, I could not imagine a day when he would sit at a real desk and do real math problems and read real books.  And here he is doing all of those things and thriving in his own way.

There are lessons here.  Be easier on him.  Be easier on myself.  Celebrate what you have without wishing for what you don’t.  Why is it all so hard?  I imagine other people’s houses at homework time and how effortlessly it must flow.  I imagine other people’s weekends and how much less frustration they must experience just trying to get out the door in addition to everything else.  And then I remember a valuable lesson I learned when I went through my divorce from my first husband.  When we announced to friends and family that we were splitting up, people were absolutely shocked.  From the outside, we seemed like the perfect couple – how could we divorce?  I realized that no one knows what is going on in your house and the challenges you face.  So as I imagine these other people with their other children, I need to remember that everyone has something.  What I have is a gloriously happy (and handsome) child with an amazing attitude who thinks he is awesome and that his life is great.  And I have a temper I wish was less volatile when it comes to this child.  We’ve done the work for him and we will continue to do it.  I think I need to do some work on me.



A Slice of My Life – Spencer is Six

February 6, 2013

Spencer’s birthday was on Saturday.  I am late writing his annual birthday post because of a meeting between my thumb and a cheese grater.  True to his special nature, Spencer has said to me, no less than ten times, “I’m sorry you hurt your thumb, mommy.”

When your children are young, every birthday is a big one. Parents of older children, does this continue to be true? Six feels big. I know when he turned three I said the same thing. And four and five. He is my baby, so every year that he gets farther away from chubby wrists and overalls and obsessions with construction vehicles feels like a loss to me. We can no longer shop in the toddler section of stores (which typically goes to size 5T) and sometimes when I see baby boy clothes, or even baby boys, I catch a sob in my throat.

So my little baby, who will still let me call you “my little baby”, who are you at six? This has been a big year for you. We moved from the only house and the only city you had ever known to a new house and a new city. And you started kindergarten, the beginning of your school journey. Both of those big transitions you took in stride. School has been a dream. You were very ready for kindergarten. You are lucky enough to have a wonderful teacher and I jokingly call you the mayor of your classroom. All the kids like you. Your teacher told us that he can put you at any table in his classroom and you work well with the other children. Your only fault in school, according to him, is that you tend to rush through your work. You are so busy and want to know what is next. Just like Daddy. You are very very bright. Just like Daddy. You hate to be wrong and hate to be hurt and hate to be embarrassed. Just like Daddy. You are very good at finding things. Just like Daddy.

I find so much joy in holding your hand, always warm and slightly sticky, and just talking with you. Your voice continues to be high and scratchy and I love the sound of it. You have so many funny ideas, so many good questions, so much curiosity about the world, and so much kindness in your heart. You play imaginative games with Legos and figures and most of the time you and Graham get along really well. You are interested in magic and science and you aren’t afraid of much.  You will go on a roller coaster with Daddy while Graham will sit on the sidelines with me.  You sometimes act as an interpreter for Graham when I don’t understand what he is saying and I hope you will continue to do for him, both with us and at school. You also tend to tattle a lot and have been to known to fall to the ground in frustration. Currently you play basketball and go to karate and watching you attempt jumping jacks, with your arms not quite in synch with your legs, makes me smile and tear up at the same time.

I walk you to school each day and you are heartbroken on the days when I need to drop you off. I know the day is coming when you won’t want me to walk you in at all. I cherish that you hold my hold all the way to your classroom, allow me to help you get your Darth Vader lunch box out of your Batman backpack, and that you allow me to sit in a kindergarten sized chair and give me hugs before your day in the classroom starts. (I have to sit in the chair rather than pick you up because you are *almost* too big for me to lift anymore.)

Your days are long and busy and ever since kindergarten started, you have asked me not to get in bed with you at night time. You are totally wiped at the end of the day and just want to go to sleep. You do ask me, every night, “If I have a bad dream, can I come and get you?” It is interesting that you have always, since you started to talk, had a bed time question. You hardly ever have nightmares but you do get the occasional bloody nose and have learned to grab a tissue before you come find me, rather than leaving a trail throughout the house.

This is the year you looks really different to me. You started losing teeth last winter (swallowing your first one), and this fall the top two came out. Your smile is still oh so sweet but the little Chicklets are gone and the new guys are a little crooked, spaced wide apart, and too big for your little mouth. You are so tall and while not quite lanky, the baby softness of your limbs and tummy leaves a bit more each year.  Your eyes are a cool shade of hazel and your lashes continue to be extra long and straight.  Just like Daddy.

Currently, you want to marry Brooke, a beautiful little girl in your class. She chose you over a boy named Charlie using the eenie meenie miney mo method, according to you.  When we talked about next year and entering into first grade, I mentioned that Brooke might not be in your class. You were dismayed and said, “But then she will forget about me!” I don’t think anyone could forget about you, my sweet.

 



The New Year

January 4, 2013

In January of 2012, just after the New Year celebration, we went out to dinner with my friend Jen (she of the wonderful yoga retreats) and her husband Tom.  Jen told us that she begins each year by choosing a word for that year.  The word then becomes part of her life for the year in intentional and unintentional ways.  This is an endearing quality of Jen’s – she puts something out there that might sound weird coming out of someone else’s mouth but coming from her, it sounds perfectly reasonable.  Without thinking too carefully about it, the word that came to mind was “Push”.  As I sat with it that night and over the next couple of days, my mind went in the direction of my work.  “Push” meant teach more, attempt recipes I have been avoiding, create more original dishes.  It also meant “Push” outside my introvert nature and get in front of more industry people, maybe get established with an agent and start on the road to publishing a book.  I had no idea, in those January days a year ago, that what “Push” would ultimately mean is picking up my family and moving outside my comfortable and safe surroundings of the city in which I had spent almost my entire adult life.  “Push” meant leaving beloved friends and family, my career, a city that I knew inside and out, and embarking on new adventures in a new town.  Now, in my new surroundings, I no longer have my career but I am having to “Push” beyond my introvert nature in order to meet new friends.  I am having to “Push” to make sure my son Graham gets taken care of in his new school.

With so much  being new, I need to tell you that I am extra grateful to all of you who read this blog in this challenging and oh-so-rewarding year.  I have mentioned several times how I have lost my rhythm when it comes to blogging.  I miss it very much.  Writing is like a muscle in that, if you don’t exercise it often, you lose your strength, endurance, and flexibility.  Because I haven’t been posting regularly, it has become that much harder for me to sit down and just DO IT.  So here we go.  2013, new year, new routine.  I am committing to two food posts a week and one Slice of Life.  I was very touched by your comments on my last post and delighted to read that you like those posts.  (Comment #27 was particularly sweet.)  I got some interesting suggestions so I plan to mix it up on occasion and talk about other things besides just regular everyday life.  Sundays will be the day for these “other” posts and I’m thinking about featuring general thoughts on food and diet, party planning tips, general cooking tips, dinner party how-to’s, discoveries in the Bay Area, etc.  Any suggestions are welcome.

I hope that Santa or Hanukkah Harry was good to you.  I hope you have had a break from work or school.  I hope that on Tuesday morning, you woke up to a new day with new possibilities and joy in your heart.  I hope for the very best for you in 2013.



Eight

November 29, 2012

Today, Graham is eight.  He is the age I was when my youngest brother was born.  It’s been three years since I first wrote about my first and oh so special child.  At that time, I felt just the slightest bit bewildered by him.  Crazy overflowing amounts of love with just the stirrings of fear about what the future might bring.  By the time I wrote my second post, a subtle impatience was starting to take up residence in my psyche.  I have written other posts to celebrate his successes and some to celebrate his birthdays.  You see him often in my Slice of Life posts.  But I haven’t written much lately about how is doing and how I am doing with him.  This is a hard post to write, as all of them have been.  How do you talk about your child?  How do you begin to explain someone who you think is so incredibly wonderful but who can be a never-ending source of frustration?

I had a complete breakdown moment soon after we arrived in France in June, for our month long vacation.  Randy and I had just made the difficult decision to move to the Bay Area after years in Seattle.  I had gone through all the pros and cons in my mind ad nauseum.  In spite of leaving family, an incredible network of friends, my career, and a wonderful elementary school, we decided our family was ready for a new adventure.  The breakdown came when I circled back to thinking about Graham.  All of our wonderful friends who have children around his age have known him since he was a baby.  Graham is just Graham.  His quirks are just a small part of who he is.  Children who have always known him can appreciate that he is a sincere and loving child who wants nothing more than to play and laugh and eat snacks.  He is a little different and that fact does not seem to phase those who have always known him.  What about a completely new network of people?  How do I explain my child to families?  Should I have to?

Graham is in second grade.  He has an undefined developmental delay.  He is not on the autism spectrum.  He has an IEP (individualized education plan) which allows him to get help in the areas where he needs it, but he is in a regular classroom.  His delay affects his speech and cognition and because those two things are integral in interacting socially, he is delayed in that area too.   He is shockingly good at math and puzzles and things requiring spatial awareness.  His short term memory is terrible, his long term memory is scary good.  (He won’t remember where he put his pencil, but will remember an event that happened years ago just from a glance down a street.  I operate this way too.)

Graham continues to be a very even keel child.  He almost never gets upset and almost always goes with the flow.  This is surprising considering he doesn’t always understand exactly what is going on.  He is very well behaved in his classroom and at home.  He loves people and will strike up a conversation with just about anybody.  Adults and older children are utterly charmed by him but kids his age – not so much.

I used to wonder at what age kids would start to notice that there was something different about Graham and it turns out that second grade is the age.  He has been teased.  The kids nudge each other and ask, “What did he say?”  Some of them have hidden his lunch box from him and, according to Graham, they make fun of his clothes and his skin.  (He dresses well because I still pick out his clothes for him and he has dark skin.  I wasn’t aware that those were things that were tease-able offenses.)  I have talked to many friends about what is going on and most of them are horrified.  Most schools have a strict no-bullying policy and I’m sure ours is no different.  I know that kids are cruel.  I see most of the girls in his class completely ignoring him while they are catty behind each others’ backs and I thank the universe, for the umpteenth time, that Graham is not a girl.  (Disclaimer:  we know some amazing empathetic and kind girls who are absolutely lovely with Graham.)

And where am I in all of this?  I am heartbroken for him.  The fact that anyone would make fun of such a sweet soul makes me want to scream.  I am grateful that he still doesn’t know that anything is different about him and that he misses most of the eye rolling and nudging.  I am thankful that (still!) every time a new adult helper comes into his orbit, the first thing they tell me is how delightful he is.  Graham handled a huge transition – a move to a new state, new house, and new school – with a smile on his face and adventure in his heart.

Our next steps are to involve the principal and his teacher as much as possible.  Our hope is that getting some awareness about kids who are a little different at this still young age might nip some of the teasing in the bud.  We also plan to enroll Graham in some social therapy.  The idea is that there is truly a social language that most children learn naturally.  I see this with Spencer.  The way he interacts with his peers is not something I or Randy have taught him – he just picked it up.  Graham tries, he is so motivated to make friends, but his language delay sometimes makes it difficult.  So we will get him in a supervised play group where he will learn about how to be a good friend, how to appropriately interact with kids, and how to walk away from people who are being unkind.  That is the hope at least.

Whenever I write these posts about Graham, I get the most amazing and kindest comments and emails back.  Many of them applaud me for being a good mother.  Most days I feel like I am.  Some days I know I am not.  Graham tests my patience at some point everyday and sometimes all day.  I know we all get inpatient with our children and some of us yell.  When I get angry at Spencer, I rarely feel bad afterward.  He has done something he is not supposed to, he knows it, he does it anyway, and I get mad.  We talk about it afterward and we move on.  With Graham, the things that drive me to distraction about him are usually things he cannot help.  He doesn’t deliberately forget to bring home his jacket or the name of someone he has known since he was born – there is a section in his IEP about his memory.  It is truly impaired.  He doesn’t intentionally not listen to me, he only catches about three-quarters of what I say, if that.  He can’t help it if he just can’t grasp the concept of days getting darker, or geography, or many of the other things children his age just seem to get.

What makes me feel terrible about myself (at times) is that I believe that Graham tries his best at everything every day.  How many children can you say that about?  He is a first born, rule following, approval seeking, sweet-to-the-core kid.  Why do I feel embarrassed by him sometimes?  Why do I occasionally wish it was different in our house?  How can I hold him in my arms, almost unable to bear the sweetness, and then be driven to distraction by him not five minutes later?  Is it him that I wish was different, or myself?  I read something recently that said if we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we would grab ours back.  As much as I look to parents of typically developing children and envy them at times, I know that they have their own struggles, struggles I would not want.  And there are, of course, people who have it much worse than we do and those who have it unspeakably bad and when I think about those folks, I want to simultaneously squeeze Graham and hang my head in shame.

In all of this, I have to say a word about my amazing husband.  My Naval Academy educated, former Navy pilot, Harvard MBA, brilliant and athletically gifted husband.  If you had told me that we were going to have a child who had some undefined issues that would make school and team sports difficult for him, I might told you that Randy would would really struggle with that.  He takes great pride in his intelligence, his fearlessness, his drive, and his successes – as well he should.  I hope he also takes great pride in what a kind and loving father he is.  The man who tells you he has no patience is the one sitting with Graham helping him sound out his reading words over and over again.  He is the man taking him to Cub Scouts and soccer, helping him learn to ski, and is the first one to say that he doesn’t care if Graham goes to college at all as long as he is happy and healthy.  And out of the house by age 18.

This is a serious post.  So allow me to tell a funny story.  When Graham was in kindergarten, he was in the bathroom peeing and a mean boy pushed him.  This terrified Graham and ever since, he has sat down to pee.  (This is not the funny part.)  It’s not something we care about except when we are out and public toilets are sketchy, we are at a park and the restrooms are closed for the winter, or when we contemplate future camping trips with the Cub Scouts.  Randy and I have tried cajoling him, patiently sitting with him in the bathroom, bribing him, threatening him (I’m not proud), all to no avail.  Last week, Spencer wondered what would happen if we paid Graham a quarter each time he stood up and peed, with the promise of a toy when he reached eight times.  Wouldn’t you know it – he has stood up ever since.  Happy birthday my sweet eight year old boy.



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