It seems we have skipped right over December in Minnesota. Temperatures have plunged into single digits with below zero wind chills, which is usually a feature of late January weather. Nevertheless, our daughters have found ways to stay entertained, even if it is a little too cold to play outside for any length of time.
As Mom and Dad put up Christmas decorations this morning, two little girls played:
Well, it’s been a few months now, but at the end of August we celebrated our big girl’s third birthday. We had a great time with family and a few neighbors. Brats and hot dogs on the grill were enjoyed, rockets were decorated and launched (with only a few mishaps…), and moon and rocket cakes were devoured. Presents were also a big hit, as expected. Thank you to everyone who was able to join us to celebrate our beautiful Anna Kateri’s birth!
Best quote of the day: Showing Anna her cake for the first time, she said, “It’s Astronaut Genna!” Um, no, honey, that’s you. Total picture fail. But sweet that she was excited her cousin was on her birthday cake!
Anna is quite the dramatic little girl, and also very creative. She is constantly making up songs and stories to tell us and anyone else who will listen. She makes us laugh every day and is starting to be a really sweet big sister, which includes having a ton of patience with Josie when Josie likes to, well, “hug” (read: tackle) her every five minutes. It is so fun to watch her learn new things, and while we are excited to continue to watch her grow, we are also trying to hang on to these last few days of innocent toddlerness, which we know will be gone before we are ready.
Alternate title: Why I don’t blog as often as I’d like
- Josephine’s smooth, soft, warm cheeks when she wakes up from her nap.
- Anna’s slow breathing, angelic face, and arm around Pooh Bear as she sleeps through my kisses when I get home from work at night.
- Josie’s squeals of delight and “dah dee!” when she hears our side screen door open, signaling Daddy’s return home.
- Anna’s sweet wording of simple phrases, such as, “I think I would like to sit next by you.”
- Walking onto the sunlit porch and finding Josie giving her baby a bottle and some snuggles and kisses.
- Anna enthusiastically saying “Peace be wif you!” at Mass, then systematically shaking everyone’s – everyone’s – hand.
- Super tight little-girl hugs around my legs and “I love you, Mommy” when I least expect it – and most need it.
- Watching two half-naked toddlers “dance crazy” around the bathroom as we finish up bath time.
- Little fingers intertwined with mine or John’s as we walk down to the park together.
- Shrieks of joy as they bounce and tumble together on Anna’s bed before nap time each day.
- Watching them learn, imagine, question, and explore. Everything.
- Deep belly toddler giggles and laughs while their daddy lets them climb and jump on him. (Really, any time they’re playing with their daddy!)
- Quiet time with my sweet, loving husband at night in our little upstairs “apartment.”
John and Anna have taken to flying rockets lately. Filled with just water and pressurized air (from a bike pump), the rocket (pop bottle) flies surprisingly fast and well off John’s homemade PVC launch pad.
These photos are from our first official launching (we don’t count our back yard trials), when our friends Paul and Taryn met us at a park near the Mississippi with their three kids. We had a lot of fun and have since launched a few more times. They have been having so much fun, I expect there to be parachutes and boosters by the end of next summer!
These two things are, surprisingly, not related. Unless you count happy screaming, then, yes, they are very much related. And actually, it’s not really a worm, but… it’s still very entertaining!
Here are two fun videos from yesterday:
For this one, the girls had to be slightly prompted to continue what they were doing before the camera came out, but they jump right back in with enthusiasm.
Anna was lucky enough to be taken to the circus with Grandpa Rob and Grandma Kay a few weeks ago, and she LOVED it. Elephants and baby elephants pretending to sleep? Check. Trapeze artists and juggling? Check. Alone time with Grandpa and Grandma? Double check!
Apparently it still stands out in her mind, because while she was playing with her dollhouse a few days ago, this is what I found. Note the little pink doll (named “Baby Gosie”).
I walked in, Anna looked up at me and said, “Baby Gosie is an acrobat!”
Since we haven’t made the time to create posts lately, I thought I’d at least give you a few photos to view. We are healthy and happy and excitedly waiting for spring to arrive!
I haven’t made the time to post much lately, but Kay took this cute video of the girls and their cousin Genevieve last week and I just had to share it. (I am sure Mari will be joining the fun in a few short months.) If someone wants to put some music behind it, go right ahead – it looks to me like they’re on stage!
With the season of Advent last month, our family tried really hard to make it more meaningful and, particularly, to take it at a slower pace than in past years. I have to say, looking back, we were actually – very surprisingly – successful!
With the holiday season, December is full of preparations: putting up a tree and other decorations, buying and wrapping gifts, and making delicious, only-eaten-for-one-month-of-the-year treats. Although that is all fun too, Advent is meant to be a different kind of preparation: getting ourselves ready to meet Jesus someday. Somehow, only by the grace of God, we managed to get most of the typical Christmas to-do’s done by early December, leaving much more time this season for family, friends, and faith. Just a few high points of our joy-filled month:
Anna loved playing with her Nativity set and was visited by St. Nicholas on December 6.
We spent an entire day with John’s family: after attending Mass together for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the girls (including the four little girls under 2 1/2) baked Christmas goodies while the men brewed beer, then we all dressed up and went out for our yearly dinner at the Oak Grill in downtown Minneapolis. John’s parents started this tradition over 30 years ago, and this year had two new attendees (yay babies!). Also, we’d like to point out that even with all the little ones, we were able to enjoy a nice sit-down dinner: good conversation, great food, and not a single tantrum or even minor meltdown. It was beyond wonderful! Thank you, Rob and Kay!
John and I had a nice date night which included lots of Christmas lights; some of the best we’ve seen in years, actually! We also fit in a few fun, glamorous (for us) Christmas parties and dinners.
And now, the moments when we actually remembered to take pictures:
Josie turned 8 months old…
…and became much, much more mobile. (Please ignore the spit-up on her sleeve… editing photos is not something I made time for last month!)
Anna helped decorate our Christmas tree for the first time.
We had a huge snowstorm and it was just nice enough to go out and play in the snow for the first time this year. She loves it, like a true Minnesotan!
After playing outside, we decided we needed something to warm us up, so we devoured a cup of hot chocolate together.
Josie really wanted to play outside too, but those mean parents of hers just haven’t gotten around to finding a water-resistant snowsuit yet.
In early December we had the chance to explore the Children’s Museum for free (free parking, even!) as a benefit of being part of the National Children’s Study. It was AMAZING! There were maybe 20 other families there, tops, and Anna could play with whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. We even got to enjoy the night as a little date with just our Sweetest Pea, as Kay and Rob came over to babysit Josie.
As we start the new year, we hope you were able to relax a bit during the busy holiday season and enjoy time with your family and friends as well!
Here are just a few quick pictures we took of Anna in September. First: our art projects. Anna and I made finger paints using this recipe, and it was awesome. The only downside was waiting for it to cool off. She really loved squeezing it in her fingers and she painted three pictures.
The next week we made a mask from a grocery bag.
In late September we also went to homecoming for John’s (work) school. Anna wasn’t sure about the fireworks at first, but she ended up really liking them – as long as we were a little farther away. The football was mildly entertaining to her, but the biggest hit was the band, as they played and moved around in formation, both before the game and at halftime. I hope we can make it to more games as the girls get older.
Our Sweetest Pea is now past two years old. She did really, really well at the doctor’s office last week, which I suppose is encouraged by the fact that there are no more shots for a few years! She is definitely a growing girl; her height and weight are both at right about the 50th percentile (34 inches and 26.4 lbs, respectively), and if you do the “times two” method (see #2 in this link), she will be approximately 5 feet, 8 inches when she’s grown up. (I was curious!)
Her head remains in the 70th percentile. She has come a long way since the tiny 4 lb., 8 oz baby I delivered two years ago! She now can sing a few songs, count to 10 (if you make her do it “for real” – and sometimes to 13), knows most of the basic colors, and pretty much doesn’t stop talking. She is such a ham and is turning into a very sweet little girl who likes to give hugs and kisses; we really enjoy her antics!
We celebrated her birthday with immediate family and some close friends who live nearby. It was a beautiful evening, and although she had a few meltdowns during the afternoon before the party, she was the perfect party hostess that night in her cute pigtails and pretty dress. She didn’t even bat an eye when her friend Lucian blew out her candles for her! We did relight them and she “helped” me blow them out again. She really enjoyed the balloons, the family, the friends, the brats, the puppy cake, the candles, the presents… pretty much everything! We couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate her birthday. Thank you so much to all of you who came – we love you all and were so glad to have everyone there!
(Click on a picture to view a larger image and to go through the gallery.)
For Anna’s birthday and just because, my parents took her to a Twins game. (Yes, she’s been to more games than I have in the past year. If the Twins were doing a lot better, I’d be complaining a lot more, but… they’re not.) From what they told me, she had a GREAT time. Even in the really warm weather, she wanted to keep going back to their seats outside in the sun, while it sounds like Grandpa and Grandma were pretty much dragging her indoors to cool off every so often. We have trained her well, though; every player was “Goe Mauer” and she even got Tony Oliva to say hi to her, even if she wasn’t too excited to talk back to him! She also really enjoyed the light rail ride and is still, a month later, talking about the train in conjunction with Grandpa and Grandma.
Thanks for taking her to the game, Mom and Dad – we hope she grows up to enjoy the Twins as much as we do!
We had a beautiful summer and are sad to see it end, even if the new school year has brought some fun and exciting changes: a new niece is about to be born, and John started teaching theology classes this fall, which I’m sure will lead to some great dinnertime conversations as he reveals what 17 year old boys think about Christ and His Church. We realized that although we did manage to post a few times this summer, we just couldn’t catch everything. Here are a few things we missed that we’d like to share with you.
Anna truly had a birthday “week” this year, as she had many opportunities to celebrate turning two. Here are a few highlights from last Wednesday, her actual birthday.
Even though all she talks about is “cake and candles,” she got a little scared of the candle this time. Thankfully she handled it like a pro at her actual birthday party a few days later. And yes, that is a banana – the cake would wait until her party a few days later, and the popsicle treat to come wasn’t exactly candle-friendly.
We happened to get a package in the mail that day, and after Anna identified it as presents, we let her open them that night. Anna loved her new dress and the new book which came with a magic wand. Thanks, Great Grandpa and Sandy!
The biggest surprise for the day was Anna’s “big girl” room, including a newly painted dresser, nightstand, and a big girl bed with “layleebugs,” flowers, and hearts. She made the transition to a big bed really, really easily, and one week later she still gets excited to sleep in that bed. I sure hope that lasts… but in the meantime, we were happy to make our special girl, our “miracle baby,” so thrilled with her new room.
More on Anna’s birthday, as well as the room redecorating, to come in future posts!
We had our attic re-insulated a few weeks ago (okay… so maybe more like 6 or 7 weeks…), so while the dust was heavy in the air, the girls and I escaped down to my parents’ home near Rochester. We had a great time just hanging out around the house, while Anna of course loved playing with, terrorizing, and giving treats to the puppies. (Both Copper and Sparky were there, as my sister and brother-in-law were living with my parents for a month before moving out of town.) This trip also explains our recent deluge of blog posts; I finally had some downtime to put together the pictures and videos I wanted to share.
The highlight of our trip happened the first morning we were there. Viola Gopher Count is the second oldest continuously running town celebration in the US, and I attended some part of it probably every year until I went to college. I hadn’t been there in oh, about ten years, but this was a great year to go again! The weather was great, and Anna got to really enjoy the parade, while Josie – who already loves to be outside – smiled and cooed for us all afternoon.
We of course had another fun time visiting my family. Thanks for letting us hide out for a few days, Mom and Dad! We love you!
The month long heat wave here in MN finally abated today, so Anna and I spent some time playing the yard after I got home from work. Although it was cool and cloudy, she insisted on wearing her glasses, which led to me taking some photos of her. Strangely enough, when I looked at them later, they all sort of looked like album art photos from a mid-90s rap album. So, without further ado, I give you…
Lil’ MC Sweetpea
We have had some fancy nails around our house lately. Anna wanted her toenails painted when I painted mine, so she got some pretty polish (or “paint,” as Anna always calls it) on hers.
The next day, when I was putting a clear coat on my toes, Anna wanted more paint, so I painted her fingernails. I was amazed she let me do her feet the night before, and I was even more amazed she let me paint her fingernails. Let me rephrase that: I wasn’t so surprised she let me paint them, but I was very surprised that she managed to keep the polish on her nails and not on her shirt, the floors, or wherever else she may have touched.
Even Josie got in on the fun! Auntie Beth painted her nails while we were down visiting my family a few weekends ago. Considering how tiny Josie’s toesies are, I’d say she did a pretty good job!
Anna loves to dance to any music or, for that matter, anything with a beat. This even includes dancing to the tractor noises as a bunch of them passed by in a parade we went to recently. We’ve managed to capture a few videos recently, so enjoy! (For those of you who are my Facebook friends, you’ve probably already seen the first two.)
Anna at a recent wedding:
Josie spits up amidst the next dance party. Makes me laugh every time. Also, sorry for the crazy angle mid-video.
And finally, just some simple “singing” and “dancing” with one of her toys:
To celebrate Josie’s birth, a friend (whose kids are big swim team competitors) gave us some sunscreen, sun hats for both girls, and a little kiddie pool. A week ago I had some time to finally set the pool up in the backyard, get Anna in her swimsuit, and generally prepare my girls and myself for the outdoors. This took me all morning. (I’m not kidding. I still need to work on getting both girls ready to go anywhere in less than, oh, about four hours.)
We did eventually make it outside, with the help of Grandma Kay (Ming Bears), who also brought some squirty pool toys for Anna. And finally, Anna was able to swim! I use the term “swim” lightly – she didn’t even sit in the pool. But she did at least walk around in it, and loved splashing with her feet. Honestly, I don’t blame her for standing – the water was pretty chilly!
Having Ming there was not only helpful but simply made it possible for me to get Anna in the pool and still take care of Josie. Thank you for coming over to play with us, Grandma Kay! We all had a lot of fun and hope to spend a lot of time in the water this summer!
Ming Arf-Arf = Grandma with the puppy
Bapa Arf-Arf = Grandpa with the puppy
These are Anna’s names for her grandparents (John’s parents are Ming and Bapa bears – because they have stuffed bears she plays with there), although the “arf-arf” has since evolved into “puppy” and “Cah-poo” (Copper – their puppy’s name). We visited them twice in the last month, the first for a family wedding in mid-May. Anna enjoyed her time with her aunties and uncle, as well as all the dancing at the wedding, and, of course, the puppies.
In June we visited again for another wedding reception and then a belated housewarming-slash-50th birthday party for my parents. Once again the dancing and puppies were a hit with Anna, while Josie enjoyed being passed around from person to person on what turned out to be a beautiful but very warm day. John and I got to play a few rounds of Beersby (a frisbee-related backyard game my sister and brother-in-law set up) and enjoy a little bit of baby-free time.
Thanks, Ming and Bapa, for having us down and for some great memories! (Oh… and for all the pictures!)
Anna had a rough day.
I went in to her room this morning to find her sitting up, staring at me with those beautiful blue eyes with long, dark lashes… and gunk. Lots and lots of gunk, along with a bright red right eye. Pink eye has struck our house again, for the fourth time in as many months, and this one has started out looking much worse than the others. Thanks to our awesome doctor, we had an extra bottle of prescription eye drops on hand, and Anna should be free of pink eye – or at least not as contagious – by tomorrow morning.
But that wasn’t the end of trauma for our Sweetest Pea today. Around lunchtime she was playing in the “basik” – translated into the modern American English “basket,” for which the technical term is “laundry basket.” How she managed to get in it without it tipping over is beyond me, but when she tried to get out, she did indeed tip and caught both hands on something (I’m still not really sure what). This led to a few tears and a bleeding knuckle, which I didn’t even notice until a few minutes later. She was a very brave girl and didn’t cry at all while we cleaned it and put her first-ever band-aid on the scrape. I don’t know that she cared that the band-aid had a picture on it of the Little Mermaid, but it made me feel nice!
Finally, we went on a nice long family walk this evening and when we got back, Anna was walking to the house when she fell on the sidewalk and… you guessed it… scraped up her knee. We have been surprised it hadn’t happened yet, as she falls over a lot and seems to really enjoy running up and down our sidewalk, but this was her first skinned knee. (20 months and one skinned knee? I’ll take it!) Not too terrible, but definitely a decent scrape. This actually didn’t bother her too much at all until her evil mother decided to use an alcohol swab on it, and the rest of the evening she would randomly burst into tears and say, “Knees! Knees! Anna sad!” It was really quite adorable (but also heartbreaking, of course).
Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit easier on her. Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like she’s got my klutzy genes.
Anna has welcomed Josephine into our family by giving kisses and snuggles, but she had not been interested in holding her… at least until yesterday. She held her a few times and we managed to get some recorded:
In case you’re wondering, yes, Anna does say “Josie,” although you would never know it by the sound of it unless you’re her parents. And if you’re curious, at the beginning of the video Anna points to my hand and says “uh oh,” which is her way of telling the story that Josie spit up on herself and then on my hand. Anna likes telling stories, and a lot of them now involve the baby, which we enjoy! Time will tell if her sister will follow in her (very talkative and entertaining) footsteps.