Fair Time!

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First – Congratulations to John, Michelle and Brianna on the birth of Katie! She’s a cutie! I can’t wait to meet her – maybe this weekend…

Saturday was MN state fair day. It’s a family tradition to go each year with Nana and Papa. We got up extra early, OK, that’s not true. The kids slept in until 8:15 and Kris and I took advantage of that. :) Anyway, we got up, dressed, ate breakfast and got on the road to the fair. We arrived around 10:30 and immediately headed for an animal barn. First we were in the rabbit/duck/chicken/bird barn. They had some birds out so the kids got to pet a chicken, duck and pigeon. Both thought that was pretty cool. Then we looked at the rabbits and then some lambs before meeting up with Nana, Papa, Auntie Carrie and Uncle Adam. Of course we had to go see the “giant pig” as Annika kept begging. Really, it’s Minnesota’s largest boar but I like giant pig better. After that and the baby piglets we walked through the cow barn and then it was time to eat! Pronto pups and french fries all around – yummy! Some crab cakes and root bear to round out lunch and then it was off to look at more things – fish in the DNR fish pond, Escalade’s at the Cadillac booth and the Backstreet Boys at the KDWB booth! Yep, as we were walking by the KDWB booth, Dave Ryan was introducing the Backstreet Boys. Got to see the 4 of them (minus Kevin?) in the flesh. My life is complete now. OK, that was sarcasm. It was pretty funny listening to the little girls scream though. :) We walked through the new International Bazaar, listened to some country music (I’m not sure how Kris’s ears didn’t bleed!) at the bandshell, checked out some home improvement booths for water softener deals (what an exciting life we homeowners lead – a water softener!!) and then time for more treats! Apples with caramel and a scoop of ice cream. James wasn’t too enthused by that but Annika gobbled up those apples in no time! Now we were by the grandstand and Nana and Papa had rejoined us. Time to shop! We looked at some shoes for Nana, I got James to fall asleep in the middle of everything and Kris checked out the Mazda booth. (Um, yes, we looked at some cars yesterday – we can’t wait to replace the truck even though we’re probably a year away from doing that yet.) Next it was time to hit the kiddie midway. Annika had been begging to go on rides all morning so she was happy we were finally making our way there. Both she and James rode on the carousel.  Jamesy threw a fit when he had to get off.  Then Annika rode a bee ride where you pull the lever and it makes the bee go higher. She wasn’t strong enough to pull it though so she rode close to the ground the whole time. She was bummed about that for about 30 seconds – and then she set her sights on the next ride and was all better. She and James rode on a water ride (go around in a circle while sitting in a little boat). Then Annika went by herself on two rides, swings being one of them. She really liked the swings. And then she went on a ride that brought her up in the air and then “dropped” her to the ground. She giggled her little head off on that ride. And the last ride of the day was the kiddie ferris wheel. Both Annika and James rode that one. I was so proud of my little man (only 18 months old and riding a ferris wheel all by himself!). I was worried he’d be freaked out by going so high and while you could tell he was nervous, by the end he was waving to us on the ground as he went by. So proud! Annika said her favorite was the carousel but I’m willing to bet the drop ride was right up there at the top too. After rides Nana and Papa took them both through the Little Farm Hands exhibit. On our way there we stopped by the GMC booth and saw the new Traverse. And we liked! The salesman told us it comes out in September and is similar to the Acadia. We’ll have to save all our pennies to afford one but both Kris and I liked it. We’re waiting until at least September 2009 anyway so we can see the new 2010 hybrid SUVs too. What I really liked about it though is that even if you have the third row seats in use (instead of folded down) that there’s still ample amount of cargo space. A lot of the smaller SUVs use up the whole cargo space for the third row seats. Not really liking that. Anyway, back to the fair. The kids liked the little farm hands exhibit.  Jamesy liked ‘the pick up this and put it there’ part of it. Time for more walking around and a treat for Jamesy – a meatball sundae (a meatball with gravy on mashed potatoes).  Jamesy loves mashed potatoes so he gobbled up most of that.  Then we walked down to the horticulture building, met up with Auntie Carrie and Uncle Adam again, checked out some flowers (and the new MN winegrower booth – will definitely need to partake in some samples of that next year!) and then headed across the street to the food building. One steak on a steak, garlic fries, cheese curds and a jumbo hot dog later and dinner was complete.  Hmm, cheese curds – it’s a good thing I only eat them once a year (maybe) at the fair. Those are just too good.  We were all pretty tired by this time. And it was starting to get a bit late but we still had apple pie to eat!  Nana had brought one (a family tradition for her).  We decided to go to nearby Como Park and eat our pie.   It was super yummy!  As soon as we were done and in the car headed for home Jamesy conked out. He had only a short nap during the day so it didn’t take long for him to drift off.   Annika took a little longer but she too was asleep before we got home.   Makes bedtime super easy when all you do is carry them up to their rooms and plop them in their beds!

Yesterday morning we met Auntie Carrie and Uncle Adam at Ikea for breakfast. $11 for breakfast for a family of 4. Not bad! Then we headed across the street to the Mall of America for a bit. The kids (meaning Kris too!) played at the Lego store for a while until the mall opened. Both kids loved that of course. Jamesy played at the little kid side with the Duplo blocks building tower after tower while Annika played at the big kid side building cars with Kris to race down the track. Jamesy had a first too. He needed a diaper change so we headed to the restroom where he peed on the potty in a public bathroom for the first time! (only exciting to the mom, I know!) Then we went to the new Best Buy store at the mall to check that out too. Back at home Annika and I sat down to make some birthday invitations. Mark your calendars – party September 7th at 1pm! – invitations to be mailed tomorrow! Kris had to go into work for a couple hours (boo!) so when Krystle called for help, I took the kids with me over to her house. Pierce played with them and Bailey outside while Krystle and I played with make up and false eyelashes. Krystle and Pierce had their engagement pictures last night and Krystle needed to look fabulous of course! And she did! Back at home we played outside for a while riding bikes and then playing in the sandbox when Ryan (and dad Jeff) came over to play. As soon as Jamesy saw Ryan outside he started booking it for their house. I had to go corral him and bring him back to our house to the sandbox. Usually we’re playing at their house and Jamesy was excited by that. Annika was just excited to play with Ryan. They always play pirate together (usually instigated by Annika – a little too much Peter Pan for that girl!). Annika was so sad when Ryan had to go home and we went inside. We had to get ready for our dinner date though! We went to our neighbors Andrew and Katie’s house for dinner last night.  Yummy taco salad for the adults and yummy mac and cheese for the kids.  They showed us their relatively newly finished basement and Kris asked lots of questions and took lots of notes in his head, seeing as their house is a mirror image of ours and we’ll start work on our basement in about a year.  Then it was back upstairs for lots of playing – playing with a rhyming word puzzle, throwing the ball for their dog to fetch, running and laughing and giggling, playing hide and seek, tickles, playing babies with the dog toys.  The kids had a great time.  Andrew and Katie are so much fun to play with!  Annika cried when I said it was time to go but I promised her that some time soon Andrew and Katie could babysit her and James and that cheered her up a little bit.

Two cute kid things and then I’ll wrap this up.

1 – Annika has been playing riddle games with us lately – Annika: Who is wearing a pink polka dot shirt and has a voice like me?  Kris: Annika?  Annika: You’re right! – Annika: Who has new shoes?  Kris: James?  Annika: You’re right! – Annika: Who has brown hair and rescues animals in the forest?  Me: Diego?  Annika: You’re right!  Some of her riddles get a little complex too with three to four clues before I get who it is.  That’s my smart little girl!

2 – Tonight Jamesy started saying the “l” sound for the first time!  He’s always tried to say words with l’s in them (airplane = aypane) but hasn’t been able to say his r’s or l’s yet.  Tonight he said pillow for the first time!  And his cute little tongue poked out between his lips when he worked to say the “l” part of the word.  He repeated it about 10 times, getting better each time.  It’s still a little labored but he’s doing it!  I’m so proud of him!  He’s been talking up a storm lately and his speech is getting clearer and clearer.  Here’s another step in that direction!

Back to School Night

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First – I uploaded pictures Wednesday night. Check out the cabin pics!

Last night we walked over to Annika’s school (how nice is it that it’s 1 block away!) to meet her new teacher and see her classroom. She has a new teacher this year. I didn’t know until last night which one of the two at the school she would have – her one from last year or the other one. Turns out it’s the other one. That’s okay. Exposing her to new teachers is not a bad thing. This new teacher though is louder and more boisterous than the other one who is quieter, more mousy. I’m not sure how Annika’s going to like loud and boisterous. She’s shy enough the way it is. Or maybe this will make her come out of her shell a little bit. I guess we’ll see how the year goes. The classroom is nice and the kids played while I filled out paperwork. James was busy at the train table and then with the books. Annika, of course, headed for the doll house. They were both very good when I said it was time to go. Annika pouted a little (made a sad face) because she didn’t want to stop playing with the doll house. I assured her that in two weeks when school starts she can play with the doll house again.

After leaving the school we played at the school playground for a little while. Annika’s getting better at the monkey bars. She can let go with one hand and swing to the next one but then wants you to hold her while she brings her second hand over. And James is a little daredevil who will climb, or try to climb, up anything. I’m very busy at the park, especially this one which is geared for school age kids, keeping track of him and assisting as necessary.

I called it quits at the park and walked us back home where we watered the garden and played outside. Our neighbor, Andrew, was trying to sand and then paint some trim on his house and of course the kids needed to “help.” Annika just wanted Andrew to play with her too. So I bribed them with a cookie to come inside. Heh. Mother of the Year award right here please. :) Pretty soon it was bath and bedtime! Time sure does fly in the evenings!

A week!

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Gah! It’s been a week since my last update. I hate when I wait so long. I always end up forgetting things we’ve done, people we’ve seen and the cute things the kids have done or said. But, for right now I want to talk about our weekend. Krystle and Pierce very kindly invited us to Pierce’s family’s cabin in Wisconsin. We planned on driving up Friday night so I took the day off work on Friday. First I got up and ran 5 miles (go me!) and when I got home I heard Jamesy starting to wake up. I went in to get him and got the biggest grin. I took him to Annika’s room to play (since she was in my bed sleeping) while I stretched. He had fun playing with Legos and reading books. It wasn’t too long before Annika joined us. And then the morning was spent cleaning up the house, doing laundry and getting our packing started. Oh, and watching Olympics. We love the Olympics! At noon Kris and the kids took Dagur to Nana and Papa for the weekend while I did some more packing and a little working. And then when they got back Kris went into work. I finished packing, loaded the truck and then the kids and I went outside to play. They both just love playing outside. They played in the sandbox while I watered the garden and of course, OF COURSE, they had to get sand everywhere. I turned around one time to see Annika dumping sand on James’ head. I told her to stop it and then of course she dumps some on her head. She did what I said – no sand on James’ head but what I meant was no sand on anyone’s head. Must be more clear next time! Anyway, we played on the driveway for a while, riding bikes back and forth between our house and the neighbors and then when it was almost time for Kris to get home from work I took them inside and threw them in the bathtub. I had to get all that sand out of their hair! Kris got home around 8:30pm and we were on the road within 10 minutes. The drive to the cabin went pretty well. I can say that because I fell asleep shortly after the kids did. Heh. Poor Kris had to wake me up to get directions at one point! When we got to the cabin of course the kids woke up. That was OK though. They got to see Krystle and Pierce and Bailey then for a little bit and then they got to go back to sleep in the new surroundings rather than waking up in a brand new place.

Saturday morning we woke up, ate breakfast and then headed outside. And I don’t think we came back inside except to grab lunch and munchies and head back out again. The weather was absolutely gorgeous (upper 70′s, low 80′s, slight breeze) and the backyard and lake were perfect. There was a small flat area for the kids to play on and then it sloped down to the lake and dock. The lake was also perfect – clear water, no weeds and a sandy bottom. The beach was rocky and there was a 3-4 foot swath of rocks entering the water but then it was sandy and waist to chest height on Annika. It wasn’t even 10am Saturday morning before Annika was asking to go swimming. We put her life jacket on and off she went. One of us always stayed right next to her on the deck in case something happened but she was so happy to just splash and run and “swim” and do “tricks”. Heaven. She was in heaven. Pierce did a little fishing off the dock and caught a nice sized bluegill (Krystle – did I get that right?) The kids were fascinated by the fish and had to constantly “check” on the fish in the basket in the water. A little while later Pierce wanted to go fishing just off the end of the dock so he got out the fishing boat and prepared to head out. Annika wanted to go fishing too so she climbed aboard and she and Pierce went fishing. Pierce caught a fish so he had Annika hold the fishing pole while he reeled it in. Turns out Annika “caught” her first walleye! Pierce said she got a little bored out there but did pretty well otherwise. While Annika fished, Kris put James down for a nap.  It wasn’t too much later and Grandpa and Marcia arrived.  Pierce and Annika came back to the dock and we had a little “welcome to the cabin!” tour and chat.  As soon as Grandpa’s boat was in the water we decided to take it out for a spin.  Kris stayed behind at the house with a napping James while the rest of us went out.  We even got out the tube and Krystle and I were the first in the water with that.  We had so much fun giggling and screaming our fool heads off.  I was on for so long that I have a nice rug burn on my elbow from it.  Krystle stayed on one last round with Pierce after I crawled back in the boat.  Annika thought the tube looked pretty fun but I wouldn’t let her have a turn.  She was sad about that.  She was also sad that she couldn’t drive the boat.  I’m thinking three (almost 4) is not quite old enough for that!  She sat on Grandpa’s lap some to “help” him drive but she wanted to do it all by herself.  By the time we were all done tubing Annika was ready to head to shore so she could swim some more so I joined her in the water and swim and splash and play we did.  While I did that our wonderful hosts Krystle and Pierce made us a yummy dinner.  After dinner was another boat ride around the lake, a nice slow cruise, to check out all the houses.  Then it was more playing back on shore before bedtime.  At bedtime I stayed back to put the kids to bed and the rest went out in the boat again for a sunset cruise.  It wasn’t too long after the kids were asleep that everyone got back.  The boys immediately started working on the bonfire.  We had a really nice fire down on the beach (with the monitor on full blast in the window of the house) where we laughed and told stories and talked.  It was really awesome.  And midnight by the time we put the fire out and went to the house and to bed.

Let’s just say I didn’t really appreciate the 6:30am wake up from the kids.  I tried to keep them quiet and downstairs for at least a little while.  I was only partially sucessful.  I think it was 7am or so when they went upstairs where everyone else was sleeping.  Someone must have been up because Kris eventually came back down by himself and we fell back asleep.  It was 8:45am when I woke up next!  What a nice treat!  Of course I raced upstairs then and apologized for dumping my kids on everyone.  They didn’t seem to mind too much.  We all got changed into our suits for more water fun.  Annika was back in the lake swimming (being watched by Kris) while Grandpa, James and I took the paddle boat our for a spin.  Then Krystle was watching Annika swim while Kris took the kayak out for a try.  When we got back with the paddleboat then Kris watched Annika while I took the kayak out and Krystle got in the paddle boat with Grandpa and James.  James wasn’t quite ready to get out when we got back so they took him out again.  While Annika loved swimming in the lake, James loved being on the boat.  Each time we went out James climbed in the boat and sat down on the seat in back, resting his head on the infant jacket “hood” and waited patiently until we started going.  If we were just cruising around he was content to just sit there, taking it all in.  If someone was tubing then he had to be sitting on someone’s lap so he could see the tubing action behind us.  After our non-motorized boating fun, we took Grandpa’s boat out again.  And most of us took turns tubing too.  Kris and I were out together.  Then Kris took Annika out on the tube with him.  Grandpa made sure to drive nice and slow with her out there and she giggled and laughed the whole time.  She loved it.  She and Kris almost got dumped once but Kris was able to hold her up out of the water, hold on the tube and regain his balance to get them both back on.  I don’t know how he did it.  When Kris was done Pierce went out with Annika for a ride.  She wasn’t quite done yet you see.  Another slow cruise around the lake until finally they both fell off.  Annika didn’t care in the least though.  She had so much fun and was tired and wanted to come back in the boat.  Now it was time for the boys.  Kris and Pierce got on the tube and Grandpa whipped them around good, dunking them three or four times before we called it quits and headed for shore.

And then it was time to clean up, eat lunch and head home.  We packed and cleaned up in record time – 30 minutes total – before heading into town for a bite to eat.  And then we headed out of town, both kids asleep within minutes.  And they slept about 2/3 of the way home which was nice.  And that was our weekend.  Both Annika and James tried tubing (James sat on the tube once with Kris in the middle of the lake but there was no moving or pulling of course), both “swam” in the lake, Annika went fishing (and watched Pierce clean the fish too) and we all had a wonderful time.  So much that we daydreamed about owning a lake home on our way home.  No way that’s happening any time soon but it was fun to daydream about!  Now it’s back to the normal routine.  Our only planned excitement for this work week is Thursday night’s preschool open house.  Annika will meet her teacher, see her classroom and Mommy will hand in her “milk money” check.  Should be fun!

Too many cool things!

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This post is going to be riddled, just riddled with ooey-gooey goodness.  Get your barf bucket handy.  I can’t help it.  The past several days have been that good.

So, first up – a visit with Great Grandma (Gramme’s mom) on Friday night.  I called up Gramme last week and said I wanted to see Great Grandma.  So Gramme made all the arrangements (checked her schedule and Great Grandma’s and told me which night was best for both of them) and then Krystle and the kids and I headed over.  We brought a take ‘n bake pizza with us which got us (lightly) scolded.  Great Grandma is convinced that when we visit her that he is to have dinner for us, not the other way around.  I countered with “but I practically invited myself over so I have to bring dinner then!”  Great Grandma slightly conceded but only if I promised that next time we came, she was providing dinner.  We agreed.  She is so cute too.  She had radishes and carrots with dip and crackers and pickles set out for us while the pizza cooked.  And she let the great grandkids pretty much do whatever they wanted.  She didn’t discipline them once.  Now, Krystle and Gramme and I were busy making sure they weren’t getting into something they shouldn’t but Great Grandma was completely chilled and didn’t really care what they got into.  She sure does like spoiling those kids.  When it was (way) past bedtime and they were beginning to melt down we said our good-byes.  Annika gave her a hug and Jamesy gave her a kiss.  And she gave them each a sandwich bag full of Oreo cookies.  Yep, spoiling again!  It was a great visit and I hope we can me it more of a regular thing.  I don’t see enough of Great Grandma.  She’s my only grandparent left.  I need to see more of her!  And so do my kids.  I want them to know her and not to have to spend so much time warming up to her each time.  Must talk with Gramme and Krystle about making that a monthly visit or something.  She’s not that far away, I can certainly see more of her!

Saturday was a big, huge day in two ways.  First was wedding dress shopping with Krystle.  It was so much fun seeing her try on all those big, beautiful dresses.  I choked up when she put the first dress on.  It was a pretty emotional day for me anyway – watching my baby sister try on wedding dresses.  Gramme was crying a couple times too.  But when Krystle put on “the one?”  Well, I was a gone.  She looks gorgeous in it.  She was glowing and “freaking loved” the dress too.  Then when she put on the veil too?  Well, that did it.  That was her dress.  She couldn’t believe she may have found her dress at the first place we went.  So we went to lunch to think about it.  We had another appointment in the afternoon to look at bridesmaid dresses.  They put Krystle’s dress in a dressing room for us so we could look at it the whole time we tried on bridesmaid dresses.  And guess what?  We may have found that dress too!  It’s really pretty I think.  Krystle decided to sleep on the big dress decision but Sunday she called down and ordered it.  I’m so happy she did too.  The dress is gorgeous and she obviously loves it.  You couldn’t wipe that smile off her face when she had it on!

The second big thing for Saturday?  Jamesy peed in the potty!  Kris had to go into work Saturday night (and again on Sunday – boo!) so I was doing bathtime that evening by myself.  Jamesy stood up in the bathtub, holding himself and said “poop.”  I asked him if he needed to go potty and he said yes.  I got him out, set him on the toilet and he peed!  Start, stop, start, stop like it was a game.  He finished and started to run out of the bathroom naked.  I told him he needed to get back in the tub but he said he needed to “poop” again.  So he sat on the toilet again and sure enough, he peed again.  He’s brilliant!  Then he got back in the tub and played some more.  I called Kris and told him a miracle had just happened.  And you know what?  Jamesy’s peed in the potty at least 4 times since then.  He said “poop” so I take him to the potty and he goes potty.  Freaking amazing.  He did it again tonight before bathtime.  I undressed him, asked him if he needed to go potty, he did and then got in the tub.  Just like a big boy!  He even got out once during the bath to go again and even got out a little #2 in the toilet!  I, I just don’t know where to go with this.  Apparently he doesn’t tell Kris he needs to go, only me.  Should Kris start asking him?  Should we get out the little potty?  Actually try to train him?  It just seems so early and so young!

Are you guys into the Olympics as much as we are here?  Kris is obsessed I think.  It has been nothing but Olympics since Saturday morning.  Saturday night Kris even had dual Olympic coverage going.  He had NBC on the computer (HD antenna in the new computer – love it! – it even has a DVR so we can record in HD!) and USA on the TV.  Sometimes he’d switch the tv to MSNBC or some other coverage.  We can’t wait until track and field starts and have been having a great time watching the swimming.  Annika’s liked gymnastics.  She’s liked it so much that she’s asked to do gymnastics this fall instead of dance.  So, today I signed her up for gymnastics (1 day/week).  If she likes it, we’ll keep going as it’s a month to month thing and you can quit at any time.  If she gets bored like she did last time then we can quit and try something new or go back to dance in February.  I hope she likes it!  I told her they would teach her how to do a cartwheel.  I did a couple for her in the backyard a few weeks ago and I think she was in awe of me.  I was kind of in awe too.  I had no idea I could still do them!

Last night I decided I wanted to spend a little money so off to the mall we went.  Annika got her hair cut.  She’s been telling me for a month now that her hair is too long and she needs a haircut.  She hasn’t had one in about six months so I told her we would do it before school started.  She sat in the chair so nicely while her hair was trimmed and cleaned up a little.  Not much length taken off, just trimmed.  I could tell she was enjoying it, even if she refused to smile or make eye contact with the stylist.  Silly girl.  She did let a smile slip out though when the stylist offered her a sucker for being such a good girl.  Then we did a little fall clothing shopping.  Three shirts for James for $5 (nice cotton long sleeved t-shirts – great for playing) from JCPenney and then a pair of pants and four shirts for Nika for $45 from Children’s Place (perfect for school this fall when she has to go three times/week).  I didn’t spend a ton of money but I felt like I got what I wanted and for good prices.  Sweet!

18 months!

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Yesterday James turned 18 months old. To celebrate I took him to the doctor where he got poked with a giant needle. And because my baby boy is tough as nails he just looked at the nurse until she was done, didn’t say a word or shed a tear and then when she was done we put his clothes back on and away we went. Easy Peasy. I think maybe all the “love” he gets from his sister has toughened him up. :) Anyway, the doctor declared him perfect and at the development age of a 24 month-er instead of an 18 month-er. I have amazing children. James has about 30 or so words in his vocabulary, has a few two word phrases and can repeat most things you say if he feels like it. And only if he feels like it. Otherwise if you ask him to say something he’ll just say no or un-uh. Who told him he, too, could have a mind of his own! Here are his 18 month stats: Weight 26 pounds, 15 ounces = 67%; Height 33.5 inches = 86% and head circumference 18.5 inches = 30%. Yep, he still has a slightly below average head size. At least he’s consistent. The doctor said at his two year check up we can double his height and have a pretty good estimate of his adult height. At two years Annika was (wait, let me check my archives to get this right) about 35 inches (at home measurement was 34.5 inches, doctor’s measurement was 35.5 inches) or 5 feet 10 inches tall as an adult! Right now as it is, James would be 5 feet 7 inches tall. OK boy, grow an inch or two for mommy, okay?! I also asked the doctor yesterday if you can realistically potty train an 18 month old child. She said no, not really. I told her that Jamesy has been amazing lately. He runs over to us and yells poop. We ask if he has to go potty and he says yes and takes off for the bathroom. I follow him in there, take off his diaper and sure enough – he has just gone pee. The same thing with #2. He’ll come over to me and yell poop and then start grunting. The doctor said around 18 months is when they start recognizing what it is they’re doing but they are too young to have control over it and tell you in advance. That seems to be exactly where Jamesy is. She said usually shortly after two is the prime time to potty train (Annika was completely, including night time, trained by 26 months so that makes sense) but that since James is so advanced in other areas that she wouldn’t be too surprised if he walked in to his 2 year appointment in big boy pants. Whatever. I’ll keep taking him to the bathroom if he yells Poop at me (which really is the funniest thing – this little boy yelling poop all the time) and maybe one of these days he’ll actually tell me before he has to go instead of after having just gone. Ah well. A mother can dream, can’t she?

Last night was National Night Out. Did your neighborhood have a party? Ours did for the first time. Since I’m on the board for our association (of course I am) I helped organize it. It was pretty simple – go to our city’s website, print off the registration form, fill it out and fax it in, make flyers and put one in everyone’s mailbox. Done! Then the other guys on the board pitched in and went shopping for the ice cream sundae supplies, I brought my tables and ta-da! an ice cream social for the neighborhood complete with both a fire engine and a police car visit. We had a ton of kids there (we are a young, growing neighborhood) and they were like ants infesting a picnic over those two official vehicles. Just a swarm of kids in the cab of the firetruck and in the backseat of the squad. I got some good pictures of the kids in both. Annika even got in the drivers seat of the police car. I’ll have to send those pics to Uncle Mathias. I’m sure he’d love those! We were the last to leave the party after finally convincing Annika it was way past bedtime and both she and James needed a bath still. Both kids had such a great time. It was even more great for me because Kris was able to make it too. He went in to work a couple hours early (since I was home to take the kids to James’ doctor appt), stopped home for the party and then went back to work to finish things off for the night. Another big hit at the party was Bailey. Pierce went to his association’s party but since he and Krystle’s house backs up to our neighborhood he stopped by ours too with Bailey. The kids swarmed him and Bailey too. That dog was exhausted by the time the night was over he was passed around and pet so much. Good little puppy dog. Anyway, it was a great night and I met some neighbors I hadn’t met before and really, that was the whole point. We even talked about making it a tradition and possibly adding in some more BBQ’s during the year instead of just once a year.

Another busy weekend

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We had another busy weekend at our house. Friday night the kids and I headed to the mall to get James’ 18 month pictures taken. First I had one taken with both kids and then I had a couple take of James. They turned our pretty cute! My kids are so cute. :) Jamesy was getting a little tired of the look here and smile routine and was asking for a drink so as soon as the pictures were over grabbed a bottle of water at a nearby store and then headed to Lego Land. The kids had a great time playing there. Annika is big enough now that she only wants to be by the big kids with the little tiny Lego pieces. But James is still small enough that he wants to be by the little kid side with the big Lego pieces. It was challenging keeping track of both kids at the same time. I felt like my head was on a swivel – check on Annika, check on James – back to Annika, etc. Then we walked through the park in the middle of the mall on our way back to our vehicle. Jamesy kept pointing to the swings and Annika kept asking to ride a ride. I told her not that night but maybe for her birthday. I do have an appt on the 6th of September to get her 4 year pictures taken. Maybe we can ride a couple rides that day.

Saturday morning I was back at the mall to pick up the pictures. They take about an hour to print and I didn’t stick around that long on Friday night. Plus, I had to head across the highway to the airport that morning to pick up Mathias! It was actually very convenient. As I was walking back to the truck Mathias called to say he’d landed. Ten minutes later and he was in the truck and we were driving home. It was fun to see and hear him interacting with the kids. He hadn’t seen them since early May. Jamesy was acting all shy and wouldn’t look at him. He was also hungry for lunch and a nap though too. And Annika was being her goofy shy self too. When we arrived home Krystle and Bailey came over to say hi quick before Mathias took off. He had lunch plans with Gramme and then friends to go see that night. The kids and I finally had some lunch and then while Jamesy napped, Annika played on the computer and I laid down for a nap too. Kris had to go to work Saturday afternoon so it was a quiet afternoon at our house.

Yesterday was party day! Mathias was due back from his friends and we were having a BBQ. Mathias, Krystle (with Bailey of course – the kids just adore that puppy!), Grandpa and Marcia all came over. It was a great visit, even if Mathias did spend most of it resting with his eyes closed on the couch. Boy hadn’t got much sleep the two nights previous. But he played with the kids and they were over their shyness so it was all good. When Mathias was getting ready to leave we asked James if he wanted to give Uncle Mathias a kiss before he left. Jamesy puckered up and leaned in and then Uncle Mathias leaned back away from him. You see, Jamesy likes to kiss with his mouth open, not really getting the pucker part yet and Mathias didn’t really want to open mouth kiss his godson! He did eventually though, twice actually. I told him he couldn’t deny the 18 month old! (Well, almost 18 months – tomorrow actually!) We all had a good laugh about it though. Especially when I told Mathias after the kissing that James was kissing Dagur a couple hours earlier and then he even sticks his tongue out for those kisses! Mathias just gave me a sideways grin like “thanks a lot sis.” Hee.

And last night we took a family walk around the neighborhood. Annika was Speedy Gonzalez on her bike, always way of ahead of us and having to stop and wait. James was in the wagon and Kris and I chatted along the way. It was truly awesome. I hope we can do more of that. When we got back home I went to the back to water the garden while Kris was in front with the kids. I came around the house one time to see Annika at Andrew and Katie’s door, ringing their doorbell. My once shy little girl was now initiating contact! She wanted them to come outside and play with her. And they did. Andrew chased her around the shared driveway on her bike. And Katie drew pictures with her on the driveway with chalk. And we all chatted for a while. It was a nice visit. Instigated by the three year old. Maybe Annika’s finally coming out of her shell a little bit!

Apparently I forgot to title this one

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Mathias, me, Krystle, Dad

Isn’t my brother handsome? I miss him like crazy! Good thing I get to see him again this weekend. And September isn’t that far away and he’s going to be home again then!

While Annika and James were vacationing at Nana and Papa’s house last weekend they did all sorts of fun things. They went berry picking with Nana and then had their fresh berries with ice cream for dessert. They helped with the horse chores. Jamesy helped carry the water bucket and then of course splashed in it too. And Annika helped feed the horses their grain. And I know they got a ton of swinging time in on the swingset. That is one of their favorites things to do at the park. It’s really no wonder they didn’t want to come home!

Annika is getting really good at riding her bike. At the beginning of summer she was really apprehensive and needed me physically touching her at all times. And then it was go, stop, go, stop, go, stop the whole time, inching her way down the driveway or sidewalk. Trying my patience seemed to be the name of the game. Now though she puts on her helmet all by herself and cruises around the driveway and on walks with Jamesy in the wagon. She’s even doing much better at negotiating the sidewalk to road transitions. Just last week she would slow way down, so much that she would lose momentum and end up stalling, needing a little push from mom to get going again. I kept telling her she needed to keep her speed up and she would go right over the little bump and up onto the sidewalk again. This week she’s listened to my advice and away she goes.

Tonight we’re having Jamesy’s 18 month pictures taken. He’ll be 18 months on Tuesday! Already! In preparation I went to Target last night to see if I could find a new shirt for him to wear. I already have a dressy outfit for him to wear for a formal picture and then I wanted a new shirt to wear with denim shorts for some fun pictures. We went to the infant/toddler clothing section and Annika picked up every shirt she could find asking if this one would work. She was a big help *sarcasm*. It was cute though even if half of them were pink with flowers. I found one I thought might work and asked Jamesy if he liked it. He said “yeah”, grabbed it out of my hand and threw it behind him in the cart. OK, then. I guess we’ll take it. I found a couple other shirts (a long sleeved one for Jamesy for fall – again with the “yeah” and throwing in the cart – and two short sleeve ones for Annika to wear to school this fall while it’s still nice out) and then we headed to the toy section. We have a pretty good system down for the toy aisles. We never come home with a toy. (New toys only come on birthdays or Christmas or when the kids are not with us – we don’t need begging for toys to start!) We do walk down each and every aisle and the kids get to push buttons and touch each and every single toy they want to. We swing around each aisle looking at all the cool toys and then we move on to another part of the store with no whining, no crying, no stress. Works well for me! It does help me come up with some ideas for Annika’s upcoming birthday though. I’ve got a couple ideas brewing now that I need to share with Kris. Speaking of birthdays, just a heads up for family reading this – I think we’ll plan on a Sunday, September 7th birthday party for Annika. Not sure if it’s going to be just family or if we’ll invite kids/friends or if we’ll have a separate kid birthday party/play date or what. Must talk to Kris about that one too. Either way – family birthday party on Sunday the 7th. Invitations to come. Be there or be square. :) At least it’s not Labor Day weekend for those of you with cabins, right?