Archive | July, 2014

Settling In

27 Jul

We moved into our new house a month ago tomorrow. It has taken pretty much that whole time for me to adjust to our ‘new normal’. It’s amazing how you can think mentally that you’re handling a situation pretty well, but your body reacts in a way that makes you realize, “Oh yeah, I am kind of having a hard time with this.” After getting food poisoning on July 4th, I was dizzy for about a week and a half, and then I got a mild cold. Nothing debilitating, just enough to make chasing after a toddler not the most enjoyable thing.

I think God was telling me to slow down, but true to form, I fought against it. I had a house to organize! Even though I want to be intentional with decorating, my OCD personality can’t stand seeing things sitting around without a home of their own. But I finally saw rest for the gift it is and napped during quite a few of Emma’s naps. 

This past week, I finally had the energy and health to tackle some of the piles around the house, which I’m thankful for. Emma’s room is finished, and I think I might even love it more than her original nursery. I’ll share pictures in the next couple of weeks.

I’ve also had the energy and motivation to start keeping a loose routine/schedule. Honestly, I was floundering when we first moved into our house because I had nothing going on. Whether it was hormones, spiritual warfare or just my self-pity kicking in, I was in a bad headspace for several weeks. I’m doing better now, but still trying to keep in mind that moving to a new state and city is hard. It takes time to adjust – so I need to give myself grace, and be ok with things being hard for a while.

In the midst of all that emotional turmoil, Travis, Emma and I have been having great times with family. One weekend, we drove up to Nevis for a baby shower and then to Bemidji for my sister-in-law’s housewarming party. Last weekend, the 3 of us checked out the Brainerd zoo – Safari North – and fed farm animals and parakeets. Yesterday, we drove down to my parents’ cabin and went swimming and pontooning on the lake.

We’ve been meeting and reconnecting with friends too. This coming week, one of my good friends from college and her daughter are coming up to visit. I visited them in St. Cloud back at the end of June. I’m also one of 4 women from a local church in a weekly book study. It’s been nice to have weekly fellowship again.

Travis and I have checked out 3 different churches so far. They seem like all nice churches – it will be a tough decision! We have friends at one of the churches, though, so that is a definite selling point. Since this will hopefully be our church home for many, many years to come, we want to be patient and make sure that we choose the right church for our family. 

I’m hoping that as I settle into a routine again, I’ll be blogging more often. But I’m kind of obsessed with watching Burn Notice on Netflix at the moment, and that’s usually what I do after Emma goes to bed. 

The (Unofficial) House Tour

17 Jul

I was going to wait to show you our new house until everything was in its place, but you might be waiting… for a very long time. So without further adieu, here it is. Prepare to be very underwhelmed by picture quality. (But this is the unofficial tour after all.)

We are in a development of ~ 20 houses about 5 miles west of Baxter.

Here’s our street:

20140717_193648And how our driveway looks when you drive up:

20140717_193655I mostly love that you can’t see our house from the road, but it does make meeting neighbors a little bit trickier. I’m guessing a lot of people buy a house like this because they don’t want to meet their neighbors (or at least not very much), but we do!

Here’s what the view is looking back toward the road from the middle of our driveway:

20140717_193549The front and back of our house:

20140717_194233 20140717_194315And our awesome view of the Gull River from the big picture window:


Now, for the inside. This is your view walking in the front door:

20140717_200013And if you turn around, here’s the front entryway:20140717_200028It’s a very open floor plan, with the living room, dining room and kitchen being pretty much all one room. On the other side of the wall next to the refrigerator is the laundry room, and next to that is a door to the garage. There’s also a closet over there that we’re using as a pantry (love!).


The open door in the bottom right picture is the ‘book nook’ (my office/guest room):

booknookAfter that doorway, the hallway makes a T. To the left is the master bedroom and bathroom:


To the right, is Emma’s bathroom and bedroom.

emmasroomWe got her pink curtains hung up!

That does it for the upper floor. The stairs to the basement are right off the dining room/living room area. The first thing you see when you get down the stairs is the wall with the built-in bookshelves:

20140717_200654After you ’round the corner’, you see this:


It’s a very long, skinny room which makes it a little interesting to arrange. This is how the previous owners had it, so we’re trying it out. Right in the middle of the room along the left wall is a sliding glass door that leads out onto a concrete patio. A few more pictures of that room:

basementI haven’t used the elliptical once yet. Sad.

The tiled space above is what we’re planning to one day turn into a 5th bedroom. To the right of that space is a hallway that leads to the downstairs bathroom and the 4th bedroom, which is currently Travis’ office:


And that’s it! Whew, that took a lot longer than I thought it would. But I finally got wise and used an online collage maker (befunky). Why did I not figure this out before?!? So much easier.

10 Ways I’ve Changed in the Past 10 Years

15 Jul

Today is my 31st birthday. This past June marked my 10-year anniversary as a born-again Christian. A person changes a lot in 10 years, but even more so when your entire paradigm and reason for living do a 180. So needless to say, most people who know me now would not recognize who I was back then, and vice versa. There are the obvious things that have changed, such as, I got married, moved to Denver and back again, and had a baby. But here are 10 not-so-obvious ones (in no particular order):

  1. I value friends who ‘get me’. My whole life, I’ve always had 1 or 2 really good friends that I did everything with. It wasn’t until I moved to Colorado that I realized how rare it is to find a friend who really understands you. I still have a couple of really good friends (who I met as an adult) and even though we don’t live in the same place geographically, we can talk on the phone or in person and pick up right where we left off.
  2. I value family more. I have been extremely blessed to have an amazing family and family-in-law. Travis and I moved back to Minnesota primarily to see our family more. Ten years ago, I enjoyed time with my family but I didn’t go out of my way to see them. We didn’t have any of our family in our wedding party. But in the past 10 years, I’ve seen plenty of friends come and go, and realize now that family is for life. I want to continue investing in those relationships, and grow closer to my siblings and their spouses.
  3. I am more confident in who God created me to be. I used to really struggle with feeling like I needed to be good at everything, and being scared of someone finding out that I wasn’t good at something. That mindset prevented me from living life to the fullest: I refused to try rock climbing in high school because I was scared I wouldn’t be good at it; I avoided playing sports at cookouts and parties because I didn’t want to reveal my ineptitude; I wouldn’t play Big Buck Hunter because I SUCK at it. But over the past 4-5 years, God has shown me that I don’t have to be everything; I can just be me. And I am not good at sports, trivia, shooting games, remembering dates and numbers, estimating distances or sizes, or recognizing tree species.
  4. I exercise and eat (mostly) healthy because I enjoy it. Ten years ago, exercise and dieting were solely means to losing weight. I obsessed over my body image constantly and struggled a lot with binge eating, which I compensated for by severely restricting calories and using exercise as ‘punishment’. When I started doing endurance sports in 2009, exercise turned into something I really enjoyed. In 2012, I did a book study at church called Love to Eat, Hate to Eat. God really did a work in my heart during that time, because since then, I hardly ever struggle with binge eating or body image. Praise be to Him! (As a side note, I fit into all of my pre-pregnancy clothes now!)
  5. I don’t spend more money than I make. I used to be horrible about using credit cards to buy things I couldn’t afford. My generous parents bailed me out more times than they should have. When I graduated from college and got a job, I read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover (thanks to my bro Jeremy!) and got serious about living within my means. A year later, I got married. Travis is a saver, so he has also really helped rein in my ‘spender’ personality. We’re just getting going on using YNAB (You Need a Budget). I love it so far. wasn’t cutting it.
  6. I wear yellow gold jewelry and pearls. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been caught dead in yellow gold or pearls. They just weren’t my bag. A few weeks before we left Colorado, I bought some new earrings at Charming Charlie’s to replace my entire earring collection that got stolen out of our house when we were showing it (!?!?!?), and when I got them home, I realized that they were all yellow gold (color, not real obviously!). Ha.
  7. I buy timeless clothes, not trends. I feel so old saying this, but “at my age” I want my clothes to last for at least 4-5 years, if not longer. I don’t want a ‘time stamp’ put on my clothes by buying something that is majorly trendy. Examples: fluorescent colors, high-low/mullet skirts, ombre dyes, chunky necklaces, etc. I mocked the girls in college that wore UGGs with skirts and sweatpants (and there were a LOT of them). That said, I do buy into trends when they’re something I really like. Examples: tribal patterns, skinny jeans worn under tall boots, non-UGG boots, scarves.
  8. I dress modestly. Ten years ago, I dressed to attract attention from guys. Short skirts, plunging necklines, you name it, I wore it. But after hearing a talk about modesty during a Summer Beach Project, I got rid of all my revealing clothes and now I only buy/wear things that are modest. I’m not Amish about it – I still wear strapless dresses and shorts that fall above my knee. But the motive/idea behind it is to protect my brothers in Christ from stumbling, and save some things for my husband’s eyes only.   
  9. I’m all about practicality. I used to buy whatever I liked or wanted (hence my overspending). Now, it doesn’t matter how cute something is; if it’s not practical, I’m not buying it. Practical, to me, means that: I will use it often enough to justify the price; it goes with my existing wardrobe or house decorations; I don’t already have something similar to it; it is versatile in color/purpose; and I will enjoy using it (no more uncomfortable shoes for the sake of fashion!). 
  10. My taste buds changed. Ten years ago, I hated even the smell of coffee and thought butternut squash was the grossest vegetable next to pickled beets. But I developed a taste for coffee while studying abroad in Venezuela, and discovered that butternut squash is actually quite delicious. Pickled beets are still gross though.

And just to keep it even: 10 Ways I HAVEN’T Changed in the Past 10 Years

Some of these are review…

  1. I don’t buy into trends. I refused to get an iPod when they first came out, but when my Discman broke, I finally caved. I reluctantly got a touchscreen smart phone in 2010, thinking I’d prefer a real keyboard (touchscreen is definitely the way to go). I didn’t join Facebook until 2010. I still refuse to buy any Apple products.
  2. I suck at history and trivia knowledge. 
  3. I hate scary movies.
  4. I hate rollercoasters.
  5. My first response to being disappointed or hurt is anger. It takes a lot to make me cry. Unless I’ve given birth to a baby in the previous 6 months.
  6. I love writing and reading.
  7. I suck at sports. I have no hand/eye coordination.
  8. I am better at expressing myself in written words, than by talking.
  9. I get extremely nervous when talking in front of a group.
  10. I love watching hockey. Playing it is another thing… see #7.

4th of July 2014

10 Jul

We had a very enjoyable 4th of July, even though I ended up getting (what I think was) food poisoning and spending most of the actual holiday on the couch!

Emma and I drove down on Thursday morning. Travis came down Friday night, since he had to work on Friday. My brother, SIL and nephew were already there when Emma and I got there. My younger brother and SIL came up for dinner on Thursday night – they spent the rest of the weekend down in Indiana with her family.

Friday, my dad and I ran to Walmart before breakfast for a few things, which is when I started feeling sick. I thought it was because I had drank 1 1/2 cups of strong coffee and not eaten much. After breakfast, we took a pontoon ride, which I enjoyed laying down.

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The rest of the day, I pretty much just laid on the couch. More family arrived around dinnertime. I was feeling slightly better – enough to be up and moving around some, but not enough to eat any dinner. I stayed up just until Travis arrived and then hit the sack – so I missed the fireworks this year! 😦 Around midnight, I ended up throwing up a couple of times. I felt better the next day, but then I got a massive headache and have been extremely dizziness since. So weird. I went to the doctor on Tuesday and she said it should go away in 7-10 days. ::Here’s hoping.::

Anyway, our family reunion was on the 5th so that day, we all got dressed up in our Superhero costumes. I didn’t take any pictures the whole weekend so I’m waiting on the people who did to post their pictures. My SIL Jen was on the ball as always (with taking pictures AND uploading them), so that’s where all of these pictures came from. 😉 Thanks Jen!

10527555_10101510482827512_6214095437906051171_n 12488_10101510482967232_8160426312722380331_n 10487195_10101510482612942_7356252945640392589_n We of course ate a lot of good food too (though my not feeling well kept me from digging into the sweets and booze!).

The evening of the 5th, our group activity was an obstacle course that me, Travis and my parents put together. My uncle Roger told the story that the Iraqis had a huge stash of beer that they were going to pour into the Red Sea so we had to go in and save the beer! The first obstacle was zigzagging around 5-gallon buckets with pool noodles sticking out. Then we had to cross over a kiddie pool balancing on a 2 x 4. The next was crawling under “laser beams” – string attached to tall wooden stakes. Then we ran into the “burning building” – painted cardboard hung on the garage with a cutout for the door – and grabbed a water balloon – the “beer” – and carried it down the driveway on a shovel. Once that was accomplished, we threw 3 tennis balls at 3 cups to knock them over – which was “killing the bad guy”. Three people raced at a time, one from each of 3 teams. 100 points per person were possible – 30 for the obstacles, 30 for the water balloon, and 30 for the cups (10 each), plus 10 for being the first one to finish in your round. It was a lot of work to plan, set up and tear down, but everyone really enjoyed it! I think we have to do something like that every year.

The 6th was the best day weather-wise, so we spent a lot of it out on the water. We went swimming, floating, paddleboarding, jetskiing, waterskiing and kayaking. Emma loved being in the water, once she got used to the temperature.

We even got the dogs in on the action (though they didn’t get wet at all).

10500334_10101510493151822_2413368952540722719_n 10492140_10101510500876342_7304979035915219610_n 10447861_10101510493236652_6122080517151365786_nThe night of the 6th, it was just my immediate family left so we all went out on one last pontoon ride (except for Travis, who took a nap).

10501717_10101510500946202_8798094127552864707_n 10435843_10101510493670782_3730429239130951360_n 10456816_10101510494079962_5195454766865633883_nThe next day, it was time to go home! Sad. But we’re looking forward to next year already – the theme is Disney! I am so dressing up as a princess.

I’ll post more pictures of our costumes once those get uploaded to FB. Looking at you Jayme!

Emma Grace: 15 Months

2 Jul

I had this post all typed out yesterday, and then my computer froze before I could save it. Poo! 

Anyway, the big news this month is that Emma is finally walking! After cruising around on furniture and walls for several months and taking a few hesitant steps here and there, she just decided to start walking the Monday after we closed on our house. She already had been climbing stairs and other things, so she’s really not that much more mobile than before. I actually prefer her walking because it’s so much easier to be outside.


Emma had her 15-month appointment yesterday afternoon. She is now 24 lb 8 oz (88%) and 30 inches long (44%). Her head circumference is in the 96th percentile! It’s funny – we don’t notice her head is that big until we see her next to other kids. She does have quite the noggin on her.


She was not a fan of the cone of shame.

Emma got a few new teeth this month, so she now has almost all of her baby teeth on top except for her 2-year molars. On the bottom, she has 3 in the middle and both 1-year molars, with another tooth looking like it’s getting ready to poke through. Teething doesn’t bother her as much as it used to, though we do still give her Advil regularly (when she seems to be teething).


Emma’s latest thing is waving at people (and dogs, and trees, and whatever else) and is not shy at all. One night when my parents were at our new house in Brainerd, we went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant. Emma spent pretty much the whole meal watching, waving, giggling and talking to the people behind us.

One of her new favorite things to do is move things from one place to another and back again, and as we discovered this past weekend, she LOVES throwing rocks in the lake. She couldn’t be outside without wanting to go down to the lake and throw rocks in.


She loves stacking landscaping rocks on our solar walkway lights.

Other non-toy things Emma loves playing with:

  • Towels & washcloths
  • Pens & highlighters
  • Rocks
  • Silverware & tupperware
  • Anything dirty (dirt, sand, dog dishes and leashes)
  • Socks
  • Remotes and phones
  • My wallet
  • Tubes of makeup and toothpaste
  • Cords

Travis and I don’t really limit what Emma plays with unless it’s dangerous (breakable, chokable, stabbable), really disgusting or something we don’t want ruined (like a phone charger or phone). Our reasoning being: 1) It makes her happy. 2) She gets acquainted with everyday things. 3) It’s just a phase. 


We have pretty much transitioned Emma down to just one nap. I would prefer that she still takes 2 but it is getting so hard to get her to fall asleep for them. She took only 1 nap each day over the 4th of July weekend and went right down both for the nap and bedtime. I am mourning the loss of my morning ‘me time’… Now I just might have the motivation I need to get up before Emma. 


I talked to our pediatrician about our bottle situation (Emma is still drinking 3-4 bottles a day) and she said that because Emma’s weight was fine, she was still eating plenty of solids and falling asleep on her own without a bottle, it wasn’t a huge deal. She also suggested that I could switch out the whole milk for 2%. I do plan on starting to wean Emma from her bottles before her next appointment at 18 months, but it’s nice to know that it’s not a huge rush.

New foods that Emma tried this month (and liked) were pineapple, pickles, watermelon and Boca chicken patties. 

20140608_124300 20140608_124255

Help Me Readers!

2 Jul

I have some dilemmas and I’m looking to you readers for advice. Here they are:

– Emma is stuck between needing 1 and 2 naps. If I keep her up long enough to just take 1, she gets overtired and won’t go to sleep without me rocking her. If I put her down for 2 and she actually falls asleep, her bedtime ends up being around 9 / 9:30, which is too late. I want it around 7 / 7:30 – 8 at the very latest. Lately, she has a hard time falling asleep early enough for 2 naps. She used to be awake for 3.5 hours between naps; now it seems like she can go between 4 – 4.5 hours before needing one. Any ideas? If you’ve made the transition, what did you do?

– We’ve stopped using cloth diapers because Emma soaks through them in about an hour. Putting 2 inserts in helps but makes the diapers so bulky. I’ve thought about buying new inserts but just haven’t taken the time to research. I’d like to keep using them because we have them, but I don’t want to change Emma’s outfits 5 times a day. Thoughts?

– Our new house has almost 2 acres but there’s no fence. We don’t want our dogs harrassing the neighbors so we have been taking them out on a leash all the time. We don’t like the extra work and the dogs are going stir crazy now, since they’re used to running around like idiots in Nevis. We’re thinking about/planning to get an in-ground fence. Anyone have ideas or experience with that? Brands to recommend? Did you trench it in yourself or hire it done? Are there other alternatives we’re not thinking of? (We’ve tried leaving them on long cables but they hate it.)

– Northern Minnesota has TONS of bugs. Our house is on the river and in the woods, so bugs are everywhere. Emma gets bit by mosquitoes every time we go outside. I know it’s pretty much a fact of life here but I would like to find some way to prevent her from getting so many bites. Not going outside is not an option because Emma loves being outside. Does anyone know of a baby-friendly bug spray or have any other ideas? I plan to ask our pediatrician next Monday too. If she has ideas, I’ll let you know!

Thanks for any and all help!