Big Brother is 4!

(Finally getting around to posting this....Little Man turned 4 in July!)

Dear Little Man,

The kids were all gathered around party table as I put the candles into the chocolate cupcake topped with purple frosting.




As I prepared to light the candles, The Man says, "you ARE going to put one more on, right". Ack! I still couldn't get it into my brain. You are 4 now!

Four years old!

생일 축하합니다! 

We filled the hallway with balloons again this year, so you would wake up and know it was your special day. We were going to put them in your bedroom this year instead of the hallway, but you've taken to getting up in the middle of the night and we didn't want to scare you if your room was filled with balloons.

For breakfast, a big chocolate birthday doughnut. With sprinkles of course. You LOVE sprinkles.

We had quite a few birthday celebrations for you. Our little family celebrated on your actual birthday. Then a small party at your school the next day. And then the big shindig over the weekend. A gymnastics party! It was lots of fun and you had a blast running with all your pals at one of your favorite places to play.

Here's some things that you do and like at this age:

Pink and purple still reign as the colors of choice.

You love silky short soccer outfits. You want to wear them everyday, to bed and to school. We often have to wash the outfits at night so you can wear them days in a row.

You are a very talented gymnast! We put you in classes six-months ago and you have been promoted three times already! You are now in a class with 5-6 year olds and you can do everything they can do easily. The teachers are very excited about your progress and the team coach says they are keeping an eye on you. I am partially thrilled by this, partially terrified. I know what a commitment competitive gymnastics is, and I also don't want to be one of those crazy gym moms who lives and dies by what skills their children can do. You absolutely love gymnastics and we are enjoying watching you explore this sport.

You love snap hair clips. You like to wear them in your hair all the time. You found some pink and purple ones at Tar.get and begged us to get them for you. They are one of your favorite possessions.

One of your front teeth has turned gray. This makes me so sad! We were playing in the living room and you crashed, slamming your teeth into the floor. Three weeks later, your tooth started to turn gray. :( The dentist says it's going to stay that way until you lose your baby teeth. You don't like the gray tooth and each night try to brush it away.

You can ride a two-wheeled bike without training wheels! We got the bike at the beginning of the summer. You were outgrowing your balance bike and were very ready for a new one. The pink one at the shop was too big for you. You settled for a cool black and red one and picked out a baby blue flugel horn to jazz it up.

You are very shy in new situations, but have shown great improvement in being brave and doing things although you are nervous.

Change is still difficult for you. We have to approach transitions during the day with lots of warning, as well as big things that are upcoming during the week. You are slowly (slowly) becoming more able to deal with these things. But usually change or transition results in tantrums.

Speaking of tantrums, you are still in the tantrum phase. Massively.

Your favorite holiday is Christmas, because you love Christmas lights. Your favorite TV show is Magic Schoolbus. Your favorite thing to wear is your Johnny Cash shirt and silky sports shorts. Your favorite drink is lemonade.

Arts and crafts are your thing. And baking. You and I do these things together a lot! You ask to do artwork every day. You are very precise about how you do things. You have been very into printed tapes lately and spend a long time wrapping up construction paper with tape to make "packages".

You know how to write your first and last names. You know all your upper and lower case letters and numbers through 25.

Your love of music is still really strong. You enjoy a wide array of genres. Currently your favorite is "Girls Generation", an all-girl band from Korea. You also adore Johnny Cash. And other favorites include LMFAO, PSY, and the soundtrack from Frozen. You don't really dance to music much. You actually study it, and will tell us what instruments you hear, or what the words say.

This year, you danced in public for the first time. We were at a community festival and there was a band playing. Your friends started dancing and you eventually joined in too. Up to this point, dancing was only done at home, with the lights out by the light of glow sticks. You had a great time. It's great to see you expanding your comfort zone.

Your grasp of language is amazing. You often ask "how do you say it" when you want to know the proper terminology for something. And then you remember it! One saying of yours that completely cracks us up, and you usually say incorrectly though, it to refer to tornado drills as "tomato drillos". You call all drills a "drillo". Not sure where you got that from, but we adore it.

And finally, you are a great big brother! It's been hard for you, for sure. But you are fiercely protective of your little brother and starting to want to include him when you play instead of play alone. You like to teach him new words. And especially like to encourage him to do naughty things.

You are growing up very fast, my dear. Hard to believe that we just have one more year before you begin kindergarten! Looking forward to seeing what this year brings.




Things change

Hey there. Remember me?

I'm the dimwit who wrote a season-ending giant cliffhanger a few months ago, saying things were going to change.

And then I never returned. So let me catch you up.

First there was this:

And this:

And then all of this.

See? BIG!!

The Cheesecurds are no longer in the Land of Cheese! We are now, hell, I have no idea what they call folks here. Doesn't matter though...we are still Cheesecurds. We just live in the City of Roses now. Portland, to be exact.

You might be saying "holy hell, I can't believe they picked up and moved!" and that's my thoughts exactly as I drive around our new city. It was a decision a long time in the making, though when the gears starting turning it happened incredibly fast.

The Man and I were both born and raised in the northwest. After marrying, we knew we wanted to settle down in the northwest as well, but not before we ventured out and explored other parts of the country. We lived five years in California, six years in northern Wisconsin, and nine years in southeast Wisconsin.

We loved it there. Had a great house. Amazing friends. Good jobs. We lived in the best school district and a fantastic neighborhood. We were definitely setting deep roots but still felt unsettled because we couldn't say no to the idea of returning to the northwest once again. There was the weight of the "should we or shouldn't we" question hanging over every thing we did.

The past few years we've had so many losses in our family and we were feeling the pull to return even harder. A great job opportunity coincidently opened up for The Man when we were visiting the northwest for my sister's memorial, so a few quick job interviews, and wham, next thing we knew we were moving!


Though it was something we had talked about for years, we were completely unprepared to actually move. And, because I suck at change, The Man basically had to drag me kicking and screaming.

I got focused on all the negatives of leaving Wisconsin. It meant giving up a career that I had dedicated myself to for the past 15 years for...no job in sight. The odds of both of us lining up jobs at the same time were close to none. We opted to go for the higher wage and follow The Man's job. But that meant walking away from a very good journalism job at a time when the number of journalism jobs have been falling faster than apples in October. This move could mean that I've walked away from journalism. I was heartsick.

It also meant leaving a network of amazing friends. Seriously amazing. There are our besties---for 15 years we have hung out, grown our families together, and watched our children become friends. I know we'll stay friends for life, but it will be darned hard not to call them on Friday at 4:30 and say, want to meet at the park in 1/2 hour for a beer?

And then we were lucky enough to make some new friends, brought together through adoption and parenting. You know how hard it is to find a couple where all four of you just click? We had that. (Sniff.)

And not at the end of the list are countless people (GB! MLS!) that were an integral part of our lives and we miss every day!

Of course, another huge concern was the boys. Little Brother was just settling in. Finally sleeping through the night (mostly) in his own room. He had only been home 4 months when we started packing up for the move. And Little Man handles change as well as I do. To say he was out of control would be putting it nicely.

We all struggled.

Into the fray came my mom. Poor thing. Two weeks before we moved she came out to help. (THANK YOU MOM!!)  I realized that there was no way we were going to be able to get out in time. The Man and I were completely exhausted. We had been packing between 8 p.m. (after boys went to bed) and midnight, and there was just no more juice in our tanks. My mom came in full of energy, and when she wasn't chasing our very busy, very emotional kids, she was packing boxes. And she did it while I acted bitchy and whiny the whole time. She was a champ.

Somehow, and I really don't know how, we got through it.

The house sold. (Four days!?!?!) The moving company was great. The Man drove out to Oregon with the dog, two cats and an aquatic frog. Without incident. Mom and I flew out with the kids. And our temporary digs (until we find a place to buy) are OK, which was a concern since we took the place sight unseen.


It's been three whole weeks now. We are living in a sea of boxes which our children think is fun---built in climbing gyms throughout the house!! I'm working on job possibilities. Pre-school possibilities. Figuring out the area.

I'm past thinking we've messed up everything. I think we did the right thing for our family in the long run though it truly was one of the toughest things I've had to do.

It's all a new adventure. But boy, do I miss home.


Nanny in the house

I never really saw us as nanny people. That very word seems so pretentious and conjures up images of an uptight, elderly fussbucket who caters to rich families and spoiled children.

However, I'm changing my tune.

After four months off of work, it was time for me to go back to the real world. But Little Brother was clingy and still a little scared. We were concerned (OK, mostly I was concerned but The Man went along with it) that it would be too much for Little Brother to go to the preschool that Little Man attends. Although there are two regular classroom teachers, many other teachers rotate through the class for break times, and the two teacher's schedules don't align, so he could have a different set of teachers each day.

He's a sensitive kid and scared when just one of us leaves the house. So I figured that when both of us left, and he was in a strange place, it might just be too much for him.

Our friends have had a nanny for a few years and rave about it. So we decided to go for the nanny option too. I haven't regretted it for a minute!

We found our nanny through Care.com. She's a sweetheart! She's a college student and works with autistic kids. Patient, kind, and gentle. All the things our boy needed.

Because we haven't been together very long, I was a bit freaked about leaving him with a single caretaker, fearing that he would attach to someone else. But he's a loyal little guy. And I don't think our attachment has waned in any way.

His first few weeks with the nanny, I stayed close to home, occasionally running a few errands. I wanted to hear how she interacted with him and see how he responded to her. She did a great job of redirecting and occupying him. She handled his throwing and hitting well (though one week she did have a large scratch across her forehead).

After the initial first few days I tried leaving the house for a few hours at a time and built up the duration over a week. He really struggled and very upset while I was gone. Boy, that was really tough to leave him. He would throw himself at the door as I walked out and screamed the same frantic way he did when he left his foster mother. 

Knife. To. The. Heart.

Friends were super helpful with supportive phone calls at this time and making lunch dates. Thank goodness because all I wanted to do was go back home! 

He did get a little fearful of the nanny for about a week. As soon as she came in the morning, he'd run to us and start crying. He knew what was coming and he wasn't happy about it.

It's been about 4 weeks now and he's doing really well. He no longer cries when she arrives, and though he cries a little when we leave, it's fairly mild and short-lived.

He's just gotten to the point where he's started laughing with her and being silly. She would arrive in the morning and see him happily interacting with Little Man, but when we all left he grew very serious. He's finally started giggling with her and she loves it.

When I come home, I hear his happy screams as I get out of my car. He runs to the door and climbs up on me, patting my chest furiously and babbling. He then turns to the nanny and waves good-bye, as if telling her "you can go now"! Such a great welcome home!

Each morning she comes in and it's great to have an extra set of eyes and hands while we get ready in the morning. She will immediately change, dress, feed or occupy Little Brother, and keep the brothers from causing too much chaos as we try to get ready for work.

Honestly, the most challenging thing I've found about having a nanny is keeping our house clean. I've become a total house nazi and keep a schedule of cleaning on the fridge. This isn't cleaning that the nanny is doing. It's the cleaning WE are doing because the nanny is there! Ridiculous, I know. 

What makes it even more ridiculous is many people have their nannies do the housecleaning while the babies are asleep. Guess I didn't think that one through too well. We just asked our nanny to unload the dishwasher each day and load up our breakfast dishes and those she uses throughout the day. That's a big help. But lesson learned for the next nanny we hire.

The only down side to this is that our nanny is a college student and will be returning in the fall. Which means we have to decide whether to hire again, or to send him to preschool.