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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
First - I forgot the most exciting thing of all that happened last week! Annika can spell her name! Her whole name! First and last! And she can write her first name too. They are working on that in preschool. Her Anni is pretty legible even. Her ka could use some work yet. Either way, I am extremely proud of her. And of course I have taken a picture of her first efforts. For a while now Annika has known that letters have sounds associated with them (thank you phonics bus toy!). So, if you ask Annika what any letters of the alphabet say, she will tell you. Now, in the last week, Kris and I have been helping Annika put those sounds together to form words. In the Dr. Seuss ABC book the word "big" is on each page. Kris has been having Annika sound out the B, I and G and then putting them together to form big. And with the peek-a-blocks, I've been putting simple words together (cat, hat, etc.) and having Annika sound out the letters and then put them together. The girl has an attention span of a three year old so these teaching moments are brief. But it's so fun to watch her learn things right before our eyes! Maybe she will be reading by the time she's 4!

Second - This morning was James' dermatologist appointment. Since birth he's had a large birthmark/mole on his belly button and we had that checked out. The dermatologist said that since it is pretty dark already it may be hard to notice a different in color but that we should keep an eye on it. She wants us to come back in 1 year for a check up but that right now we would just watch it. She recommended we remove it at some point before puberty because the hormonal changes then can cause changes in moles and this one, with it's irregular shape and dark color, is suspicious. She also said that if at any time James is put under for any procedure (like getting tubes in his ears or anything) that we should consider having it removed then. Otherwise, if it changes ever, we should come in and have a biopsy done. So, for now we are in a wait and see mode. They took digital pictures of it to have on file and I'll do the same at home. Then as I check it out periodically I have a reference point.

Posted by Kristina at 11/28/2007 11:26:00 AM

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I think it's about time I write down our Thanksgiving weekend before I forget it all! Thursday we were home until after lunch. Then we went over to Krystle and Pierce's to help them hang some curtain rods. The kids were pretty squirrelly over there since of course they don't have any toys to play with. James just wanted to crawl up the stairs over and over and Annika found the upper landing a perfect place to dance, spin and sing. That evening we went to Gramme's house for turkey sandwiches and dessert. Hmm, pie. We had a good time there and got to see Uncle Mathias too. It was a little bit of a pick on Mathias and Krystle night - sorry! :) Annika had a great time with a sticker book Gramme gave her.

Friday we had a leisurely morning getting ready and headed out about 10:30 or so. I wanted to find a holiday dress for Annika since a few stores were having big sales on them. We went to our local store and couldn't find anything there so we headed to a mall nearby next. There we found the cutest dress for her. Annika had an accident at one of the stores though and tripped over James' stroller, smacking her face into a mirrored pillar. I internally freaked out but kept my composure to help my baby girl. Blood was pooling in her mouth. I cupped my hand under her chin just as she started spitting it out. It was gross! A salesperson gave us some kleenex and after I got her cleaned up a bit I saw that she had bit her upper lip some. It wasn't too bad. We went to a nearby restroom and cleaned up better and then my little trooper of a girl was good to go the rest of the day. Next, I showed Kris the outfit I want to buy for James and he liked it too but that store didn't have it in his size. This weekend I'll go to a few different stores (Target) to try and find it. At the mall we saw Santa Claus too. Annika has asked every day since to go sit on his lap. If I can find James' outfit this weekend then I think we'll get the kids dressed up to go visit. Annika needs to tell Santa that she wants Little Einsteins! We met Auntie Carrie and Uncle Adam for lunch and then did some shopping with them in the afternoon before heading to Uncle Dusty's house for the evening. There Annika had a grand time chasing the two dogs. Poor things were worn out!

Saturday was the big 60th birthday party for Papa. He had many friends and family come to celebrate. One friend was Pastor Dave, whom Annika decided was very scary and wanted absolutely nothing to do with! This is the same man who married Kris and I and baptized Annika! Silly girl. I think it had something to do with him being a tall man with bushy hair and a booming voice. I suppose that could be scary to any little person at first. Either way, I had to help her into the kitchen by shielding her away from Pastor Dave so she could get some food. I don't know what she thought he was going to do. Anyway, a highlight for Annika was getting to watch cartoons on Uncle Dusty's jumbotron (his ~109" tv screen in his media room). She thought that was great! The Good Night Show was positively life size! James enjoyed the day too as he got so much attention! Auntie Carrie and James hung out for a long time. Of course he had to get all this attention because all he wanted to do was head for the stairs! James doesn't know yet how to go down stairs. He still thinks you go head first.

Sunday was our Thanksgiving celebration with Grandpa and Marcia. Krystle and Pierce joined us over there for a super yummy meal. We were just cleaning up the dishes when Grandpa got an emergency gas call and had to head out. Turns out there was a brush fire nearby and Grandpa had to supply all the ATVs and 4-wheelers with fuel oil. The tanks on those machines are small and need multiple re-fillings. It was hours before he got back. I was glad we did though because the kids had a great time playing and both got lots of Grandpa attention when he came back home. Granpda and Marcia have two new garage kittens and Annika was out there no less than 5 times to play with them. I was so proud of how gentle she was with them! She cradled them like babies and pet them so softly. Good girl!

James has made some more strides in his walking lately. Tonight he walked over to a toy, squatted to pick it up and then stood up again and walked away. All of this was without holding on to anything too. What a big boy!

The kids are having a hard time adjusting to me being back at work again. James has been super crabby for Kris during the day and this morning Annika cried a little bit when she woke up and I wasn't there. There going to get back into a routine only to have me off for a while at Christmas! Poor kids.

OK, this is long enough. I'm sure I've forgotten lots of cute things that happened over the weekend. If I remember any, I'll come back and post again. Otherwise, family, if you remember some, leave a comment sharing please!

Posted by Kristina at 11/27/2007 07:17:00 AM

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007
This morning Annika, James and I were taking a bath together when I noticed Annika has her first mole! It's on her left hip. When I pointed it out to her she got excited and said "I have a mole! Just like mommy!" Then a few minutes later she said "I don't want a mole!" I asked why and she said "I don't want to grow to be a mommy!" Poor girl! I assured her she wasn't going to grow up any time soon. After the bath as I was putting lotion on her (poor girl has terribly dry skin - another thing she got from her mommy) when she told me she was going to get lots of moles now, enough to cover her. Once again I assured her she was not and then we showed Daddy her first mole. That girl comes up with the funniest things.

Posted by Kristina at 11/21/2007 09:59:00 AM

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007
James is developing at an alarming rate lately! Yesterday he took off walking all the way across the room. His balance is getting better and better right before my eyes. And today he made the sign for milk! It's only been a couple weeks that I've once in a while made the sign for him. He picked up on that fast! Now we're going to try incorporating "more" and maybe "all done" and "eat" or "drink." If he picks those up maybe we'll add more, but first we'll have to learn them ourselves! Either way, it's great. Tonight we were eating dinner and James signed for milk so Kris picked up his cup and gave him some. Much better than the shrieking he did before when he wanted something!

Annika can write her name! I was so impressed just last week (or was it two weeks ago?) when Annika wrote her first letter for me. Well, tonight she wrote her whole name! Her k is a little off but otherwise you could definitely read it even. I am so proud of her! And if you ask her to spell her name, she can do it. My kids - they are just so smart. I wonder where they get that from... :)

Last Friday Annika had a big night. Gramme came over after work and played with Annika and James for a few hours and then Annika went home with her. From what I hear, they both had a great time. They played in a bubble bath and watched a Shirley Temple movie. And when Gramme dropped Annika off Saturday afternoon, Annika was so sad to see Gramme leave. Almost 24 hours later and Annika still hadn't had enough. Someone must really love her Gramme! Sunday Annika asked again to see Gramme. Good thing we're seeing her on Thanksgiving or I think a special trip might have been made!

I have this whole week off and it has been great! There has been lots of time with the kids and Kris. I just love being at home. I've had to check in with work a couple times and there have been other errands to run, but I love the laid back pace. Work is so super busy (with no end in sight!) that this is just so relaxing. I can't wait for Christmas. I'm off the 21st through the 1st. That is also going to be a nice long break.

Annika is pretty excited for Christmas too. She watched The Polar Express today. And I think we'll go visit Santa in the next week or so. She was telling me today how nice he is and how much she likes him. I asked Annika today what she wanted Santa to bring her and she said "Little Einsteins." I hope Santa was listening!

Posted by Kristina at 11/20/2007 08:35:00 PM

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Monday, November 19, 2007
Quickly -I just uploaded new pictures - 140 of them! Take a look! Detailed update coming but not tonight - maybe tomorrow!

Posted by Kristina at 11/19/2007 10:22:00 PM

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Thursday, November 15, 2007
It's been a stressful week for me which is why I've been a little quiet. Work is stressful. The project I'm leading is getting more and more complicated and not slowing down any. And then home is stressful too. James decided to suddenly wean himself last Friday and has refused to nurse since. He's done this before when teething but Kris and I didn't think that was it this time. I think James is just done. You all know how attached to breastfeeding I am so this has been especially hard for me. It was such a natural progression with Annika that as she got older she wanted to nurse less and less until she was only nursing in the mornings when I was home. And she was 18 months old by that point. This blunt "I'm done" from James is so much worse, especially since I have to keep pumping since he's too young yet for cow's milk and we don't want to start formula at this late stage when I'm still producing enough for him. Anyway, I've been very sad this week, usually crying while pumping or just thinking about this too hard. I even cried on a co-workers shoulder this week whose son did the same thing at 9 months. Boys - breaking their mothers hearts! It's a good thing James is so cute! And he's doing so many new things lately! He started clapping last Friday. And now he loves to play peek-a-boo. If you put his blanket over his face he'll pull it down, cover it back up, pull it down, etc. with you saying peek-a-boo whenever he pulls it down. Then he giggles and smiles and has so much fun. And last night as I was changing his diaper at bed time he put his arms up over his head. I said "so big!" Then James put his arms down so I said "how big is James" and he put his arms back up again so I said "so big" again. We played that game for a little while then too. So cute! He's also started dancing this last week. If we have music on or even music on a commercial he'll bounce up and down while standing holding on to something. And if the music stops then he stops and he'll start back up again when the music comes back. He dances! And his walking is getting better. Every time he does it Annika exclaims "Look! He's walking by himself!" James usually starts out walking now, gets so far and loses his balance and then crawls the rest of the way. He needs to work on that balance yet.

As for Annika, ever since I've been leaving the tv off at night, I haven't given Annika a single time out. Direct correlation? I think so. Sure, she still tries to get into things and push the limits but because I'm not distracted by the tv I can redirect, discipline or teach her before it gets to the timeout limit.

Annika has always had pretty good pronunciation for a little kid, I think. She has problems with the "th" sound though. This week Kris and I have been trying to show her where to put her tongue to make that sound. She's starting to get it but the process has been funny. First she sticks her tongue completely out of her mouth, then she puts her tongue between her lips then she puts her tongue behind her teeth all while trying to ask if that's the right way. It's made for some funny conversations. She finally got it the other night and was the recipient of a great big hug and kiss from me.

Posted by Kristina at 11/15/2007 09:40:00 AM

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Monday, November 12, 2007
We had a great weekend. Friday night the kids and I got to see Krystle and Pierce's new townhouse before everyone else! Then we all had dinner together (Grandpa Dan, Marcia, all of us, Krystle, Pierce and Uncle Mathias too!). It was so great. Mathias told us all about his repo adventures. (He's in school for law enforcement and his roommate repo's cars once in a while and Mathias has gone with a few times). Annika wanted Grandpa to hold her the whole time. Any time Grandpa would put her down or pay any attention to James she would get so jealous. So Grandpa pretty much held her the whole time we were waiting for our table. And as soon as Grandpa was done eating, Annika was back over sitting on his lap some more. After dinner Kris went back to work and the rest of us went back to Krystle and Pierce's house so everyone else could see it. Annika was hilarious. She decided one of the cupboards in the kitchen is her hiding spot and the 2nd bedroom upstairs is her "running room." She going to hate it when those spaces get filled up! And James of course just beelined it for the stairs whenever anyone put him down. Too bad he doesn't know how to go down them yet! I've been trying to teach him to go down feet first on his belly but he prefers the arms first on his belly approach!

The next morning Krystle and Pierce stopped over before heading out to run some errands. Krystle asked me to do a favor for her - be her maid of honor! Krystle and Pierce got engaged the night before after we all left. Yay! Congratulations Krystle and Pierce! And welcome (officially) to the family Pierce! The ring is gorgeous and Krystle is already a radiantly beautiful bride.

After lunch on Saturday Uncle Mathias came over to play with us a little bit before he had to head back home. And I do mean play. We played games on the Wii the whole time! First he beat me in Tennis. I am not a very good Wii tennis player even though I think it's fun. I always end up with the giggles. Then I took both him and Kris out in Wii bowling. Now there I always seem to do well. And then I knocked Mathias out in Wii boxing. Then Kris got out Rayman Raving Rabbits and he and Mathias had fun playing those silly little party games. And before we knew it, it was time for Mathias to leave. It was a nice treat to have him over. I don't get to see him often enough.

Yesterday we headed down to Red Wing to visit Great Nana. She's been in the hospital since suffering a heart attack on Wednesday. Thankfully she is responding to a change in medications and may be transitioning to a transitional care facility today with the goal of returning back home in a little while. As Great Nana put it - "this tough old Swede isn't ready to go yet!" and boy are we thankful! She was in good spirits yesterday, much like her normal self. After our visit was over we went to Nana and Papa's house for a little bit. Kris needed to do some computer set up work for them there. Annika had a great time playing with the toys and petting the cat and dogs. And James got so excited to see the animals, until Babe bowled him over that is. James quickly recovered from the overly-excited attention that Babe gave him and laughed and crawled after the dogs some more. He especially loved the open mouthed kisses he got from Zoe! Yuck! We tried to watch out for that the rest of the evening. When James saw the cat he was so excited again. He wanted to pet the cat so badly but the cat would always walk away. He got close enough a couple times though. I think Annika's highlight of the night was when she got to ride the goat. Nana and Papa have two goats at their house and Papa brought her outside to run around with them. Then, with Papa's help, she was able to sit on one and "ride" it around on the grass. The goat didn't really do much but stand there. And when it was time to go home Annika was so upset. She kept saying "But I don't want to go home." She was having so much fun. Kris and I are so lucky to have such great families. It warms my heart so much to see my children so attached to their grandparents.

Posted by Kristina at 11/12/2007 08:21:00 AM

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Friday, November 09, 2007
James had his nine month check up on Wednesday. My boy is now 30 1/2" tall (95th percentile) and 22 lbs, 13.5 oz (60th percentile). He's thinning out! The doctor was not surprised at all by this considering he's been crawling since he was 5 1/2 months old. All that exercise will take those chubby baby rolls right off! He was deemed precocious and perfect except for his belly button. He has a large mole/birthmark on his belly button. It hasn't changed in size but there is some discoloration to it so our pediatrician would like to have a dermatologist check it out. I've already made that appointment. It's on November 28th. Hopefully it will be deemed nothing. And hopefully worst case is they remove it and we're done. And my brain is not letting me go anywhere past that. Nothing more than some temporary discomfort and maybe a scar. (please?) James also had his flu shot on Wednesday. He was such a trooper during that shot and the finger prick to check his hemoglobin and lead count. I don't know if the flu shot was bothering him last night or if he's teething (again!) but he refused to nurse really at bed time, woke up four hours later and was not easily convinced to go back to sleep then was up again at 4am, still refusing to nurse and once again not easily convinced to go back to sleep. It was not the best of nights. Hopefully we won't have a repeat of that tonight.

Last night Annika was writing on her chalkboard and she wrote an A! She is learning to write her name at preschool and she showcased her letter A for me last night! I was so excited I grabbed my camera and took a picture of her and her A. Way to go baby girl!

Hey - you want some groundbreaking news? If I turn off the tv more, Annika gets less timeouts. And yes, I do believe there is a direct correlation. Both Annika and James want my attention (and I'm sure Kris' during the day too) and if I have the tv on, I'm usually not giving them as much as they want. So, it has been my goal to leave the tv off from the time I get home from work until they are both asleep in their beds. Then, if there is something I want to watch, I can go watch it. We do have a DVR after all so I don't need to watch something as it airs. I've done this experiment before and always received the same results. And yet the tv always finds a way of turning itself back on. So, that's my goal - have the tv on less.

Krystle and Pierce close on their townhouse today! Woo-hoo! I am so excited to have them as neighbors! Congratulations you two!

Posted by Kristina at 11/09/2007 07:53:00 AM

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Yesterday James turned nine months old! Man how time flies! He has his well baby check up tomorrow. I wonder how big he is now! Saturday we went to the Mall of America to have 9 month pictures taken. They turned out so cute! After pictures we went to LegoLand and Annika played for a while. We usually do that while we're waiting for the pictures to print. Then we headed to Red Lobster to have dinner with Nana and Papa. Annika was thoroughly fascinated with the tank of lobsters. She kept calling them crabs though. Almost the whole time we waited for our table she was standing by the tank watching them. After dinner Nana and Papa came over to our house for a little while. It was past James' bed time by then so he went right to bed but Annika got to play for a little while.

Our real excitement this weekend was our broken water heater. We had water, but it wasn't hot! And of course the replacement part was over $300. We weren't sure if it was covered under warranty since our owner's manual said we had a 2 year parts warranty and our house is 2 years and 3 months old. But when we went to the manufacturer's website it said there was a six year warranty. Apparently our manufacturer bought a few others in the last two years and switched all their products to the longest warranty. Score for us! Of course, in order to keep our warranty we had to have a licensed plumber install the new part for us so it was still $176 to fix. Oh well. That's still better than $300+.

Sunday the kids and I went to Michelle's house for a Halloween-themed playdate. This party was supposed to be the weekend before ut so many people we sick or not coming that we rescheduled to this past weekend. And at the same time Michelle moved it from 3pm to 11am since it was on a Sunday now instead of a Saturday. Guess who forgot the time change and showed up at 3pm? Yep, me. And Lisa. I felt so silly. Michelle was gracious enough to host two parties that day and let us stay for a couple hours to play. The kids had a great time. They played with play dough and with Little People and with a doctor's kit and lots of other great toys. Earlier that day Annika came up to me and said "Jessie is my best friend ever." Jessie is Robyn's daughter who was there too. So cute. And yesterday Annika told Daddy that she played with Emma at the party. It's so cute and interesting watching Annika navigate her social network, making friends, playing nice, etc.

Posted by Kristina at 11/06/2007 07:21:00 AM

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Thursday, November 01, 2007
Halloween was so much fun at our house last night! When I got home from work (5:30pm - argh!) Kris had the kids dressed and fed. I quickly ran over to our neighbors Jeff and Maria to see if they wanted to go trick or treating with us. When I got back, Kris had Annika's face painted with a huge butterfly on it. She was Cinderella with some butterfly face paint - yeah, I don't know either but they had fun. James was a chicken - the cutest chicken ever by the way. By 6:10pm we were on the road getting some candy. The first few houses Annika was a little apprehensive and needed me to go with her to the door. By the 4th house though she had it figured out. I could stay with James and the wagon and she'd go to the door with Ryan (and Jeff or Maria). My shy little girl even got the trick or treat part out and usually a thank you. If she was feeling shy though she'd just offer up her bucket for the treat and then run back to the wagon to crawl in and start ripping a wrapper off another piece. I noticed most places didn't even wait for the trick or treat to come out, they just dumped the candy in the bucket. Around quarter to 7 James had enough and so did Erin, Ryan's little sister. Ryan is 3 and Erin is about 1 1/2. So Jeff took Erin home and I brought James home and Maria, Ryan and Annika hit a few more houses. Annika had no problem going with them by herself. She was all "Yep, Mom, see ya later!" Last night as I was rocking Annika before her bed time I asked her if she had fun trick or treating. She said yes and then told me how she went by herself with Ryan and his mommy. I think she was proud of herself.

Big news on the walking front! Last night James took 7-8 unassisted steps! He started from the couch and walked across the living room. His balance is getting better and better every day. He even had to pause 3-4 steps in to get his balance again before going another 3-4 steps and then toppling over. He sure is brave and fearless! His nine month birthday is Monday and his 9 month well baby appointment is next week Wednesday. I wonder if he'll walk down the hall at his 9 month appointment just like Annika did! It is so cute to see my little man toddling across the room!

Posted by Kristina at 11/01/2007 07:19:00 AM

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