Archive | January, 2015

2014 Recap + 2015 Outlook

20 Jan

I better get on my year-end / year-beginning post before January is over, huh?

So, 2014. Another year of big changes. Here were my “areas of focus”:

1) Spend time with God daily.

I didn’t spend time with God every day, but it was close. God gave me a renewed desire this year to spend time soaking up truth through His word and prayer. And now that Emma is going through a tough phase of toddlerhood, I need to be refreshed and grounded in God every day to have a good attitude and patience. But let’s be honest – there’s no season of life when I don’t need that.

2) Eat healthy foods.

It took me a long while after Emma was born to get back into healthy eating habits, but I did finally! And with this pregnancy, I haven’t been having many cravings, so I’ve been able to stick to our normal meal plan for the most part. So I’d say this was achieved.

3) Exercise.

Finding the time and motivation for exercise is still a challenge, but nothing motivates me more than signing up for a race. Training for and running the Hot Chocolate 15K in April got me running again, and so did finding a friend who enjoyed running and lived close to me (thanks Brenda!). I wasn’t as consistent as I’d like to be, but it was an improvement.

4) Stick to a budget.

We nailed this! Honestly, starting to use YNAB (You Need a Budget) changed our budgeting lives. I love the software and cannot speak more highly of it (I am not getting paid to say this). While it took a little getting used to at first, once we got the hang of it, it has helped us track where our money is going, save up for biannual and annual expenses, and make decisions about purchases based on whether or not we actually have the money for it (which we can check on the go on our smart phones). One of the YNAB ‘rules’ is to live off last month’s income, and it seriously takes the stress out of paying bills or having paychecks arrive late. And Travis has been getting a lot of overtime pay, so we can budget based on the actual amount of money he earned instead of a hypothetical number. It has been an adjustment to actually forego or postpone purchases until the next month (and the next infusion of money) at times, but it is teaching us delayed gratification and helping us be better stewards of our money. Now if I could only figure out how to spend less money on groceries…

And now on to 2015.

I know they say that goals are supposed to be specific, measurable, timely and whatever else. Well, this year I have a lot of intangible, nonspecific goals. Though I do have 2 specific, measurable goals:

1) Give birth.

2) Start and finish the Northwoods Triathlon on August 8.

My other goals are things like:

  • Don’t let newborn sleep deprivation turn me into a raging b!t@h. (Trust God to provide sleep.)
  • Pray for and see my mom be healed.
  • Spend more time playing with Emma instead of getting stuff done.
  • Support my husband more sacrificially and selflessly.
  • Read more books and watch less TV.
  • Go on bike rides in the summer.
  • Be more intentional about inviting people over, or getting together.
  • Finish my book and either self-publish, or seek publication!

I find that life is a constant balance between being realistic and being lazy. I want to live intentionally but I also don’t want to beat myself up over not achieving arbitrary goals that I chose in an over-zealous mood one January day. The way I balance those two things is by reminding myself of this (my memory verse for Jan/Feb/Mar):

“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” (John 17:4)

If Jesus glorified the Father by accomplishing the work that He was given, that’s also how I glorify the Father. And the work God has given me to do is revealed every day through my roles and circumstances. I am called to be a wife and mother. Some days I am called to use naptime for holding Emma instead of accomplishing my to-do list. Most days I get up early to read the Bible, but some mornings (after particularly hard nights), it just doesn’t happen. I adapt, and continue walking with God through whatever that day brings.

The past month, I have been learning and relearning how to LET GO. No matter how many times I learn that embracing God’s will for me is the path to joy, it is still SO HARD to do — even with little things! Because often His will involves hard or unappealing circumstances. But I am learning. I am learning to let go of my goals, dreams, plans — not in a defeatist mentality, but in faith that “God…fulfills His purpose for me.” (Psalm 57:2) I can trust all of me to the One who knows me, and created me for a specific purpose. He is shaping my life, this life, into something beautiful. (On a related note, read this blog post about The Invisible Mother that a MOPS mom shared yesterday. SO GOOD.)

I wrote this in my journal back at the end of November and I think it ends this post nicely:

“It is a constant battle to surrender my will, my expectations, my standards, my desires, my longings [to God]. To lay my whole self down at the foot of the cross and to say with full sincerity that I will follow the Lord anywhere — even into the day of mediocrity and petty frustrations and klutzy moves and stupid mistakes and minor inconveniences. But I will only find joy in accepting what God has for me.”

That’s what I want for 2015.

A Psalm for Moms

19 Jan

God is my refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, I will not fear though all order breaks loose,

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Though everything I do immediately gets undone,

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Though I am overwhelmed and underequipped,

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Though my sanity is upheld by the tiniest thread.IMG_6046 IMG_6047

“God is our refuge and strength, 

a very present help in trouble. 

Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way,

Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

Though its waters roar and foam,

Though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”

(Psalm 46:1-3)

Pregnancy #2 Update: 7 Months

14 Jan

I’m 28 weeks today – officially in the third trimester!

28w now then

The biggest changes this month have been increased inner thigh/pelvic pain and lots of Braxton Hicks contractions. The inner thigh pain definitely isn’t as bad as it was during my pregnancy with Emma, but every once in a while, it flares up and I have to walk like a grandma. My belly also starts feeling heavy if I’m on my feet for a while. But I’m still sleeping really well, so I can’t complain!

I unfortunately haven’t gotten much more consistent with exercise. Emma still struggles with nap time fairly frequently (meaning I’m holding her instead of working out), and I honestly am completely exhausted by the time she goes to bed at 8 or 9 pm. I tried doing my Pilates video once when she was awake, but that just resulted in her sitting on top of my head — not the kind of workout I had in mind. That’s the hardest thing about it being so cold in the winter — exercise is pretty much limited to the indoors, and it just isn’t that appealing.

I had my glucose and hemoglobin tests at my last prenatal appointment, and passed both of them. My iron levels are a little low (most likely because I wasn’t being very consistent with my prenatal vitamins) so I’ve started making sure to take those every day, as well as eating more red meat and other foods that contain iron. I’ve gained around 20 lbs so far, which is the same as last pregnancy.

I’ve started making a list of the things that we need to buy and do before Bisky Junior comes. I bought a changing pad, changing pad cover, gender-neutral swaddles and tissue paper pom-poms for nursery decorations this past week. The other stuff will wait until February when we have more money — other stuff being a curtain rod, gender-neutral newborn clothes, diapers, crib sheet to match the nursery, frames for the prints that I made, etc.

Speaking of the prints that I made, I found inspiration on Pinterest and Etsy, and made these in GIMP:

faith hope loveI printed the signs as 8 x 10 pictures at Walmart. I love how they turned out! I’m hoping to find some fun frames at a secondhand store that I can spray-paint gold.

Well, I think that’s about it for this month. I’m trying hard to enjoy these last months as a family of 3, and not be too impatient for April to arrive.

Emma Grace: 21 Months

12 Jan

Emma was 21 months back on January 7.

This past month was still a little rough in terms of Emma’s sleep and daytime whiny-ness — and she got the flu and an ear infection for the first time — but this is still such a fun age. I love watching Emma learn new things, even if they’re things I sort of would prefer she didn’t know how to do… like climb into the bathtub on her own, open and close doors, and flush the toilet.

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A sick Bisky

Emma is still a water fanatic and would seriously take a bath 5 times a day if we let her. Often this month, the first thing she does when she gets up is push one of the kitchen table chairs to the sink for playing with water. We give her a bowl, some spoons and small dishes, turn the faucet on a trickle, and she plays for 15-20 minutes at a time — always ending up soaking wet.

A couple other things Emma loves to help with now is doing laundry and feeding the dogs. She’ll go get dirty clothes and bring them into the laundry room, then push a chair over so that she can help put the clothes in the washer. When they’re done in the washer, I hand them to her and she puts them in the dryer. She still doesn’t understand the concept of putting clothes away though — she’d rather take all her other clean clothes OUT of the drawers instead. And with feeding the dogs, we fill the measuring cup up for her and she pours it in the dogs’ dishes. Someday she will inherit this chore in full!

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Emma gets on certain “kicks” where she is obsessed with something for a while, and then moves on. It used to be “brushing” her teeth (and she still does like sucking on her toothbrushes) but now it’s washing her hands (especially the whole soap thing) and putting on lotion. What a silly girl.

After Travis’ and my trip to Denver, we had a couple of VERY rough nights with Emma (one during which she screamed and thrashed around like a mad man for over an hour) and discovered that she does better going to bed when she’s been awake for around 6 hours. So this means her naptime has been pushed back from 12:30 to about 2 pm, and her bedtime is now often 8 or 9, instead of 7 or 8. She hasn’t really been sleeping that much later in the mornings (still gets up between 6:30 and 7:30 most days) so it just means less time for Mommy and Daddy.

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But on a positive note, Emma is finally taking naps on her own again! We’re still not sure if she has been teething — no teeth have appeared but my friend who is a dental hygienist said it can take months for the 2-year molars to come in. My suspicion, though, is that her problems with napping and falling asleep at night were caused by separation anxiety. I make sure now to tell Emma every time that I will still be there when she wakes up, and I’ll see her after naptime/in the morning. I also encourage her to be a big girl and sleep in her crib on her own. Who knows if it helps, but anytime I get a break during naptime, it’s amazing! Funny how small things like getting a break can really make a big difference in your outlook and mood.

A couple other recent, challenging developments with Emma have been that she now refuses to sit in her highchair to eat anything, and she refuses to eat most things (even things she has gobbled up in the past). This started when she got the flu, which is understandable then, and maybe it’s still after-effects from her being sick, but she has gotten better, and these behaviors have not. Travis and I are going to probably give her another week or so, and then be more adamant about her eating sitting down (we’re thinking about buying a booster chair for her to sit in at the table) and eating what we give her (especially when it’s food we KNOW she likes). If you’ve had either of these issues and found a solution, please share!

We’re also attempting to wean Emma off her naptime and nighttime bottles, which has had limited success. I’ll update you next month on how things have gone and what, if anything, worked.

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As far as language goes, Emma is rocking the sign language, and doing much better trying to imitate words when we ask, and even saying the words that the signs mean (like “more”). She calls me Mama and Travis Dada when trying to get our attention, and will say things like her version of Bye Bye without being prompted. She also babbles like she’s having a conversation with herself a lot more, which she didn’t really do before. It’s exciting to see progress!

Emma also loves looking at and touching my belly, and I think she kind of understands that there’s a baby in there. I took one of her baby dolls and held it up to my belly, and said that I had a baby in my belly. Emma is absolutely infatuated with babies, so hopefully she will love being a big sister and not struggle too much with jealousy.

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And that’s Miss Emma at 21 months! Time to start thinking about plans for her 2nd birthday party (which we’re probably going to have a few weeks early, just so Baby #2 doesn’t make an untimely appearance and steal the show).

New Year’s 2015

8 Jan

We were planning to host my whole immediate family for 4-5 days around New Year’s (giving everyone a chance to see our new place) but the day my family was supposed to make the trek from Rochester to Brainerd, my mom ended up going to the ER for some health issues (which I won’t go into here). She ended up staying there the whole day, so even though Travis and I were a little disappointed, we decided that it would be better to pack up our stuff and head to Rochester instead of having our family come up to us. It was a little tricky fitting everything in our car, since we had bought a ton of food at Costco the day before! We made it work – but only after jumpstarting our car for the 2nd time in a week (apparently we might need a new battery.)

We left Brainerd around 9 am on New Year’s Day and made it Rochester a little before 1 pm. Emma had lots of fun playing with her cousin Jensen.

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We had our big family celebration that day, since it was the only day we would all be together (stupid work schedules). Before dinner, we took group photos. Usually, we put it off and then totally forget about it!

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My SIL Jen is due March 7 – almost exactly a month before me!20150101_IMG_0234

After dinner, we opened presents. The past 4-5 years or so, we have drawn names and then when we’re opening the presents, we guess who the present is from. This year, people guessed about 80% accurately! Travis got YakTrax and I got a serving dish from Crate&Barrel, dish towels and a book. Emma got an easel/desk and shopping cart from G&G, a cute sweatshirt from Brian and Jill, an awesome lumberjack hat from Chris and Meg, and a Melissa & Doug doll and book from Jeremy and Jen. She is spoiled for sure!

We bought my nephew Jensen some cap guns complete with sheriff badge and holster for Christmas. I’m not sure who enjoyed them more – Jensen or Travis and Jeremy!

The next day (Friday), it was just us, my parents and Jeremy, Jen and Jensen so we decided to do something fun for the kiddos. We checked out the Children’s Museum of Rochester for the first time and were very pleasantly surprised! Jensen and Emma had a great time. The whole place was Clifford-themed, but apparently they switch out the exhibits every 4 months. We will definitely be back!

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Unfortunately, that night we discovered that Emma was running a pretty high fever. Looking back on it now, I can tell that she had probably started feeling out of sorts Thursday night because even Friday morning, she wasn’t herself. She woke up a couple of times that night, and since we didn’t want to make anyone else sick, Travis and I decided to drive back up to Brainerd a day early.

So late Saturday afternoon, we hit the road again. Even though it was a bummer to leave early and miss out on Jensen’s 3rd birthday party the next day, I’m ultimately glad we did because that night was a doozy! Emma developed a really bad cough and (now we know) an ear infection (her first!), so she was pretty miserable. It was nice having our big, comfy recliner to rock her in, since we were doing that for many hours that night. Now almost a week later, Emma is finally getting back to her normal self. We’re pretty sure she got the flu (influenza) because she has been tired and clingy for days, which is very unlike her.

All in all, our New Year’s plans didn’t quite turn out how we had planned but it was nice seeing everyone for the time we could anyway.

Christmas 2014

6 Jan

{I accidentally published this post prematurely, with no photos. Here’s the revised version!}

This was the first Christmas that we were able to spend with family, without traveling 1,000 miles! It was nice.

On Christmas Eve, Travis worked until around 2:30 and then we got the car loaded up so that we could head up to Nevis right after the church service at 4. The service was nice, but crowded! We sat in the overflow area and watched the service on a TV. But we still got to light candles while we sang Silent Night.

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We made it up to Nevis by about 7 and ate dinner. Travis’ sister Carolyn and nephew Drew were there when we arrived, and his brother Matthew and his brother’s girlfriend Diana arrived later that night after we had gone to bed.

We haven’t completely decided on what we’re doing for gifts each year for Emma (and future siblings) but this year, we did the “Something to Wear, Something to Read, and Something to Play With” approach. So we bought Emma some fleece pajamas, three of the Bear Snores On books (it was a pack through Scholastic), and a tent/tunnel. Since my family always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, but Travis’ did Christmas morning, we’re thinking about doing one gift (the Something to Wear) on Christmas Eve, and the rest Christmas morning. So that’s what we did this year. Emma opened her pajamas Christmas Eve, and the rest Christmas morning. Though she got so many presents from Travis’ family that she totally lost interest in opening them!

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On Christmas morning, Emma actually slept in until 8, which I think she has done 3 or 4 times in her entire life. That was very nice. After we all got up, we ate breakfast (monkey bread!) and then it was gift opening time. We went around in a circle opening one gift at a time so it took a while – maybe another reason Emma lost interest. But we got some great gifts. I received some maternity yoga pants, a couple serving bowls and a platter, dish towels and a couple of candles. Travis got a buck call, winter hat, and a couple flannel shirts. And Emma’s haul was play food and dishes for her kitchen, a Sit & Spin, a couple books, 4-5 pairs of fleece PJs, some new clothes, 3 new puzzles, a memory/matching game, and a few other toys (plus the tent we bought her).

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Emma’s haulIMG_6093 (Large) IMG_6100 (Large)

The rest of that day was pretty relaxed. We played some Pictionary on the Wii (seriously, so fun), Trivia Crack on our phones, and ate a ton.

The next day, we went to see Penguins of Madagascar at the Hackensack theater. We actually didn’t take Emma (G&G stayed back with her) – we saw that movie because the other options were meh (and I personally love animated movies). It was really cute and fun! Even Travis said that it was better than he expected it to be.

That night, Travis, his dad Al, Matthew and Drew set their old tree fort on fire. The trees it was built on were all dead, and the fort itself was falling apart, so they wanted to get rid of it. And what better way than burning it? They cut down 4-5 other dead trees and stacked them underneath the fort. It was quite the bonfire. Emma liked watching the sparks fly off into the night sky.

We stayed up in Nevis until Emma’s naptime on Sunday, and spent our time just hanging out. Emma took a very short ride on the snowmobile – she didn’t mind it during, but when we put her back on the snowmobile to take a picture, she freaked out:

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Emma also took several wagon rides up and down the driveway, swang in her swing and went down the slide of G&G’s swing set. It was nice that it wasn’t crazy cold outside. After Emma went to bed, we played Apples to Apples, Scattergories, and Nerts (a version of Solitaire). Emma slept really well while we were up there – almost every day, she took a 2-2.5 hour nap and only woke up once at most at night. It’s such a relief when we don’t have to fight her for sleep away from home! (Now if only we didn’t have to fight her for sleep while AT home.)

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And that was Christmas this year! (We saw my family for New Years, which I will recap separately, soon.)

So this happened.

4 Jan

race reg

I signed up for my first sprint triathlon since 2011! I have been toying with the idea of getting back into multisport for a while, and what better way than to do the race hosted in Nevis, MN, my husband’s hometown? It’s on August 8, which is exactly 4 months after my due date. I will definitely not be the fastest I’ve ever been but I’m sure I will be able to finish! Even though running is out for the remainder of my pregnancy, I plan to join the local Y and start swimming and biking again. I haven’t consistently swam and biked since 2011, so I’m sure it’ll be a learning curve once again. I’m going to try to set up my tri bike on my trainer too in our basement, but I think that the belly will be too much in the way to ride it. We’ll see.

Regardless, I’m excited!!

I’ll be back in the next couple days with our Christmas and New Year’s recaps, plus a look back at 2014. Hope your holidays were great!