Hello August

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A few weekends ago we shipped off the kids to Grandpa and Grandma, borrowed their truck and trailer and got to work. We ended up moving 3 yards of dirt into the almost complete retaining wall landscaping that Kris has done. I say almost complete because we need a few more top caps and then Kris can glue them all down and we’ll be done. After moving all the dirt we also purchased and planted 6 bushes plus 7 garden plants. It was a long day and we were so tired when it was all over! The kids had a blast though with Grandpa and Grandma. I think they went to at least 5 different parks that day plus had McDonald’s for lunch and root beer floats for dessert. It was like kid heaven! That was only our Saturday though and I had plans for Sunday…

That Sunday I decided would be an inside day since it was still so hot outside and we had enough outside time the day before. Heh. So, Kris and I got busy painting James’ room, or finishing the painting I should say. We only had the gray left to do as the blue and cream stripes were already done. Then we re-arranged the bedroom furniture in all 3 kids’ rooms. Annika now has the crib turned into a full size bed. We bought a mattress for her in early July and bedding and some accessories. More accessories will arrive for her birthday. We still need to decide on paint colors for her room and then once it’s painted and fully accessorized, her room will be done! She loves her new bedding (bright and colorful stars) and her new mattress (the softest one she could find).

James now has the bunk beds in his room. This is the same bunkbed set that Krystle and I shared as kids! It’s held up very well over the years and now James has it. His “Star Wars” room could use some more accessories (wall art, a lamp) but it’s painted and he has bedding and wall decals to pull the room together.

And Levi now has a big boy bed! Gramme gave us a daybed, nightstand and dresser when she moved and we’ve had that in the basement waiting for this day. She also graciously gave us the bedding for the bed too. It’s a basic black, cream and khaki color so Kris and I are debating how to liven up the room. I was thinking we could put some red accents in it (maybe with Cars themed accessories/pillows) but we also saw the “Where the Wild Things Are” bedding/accessories at Pottery Barn Kids and we really like that. It’s very mellow colors so the room wouldn’t be very colorful and bright but it would be adorable anyway. More to come on that. The first night Levi was in his new bed I was worried that he’d fall out even though he’s been sleeping on his toddler bed for months and hasn’t fallen out (except for the very first night – he’s a quick learner!). What can I say. I’m a worrier! So I pulled the second mattress for the trundle out a foot or so from under his bed and figured that if he did fall out, he’d at least fall on to that and not all the way to the floor. He did great though. He didn’t fall out and we didn’t hear a peep out of him until the next morning. We have fallen into some bad habits with him though. Now that there’s enough room for us to lay down next to him in his bed, there have been more than a few nights when I’ve fallen asleep with him, only to wake up at midnight and shuffle down to my own bed. I think Levi is liking that new sleeping arrangement though because it’s getting harder to keep him in his bed at night unless we lay down with him! (I may also be guilty of bringing him into our bed to snuggle and get him to go to sleep. What can I say? He’s my last baby and I love snuggling with him!!)

Friday, July 20th, 2012 was our ten year wedding anniversary. We had hoped to take a trip for our anniversary. We had hoped to go to Hawaii. Instead, we spent that money on a new house and tuition! Oh well. Maybe for our 15 year anniversary we can take an extended, kid-free vacation. I’m going to get all sappy here for a moment. Avert your eyes. I love my husband. I love the family we’ve created. We have happy, healthy kids that we adore and are so lucky to have. My husband is handsome and takes wonderful care of me and our family. He’s awesome. We’re really lucky to have found each other so young and to have grown up and matured together instead of drifting apart. If someone had asked me on my wedding day 10 years ago what I wanted our lives to look like – this would be it. Happy. Healthy. Surrounded by children and love. It feels really good to get everything you always wanted. I love you Kris.

*end mushy gushy crap here*

On the 21st we hosted our annual BBQ. We love bringing together our friends and family from all aspects of our lives to just have a good old fashioned BBQ. Brats and burgers on the grill. Potato chips, pasta salad, fresh fruit on the side. Lawn games. Children laughing and running. Adults gathering inside and out to talk and and connect. We try to do this BBQ around our anniversary to celebrate our lives together and just have a fun day. Sometimes the day can be long and tiring but this year was maybe the best ever. Kris did most of the house cleaning the day before so while I spent time Saturday morning finishing up the remaining house cleaning tasks, it wasn’t overwhelming. We also chose a menu that didn’t involve a ton of prep time. We cut some vegetables and fruit up, cooked some pasta, etc. but that didn’t take too long. All of these good preparations made it possible for me to spend time with our guests instead of staking out the kitchen or collapsing into the couch. I tried to go from group to group, mingling instead and am so glad I could. Kris and the kids had a great time too.

A week ago Thursday Brian and I walked out to my car after work to carpool home, we threw our bags in back, buckled up and I turned the key in the ignition. Nothing. I had didn’t have lights, a radio and the car didn’t even try to turn over. Huh. This isn’t good. We walked back inside and found a coworker to try giving us a jump. Nope. Didn’t work. Still nothing. Weird. It worked just fine on the drive in that day! Although it did give Kris the same problem a couple weeks ago and Krystle gave him a jump-start and we didn’t have any problems after that. So I called Kris and he and the kids came to pick me up from work. Brian found an alternative ride home that day. I felt pretty bad about it all. The next day Kris and James went to get the car. Kris had the battery tested (good) and when he put it back in the car, it started just fine so they left the truck down at work and drove the car home. Saturday afternoon while Annika was at a play date, the rest of us drove the car back down and picked up the truck. The car worked just fine all weekend. Kris drove it to AutoZone and had the battery and alternator checked (both were fine). Then Monday morning I got in the car to go to work that morning, turned the key and nothing. It wouldn’t start again. At least I was at home this time. I went back inside and woke Kris up to tell him the good news. He grumbled. I went downstairs to fire up my laptop and start working from home. Kris got up and dressed and headed to the garage. A couple hours later he told me to get my stuff and go to work. The car was fine. How did he know? Because he cleaned all the corrosion off the battery terminals which was what was preventing the car from starting. And ever since it’s been fine (knock on wood!). Of course this has started even more discussions around getting a new car. Our current car is 12 years old and has 178k miles on it. It’s been a good car of us for many years. It would be awesome if we could keep it another two years while Kris was in school. If it doesn’t make it though then we’re starting our search now so when it does finally quit on us we can make an informed buying decision for our next car. Our current thoughts? The Chevy Cruze Eco if we go the compact car route or maybe the Nissan Altima SE if we go with a sedan. Subject to change of course.

So, the Olympics are on-going as I type. Have you noticed? We are huge Olympics fans in our house. I’m pretty sure it’s on at home from the moment Kris gets up in the morning until he goes to bed at night. I’ve come home to find Kris watching soccer and basketball. Weird! We’ve enjoyed gymnastics and swimming and bicycling and Kris is chomping at the bit for track and field to start. He’s going to have Olympics withdrawals when they’re over I think. That Friday night was our monthly game night and almost no one could come! Krista, Scott and the kids could though and instead of playing a game, we watched the opening ceremonies together. This worked out because apparently they’re as into the Olympics as we are, or at least the opening ceremonies. They were late in coming over because they were waiting for the next commercial break before leaving. Hee!

A week ago Sunday we had a fun family day. Mathias was home from Texas and the day turned out to be gorgeous so we met Mathias, Krystle, Pierce, Ayla, Grandpa and Grandma at the lake for a fun day of boating and beaching! It was a great day! Annika went tubing with Kris and Mathias a few times (she loves it!) and on the last boat run of the afternoon, on our way back to shore, we even had Levi out on the tube with Kris and Annika. Grandpa went slowly of course (a bit too slow at the beginning because the tube went under and Kris had to then get Levi, Annika and himself back on all by himself in the middle of the lake!) so make sure no big bumps scared Levi. There were no worries though. He loved it! James was too scared to go tubing this time. Maybe next time he’ll go. He did have a blast though playing in the water and going for boat rides.

This past week the kids had a play date at Elyse and Liam’s house. The kids had a good time although the girls fought some and Elyse went to play with a neighbor girl so Annika stayed to play with Liam and James. I’ve got Annika’s side of that story and hopefully it was a brief squabble as girls can get into and they make up soon. They’re both doing the Cinderella theater camp this week together and Annika is nervous about it so hopefully she and Elyse can get along to stick together at the camp. Gah. It was so much easier when they were babies and played near each other but not with each other! Hee. Anyway, the report from day one of camp yesterday when asked if Elyse was nice to her was “Of course!” Short memories are good in situations like this. Annika had a wonderful first day at theater camp and is going to be a dancing pumpkin in the performance this weekend. I can’t wait to see it!

Levi has been saying more words lately. We had a follow up visit with the speech pathologist at the end of July and she said that he’s still not qualifying for services. They can do the next in depth evaluation in November – six months after the first one. But it’s good he’s trying to use and say more words. He now calls for Annika by saying “LaLa” which was great at the beginning but is already wearing on Annika I think. Instead of hearing “Ma” and now “Mama” repeatedly, we’re heating LaLa. She adores her baby brother though and will always stop and do what he wants. She only gets really made at him when he messes up her toys in some way. Ah, the joy of siblings. Levi is also now saying why, ball and “I don’t know” which is really just a jumble of sounds that sound like “I don’t know” and not actually three distinct words. Oh well, at least we know what he’s trying to tell us. Kris thought he said airplane yesterday although I haven’t heard that one yet. Hopefully we can get him to say more words and use them to communicate more and more.

Last Friday night Gramme, Krystle, Annika and I went to have our nails done. We went to a nail salon in town that has kid sized pedicure chairs. Annika was so excited to have her nails done again. She really likes pedicures. She picked out a perfect kid shade of pink/purple and got white flowers done on her thumbs and big toes. It was absolutely adorable.

Saturday was the Aretz family reunion. I don’t see my grandmother often as she spends most of the year in Arizona so this is my best change to visit with her. And I don’t see my aunts/uncles or cousins on that side of the family unless there is a family event like a wedding or baby shower or this once-a-year BBQ. The BBQ is on a lake and we had perfect weather this year. It wasn’t too hot and the sky was gorgeous blue with white fluffy clouds floating by every now and then. Two people had boats and tubes out there too. Annika, James and Levi spent 90% of their time in the water playing. They all love it so much! Annika went on 2-3 boat rides and went tubing with Aunt Susan and cousin Katelyn. James had a couple boat rides but opted not to go tubing. Levi went on some boat rides too. They also played in the sand with some buckets and shovels that we brought with us. We had a great pot luck dinner and then Aunt Susan had some fun games for us to play. There was a water balloon toss that Ayla and I did together. Somehow Ayla dropped the balloon and it splashed at her feet. Annika and James tossed one too with Annika dropping it as they got farther and farther apart. Then there was a peanut sack race and a couple other fun games for the kids to play. Once those were done, my three headed back for the lake. After more than 5 hours at the BBQ we herded the kids to the truck, them complaining the whole way about not wanting to go and headed for home.

Sunday morning the five of us got up and dressed and packed up the truck for another day on the lake! This time we were going fishing with Grandpa and Grandma. We went to their house for a yummy French toast and bacon breakfast to fill our bellies and then we drove over to the lake. I was crossing my fingers that the kids would have a good time fishing although I was worried how Levi would do on a boat for that long. We decided that if he got too squirrelly that Kris would take him to a playground while I stayed with Annika and James on the boat. We didn’t have to worry about that though. Levi did great. He wanted to see everything going on all over so we kept a close eye (and hand) on him at all times but he was great. Even better was all the sunfish the kids caught! The kids fished with their small kid fishing poles and as soon as Grandpa had James’ pole ready, James had it in the water and was catching fish. James caught two fish before Grandpa had even finished getting Annika’s pole ready! Then we worried that maybe Annika wouldn’t have the same luck. Nope, when her pole got in the water she caught six in a row before James caught another one. We were constantly pulling fish off hooks and putting them into the basket. After about two hours, the kids had caught 16 fish and decided that was enough for one day. They both think they are the best fishermen ever. Of course they are! We were so lucky that we found the perfect spot with the perfect conditions to catch that many sunfish. After a drive in the boat around the lake we headed back to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. We had a fish lunch to make! The kids watched as Grandpa scaled and the filleted the fish, asking questions with wide eyes the whole time. Then they lost interest and played with Grandpa cooked them up for us. We sat down to eat a lunch of fish and chips (and fruit, etc.) together and the kids were so proud that they helped with the meal by catching the fish. It was a great day!

But there was more excitement to be had. Gramme got her new puppy, Maggie May, on Sunday so on our way home from Grandpa and Grandma’s we stopped by Krystle and Pierce’s house to meet the new puppy. She’s completely adorable and the kids love her! Gramme came to our house yesterday and stayed overnight last night and is staying most of today with the kids and her new puppy. Levi is especially smitten Maggie but we have to be careful of course that he doesn’t hurt her. Maggie is only 4.5 pounds after all! Dagur could care less that there is another animal in the house although he does seem to think Maggie is a little strange since she’s so small. And Ellie seems to be handling the new dog OK. Ellie can be very possessive of her family and doesn’t always like new people or animals around. Kris and Gramme introduced Ellie and Maggie outside the house and outside of some curiosity, Ellie seems to be acting OK around her. We’ll keep an eye on her though.