Inauguration Tickets

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If you happen to live in U.S. Representative John Kline’s district (like we do) then know this – he’s having a drawing for his 4 inaguration tickets.  You can call his office (952-808-1213 or 202-225-2271) to put in your name for 1, 2 or 4 tickets.  You must do this by Noon Tomorrow (11/26) and the drawing will take place on Monday, 12/1.  I called this morning and put my name in for 2 tickets.  Who wouldn’t want to go see a President of the United States get inaugurated, whether you agree with his politics or not!  Wish us luck!

Letting it ALL hang out

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Jamesy is very into NAKED TIME!  Beware that if you peek in our windows (please don’t) you just might find an entirely nude Jamesy running around the house.  He will just decide at random times during the day that he must be naked right that very instant.  And if you don’t strip him down, he will start doing so himself, albeit with limited success, which then turns into frustration and melt down.  Let’s just say we’ve been helping him undress.  We always make him go potty before he runs around but still, we’re a little worried about puddles is all I’m saying.  We’ve been successful a few times in at least making him wear underwear.  We’ll grab some of Nika’s and put them on him.  #1 – this is so cute I could burst and #2 – blackmail pictures of James in Dora and My Little Pony underwear!  Score!  I’m thinking some “big boy” underwear might just find it’s way under the Christmas tree for little Jamesy this year.  I think he would DIE to wear some Thomas the Train underwear.  Must remember to see if Target has any. (Have I mentioned James’ obsession with trains and the Thomas cartoon?  LOVES them both.)

Annika was a big help tonight.  At least she thought she was, my little cutie pie.  I was sorting baby clothes tonight (NOT FOR ME!) and boxing up some things.  Annika wanted to help so she picked out all the things she wanted to go to the new baby.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her pile was not going to the new baby so instead we dug out a third box and put all her choices into it.  She had such a good time picking out each and every item, squealing “Oh!  Cute!” at each one and then lovingly “folding” it and putting it on her pile.  Jamesy got in on the act then too.  He’d pick something up, squeal “cute” and throw it in a pile.  Those kids crack me up sometimes.  (Of course other times I’d sell them for a nickel a piece.  Those are the times when THEY.WILL.NOT.LISTEN.OH.MY.GOD.LISTEN!)

Saturday we had a family picture taken and ordered our Christmas cards for this year.  We hadn’t had a formal family picture taken since James was three months old so we were definitely due.  I think it turned out pretty cute!  We had a ton of shots to choose from, a necessity when trying to get two parents and two little kids to all smile and look at the camera at the same time.  I get to pick them up on the 1st.  Hopefully they look cute in person like they did on the computer.  And I triple checked our card for spelling errors – let’s hope I didn’t mess up!


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It’s pretty slow around here lately.  The kids have been busy building forts (the coffee table, play kitchen and a big blanket are perfect for this), reading books and making messes.  Jamesy loves to throw the play kitchen food or his legos all over the place and then giggle “mess!” over and over.  And he doesn’t listen when we tell him to stop.  Argh!  He will pick them up though, at his slow toddler pace.  Yesterday after Sunday school Annika’s teacher told me she did really well.  She talked and participated and really opened up.  And I think she’s doing better at school too.  Friday she was in charge of the calendar and today she was in charge of the weather at school.  I think Kris and I talking with her about our expectations and our reminders to use her “loud and clear voice” has helped.  We’ll keep reinforcing those concepts and heaping praise on her when we hear good reports from others.  And each day she comes home from school with a Skittle she gets a big, loud cheer and high five from me.  She grins from ear to ear after that so I think she likes that.

Young Jamesy is learning to stick up for himself.  If Annika takes a toy or if Jamesy feels it’s his turn to do something, he will yell as loudly as he can, cry or yell “Turn!”  It must be frustrating being not yet two.  I think Annika’s going to have to watch herself though.  I don’t think she’s too used to him fighting back.  Jamesy will let all of us know though what is his.  Saturday Kris was using a towel that James decided was still his so he followed Kris all around the bedroom, closet and bathroom yelling “Mine!” and “My towel!” over and over again until Kris gave it back.  We’re all in for trouble.

Look what I was up to

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It was a late night Friday and a busy Saturday finishing this project, but it’s done!  Our new advent calendar for this year!  See:

25 different pieces of Christmas themed cardstock, cut, folded and glued into envelopes on Friday night.  Numbers, activites, printing, cutting, glueing of numbers outside and activities slipped inside on Saturday.  Want to know what our list of activities are?  Good!  I have them right here:

1 – Have hot chocolate with marshmallows

2 – Buy a wreath for front door

3 – Sing Christmas carols

4 – Make a paper chain for Christmas tree

5 – Dance to Christmas music

6 – Visit the Macy’s 8th Floor display

7 – Take a drive and look at Christmas lights

8 – Watch Christmas movie with popcorn

9 – Buy a toy and give it to Toys for Tots

10 – Tell Christmas stories from childhood

11 – Address and mail Christmas cards

12 – Make a batch of cookies and bring to neighbors

13 – Go to Holidazzle parade

14 – Go sledding

15 – Read 3 Christmas books

16 – Make a list of 10 things you are thankful for

17 – Have breakfast for dinner!

18 – Bubble bath!

19 – Bring food to foodshelf

20 – Bake Christmas cookies

21 – Family game night!

22 – Go out for ice cream

23 – Breakfast in bed!

24 – Fancy dress for Christmas Eve dinner

25 – Have traditional Swedish pancake breakfast while listening to Christmas music.

Sounds fun!  I’m going to hang these envelopes from mini clothes pins that are hung from a ribbon going across our sliding glass doors.  I think it will be fun to open an envelope each day.  And we can keep doing this year after year, just changing out the activity slips inside!  I can’t wait for future activities to include ice skating, make a gingerbread house and other fun activities for when the kids are a bit older.  If you want the envelope template I used, let me know.  The envelopes are roughly 3″ by 4″ big.

The report from school today was that Annika actually participated during circle time!  But not during pledge or prayer time.  Baby steps people.  All weekend Kris and I talked about using her loud voice and how important it was for people to be able to hear her.  We’ll keep talking about the things she needs to do, making sure she understands this is what we expect of her, and encouraging her to participate.  I believe this is half shyness and half stubborness now!

1 in 8 years

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That is my running voting record if you do not count Judges. I finally elected an official to office. Not only did I not get the Ammendment right (not that I hate the environment, but just the idea of an ammendment) I did not even get the Soil Commissioner right. I even know that I got the Senate race wrong and we do not even know who won. I guess that it is votes like that that do me in. I could be at 3 in 8 years. I need to move.

Why Won’t She Talk!?!

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Tonight we had Annika’s first parent teacher conference for this school year.  The first thing the teacher said is “She’s doing great.”  That’s an encouraging way to start things off.  She then showed us a cutting “test” where Annika was supposed to cut apart a piece of paper according to the lines.  She did so flawlessly.  Then she showed us a worksheet asking such questions as her name, her parents names, her phone number and address (have to work on those), identifying letters, numbers, colors, shapes, sorting into big, medium, small, etc.  Once again – flawless.  Girl is smart.  Even her teacher says so.  The problem?  My girl won’t talk.  At least not to adults or in “large” groups.  When playing her teacher can clearly hear her talking and playing but when it’s “circle time” (where the whole class sits on the carpet to do group activities) Annika won’t say a word.  She won’t say the pledge or the daily prayer.  She won’t answer questions.  I knew her teacher was going to tell us this.  We’ve seen it over and over again.  Sunday school?  Won’t say a word.  Gymnastics?  Completely clams up when the large group runs in a big circle and then sits down to stretch.  But when her gymnastics class is doing it’s own thing?  She’s running to get into line, doing all the activities with energy and excitement.  She wouldn’t say a word on Halloween – no trick or treat.  No thank you.  Her teacher said Kris and I could try some role playing with her to see if that would help.  I’ve also been “prepping” her before each activity encouraging her to answer questions when asked and to do as she’s asked.  The kids at preschool get a Skittle at the end of each class day if they’ve been good friends and listeners.  Annika always come home with a Skittle.  Her teacher might try a new tactic such that if Annika won’t talk during circle time (after being explicitly told to participate – gently of course) then she will be warned that she will lose her skittle if she doesn’t.  Yes, it’s “bribing.”  It also generally works with Annika.  Her teacher is really at a loss of what else to do.  She’s tried all she can think of so far to break this little girl out of her shell.  Even during the worksheet assessment she had to lean over really close to Annika to hear her answers.  Annika was practically whispering.  So – any ideas what Kris and I or her teacher can do to help her?  Being shy is one thing – becoming mute is totally another.

OK, one last rant for the night.  This time change has seriously messed Jamesy up.  He’s going to bed at the right time but he’s waking 1 – 1/2 hours early.  Every day this week he’s woke up between 5:15am and 5:45am.  He was usually waking around 7am before the time change.  Not only does Kris not really appreciate having to get up that early but I’m not gone yet at that time.  I normally leave the house between 6:15 and 6:20am.  Jamesy is super excited to see me in the mornings – and I him.  The problem comes when it’s time for me to leave.  He is a bawling puddle of tears, calling for Mommy, as I leave.  My heart is breaking.  His heart is breaking.  And Kris just wants to sleep.  I’m hoping he’ll adjust quickly and start sleeping in later again.  He needs his sleep as he can’t make it up at nap time every day.  And I can’t take him crying every morning.  I seriously never want to leave but just want to snuggle in bed with him while he drinks his milk and watches his morning cartoon.  Is that so wrong?! :)

Now It’s My Turn

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OK, now it’s my turn to get all politic-y on you. Kind of.

I am so proud of and so happy for my country. We have elected a bi-racial man to be our president. My children will never know a United States in which a minority can not be president. To that, I raise my glass. (Literally – three glasses of champagne last night alone!) We done good. Way to go America!

Last night I asked Annika who we should vote for, John McCain or Barack Obama. She said Mama. I thought I misheard her so I said “Obama?” She said “No! Mama!” All right then. All in favor? :) Later I heard her upstairs, playing with James in her room, and telling him about Obama, though I couldn’t make out what she was saying about him.

I asked James if he could say President Obama and he just said “No.” Well, OK then. We may have a dissenter in the house.

Halloween 2008

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OK, first. Halloween. It was fun. The kids really enjoyed themselves. When I got home from work both kids and Kris were already costumed. James even had green face make up on for his Yoda costume! I, of course, took some pictures and then made us a little snack to eat. After wiping James’ face after he ate, I wiped all the green make up off so Kris had to re-apply it. James was so patient, just sitting there letting Kris do it. He also liked looking in the mirror afterward. Kris painted his own face too. The kids just laughed and laughed at him. They thought it was so funny. Nana and Papa stopped by that night with Great Grandma and Grandpa. It was Great Grandpa’s birthday and they wanted to see the kids in their costumes. They of course also had treats with them. And a little craft project too! The kids loved that, it did involve stickers after all! We had trick or treating plans with the neighbors so we left to go over to their house, leaving our house in the good hands of our guests (how rude of us!). There were six kids in our trick or treating group. Annika, James, our neighbors two kids and two of their cousins. And guess who led the group down the street? James! He got the hang of this trick or treating business real quick! He hustled up to each door, said “Twick” and “Ank Oo” and hustled back down each driveway. He was truly hilarious, dragging his candy bucket along behind him. Annika thought trick or treating was great too but she, of course, wouldn’t say anything at any house. She told me later that she doesn’t talk to people she doesn’t know. Sounds reasonable, even safe, in most cases, I just wish she would trust us to help make those determinations. I actually don’t mind the mute Annika when a stranger asks her a question (like in a check out line) but when we’re at the doctor, dentist or for heaven’s sake trick or treating I wish she’d just say something! Anything! We’ll keep working on that. We walked down one street and back up it and then over to Krystle and Pierce’s house before heading back home. Krystle and Pierce had a party to go to and were so cute dressed as Popeye and Olive Oil! All in all, we were gone for two hours! I didn’t think we’d be gone that long! I guess when the 20 month old is leading the way though, things are bound to go a bit slower. (We even had the wagon with but he insisted on walking.) Our guests stayed for a bit longer, helping the kids enjoy a piece of candy and then they had to leave. Then it was bedtime for the kids and time to go to work for Kris! I’m very happy he could come out with us though. It’s so fun having Daddy around on Halloween!

Saturday we didn’t do much of anything. Kris went in to work for a couple more hours to make up for Friday night. While he was gone, the kids and I went to the basement where I worked and they played. The bounce house was up and running down there (it’s an 8′ by 8′ model that’s perfect in the basement or outside during the summer) and there was a lot of playing in there. They also played with just about everything else they could get into, most of it decidedly not toys. That’s OK though. I was able to get done what was on my list. There’s still so much to do down there. I’m hoping a few hours each weekend and I’ll start seeing a dent in it all! The afternoon was Gopher football time (boo last second touchdowns by opposing teams!) and lots of playing and lounging.

Yesterday during church we noticed a couple there that we knew. Turns out they are our neighbors sister and brother-in-law that we just saw Friday night! I had never noticed them there before but I’m sure we’ll see them all the time there now! We chatted with them some after church. We haven’t made any real friends at our church even though we’ve been going there for over a year and a half. Maybe this will help us get to know more people. And we received a(nother) compliment on how well behaved James was during church. (Annika was in Sunday school.) He is always so content to play with the bag of toys the church provides and whenever we stand, I hold him in my arms. When we sing he lays his head down and we sway/dance together. He is just the best. Annika was just like that when she was his age too. Of course towards the end he got a case of the sillies and we had a kissing fest. He put his cheek to my lips and I had to kiss it over and over again. If I stopped he would press his face into mine. Occasionally he would switch cheeks and I’d have to start kissing again. Um, I don’t really mind this game. :)

After church and a Target run (what weekend wouldn’t be complete without spending some money!) we went home for lunch and the Vikings game. James took a nap. Annika played on the computer. Kris watched the game and I cross-stitched. It was a lovely, quiet afternoon. Even better was when Grandpa Dan and Marcia dropped by! They had been out for a motorcycle ride (have to take advantage of the beautiful day!). I just love it when they stop in. We talked for a little while and then they were off again, hoping to make it home before dark and the inevitable temperature drop. Since it was so nice out, the kids and Kris went outside to play. I ran upstairs to post a bunch of stuff on Craigslist and (that basement work, ya know) during my peace and quiet. (I’ve already made $65 in sales from – woo hoo! – who knew some of my ten year old textbooks would be worth $50 or more!)

And here we are back to Monday. The kids and I played lots of games tonight. First was a 20 piece puzzle that Annika and James did together. Then was the 100 piece Ariel puzzle that I started and Annika finished. Then we played Chutes and Ladders. I was pretty gamed out by this point so Annika picked up a pen and some paper and started writing. She does this more and more now. She asks how to spell a word and we recite each letter until she’s written the word. Then she picks another word and we play the game again. Between the last two days she’s written pillow, bed, James, Mommy, Chutes and Ladders, etc. It’s fun to see her write. Maybe I should get some of that lined/dashed school paper so she can really practice size and style too. Anybody know where to get some of that? We just got a letter from preschool today on what kindergartners should be able to do. One of the tasks was writing all the letters both upper case and lower case. Maybe having some of that lined paper would help Annika be able to do both. Right now she’s mainly writing in upper case. (She also can’t tie her own shoes as we usually buy her velcro, spread butter or jam with a butter knife as we’ve never asked her to, and a couple other things.) She can however, do 90% of the list. This is not making the send her early/hold her back decision any easier (girl still won’t talk to almost anybody!). She is so academically ready and socially not!  Good thing we have a parent/teacher conference on Thursday so we can ask her teacher for help with this decision. We have another conference in January. I can’t wait to hear what she has to say.