Whirlwind

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This past weekend was a whirlwind of activity!  It started Thursday night when Annika and James stayed up late so they could go with me to the airport to pick up Gramme.  Annika declared it “the best day ever” because they had soccer in the morning and Elyse and Liam were going to come over and go with then they had more play time in the afternoon with Elyse and Liam then that night we had t-ball (James’ first of the season) which meant Annika got to play at the adjourning playground and then she got to stay up late and go get Gramme.  It just may have been Annika’s best day ever.  It wasn’t so bad for the rest of us either!  It was really great to see Gramme again – for all of us.

 

Friday while I was at work, Gramme was at our house with Kris and the kids.  We didn’t have any activities planned for that day so Gramme and the kids had a whole day to be together.  Kris used this time to work on some landscaping outside.  When I got home that afternoon the kids told me all about their day.  They played squinkies, cards, went on a trip to Target and did tons of other fun things with Gramme.  That night while Kris was at work the kids and I drove Gramme out to her friends John and Donna’s house to pick up her truck.  It was being stored there while she was in Florida.  We stopped at Dairy Queen on the way and ate some Dilly Bars and ice cream cones.  I shared a Dilly Bar with Levi.  He devoured that thing so fast!  He did let me get a few bites in but it was 75% Levi and 25% Mommy on that one.  And when our treat was done he slid over next to Gramme and “helped” her finish her treat too.  Then when that treat was done, Levi crawled up to sit by Annika and looked up at her adoringly.  So adoringly that she just had to share her ice cream with him too!  Luckily James finished his or he would have been next.  As it was, James was the only person who didn’t have to share his treat!  While at John and Donna’s house we chatted for a bit.  Gramme needed to do some catching up with her friends after all.  I went outside with the kids and let them run around when they started getting rambunctious inside.  There was a playset with swings and monkey bars outside so Annika and James were set.  Levi though had his eyes set on something else.  A 4-wheeler.  It was just sitting there innocently in the yard.  And Levi was so enthralled with it that he just had to climb on it and pretend to drive it.  Over and over and over again.  When the others came outside and we were getting ready to leave John offered to give Levi a ride on it.  I was worried that Levi would be scared and he jumped a bit when John started the 4-wheeler but I needn’t have worried.  Levi loved every second of it.  After making a circle of the yard, John stopped by us and asked Annika and James if they wanted a ride.  Being bashful, both said no.  John asked Levi is he wanted to go again and never having actually gotten down from the 4-wheeler he simply nodded his head and he and John took off for another lap.  That was one happy little boy!  He totally loves construction vehicles and big trucks right now so this was right in his wheelhouse.  Every time a semi or other big truck is seen while driving, we hear a big “Whoa!” coming from his car seat.  He is so adorable.

 

Gramme stayed with us again Friday night because Saturday morning we had to get up early and head out for the Heartbeat 5000 5k.  Gramme, the kids and I met the rest of Erin’s Cardiac Crew about 8:15am so we could get a team picture taken.  Krystle, Pierce and Ayla joined us as did some other neighbors and family members of Erin.  Maria said there was about 45 members.  After the team picture Annika and James ran in the age 5-9 kids run.  They ran their little hearts out and received a goodie-bag of prizes at the end.  Then it was the 5 and under kids run.  I ran with Levi in that one.  Levi was so excited to run with the kids even if he did peter out about 3 yards from the finish and I had to scoop him up and carry him to his goodie-bag.  Then it was time for the 5k to start.  With that many people there (around 3000 participating) it was hard to find everyone from Erin’s team to start the walk together.  We kind of ebbed and flowed with some in front of us, some in back of us and that changing from time to time.  We caught up with most of them at the water stop just after the 1 mile mark.  At least Krystle and Pierce and Ayla stayed with us the whole time.  With about 3/4 of a mile left I asked Annika if she wanted to run it in with me.  She declined but James said “I do!” so he and I took off and ran.  He had to stop to take a  couple of walk breaks but he overall did a great job running with me.  He does have to learn some running etiquette like no cutting your mom off by crossing over from left to right or right to left just in front of her.  It was fun to run with him though.  Maybe I can get him and Annika to run with me more at home!  After the race Krystle, Pierce and Ayla along with Gramme headed for home.  They had plans that day that they needed to get to.  The kids and I stayed for a bit so they could jump in the bounce house and pick up some of the food treats.  Then we went home and picked up Daddy.

 

Once we had Kris with us we went to Jeff and Maria’s house for an Erin’s Cardiac Crew lunch.  There were a ton of kids there and it was so fun to see the old house again (at least from the backyard).  The trees there are getting SO big!  We just have to plant some trees at our house this summer/fall!  We couldn’t stay too long at the lunch though because we had to meet Kris’ friend Jon in St. Louis Park at 2pm that afternoon to pick up Talia, Jon’s daughter.  Both Jon and Michelle were out of town this weekend and so Talia was staying with us for a couple days.  We picked her up and then went home so the kids could play for a while.

 

Carrie and Adam and the boys were traveling through the cities on Saturday on their way north for a week’s vacation so Saturday night we met them at their hotel and went swimming with them.  All the kids had a great time.  Annika, James and Talia were playing a game of keep away with some floating balls.  Levi was having fun jumping off the side into my arms or “swimming” to Kris in his life jacket.  Even Isak eventually got into the water (he’s afraid) so he could join the kids in tossing the balls around.

 

Sunday morning on our way to church we drove by the Savage police department and saw all the trucks outside on display.   They were having an open house and pancake breakfast.  So after church was over we drove back and let the kids climb all over, in and out of the firetrucks.  Then we fed them pancakes for lunch and let them climb in more firetrucks before heading back home.  They had a blast!  Once home we got everyone changed into their swimming suits and sunblock applied and then we got out the kiddie pool and sprinkler and let them play in the back yard all afternoon long.  They had a great time and Jack even joined them from next door.  While they played, Kris worked on the landscaping some more (retaining wall on the South side) and I helped him by carrying the ripped up sod to the top of the hill in back (to lay down as a buffer between our yard and the weeds of the undeveloped land behind us).  When I wasn’t doing that I was getting water and freezies for the kids or carrying more cement landscape block to Kris from where it was dumped on the driveway.  By 4pm that day Kris and I were done.  We were both exhausted from all the physical labor plus the beating sun.  We picked up outside and shooed the kids inside.  They had had enough time in the sun for one day too.

 

And now we’re back to the work week.  Annika and James have soccer M-Th this week.  James has T-ball Thursday night.  James has a Star Wars Lego building class on Friday morning through Community Ed and I’m sure we’ll find a ton more fun things to do in the “down time.”


Speech, Ellie, Birthdays, Babies

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There is so much going on all the time that I could update here daily and still not capture it all I think.  I do want to write down some important milestones though.

 

  • Speech – On Friday, June 8th we received Levi’s speech evaluation from the early intervention team.  The short story is Levi doesn’t qualify. The child has to be 2 standard deviations below normal in order to qualify for services and Levi was 1.3 standard deviations below.  If you were 1.5 standard deviations below in 2 or more areas, then you could qualify but Levi was above or normal on all other areas they assessed – like cognitive, adaptive, gross and fine motor skills, receptive communication, etc.  The only area he was low on was expressive communication.  They gave us some hand-outs to read and some tips to try and agreed to follow up with us monthly to track his progress.  If he’s not making much progress then they can re-test him in the future.  Kris and I are fine with this course of action.  Just in the last couple weeks Levi has picked up some new words including ball, mine and baby.  Oh, and last night I asked him if he pooped and he nodded his head and said “poo-poo.”  So, maybe he’ll be fine without therapy after all.  I’m so glad we had him tested though.  It was reassuring to hear that our smart, healthy, happy little boy is on track or ahead in all other areas.

 

  • Over the Memorial Day weekend, we were childless.  All three kids stayed with Nana and Papa that weekend so we without kids two weekends in a row.  By the time the weekend was ending I was wanting them back so badly!  It was so quiet in the house.  Kris went to go get them (I was on baby watch – see below) and before coming home they went to visit Great Grandpa.  We got some great pictures of each kidding sitting by Great Grandpa while he laid in bed.  He was recently in the hospital and is still recovering.  I think Annika was a little scared of him this time since he seems more fragile to her I think.

 

  •  I blame Gramme for this one.  We have a new dog.  Her name is Ellie.  A couple weeks ago I was on the phone with Gramme, talking about dogs.  Gramme is getting a new puppy and at the time she was trying to decide what kind of dog to get and from where.  She and I were on petfinder.com looking at dogs for her.  Kris heard what we were doing and pulled up petfinder.com on the iPad and started looking at boxers.  One of the first on the list was “Harper” – a female boxer found as a stray, malnourished, pregnant with puppies, good with kids and other dogs.  Her story was so similar to our first dog, Mara’s, that I looked up at Kris and said “Go get her.  Go bring her home.”  Within 15 minute I had emailed the rescue organization.  Within an hour they had emailed me back.  Within 3 days we had purchased Harper, renamed Ellie and brought her home.  She had some behavior issues at first that we’ve since pretty much worked out (snatching food from the kids, barking at the neighbors, etc.) but overall she is a dream dog.  I’m getting more and more comfortable having her in the house with us.  She is just as patient and loving with the kids as Dagur is.  Annika and Levi seem especially in love with Ellie.  Annika is so excited to have another girl dog.  Dagur has always been an easy-going dog and bringing Ellie home hasn’t changed that at all.  Ellie has transitioned into our family fairly seamlessly.  Hopefully she’s happy here with us too.  She seems to be as she’s already “protecting” us from passing cars, neighbors and everything else.

 

  • Annika and James are finished with school.  They both had great years.  Annika has been recommended for the “high potential” program that starts in second grade.  She’s reading at a third grade level and tested at 99 and 95% respectively on the NWEA math and reading standardized tests.  We’ll find out in October whether she gets in to that or not.  And we’ll start asking her teacher about it when school stars again in September.  I don’t want to hear any more “I’m bored” coming out of her this year.  James is super excited to start kindergarten!

 

  • We’ve had a few birthdays in the family over the past couple weeks.   Mine was on the 5th.  Kris brought home flowers and chocolate cake after work on the 4th.  The kids made me cards and drew me a picture to put in my “mommy scrapbook” like they do each Christmas, mother’s day and birthday.  It’s so fun to look back at their drawings with them each time we add a new one to the book.  On the 7th was Grandpa’s birthday.  As a thank you for watching the kids while we were up north recently as for this birthday, I printed out one of the pictures I took of Gooseberry Falls and framed it for him and Grandma.  Hopefully they like it and can find a place for it in their house, maybe in their office?  Then on the 10th it was Uncle Mathias’ birthday.  I called him and wished him a happy one.  Maybe he and I can buy each other drinks to celebrate when Gramme and I go down to visit him in a couple weeks.  That’s right!  Gramme and I are going to El Paso on the 30th and coming back on the 3rd of July.  I’m so excited to see him and where he lives!  He’s even arranging it so we can visit him at work and see a little bit of what he does there too.  So excited!

 

  • We’ve been on baby watch at our house the last couple weeks.  Our friends Krista and Scott have been expecting their third child and we were on deck to watch their other two, Elyse and Liam when Krista went into labor.   Because neither family has had much for plans while we waited, we’ve had some impromptu bonfires and water parties with them the past couple weekends.  The kids have loved it and so have Kris and I.  It’s so fun to get together with friends.  It’s even more fun when the kids get along (Annika and Elyse are BFF’s) plus Kris likes Scott and I like Krista.  Win-win-win!  So, last Saturday morning I received a call at 7:45am and grabbed the phone because it was either Kris telling me he had a flat on his bike ride and needed me to come get him or it was Krista telling me she was in labor and dropping off the kids.  Nope, it wasn’t either one.  It was our neighbor Mark telling me that Amy was in labor and asking if their two boys could come over for a couple hours until Grandma got there.  Of course they could!  We agreed to be on their list of people to call too but Amy wasn’t due until 6/24 so I wasn’t even thinking it could be them calling!  So I hopped out of bed (Levi and Annika were snuggled in with me watching cartoons) and ran around getting everyone ready.  The boys came over to play for a couple hours and excitement was in the air.  We had planned on having a “water party” that afternoon with Krista and Scott and the kids plus Krystle and Pierce and Ayla due to the heat expected that day (low 90′s).  And we did.  Grandma and the neighbor boys came over too to play.  We had the kiddie pool, water guns, sprinkler and Krista and Scott’s “kid wash” toy all out to play with.  We had a great afternoon together.  Amy had baby Lyllian at 2:34pm that afternoon and around 5pm Mark came home to tell the boys and bring them to the hospital to meet their sister.  He said “I’m sorry” to Krista since Amy went over two weeks early and here Krista was six days late with her baby.  Of course it wasn’t their fault but still.  Poor Krista!  That was OK though because Krista was in early labor!  By 7pm that night her contractions had picked up and they left before 7:30pm to go home and see if this was turning into something real or not.  The kids were excited to have a sleepover with their friends.  Well, it did turn into something real because baby Giselle was born at 10:20pm that night!  We had two babies born on the same day!  It was so fun for us to be in the middle of it all and the kids are so excited to have new baby girls to coo over and play with.  Congratulations Mark and Amy and Krista and Scott!!

 

  • Summer activities have started for us.  Annika is playing soccer Monday and Wednesday mornings and James is playing soccer Tuesday and Thursday mornings plus he’s playing t-ball Thursday evenings.  Unfortunately soccer and t-ball were rained out yesterday due to the huge downpours we were having the whole day.  When I got home from work last night our power was out.  A tree in the neighborhood came down and took some power lines with it.  Well, clearly that means we had to go out for dinner so off we went!  The kids love Dickey’s BBQ and Kris and I do too plus we love not hearing any complaining about what we’re having for dinner.  After dinner we ran some errands including a trip to Walmart.  We were in the toy aisle picking out a present for Ryan (our old neighbor – he’s having his birthday party tonight!).  Levi wanted out of the cart so he could play with all the toys while we looked.  That’s normal except he’s in a stage where it’s a game to run away from Mama.  And that’s what he did.  He ran up one aisle and into the next.  When I went into the next one to get him he saw me coming and ran out of that aisle, seemingly headed for the next one.  Kris was in that one so I called over to him to intercept Levi for me.  Except Levi didn’t head down that aisle.  He took off running a different way and before we knew it he was out of sight.  Gone.  Poof.  We couldn’t find him anywhere.  I tried not to panic while Kris went one way, I went another with Annika and James following me, trying to keep up.  I tracked down some Walmart employees and told them Levi was missing.  They got on their walkie-talkies and let the other employees know too.  (What is he wearing?  That is the worst question in the world and I don’t ever want to have to answer it again.)  After what seemed like hours but was actually maybe 5 minutes I see Kris walking towards me holding Levi.  Walmart team members from across the store (yes, he had run all the way to the other end of the store – a huge, huge store) found him and were corralling him back to us when Kris found them.  I took him from Kris and held him as close as I could and tried not to break down in tears in front of the kids and him.  There was no need to scare any of them further.  After that Levi was belted in to the cart and not let out again.  Nor will he ever be let out again ever.  EVER.  Twerp.

Grand Marais Surprise Weekend

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The weekend of Kris’s birthday I surprised him.  After he went to work on Friday night I hustled the kids upstairs to pack their bags then I drove them to Grandpa and Grandma’s house and dropped them off.  It was a surprise for them too.  I didn’t want to risk them tipping Kris off so I didn’t tell them they were spending the weekend Grandpa and Grandma (their first!).  They were more than happy to stay there though, squealing when I told them what the plan was.  Then I headed back home and quickly packed a bag for Kris and I.  As I was putting the bags in the trunk of the car, Kris drove into the neighborhood.  He had a funny look on his face as he drove his motorcycle into the garage.  I joined him there and he said “that’s not our truck.”  Nope, I had left our truck (with the carseats) with the kids and drove Grandpa and Grandma’s truck to our house.   Within 15 minutes we were on the road, headed north.  We spent Friday night in Canal Park in Duluth.  We had a funky little interior suite at The Suites Hotel.  There was no windows in the room.  It made for one very dark room when all the lights were off!  After checking in we went out for a drink and appetizers.  It was weird to be in a restaurant ordering a drink and not having any kids with us!

 

The next morning we walked along the beach, snapping pictures of ships in the harbor, after checking out of the hotel.  Next on my surprise weekend away was Grand Marais.  We both love going up there but since it’s almost a 5 hour drive from our house, I didn’t want to make the whole drive on Friday night, especially since we didn’t leave home until almost 8pm.  So, we made our way leisurely up to Grand Marais.  We stopped at Gooseberry Falls and hiked around for a bit.  I got some great pictures of the falls.  Once in Grand Marais it was a bit too early to check in to the hotel so we parked and walked all around the downtown area.  We stopped in all the art galleries (there are so many for one little town!) and the Trading Post.  Then we went to Artist’s Point.  We took some more great pictures and hiked all the way around it.  We even stopped in a little bookstore and bought some books for the kids.  They may not have been with us but of course we were still thinking of them!  Then we checked in to the hotel and relaxed for a couple hours.  We finally got our act together but couldn’t decide where to go for dinner.  So we walked through downtown again, reading the menus of each of the restaurants before deciding which one to go to.  We ended up having a wonderful dinner, complete with yummy pie for dessert.

 

Sunday morning it was raining so instead of walking through town much more we checked out and started driving for home.  It took a little longer to get home but we landed back in Duluth right at lunch time so we headed back to to Canal Park to eat lunch with a Lake Superior view.  We were happy to see the kids when we arrived home that afternoon.  I’m sure they were happy to see us too although that meant their time with Grandpa and Grandma was over so their enthusiasm was tempered.  Yeah, I’m sure that was it!

 

The next day, Monday, was Kris’ birthday.  This was a fairly low key day.  I was at work, of course.  The kids had school.  Kris had to work that night.  We did have a couple little gifts for him though and of course we all showered him with “happy birthdays” and “i love you’s”.  Happy 35th birthday Kris!!  We love you!