New Pictures are Up!

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They include June 19th through July 28th. There is a picture of Mathias (all others are on base and can’t be posted online) lots of Carlsbad Caverns and lots and lots of Bailey the puppy! Enjoy!

More content tomorrow. Tonight I’m sleepy and going to bed.

New Mexico in July

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I better write about my trip to New Mexico before I start forgetting all the details!  Let’s see.  Thursday morning I got up and ran (um, side note, I’ve started a little fitness routine about six weeks ago.  Since it seems to be sticking around, check out my fitness blog Sweat if you’d like.) and then came home to shower. While I was putting away my running gear Annika came downstairs and asked where I’d been. When I told her I was outside running she looked at me very seriously and said “Mommy, I’m glad you’re staying healthy.” Kris and I have told her that exercise keeps her body healthy. Guess she’s retaining some of that. After a shower and some last minute packing I was ready to go. And that’s when the real nerves started. I wanted to go but then again I didn’t. And when Grandpa showed up at 8:30 to pick me up for the airport, I started to get sad. When it was time to leave both kids were crying on the couch and I was crying walking out the door. Ugh. I’m sure they were fine shortly after I left. After all, they had to get ready that morning to go to Nana and Papa’s for a few days. Kris had to work Thursday and Friday so Nana and Papa had kid duty.

Our flight to Dallas was fine. We met Krystle at the Dallas airport, had a quick bite to eat and then boarded our itty bitty plane together for the quick flight to Roswell. That little plane made me more nervous but it wasn’t too bad. After touching down and getting our rental car we headed to our hotel. After getting settled there we called Mathias. He was busy working on a paper. The night before graduation and he still had homework! Actually he had a mock trial the next day before graduation and students were going to be called to the witness stand based on their papers. He worked on that for a while before calling back out of hunger. We headed to campus to pick him up and when we saw him walking towards us Krystle parked the car and we all rushed out to see him. I grabbed him in a bear hug and started crying (again). I just missed him so much! Then Krystle hugged him too so basically we smothered him. Good times. After we let him go Dad got a hug in too. Then we piled back in the car and headed to a local bar/restaurant. I think Mathias had been there a “couple” times before as he knew all 4 of the beers the bar micro-brewed and he had a favorite on the menu – a 10 ounce burger. Yikes! Anyway, dinner was good but over too quick. We had to bring Mathias back to campus so he could finish his paper.

The next morning we were at campus by 6:15am for morning inspection. At 6:45am we were escorted inside the gates and to the Parade Deck. All the groups were already in formation and we had a bit of a hard time making out which one was Mathias! They were all in their uniforms with their hats down to their eyes! We found him though and started snapping a thousand pictures. Unfortunately even though we were able to take pictures during inspection (and later graduation) I can’t post any of them online. I have some other pictures from the weekend that I’ll work on posting but you’ll have to find me in real life to see the pictures of Mathias in his uniform! Inspection was cool though and Mathias looked great. His salute was awesome. After inspection we were able to talk with him for 10-15 minutes, meet some of his friends and just generally goof around (Krystle was taking pictures of everything, his badges, his uniform, everything). Then it was time for us to go so he could get ready for his mock trial. We headed back to the hotel, ate breakfast, lounged and then Krystle and I went swimming. Not being kids there was no splashing or jumping or playing. We got down to business and did laps! We’re not speedy nor graceful, but we did get 20 laps in the approximately 25 yard pool. Yay us! After showering we headed out to get some lunch and then with some time to spare before graduation we went on a driving tour of the little town we were in. I’m pretty sure by this time we’d seen more of the town than Mathias had in 12 weeks. By 1:45pm we were back at campus and this time Mathias was able to escort us inside to the auditorium. Once again Krystle and I became the paparazzi and took a bazillion pictures. I hope at least a few of them turned out. My camera doesn’t do so well with bad lighting and long distance. No flash was blurry and flash was too dark. Ah well. They encouraged us to move about the room to get good pictures so move Krystle and I did. Graduation was nice. They had a student give a speech and it was really good. Then one of the firearm instructors said a few words and then a director from Washington DC said some nice words too. It wasn’t too long and they were handing out diplomas and badges. We got some great pics of Mathias and his badge and one really great one of him handing his back, complete with sad puppy dog look. He’s such a trooper with his weird, goofy sisters. He doesn’t get his badge to keep until he finishes his Spanish training in mid September. After graduation we got to see his room on campus and the on campus convenience store/gift shop. I got a couple t-shirts for the kids. And then he escorted us back to our car. He had some chores to take care of and we wanted to change out of our dressy clothes. A couple hours later he called us and we picked him up for dinner. And then we stole him for the rest of the weekend! He stayed with us in our hotel room the rest of the time. It was awesome. Anyway, that night we went to dinner at a local Italian restaurant – the first time Mathias had been there. We ate with a friend of his and his friends mom and brother. They were really nice which is good because we ended up spending most of Saturday with them too! Anyway, (wow, sidetrack much?!) after dinner we just stayed in our hotel room chatting, laughing and relaxing. Saturday morning after breakfast we brought Mathias back to campus for a quick shower/clothes change and while he was doing that Krystle and I headed to the exercise room. By the time we were done and showered Mathias was back. We found Mathias’ friend and his family and headed to the nearby Carlsbad Caverns. We stopped for lunch in Carlsbad at a local Mexican restaurant. They brought the traditional chips and salsa to our table and we all started munching. And then we realized how hot the salsa was! There was much water consumed. When the waitress was taking our order and asking if we wanted mild, medium or hot I asked her what the salsa was. She said it was a medium to mild. Nobody got anything over medium that day! After lunch we drove to the cavern, paid our admission and started our 3 1/2 hour trek. Let me just say that I have never entered a cavern like this before. All the other caverns I’ve toured have been via elevator to the bottom. This one had that option (for a 1 1/2 hour tour) but we opted to go the “natural” route. The natural route ended up being a huge (and I mean huge!) hole in the ground with a zig-zagging path that you wound down. That was one big quad/calf muscle work out! We just kept going down, down, down and what was so amazing was that the ceiling never went down with us. The cavern just seemed to grow and grow. There were so many things to see down there too! It was actually really great. We laughed and joked the whole time. I even had to shush Krystle one time because she was laughing so loudly and hard that she was stumbling and barely breathing. Good times. We were wiped though when we were done. Our feet, legs, knees were so sore! We said good bye to Mathias’ friends and headed back to our hotel. There we pretty much lazed about all evening, grabbing pizza for dinner. Sunday morning came very quickly and it was already time to pack up! At 11am we left the hotel for good, drove around town some more showing Mathias some of the things we had found (he doesn’t have a car down there so he hasn’t explored much of the town) and then stopping for one last lunch together. We talked some more about his plans for the next couple months, his upcoming Spanish training and how fast he could be transferred north. :) And then it was time to bring him back to campus and for us to head to the airport. I kept it pretty much together until we all got out of the car back on campus. Then I just put my head in my hands and sobbed again. Mathias laughed at me. He is coming home this weekend and I will be seeing him then. I told him I just missed him so much. He smiled, said “I know” and gave me a hug. Then he laughed again and said “But I’ll see you in less than a week!” And I’ll see him again in mid September but it’s after that trip that I don’t know when I’ll see him again. Maybe Christmas. Maybe spring. Definitely next summer for Krystle’s wedding. This long distance thing just sucks. Anyway, we watched him walk away and then drove away ourselves. I have to say that Mathias seems really happy down there. Happy with his career choice. Happy to have his training done. Happy that he’s made some good friends. Excited to get started in El Paso. And it make me happy and content to see him that way.

The flight back to Dallas was uneventful. In Dallas we had one last meal together before Krystle headed back to Chicago for work and Dad and I headed home to Minneapolis. By this time I was just anxious to get back home. I missed Kris and the kids so much! I’d been calling at least twice a day and not once did the kids want to talk to me! They were having way too much fun to be bothered with me. That was both good and bad of course. I was happy they were having a good time but I wanted them to at least take a moment to talk to me! Oh well. When I got home the kids were asleep (it was almost midnight after all). I checked in on Jamesy and as soon as I opened his door he sat up and said “Mama? Mama?” I swooped him up, gave him a great big hug and kiss and cuddled him. He asked for some milk, I got some and then we snuggled in the rocking chair while he drank his milk. Heaven. When he was back in his bed I went to my room and found Annika in my bed. She had woken to go to the bathroom when I was with Jamesy. Kris had told her I was home so she was in bed waiting for me. I crawled in by her, snuggled up and asked her if she missed me. Her response was “Mommy, you know you’re not supposed to talk when people are trying to sleep.” Well, I guess that is that. A few minutes later I got up to change into my pajamas and when I crawled back in bed with her she snuggled in close, put her arms around me and told me she loved me. My baby girl did miss me!

Yesterday was Mommy spends time with the kids day. We went to the park, we played outside, we played inside, etc. It was a good day and I realized how much more patience I had with them the whole day. The whining, the not listening, the fighting didn’t affect me like it usually does. I guess the break did me good!

And I couldn’t believe how much the kids had grown in just the few days I had gone! Annika seemed taller and James must have started saying 10 new words, including “help” and a much clearer “milk”.

We also got to meet Bailey yesterday, Krystle and Pierce’s new puggle puppy. He sure is cute! We went and visited him again today. He’s tiny and completely adorable. The kids adore him too. Annika cried and cried today when we had to leave Bailey and come home. She was so worried that he was going to be lonely and cry. We went to check on him while Pierce was at work. That girl is so sweet.

Anyway, we’re back to the routine now. I guess that’s both good and bad. And since I had yesterday off it’s a short work week for me! Woo-hoo!

So Much Going On!

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There has been so much going on lately!  Saturday was our annual BBQ.  We had a full house of friends and family.  It was great!  We got compliments on our food again, that’s always nice to hear.  And the kids were in heaven!  Seriously.  They had grandparents and aunts and uncles there to dote on them.  And tons of other kids to play with and they both just thought it was great.  It rained a little bit at the beginning of the BBQ but before long people were outside playing boccie ball in the backyard or in the front coloring with chalk on the driveway.  As soon as I opened the garage door there was swarm of kids into the garage to get out all the ride-on toys.  John and Jeanette came with six day old Evan.  That’s one cute kid they’ve got there!

Sunday was our 6 year anniversary!  To celebrate we dropped the kids off at the zoo with Nana and Papa and went to see a movie.  We saw the new Batman movie, Dark Knight.  It was fantastic!  And it was nice to have a little down time with just Kris too.  Annika and James had a great time at the zoo too.  They saw bears and tigers and lots of animals.  Annika said her favorite was the giraffe.  After the movie and zoo we had dinner out where the kids played musical chairs again.  Annika was sitting on Nana’s lap, then my lap then her chair, back to my lap, etc.  Then Jamesy had to get in on the action too and ended up eating dessert on Papa’s lap.  It’s not the most relaxing thing ever to eat out with children.  We haven’t got it too bad though.  While our children don’t always stay in their seats, they’re generally not too noisy or messy and they don’t run around or anything.

Jamesy has been enthralled with airplanes lately.  Whenever he hears one overhead he has to stop playing, look up until he finds it and then point it out to me.  So cute.

Annika’s been snacking on granola bars lately.  She can’t seem to say granola correctly though.  She keeps calling them granilla bars.

Last night after dinner was over the kids and I headed outside to water the garden.  After that we played chase in the backyard and then we headed to the driveway.  Annika immediately got out her bike and started riding around the driveway.  Jamesy climbed in the wagon and decided he’d like to go for a walk.  Annika wanted to go for a long walk so she could ride her bike the whole time.  So, go on a long walk we did.  1.4 miles actually according to gmap-pedometer.  That’s pretty far for a 3 year old on a bike, isn’t it?  I was impressed at least.  She’s getting more and more confident on her bike.

Thursday I leave for New Mexico with Grandpa Dan and Auntie Krystle and won’t be back until late Sunday evening.  I’m so excited to go see Uncle Mathias but I’m dreading leaving the kids.  I’m sure I’ll call a million times a day and stress and miss them terribly.  It will be the longest I’ve been without either of them ever.  The most I’ve done to date is a night, a single night, away and then I bug Kris to go get them the moment I wake up in the morning.  I’ve also practically convinced myself I’m going to die in a fiery plane crash and never see them again.  Um, to say I’m panicking would not be completely off base.  Deep breath.

Congrats Uncle Dusty and Auntie Melanie!

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Congratulations go out to Uncle Dusty on his wedding to Auntie Melanie on Monday.  They married on the beach in Hawaii and are now enjoying a 10 day honeymoon there.  Pictures of Melanie (all I’ve seen so far) are beautiful.  Best wishes you two!

Not a whole long going on around here lately.  Annika’s being a little instigator, constantly picking on Jamesy.  I wonder where she gets that from!  And Jamesy tolerates it for only so long before he squeals and tries to get away from her.  She better watch it.  It’s not going to be long and he’s going to be bigger than she is!

Jamesy is hilarious.  He has so many words!  He asked tonight for some cheese.  He can say penis. (The boy loves diaper changes just so he can play with his!)  He can pretty much communicate at will.  Now I’m waiting for his pronunciation to become a little clearer and for him to start putting more two word phrases together.  So far his only two word phrase is thank you (ank u).

This morning Annika woke up to go potty when I was getting ready for work.  Seeing me up, there was no way she was going back to bed.  Instead she came downstairs with me and we watched some cartoons while cuddling together before my carpool ride came to pick me up.  Kris and James were still sleeping upstairs.  Well, Kris was in bed, I don’t know that he was sleeping.  Anyway, when I had to leave Annika gave me a big kiss and hug and told me again for the millionth time lately that she wants me to stay home the whole day (um, heart breaking in two!) and then went back to the couch.  I peaked in the window before getting in the car and saw her kind of wandering about the living room looking like she was trying to decide what to do now.  It broke my heart!  My poor baby was “alone” and I had to leave to go to work.  Yuck.  Some mornings I really hate going to work.  This morning was one of them.

James is Brilliant!

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First – a big congratulations to John and Jeanette on the birth of their son Evan. He’s adorable and I can’t wait to see and hear more of him. Congrats guys! Welcome to parenthood!

Now, I think the title says it all but I’ll elaborate for those that need it. James is brilliant because on Saturday morning, as we were lounging in bed cuddling and watching cartoons, James slid off the end, squatted and pooped. I know, brilliant, right? Um, no. The brilliant part is next. He walked to my side of the bed, yelled “Mama!” and when I responded he said “Poop.” I asked if he had poop in his diaper and he said yeah so then I asked if he wanted me to change his diaper and he said yeah again and then took off for his room. 17 months people and he’s already recognizing and verbalizing these things! My boy is brilliant. Yessirree. He also likes to “go potty” which basically means sitting on the toilet while naked. Nothing ever comes out but he thinks it’s a blast anyway.

We had a lovely weekend around here, thanks for asking. :) Saturday we lounged and played and ran errands. Seriously, Lowe’s is like a Saturday staple around here. There always seems to be something we “need.” This last Saturday it was stakes for our poor little trees out back. Our 4 ft tall maple tree broke in half last Wednesday night during a thunderstorm. Poor little thing. We pulled that out of the ground and hacked off the broken part and are hoping the little seedlings at the base will grow into something. But not all was lost (although I was unusually sad about the maple) as we still have three 4 ft tall poplars and while only one was in the ground last week with the other two in pots, not sure where to put them, now all three are safely in the ground and staked to give them strength should any more wind/thunderstorms come through.  Whew!  I know you were worried.

Yesterday was more lounging and playing. Last night we went to dinner with Grandpa and Marcia and had a great time. As soon as they walked in Annika got up from her chair to give them both a hug and kiss. And while we were waiting Annika pulled the empty chair next to her as close to her as she could. The chairs were literally touching. When I asked why she was doing that she said it was because she wanted Grandpa to sit right by her. Shortly after they sat down James demanded to be released from his high chair. As soon as he was free he boogied it over to Grandpa too and ended up eating most of his meal from Grandpa’s lap. That Grandpa sure is a popular guy! This particular restaurant has balloons it gives to kids as they leave. Well, there was much fun, squealing, giggles (and the occasional yell of fighting) when we got home. The kids loved their balloons. Jamesy just laughed as he pulled the string all over making the balloon jerk up and down. And Annika just rain like a maniac around the house pulling her balloon behind her. Every once in a while she would grab James’ or their strings would get entwined and that’s when the yelling started.  Ah, those kids.  They are such a joy. :)

Back to work

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My nice week long vacation is over.  Yesterday it was back to work.  It was really hard getting up and leaving my precious, sleeping family.  When I got home from work last night Annika asked me why I wasn’t in my bed that morning.  I told her I was at work and she got very sad and told me she doesn’t want me to go to work.  I know, baby, I know.   Jamesy about had a conniption when I got home too and we were back to the hold-me-immediately-and-for-as-long-as-I-require-it-thank-you-very-much routine.  After dinner I kicked them outside and we played for a while – in the sandbox they played (and got sand EVERYWHERE on their bodies) while I sifted rocks out of the sandbox.  Then when they got tired of the backyard we headed to the front where Jamesy tried to run away again.  He just loves riding on of his toys down the driveway then down the sidewalk to the street corner.  It’s all downhill (slightly) and he thinks it’s great.  That’s not so bad but he doesn’t come back!  So, I have to follow him down and then haul him and his toy back up to the house.  He then gets a different toy and does the whole thing over again.  Annika thinks this is great too and usually follows him on a toy of her own.  A few rounds of this though and I’ve had my fun.  Too bad the kids don’t feel the same way!

The kids had an exciting day today I heard.  Papa was in town getting his car serviced so Kris and the kids met him for lunch.  I’m sure they had an excellent time not only because they both like eating in restaurants (what with the crayons/paper and chocolate milk and such) plus they both adore Papa.  Kris even said that Annika cried when Papa left to go home.  She’s been pretty emotional like that lately.  She cried yesterday when Kris left for work.  Phase?  Not sure.  Anyway, tonight we had a pretty lazy night.  Jamesy wanted to color so we got out a huge piece of paper for him and some washable markers (that’s what caught his eye to begin with) and he went to town, scribbling a little bit with each marker before trying to put the cap back on, not being able to, handing the cap and marker over to me and getting himself a new one.  I’ve dated the paper and will be saving this for him.  It’s really the first time he’s “colored” for any length of time.  While Jamesy was doing that Annika was next to me on the floor writing letters.  First she wrote Annika, then I had to spell Kristina, Mommy, our last name and James for her.  She wrote each of them down and I was impressed with some of her letters!  I’m just impressed she can write all her letters, regardless of how legible they are and that she can remember how to do it since she’s been out of school (and therefore practice) for over a month now.  Go preschool!  Go Annika!  After the coloring was done we popped in a movie (Charlie and the Cholocate Factory – love Johnny Depp in that movie!) and settled in for some relaxation.  Well, as much relaxation as a 17 month old will give you!  He was up, down, read this book, read that book, get me some milk, crawl on you, etc. busy.  That kid never stops!  It was a good night though.  You need these kind every once in a while, right?


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So, I’ve been a slacker this week in writing.  It’s just that we’ve been very busy…doing not much?  I’ve been off this whole week and we’ve done a lot of playing and not a lot else.  Last weekend until Sunday morning Kris was gone coaching the Vixen.  Monday we played at home.  Same with Tuesday but that night Amanda and Dean came over for dinner.  Wednesday was more playing at home.  Thursday we went to the pool in town (an outdoor one with a zero entry, sand bottom pool) and had a great time.  Annika would “swim” around in her life jacket, kicking her feet but not really scooping with her arms.  She was having fun though dog-paddling around.  And James thought it was a blast too.  He’s kind of in the in-between stage for life vests (too big for an infant, too small for a child) so he spent most of the day without one but with a parent very, VERY, nearby.  Thank goodness it’s zero entry and very shallow for most of the way because he is one brave little boy and would try to go out farther and farther.  And then he would butt-drop (jump up and land on his butt) and end up with water up to his chin.  Or he would try to walk, fall over and end up face first in the water.  He didn’t seem to mind though.  I’d just yank him out, stand him back up and he’d grin and do it all over again.  Annika is pretty brave in her life jacket too.  She’s not afraid to go or do anything with that on.

Yesterday we took in a parade to celebrate the 4th.  We weren’t overly impressed (too many politicians, not enough bands) but it was in the right location at the right time.  I think we’ll try somewhere else next year.  Annika thought it was great though – they were giving her candy!  My shy little girl would timidly wave her hand when they would come by in order to get candy.  Her not shy mom would sit right behind her and wave her arms wildly to get their attention.  Gotta make my girl happy, ya know?  James thought it was great too and would pick up the candy and put it in the bag.  At one point all three of us were sitting on the curb together, a child on either side of me.  I’m sure we were as cute as could be.  I, uh, should have gotten a picture of that.

After the parade we headed to Nana and Papa’s house where they had a surprise waiting – a swingset!  Two swings, one for James and one for Annika.  They were in heaven and were on that thing half a dozen times yesterday.  They also loved the giraffe inflatable pool with the slide!  And James wanted to get in on the sports action too.  He wanted to play the polish golf game and get in the softball game too.  Um, swinging bats and small children are probably not good together.  He picked up the plastic bat and ball though and tried to hit it himself.  I think a teeball set might be a good birthday present for the young man.

Jamesy is using more and more words lately.  Tonight at dinner he said corn.  He’s been shouting “Mama!” every second of the day (it seems) whenever he wants anything.  And an immediate “Yes Jamesy?” only gets more shouting so I have to respond quickly.  Sometimes though he’s not sure what he wants so he yells, I respond and then he says “Ummmm.  Mama!”  Yeah, it’s fun.

Today Annika told me when she grows up she’s going to be a princess.  Big surprise.

We had some dead bushes in the front and on the side of our house and a few weeks ago the lawncare company pulled out most of them.  Today, we replaced them.  In the front we put a Pinky Winky Hydrangea bush.  I’m hoping it does well there and gives us some color!  It’s supposed to give late summer/fall color which will be nice as my flower pots are usually dead by then. :)   Then, along the side of the house we condensed the three remaining alive, fern-y, plants in the middle and put a Purple-leaf Sand Cherry bush in the back of them.  It’s supposed to get tall (7-10 feet) so that went at the end.  We both really liked the purple leaves though.  And then at the front of the five, next to the front step we put a Sunbright (bright yellow) rose bush.  More color!  I can’t for the 4-6 buds on it to bloom.  The roses smelled so heavenly at Lowe’s today that when Kris suggested we get one for that spot, I was all over it!  It took Kris a while to pick one out (yellow?  pink?  red?  purple?  is this plant sad looking?  have any buds?  etc.) that we were all getting impatient.  It wasn’t until James said “Come on!” (Well, at least it sure sounded like he said that!) that Kris and I finally decided on the yellow one and moved along.  I also got some new shade flowers (impatiens, of course) for the front step flower pots.  The ones I had in there before, uh, weren’t doing so well.  So, there you go.  More adventures in gardening.  I just love playing in the dirt!