Archive | May, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend 2014

29 May

Sorry, didn’t mean to leave you hanging with my last post, but I’ve been busy pinning ideas for our new house! A couple weeks ago, we drove down to Brainerd on a Wednesday evening to look at just 2 houses – one we had found on the MLS and the other had been recommended by our realtor based on the other house. Looking at the pictures online, we were pretty pumped about the one our realtor had sent us but it’s always different in person. We also weren’t sure if it had a 5th non-conforming bedroom – since Travis works from home, we would like to have 4 bedrooms, plus an office.

When we arrived at the house though, it was just as awesome as we had thought it would be. And the basement has a large area that could totally be closed off for a 5th real bedroom, so that pretty much sold us. We put an offer down in the next few days, they countered (which we mostly expected), and we accepted the counter. The inspection was done last week – we asked for a handful of things and they agreed to all of them, so now we’re on to the appraisal and closing on June 20!

We won’t move in until the following weekend for a couple of reasons: 1) Travis’ parents will be in Alaska the weekend we close and it’d be nice to have their help, and 2) The current owners have cats. Travis is allergic, so we’re going to have the ducts and carpets cleaned, plus the whole house deep-cleaned. We’re also going to scrub the rooms that Travis will be in the most with a denaturalizer product to kill the cat dander and ‘germs’. But the owners chose paint colors and stuff wisely, so there are only a few things that I want to change before we move in.

So that’s the story. I’m not pregnant again, if you were wondering. 😉

On to our holiday weekend…

We drove up to Handberg’s Marina on Crane Lake on Saturday morning and got up there by about 11:30 (it’s almost a 4 hour drive!). We loaded all of our stuff into the boat and set off for the cabin, about 30 minutes by boat.

IMG_5763 (Large) IMG_5762 (Large)

IMG_5769 (Large) IMG_5766 (Large)The weather this year was PERFECT. Couldn’t have asked for anything better – well, except the water be warmer I guess. The ice had just gone off the lake the week before so only a few brave souls jumped in for a few minutes. I waded in the water a decent amount while cleaning pine needles off the beach, but that was as far as I would go.

Activities during our cabin stay included:

Emma swinging…

IMG_5778 (Large)And napping. (Emma’s getting a bunch of new teeth right now, so when she napped in the swing, it was a relief to not have to battle her!)

IMG_5802 (Large)Lots of playing in water warmed by the sun on the dock (don’t worry – we watched her like a hawk, and rigged up some shade after these pictures were taken.)

IMG_5791 (Large) IMG_5783 (Large) IMG_5785 (Large)

IMG_5798 (Large)Campfires

A canoe ride

The dogs enjoyed themselves too. Both our dogs and my sister-in-law’s 2 dogs were completely wiped out the second day. Everytime we went into the bunkhouse, they followed us hoping it was naptime!

IMG_5799 (Large) IMG_5771 (Large) IMG_5780 (Large)Hope you had a good holiday too!


Happy Memorial Day!

26 May




Summer is here! Thank you to all who serve our country so that we can enjoy days at the pool, bbqs, and corn on the cob.

I have some exciting news that I’ll share once we get back from Travis’ parents’ cabin in Voyaguers National Park. Hope everyone has a great holiday!

7-Year Anniversary Celebration, Part 2

19 May

It’s our 7-year anniversary today. But since it’s 7:30 pm right now and we’re watching Bones while eating Starbursts from Easter, I’ll tell you about our weekend instead.

Saturday, we drove down to Brainerd and got new tires on our SUV. While our car was being worked on, we went on a run – my first one since the Hot Chocolate 15K almost a month ago. Then we ate lunch at Erbert’s & Gerbert’s and it was just as delicious as we remembered it. After lunch, we hit a few garage sales on our drive back north.

That night, we had our friends Jesse and Emily over for dinner and played some Big Buck Hunter. I suck at that game and totally lost, but it was still fun.

Sunday dawned gorgeous and we ate breakfast outside on the deck. We went to church, met a great family that we’re excited to get to know (the wife is a blogger, writer and runner!), and then had a picnic at park. The clouds and wind rolled in, so we didn’t stay long after eating. Emma fell asleep on the way home and took a 2.5 hour nap, so I got a nap too! It was glorious. We went on a walk outside and then ate leftovers for dinner.

After Emma went down for bed, Travis and I relaxed in his parents’ jacuzzi tub while watching an episode of Burn Notice on the iPad with wine for me and beer for him (and a granola bar and popcorn might have been consumed as well).

It was such an enjoyable weekend, and a great lowkey celebration for our anniversary.

Travis, you are still the one who makes me laugh the most and remember that life is fun. I love you!


Mother’s Day 2014

16 May

I told Travis that all I wanted for Mother’s Day this year was to read at a coffee shop by myself and get a manicure/pedicure. So on Saturday morning, I went to a coffee shop and read for about an hour. So peaceful and rejuvenating.

20140510_095639 20140510_092242The nail salon was all booked that day, so I had an appointment scheduled Monday. But that didn’t work out, and neither did the one I rescheduled for Friday, so that will have to happen after Memorial Day… Sad.

Anyway, on Sunday, the guys cooked me and Beth a delicious breakfast.

20140511_091845Travis, Emma and I went to church in Park Rapids.

After church, we bought a dog poop scooper at Ace Hardware, which I put to use when we got back to the house while Travis fixed the tire on our jogging stroller and Emma took a nap. Not exactly what I had envisioned doing on Mother’s Day but it was enjoyable to be outside at least. I utilized the rest of Emma’s nap to read a book and relax though.

Once Emma woke up, we headed into Nevis and took a walk on the Heartland Trail. Emma also played on the playground near the giant Tiger Muskie statute.


Awesome, right?

We bought Travis’s mom a book called For Love of Lakes, and will celebrate with my mom the next time we see her (which should be in just a few weeks!). Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there!

Emma Grace: 13 Months

14 May

Emma turned 13 months on May 7, so this update is a week late. I was also in the Cities on the 7th, so I didn’t do a photo shoot either. But I’d like to keep these monthly posts going until Emma is 2 years old, so here’s what Emma was up to during her 13th month:


Emma is wearing more and more 18 month sizes. We are ready for the weather to warm up in Minnesota so that she can wear all of her cute, fun summer clothes!

20140422_084213We bought Emma a new convertible carseat this month (the Graco My Size 65) and will start using it whenever we’re ready to give up the convenience of bringing Emma into the house sleeping – which is not yet, to say the least. We’d probably keep her rear-facing for now anyway. She doesn’t mind her carseat 95% of the time.


Emma is still a good eater, though she is fairly limited in what she will eat a lot of, and we often have to try feeding her several things at a meal before finding something she will eat more than one bite of. Her favorite foods that she will eat pretty much anytime are: clementines, string cheese, grapes, strawberries, graham crackers, yogurt, applesauce, black beans and corn. She also usually likes bananas, puffs, cheerios, broccoli and toast, but they are hit or miss. She is not a huge fan of meat, except for the occasional deli meat, or eggs (which is weird because she used to like them).

20140429_082744Emma has figured out how to drink from a no-spill sippy cup and also how to suck purees out of the pouches. Hopefully she’ll learn to suck from a straw soon, since that makes restaurants easier and less messy. We are also starting to show Emma how to use a spoon and fork herself – she likes it!


Emma continues to sleep straight through the night, going down between 7 and 8 and waking up between 6:30 and 7:30. If she wakes up later or takes a really long nap, she only takes 1 nap a day. Otherwise, she’s still taking 2 naps. They still vary in length, but I’d say that the majority of her naps now are in the 1.5 hour range, which is wonderful!


Emma in a deer stand


This month, Emma learned how to:

  • Put the coins into her piggy bank slot
  • Put things back in once she’s taken them out
  • Climb the steps!
  • Push her alligator clacker really fast
  • Let go and stand on her own a lot – she’s so close to walking!

20140425_083505Emma still doesn’t have any words that we can tell, but she babbles a lot. She says “Da” the most and sometimes accompanies it with holding her hand up. So cute.

She is still our little daredevil and LOVES going down the slide, swinging as high as she can, and having daddy “flip” her onto his shoulders from the floor. He lays her down on her back, head toward him, and grabs her left hand and foot in his right hand, her right hand and foot in his left hand, and then swings her up on to his shoulders. She loves it. Emma and I also have a mommy/daughter flipping trick. Emma sits facing me and I stand over her, grab her belly from behind and flip her up so she’s sitting on my chest, feet by my ears. It’s a good time.

IMG_5702 (Large)

And she still loves playing in the dishwasher.


The Truth About Sacrifice

13 May

I’ve been thinking about these 2 verses lately:

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)

“And a scribe came up and said to him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:19-20)

Something I’ve learned over the past 5 or so years is that following Jesus often looks very mundane. Yes, some people are called to sell their house, car and possessions, and become missionaries in Africa. Travis and I haven’t been called to that (yet). Instead, we were called to… move in with Travis’ parents?

I have been tempted to question whether or not moving to Minnesota was God’s leading. I read a book about the Holy Spirit called Better Off Without Jesus by Chuck Bomar around the time we were moving, and he cautioned against the idea that if all circumstances fall into place, it must be God’s will. He pointed out that in the Bible, circumstances worked out for Jonah to disobey God but it was obviously not God’s will (desire) that he disobey.

But after prayer and consideration, I feel confident that our move to Minnesota was God’s leading, for a number of factors:

  1. In the back of our minds, we had always planned on moving back, unless God led us differently. For the full 6 ½ years we were in Denver, He didn’t lead us differently, and our desire to move back didn’t go away. We prayed for several years that if it wasn’t God’s will for us to move to Minnesota someday, He would make it clear.
  2. With his current job, Travis works from home – meaning he can work from anywhere – presenting the possibility to live in northern Minnesota instead of a Cities suburb.
  3. Travis’ boss told us that he’d be okay with us moving to Minnesota before we ever brought it up.
  4. Travis got a bonus at the end of the year, which paid for the expenses of moving and getting our house ready to sell.
  5. For various reasons, we were ready to transition out of our church in Denver, and things were changing at my job to the point where I might’ve still wanted to quit, so things would’ve changed even if we had stayed.

Even though God has been obviously leading us this direction, it has not been easy to continue trusting Him! The house hunt is going very differently from what we had expected or wanted, and I have had a hard time dealing with a life that is ‘on hold’ in every sense except motherhood. (Emma is definitely not on hold! She’s growing up fast.) My new rural existence is also a challenge, though it should get slightly better after Memorial Day, when more tourist-y things are open for the summer.

Sometimes I think that the sacrifice of leaving behind house and friends would be easier if it were for something radical, like living abroad. Then it would be expected to be hard, and it would be for something that’s obviously kingdom-focused. But since the sacrifice is “just to move back to Minnesota” and we’re currently living with Travis’ parents, it seems mundane. Annoying. It doesn’t seem spiritual. It’s not kingdom building. It’s just me, living in the middle of nowhere, with nothing in particular going on.

At least, that’s what Satan wants me to think.

He’s always getting me to focus solely on what I think things should look like. For many years, I felt guilty about “not doing more”, but I just couldn’t fit any formal volunteering into my schedule. Finally, I realized that serving others doesn’t have to be a formal thing. It doesn’t have to happen every Monday from 6-8 pm. It could be random thoughtful gestures, things done whenever a need is noticed. Some weeks, there would be more things to do, and some weeks less. Once I got off the idea of a formal volunteer time, I felt freed to serve as I felt moved by the Spirit.

So Satan wants me to think that moving back to Minnesota is less spiritual and sacrificial than being a missionary. Because the Christians who do radical things, they’re raising support to go live in a hut, learn Lingala and teach hygiene to sick orphans. They’re the ones really living out their faith. Me? I’m just being a coward and moving closer to my family, instead of farther away, and being a typical materialistic American looking for a house that has a master bath and gas fireplace.

Of course that’s not true! (Though I did think that way several years ago.) God has different plans for different people, and for some reason, His plan for us right now is in Minnesota. Our destination may not be Brainerd/Baxter in particular, but until He leads us differently or truly shuts all doors enough times that we get the hint, we will keep patiently looking for a house in that area. We hold our future with open hands, wanting whatever God has for us, and act with the faith that God will reveal His plans in His perfect timing.

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.” (Psalm 138:8)

“This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:23-24)

“Life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)


I’ll be back soon with Emma’s 13-month update!

7-Year Anniversary Celebration, Part 1

7 May

Last weekend, Travis and I spent a night away from Emma for the first time since she was born. As we drove away from Travis’ parents’ house, I almost cried but after that, I was fine. We did call to check in that night and the next morning, and Emma did great! That was a relief.

Travis and I enjoyed ourselves as well. We drove down to the Brainerd area on Friday to look at houses. After that, we were starving so instead of cooking dinner in the kitchen of our hotel room like planned, we ate at Grizzly’s. Sufficiently stuffed, we checked into our hotel at Cragun’s Resort, then walked along the lakeshore for a bit before enjoying a free drink and live music at the resort bar.

We went back to the room to get our jacuzzi on. So fun! We drank wine and talked about houses. Then we watched part of the Wild vs. Blackhawks game and hit the sack. We were dialed!

Saturday morning, I read blogs in bed while Travis slept in and then we drove to Caribou Coffee for coffee and breakfast sandwiches. We took our coffee with us and went down to the lake again.


It was kinda chilly though so we I didn’t last long. Back up in the room, I sat by the fireplace until it was time to checkout.

We had lunch with a girl I knew in college. She lives near Baxter with her husband and daughter who’s just a few months older than Emma. It was fun reconnecting and they gave us the lowdown on the area.

After lunch, we stopped at Fleet Farm, then drove up to the house we were interested in to talk to a neighbor about the neighborhood. It seemed like a great place and we went back on Monday to see it again but someone put an offer on it yesterday, so back to square one. There aren’t many other houses on the market in our price range that we haven’t looked at so it might be a while before we find a house. I’m definitely ready for life to resume a more normal feel, but trying to be patient and trust God’s provision.

We got back up to Nevis about 4:30 on Saturday. It was good to be away for a night but I enjoyed seeing Emma again.

Emma and I are hanging out down in the Cities this week visiting friends while Travis is out of town on a work trip. It’s a little overwhelming because of all the running around but it’s better than staying in Nevis by ourselves!

Emma’s 13 months today but I don’t have a post ready. Guess that one will be a titch late. Later!

Bottle vs. Sippy Cup

1 May

So here’s a question. Why is it ok for babies to breastfeed until they’re 2 or 3 (or even older) but they have to be done with a bottle by the time they’re 18 months? Ok, make the argument that ‘they need to learn that milk comes from somewhere other than a bottle.’ That same argument could be made for breastfeeding – milk won’t always come from their mother’s breasts. And yet, professional organizations like the AAP and WHO are proponents of breastfeeding ‘as long as mother and child desire’.

I’m not convinced about the need for babies to use a sippy cup. In this article on BabyCenter and this one on, the main reason given for the transition from bottle to sippy cup is tooth decay – a toddler sipping from a bottle all day is more disposed to tooth decay. Not only does Emma not do that (she gets her bottles at mealtime and that’s it), toddlers are just as capable of carrying around a sippy cup to sip from all day. It is called a sippy cup after all. Also, we brush Emma’s teeth after her nighttime bottle, so the tooth decay argument falls short there too.

The other reason I’ve heard about transitioning to sippy cups is that “a 1-year-old’s will is more malleable than a 2-year-old’s” (see this article and this article). Ok, I can see that. BUT what about the idea that sometimes, kids just need to transition when they’re good and ready? There have been several things already in my short stint as a mother that I have put off for weeks or months, dreading the transition, but then Emma surprises me by transitioning herself. And I rejoice that I procrastinated because the transition ended up being so easy. So maybe, just maybe, Emma will wean herself from bottles when she’s ready – and maybe that will only be 3-4 months from now. Maybe it’ll be a year from now.

I can also see an argument being that babies drink more milk from bottles than from a sippy cup, thereby making them less hungry for table foods. Maybe some babies have that problem, but Emma does not. She can pack the food away – yesterday, she ate an entire PB & J sandwich! She’s also gaining weight at a consistent, average pace, so her milk consumption (which is 20-25 ounces on any given day) doesn’t seem to be out of control.

You may be wondering, What does this lady have against sippy cups? Well, since you asked…

For one, I don’t really see how they’re that different from a bottle. The no-spill kind are pretty much bottles with handles and the nipple is a slightly different shape. They’re so darn hard to drink out of that it still requires quite a bit of sucking – so much that the ‘spouts’ become deflated from the pressure. I’ve tried sucking on them myself and it’s tough! And with the non-no-spill kind, Emma plays around with them so much that the water (which is what she drinks out of them the most) goes everywhere. (I have to admit they do work well for me helping her drink water though.)

Which brings me to another reason I dislike the sippy… Emma thinks they’re a toy. With the bottle, she’s (pretty much) all business. She guzzles it down and gets on to playing. The sippy, she tips it over. She holds it upside down. She throws it on the floor. She tries sucking on the bottom of the cup. In short, she does pretty much everything with it except drink.

So we’re deciding to ignore the doctors on this one. Right now, we are doing a combination of bottles, sippy cups and regular cups. It works for us. Emma is still getting that all-important exposure to drinking vessels other than bottles, and she still sleeps a glorious 10-12 hours straight after downing 8-14 ounces of milk from her nighttime bottle. And since I’ve already told Emma that I’m not calling her a toddler until she starts toddling (aka walking), I’m going to enjoy snuggling my bottle-drinking baby a while longer. 😉

Disclaimer: Please don’t interpret this as a knock against all of you loving, doting, sippy-cup-using mothers out there. It’s more of a knock against ‘medical recommendations’ and ‘how you ought to parent’ and ‘when your kids should do things.’ In the case of the sippy cup… I’m just not convinced.