It Has Been 17 Days

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It has been 17 days since my last confession, er, I mean post.  Sorry, that old catholic in me slips out from time to time.

 

Yeah, so it’s been a while.  Kris is bugging me again to post.  I have too much going on man!  I mean, really, it was November sweeps!  There was TV to watch!  (Unfortunately, that is not even a large exaggeration.)  Of course there has also been a ton of packing and stressing about the new house.  And there has been work and parenting and holidays and family gatherings like two bridal showers and so much going on!  So, let me take a deep breath and try to remember what my kids are doing these days so I can share them with you and write them down to keep forever here.

 

Annika is Star of the Week this week at school.  We printed 12 pictures yesterday for her to take to school today and share with her class.  And tomorrow Kris and I (after closing on the new house – yay!) will be joining her for lunch at her school.  I think she’s really excited about that.  She told me that she had to write down who she admired most at school and she put her mom (Yeah – that’s right!) and then asked what admire meant (oh, never mind).  I told her it was something you looked up to and wanted to be like and thought was a good person.  She just said oh and walked away.  (Hmm, maybe she wants to change her answer?)  Annika is turning into this sassy little monster girl and if anybody has any ideas on how to make her nice to her brother (James really, she still adores Levi), that would be great.  Argh, the fighting.  She just picks on him all the time.  James can barely say a word and she’s all over him to be quiet or go away or belittle his accomplishments (he writes like a baby…and he’s also 4 so shut it little girl!).  Kris and I are doing our fair share of discipline over this (time outs, talking to her about it, and okay I admit it – YELLING!).  She is still also a delight and giggles and laughs about silly things and is still learning at an awesome pace.  She still likes to cuddle in my lap and tell me about her day at bedtime.  She also wants an American Girl doll for Christmas.  And when Kris made the mistake of telling the kids we might not spend as much on Christmas this year because of the new house, smartypants Annika decided that was just fine.  She’d just ask Santa for the expensive American Girl doll then.  (Yes, she still believes.  I’m trying to keep this going as long as possible, OK?)  Instead, Kris and I conned my mother (Gramme) into buying it for her.  Heh.  Oh, I mean, Hi Gramme!  You’re the best!  Now I just have to figure out how to have Gramme give Annika her present before Christmas so Annika isn’t disappointed Christmas morning when there is no American Girl doll from Santa.  (Maybe a Christmas Eve family gathering???)  Whatever, we’ll figure it out.  I’m kind of ignoring Christmas until after we move and sell the old house and OH MY GOD THERE I GO FREAKING OUT AGAIN.  Annika has been so relaxed about this moving thing.  She asks some questions here and there but I think we’ve kept her well enough informed that when she asks where a toy is and I explain that it’s packed away there is no whining or anything.  She just accepts that and finds something else to play with.  I also found her twirling around with her arms outstretched in her new bedroom one time when we were visiting the new house.  I’m pretty sure there will be a “No Boys Allowed” sign taped to her door within 24 hours of us moving in.  She’s a good kid…except for that brother thing.

 

James is also a good kid.  He does like to bug his sister too but she’s definitely the instigator in the fights more than she is.  James is still growing his hair out so he can be like Dave Grohl (singer of the Foo Fighters).  He still looks more surfer boy with his blond hair than rock star but whatever.  Any mention of a trim or hair cut and you’ll hear a loud “no!” before you can even finish asking the question.  And he still wants to be a drummer so we’re looking to get a piano moved into our new house and some piano lessons are on the horizon too for the young man.  He is definitely going to be my musical child I think.  He loves watching the Sing Off with  me and he sings along in the car to the radio.  The other day he out of nowhere started singing “This Little Light of Mine” to Levi while they were playing, complete with the hand gestures.  He also loves to snuggle with him mother and tell me about his day.  But he’d probably rather play tickle monster and have me chase him through the house and then tackle him to the floor.  He’s usually giggling before he even has a chance to sprint away.   James was heartbroken the other week when I told him he couldn’t come with me to a bridal shower (Sit in a community center room with other ladies watching my cousin open presents?  James was in!).  He just wanted to come with his mommy.  So, I caved and said why don’t we invite Elyse and Liam over for a play date while Mommy’s gone!  Hi Kris – would you like 5 kids to take care of while I’m away in stead of the normal 3?  Super because that’s what I just promised James you’d do!  They were able to come and play and it worked out just fine.  Those 4 play pretty well together.  James asked yesterday if Levi was big enough to play football yet.  I said not really.  He can’t really throw or kick or anything yet.  And then I looked over to see them both standing on the couch with James hovering over Levi.  And that’s when I said, a bit louder, that Levi is too small for tackling.  No tackling your brother!  That was all he really wanted to know.  Can he tackle Levi yet?  Luckily (for him, me and Levi!) he listened to me and left his brother alone.

 

Levi is talking a little bit more!  Yay!  He has added woof, meow and moo to his repertoire.  He may be up to about 6 words now (mama, uh-oh and hi being his others).  He is still my little man of few words.  But seeing him try to make words is so much better than the stubborn little blank stare he used to give us.  What else is my baby doing?  Dancing.  He loves to dance and bop his head.  And he’s getting pretty good at his shape sorter toy.  And he makes truck noises when driving his trucks.  And he still loves to climb.  While making dinner last night he scaled some boxes and ended up four feet off the floor before I retrieved him.  He still loves bath time and if you say the word bath he will immediately head for the stairs intent on taking that bath right this instant.  He’s not afraid of the water one bit.  He lays down in the water with just his little itty bitty face sticking out and smiles like a fool.  And when I wash the soap out I stick him right under the faucet and let the water run over his head and a little onto his face.  He willingly puts his face in the water too.  And even after a hour hour of bath time he still fights me when I try to take him out.  The other night though?  When he pooped three times in the tub and I had to first fish him and then the toys out before I could go after and clean up after the, uh, gross stuff, well, I’d had it and when Kris arrived home told him he was on bath duty for the rest of that night.  I went and sat on the couch for a few minutes, free of motherly duties.  He is still my snuggle bug though.  I must hold him each morning (that I’m there), each evening when I arrive home from work and each night at bed time or he pitches a fit.  He’ll also demand to be picked up and snuggled at random times throughout the day too which can be frustrating (like when I’m trying to cook dinner or order pictures for Annika’s star of the week thing) but is also endearing.  Pretty soon this stage will be over so I try to stop and savor it as much as I can.  One of the things he likes to do when I’m sitting on the floor is push me over backwards and lay on top of me and give me a kiss and snuggle into me.  I let him do that as much as he wants!

 

Thanksgiving has come and gone.  We had a wonderful weekend filled with family.  Thanksgiving morning was perfect.  As they woke, all three kids snuggled into bed with us and I had my arms around all three of them at once.  I told them I was thankful for them and their dad and this perfect start to the day.  Annika said at school they had to write on a poster what they were thankful for and she wrote her friends and family.  James said he was thankful for presents.  Then he heard Annika’s answer and said he was thankful for family who give him presents.  I had to laugh at his four-year-old-ness.  We spent Thanksgiving day with Nana, Papa, Auntie Carrie, Uncle Adam, cousins Isak and Hans, Uncle Dusty, Auntie Melanie and cousin Mabel.  I got lots of baby snuggles in.  Annika and James had a wonderful time playing with Isak.  And we all enjoyed seeing everyone again.  The three older cousins (Annika, James and Isak) went home with Nana and Papa to spend the night.  The next day Kris, Levi and I met Carrie, Adam and Hans at Ikea for lunch and a little shopping.  Then we went to the farm and watched as the kids helped with chores.  James is such a farm kid, reveling in the feeding tasks given to him.  He knows exactly what to do, which scoop to use, how to turn the water on and off, etc.  I was so proud, watching him in action!  Then we all went into town to see the live Nativity scene and the small holidazzle-like parade.  It was a fun evening capped off with a yummy dinner.  Saturday we spent the afternoon and evening at Grandpa and Grandma Marcia’s house with Krystle, Pierce and Ayla.  There was lots of yummy food, some football (Go Gophers!) and finally a game of dominoes as requested by Annika and James.  Annika played by herself this time and James helped Grandpa play.  Both are pretty good at the game!

 

Yesterday we had our final walkthrough at the house while Gramme was at our house playing with the kids.  They were all so excited to see her and gave her big hugs.  It sounds like they all had a great time with her (watching part of a movie, playing hide and seek, etc.).

 

And now we’re getting down to the final days in our house.  We close on the new house tomorrow.  We move into the new  house on Saturday.  We close on the current house on the 9th.  It’s sad to say good bye to this house.  It’s been good to us.  But we’re also excited for the new house – bedrooms for all the kids, a playset in the backyard next spring, a fun sliding hill in the backyard, etc.  We’re going to like it there I think.  I hope.


Conferences and Playing

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Last night was James’ first school conference of the year.  I’ve been worried about James.  He still can’t pronounce his l’s and r’s very well.  And being the second child, has not received as much attention as Annika has for school readiness.  I haven’t sat down with him very often to count with him or recite his ABC’s or make sure he can identify each upper and lowercase letter.  So I was nervous for his school conference last night.  What if he was behind?  Should we be doing more?  Worry, worry, worry.  It’s what I do people!  Turns out I had not need to worry.  James is “advanced” in every category tested.  For his age he knocked every test out of the park.  Sure, he still forgets fifteen when counting from 1-20 but that’s normal.  And he sometimes forgets what X is or what Q says but that’s also normal.  He knows most of his letter sounds and his preschool teacher gave us a list of the first 50 sight words that they learn in Kindergarten because she thinks he’s ready to learn to read.  His gross motor skills are great (hopping, skipping, jumping, jump-roping even) and his fine motor skills are right on track.  His letters are still big when he writes them but that’s what they’ll work on in preschool this year – making sure his writing is more defined before he starts kindergarten next year.  I was so happy with his conference.  I have two above average students.  I’m so proud of my babies.

 

While Kris and I were at James’ conference, Gramme was over at our house playing with the kids.  She doesn’t like it being called babysitting.  She calls it playing.  And boy did the kids have a great time playing with Gramme!  They read books, played zookeeper (where the kids jump on Gramme – ummmm), watched some Strawberry Shortcake movie, colored, etc.  Annika had a whole series of activities planned (wonder where she gets that planning thing from!) for Gramme and was very upset when I disrupted her plans to announce that we had to all go to the new house to check it out and pick up more boxes from our new neighbors.  But Annika had plans!  I assured her we would resume the plans once we got back home.  Anyway, the new house looks great.  The carpet is in as is most of the trim.  They taped yesterday most of the house in order to do the touch up painting.  And they were still working outside last night when we got there at 5pm (in the dark) grading the dirt around the house.  They want the city inspection to happen soon because they want to put in the sprinkler system and sod yet this fall.  We’ll see if that happens but it’s so exciting to see it almost complete!  And when we arrived back home we did indeed resume Annika’s plans in order.  Eat dinner, watch movie.

 

Wednesday night Annika was holed up in her closet in her bedroom, complete with the closet door shut watching a movie on the iPod Touch.  It must be quiet and dark in there or something.  It’s probably also private.  Anyway, the boys and I were downstairs and while I watched some DVR’d shows from Tuesday, James and Levi played their little hearts out.  James was being so careful with Levi that my heart was bursting with pride.  The boys were running around the house with James chasing Levi, with James shouting “I’m gonna get you!” and “Here I come!” and Levi shrieking with laughter.  James would of course catch up to Levi and instead of bumping into him and knocking him down he would fall past him and onto the floor next to him.  Levi would then gut-laugh at James and the game would start all over again.  Every once in a while Levi would fall down or run into something and “get hurt.”  Then he’d come over to me fake-crying and I would kiss his “owie” and tell him he was all better and then he’d be off running around again.  At one point they each had a big truck that they were pushing around and making truck noises with each other.  I think he and James are going to be best buds.  After a while I made Annika put down the electronics and play with her brothers.  She got into the act too and she and Levi would hide from James  by putting the couch cushions into a teepee shape and hiding under them.  Levi thought that was great, until he decided he wanted to climb on the cushions instead and jump on them.  It was a noisy evening but it was also so great to see all three of them laughing and playing together.


Halloween, Check Up and House

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Ack!  It’s been two weeks since my last update.  My, how time does fly.  There are three big things I want to capture here today; Halloween, Levi’s 18th month well child check up and new house progress.

 

First up, Halloween.  Every Halloween has to begin with a visit to Great Grandpa!  After all, his birthday is on October 31st!  Sunday the 30th after church and lunch we drove down south to visit him.  Dusty, Mel and Mabel were able to join us along with Nana and Papa too.  Great Grandpa is looking really good and seems to enjoy it there now.  It was great to see him happy and smiling.  We got a couple cute pics of him with the kids and Kris showed him pictures of the house that Kris has uploaded to facebook.  It was a very nice afternoon.  Levi was especially interested in the birds there.  In the activity room is a large (think 6’ long by 6’ tall by 2’ wide) bird house.  Over and over again we had to go look at the birds.  He would laugh every time a bird would fly from one end to the other.

 

Great Grandpa with Annika, James, Levi and Mabel

 

 

Annika was an ice princess.  James was a clone trooper from Star Wars and Levi was Yoda (again) and also from Star Wars (of course).  We purchased Annika and James’ costumes at Target weeks before Halloween and took them out of the packages shortly after so the kids have been wearing their costumes for weeks as play clothes.  Why not, right?  Those things are expensive to only wear one night!  Annika was sold on her costume as soon as I said its name had princess in it.  She’s now decided that her new room will be pink and princess themed.  Is anyone surprised?  James specifically requested to be a Storm Trooper this year (he was Darth Vader last year) but Target didn’t have any of those.  He was fine being a clone trooper.  Even better was the big, white plastic fake toy gun (of Ryan’s) that he got to bring with him while we trick or treated.  That boy still loves to “pugh” things all the time.  And once again his costume had a big mask so in all the pictures I can’t see his cute little face.  We have a little tradition with Jeff and Maria and their kids to go trick-or-treating together and we kept that tradition alive this year.  Kris, the kids and I went to their house shortly after 5pm and we all ate pizza together and got all the kids dressed.  Then we sat them all down on the front step outside so we could get group pictures and family pictures.  Krystle and Pierce along with Gramme and Ayla joined us there so we got a cousin picture too.  And Jeff and Kari and Nellie were there too for the big group kid picture.  We started trick or treating shortly after 6pm and went down our traditional route (down Jeff and Maria’s street, down the little side street and back).  Just that little route usually results in a bucket full of candy.  It may not be a big route but it’s certainly sufficient!  About half way down the street Pierce and Krystle and Ayla bid us good night and went home.  Ayla goes to bed pretty early and so she was done for the night.  Annika and James had a great time with Ryan and Erin and Charlie running to each house.  I had the wagon with me to haul Levi in.  At first he was fine with this arrangement but then he wanted to join the big kids.  So at each house I got him out of the wagon and he ran up to the front door and each time without fail he would stop dead in his tracks about 4 feet from the front door and turn around and head back down the driveway to the wagon.  There was no way he was going to go up to any stranger, candy or not!  My baby still has a raging case of the stranger anxieties and Halloween night was no exception.  About halfway through Andrew and Isla caught up with us and joined us for the rest of the night.  It was also about this time that Annika and James had enough walking and wanted rides in the wagon from house to house.  Poor Gramme was helping me pull the wagon and got quite the workout pulling those two around!  At the end of the night we stopped by Katie and Andrew’s, Jeff and Kari’s, Joe and Wrinthia’s and Krystle and Pierce’s houses before calling it a night.  Kris had to leave about halfway down the first street to go to class so we didn’t have anybody at our house the whole night.  When we got home I turned our light on and got a dozen or so trick or treaters before turning the light off again at 8pm to get the kids in bed.  We had a ton of left over candy!  I’ve taken a few bags to work where my coworkers are happy to eat it and the kids and I have been munching on the rest at home.  It was a great Halloween.  The weather was perfect.  The company was perfect.  We couldn’t have asked for more.  And Maria and I are already planning Halloween for next year – will we come back to the old ‘hood or will they travel to our new one?  Either way I think we want to keep the tradition of trick or treating together going.

 

The Trick Or Treaters - Annika, James, Levi and Ayla

 

James and his big gun

 

 

Next up – Levi’s 18month well child check up.  Levi weighed in at 23 pounds, 13 ounces (22%), was 35.3 inches tall (98%) and has a head circumference of 18.2 inches (11%).  My baby is a tall, skinny peanut.  That’s easy to see just by looking at him.  Everything at the check up went smoothly.  He didn’t really appreciate the left ear cleaning he got so the doc could make sure his ear was clear but that was a minor bump in the road.  He let her listen to his heart and lungs.  He showed her his drawing skills by swiping the pen I was using to fill out forms to start scribbling.  He showed the age appropriate stranger anxiety.  And he tolerated his two shots (vaccinations) just fine too, only whimpering to show his displeasure.  I asked the doctor about his lack of words.  By 18 months he should have about a dozen or so.  He has two – mama and hi.  And he only says those if he feels like it.  She said he should have a language explosion in the next couple months but if he’s not talking yet by two then we can have an evaluation done.  He is communicating in other ways like grunting and pointing and some sign language.  He even made up his own sign last week.  He really likes to wash his hands so he started grunting and pointing to the sink and then rubbing his hands together.  And he signs for milk (which means drink or food depending on his mood) and waves bye and such.  And he can hear what I’m saying and follow simple directions so we’re not concerned that he isn’t hearing or understanding what we’re saying.  I don’t think it helps that he’s a bit stubborn.  Ask him to point out the dog or cat or horse in a book and he’ll simply grunt his displeasure and try to turn the page.  But if I make it a game, complete with boisterous clapping, for every correct response, he’ll point out a couple animals before becoming bored and demanding to move on.  I’m hoping that in a couple years I’ll look back on this post and laugh about how I wanted him to talk when at the moment all I want him to do is stop asking so many questions.  Until then though, I’m going to worry about my baby and his non-talking self.

 

And finally, a house update.  We close on our new house on November 29th and we close on our current house on December 9th.  We’ll have a week and a half to move from one to the other and get the current one cleaned up.  Perfect!  Our plan right now is to close on the new house and go over there and epoxy the garage floor.  That will need a few days to dry and cure.  Then on Friday Kris will go over to the new house with a load or two of items and wait while the cable/internet/phone is installed.  Then we’ll officially move over to the new house on Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.  That will give us the next week to finish moving smaller items over, unpacking at the new house and cleaning up the old one.  It’s an exciting time!  We’ve been packing almost every day.  Kris has taken apart beds and the entertainment center and the garage is getting full of boxes.  The new house is coming along quickly.  The cabinets, light fixture and tiling is all in.  The plumbing fixtures are in.  The appliances are almost all in (stove still needs to be delivered and the dryer and dishwasher still need to be installed).  There is some trim work left to do and the carpet is being installed tomorrow.  Touch up painting needs to be done as well as a thorough cleaning.  But they’re probably pretty close to being complete!  They’re still working on the soffits and fascias outside and may not get the pillars out front or the wood surrounding the windows painted this fall.  That may have to wait until spring.  But they are hoping to still put in the sprinkler system and lay sod yet this fall.  As long as the ground isn’t frozen, they can probably do that.  I guess we’ll see how much they can get done before the weather changes or the 29th gets here!  I took window measurements last Thursday and Sunday we went shopping for blinds.  I forgot how expensive they can get!  We may have to trickle those in as funds allow.  I’d rather get something we want to look at for the next 30 years rather than something cheap that I’m going to want to replace sooner rather than later.  If I have to have a sheet in the window for a month or two, oh well, right?

 

And now I’ve written over 1600 words on three events.  I think I’ve adequately covered them, don’t you think?  And now I’ll work hard again to not let it be another two weeks before my next update.  Well, as long as the move doesn’t completely consume me that is.