And there went December

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Oh my God – what happened to December? Whoosh! There it went! I haven’t written here in three weeks! Some of our highlights include:

Levi now cruises furniture! My little baby is now a big boy who can stand and walk along furniture. He also let go Tuesday and stood, balanced, for a few seconds before sitting down. Wow!

There was a blizzard.  You knew that though right?  Annika went outside to play in the snow that Saturday morning and came back pounding on the door only minutes later.  She had a terrified look on her face and told me she thought she was going to blow away!  Instead of sending James outside to play with her, we hunkered down for a couple days of family togetherness.

On the 17th Annika’s kindergarten class put on a holiday show. Our family plus Krystle, Gramme and Nana and Papa were able to be there. Her class did about twelve different songs and poems. We were so proud of her! She sang and did all the choreography (simple hand motions) for each song. One song, an alphabet one, had three kids saying a line for each letter of the alphabet. Annika’s was “I is for ice, so shiny and clear” and she said it out loud, loud enough for us to hear! I could not believe it. I’ve been telling her lately whenever she says she’s shy that she’s not anymore. She’s grown out of that. I think that’s starting to sink in a little bit and she’s willing to take more risks and be more outgoing. That or she’s just growing and thriving in kindergarten.  On the 15th Annika’s dance class gave us a preview of her ballet dance they are working on for the spring recital. All the parents came into the classroom and the class did their 20 second dance for us. Annika did all the steps and didn’t show hardly a hint of being shy. Granted, she was facing the wall of mirrors with all the parents in the back of the room but still, it makes me more confident that she’ll actually do the dance in the spring recital in front of the auditorium full of people. Anyway her dance is pretty cute and it makes me so proud of her to see her be brave and face some of her fears.

James is not only almost four, he’s also starting to verbalize his personality more and more. He’s not afraid to tell us what he thinks! When Annika makes him mad now or when he’s had enough of her bossing him around he’ll tell her that he doesn’t like her. “I don’t like Annika” he’ll tell me. Of course he does, but at that moment in time he’s had enough sibling time. It’s usually time to separate them. I’ll send James to my room so he can play on the computer. That’s one of his favorite past times now.  And he comes up with the most grown up things to say sometimes!  He’s such a little boy now – no more toddler there!

The 22nd we went to Dad and Marcia’s house for a visit. Mike and Elisia were home for the holidays! We had a yummy chili dinner with them (unfortunately Kris was at work and missed it all – boo!) and Krystle and Pierce and a nice evening visiting.

Of course we also had Christmas in there too! Thursday the 23rd was my first day off and it was also the day Mathias flew home. I picked him up from the airport and he hung out at our house for a bit that day before going out with friends that evening. Friday was Christmas Eve and we spent the day relaxing at home. All the gifts were purchased and wrapped so the kids and I played while Kris spent most of his time in the kitchen. Am I spoiled or what? He did all the cooking for the food we brought to his parents house (a homemade chicken and mushroom wild rice soup) on the 25th. And he did all the cooking for the Christmas Eve dinner we had at home too. We went to the Christmas Eve service at church at 4pm then came home and the kids changed into pajamas while Kris put the finishing touches on dinner. We had shrimp cocktail, steamed crab legs, corn souffle, mashed potatoes, salad and a super yummy apple cranberry bread pudding for dessert.  I then finished the bottle of wine Mathias, Kris and I shared at dinner.  We let the kids open one present that night and Kris and I also opened one present from each other before we marched the kids up to bed.

Once we were confident they were sleeping, Santa snuck in to set out his gifts and set up the Lincoln Logs train set under the tree.  It was all very clandestine, sneaky and fun!  Then we were off to sleep ourselves.

Christmas morning the kids woke us up and we went downstairs together.  They eyed the presents excitedly but instead of ripping into them, Annika and James helped me sort the presents into piles for each person.  Then we took turns opening a present, one at a time.  It’s so fun to see their reactions to each gift as it is opened.  They’re so young yet that their faces will show you what they truly think of each gift.  Let’s just say some were hits and some were near misses.  Near miss meaning they at first weren’t overly excited by the gift but have turned out to play with those a lot.  After the gift storm was over we waited patiently as Kris made us all a delicious breakfast of Swedish pancakes.  Hmm.  I love those!  As soon as breakfast was over we hustled to get everyone dressed and the truck packed so we could go to Nana and Papa’s house for the day.

When we arrived there it didn’t take long for another gift storm to erupt.  The kids were completely spoiled (again).  They also got to play with their cousin Isak.  Annika and James really like Isak and they were excited to see him again.  We had a yummy lunch there, played all afternoon and then had a traditional dinner of lutefisk and Swedish meatballs.  I, uh, had meatballs.  Heh.  Annika passed on the lutefisk until I told her it was fish.  Then she reconsidered and Nana put about 2 tbsp of it on her plate and covered it with a bit of white sauce and butter.  Wouldn’t you know it but Annika ate her entire helping!  She really likes fish and I guess she thought that any fish would do.  I can hardly get her to eat a sweet potato french fry, a piece of white cheddar cheese or anything else out of the ordinary but lutefisk apparently she’ll eat.  Weird kid.  It was a great day though with Kris’ whole family.  And if you got Dale and Lona’s Christmas card this year you would already know the news of the family – Dusty and Melanie are having a baby!  We’re super excited and it’s still really early so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly for them.

Sunday, the day after Christmas, was yet another festive day for us.  We went to Gramme’s house at 1pm for pizza, dessert and gifts and were spoiled again.  You know?  It really doesn’t get old.  Ha!  The kids all adore Gramme and they had a fun time with their new gifts and the toys Gramme already has at her house.  We didn’t stay too long though as we didn’t want to expose Merv to too many germs.  He’s doing really well though and got another encouraging scan result today – the tumors are shrinking!  Damn cancer.  Anyway, after Gramme’s house we went to Grandpa and Marcia’s house for our final Christmas celebration.  We had a low key evening together playing some games and of course creating our fourth gift storm of the season.  We were all spoiled for the final time.  Well, almost final time.  Anyway, the kids had fun playing again with all the new toys they received.

Tuesday, in an effort to keep the kids from going stir crazy, I took Annika and James to Pump It Up for an hour and a half of running, shrieking, sliding, climbing, laughing and other rambunctious behavior.  Our neighbors Ryan and Erin and their little brother Charlie and of course their mother Maria joined us there.  The kids had so much fun!  I even got in on the act a couple of times.  I took Charlie down the big slide one time and Annika, James and I went down together, holding hands with me in the middle once too.  James also made me follow him through an obstacle course contraption once which used up just as much of my energy as it did him!

Yesterday, in a haste to spend some of our Christmas money and gift cards that we received, we headed out after Kris got home from work in the morning for a long day of shopping.  The first thing we bought was an iPod Touch for us.  We spent $25 out of pocket for it after finding a great sale price at Best Buy and using a gift card and some Christmas money.  Not bad!  We’ve had so much fun adding apps to it and playing around with it today.  We may just have to use the Target gift card we got to buy another one so Kris and I each have one!  The coolest thing yet though is that I was able to Tango (like Skype) with my brother tonight and see his face again!  Yes, I just saw it two days ago when I dropped him off at the airport but it is going to be so fantastic to see it basically whenever I want to now!!  Anyway, we also purchased a bunch of clothes for the kids and some new clothes for me too.  After a couple more returns and exchanges and we came home loaded with bags.  Phew!

Today other than a haircut for me and work for Kris, we didn’t leave the house.  That’s OK though because it’s been rainy and windy all day.  A lot of our snow has melted as a result.

Tomorrow is the last day of 2010.  The kids are excited because we are invited to Annika’s friend Elyse’s house for some play date/new year celebrating.  She could hardly wait for bedtime tonight knowing what tomorrow will bring.  Have a great New Year’s Eve everyone!


Firsts

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Time for another post! It’s amazing how quickly the days go by and the list of things I want to capture increases. What have we been doing? Well, a lot of firsts!

Saturday I threw Krystle her first baby shower. I had cute decorations for her and Gramme and I made sure there was lots of yummy food too. I think everything went well. Annika and James played very nicely upstairs during it all and as people were arriving I fed Levi his lunch and while they socialized a bit I put him down for a nap. He ended up napping through all the eating, games and present unwrapping. And then he woke up in time to join us in our socializing afterwards. What a perfect baby! Krystle got some really nice and cute things and I think she had a lovely afternoon.

Levi has been growing and learning so many new things lately too. He now knows how to clap! If you put your hand out, he’ll give you “five” over and over again and just a couple days ago he started clapping his own hands. It is so cute to watch him do that!

Monday night I took the kids to a “Happy Birthday Baby Jesus” party at church. We made crafts, listened to a story and had a cupcake with a candle and sang Happy Birthday. The kids loved it and had a great time! During a few of the crafts I needed to help them so I had to put Levi down on the floor. He would of course take off crawling over to something he shouldn’t have – scissors, glue, glitter, etc. He also would beeline it over to the two steps up to the old altar area. For the first time he crawled up those two steps! We have gates at home on the stairs so this was his first chance! Well, I’d say he’s mastered steps. He did those two steps with ease. When we visit other people’s homes, we’re going to have to be very careful around the steps because he’s probably going to want to try and scale them!

Levi is also starting to eat real people food. The other night we gave him some black beans and corn while we ate our burrito dinner. And last night I cut up a meatball into really tiny pieces so he could eat dinner with us. And I admit that he’s already been offered McDonald’s french fries (Tuesday when the kids and I stopped and had an ice cream treat because they were good in the store we were at). Levi still snacks on baby food, baby cereal, etc. but it’s fun watching him try to stuff his face with real food too!

So, McDonald’s. Tuesday I had an errand to run and lately the kids have been so squirrelly in stores. It’s like they get super board and then start feeding off one another. I told them if they were good in the store that we’d go to the McDonald’s that was next door and get an ice cream treat. Yes, I bribed my kids. Who was it really a treat for though? That McFlurry was good man! And it was our only chance that day for me to talk with the kids. I asked them what their favorite part of the day was, if anything went wrong or made them sad or angry and we talked about their days at school. This is usually what we do when we sit down to eat dinner but even on that night it was too hectic to do. On the way home James feel asleep so first I carried him in and set him on the couch. Then I brought in the baby who had also fallen asleep but of course woke up when I took him out of his car seat. Annika didn’t fall asleep and let herself out of the truck. At bedtime James was still asleep on the couch. I carefully took his coat, hat, shoes and mittens off and carried him upstairs. He’s getting so big but in that moment he was just my little boy, my baby, being carried up to bed. He snuggled his face into my neck and wrapped his arms around me. I could have held him for hours. Instead I brought him to the bathroom and then helped him get into bed, where I gave him a huge kiss and hug good night.

We’ve been super busy this month and have not yet done any of our activities in our advent envelopes. Annika is worried this means Christmas is going to be delayed. I assured her that we should catch up by doing multiple activities a day and that Christmas would happen on its regularly scheduled day. Tonight is the first night this week that we’ll be home and the first thing I’m going to do is put all the activities in the envelopes (I haven’t even gotten that far yet!) and then we’re going to open three of them and do the activities. Today’s activity is “Read Christmas books” and I’m so excited to spend an evening at home snuggled with my kids reading to them. I, and they, need the night at home I think.


Pictures

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I uploaded a bunch of new pictures last week.  Check those out if you haven’t already.

And since then I’ve taken a bunch more too.  Mind if I share?

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At just over seven months, Levi has decided that he likes standing.  I would like him to sit down.

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Annika and James had fun helping decorate the Christmas tree this year.  You’ll notice the handmade Angel topper that James made in Sunday school as well as the absence of decorations along the bottom.  That was of course done strategically for the mobile baby.

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Recently Annika made a fort and invited everyone in to enjoy.  And enjoy they did!

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Annika invited me down to the basement for a Thanksgiving meal last week.  She had set up the weight bench with food from her kitchen.  We put Levi in the doll highchair and “feasted” upon her lovely creation.  It was a very well balanced meal too, I must say.  We each had a piece of meat, a piece of fruit and two french fries.  Oh, and then we all got a dessert too.  It was so cute and fun!


Real Post

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I promised a real post yesterday and today I deliver.

There’s been a lot happening lately!  I’m pretty sure I neglected to tell you that a couple weeks ago Kris and I dropped the kids off at Dale and Shelly’s house and went out to dinner with Krystle, Pierce and Dad.  We had a great time at the Bloomington Chop House using our groupons and the kids had a great time at Dale and Shelly’s.  We don’t often leave Levi with anyone and unfortunately he let Shelly know just how ingrained his bedtime routine is.  He was a big pill for her when she tried to get him to go to sleep.  Annika and James though think Dale and Shelly are two of the greatest people on the earth (and they’re right!) and just love going over there.  They stayed the night and were pretty bummed when we arrived the next morning to pick them up.  Annika even let out an audible sigh and “No!”.

Since Levi is getting so big, I decided last week that instead of giving three kids separate baths (man, that takes so much time!) that I’d start combining baths.  Levi and James had their first bath together and they both thought it was fun!  A couple inches of water in the bottom of the tub with some bath toys and Levi was crawling around like a maniac going after all the floating toys.  James just laughed and tried to stop Levi from taking the toys he was playing with.  I even snapped some pics with their backs to me so I can see my two big boys playing together.  So sweet!  Annika was jealous and so a couple days later she got to take a bath with Levi too.  That won’t happen very often as I’ve started throwing her in the shower more and more.

And how was your Thanksgiving?  Our was wonderful!  We went to Krystle and Pierce’s house with was just perfect.  Annika, James and I went over there at noon as we were supposed to.  Kris stayed back with a sleeping Levi, waking him 45 minutes later in order to make dinner on time.  It was really nice to let Levi get a longer nap in.  Our dinner was delicious – everyone brought such great dishes to complement Krystle’s turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes.  The kids especially liked Marcia’s chocolate cheesecake.  As did I!  It was great that Pierce’s family could be there too.  Pierce’s nephew Nathan made a great playmate for Annika and James.  And that almost empty nursery provided the perfect spot to spin and dance and run and sing and just plain have fun.  It won’t be almost empty for long though!

On Black Friday instead of going shopping, I took Annika and James to the movies.  We saw Tangled with Annika’s friend Elyse and her family.  It was very cute that the girls needed to sit by each other in the movie theater.  And I love it when I can take the kids to the movies and share some popcorn with them.  They think it’s such a treat, as do I.  I thought the movie was really cute and I love the new stronger female roles the Disney movies are putting out now instead of the prince always rescuing the damsel in distress.  I guess I have a little feminism in me. :)   After the movie we rushed back home so we could continue our preparations for another Thanksgiving.

Saturday the Kris’s family came over for another Thanksgiving meal.  Instead of another turkey, Kris made a delicious pork roast with herb rub, lingonberry sauce, Pioneer Woman green beans and mashed potatoes.  Hmm, hmm, good.  We had great appetizers, desserts and side dishes brought by the family and had a really wonderful day together.  Kris and Adam made an IKEA run in the afternoon.  Kris bought some art supplies so he can start practicing his rosemaling.  Ever heard of it?  I’ll tell you more some other time.  We also broke out the games and played Apples to Apples, Creatology (Lego game), Texas Hold ‘Em and a couple others.  I love playing board and games so this was so fun! Although apparently I need to brush up on my poker skills.  As in, get some!  Annika and James had a great time playing with cousin Isak.  And both remarked on Sunday that Isak was so much fun to play with and they are really looking forward to Christmas when they can play with him again.  Isn’t that sweet?

Sunday was a busy, busy day.  I woke up and started working on baby shower stuff.  I’d tell you more but Krystle might be reading this and I want to surprise her a bit on Saturday!  Then the kids and I went to church, well, the older two and I went to church.  Levi was napping so I left he and Kris at home.  After church it was football (go Vikings!) and Christmas decorating and then back to baby shower prep.  That night the five of us went down to the basement and played Wii bowling together.  The kids are pretty good at that and it was fun to spend some time together without cleaning, TV shows or other distractions in place.  After one game of bowling I went upstairs to put Levi to bed then went back to the kitchen for more baby shower prep.  As I was standing at the stove I heard “Beat It” coming up from the basement.  Apparently Kris was on lead guitar and Annika and James were on drums.  Quite the family bonding time!

And here we are again for another week.  Last night I took the kids out in the cold to run some errands after Kris left for work.  Poor Levi just does not like the cold and wind and would stiffen up whenever a gust of wind would go by.  We hustled in and out of each store.  He was a good little baby though, sitting in the car all buckled in like a big boy and enjoying the ride.  Now if only I could get Annika and James to settle down in stores, stick close to me, stop fighting and making so much noise.  Maybe some day.  Like when they’re the parents.

Tonight we have dance class for Annika and a special visit!  My aunt Darleen is in town for a long weekend and we’re going to Dale and Shelly’s to visit.  I can’t wait!