Archive | September, 2014

Matching Outfits for a Special Occasion…

28 Sep


More details coming soon!

Fall Fun at the Farm on St. Mathias

22 Sep

Last Saturday, Travis, Emma and I went to a fall festival with my mother-in-law and Trav’s aunt. It was a fundraiser for the Early Childhood Coalition here in Brainerd. We had a lot of fun!

The first thing we did was go through the corn maze.





There were 8 different scissors you were supposed to find and use to cut your ‘punch card’. If you got them all, you got a treat (which ended up being a sucker). I think we found almost all of them.


One of the bridges had a slide – that was fun (yes, I went down.)




After the maze, we checked out the llamas and alpacas, and then got some food. I had a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie that was pretty tasty.

Then we went on the ‘hayride’. I thought it took us out to the pumpkin patch but it just went in a circle back to where we started.


By that time, Emma was getting pretty tired so we headed back home for lunch.


{Unrelated side note: My laptop died so I will be blogging from my phone more often until I find a replacement. Please forgive any spelling or formatting errors!}

Our San Francisco Trip {Brill’s Wedding Weekend}, Part Two

20 Sep

If you missed it, find Part One here

Sunday of Labor Day weekend was the Big Day – Brian & Jill’s (Brill) wedding. We didn’t have to be to the Conservatory of Music (where the ceremony was being held) until 3 pm, so in the morning, Jeremy, Jen, Jensen, Travis, Emma and I walked down to Golden Gate Park to see what we could see on foot.


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It was a beautiful day, and the park was very pretty, but after the first 1.5 hours or so, the kids – and adults (namely me and Travis) – started having meltdowns. It was Emma’s naptime, and Travis and I still haven’t figured out how to not let Emma’s meltdown cause us to meltdown. Fortunately, Emma fell asleep on the walk back to the house, but poor Jensen was not happy to be in his stroller the whole way home. Unfortunately, while Jensen went to take a nap at the house, Emma woke up (after a much-too-short nap) and was wide awake. Of course. On the day we need her to take the best nap, she takes the worst. What are ya gonna do.

We got ready for the wedding and made it to the Conservatory. It seemed like all the kids were acting up and throwing tantrums. Aye. Emma seemed to be on the verge of a meltdown but shortly before the ceremony started, she got her second wind and actually did really well. We had her notebook and pencil, as well as some snacks, stashed out at our chair, and those kept her occupied for the whole 20 minutes of the ceremony. The other kids in the wedding were a little harder to tame, but overall, they all did well.

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Emma was totally shot after that, so Travis and I grabbed some cookies from the cookie reception, loaded Emma up in the car and drove around for 15 minutes before pictures. She was out cold in 30 seconds flat, and we just carried her in her carseat up to pictures, so she totally missed out on those. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Jensen wasn’t in any pictures either, because he wouldn’t sit still.

After pictures, we piled in the minivans and drove over to the bowling alley where the reception was being held. It was a fun atmosphere! Dinner was burgers and fries. There was dancing and bowling.


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Thanks to my uncle Noel for the great wedding shots!

Travis and I played almost a whole game before feeling like we had to take Emma home – it was 10 pm at that point. The reception went until 11:30, so we didn’t miss a ton, but I was still sad that we had to leave early. Duty calls.

The next morning, Brian and Jill hosted a brunch at their place. It was fun to see where they lived! It’s a small apartment/townhouse but has this fantastic courtyard area outside their door (actually in back, in between several houses) so it feels tropical and cozy – so unlike a traditional apartment. Jill’s dad made awesome Norwegian pancakes, and we had turkey bacon, chicken sausage, fruit, doughnuts and mimosas. Since we were out of the city (they live in Oakland), it was HOT. It’s amazing the difference in temperature across the bay. (No pictures of this, unfortunately.)

We stayed there until naptime and then did some sightseeing. We drove down to Ghiradelli Square to try and ride the trolley, but once we saw the crazy long line, we reconsidered. We ended up eating lobster bisque at Scoma’s and then headed back to our car.

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We then drove past the Painted Ladies (very anti-climatic because one of them was having work done and had scaffolding covering the front), through Chinatown and over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was Labor Day that day, and holy tourists batman! They were everywhere. It was near impossible to drive but the views were beautiful. (And full disclosure, it was so cold at the first viewing point that I didn’t even get out of the car! Travis took these photos.)

IMG_6003 (Large) IMG_6000 (Large) IMG_6001 (Large)After the bridge, we headed back to the house and ate dinner. Brian and Jill came over and hung out for a bit, which was nice.

The next morning, we all flew back home. Travis and I ended up getting a whole row to ourselves, which was awesome. Emma loved having her own space, and she even took an hour nap during the flight.

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My parents had been on the same flight, and they parked in the same off-site parking, so we got to our cars at the same time. Emma wasn’t in the best mood for a 2.5 hour car ride, so my parents hung out with us while we let her run around outside for a while (we tried to go to a park but it ended up being an indoor park!) and then ate dinner at Q. Cumbers, a salad bar buffet restaurant. A big salad hit the spot after a weekend of rich food and sweets. Then we hit the road and went home! Emma slept the whole way home, but once we got to our house, she was wide awake. So we let her stay up for about another hour, then put her to bed. It took her over a week to get readjusted to Central Time!

In hindsight, I wish we had gotten a babysitter for the wedding. We didn’t get one, even though we had recommendations, because we weren’t sure about having someone we didn’t know take care of Emma (the tricky thing about a wedding out of state). But I think that even if we had just had a sitter at the reception to watch her while we enjoyed the festivities, it would’ve enabled us to really enjoy being there. Just a thought, in case you have a wedding coming up and are wondering about what to do with your kiddos!

Congrats again to Brian and Jill!

Our San Francisco Trip {Brill’s Wedding Weekend}, Part One

19 Sep

Our trip to San Francisco for my brother’s wedding over Labor Day weekend was a whirlwind. It went well overall, and we enjoyed all the wedding-related festivities, but let’s just say that being in downtown San Francisco for a wedding with a 1.5-year-old is CRAZY exhausting and stressful. We weren’t able to relax and enjoy everything like we would have wanted to, but we did our best given the circumstances.

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IMG_5847 (Large)My family rented a VRBO house that had 2 bathrooms, 6 bedrooms and slept 14, so we had my 2 other brothers and sisters-in-law, nephew, 3 cousins and 1 boyfriend, 2 uncles, 1 aunt, my parents plus me, Travis and Emma all staying in the same house. Luckily, our oven was broken when we arrived and the owners compensated us by giving us access to the downstairs unit, which had 4 more bedrooms and a bathroom. So we had plenty of space to spread out in the end.

IMG_5851 (Large) IMG_5848 (Large) IMG_5849 (Large)The first day, we went down to Fisherman’s Wharf with my aunt, uncle, brother, sis-in-law and nephew, and toured the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a ship used during WWII.

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That afternoon, Jill (the bride) had a ‘bridal bash’ where a group of us ladies went on a chocolate tour in downtown San Fran. We learned a lot about gourmet chocolate, the history of the area, and ate/drank chocolate until we were sick of it. It was fun!

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After that, we went to dinner at the Biergarten, a casual outdoor German restaurant. The food was delicious, but unfortunately Emma was not the happiest camper sitting around, so Travis and I had to take her across the street to a park for a bit, and then we headed home early.

Saturday, we hung out at the house and park across the street until the Welcome Picnic in the Redwoods that Brian and Jill (Brill) were hosting. It was a beautiful setting, and the sandwiches, potato salad, chips and dessert really hit the spot (so much so that I ate way too much). Emma loved running around and getting dirty.

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Jen and I got dropped off with the kids at the Conservatory of Music on the way back by our aunt and uncle for the rehearsal and groom’s dinner. During the rehearsal, we decided that Emma would just come in during the procession with me and Travis instead of her walking with the other (older) flower girl – which, it turned out, was a very good decision. The groom’s dinner was on the bottom floor of the Conservatory and was BBQ catered by one of Brian and Jill’s friends. It was tasty! There were also 3 cakes for dessert – the one I tried was pineapple and coconut. Delicious.

Without my aunt and uncle’s car, we had too many people to fit in just the one minivan so my brother Chris and SIL Meg ended up walking the 1.5 miles back to our house – and they had to push our jogging stroller (empty) because it wouldn’t fit in the car either. It was a very hilly 1.5 miles home, but they were troopers.

Stay tuned for Part Two…

Forever Changed

15 Sep

IMG_0126bw (Large)The thing I still struggle with the most about motherhood is the loss of freedom. I look at people without kids and think, “They have no idea how easy they have it. They only have to worry about themselves. They can do anything they want!” And I kick myself for having taken that freedom for granted while I had it. How many times did I complain about being stressed out and spread too thin before we had Emma? I had no idea.

It’s that lack of freedom that most often makes me question my choice to be a mom. When we were in San Francisco for my brother’s wedding, Travis and I had to leave early, dip out for a time or chase a toddler around the whole time, which severely limited how much we could enjoy the festivities. Most of the time, I can roll with the punches (or the tantrums). But sometimes, I just wish I could go back to the way life was before we had Emma.

Elk hunting in Colorado is coming up in a month. Since we camp in the mountains in a wall tent, elk hunting is pretty much the least baby-friendly activity next to swimming with sharks. A wood stove, dirt floor, knives, guns – yeah, pretty much a nightmare with an 18-month-old. So Emma is going to stay with my parents for the 4 nights, 5 days I’ll be gone. Part of me is very excited for the break. I get to fly and read a magazine instead of entertain a child! I get to read a book during the day! I don’t have to feed anyone else lunch except myself!

The other part of me is panicking. I have only been away from Emma for one single night since she was born. This will be 4 nights, and we’ll be up in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception, so I can’t Skype or call several times a day to check on her. And I won’t see her for 5 days. In a row. How can I last that long without hearing her giggle, or seeing her smile, or getting a hug and open-mouthed kiss?

As I think these thoughts, it hits me. I can never go back to the way life was. Not only because Emma is now a human being that exists and that I’m responsible for taking care of, but also because Emma is a part of me. She has forever changed my identity and I can’t turn off being her mom and this impulse to do anything possible to protect or care for her, any more than I can turn off being a woman.

So even when I do get a taste of that glorious freedom again, it won’t be the same. It’ll never be the same. That might be hard for me to accept at times, but in the end, the experience of having this kind of deep, inexplicable, unconditional, no-holds-barred love for a child is priceless. In my more selfless moments, I can see motherhood for the gift that it truly is. And it’s those moments that make me thankful for being forever changed.

Emma Grace: 17 Months

10 Sep

I’m not quite sure what to write in this update, because things in Emma’s world are pretty similar to what I wrote in her 16-month post. She still loves playing with rocks and water. Loves being outside. Doesn’t say any words, except maybe daddy and doggies. Loves making messes, especially with towels (?!?) and tearing paper apart.

20140810_141754 20140810_141838 20140810_144025Emma wouldn’t let a little rain deter her from playing outside.

20140810_145533But she was a little unhappy about it.


She has started to show more personality quirks by tilting her head and looking at me sideways, or looking back and forth between something and me several times (most likely deciding whether to obey…). When she gets excited, she also swings her arms back while she squats and then “jumps” up (she doesn’t actually jump) with her hands above her head. It’s really cute. She’s started carrying buckets around in the crook of her arm like a purse.

She hasn’t fully recovered sleep-wise from our San Francisco trip a week ago. She’s been falling asleep in her highchair during snacks or lunch (even when it’s an hour before naptime), and can stay awake for only about 4-4.5 hours between naps instead of her usual 5.


Poor girl. Yesterday she took a 3.5 hour nap and was still ready for bed early. While it was fairly easy for her to adjust to Pacific time (because we just kept her up later), she’s having a hard time getting back to Central Time – though I kind of like it. She’s been waking up more around 7:30-8:00 and going to bed around that time too, which I feel is a lot more normal schedule for her than waking up and going to bed at 6:30. I’d still like to get up around then, though, to do some stuff before she gets up. Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m trying…

I’ve kind of decided that I’m not going to rush Emma to wean off her nighttime bottle. I don’t mind the work of bottles (they really aren’t that much more work than sippy cups) and she loves her bottle. We brush her teeth before putting her down and I just don’t think it’s that big of an issue. 

Something that did happen this month is that Emma got her first and second haircuts! Travis and I trimmed her bangs one night, but since Emma was going to be in a wedding, I figured she should have a professional haircut. Well, I was very underwhelmed by the pro haircut (we went to Great Clips), but Emma did great sitting in the chair. 



Emma had been playing with a wrapped granola bar in the car on the way to the store, but apparently chewed through the wrapper, because when I got to the store, there was granola and chocolate everywhere.

And I’ll close with some pictures from our San Francisco trip, since that was a main highlight of this month:


Emma throwing a tantrum in the airport on the way home from San Francisco.


She just wanted to play with the camera.


A ledge just her size!


Gimme that!


In the engine room of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a WWII ship


At Fisherman’s Wharf

IMG_5947Checking out the flowers at the Conservatory in Golden Gate Park with cousin Jensen

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Cabin Time

7 Sep

In August, Emma and I drove down to my parents’ cabin for one last hurrah before lake season is over – unfortunately, Travis had to work so he didn’t come with us. Bah! We drove down Friday and back Saturday so it was short, but nice. We took the pontoon out to the local sandbar and around the lake.

20140815_170428 20140815_143618 20140815_170417 20140815_170420Emma loved throwing stuff in the water, so we hooked one of her toys on a rope.

On Saturday, we girls journeyed to the outlet mall in North Branch to do some shopping. I ended up buying Dress #5 for my brother’s wedding (finally, a keeper!) and my mom found a necklace to wear with hers. I bought Emma a shirt and some socks from Oshgosh. And I ate way too much ice cream – I ordered a single scoop and it was like 4 scoops. Emma also rode the carousel, which I failed to take a picture of.

Then the weekend before Labor Day, Travis, Emma and I went up to Travis’ parents’ cabin in Voyageurs National Park (right across the border from Canada!) with his parents and brother. It was a cooler weekend, so we didn’t spend as much time in the water as we would’ve had it been warmer, but we still enjoyed being up there. Emma slept pretty well the first night, and not so great the second night. Of course, the second night was when we agreed to have Travis sleep in the cabin instead of the bunkhouse so that he didn’t have to worry about making noise and waking Emma up. Well, that lasted about 30 minutes before I was down in the cabin requesting demanding backup.

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IMG_5835Can’t believe the summer is over already!

Emma is 17 months old today, so I’m hoping to post her update and our San Francisco trip recap in the next few days, as well as a Worth Repeating quote too! We’ll see if that happens. 🙂