Archive | June, 2015

Annabelle Lyn: 3 Months

28 Jun

Annabelle was exactly 3 months yesterday (she was 13 weeks last Friday though).

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She is still such a delightful baby! Annabelle has really redeemed the whole newborn experience for us. I am able to enjoy her so much more than I enjoyed Emma at this age. That sounds horrible but I was just so far at my wit’s end with Emma that I couldn’t help but be ready for her to get older — and easier.

Miss Annabelle on the other hand is so easygoing and happy. She doesn’t cry over much — mostly just when she’s hungry, though she does get a little fussy when she’s tired. She still loves the Baby Bjorn but she has slept for several longer naps in her swing this past week, which I really appreciate! It is so much harder doing dishes, laundry and tidying up when you have a baby strapped to your chest!

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Me holding Annabelle and a friend’s baby while she made lunch

I can usually swaddle Annabelle in a blanket, put her in the swing, turn it on and she’s asleep in 5-10 minutes. She also likes to be held vertical on our chests, or lying in our arms if she’s swaddled, but she seems to sleep best either in the Bjorn or swing. The other night, we went out to eat and even though Annabelle was awake when we got there, she fell asleep in her carseat and slept until it was time to go. What a champ!

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At night, Annabelle usually sleeps from around 9:30 pm to 6:30 am. My new morning routine is reading the Bible on my phone while nursing Annabelle. She goes back to sleep for an hour or 2 but I stay up and exercise (or take care of Emma if she woke up early). Having some time to myself each morning makes a surprising difference in my attitude. Plus, it’s a great feeling having my workout done by 8 am!

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Annabelle is still nursing well — we’ve hit our nursing stride, I guess you could say. She nurses about every 3 hours during the day. In the evening, she often nurses more frequently for comfort. She’s doesn’t like a pacifier and so far, has only taken a bottle once. We’re going to keep working on it, but maybe she’ll go straight to a sippy cup?
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Despite all the ways that Annabelle is the opposite of Emma (hence her nickname “Anti-bisk” — we call Emma “Bisky” short for “Biscuit”), she has Emma’s smile and sunny disposition. Annabelle smiles often and wide when she sees us. What a cutie!
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Her hair elicits comments from anyone and everyone. It is a thing to behold.

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Things that Annabelle has done the past month are going to the beach twice, spending a week down in Rochester (and meeting uncle Brian), hanging out in our living room fort, having her two first major poop blowouts, getting her first tick pulled off her, finding her hands (yay!), and taking a bath with Big Sister (mommy held her). So much fun!

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Annabelle doesn’t have her next checkup until 4 months but as of right now, she is on the verge of moving on to size 3 diapers, wearing some 6-month clothes but mostly 3 month, and rocking the cloth diapers when we’re hanging at home. Yep, I’m doing cloth again. Mostly because I have them,  and why not? They’re really not that much work while she’s exclusively breastfed and it saves on disposable diapers. Not sure what I’m going to do when she starts eating solid foods but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

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And that’s Annabelle at 3 months!

Tuning My Heart to God’s Grace

24 Jun

20150617_181941More often than not lately, I have felt completely overwhelmed. This whole taking care of a newborn and a toddler requires more than a little creativity and patience. I thank God that Annabelle is such an easy baby! Otherwise, I would surely be losing my mind. As it is, I feel more than a little frazzled and brain dead.

Why is it that when I feel overwhelmed and underequipped that I would rather stew in my unpleasantness and misery than run to God? Like Ann Voskamp says,

“For all my yearning for joy, longing for joy, begging for joy–is the bald truth that I prefer the empty dark? Prefer drama? Why do I lunge for control instead of joy? Is it somehow more perversely satisfying to flex control’s muscle? Ah–power–like Satan. Do I think Jesus-grace too impotent to give me the full life? … If I am rejecting the joy that is hidden somewhere deep in this moment–am I not ultimately rejecting God? Whenever I am blind to joy’s well, isn’t it because I don’t believe in God’s care?” (One Thousand Gifts, 130).

In these moments, I need something to pull me out of the depths of my depravity and remind me of truth. The Bible is one way, but I find that worship music makes my heart sing God’s glories far deeper and faster than reading. The two songs that I have been playing on repeat for the past couple of months are Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher and You Make Me Brave by Amanda Cook and Bethel Music. (Click on the links to listen to the songs.)

I wouldn’t say that I’m a lover of poetry necessarily, but there are certain songs that just word things in a way that GET ME. These songs are two of them.

Lord, I Need You

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

You Make Me Brave

I stand before You now
The greatness of your renown
I have heard of the majesty and wonder of you
King of Heaven, in humility, I bow

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
Your grace

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

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I praise God for songwriters, singers and musicians. I’m not any one of those things, but I’m so happy they exist!

Father’s Day 2015

23 Jun

For Father’s Day this year, I let Travis sleep in while I got up with the girls. (He let me sleep in on Saturday.) Once Travis got up and made coffee, I made him eggs and bacon for breakfast — but I tried to do too much at one time so I burnt the first round of eggs.

We made it to church for the second service. Afterward, we made an impromptu decision to pack up a lunch and have a picnic at the beach in the Gull Lake Recreation Area. It was such a fun time! I forgot my phone so I have no pictures (fail), but Emma loved playing in the sand. She was also brave enough to wade out in the water up to her waist, and then let Travis carry her into deeper water. She loved pointing out all the boats on the water, and watching the other kids playing at the beach (that girl has no personal bubble).

By the time we left, it was a quarter to 3 so Emma was exhausted. She passed out on our way home. Annabelle was a champ too — she enjoys being outside.

While all 3 of us girls napped, Travis finished installing our in-ground dog fence by cutting a line through our driveway, inserting the cable and re-sealing the crack. (Hey, he chose to do that!)

He had been planning to go fishing that evening, but I wasn’t feeling the greatest so he agreed to take a rain check and stay back to help me with the girls. That’s why he’s such a great husband and father! We were both still pretty full from lunch, so he just made macaroni & cheese, mainly for Emma. I had entertained the thought of grilling steaks (one of Trav’s favorites) but sometimes things don’t go beyond thoughts. (Actually, that happens quite a bit lately.)

All in all, it was a really fun family day. And Travis will get his fishing in later this week!

Only Jesus is Pinterest-Worthy

5 Jun

cross pinterestUnless you live under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard more than one person bemoan Pinterest as a guilt-producing, confidence-shattering machine of impossible expectations. Perhaps that person has even been you.

For myself personally, I have to be very intentional about how much I use Pinterest. Or Facebook, or blogs, or TV, or magazines. It’s just so. easy. to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone else has it more together than I do. Their houses are decorated better and don’t look like a tornado touched down by 10 am. Their kids are doing crafts everyday that are both fun and educational. They not only get dressed every morning, they put on a cute outfit and do BOTH their hair and makeup. Then they enjoy a hot cup of coffee in silence while taking in a beautiful view.

Pinterest produces guilt and feelings of inferiority in us because it embodies perfection. Anyone who has ever taken family pictures, especially those involving young children, know that the picture-perfect moment only needs to last a split second to be caught on film. You just need one nano-second where everyone is looking at the camera with a smile for a good picture. Who cares that before that briefest of moments one kid was crying, another was trying to pull her hair out and the parents were clenching their teeth in frustration? The winning picture belies all of that, and thus dupes the onlooker into thinking that that family’s life is all roses and rainbows. That’s what Pinterest is. It’s the nano-second snapshot of unrealistic perfection.

Ok, so what? If we know that, why does it still bother us so much? Because every picture of perfection reminds us of the thing that so many people spend their lives trying to ignore — we know that deep down inside, there’s something wrong with us. Tim Keller says it much more eloquently in his sermon “Splitness” (an amazing sermon that I highly recommend), but we all recognize, in some form or another, that we aren’t all we were meant to be. If you’re tempted to disagree with me, I say look around at the self-help industry, blogs, magazines, TV shows, commercials. They are all selling improvements — ways to better yourself, your life, your relationships. Deep down, we know that we’re all missing the mark somewhere.

So are the people posting those snapshots of perfection on Pinterest. Sure, their 2-year-old’s birthday party had a cake that looked like an actual pirate ship, they all dressed in costume (no toddlers threw tantrums about wearing the eye patch?), and they even found pirate-themed wrapping paper for the 15 different presents they bought. But how many hours of sleep did they sacrifice with those efforts? How many hours of TV did their child watch while they prepared all of the necessary party decorations? We’ll never know, because the party pictures don’t tell us that.

That’s one reason why I’m committed to being an authentic blogger. When people portray their lives as perfect, we aren’t encouraged. We feel inferior, condemned, pathetic. But when we see someone who does some things well and other things… not so well, we see a real human being. And a real human being is someone who we can learn a thing or two from, who recognizes that life is both ups and downs, who understands what it’s like to have a cup of coffee get cold before you even take a sip, or have a toddler running around with a dirty diaper while you’re confined to a nursing chair, or losing your cool for the 100th time that day over something little because you’re operating *just that close* to your breaking point. We encourage authentic living by being authentic ourselves — and that means we share the ugly realities of life in addition to the Pinterest-worthy moments.

Jesus is the one exception. His whole life — every action, reaction, word, emotion — was Pinterest-worthy. But the amazing thing is, His model of perfection doesn’t overwhelm us with the guilt and shame of our shoddy attempts. That’s because His model of perfection was crowned with the ultimate sacrifice: His death on the cross. Jesus was perfect for us, on our behalf so that we don’t have to be perfect. The only way perfection can be an inspiration and not a downer is to find our example of perfection in Jesus Christ Himself, and to find our value and worth in being His. When we trust Christ for salvation, not only are we declared righteous (perfect!) in Him, God also gives us His Spirit to transform us into the people we were meant to be. And that’s way better than a how-to tutorial.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Northwoods Triathlon Training Plan

3 Jun

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We’re really doing it Harry!

Signing up for a sprint triathlon happening only 4 months after giving birth seemed a little ludicrous back in January but now that I’m 2 months postpartum and have several runs, bikes and swims each under my belt, I’m feeling more and more confident that I can do this. It may not be fast or pretty, but I can do this.

I haven’t done a triathlon since 2011. Until 4 weeks postpartum, I hadn’t run since November of last year. I hadn’t really even exercised much in the last 2-3 months of being pregnant. So I’m taking this very slowly. I’m also being realistic about how much time I can commit to training, and keeping my workouts to 4/week. Here’s my plan:

Swimming

When I donned my maternity suit and swam laps at the Y in February, that was the first time I had gone swimming since 2011. Surprisingly, it all came back to me pretty quickly. I did realize how out of swimming shape my arms were when doing the front crawl, and I’m definitely slower than I was back then, but by my third swim a few weeks ago, I could swim 400 yards without stopping (doing the breaststroke, which is what I plan on doing for the triathlon).

To train for the 400 meter swim, I plan to swim once a week at the Y. I will keep things pretty lowkey but do a mixture of long, slower swimming with some sprints for building speed. I’ll probably work up to swimming 800 yards without stopping, doing 1,000 – 1,500 yards total per workout.

Biking

Similar to swimming, I hadn’t biked since 2011 until a few weeks ago. (I got on the bike trainer a few times while pregnant but only last about 5 minutes each time.) I was worried that it would be horribly uncomfortable but it has actually been way more bearable than I thought it would be. My first ride wasn’t even 5 miles long but again, the idea is to take things slow and be realistic. I’ve gone on 4 bike rides so far and I’m up to 8 miles now.

The bike course in the triathlon is 14 miles long so I plan to build up to that and ride that distance a few times before race day. Every other week after my bike ride, I’m going to add a short run (.5 – 1 mile) for a brick workout. I’d go longer if it weren’t for the time commitment. I am still nursing after all!

Running 

My first run postpartum, I ran about 12:30 minute miles, walked a bunch and covered a little over a mile. Five weeks and about ten runs later, I’m up to 2.5 miles and 11 minute miles.

My training plan for the 5K run is to slowly increase mileage (by .5 mile about every other time or so), work up to 3.5 or 4 miles, and alternate weeks between focusing on speed and distance. If I start feeling good about running and have the time, I might increase the distance a little more so that I’d have the option of running a 10K this summer. But we’ll see.

Yoga / Weights

When I trained for the Hot Chocolate 15K last spring, I dealt with a lot of joint pain, which I attributed to losing muscle during pregnancy and never regaining it. So I want to be intentional this time around about doing some strength training, specifically in my legs. I think that swimming and biking will also help alleviate the joint pain from running, but I also enjoy yoga and weights. It’s a good way to mix things up — and it’s easy to do during nap time!

Timing

As you can see from my training plan above, I plan to do my most time-consuming workouts on the weekends when Travis can easily watch the girls. Though I am discovering quickly that my workouts often get bumped when we go out of town or do something else during nap time, like landscaping, so I might have to squeeze some of those in on weekday evenings. Emma goes to daycare on Tuesdays, so I plan to run those days (unless I run on the weekend with a friend). And the yoga or weights I can squeeze in during nap time on Thursdays. Mornings are normally my preferred time to work out, but with a newborn, that just isn’t happening. I can barely open my eyes most mornings, let alone work out!

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I have absolutely LOVED working out again. It helps me feel like my old self, not only physically (I can fit in my pre-pregnancy clothes again!) but mentally (because it gives me a personal goal to work toward and doesn’t involve parenting). Plus, it’s just nice to get outside and have some “me” time where I can think and decompress. Perhaps my favorite thing though is just feeling active again. My workouts are only 30-45 minutes long, but the feeling of being active lasts all day.

IT’S GO TIME!

Worth Repeating {6/2/15}

2 Jun

Often when I find that I’m learning the same old thing yet again, I pull up old blog posts that I’ve written. I’ve been thinking lately about my propensity to prioritize “getting things done” over serving people. What I realized is that the whole point of getting things done (in my case, laundry, dishes, house cleaning, dinner, etc) is serving my family! How often I lose sight of the purpose of those tasks, and just focus on checking them off my to-do list. I pulled up the following blog post and it was so exactly what I needed to remember that I thought I’d share it today. Enjoy!worth_repeating

{First posted on 12/13/11 as “Life is a Glorious Mess”} 

I woke up yesterday morning wanting at least 4 more hours in bed. Instead, I got up to make coffee – an hour after my alarm went off the first time. The kitchen counters overflowed with dirty dishes; the table drowned in Christmas presents, mail, and other things used over the weekend but not put away. The cupboards were conspicuously bare from my lack of grocery shopping. The fridge held potatoes from our garden and spinach from the store, wilting and rotting before I could use them. The dogs wagged their tails in hope of a walk. A temperature of 63 degrees revealed that the furnace wasn’t working again.

I was frustrated. Mad. Why is life so hard?

I do better when life is organized. When things are in their place. When I’m on top of what I need to be on top of.

I could have been there this morning – except I chose to relax and watch Christmas movies last night instead of doing chores.

And I’ve realized that my affinity for order and perfection has a price tag – it costs me Life. Joy. Peace. Patience.

When I admire people in movies (like J. Lo in The Wedding Planner) who have every piece of their life in place with predictable schedules and unvaried routines, I fail to realize that they’re paying for that perfection – with human relationships. I mean, how often do those same perfect people have an intimate marriage, loving kids, and open their homes to others?

To truly embrace the presence of others in my life, I have to let go of perfection. Because a life filled with relationships is messy. As Emily Walker wrote in her post The Messy Table:

My table is not perfect, but it has done the job it was meant to do very well. Life has been lived at it. Lessons have been learned at it. Memories have been made for decades, right there at that table. It tells the story of lives being lived, not life missed out on in the name of perfection.

That. Exactly.

When I think about what kind of mother I want to be someday, do I want my kids to remember how well-kept our house was, elaborate our dinners were, and how we were always running around doing stuff?  Or do I want them to remember how I played with them in our backyard, dropped whatever I was doing to listen or laugh, and didn’t get mad when they trampled little dirty footprints all over the carpet? Obviously, I want to be the latter.

And here’s what I’m learning: I don’t become the peaceful, patient, loving woman I want to be by being perfect and on top of things. Rather, I grow to be that woman as I learn to let things go. If I expect the house to always be orderly, I get frustrated when something is out of place. If I map out my schedule for the day and a wrench gets thrown in, I’m mad.

People who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit aren’t isolated from problems and frustrations. They have just learned to embrace the messiness of life. Be content in chaos. See each moment for what it’s really worth – not a time for getting things done, but a time to connect with and serve others, and to be filled with the joy of knowing Christ. Instead of running around checking off my own to-do list, I need to walk through each day with God, trusting that His grace is sufficient – He will provide the energy and wisdom to work when I need to, and to rest when I need to.

A comforting idea I’ve had in my head for several weeks now is that God is more realistic about my abilities than I am. Like QuatroMama writes in this post, I tend to set up my own (perfectionist) standards and then beat myself up when I fall short.

But God is realistic. “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”He doesn’t ask me to be Mega Woman. He understands that I only have so many minutes in a day and if I spend time doing this thing, I don’t have time for that thing. If I’m exhausted and want to veg instead of clean, He doesn’t accuse me of laziness and not being productive, like I do to myself. Unlike me, He is full of grace, understanding, and patience.

This is where the Gospel makes all the difference. The Gospel allows us to admit that we fall short of what we wish we were, but reassures us that we’re loved anyway. And God’s love for us isn’t despite how we’ve disappointed Him, or failed to live up to His standard. Because when He sees us in Christ, He sees perfect beings. We are completely and utterly righteous in His eyes. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgression from us.”

He doesn’t mutter “I love you” through gritted teeth while trying to not be mad over all the things we’ve done wrong. God’s love abounds for us. He lavishly pours out grace upon grace into our lives with delight.

In the words of John Piper, remind yourself, “I am holy and I am loved.” Even when life is messy.

Annabelle Lyn: 2 Months

1 Jun

I’m a little late on this post (Annabelle is actually over 9 weeks now), but Annabelle just had her 2-month well-baby checkup this past Friday. She now weighs 12 lb 9 oz  (77%) and is 22.5 inches long (53%) — meaning she gained 3 lbs and grew 2 inches in just the past month! Her head circumference is 15.6 inches (85%).

Annabelle is still such a sweet baby. She has started to smile and coo this past month.

20150512_102409She also really enjoys watching the blinking musical smiley face on her playmat and batting at the hanging toys. Emma likes to keep Annabelle company.

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Annabelle doesn’t cry very much and when she does, it’s a pretty quiet cry. It’s actually quite cute. The only time she really gets worked up is when she’s hungry. She doesn’t take a pacifier at all, so in the evenings, I sometimes end up nursing her every 1-2 hours. But once she’s satisfied, she’s very easy to get to sleep. We just swaddle and bounce her a little, and she’s out for 5-6 hours (her longest stretch between feedings).

On the nights that I’ve had to put both Emma and Annabelle to bed by myself (thankfully just a few so far), I have nursed Annabelle, swaddled her, put her in her swing with the vibration on, and she falls asleep on her own. If she doesn’t fall asleep in her swing, she’s almost always content for 15-20 minutes to just sit there, looking around. What a difference from Emma as a baby!

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Speaking of being alone, this past Thursday was my first night with both Emma and Annabelle, and no Travis (he was out of town on a work trip). I survived, though it wasn’t pretty. Emma woke up at 3:30 (I think because she’s getting another one of her 2-year molars) and I rocked her back to sleep quickly but when I went to put her down at 4, she woke up and started freaking out. I was worried about not hearing Annabelle cry (we run a fan in Emma’s room at night) so I set up the monitor in Annabelle’s room (our other one pooped out again). Emma was pretty worked up at that point so it took her over an hour to settle down — at which point Annabelle woke up to nurse. I knew Emma would freak out again if I put her in her crib so I just brought both girls to my bed and Emma played while I nursed Annabelle. Around 5:15, I put Annabelle back down and started rocking Emma back to sleep. I put her down around 6:15 and went back to bed until both girls woke up around 7:30. Whew! I was very happy that Travis got home that night. Though the unfortunate part about Emma teething is that generally speaking, she only wants Mommy during the night. If Travis tries to take a shift, Emma freaks out — like, full-blown tantrum. That’s not good for anyone. Sooooo ready for teething to be over for Emma!

During the day, Annabelle spends a decent amount of time in the Baby Bjorn. She does sleep in her swing also, but she definitely sleeps longer in the carrier. I usually put her in the carrier while we’re outside or doing things that are easy to have her strapped to me so that I can put her down for the things that it’s nice to be sans baby (things that involve a lot of moving around and/or bending down/over). Annabelle is getting to the point of being too heavy to have in the Bjorn for long, so I’m looking into buying a more ergonomic baby carrier. Any recommendations are appreciated!

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In the next 3 weeks or so, we’re going to start transitioning Annabelle from sleeping in her swing to sleeping in the pack n play (Emma still uses the crib). And then we’re going to tackle transitioning Emma to a toddler bed! We’re also starting to dabble in potty training Emma, though I can already tell that it’s going to be a bigger commitment than I’m ready for — or can handle well while nursing. I’ve cleaned up enough pee off carpet with the dogs that I don’t want to deal with it at all with a toddler! So I’m hoping that there will be 4-5 consecutive days warm enough for Emma to be outside all day with no diaper or just undies. That would give us at least a jump start on potty training with no mess. 😉

When Annabelle was 7 weeks, we had her newborn pictures taken. We were also going to have family photos taken that day but Travis woke up with pink eye. So we postponed the family photos until this coming Tuesday. Here are a few sneak peeks for Annabelle’s pictures. I’ll post the others when we have them.

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I love how they turned out! I’ve never really liked newborn pictures where you pose them in pots or buckets — until it was my baby. 😉

Other things that Annabelle did this past month were to journey down to Rochester to visit my parents (Travis and Emma stayed home). It was nice to have adult conversations and not be interrupted 100 times! We spent our whole visit at the hospital too (except for sleeping at night), which wouldn’t have been possible if Emma had come. It was Travis’ first time taking care of Emma overnight on his own and it went well! He really enjoyed the one-on-one time with Emma.

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Annabelle also journeyed up to Namakan Lake in Voyageurs National Park (near the Boundary Waters, across the bourder from Canada) to Travis’ parents’ cabin for Memorial Day weekend. The journey involved 4 hours in the car (in middle-of-nowhere northern Minnesota) and a 45-minute boat ride (her first!) — and that’s just one way. But it went much better than we anticipated! I’ll do a separate post about that weekend…. soon (ish).

And just for fun, here’s a comparison of Emma and Annabelle after a bath around 2-3 weeks old:

emma annabelle comp 2 weeksI think they definitely look like sisters!