Thursday, July 22, 2010

Annika turns 3

Annika's last day wearing her "I'm 2" necklace that was mommy's when she was 2.

Present time, after breakfast. Annika's first gift was a box of mini sugar cereals that her & saben shared for breakfast. We might have a tradition here....cocoa krispy birthday breakfast.

Sweet birthday girl.
We spent the morning preparing for Annika's party. Family and friends were due to arrive at 3pm. We did take plenty of time to play with her new gifts and then sent the kids downstairs to watch Annika's new tinkerbell movie.
Annika was so cute because she just sort of looked at each gift with no emotion. Later, she LOVED them all, but the only one we got a positive response to was the tinkerbell movie and it was mostly because she recognized tinkerbell. We also got her some melissa & doug magnetic dress up dolls, a unicorn puzzle, a kids Uno game, pasting book (kumon), ladybug girl book, curious george soundtrack and putamayo kids singalong CD. Saben got her a Calico Critters playset.
Soon the guests arrived, including our adorable niece and nephew:
We quickly moved the party outside for some water play. Riley & her family came and the kids all had a ball.
Annika loves the water.

Beautiful miss hailey.
Riley made sure she was available to help Annika with anything she needed during present opening time.

For some reason, Saben jumped on the tutus that Grandma Young made for annika and quickly was wearing all three. (one for each arm and one on his head). Later we got all three older kids to model them for us. (Saben with GUNS)

Annika chose My Little Pony plates/napkins so I decorated her cake with a My Little Pony doll. (a hideous new one with gigantic head and weird hair) After the party, Grandma wanted a picture with her three grandchildren. HA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Seriously, this is what I live with every day - complete insolence.

Literally the best picture we got out of....15?

Kyle argues that we shouldn't try to make them be normal, these pictures capture their "true" personalities.
After picture time, Annika & Riley decided to go swimming.....naked. It was hilarious, especially since both girls were completely hopped up on sugar.

Annika got quite chilly after swimming in the evening air and I caught a couple pictures of her "cold face".

Riley tried to mimic Annika's cold face and this is what she came up with:

Keep trying Riley, you'll get it someday...

Annika is the funniest, sweetest, most rambunctious three year old and I fall more in love with her each and every day. We love you birthday girl!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fourth of July

We had a wonderful fourth of July weekend this year. On Saturday, we did Saben's lemonade stand again. This year was super different from last year - Last year was so positive, all the neighbors came out, everyone loved the lemonade and people were giving Saben "tips" of extra money...This time we hardly saw any neighbors, the college students didn't even seem to be around and we had several cars that slowed down complain about the price. ($1 a cup, but its fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade!)

Overall it was still a good day, we just made about $15 less than last year, although some generous friends & grandparents stopping by certainly helped our bottom line.
Our generous friends let Kyle ride their bike too.

On Sunday after church, we drove out to the rez for our fireworks and Saben came home with this haul....
Saben was trying to look mean with his fireworks

In the evening we had lots of friends over for a BBQ & fireworks. Super fun group this year!
All the kiddos except Ayda who'd gone to bed by this point. There were also two babies inside, they didn't make it into any pictures.

Saben's love/fear relationship with fireworks
Chris & his blowtorch did the majority of the fireworks lighting. About 15 minutes into lighting fireworks, a car went flying by fast down the street and I had the brilliant idea to stack some boxes in the middle of the intersection as a "roundabout" to slow the cars down. It worked perfectly. (the kids were not in that street, but it still worried me since we were just a few feet from the intersection)
Sparkler time!
Annika the brave

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


We have been doing a babysitting co-op with some friends for the last few months and it has been wonderful. We get 2 weeks of dates & then have to watch five kids one night. The other night when we were babysitting and playing outside and I noticed how lovely the light was so I went to grab my camera.

The first picture thing that happened when I pulled out the camera was that Riley started blatantly picking her nose. To save whatever dignity she might have left after I publish this post, I went ahead and omitted that photo. I told them "Ok, stop picking your nose Riley" and this is what happened:

Mischevious fake nose picking.
The next group of pictures, Annika kept sticking her hand in her mouth. One girl always looks cute while the other looks silly. Finally I got the keeper below, but notice how Ayda was supposed to be in it and is escaping off to the right.....

Nothing was working so I tried the 'ol "Give Riley a hug Annika!" Riley jumped on this one and quickly had Annika in a head lock.

It's still fun at this point.

"Ok Riley, I think that's enough...."

Look at the sheer determination on her face.

"Ok, this time, lets have Annika hug Riley"

This is the best smile I could get out of cutie pie Ayda

Sandbox fun where we actually managed to prevent them from dumping sand on eachothers heads like they normally do. They are especially fond of dumping it on Ayda's head.
Riley's parent's came, and the girls climbed in the chair again. Immediately, Annika started saying something about "I need more room!" and pushed Riley aside.
The battle began.

Is it wrong to laugh and take pictures while your girls are wrestling on a lounge chair?

I think Annika has Riley pinned....
No! Riley, in an amazing comeback, throws Annika to the side!

At this point I had tears streaming down my face, but we finally pulled them apart.
Poor Saben, this is the most entertaining thing he could pull off. Cute for sure but definitely upstaged by the girls.


A couple weeks ago, Annika had her first dance class. At first I was reluctant to sign her up...rock climbing or gymnastics seemed way cooler and less likely to push her down the ultra-girly path. Annika is very athletic & coordinated. She loves physical challenges and is always scaring me to death on the playgrounds. When she is figuring out how to climb something new on a playground she gets this gleam in her eye and you can tell she loves it. And she'll practice it over and over until she has it down.

So dance....well I wasn't even sure if she'd like it. But in the end I thought "oh why not" and went for it.

First we had to find soft shoes, so I hit the consignment stores. When I found the first pair of shoes that were the right size (9.5) for only $6, I was excited, but most heart melted at how ADORABLE the little shoes were. Suddenly I wanted to buy her the full get up and couldn't wait to see her dance in them. Unfortunately the 9.5 didn't fit, but we managed to find a 10.5 at another store and that one fit about right, tad big. (did I mention my daughter has giant feet? And wears a 4T already?)

The directions had said kids were welcome to wear leotards & tights but that any comfortable clothing was fine. So, thinking myself the savvy thrifty mom, setting aside my suprising impulses to see my daughter dressed as an adorable little ballerina, I sent annika to class wearing some stretch pants and a shirt. Big mistake.

Every other girl on our first day was wearing a leotard and tutu. Luckily the class had tutus to borrow, but Annika was still very, very unhappy. She desperately begged me to take her pants off. And by beg, I mean screamed and kicked on the floor. I figured a little girl dancing in a tutu and underwear wasn't quite appropriate so she kept them on.

To be honest, the first class was fun, but sort of a nightmare. It was annika's first time in any sort of formal class (other than library story time) and she didn't listen super well. Riley was there so of course they wanted to run & goof off. Plus she kept throwing fits about her dancewear. But the outfits...all the little girls were so darned cute. I realize now that moms sign their girls up for dance, just so they get to buy the cute little skirts.

Our next class went 100x smoother and I've realized this is a pattern for annika. On the first day of something new, she is nearly impossible. By the second day, she is doing just fine. We only have had two lessons so far because we've been doing swimming lessons the last two weeks. She did the exact same thing (cried the entire first lesson) with swimming. But that is another story.....

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

First, your five year old gets some star wars lego kits. Then his friend has a toy light saber. Reluctantly you check out a star wars book at the library because you know he'll love it. (but apparently his preschool class has had star wars books in the classroom all year long, unbeknownst to you)

Finally, you let him watch a pod race clip on you tube and he is ecstatic. Next thing you know, he knows exactly which of his friends have seen which star war movies and he brings it up at least once a day, just to make sure you know that one of his friends got to watch "the one with the snow" and another watched the very first movie.

So Kyle and I watched the last three "classic" movies together and agreed he is far far away from being able to watch those ones. Now we have to force ourselves to watch the first one because we've heard from another parent that it isn't so violent. But seeing as how we hated it the first time, we're in no rush.

Marketing to kids is a powerful force....

Just came home from Haggens, where Annika & Saben threw a monster fit over which toothpaste to buy - Dora or Spongebob square pants. I refuse to buy two tubes of toothpaste and mess around with them both each night. Annika screamed at the top of her lungs 3 times for over 5 seconds each time, completely traumatized by the thought of leaving dora on the shelf. We finally left with Bakagulanku something or other...the one no one wanted or recognized. Yet.

We had a wonderful fourth of July weekend, the kids are in swimming lessons every day in the warm 70-80 degree sun and Annika had a couple dance lessons last week. With any luck I will get pictures & blog posts on all those things soon, but we are happy, busy and celebrating the sun right now.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The end - Mollo, Acala de Henares and Seattle

So. It was our last day in Spain to do as we pleased, before driving 8 hours back to Madrid and flying home. One last day in the mountains, breathing in the fresh crisp air and hiking all over the Pyrenees. We woke up bright and early and...

Kyle puked. And puked. And.....more puke.

I felt...sort of funny, but not too bad. I was waiting for it to hit me too, my stomach definitely wasn't quite right. I nibbled some plain yogurt & dried fruit for breakfast. Barely got down some a cod fritter salad for lunch (much tastier than it sounds). Kyle meanwhile said it was "the worst food poisoning I've ever had" and barely spoke a word to me until about 4pm. (he just slept and puked)

I sat in the sun on the balcony and read for hours - "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston, a favorite I'd read before that our book club was supposed to be reading. Juan, the english speaking guy who worked/ran the hotel was exceedingly nice. He always asked what I needed, offered to call a doctor and brought me a free "special" appetizer of peppers, eggplant & anchovies for lunch that I could barely stomach.

After lunch I read my Marie Claire magazine from the plane that I hadn't even opened - I'd gotten sucked into a sudoku book on the flight instead. Finally, six+ hours of reading later, I was feeling better, but really really missed the kids, missed my husband and felt quite lonely. So I texted my friend at 7am on a saturday so I'd have someone to talk too. Whoops. Luckily her daughter had already woken her up and she gave me a good lecture on how lucky I was to have a full day of peace and quiet to read. Thanks Liz.

About the time I was ready to take a walk by my lonesome, it got really cold and a storm moved in. So I sat and read some more listening to one of the most intense thunder storms I'd heard in years. It was actually quite wonderful. Of course it poured rain as well. Kyle was finally speaking at this point and we watched some world cup together. Unfortunately, my hotel dinner was scheduled at exactly the time the USA & England were playing, so I had to leave to go sit downstairs and eat alone.

Luckily, my lamb chops were exquisite, so I didn't mind too much. And I was starving - my stomach was definitely feeling better.

I never did get sick. Was it the random pinxto that kyle ate at lunch in Figueres, which I only barely tasted? Other than that one thing, we'd eaten exactly the same. Was it my year spent in Europe, plus 4 months in Egypt that made my gut extra tough? Kyle was sure it was the raw prawns, but who knows....

The next morning, we left by 10am, right after breakfast. Kyle was well enough to drive and nibble cookies/crackers. I got a kick out of the fact that they offered a carafe of wine along with the juice at breakfast...and that I did see a guy drinking it. I think it was the only place we stayed that did this, maybe its a french thing?

8 hours later we arrived at our last stop before heading home. I'd booked a room in a small university town called Acala de Henares just outside of Madrid. It was very close to the airport but was still supposed to have some spanish charm...rather than the bland hotel chains that surrounded the airport.

Once again, as we tried to drive to our hotel, we were blocked by crowds of people and road blocks. Apparently there was some...sort...of festival going on. Lots of kids, a merry go round....and a religious parade off on the side streets. Very odd. No idea. We checked into our hotel finally (the hardest one to find yet) and wandered.

and wandered.....looking for a dinner place.

Unfortunately we'd both lost our appetite for spanish tapas and that was all we could find. We didn't have any recommendations to go on and were wary of choosing something random after kyle's barf experience. But the lighting was lovely.
And there were cranes in nests on the old buildings.
Finally we settled on Donar Kebab. But it wasn't good at all, it had ketchup and ranch dressing for sauce. Gross. Oh well.
Back at our hotel, we realized our double bed only had one looooooooong pillow. Yes, that is right, one loooooong pillow that stretched across the whole bed. Like a body pillow for us to share. It was ridiculous. And kyle saw a cockroach in the lobby but had the smarts to not tell me about it because I would have screamed. It was a gross hotel and I highly recommend staying in a fancy airport hotel next time because they are cheap and clean and have one pillow for each person. No "character" though....if you're into that sort of thing.
We made it through the night with only minor muscle aches and thankfully no more cockroaches. 5 hours later we were flying home on Salvador Dali. (if you zoom in, its the name of the plane??)
On our flight to Chicago, Kyle had TONS of leg room and I had an empty seat next to me. It was heaven.
On the flight from Chicago to Seattle, I had an extremely obese woman and her husband taking up at least 1/4 of my seat, and trying to chat with me when it was 3am spanish time. But that's not all! I also had a child kicking the back of my seat almost constantly and occasionally pulling my hair. (while her mother read a book and ignored her). It was not awesome at all. Kyle had no problems.
Finally we were reunited with our adorable childrens and drove home. But we barely made it because when I turned around, this is what I discovered:

It is not wise to trust a three year old in the back seat with an empty bag. Luckily she was giggling hard enough that it was impossible not to notice right away.
The kids had a WONDERFUL time with their granparents. I was so happy hearing all the stories of how much fun they had and do not regret leaving them to spend time with both sides of the family. I LOVE how much they truly enjoyed their time with both sets of Grandparents and am so grateful that we get to go travel and have our kids get spoiled rotten by their awesome grandparents. We are the luckiest parents on earth I think. THANK YOU to everyone who helped with the kids (and roxxy!) while we were gone. You are amazing.