Archive | April, 2014

Emma’s 1-Year Pictures

30 Apr

We had my friend Jen Jacobs of Kitestrings Photography take Emma’s pictures again (she also took Emma’s 3-month pictures). It was a busy weekend – Travis had the first part of his California PE test on Friday, we had a supporter brunch on Saturday morning and had to dash right from that to our photo session at the Roseville Arboretum. Emma was a little crankier than normal while we were taking pictures, and it was cold and windy, but overall, she did great and we got some GREAT shots. LOVE them!

Here are some of my favorites:

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IMG_0237bw (Large) IMG_0262 (Large) IMG_0236 (Large)Thanks again Jen for helping our family capture these precious memories!


Check It Out –

29 Apr

I bought my own blog domain! It is now officially 

But since I’m still using WordPress and it automatically redirects, you don’t *have* to update the URL in your bookmark, RSS manager, or whatever.

You can officially follow me on Bloglovin’ though!

Follow on Bloglovin

I thought I knew a decent amount about html code, blogging and redirects to buy my own domain and set it up, but apparently it is a little more complicated than adding line breaks to posts and inserting pre-made widgets. 😉 I did figure it out eventually with a little help from GoDaddy support and my brother, but man, it doesn’t make me want to ever change my blogging platform.

Anyway, if you’re interested or thinking about doing the same thing, I bought my domain through GoDaddy ($13/year for domain, $8/year for privacy), set up mapping through WordPress ($13/year), and set as my primary domain. I had hoped to avoid the mapping fee through WordPress (since you can forward URLs through GoDaddy for free), but without it, my URL would either show up as still, or there would be no post-specific URLs displayed (it would always show no matter what). So I figured, if I’m going to buy my own domain, I might as well do it right. So this little blogging hobby of mine will now cost me $34 a year.

But I feel so official, it’s worth it.

Emma’s 1st Easter

26 Apr

Travis, Emma and I drove down to Rochester on Saturday after the Hot Chocolate race. My brother and sister-in-law were there when we arrived so we got to visit with them for a while. Then, Travis went to study, Chris and Meg went to her dad’s house, and the rest of us went out to pizza at a new place called Toppers. Yummy.

Sunday morning, we went to the 8 am service at my parents’ Lutheran church, ate breakfast in the fellowship hall and then hung out at home until it was time to eat again. 😉20140420_105758 20140420_104106 20140420_104106-MIXThe reality of how hard it is to get a good picture… I didn’t worry too much about it though, because we got professional pictures taken of Emma in her Easter dress during her 1-year photo shoot.

Travis unfortunately had to study for his PE test the whole day. He did break to eat lunch with us though, which was delicious. My mom made this dish called Pineapple Bread Bake to go with the ham and it was amazing.

After our lunch digested a bit, we ate angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert and then Travis packed up his stuff and headed up to the Cities, since his PE test was at 8:30 on Monday morning. The rest of us went over to my aunt and uncle’s house to see them, 3 of my cousins and their wives, and Emma’s second cousin Morgan, who is 19 months. She loved to give Emma hugs! They had fun ‘playing’ with each other.

1512297_735121823184809_7088956606253318788_nWhen it was (past) Emma’s naptime, we headed home. We tried carrying her carseat in while she was sleeping, but she woke up – dangit! Instead of fight her for a nap that late, I just kept her up and we all went on a walk around the cul-de-sac outside. Emma loves being outside. Then it was bedtime for little girls. My parents and I stayed up late marathon-watching Scandal on Netflix. That show is so bad, and so good at the same time.

Monday, Emma, my mom and I drove up to the Cities and met Travis at Olive Garden for lunch after his test. Freedom! He felt that the test had gone well – very challenging but he felt like he got enough questions correct to pass. I hope so! He won’t find out for a couple of months though.

Then Travis, Emma and I drove up to Nevis while my mom headed back down to Rochester. It was a good Easter, though weird since we didn’t see Travis much. Glad that test is over! And glad that I got this post up before a whole week had gone by.

Race Recap: Hot Chocolate 15K

23 Apr

We drove down to the Cities from Nevis on Friday morning. Emma and I hung out at Aunt Cheryl’s house (where we were spending the night) until about Emma’s naptime and then we drove the 30 minutes or so to packet pickup. When Emma had had a decent nap, I put her in the stroller and off we went. The packet pickup was well organized and we were in and out in 10 minutes. I got suckered into buying some Real Time Pain Relief lotion since my knees had been bothering me so much.

It was windy and cold so we just got in the car and headed back to Blaine. I returned a shirt to Kohl’s and then we picked up Noodles & Co. for dinner. I got mac & cheese with chicken so that I could share with Emma. Travis’ aunt and uncle came over for dinner, which was fun. It took forever to get Emma down for the night without her screaming at the top of her lungs, but once I finally did, she slept well. So I got a decent amount of sleep before the race.

The next morning, we made coffee, fed Emma breakfast, packed up all our stuff (which was a lot!), and headed to Bruegger’s near the race. We had actually wanted to go to Panera, but apparently that’s no longer there… I ate my egg and cheese on honey wheat on our drive to the parking garage. We pre-paid to get into the closest lot, which ended up being a great idea. We just handed over our parking pass and were in. I assembled my running playlist as Travis ate his breakfast sandwich and then we put Emma in the stroller and walked to the start line about 5 blocks away.

It was WINDY! Aye. I decided to wear my light windbreaker over my long-sleeve shirt, which meant relocating my bib.

20140419_083726I had used the restroom at Bruegger’s but the race had TONS of portajohns so that would’nt have been necessary. I found a spot in Corral I (11:00+ pace) and within about 5 minutes, I waved to Travis and we were off.

20140419_084537 (Large)My adorable cheering squad

Right off the bat, I could tell that I was running faster than I had during training (11:30/mile), and even faster than my “goal” (11:00/mile) but my legs felt strong and the pace actually felt pretty easy. So I went with it, even though I wasn’t entirely sure that was the best idea. I’d find out!

Mile 1 – 10:05

Mile 2 – 9:58

Mile 3 – 10:32

The wind was gusting 25 mph at times, which made me glad that I had worn my windbreaker.  We had to run across and under a number of bridges, which meant the course included a decent amount of hills. Surprisingly, I was able to muscle through the wind and all hills except one doozy, and I still felt good! This course was especially fun for me to run because we were on trails that I ran almost all the time in college. So it was a run down memory lane in addition to a race. 😉

Mile 4 – 10:25

Mile 5 – 10:35

Mile 6 – 10:30

Around Mile 6, I felt the beginnings of a blister forming on my left foot, on the bottom of my foot between my big toe and the toe next to it. I tried to not run differently because of it, but the tightness in my ankle later that day revealed that I didn’t do a great job of that.

I was hoping that there would be gels out on the course, but there was only Gatorade and water at each aid station. I ended up drinking a cup of Gatorade at the halfway point, and at the finish – which was also a gamble because Gatorade has upset my stomach in the past, but I guess I felt the risk was worth it. (It ended up being fine!)

I don’t think my uncertainty about running the full distance went away until I was around Mile 7. But once I passed that mile marker, I knew I had it in the bag – and could even turn it up a notch!

hotchocolatepicMile 7 – 11:01

Mile 8 – 10:25

Mile 9 – 10:50

The last 0.5 – 4:30 

The last miles ticked away and finally it was the home stretch! I finished strong, and saw Travis and Emma right before I crossed the finish line. My final (official) time was 1:39:15, a 10:39/mile pace. I was 144/211 in my age group and 926/1356 overall. I am so pumped about my performance, and could not imagine the race going better.

20140419_105133 (Large)I found Travis and Emma after grabbing a water and then we moseyed on over to the post-race meal tent to get my mug full ‘o chocolate. I didn’t get a picture of it because I was too busy eating it, but this is what it looked like:


It didn’t include apples, but it was delicious. The chocolate fondue was amazing. I almost lost my banana in it, and ended up getting the chocolate all over my fingers. Totally worth it.

20140419_105118 (Large)Emma had been awake for a long time, and was very ready for a nap, so we headed back to the car. We tried to get subs from Erbert’s & Gerbert’s for lunch but the location on Washington is gone! So we settled for Chipotle. And since we were in the neighborhood, we popped by to see some old friends after lunch. Emma did really well for being so tired. After that, we headed down to Rochester for Easter fun (separate post coming soon)!

Here Goes Nothing

17 Apr

I’m running my first postpartum long-distance race on Saturday – the Hot Chocolate 15K in Minneapolis. I haven’t talked about my training on the blog much, because well, there hasn’t been a ton to talk about. Pre-baby, I did 95% of the workouts on my training plan. Post-baby, I’ve done maybe 60%.

Which may or may not turn out to be a really bad idea. My weekly long run was the one I did consistently – I only missed one, and that was the weekend we were moving. I ended up adjusting the remaining long runs slightly, to account for that (so that my distance didn’t jump up too much in one week). The training plan I’m following (Hal Higdon’s Novice 15K) had my longest run before the race being 8 miles, and I felt comfortable doing only 7.5.

Since I haven’t talked about my training, and my training has been interesting since moving to rural Minnesota, here are what my 3 longest long runs looked like:

3 Weeks Pre-Race

6 Miles, 1:09:22, 11:34 per mile

Nevis, MN

I know my way around Nevis enough to be confident that I wouldn’t get lost (and the town isn’t that big) so I parked at the Catholic church and took off running. I decided to not look at my Garmin until my playlist ended (around 30 minutes). At that point, I had covered 2.7 miles. So I did a few more loops, aiming to hit at least 5.5 miles – and well, 5 miles would be fine too. Well, I underestimated how long the loop would be so I ended up doing a full 6 miles.

nevisrunThat elevation map looks crazy but if you look at the elevation, it’s only varying 50 ft. Ha.

2 Weeks Pre-Race

6.5 Miles, 1:15:28, 11:37 per mile

Park Rapids, MN

I pretty much saw all there was to see (some of it twice!) in Nevis, so for this long run, I headed to the neighboring town of Park Rapids and ran while my mother-in-law got her hair done. This was the first time I had mapped out a route on MapMyRun ahead of time, and then looked it up on my phone to follow it. It actually worked really well, and I would do it again, though I do recommend not making your route such a crazy loop! I didn’t get to enjoy my surroundings as much with this run, since I was constantly looking at my phone trying to figure out where I needed to turn. I also ended up getting a stomachache toward the end, so I cut my run short by 1/2 mile.

parkrapidsrun1 Week Pre-Race

7.5 miles, 1:20:21, 10:48 per mile

Bemidji, MN

It was nasty outside this day – 30 degrees, cloudy and windy with gusts up to 25 mph. I was not in a mood to go running, especially in the wind, but it was my LAST long run before the race so I couldn’t wimp out! I drove up to Bemidji where my sister-in-law lives, so she could watch Emma while I ran – a win-win! (Travis is still studying for the California PE test, which is this coming Monday! Soooo ready for that to be done with.) I had Carolyn drive me 7.5 miles from her house, so that I could run with the wind, instead of against it. I’ve done this before and it’s a great way to get your run in even when the weather is crappy. And hey, the wind helped my pace – I ran the second mile in 10:12!!

bemidjirun20140413_17025420140413_165312This last run really boosted my confidence level. Up until then, my runs had felt lethargic and slow. Like my legs just wouldn’t wake up. But this run, I felt light, fast and excited about running. The last 2 miles were tough because they were around the south side of the lake where the wind was strong, there was snow on the trail and my legs were getting tired, but I finished the whole thing!

Overall, I’ve enjoyed training for this race, but it’ll be my last for a while. I honestly only have the motivation/energy for working out about 3 times a week right now, and when I’m training for a race, I feel like the only thing I should spend my workouts doing is running – which leads to burnout and injury.

I also did not dedicate enough time to the things that are necessary training components outside of running, like stretching, getting enough sleep, fueling correctly, drinking enough water, etc. Part of that, though, is being in the middle of moving. For a while, I wasn’t sure where my foam roller was – once I found that, I started using it fairly regularly. All of my running fuel is packed up, so I haven’t been fueling during my runs at all (and really, I don’t feel like 7.5 miles really requires that – but I will fuel during the race because I could’ve used a little pick-me-up during my last run!).

I also think that I should’ve done more strength training and cross training in building up to this race – if not during the training plan, at least before beginning training. I think my muscles atrophied a lot during pregnancy and as all runners know, it’s possible to develop the muscles you need for running by running – but you usually end up being out of balance and more easily injured. My knee joints have been the thing bothering me the most, and I’m sure tight IT bands are somewhat to blame (it has gotten better since I got my foam roller out). But I also think that if my legs were stronger from non-running activities, and limber from more yoga, my knees would be happier.

So after this race, I’m looking forward to doing more yoga, walking and maybe a few exercise videos. I’ll probably still run once a week just to keep my fitness up, but I need some variety back!

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From Urban to Rural

15 Apr

20140413_170254Being in northern Minnesota is like being in a different world. You wouldn’t think that things were so different in the same state that I grew up in, but they are.

It feels weird to say but I think I’m struggling with culture shock. I grew up in a town of 80,000 people, but after living in major metropolitan areas for the past 12 years, even that feels small to me. Now I’m out in the middle of nowhere: 10 minutes from a town of 350 people. I’m used to there being 3 Targets within 10 miles of my house. Now the closest one is 65 miles away. I expect businesses to be open 24 x 7 x 365. Here, they close at 5 pm on Fridays and aren’t even open on Sundays. And because this is a tourist area, a lot of the ‘area attractions’ are only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Travis’ parents have deer carcasses hanging in a tree – a tree you can see from their kitchen window. They shoot porcupines and beavers for being nuisances to trees. They hunt and fish year round. They have more guns than I have fingers. They lease land from a logging company specifically for hunting.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my in-laws (hence my willingness to live with them for several months while we look for a house). And it is true that they’re farther out in the boonies than many people. But a lot of these things are just realities of living in a rural area. To visit specialized doctors or go to a real shopping mall, they drive all the way to Fargo – 3 hours away, one way. Just Walmart is 25 minutes away.

It’s one thing to visit during holidays; it’s another to actually plan on living here. To be honest, it has made me start questioning my desire to live in Brainerd (with neighboring Baxter, the population is 20,000). They have a Target, Kohl’s, Menards, Home Depot, JCPenney, Walmart and Fleet Farm. They have a Starbucks and a library. There’s no shopping mall, but I hardly ever shop at full-price stores anymore anyway.

I have a friend Emily who lives in Park Rapids (the nearest town to here, population 3,500). She grew up in Ramsey, a northern suburb of the Cities, and she said it was a big adjustment moving to Park Rapids. It took a couple of years, but now she feels like Brainerd and Bemidji (13,000) are the big cities. So it is possible to adjust.

I think a common question for city folks like me when they come up here, especially in the winter, is “What do you people DO here?” I grew up in Minnesota and have been around Travis’ family enough to know that there are lots of winter activities: snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sledding, ice hockey, broomball, ice skating. Only problem is, it’s often too cold outside to do that stuff!

I think a lot of my apprehension comes from having Emma, at the age she is. There’s a very limited amount of things she’s willing to do, and those things have a time limit – either because she gets bored, or I get tired from pushing/holding/lifting her. And for pretty much all of those winter activities I listed above, Emma is too young (though she will be old enough next winter for some of them). In the city, it was nice to have lots of parks, museums, shopping malls and playgrounds (open year round) to choose from. There were walking trails near our house. So part of my trouble now should get better once we move from tiny Nevis to bigger Brainerd.

The other part of my apprehension comes from just not being plugged in to our new life here. We’re in this limbo stage, where we’re too far from Brainerd (1 ½ hours) to start getting plugged in, and the people we meet here will be too far away to stay in touch with once we move . So I don’t have many friends or activities to occupy my time other than hanging out at home and venturing into town a couple times a week. The relaxation has been nice, but after another couple months of this…?

But when I think about why I question moving to Brainerd, my main reason is fear. Fear that I’ll be bored to death. Fear that there will be nothing to do. Fear that my city-girl self won’t be able to adapt – or won’t want to adapt – to small-town ways.

I have to admit that it’s easy for me to fall into the trap of feeling superior in a small town. “These small-town folks – how in touch with the real world are they? Look where they live. Look what they wear. Look how they decorate their houses. Look what they drive. Look what they do for fun. I’ll never be like that.”

That judgment, though, is just me trying to rid myself of some of the awkwardness I feel from being out of my element. It’s also very arrogant – saying that I know everything there is to know about the world from living in a big city, and small town people are small-minded and have nothing to teach me.

God’s love frees me from having to judge others. Being grounded in His love for me enables me to be confident in who I am in Christ, so I don’t need to prove myself to anyone. When I am confident in who I am, I don’t feel pressure to completely conform to the culture and lose my identity, but I also don’t need to dig my heels in against everything that is different from what I’m used to.

For example, I’ve been thinking about running in the winter up here. Often it’s so cold that I will have to run inside. Brainerd does not have an indoor track (that I know of) so it will be either a treadmill or nothing. I could get frustrated and grumble about not being able to run in the winter, saying “This sucks” and “Stupid small town” or I could embrace the opportunity to expand my horizons, and snowshoe and cross-country ski more. That is a big benefit of the small town! The trails for that sort of thing are MUCH closer than they were in Denver.

The anxiety and uncertainty I feel about moving to Brainerd reminds me that this move requires faith. Just like moving out to Colorado required faith. Faith that God is leading us. That we’re leaving behind everything and everyone we know to forge a new life, in faith that God is everything He says He is, and will do everything He has promised.

The Jesus Calling devotion today was EXACTLY what I needed to hear:

“Trust Me, and don’t be afraid. Many things feel out of control. Your routines are not running smoothly. You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable. Let Me lead you to the rock that is higher than you and your circumstances. Take refuge in the shelter of My wings, where you are absolutely secure.

“When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines, grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities. Instead of bemoaning the loss of your comfort, accept the challenge of something new. I lead you on from glory to glory, making you fit for My kingdom. Say yes to the ways I work in your life. Trust Me, and don’t be afraid.”

Are you a city-goer or small-town folk? 

Have you ever made the switch from urban to rural, or vice versa? I can see that going either way would be challenging!

Emma’s 1st Birthday Party

10 Apr

We had a small, simple party for Emma’s 1st birthday, and just invited Emma’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Those in attendance were Grandma Sheri and Grandpa David (my parents), Grandma Beth and Grandpa Al (Travis’ parents), Carolyn (Trav’s sister), Matthew (Trav’s brother), Diana (Matthew’s girlfriend), and Drew (Carolyn’s son) – and then of course, me, Travis and Emma. My siblings were unfortunately too far away to make the trek, or were out of the country.

For decorations, we went with a pink and green theme. I made tissue paper pompoms and a word cloud that described Emma.

IMG_5579 (Large) IMG_5610 (Large) IMG_5605 (Large)The party started at 11 am on Sunday with brunch (well, actually we didn’t eat until noon…). On the menu were biscuits and sausage gravy (a tribute to Emma’s nickname of Biscuit), quiche, fruit salad and ‘brunch punch’. For the cake, I made The Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Shortcake cake. Everything was delicious and turned out well!

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IMG_5608 (Large)Unfortunately, since the party had gotten started later than planned, Emma needed a nap before the rest of the festivities. So while Emma took a short 40-minute nap, the rest of us did dishes and hung out.

Once Emma was awake again, it was time for cake! We gave Emma her little smash cake first and watched her destroy it. She was so interested in the frosting that we had to hold her arms until everyone had their cameras ready!

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She only ended up eating some of the frosting, and then just smashed the rest of the cake around. It was a big mess by the end!

After Emma was done with her cake, we dug into the main cake. Oh. my. goodness. So delicious.

IMG_5681 (Large)Once we all had our sugar rush, we moved on to the gift opening. Emma was actually able to tear the wrapping paper once we got it started, so she semi-unwrapped her presents. She received a lot of great stuff, including a piggy bank, baby doll and stroller, books, clothes, sound puzzles and this fun activity house.

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IMG_5689 (Large) IMG_5685 (Large)Emma was pretty excited about the baby doll.

All the adults were exhausted by that point, so we just sat around talking (some napping) and watching Emma play with her toys (and trying them out ourselves). Once we got our second wind, it was time for Emma to do some finger body painting!

I got this idea from the blog Fun at Home with Kids. It was a hit! Emma was fairly tentative about it at first, but after about 5 minutes, she really got into it… as you can tell.

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IMG_5728And that was it! Emma went down for another nap (her naps were strange that day – too much excitement!) and our parents all had to leave soon after the fingerpainting, so we took a group picture (unfortunately, without Emma) and they got on the road. Carolyn, Matthew, Diana and Drew stayed for dinner, which was really fun. A great way to end the day.

IMG_5739 (Large)Emma’s actual birthday was on Monday. We didn’t do anything that special, but I did dedicate the day to quality time with Emma, instead of multi-tasking while watching her. We spent some time outside and had some ‘water fun’ in the bathtub. Pretty lowkey but it was nice after the whirlwind of Sunday!

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