Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It Was Once Danna Day 2010!


Our sweet little ray of sunshine…..complete with her favorite toy zebra (she carries either the zebra, the giraffe or a rubber ducky around with her everywhere, everyday, all day…..even the boys know not to mess with Beaner’s favorite toys because there’s hell to pay if they do).

Danna Day 2010 came and went. But then again, I think everyday is Danna Day as far as our little princess is concerned. To read last year’s “Danna Day 2009”, click on the link. Danna Lynn got to come home from the NICU on January 23, 2008. She was born at 1 pound, 10 ounces and 12.25 inches at 4:40 p.m. on November 19, 2007. She was seriously about the size of a big can of soup. TEENY! Danna is still our little peanut, but she has grown up so much since then. She’s still not on the growth charts for weight, but she finally made it on there for height at our January checkup. She makes us marvel every day at just how far she’s come in 2 years….

100_0019 100_0368 100_0520

Danna has had the idea in her head that she is calling the shots since she was conceived. We delivered at the 31 week mark (November 19)because Danna had IUGR (intra-uterine growth restriction). We joked at the time that she was just ready to get out and start showing everyone who the boss was. Not only did she determine the day they were all born, she determined the day we got to go back home from Phoenix to Wichita. She has continued to “call the shots” since then.

December 2008 135


Now let me tell all of you this: Danna has so many strengths at this point in her little life, but there are some weaknesses too. Much to Danna’s grandmothers’ dismay, our little Beaner has some downfalls. If Grammy or Budda were writing this post, no one would know that she is prone to some of the same faults as other people. We want to make sure that her shortcomings are documented, though, so when she is big enough to read back on all of this she will know that she ISN’T as perfect as she thinks she is (even when daddy and her bubbys try their hardest to make her think that).



Mama’s learned to leave the hair-trimming to Aunt Donna…..even if it was just to get her bangs out of her eyes!

Danna’s strengths:

Our little Banana is probably the easiest toddler to take care of in the history of the world. Danna makes it so easy on everyone that sometimes people forget that she is here. Moni and I have both caught ourselves calling our kids “the boys.” The boys all have such strong, outgoing personalities that little Danna gets overshadowed sometimes. It is so nice, though, not having to worry about ONE of the four getting into trouble. Danna’s most mischievous thing that she does is turn the lights on in the kitchen during “wind down” time at bedtime…..well, that and trying to be sneaky while throwing unwanted food under the table.


Danna is the most easy going of the kids. She really doesn’t get too shook up about very much. Perhaps this trait comes from the beginning of her life outside the NICU. Danna came from the only room she had ever known in her life (NICU at Phoenix Children’s Hospital at Banner Good Samaritan) to a crazy, hectic apartment all a-flutter with the busyness that goes along with packing to go home, to an airplane, and finally to an even more crazy house that has been being prepared for her homecoming, in a matter of two days from start to finish. I know if I went through something like that when I was first born, I would probably go into shock. Danna really handled it very well, and she continues to handle new things (transition to sippy cups, using utensils, always having a ton of people around, sometimes nobody around, etc.) wonderfully.


Danna’s always been a big fan of making faces at herself in front of a mirror. She cracks herself up!


Miss Independent…..doesn’t like her hand to be held or to be lead around by others.

Little Beaner is incredibly independent. She is a tough little nugget that can accomplish her goals if she wants. If she wants to say a word, she will. If she wants to watch TV, she will turn it on. If she wants to read a book, she will find one, open it and read it (in the cutest gibberish language ever spoken). If she wants to go downstairs with the boys, she goes.


All of this being said, she only does it if she WANTS to. She isn’t like our little monkey boys that will do any trick on command just to see someone smile or produce a clap from them. If she wants to do something she will, but only when she is ready. I think this trait will eventually be one of our favorites as parents, but we do get frustrated with it sometimes right now.



I have NO IDEA where the obstinacy comes from….ahem…her mama….ahem!


….ahem….AND her daddy…..ahem!

One of mama’s favorite Danna traits is her tough head. And that does not mean her stubbornness! This little girl seems unaffected by physical pain (thumps, spankings, being knocked over by the boys, catching her head on the corner of a table….nothin’), which comes in handy when we have to de-knot her rat’s nest that has taken residence at the back of her head. It’s bad. However, it has improved somewhat since Aunt Donna trimmed it up a bit. Holy Lord, that girl can rock a frollet (mix between an afro and a mullet) and we have to douse it in detangler spray and go to town on it with the brush. We use to tease her when she’d get up in the mornings or from a nap about how she was our little Don King princess.


♪ I’m too sexy for my hair, too sexy for my hair, too sexy, yeaaaah! ♪


♫ I’m too sexy for my frollet, too sexy for my frollet, too sexy, yeaaaaah! ♫

Danna’s weaknesses (yes she has them):


She used to just throw her hands up in the air when she got mad. Now she’s upgraded to balling up her fists and throwing her head back as well. It’s an impressive technique, really.

Danna is incredibly independent. Sound familiar? As I stated numerous times earlier, she can do anything she wants, IF she wants. Sometimes, our little Danna seems afraid of change. She is so much like her daddy in this that it is scary. Some days, she doesn’t want to do anything except for read books or watch TV. The boys always seem to be willing to try new things, but like I said before, Danna only does it when she wants. Haven’t I said this all like five times already? At the suggestion of our speech therapist, we’ve started working with her more on her sensory perception issues. Minor little changes in how we interact with her seem to be making a HUGE difference already and we see our little flower bud blooming more and more every day.


Danna seems to be our magnet for runny noses. If someone says “runny nose,” Danna will get one that night. This is in no way Danna’s fault, but she seems to have a constant snotty nose. What is amazing about this is the fact that that seems to be the only thing she gets. She never really runs fevers, she has never really been a big puker, she has avoided diarrhea for the most part, and she always seems to scathe by with a cough and sniffles when the rest of the house has been wiped out with a nasty cold virus. But the little girl is a constant snot pool! This makes it hard to keep her face clean, but trust me when I say that she has no problems staying beautiful.

19 month appointment


Our little Danna also has quite the temper. She really does believe in her mind that she rules the roost. If something pisses her off, she screams, and screams, and screams. It is so rare when she loses her temper that it is kind of funny. Just today, I was in the kitchen making lunch and one of the boys made her mad and she started screaming. She came into the kitchen looked at me while she was screaming as if to say, “DAD! I AM NOT HAPPY! DON’T YOU SEE THIS? FIX IT! NOW!” I know I am not a nice dad, but it was funny.





As we’ve mentioned before, Danna almost always has a death grip on her favorite toys (the zebra, giraffe or rubber ducky). They are requirements to help get us through each day. If she starts crying and we aren’t in the room to see what happened, 9 times out of 10 we just holler for one of her brothers to give Danna her toy back. Not that her bubbys pick on her….just the opposite, actually. They treat their sissy so well and will randomly walk up to her just to give her a kiss. I hope they are always as loving to Danna, because it makes me smile to see it now.


But back to the toy thing. We’re not sure why she’s become so attached to these items. They are all cheap, hard plastic animals and not the normal soft fluffiness that princesses tend to prefer. We’ve TRIED offering her baby dolls and teddy bears, but to no avail. I guess it all goes back to Danna wanting what she wants!


Christmas morning brought Danna a new mini-doll. Sadly, Pius was more interested in it than she was.


Again with the zebra…couldn’t leave it inside!


The duck makes daily appearances at the table for meals and snacks, too.

Our little Danna is so hard to describe because she is a princess, thinks it, acts like it, but doesn’t really need any of us to validate it for her. She just knows and doesn’t want or care if anybody is around to tell her. She is in her own little kingdom and sometimes she graces us enough to let us in.


She is so funny and words can not begin to describe how proud we are of her. She has fought so many battles since the day she was born and she continues to win the battles. We know she is going to be successful at whatever she tries to do. Beaner stay independent, and continue to let everyone around you see how wonderful you are. We love you so much!



Daddy, Mommy, and your loving bubbys

(most of the time) Pi-Pi, Fo-Fo, and Wainer


Thursday, February 4, 2010

It was once Laine Day 2010!


Thanks to Aunt Donna, Laine has had a haircut since this picture!

We have missed Laine Day for a second year in a row, and I’m sure that some day he will bring this up as proof about how much more we like his brothers and sister than him. I can guarantee that we love our Laine as much as any of our other children, we just have dropped the ball and there is really no excuse. We apologize so much, and I’m sure that we will have to continue to apologize to him in the future….but not NEARLY the amount of apologies we expect to receive from him during his adolescent and teenager years! So, we’ll call it a draw. Here’s the link for Laine Day 2009 if you want to read back and see the changes from this year.


Laine Ryan was born at 4:41 p.m. on November 19th, 2007 and he tipped the scales at 2 lbs., 4 oz. He was released from the NICU on January the 15th, 2008.

Moni and Laine's hands

Laine’s affinity for high-5’s began shortly after birth. He still gives them out freely!


Laine was the only one out of the four that both: A)Really liked his pacifier when he was younger, and B)Was coordinated enough to actually keep it in his mouth. Forrest liked his paci but couldn’t manage to keep it plugged in….hence the thumb-sucking dilemma we have now.

I will say that I always felt a very special bond with Laine going all the way back to the NICU days. I would go by the hospital every morning on my way to work and without fail, Laine would wake up for me (or at least pry one little eye open to look up at his adoring daddy). He was my “Number-1 Buddy” back then, and he still is today. He’s the only one out of all four that I can say without hesitation is a “Daddy’s boy”….the other 3 switch hit depending on the day or are most definitely “Mama’s boys/girl”. But Laine is all mine without a doubt.

Thanksgiving 2008 103

“Daddy….just one more time. Will you please tell me the John Elway story about “The Drive”? Pretty please?!”


“So this is where the Mile High Magic happens, huh dad?”

I swear, Laine is never more than 10 feet away from Billy wherever we go. He has an adventurer’s spirit but is the biggest family-man in the group. He always likes it best and is most happy when the whole fam is together at home……all 6 of us (give or take Fo-Fo some days). He’s the one that gets most upset if mom or dad steps out of the room or leaves for work.

087 ”Come on, dad….let’s go see what kind of trouble we can get into over there!”

19 month appointment (30)

I sometimes wonder if The Good Lord sent Laine to me to make me repay all of my indiscretions that I put onto my parents. From all of the stories that are told to Moni and me, it’s become apparent that we have a “little Billy” on our hands. I’m quick to point out that after I turned about 9 years old, I was easily the best of the Mike and Vicki Graf kids. However I’ll also admit that for the first 9 years of my life, I probably pushed my parents (and anyone else who crossed me or even looked at me the wrong way) to the limit. Well…karma has a way of making it’s rounds, which is most likely the reason our Laine-Train is the way he is.


”Ahhhh….whaddya mean by that?! That kind of hurts my feelings. I’m not THAT bad!”

PA130122 ”Really?! You’re gonna say I act like YOU did, dad? Not even CLOSE, buddy!”

Now, while I make Laine sound like a little devil, trust me when I say that he is definitely NOT. Here are Laine’s strengths and weaknesses as of his second birthday…


Laine’s Strengths:

We make countless jokes about Laine being our little serial killer and even call him Lainerzynski or “Zynski” for short after the Unabomber. But Moni or any one of our helpers and I will be the first to tell you that Laine is the sweetest one of our four…if he is in the mood. We don’t have to ask Laine, he will just give loves and hugs and kisses to anyone that he loves. At bedtime when we are winding down for the day, Laine will walk around the room and kiss all of his siblings, his parents, his aunts and uncles, his grandparents (basically anyone that he knows) spontaneously. He loves the people that he loves very much, and we are so proud of him for that.


Laine was the first to walk. He started standing and taking steps at around 10 months and was full out on-the-go by 12 months. That would make his adjusted age for walking at 9 and 3/4 months. I’m not 100%, but I’m pretty sure that is early. Forrest was usually the first to do things, but Laine blew all of them away when it came to full mobility and physical prowess. He still has incredible balance, and like I’ve told some of you, that makes him incredibly daring (Note to self here: Laine is NEVER to have the top bunk bed when the time comes!)


Because of his naturally curious, adventurous spirit, Laine often finds himself in odd predicaments and situations. He’s learned it’s much easier to get IN to those positions than OUT!


He LOVES his cars or anything that even closely resembles one. Future racecar driver, perhaps? Only if A.J. or Uncle Jim “Slammer” have something to say about it!


Bodies by Laine. Check out his one-handed push up (okay, not really….but one day soon).

Laine's Nebraska Trip (15)

He ALWAYS has his hands in something. If you can’t see or hear Laine, you’d better go find him because chances are…he’s doing something he’s not supposed to be doing! He’s our sneaky one.


He’s a class clown, second only to Pius. But sometimes, you’ve just got to stop and smell the geraniums (and maybe give them a little taste too).

Laine Ryan is easily the best eater now (not so much one year ago). He isn’t picky about any food and he almost always cleans his plate completely, and then some. Even after we are all done with our meal, it doesn’t take him long to be in the kitchen, pushing a chair to the counter, climbing it, and trying to grab some pretzels out of the jar. The kid LOVES to eat. I’m so happy that he is growing tall for his age or else I would worry that we had another Grampa Stubby or Uncle Ryno on our hands.









Laine’s biggest strength is probably his sense of humor. That kid has been laughing at things for so long now.


Beginning of December 2008 137



Laine was the first to realize that it’s funny when someone farts or burps (yes, we pride ourselves on the juvenile humor associated with bodily functions…..always have). After he farts or burps, he looks at one of us and starts giggling. The fact that we know he has a good sense of humor stretches beyond THAT stuff, though. He laughs at a lot of things. And he doesn’t start in because we did first… he laughs BEFORE we do because he thinks it’s funny! I think Laine is going to be a bit of a prankster and that will most likely get him into trouble more often than not. I pity his future partners in crime who may not realize what they’re getting in to by befriending him. He can be a persuasive little boy!


“Hey mom, check out my static-fro!”

268 “Do these glasses make me look innocent? Because I’m gonna need the jury to think I’m innocent.”

Beginning of December 2008 030


“Anyone seen the comic section?!”


“Oh great….now it’s time to hear about my weaknesses. I can’t watch this!”

Laine’s Areas for Improvement:


This should have been our 1st sign of Laine’s oppositional defiance disorder…flipping off the camera at 3½ months when I made him wear bunny ears for Easter pics. Or as Bill Engvall would say, “Here’s your sign…”

Laine has the worst temper of the four. This goes back to many people who knew me when I was little, knowing that I had the worst temper of all time. My mom sent me to a child psychologist for awhile when I was 5 or 6 and Moni is already doing research for Laine (not really, but probably wouldn’t be a bad idea). Laine gets so mad that he seems to lose control at times. Nothing anybody does will calm him down. I have taken many a shots from flailing arms and legs trying to get him to relax. We are trying very hard to remedy this little problem. Sometimes sitting him in timeout cools him down and distracts him long enough for the spell to pass…..SOMETIMES.

Laine's Nebraska Trip

I’m not sure if this next problem totally relates to his temper, or if his selfishness/spoiled-rotten-ness causes it, but Laine is our little BADASS. Laine has beat up Pius, Forrest, and even got a couple good shots in on Danna. Pius and Forrest don’t want anything to do with Laine when he wants something from them. He bites, he pulls hair, he rubs their faces in the carpet while sitting on their heads…..he really works them over.

220 Pius knows what’s coming but is powerless to stop it.


And the rest is history. Good effort, Pi-Pi, but you honestly didn’t have a snowball’s chance…

Since (despite my temper) I’ve never been the physically aggressive type, I’m not sure where it comes from. Maybe he just has Little Guy’s syndrome because he is still obviously smaller than his brothers. And I haven’t completely ruled out getting some of this from Moni’s genes. After all, her siblings didn’t call her demon-ica when she was younger for nothin’! In fact, there’s STILL a little truth to that nickname for her……her horns really do seem to help keep her halo straight!

P1160005 The aftermath of one of Laine’s rages… This was unwitnessed because I was getting ready for work, Billy was getting dinner ready upstairs and the kids were playing in the basement. He actually had a rug burn on his face too, but this was a couple of days after the attack. You can’t see it here, but Pius also had a bruise on the outer edge of his ear along with the bite on the cheek and scratches. INSANE.

P1170012 And Forrest fell victim to the Zynski the very next day. He sustained two bites to the face. Laine has very distinctive bite marks…his are the only ones that are actually straight. It’s a tell-tale sign of a Laine attack.


Who would believe that a face this sweet could accompany those kinds of actions?! I wouldn’t believe it either if I hadn’t seen it happen.


Pius jumped on the rare opportunity to sit on Laine. Capturing a picture like this is equivalent to snapping one of a UFO or the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot. It just doesn’t happen. This photo is completely untouched and untampered.

Laine has minor health problems that he has to deal with that the others don’t. He has reactive airway disease or “baby-asthma” and has to do regular breathing treatments (especially during the winter or if he has a cold). He has started doing much better with cooperating during the treatments and even holds the mask for himself now. I think he’s realized that they help him feel better and allow him to get on with his shenanigans in a more timely manner.


August 2008 002


Laine also has eczema which causes him some problems. He’s been referred to a dermatologist because it got really severe during the summer. Go back up to the picture of Laine stuck in the black folding chair and take a close look at his legs…when it gets really bad, those large welts are ALL OVER his entire body! When he breaks out (usually goes hand-in-hand with cold symptoms), he is pretty miserable for about a week. Laine gets a special “taste” (what we call his dose of Xyzal allergy medicine) each morning and has special soap, diaper and skin cream that we use a couple times a week or more often when he has a breakout. His scalp gives him problems too and I believe that is the reason he HATES having his hair washed and always has. He’s fine in the bath tub until you try to wash him….


Laine, we are so sorry for being late again. You are so special to us and we love you very much. We have heard about the youngest child having the best sense of humor, and we can see that in you. We are sure that you will be the one pulling the pranks, trying to sneak stuff by us, keeping EVERYONE on their toes and telling the best jokes. Your loyalty, grit and sheer determination will take you wherever you want to go in life. We know you’ll use your talents to better yourself and help others. We can’t wait for you to show us what kind of man you are going to become. You are such a good boy and have a kind, gentle heart and we are all SO proud of you, little man!





Daddy, Mommy, Pi-Pi, Fo-Fo, and Danny