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Firsts. We’ve had a lot of firsts in our house lately. Last weekend I went away with five girlfriends to Michelle’s cabin for our second ever girls weekend. It was my first time separating from Levi overnight and I was gone for two nights. Levi did fine without me of course. It was great to get a break from normal life and responsibilities though and hang out with my friends. Saturday we drove up to Itasca State Park and went on an almost five mile hike. Then we drove up to the headwaters and saw the very beginning of the mighty Mississippi River. It was my first time at Itasca! Then we went back to Michelle’s cabin and showered/changed before going to Walker for dinner. After dinner we walked down to the docks and took in Leech Lake. It was my first time seeing gigantic Leech Lake! After dinner we played games until the wee hours of the morning. Sunday we packed up and came home. It was a very good weekend. Thanks Michelle for hosting!

Yesterday brought more firsts for us. Levi took his first bath in the kitchen sink. He was so covered with hummus and pizza from lunch that I stripped him down and put him in the sink. He thought that was hilarious and of course I grabbed my camera to document the fun occasion.

Yesterday I brought James and Levi with me to my dentist appointment. (My first at this new office!) The boys behaved really well. I almost started laughing when the hygientist was scraping my teeth and James leaned way over me so he could see what she was doing in my mouth. They hygientist was so patient and explained exactly what she was doing. The boys brought two small plastic spoons from the play area to the exam room and when James wasn’t investigating dentistry he was playing “swords” with Levi. Levi thought that was great and was laughing at his brother. If James stopped playing with him then he would squeal. Overall they were good during my appointment and both got stickers at the end.

Another first yesterday was it was Kris’ first day of the fall semester. He’s taking a four week Nursing Assistant class along with nutrition (online only) and physiology (online plus 2 nights/week). By the end of this semester he should have all the pre-reqs he needs to apply to the 2012 nursing program. His application is due by 2/1/12. Wish him luck that he gets in!

Annika went to Nana and Papa’s house on Friday to spend the weekend. That left Kris with only two kids to wrangle over the weekend. Then, with Kris’s nursing assistant class being during the day, we have Nana and our neighbor Maria lined up to watch the kids for us. Nana was going to watch them today (Tuesday) so instead of Annika coming home on Sunday, she stayed there. Last night Kris and I met Nana and Papa at our regular rendezvous point (McD’s in Farmington) and handed over our other two children. It was Levi’s first night away from home! I did better than I thought I would with that. I didn’t blubber once! Maybe it was being away from him this weekend or something. Nana is watching all three today and then Kris and I will meet them again tonight to get Levi back. Annika and James are going to stay down there the whole week! I hugged Annika like crazy last night since it had been days since I saw her last. And I’ll hug both her and James like crazy tonight since I won’t see them again until Friday! Friday we’re all driving down to Iowa to spend the weekend with Adam and Carrie and Isak and Hans for Hans’ baptism. Nana and Papa are going to drive Annika and James down there and Kris, Levi and I will meet them at the hotel Friday night. A whole week without my two older children! To some that might sound like paradise but I’m not quite there yet. I miss my kids! The house is way too quiet without them. Levi will probably be out of sorts this week with having them gone. We’re not sure who is going to watch Levi tomorrow as Maria is busy and Nana has to work. We’re working on that. And Maria will watch Levi on Thursday. Kris’ class is Mon-Thurs each week so he’ll be home on Friday with Levi getting us all packed up so we can take off as soon as I get home from work.

Nana texted me today that the kids had a good sleep last night and James was busy helping Papa get sawdust this morning while Annika played with Levi. I think Annika’s been missing Levi because she was all over him last night at McD’s giving him hugs and kisses.

Kris and I had a good night at home last night without the kids. It was date night at home! Well, a short date night since Kris didn’t get home until after 9:30 from school and I had to get to sleep to get up for work. We still enjoyed a glass of wine together. I’m a very lucky girl. Now, if only that nasty storm hadn’t woke me up and kept me up during the night!

Summer Fun in the Water

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Once again it has been forever since I updated here. You know it’s bad when Kris is reminding me to update! So, let’s recap what we’ve been up to. First, on the 6th of August we had Gramme’s family reunion. Great Grandma lives in Arizona now 10 months out of the year so instead of at Christmas, we get together during the summer as a whole family. Same as last year it was potluck at Great Aunt Sue’s house with time at a nearby lake swimming and boating. It was great to see everyone again and we got a really great picture of all the great grandbabies together. There has been a great-grandbaby explosion! There was at least 5 babies all under one year. Kris was down at Nana and Papa’s house for the weekend helping with horse stuff so Gramme drove with me to the reunion and helped me kid-wrangle. All three kids loved it in the water again. Annika went tubing with Great Aunt Sue and James went for a boat ride but not tubing. Levi loved playing on the beach and in the water and took a short nap in Gramme’s lap. I think this is a summer tradition the kids will look forward to!

The next day we did more boating. This time we met Grandpa and Marcia and Krystle, Pierce and Ayla at Lake Waconia beach for some fun in the sun. Kris was still at Nana and Papa’s house but luckily this time I had Grandpa and Marcia to help me kid wrangle. It took Levi a few minutes to adjust to the water and after that we couldn’t get him back out again! We left his baby life jacket on him and he would wade into the water and then roll onto his back and float there. Unfortunately he couldn’t roll back over and stand up so we had to help him up each time he was done floating. He also loved sitting on Marcia’s floating raft. He would sit on that like a king with a big grin on his face. James is my cautious child and even though I told him he could play in the water without his life jacket on, he was more comfortable keeping it on and played all afternoon that way. Annika is getting more adventurous and she took hers off and tried doing hand stands and front and back floats in the water. Or Marcia would toss her in the air and she’d splash down in the water. They were having a great time. We did take a couple boat rides too. The boat was beached right by us the whole time. Levi was pretty nervous the first time out. We made sure to go slowly for him and he eventually settled down and sat nicely on our lap, watching the other boats go by. He even got to sit on Grandpa Dan’s lap while he was driving. Uncle Pierce took Annika tubing one time and she giggled like crazy as usual. Then James and I went tubing together. Unfortunately we both went in the lake when the tube went under. James of course popped right with his life jacket on but he was still scared after that. I got him back on the tube though and we went for a nice, slow ride after that. Once back in the boat he told us he had fun but while out on the tube he was telling me how scared he was and that he wanted to get off. When I reassured him that we were just doing this for fun and that I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him then he settled down and enjoyed the slow ride. Hopefully as he grows he’ll mature out of some of this cautiousness. I don’t want him to miss out on fun things in life because he’s scared to try them.

After getting home from our day on the lake we found Daddy there waiting for us. Yay! And while he watched the kids I jumped in the shower quick and then we got right back in the truck and sped on down to the hospital to see our brand new niece! Mabel Maylea was born to Dusty and Melanie on Sunday August 7th. She’s a little peanut of a thing but absolutely adorable and we’re in love with her already. We haven’t been able to see her again since then but I’m hoping we can get a visit in tonight.

Do any of you watch Phinaes and Herb? No? How about your children? Do any of your kids watch it? It’s an animated kids show on the Disney channel and Annika and James have taken to it recently. One catch phrase from the show is “Cure you Perry the Platypus!” and last Friday night while cruising around Target (wasting time while we were having another showing – no takers yet but lots of showings!) they kept yelling that at each other and random objects in the store. Then they would bust out in giggles. Apparently not very many Target shoppers know the show or catch phrase either because we got quite a few strange looks. Oh well, I just giggled right along with them.

Speaking of cartoons, Annika has decided she’s about outgrown cartoons. She would now prefer to watch the Disney tween shows like Good Luck Charlie. I’m just waiting for Hannah Montana (or whoever is hot now) to take over our lives. How can my baby girl be getting so big!?! She’s also my snaggle toothed baby girl. She has four missing teeth right now and they’re spaced apart such that she has these weird looking mouth right now. She has one front tooth with gaps on either side and her two bottom middle teeth with gaps on both sides of those. She looks so funny!

Saturday we went to Mike and Sara’s twin girls’ first birthday party! I can’t believe they’re a year old already. They’re pretty cute (of course they are – little babies are always cute!) and had on adorable matching yellow dresses. The party had a Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Polar Bear, Polar Bear theme since those are the girls’ favorite books. Sara is the master party thrower because she had a kid table set up with paper and crayons and colored pencils and homemade playdoh with cookie cutters for the kids. That managed to keep my kids entertained for a long time. Otherwise they were running around the backyard with the other kids at the party. Mike and Sara have a pretty steep hill in their backyard and the kids thought it was fun to play at the very top of it. Then they’d come racing down as fast as they could. One time James couldn’t go any faster and ended up tumbling the last few feet head over heels. He hurt his knee somehow while falling and couldn’t put much pressure on it for a few minutes. Even the next day he’d limp every now and then. He hasn’t complained about any pain since so I’m hoping he just jammed it a little bit rather than injuring himself. Levi thought he was a big boy though and had to go play with the big kids too so he’d climb to the top of the hill and carefully walk back down and run around with them. After leaving the party (Levi needed a nap!) we drove to a Sprint store and splurged on toys for Kris and I. We upgraded our standard flip phones to smart phones. We each got an HTC Evo 4G plus the associated data plan. It’s our first time with a texting and data plan! We feel so fancy now. Then we went home, fed the kids dinner and played with our new phones all night. I’m still figuring mine out and need to download some apps still to make using it more functional and easier. It’s so nice though to have my e-mail and our family calendar with me at all times though!

Sunday we went boating again. I could get used to that! We met Grandpa Dan, Marcia, Krystle, Pierce and Ayla back out at Lake Waconia beach for another fun afternoon. This time Kris could come with us. Annika and I went tubing. Annika and Kris went tubing. James refused (very politely) to go tubing. He is so cute. We would ask him if he wanted to go and he would say no, thank you or no, I’m going to let Daddy have a turn all by himself. Levi also enjoyed the boat more this time and even fell asleep the second time out and got a good snooze in lying on the beach. He also adored the water again as I expected. So did Annika and James. After we were done at the beach we went to Grandpa Dan and Marcia’s house for a pizza dinner before heading home to put our tired kids to bed.

Yesterday after dentist appointments, Kris and the kids came down and had lunch with me. It’s no surprise to any of you that I had to clean Wendy’s Frosty and Avocado Ranch dressing off my jacket before returning to work, right? Silly little munchkin baby and his dirty hands! Then, while I slaved away (ha!) they went to the Como zoo with Jon, Acer and Tilia. Jealous! Annika’s been asking to go to that zoo almost all summer. They do have different animals than the Minnesota zoo so it’s a nice treat for them.

Today we meet with our builder to hopefully extend our contingent contract (still no offer…are you sure you don’t want to buy my house?) and tomorrow we’re hoping to visit Mabel (and Dusty and Melanie too of course).

Monday Kris starts fall classes and in only a couple weeks the kids go back to school. Summer is almost over!

Summer Fun

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Another week has passed by quickly. Last Thursday Annika had her last day of soccer (mornings) and t-ball (evenings). When I told her on Wednesday that it was her last day the next day she cheered. She was tired of all the running. I think this super hot summer has caught up with her. Of course she runs around the backyard and with the neighbors like a crazy girl but that always allows her to run to the shade for a breather whenever she wants. Not so much on the completely unshaded soccer field at 100 degrees! She did enjoy both though I think and we’ll have to see what she requests to do next summer. Her last night of t-ball was pretty fun too. They kids each batted/fielded for one inning like usual. Then the second inning they had the parents shadow their kids on the field and up to bat. Annika and I raced to each base and it was fun to play at the pitcher position with her. I was able to let my inner coach out and yell (figuratively of course) at her to show me she’s ready and pay attention and go get the ball, throw it to first, throw it to first, THROW IT TO FIRST HURRY! Kris had to work so I had the boys with me too and while I was “playing” t-ball I had Levi strapped down in the stroller and up against the fence so I could keep an eye on him and James. It actually worked out OK but I was envisioning tipped over strollers, screaming Levi’s and wandering James’. Oy. During the half of the third inning that they played before our time was up, James played with Annika. He shadowed her at short stop and had fun too. I saw him giving the coach some high fives and crouching down to ready position and stuff. I’m sure he’ll want to do t-ball next summer.

Remember how I said last week that we had a busy weekend coming up? Well, we certainly did! Friday night was our traditional “Last Friday of the Month Neighborhood Bonfire.” Jeff and Maria and the kids, Katie and Andrew and Isla, Krista and Scott and the kids were all able to come over. We had s’mores which of course the kids loved. The kids drug over the small, plastic play structures from the two neighbor’s houses and they climbed all over them for a few hours. Then they played chase and tag and “let’s torture this poor frog we managed to catch” and lots of other fun, traditional summer kids games. I love seeing my kids run around outside barefoot in the grass. It’s just the idyllic picture of childhood, isn’t it? The running around stopped though when it got dark out and Annika and Ryan ran headfirst into each other while running around the corner of the house. Ryan’s lucky he didn’t end up with a shiner out of that one. Oh, and it is always so fun to see the girls running around holding hands. Annika has really made some great little friends. It was a fun night, ended by an inappropriate joke by Kris. Funny, but inappropriate. Hee.

Saturday morning saw us up bright and early so we could gather what we needed for the day (a truckload!) and head south. We had big plans! In the morning we had a baby shower for Auntie Melanie and Uncle Dusty. Their daughter should be making her appearance any time now! The shower turned out great and I was so happy that so many of our family were able to be there. Many were up for the family reunion we had that afternoon so it was good timing to do both in one day I think! Dusty and Mel received some really great gifts and we’re all so excited to add another girl cousin to that side of the family (Annika is the only one and is really excited to have a another girl on that side). Annika is already talking about the baby as if she’s already here, using her name and everything.

Saturday afternoon was the Berg family reunion. Nana had first cousins come from all over the United States plus London to attend the reunion. It was so great to see everyone again. Some of the resemblances amongst family remembers are remarkable! The kids loved it because Isak was there and they love playing with Isak. Annika even told me that she doesn’t just like Isak, she loves him! Isn’t that sweet? They also had a great time because the reunion was across the road from Nana and Papa’s house at Nana’s brother’s house and they have a pool in their back yard. It’s one of those Intek 4′ deep above ground pools. They kids could not have had more fun in it. It made me a little nervous because the pool is up on a wood platform so the platform plus the depth of the pool meant I couldn’t see them in it unless I was on the platform overlooking or standing and counting bobbing heads. Let’s just say that they both kept their life jackets on the whole time. Annika could touch and would be slightly above the water but James would not have been. They had a great time though. And Nana had lots of games for the adults and kids to play and I think everyone had a great time. After the reunion was over we all went back to Nana and Papa’s house for some down time and discussion. One of the discussion points was around the horses and the need to find new home for a few of them. Annika, being old enough to hear and understand, was upset by the outcome of the discussion. Goldie, one of her beloved horses, was on the list to find a new home. Monday while we were preparing dinner Annika had a good cry about losing “her” horse. We talked about it and how no one is able to ride Goldie and love Goldie they way she deserves and this new home will have that for her. This is a good thing for the horse but of course it still made Annika sad. It makes us all sad to have to give away a beloved horse but it’s for the best we think. Anyway, while trying to talk with Annika Kris offered to get her another dog when we move into the new house. When she said no to that he offered to get her a cat. Did you hear me people? He offered to get her a cat! Annika has continuously lamented the fact that we “gave away” her cat (Tigger) to Uncle Mathias (it doesn’t matter that Tigger doesn’t like kids and tried to bite and scratch them and absolutely LOVES living with Uncle Mathias) and has always asked for a new one. I’ve even asked Kris if we should get a new one and he’s always, ALWAYS vehemently said no. The fact that he offered his crying daughter a new cat just shows me #1 how much a softie he is around her and #2 how much it upset him too that it was time to find new homes for some of the horses. Anyway, we didn’t get home from their house until very late which meant the kids were up way past their bedtimes. Let’s just say Levi was not the most pleasant of little people to be around on Sunday. Poor baby.

Speaking of Sunday, once again we were off on the go. Sunday was Brianna and Katie’s annual birthday playdate. The kids were excited to go and while in hindsight I should have left Levi at home to get a good, long nap in, instead I brought him with and gave Kris the “afternoon off.” Well, Levi continuously melted down that afternoon after only sleeping a half hour in the truck on the way there. The other two had a good time though playing in the water and eating snacks. After a while though my daughter had enough of the mud (the super fun water slide/car wash/slip ‘n slide had created quite the mud pit by the end of the day) and I’d had enough of Levi’s tantrums that we left after 2.5 hours of play time. I guess that’s not too early but I felt like I was leaving before everyone else and I wanted more time to just sit with my friends and enjoy their company instead of listening to crying toddlers and complaining kids! Ah well, we were home in time to have dinner with Kris and just hang out the rest of the night. It was good to be at home for a little while.

Tuesday night our neighborhood celebrated Night to Unite by having a small gathering behind our neighbor’s house. We had ice cream and icees for the kids and two police cars and a big fire engine came by too. The kids loved that and got to climb inside all the vehicles. I even got them to pose for a nice picture by the fire truck. By our neighbors house was a kiddie pool with a couple inches of water in the bottom and no less than two frogs and a salamander. Those poor animals. All the neighborhood kids had a great time “playing” with them the rest of the evening. By 8pm Levi was melting again so I said good-bye and bring all three kids home so I could get him to bed. That boy needs his sleep!

Wednesday Levi woke up with a super runny nose. Guess what? His last two molars are on their way! His right side molars are in. His left side upper and lower molars are now about ready to poke through. He has been terribly crabby lately and at his 15 month well child visit on Wednesday the pediatrician confirmed the molar question by giving his mouth a good examination. Levi’s official 15 month stats are: weight = 23 pounds, 3 ounces (29th percentile), height = 33.6 inches (97th percentile) and his head circumference is still at the 12th percentile. He is still tall and skinny for his age! Everything else about him is perfect and on track. The pediatrician is happy that he’s on whole milk and off the bottle and that he’s starting to form words (mama, uh-oh, dada) and can point to what he wants. No words needed! (Oh, and of course it dawns on us after the fact that some of the crabbiness we’ve had from Levi that past week was probably his teeth now that his nose is running like a faucet and he sometimes has a low grade temp and his gums look like they’re about to burst…)

James has been saying and doing the cutest things lately. But do you think I can remember them when I sit down to write? NO. I just called Kris to get the this one right. Oh My Heavens. That’s what he says! Instead of what the hell or that type of questioning we get oh my heavens instead. It is so cute! And I’ve noticed him using bigger words lately to convey his thoughts. He used appropriate and something else the other day in the correct context. It was in the heat of the moment too because his sister (of course) was bossing him around and being naughty and he yelled back at her and then to me with rising indignation and he used these big words in his argument and it was like an automatic win for him regardless of whether he was in the right or not. James + big words + correct context = automatic win. I couldn’t help it and almost gave him a bear hug right then and there. He starts his second year of preschool in a few weeks and I’m so excited to see him blossom this year even more. He has just grown up so much this summer I think. He is certainly not my little boy anymore.

This weekend proves to be another busy one for us. Tonight we have errands to run. Tomorrow we have one, maybe two family reunions and Sunday we have a planned outing with Grandpa and Marcia on their boat along with Krystle, Pierce and Ayla. Summer…it just never slows down, does it?