It has been a very busy few weeks. Christmas and New Years has come and gone and you’d think with almost two weeks off work that I’d have time for a post or two. Guess not, huh? Because I don’t feel like I spent a lot of time just sitting around! This may be a marathon post if I put in all the details so I guess we’ll see but here is a bulleted list of all the fun things we’ve done in the past few weeks:
• We closed on our old house on Friday, December 23rd
• We went to Erin’s birthday party on Friday night, December 23rd
• We celebrated Christmas with Nana, Papa, Carrie, Adam, Isak, Hans, Dusty, Melanie and Mabel on Saturday, December 24th
• We celebrated Christmas with Gramme, Krystle, Pierce and Ayla on Sunday, December 25th
• We celebrated Christmas with Grandpa and Grandma on Monday, December 26th
• We had a playdate with Ryan, Erin and Charlie at our house on Tuesday, December 27th
• We cleaned the house and caught our breath at home on Wednesday, December 28th
• We had a nice visit at our house with Are, Jessie, Mia and Vanja on Thursday, December 29th
• Krystle, Gramme, Annika and I had manicures and pedicures on Friday, December 30th
• We hosted game night in our new house for the first time on Friday, December 30th
• We celebrated at Nick and Lindsay’s wedding with Gramme watching the 4 grandchildren (and 2 granddogs) overnight on Saturday, December 31st
• We celebrated at Grant’s graduation party on Sunday, January 1st
• We had a nice visit at our house with Nana and Papa on Monday, January 2nd
Do you see that? We’ve had 1 day without plans in the last 12 days! No wonder I’m exhausted and sick. I couldn’t call in sick to work on my first day back after an extended break though so I toughed it out at work today. Hopefully I can get to bed on time tonight so I can get some decent rest. Now, let’s walk through each of those fun things above and talk about them in more detail!
We were scheduled to close on the old house on Thursday, December 22nd. All five of us plus the buyers and their 21 month old son sat at the title company office for almost three hours that afternoon. And we left with us still owning the house! It was frustrating but while all of our paperwork was there and signed, the buyers lender was having issues with their computer system and couldn’t get the paperwork to export from their system and sent over to the title company. So we all left frustrated. We got an e-mail around 1:20pm the next day saying the paperwork was ready and we’d close at 2:30pm. We all converged back on the title company office for another hour but this time left with signed paperwork and an officially closed house. We handed over the keys and garage door openers and then ran out of there to get to Erin’s party on time.
Party! Erin turned 6 on the 23rd and we were invited to their house to have dinner and dessert with them. The kids were so excited! It had been a while since they had played together and as soon as we walked in Annika and James had run off to play with their friends. Maria had made us a very good dinner and when Erin opened her gifts from us she seemed to like them. Maria said she had spread them both out the next day across the kitchen table and was having a blast with them. The kids were sad to leave and we had already set a date for a playdate the next week. Maria gave each of the kids little goodie bags and the boys’ bags included Hex Bugs. Levi really likes his Hex Bug. He likes to put it in his mouth (of course) and let the bug vibrate on his teeth. He also loves to put his Hex Bug on the floor and then squeal when it comes near him. He loves it. We sang happy birthday to Erin, enjoyed her ice cream cake and then we had to go soon after that to get the kids home and in bed. I don’t like having to drive to their house. Boo for being so far away!
On Saturday the 24th we gathered up the kids, the presents, the food, the fancy clothes and the dog and went down to Nana and Papa’s house. We were the first ones there and Annika and Nana had a nice time playing with paper dolls. James and Levi had fun playing with the trucks and tractors in the office. We tried to get Levi to take a nap and he did take a short one in the pack ‘n play. Mid afternoon Dusty, Mel and Mabel joined us and shortly after that Carrie, Adam, Hans and Isak arrived via train from North Dakota. James had fun tracking the train online with Papa. When they arrived we said hello quickly and then all changed so we could get to church on time. Nana and Papa were singing in the choir so Carrie, Dusty and our families sat in a pew together with Aunt Anita. Uncle Jim was the pastor that day and it was nice to hear him preach and to sit with Aunt Anita. Levi has a hard time sitting still during an hour long church service so we sent him up and down the aisle to spend time with all the adults. At least it gave me a break from trying to entertain him and keep him quiet. When we got home from church, we finished getting dinner ready and then all sat down to eat together. It was a lovely and ethnic meal! We had lutefisk and Swedish meatballs along with the mashed potatoes and white sauce. The kids all love Swedish meatballs! No comment on the lutefisk… Everything was delicious though, especially the almond bread I had for dessert! All that was left was presents! We had a hard time keeping the kids under control. They just wanted to rip into all the presents all at the same time. I’m not sure who gave what to each kid but I do know that they love all the gifts they received. Books, trucks, keyboards, pajamas, etc. have all been read and played with and loved. Isak was funny. He’s two and has the patience of a 2 year old and would just start ripping into something. We had to ask him a couple times to wait and you could just see it was torture for him! After all the wrapping paper had been cleared away we put the new Christmas pajamas on all six grandchildren, lined them up on the couch and pleaded with them to smile so we could get a picture. This is the best picture I got: (It’s not too bad!)
Christmas morning the kids let us sleep in until about 7:30am. We left Levi to sleep more and sat down to open presents with Annika and James. Annika stated matter-of-factly upfront that the package from Santa was not big enough to be an American Girl doll like she requested at the top of her list to Santa. She didn’t seem overly disappointed so we just rolled with it. We left the Santa presents for last and had the two of them take turns opening their gifts from us. Their reactions are so funny sometimes. Annika opened her new roller skates and simply said “But I already have roller skates.” I asked if they fit her anymore and she said she didn’t think so and then the light bulb went off that hey, these might fit her and there ya go, a good gift. James showed the proper amount of delight over each gift, even when unsure what that gift actually was. Twister? What is this Twister game you gave me? After an explanation and later, an actual game of it, he liked it more. Annika looked puzzled at her new purple dress, wondering if it was a shirt or a dress. I told her it was a short dress that she could wear with leggings and that it was made by the same company as one of her favorite blue short-sleeve shirts. Then she was on board and has worn it at least three times since then. Levi woke up just as Annika and James were finishing their presents from us so we made time for Levi to sit down and open his presents too. He’s too young this year to really understand what’s going on and wasn’t much interested in opening his gifts. I helped him out to hurry us along a little bit. Then it was time for Santa! Annika opened hers and while it was indeed not the American Girl doll she hoped for, it was a Rapunzel dress-up dress. And guess what – it was also on her Christmas list to Santa! Well, what do you know?! James thought his monster remote control truck was cool and big which is just what he wanted and Levi thought his new Little People train was cool although James commandeered it and played with it more than Levi did those first couple days. It wasn’t too long that they were able to play and then I was hustling them to their rooms to get dressed.
We spent Christmas Day with Gramme, Krystle, Pierce and Ayla at Gramme’s house. We arrived at 10am to a beautiful brunch laid out with the good china in Gramme’s formal living room. We like to get fancy on Christmas! All of the food was so, so good as were the mimosas! The kids were anxious to open presents so after the dishes were cleared we sat down in the living room and Annika handed out the gifts to everyone. We were all spoiled rotten as usual but Annika was spoiled the most. Gramme gave her the coveted American Girl doll that Annika had been asking for. Annika got real quiet when she opened it so we couldn’t tell right away how excited she was. It wasn’t the exact doll she asked for (Kit) but it was one that looked like her. Annika gets self-conscious with all the attention on her and withdraws and that’s what she was doing here. She loved it though. She even got another outfit for her doll from Krystle and Pierce and Ayla that she loves. Emily (she’s named the doll Emily) has a special place in her room where she sleeps and she travels around the house with Annika to participate in most of Annika’s play. Annika loves her so much. James received a water gun which will be great fun this summer. Levi received a zoo duplo set from both Gramme and Krystle and Pierce and Ayla. Fortunately they were complementary sets which was great and are a fun addition to our Duplo stash. Kris received a nice book and game and I got a red vest and a sewing machine. I have made my first sewing project, a blanket for Emily, and didn’t do too terribly bad for my first sewing experience in probably 20 years! We spent the afternoon with Gramme before heading home for the evening. It was a really nice day.
We had one more Christmas celebration. The day after Christmas we went to Grandpa and Grandma’s house for a delicious meal at noon. Turkey, salad, potatoes, appetizers, wine…I could go on. It was all so good. Once again after eating we convened in the living room and doled out the presents. Annika was being awful – she could only find one gift under the tree with her name on it and she was acting like a spoiled princess because one present wasn’t enough for her. I hope this is a phase and that the gratitude lessons I try to instill in her will take hold. I had some harsh words for her in private letting her know I was disappointed. I hope to not see a repeat performance of that behavior. What she didn’t know was that Grandpa and Grandma had bean bags for all three kids and because they are big and difficult to wrap, they had hid them in the basement. When Grandpa came to the living room with them at first the kids didn’t really know what they were. It didn’t take long for them to jump on them and starting playing with them. We now have bean bag chair games in the loft at our house. I just have to keep an eye on them because James tried to roll down the stairs on his bag one time and then Levi the mimic thought he should try it too. Ugh. Anyway, Grandpa and Grandma were very generous and gave us a gift card for trees and shrubs for our house this spring. I already can’t wait to break ground. We played a couple games and then it was time once again to head for home. Annika always asks now if we can play dominoes when we go to their house. She plays on her own and is getting better and better at it. It’s so fun to include the kids in our games now! James plays on Grandpa’s team. I bet in a couple years he’ll be playing solo too.
We didn’t slow down the next day. We invited our old neighbors Ryan, Erin and Charlie over for a play date. The kids were excited to see each other and spent the first 20 minutes running and screaming through the house. As usual they calmed down and played so well together for 2-3 hours. It was nice to visit with Maria while they played. I don’t see her much anymore!
The Wednesday of Christmas week was our only day with no plans. We cleaned up around the house and relaxed. It’s nice to have those days every once in a while.
Thursday Are, Jessie, Mia and Vanja came over for a visit. They came over from Norway for a visit with family and friends over the Christmas holiday and we were so excited they could fit us into their schedule. Are brought Kris another bottle of Aquavit. Our last one was gone (sadly – heh) so Are needed to replenish us. Man, that stuff is awful but it’s kind of a long-running joke now that whenever Are comes to visit he brings Kris a bottle. Annika was being an ungracious host which was again making me mad. We had just cleaned up her room and she was upset that the girls were dumping out the Barbie and Polly Pocket stuff and mixing them together and making a mess. Um, isn’t that exactly what you’re supposed to do on a playdate? I assured her we’d clean it back up again after they left but to just enjoy the girls while they’re here. Jessie and I talked about the girls and activities and even though they are in a completely different country we have surprisingly similar routines and opinions on priorities for our children. Some things are just universal, aren’t they?
Friday of that holiday week was a big day for Annika. Thanks to a couple groupons Krystle and I purchased, Annika, Gramme, Krystle and I went to have manicures and pedicures that afternoon. We went to a small salon in St. Louis Park where they had 2 pedicure chairs and 2 manicure stations. Basically we had the whole place to ourselves for the majority of our visit. Annika and I had pedicures first. Annika’s still so little (except, not really, of course) that her little legs didn’t reach very far into the water. And she couldn’t sit back in the chair and feel the massage feature. But I think she liked it anyway. She chose an electric blue color for her toes. Then we moved to the manicure stations while Krystle and Gramme moved to the pedicure chairs. Annika was a polite, shy little girl and did whatever the technicians asked her to do. At first when they would ask her to do something she would look at me for approval and I would tell her to listen to them. She got the hang of it though and had pretty pink nails at the end of the manicure. Gramme just about didn’t make it through her pedicure though. Gramme has notoriously ticklish feet. She was fine with most of the massage but when the pumice stone came out she turned into a giggle monster. She had to ask the technician to stop a couple times so she could regain some composure. Of course Krystle and I just laughed along with her. It was entertaining to say the least!
Before we left for our spa afternoon though we welcomed Uncle Mathias home. He drove straight through from his home in Texas and arrived at our house about 11:30am. He was tired (of course – it’s a 24 hour drive!) but we were excited to see him! He brought his boxer puppy, Dakota, with him and Dakota and Dagur had a blast chasing each other around the house and playing. It was like father and daughter, the two dogs looked so similar!
Why was Mathias in town? Because we had two family weddings to celebrate! First up was Nick and Lindsay’s New Year’s Eve wedding. We put on our fancy clothes that Saturday to go to the wedding. The wedding was beautiful and the reception location was very nice. It was at a golf course and reminded Kris and I of our own wedding. During the social hour we tried to keep the kids entertained with snacks and a movie because there wasn’t any room really for them to run or play. This worked fairly well. I was mortified when Levi and my cousin’s son (also 1) were standing looking at each other, sizing each other up and then Levi takes both hands and pushes the little boy in his chest, knocking him to the ground. I immediately reprimanded Levi (no push, etc.) and my cousin Angie picked up her little boy. He has an older brother and is use to such rough treatment so he wasn’t phased at all by the shove but I still felt awful and apologized several times. What a bully my kid is! I think we need more playdates stat to properly civilize this child! Ugh. It wasn’t long after that though that the ballroom opened and we could sit at our tables. It was way past the kids’ regular dinner time and they were hungry and getting squirelly. We strapped Levi into his high chair the first chance he gave us (without screaming) and tried to keep him entertained. Dinner arrived and we finally had some occupied kids for a little bit. Dinner was delicious and not long after it was time for the kids to go home. Gramme drove down and picked up all 4 kids (Annika, James, Levi, Ayla) and brought them back to her house for the night. She also had our Dagur and Dakota. Brave woman! This meant we were free to party the rest of the evening and party we did! Krystle and I danced most of the night and Kris was out there with me too at times. We had a great night.
The next day we got to Gramme’s house just before noon the next day with low in tow. We had even more partying to do. This time it was my cousin Grant’s graduation party at my aunt and uncle’s house. Dave, Darleen, Evan and Grant had come up for the wedding from North Carolina. It was so fun to see them all again! So we picked up the kids from Gramme’s and went to the graduation party for a few hours. There are no little kids at that house any more so we had to keep a pretty good eye on Levi. Annika enjoyed the many treats available. And James snuggled up on Aunt Darleen’s lap for a good 20 minutes and told her all about his life. She is of course smitten with James now and can’t believe he just snuggled up with her for so long. He looked at her at the end of their snuggle time and said “I’m done with your lap now” and then hopped down. My precious boy. I may need to ensure he and I have more snuggle time together. Levi was working on minimal nap so we didn’t stay too long before we went back to Gramme’s to pick up Dagur and then head home.
I was fortunate enough to have one more day of vacation before I needed to report back to work. That Monday, the 2nd was a relaxing day at home for us. Nana and Papa came to visit that evening which the kids were excited about. I wasn’t feeling 100% so I spent some of the afternoon on the couch resting.
And that was our full and fun Christmas break. Now we’re back to normal life and routines. School. Homework. Playdates. Kris applies for nursing school soon (by Feb. 1st) so please keep your fingers crossed for us that he gets in!