Archive | August, 2015

Annabelle’s Newborn and Emma’s 2-Year Pro Photos

19 Aug

Way back when Annabelle was 7 weeks old, we had professional photos taken of her and our family (since Emma was just past 2 years old too). It was kind of chaotic and took us meeting 2 different times, me nursing Annabelle several times mid-session to calm her down, and Emma holding on to a plastic baseball she had found in the photographer’s car (random) in our family photos to stay happy. But all you need is a split-second of everyone looking happy!

Here was the result:10475445_980834938594907_3082657565790053818_o 10914950_980828621928872_1653972813925739179_o 11145270_980828665262201_297409411428702661_o 11265574_980828611928873_5341966412947857647_o Kluthe (13 of 1) (Large) Kluthe (22 of 1) (Large) Kluthe (27 of 1) (Large) Kluthe (28 of 1) (Large)

Kluthe (38 of 1) (Large) Kluthe (41 of 1) (Large) Kluthe (50 of 1) (Large) Kluthe (56 of 1) (Large) Kluthe (68 of 1)-2 (Large) Kluthe (73 of 1) (Large)In the past, we used our friend Jen Jacobs from Kitestrings Photography for our photos. But since she’s all the way down in Minneapolis, we decided to try out a local recommendation, Sarah Larson Photography. Sarah was great and worked well with Emma and Annabelle. She also has a lot of props, backgrounds and lighting options. My only frustration was that instead of getting rights to all the photos like we did with Jen, we had to either buy prints from her, and or buy the rights to the digital files. So we ended up buying the rights to 10 photos, and ordering a few more prints of the ones we liked, but not enough to buy the file for. It ended up working out though and I love how the photos turned out!

A {Real} Day In The Life

16 Aug

Today was one of those days.

I had moved to Emma’s room around 3 a.m., after she woke up twice quite upset — whether overtired from our whirlwind trip to the Cities that day or irritated by a diaper rash on her bum, I wasn’t sure.

Annabelle woke up to nurse around 6 a.m. I snuck out and nursed her quietly in the glider in her room. She fell back asleep, I put her back down and snuck back into Emma’s room, only to discover she was already awake and unhappy. A few minutes later, Annabelle’s squawk came through the monitor. I got back up, brought Annabelle to Travis and went back to bed with Emma until 8.

We got up, ate breakfast while we “watch movie”, and made it to church only 5 minutes late for the 9 a.m. service. I even had time to dry my hair and put lotion on my legs! I still did my makeup in the car though.

We checked Emma into the toddler room and I watched the whole service on the closed-circuit TV in the nursing room while nursing and then holding Annabelle while she napped. I don’t get to do that much, so it’s a sweet time when I do.

After church, we stopped by Walmart to buy Emma new shoes (we discovered upon arriving at church that her tennis shoes from the spring – the only ones we had along – are now 3 sizes too small…) and chips to bring to the all-church picnic. We ate lunch at the park with church friends, watched Emma and the kiddos play on the playground and bouncy house, and then headed home for naps around 12:30. I figured Emma would be ready for an early nap because of her rough night (she usually naps around 2).

It was working out perfectly. I nursed Annabelle and put her down around 1:15. We watched a few minion mini-movies (this girl is obsessed) and then Emma and I went to her room for a nap. After two trips to the bathroom for water and a tissue for her “nose boogers”, she laid down on top of me and fell asleep. I was *almost* asleep when Annabelle started crying. Travis was out mowing the lawn so I rolled Emma off me and made sure she was still asleep before sneaking out.

Annabelle hadn’t slept very long, even with the short nap she’d taken at the picnic, so I changed her diaper and set up on the bed, hoping she’d fall back asleep nursing, still giving me a chance to nap too. It worked! Annabelle was sleeping and I was getting drowsy when I thought I heard Emma… I got up to get the monitor then saw the door to our room was open, which meant I could hear Emma if she was crying. So I crawled back in bed (still holding a sleeping baby) and settled back in.

Then I heard Emma again. No question that time. She was quite upset. So I put Annabelle back down and went back in to Emma. If Annabelle woke up again, I’d just have to go get Travis. I cuddled with Emma until she calmed down. She seemed to be almost back asleep when Annabelle cried again. I watched her on the monitor for a bit and she went back to sleep, thank goodness. Unfortunately, Emma didn’t go back to sleep like I had thought so we got up to cuddle on the couch while watching TV (we don’t usually watch this much, I promise!).

As I was laying in Emma’s room, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, not just because of the nap debacle but also because Travis was going fishing that night for the third time this weekend, I decided that I needed a break, and not just in the form of wine (though that was definitely needed too). And I wanted to do something relaxing, not go on a bike ride like I had planned.

So that’s how I ended up here, getting a pedicure, drinking a coffee and blogging from my phone. I’m going shopping at Kohl’s after this and then picking up a Papa Murphy’s pizza for dinner to go with my wine. After dinner while Travis goes fishing, the girls and I will play outside on the swingset, watch a movie and go to bed early.

Hey, a momma can dream, right?

Race Recap: Northwoods Triathlon

12 Aug

On Friday before the race, we packed and headed up to Nevis in time for packet pickup and the spaghetti dinner benefiting the Nevis football team. My parents met us there. Packet pickup wasn’t busy at all so it only took me about 5 minutes to get my bib, t-shirt and swim cap (no bike numbers at this little race!). This race is capped at 250 participants, so it’s a nice size – and it sells out FAST every year!

After dinner, we headed back to Travis’ parents’ house. Ironically, his parents were down at my parents’ house in Rochester because Al had had heart surgery that day at the Mayo Clinic. (He’s doing decently well, if you’re wondering.) I put Annabelle to bed and we watched Jim Gaffigan’s Mr. Universe standup on Netflix while Emma bounced off the walls. She was hard to get to sleep that night, and Annabelle woke up a few times because she was too hot and had to burp. Every time I got up to tend to Annabelle, Emma got wound back up. Finally, Emma crashed around 11:15 and we moved Annabelle downstairs to where it was cooler.

I slept decently well for a pre-race night. I woke up to thunderstorms sometime in the very early a.m. and was more worried that the thunder would wake Emma or Annabelle up than I was about doing a race the next morning.

PRE-RACE

Finally, it was 5 a.m. and time to get up. I nursed Annabelle a bit longer than I had planned – until 5:45 – and put her back down. I quickly showered and changed into my tri shorts. I decided to wait until right before the race to put my tri top and sports bras on, because I planned to nurse Annabelle again around 7. Nursing definitely presents a unique challenge for race day!

I ate a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, made a cup of coffee, and Travis, Annabelle and I took off for the transition area around 6:30. My parents planned to wake Emma up around 7.

We easily found a parking spot and walked the 2 blocks to transition. I set my bike up near my friend Emily’s and we chatted for a bit while I set my stuff up. I went to get body marked (they just did bib number on both right arm and right leg – no age group), which only took about 3 minutes.

By then, it was about 7 so we made our way back to the car so I could nurse Annabelle before the pre-race meeting at 7:45. She must’ve been completely full though, because she wanted nothing to do with nursing. So I just put on my Body Glide, sports bras, and tri top and we headed back to transition around 7:30.

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After the pre-race meeting, I made my way down to the beach and got used to the water. I swam around a bit and then the first wave was off. I was in the fourth wave – women 34 and under. The waves were 3 minutes apart. The leaders from the first wave started coming out of the water. Finally, the purple caps were up!

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SWIM

I was a little nervous as the director counted down our group, but once he said “Go!” and we all started swimming, I willed myself to settle down and “race my own race.” I kept my sight on the buoys, which actually didn’t seem that far away since the swim was only 400 meters, and focused on breathing deeply and evenly. There were a handful of purple caps swimming around me – several of us were doing the breaststroke. The only somewhat eventful things that happened during the swim were that I swallowed a mouthful of water once (but didn’t panic!) and I told an older gentleman who was doing the backstroke that he was going off course.

Finally the swim was over! I stood up when the water was below my waist, and walked up the beach and giant hill to transition.

OFFICIAL SWIM TIME: 10:53

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T1

There was a kiddie pool to use for rinsing your feet off, but I had brought my own wash basin to use. I rinsed my feet off and tried to towel my legs and feet off, but I was dripping water so it didn’t really help. The second sports bra I wore isn’t one that I’ve worn during a race before – I usually only wear one for triathlons, to minimize the amount of fabric getting wet. But since I’m nursing, I knew I would be a lot more comfortable on the run if I wore two. And I was, but that bra definitely held a decent amount of water! I had to wring it out on the bike, and my shoes and socks were soaked by the time I started the run. I was worried about blisters, but it didn’t seem to matter.

Anyway, after toweling off a bit unsuccessfully, I put on my socks, shoes, sunglasses (in case of bugs, not sun), and helmet, grabbed my bike, and away I went.

OFFICIAL T1 TIME: 2:43

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BIKE

The bike course was a loop, starting out going west from Nevis, then north, east and back south. The first half was rolling hills. I played leap frog with a few people. Whenever I passed someone going up a hill, I thought, “Either I’m in better bike shape than I thought I was, or I’m being an idiot and these people are being conservative and saving themselves for the run.”

By about mile 7, I was thinking that maybe the right answer was the latter. My legs were starting to feel tired. Lucky for me, the last 5 or so miles were mostly flat. Other than my butt hurting for the last 4-5 miles, feeling like I had to pee, and the wind picking up a bit, the bike was very enjoyable. The sky was overcast, the scenery was pretty (farmland, trees, lakes and rolling hills), and the volunteers were helpful.

We climbed one last hill coming into Nevis and then it was back in to transition!

OFFICIAL TIME: 52:24 (16.3 MPH)

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T2

I had toyed with the idea of parking my bike near the portapotties and making a quick pit stop, but by the time I got to transition, the urge had passed. So I re-racked my bike in the correct spot, took off my helmet and sunglasses, grabbed a Gu and headed out on the run.

OFFICIAL T2 TIME: 1:08

RUN

After being on the bike, it always feels like I’m running at a snail’s pace, even though I’m usually not. So my strategy for the run was to just find a comfortable pace and keep running. Maybe I was running slow, maybe I wasn’t. I wasn’t going to worry about speed.

A little after Mile 1, I started feeling a little sick to my stomach so I started eating the Espresso-flavored Gu I had grabbed. I ate about 2/3 of it by the time I reached the water stop at the turnaround. I grabbed a cup of water and walked until I drank it all. I discarded the cup and my Gu, and started running again. The sick feeling had gone away and I was feeling good.

By Mile 2, I started getting goosebumps from the pure joy and excitement of being out there and having the race go so well. I guess you can call that the triathlete’s high! The finish line was in sight, but I felt like I could’ve kept running.

I picked up speed for the last .1 mile where all the spectators were standing, and finished strong.

OFFICIAL RUN TIME: 31:58 (10:19/mile)

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OFFICIAL RACE TIME: 1:39:05

Considering my A Goal was 1:41, I have to say, Booyah!

It’s an awesome experience to have the stars align for a race. You go out and crush your goal, AND have fun doing it. Doesn’t get much better than that.

I saw my dad, mom, Travis and Emma as I was coming in to the finish line, so after I returned my chip and grabbed some food and Gatorade, I went and found them. We chatted for a while and then our friends Brenda and Jake arrived via bike with their 2 kiddos. They had tried to time it to see me finish but I was too speedy! Haha. It was fun seeing them anyway.

We tried to grab lunch in Nevis, but only 1 of the town’s 4 restaurants were open, and it was packed. So we decided to meet at Zorbaz in an hour, giving Brenda and Jake time to bike back to their car, and me time to go back to the house for a shower and nursing session.

My parents headed back to their cabin instead of coming out to lunch, so it was just us 4 adults and the 4 kiddos. Travis and I had been wanting to go out to eat with Brenda and Jake sometime, so it was fun to get to do it. Brenda is one of my awesome running buddies!

After lunch, we grabbed our stuff and the dogs from Travis’ parents’ house and headed back to Brainerd. I nursed Annabelle and unpacked only to repack for a somewhat impromptu trip to Rochester by way of St. Cloud. We stopped by Fleet Farm for Travis to buy some fishing tackle and then were on our way down to St. Cloud by about 5 pm.

We met up with our friends Eric and Holly at a park in Sauk Rapids. Eric and Travis went fishing in the river while Holly, her 2 girls, my 2 girls, and I played at the park. After an hour, we ladies ate dinner at Noodles and headed over to Holly’s house, where we put the babies down for the night and the older girls played way past their bedtimes. The guys didn’t get back from fishing until 10! Unfortunately, they didn’t catch a single fish. We finally got on the road to Rochester – a 3.5 hour drive – at 10:30. Oy. It would be a late night after a very long day.

The drive was kind of dicey (due to us being so tired) but we made it to Rochester a little after 1 a.m. Thankfully, Emma went right back to sleep after we brought her in, and Annabelle nursed and went right down too. I crawled into bed around 1:45.

The next morning, Annabelle woke up to nurse at 7 and Emma woke up at 8. We had coffee and breakfast and then headed over to the hospital to see Travis’ dad. The girls and I stayed until around 1:30 and then headed back to my parents’ house for naps. After tag-teaming the girls, I finally got a short nap in myself. Glorious. Emma woke up from her nap around 6, I nursed Annabelle, we ate dinner, headed back to the hospital for an hour and then called it a night.

Monday, Travis had to work in the morning so my mom and I took Emma to a park in town while Annabelle took a 2.5-hour nap at home (Travis manned the baby monitor). It was fun – and so much easier to be at the park sans baby! We ate lunch back at the house and then went to visit Al for a bit. After packing up our stuff and the dogs at the house, we ate dinner at Panera with my parents and headed back up to Brainerd, getting back to our house around 10.

Whew! We have been here, there and everywhere for the past month and a half. Poor Annabelle, you can tell she’s ready to not be in her carseat so much. I’m hoping to be a homebody for a while now. Well, maybe.

Training Update: Northwoods Triathlon

6 Aug
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From back in the day (2009)

Well, it’s finally here. The sprint triathlon I registered for back in January is this coming Saturday – only 2 days away! I posted about my training plan a while back… and haven’t mentioned anything about it since. So here’s the down-to-the-wire update:

Long story short: I didn’t train as much as I had planned or wanted to, but I feel ready enough to give it a go.

Short story long:

Swimming

I failed miserably at going to the pool to swim (I went 4 times all year). I just couldn’t often find the 1.5 hours it took to drive to the pool, swim, change and drive back. BUT being as I live in northern Minnesota and am literally surrounded by lakes, I did swim in open water 4 times. They weren’t long swims (probably 400-800 meters each) but they served their purpose: strengthening my mental poise. The swim in this triathlon is only 400 meters, so the biggest hurdle for me will be mental. My natural instinct in open water is PANIC because I can’t touch the bottom, or worse – the seaweed might touch me. One of the open water swims I did was in the lake I’ll be swimming in for the race, so that helped even more.

Biking

After discovering that the beach we usually go to is only 6 miles away and that there’s a back way with less traffic, I biked to and from the beach a couple of times, for a total of 12 miles each. Those were my longest rides. Similar to my excuses for not swimming more often, I found it hard to carve out more than an hour for a workout. Also, biking and swimming both require additional things to make them happen – a bike and water respectively. July was a crazy month for us – we were out of town or had out of town guests for all but a week. So I’m not as strong on the bike as I would like to be, but it is what it is. At least I have been biking a fair amount of hills so I’ll be ready for those!

Running

Ah, running. My favorite because it’s just so convenient. You can pack everything you need in a duffel bag and use it practically anywhere. I was definitely the most consistent with running out of the three. I went on a handful of runs with Annabelle on Emma’s daycare days, went on at least a handful of runs with friends (at the crack of dawn no less), and ran by myself a few times. I mostly ran 2-3 miles at a time, but I did run 4 once. Also, after my longer bike rides, I ran up and down our driveway just to get used to the feeling of running on bike legs. (I liken it to the feeling of trying to jump on the ground after you get off a trampoline – you feel like you can’t even jump a centimeter.)

With training behind me, it’s on to race day preparation and goals. I feel about this race like I felt about having a second child – I feel confident because I’ve done it before, but that feeling of confidence can lead me to forgetting the basics, like needing to buy diapers or bring my bike to the race. I’m mostly worried about forgetting the small things – like my race belt (that old chestnut) or tape to use for attaching shotbloks to my bike.

So the other night while I was waiting for Emma to fall asleep, I mentally rehearsed the race and my transitions. Back when I first started doing triathlons pre-kids, I actually practiced my transitions. Now, I’ll have to settle for my imagination. It definitely helps anyway though! I remembered that I want to bring 2 big towels – for putting my stuff on in the transition area and to wrap up in until my wave starts – and 1 little – for drying off my legs after the swim (I hate having water drip down into my socks). Oh and a wash basin to rinse my feet. Races usually provide those, but your feet still get stuff on them between the tub and your bike.

I also realized that oh yeah, there will probably be packet pickup the day before the race (they do have it race morning too though). Oh and I’ll have to get body marked. What if my sunscreen causes the body markings to smudge like that one time? Are they going to have swim waves because the website doesn’t say anything about that. But I can’t imagine them having 250 swimmers start all at once. Though that is how Ironman does it, right?

You see that I have some race day jitters. Never mind that I’ve done 5 sprints and 1 Oly, or that I worked for a triathlon company for a year and have worked over 20 triathlons. Race day is both exciting and nerve-racking… and that’s what I love about it!

So my goals. I swore up and down that I just wanted to finish and who cares about my time. But I can’t help it. Nevertheless, I am leaving my watch and bike odometer at home so that I can’t worry about speed or time while out on the course. Out there, I am just going to focus on keeping an even pace, enjoying myself and cheering others on.

But after the race, I can dissect my times. 🙂 This race is a 400m swim, 14 mile bike and 5k run. I’m hoping to do the swim in 12-15 minutes, the bike in 50-60 minutes, and the run in 35-40 minutes. Add in 3 minutes for T1 (there’s a GIANT hill between the beach and transition area) and 1:30 for T2 and that puts me at 1:41:30 and 1:59:30. I realize that’s a big range but I really have no idea how the race is going to go. Even my previous times (from back in 2009 or 2010!) don’t really help because I was in WAY better shape back then. So we’ll just have to wait and see!

I do know, though, that for me, being obsessed with my speed or time for an entire race takes all the fun out of it. So similar to when I ran my full marathon and did my Oly tri, my main goal is HAVE FUN and remember why I love endurance sports in the first place.

Wish me luck! I’ll be back in a few days with a race recap!

A Weekend Sans Emma

4 Aug

It occurred to me earlier this summer that we haven’t been taking full advantage of having grandparents so close by. So we scheduled a weekend of Emma staying at Travis’ parents’ house, while we enjoyed more than a few minutes of being able to “get stuff done.”

We were already up in Nevis after the storm so Friday night, we headed home and after getting food put back in our refrigerator and freezer, the car unloaded, some laundry started, and Annabelle to bed, we vegged a bit and headed to bed ourselves.

Saturday morning, we headed out garage sale-ing. Both Travis and I love going to garage sales but Emma, being the toddler tornado that she is, makes it challenging (though we did take her along the other 2 times we went out this summer). We found some good stuff – I bought a handful of picture frames for the photo collage I want to hang up someday in our living room. I also found some fall/winter clothes for Emma, some craft supplies, a running vest for $1 (CW-X brand!), a scarf and some flip flops. Travis’ purchase of the day was a small table saw for $30, with an extension cord and long-handled window squeegee thrown in for free.

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After our shopping spree, we ate lunch and then Travis did stuff in the garage and yard while I nursed Annabelle and got our house back in order after hosting the reunion and being gone for a week.

That night, we went out for dinner at Jake’s across from Gull Lake.

wpid-img_20150718_202421.jpgWe sat out on the patio and it was a little chilly, but our food was amazing. I had lobster and shrimp tacos and they were the best ones I’ve had since first eating them in San Diego. Mmmm… Travis ate half of a small chicken, which he said was delicious.

Sunday morning, we got up bright and early to go for a hike in Crow Wing State Park before church. Well, rookie mistake – we both forgot to bring bug spray. We lasted about one minute before deciding to bag it for the morning. Instead, we went to church, ate lunch and then headed back to the state park. The trail was actually mostly in the shade and there was a light breeze, so the hike wasn’t as hot as we had feared. There were still bugs but we didn’t get bit after putting bug spray on. We learned a lot about the history of the town Crow Wing and the dogs enjoyed getting out. Annabelle slept through the whole thing.

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After our hike, I nursed Annabelle while Travis went out and worked on the car. When I was done nursing, I brought Annabelle and her bouncy seat out to the garage and she watched Travis change the oil while I went on a bike ride. When I got back, Emma was back from her weekend with Grandma and Grandpa. We talked with Travis’ mom for a bit and then she headed out. I can’t remember what we did that night, but I’m sure it was some variation on eating dinner, playing outside in the driveway or on the swingset, and then the bedtime routine antics. Travis and I had a great weekend, and it was a good mix between fun and productivity. Can’t wait to do it again!

An Impromptu Week in Nevis

3 Aug

Since the bad storm in the Brainerd area caused us to lose power for several days, we hightailed it up to Nevis to stay with Travis’ parents until our power came back on, which it did on Wednesday afternoon (after being out since Sunday night). Regardless, we decided to just stay put until Friday night. Travis’ parents’ were watching Emma for us that following weekend so instead of driving down to our house just to drive back up, we stayed put.

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Travis, of course, had to work while we were up there. But Emma, Annabelle, and I – we just hang out all day, every day. 🙂 I do like those perks of being a stay-at-home mom. On Tuesday (the day after we got up to Nevis), we headed into Park Rapids to buy a few things at Walmart, but otherwise, we just hung out at the house.

Wednesday was my birthday, so to celebrate, I carted the girls and three armfuls of stuff to the beach. Seriously, going to the beach is an ordeal. But hey, I went to the beach last year on my birthday, I went this year – I think it’s going to be my new birthday tradition. I like going to the beach, even if it does take forever and a day to get packed up. There wasn’t anyone else there when we arrived and we had forgotten to bring our beach toys from Brainerd, so Emma was a little bored. Baby and I went in the water too but there’s only so much you can do at the beach… after what seemed like 3 hours but was only 45 minutes, Emma wanted to go swing on the swings at the beach playground. Ok. So I schlepped all our stuff up there. Bless her heart, Annabelle went to sleep in her carseat while I pushed Emma on the swing. It’s just so easy to love that baby.

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Wednesday night, we went out to dinner at the Iron House in Nevis with Travis’ parents. The restaurant had changed owners since any of us had eaten there and the food was delicious – though the service was a little slow. Emma, poor girl, had a fever and when we got home, we discovered it was 104! We thought about taking her in, but we gave her some Tylenol and her fever went down. By the morning, it was gone. So strange. I’m thinking teething again?

Thursday, Emma was still off so the girls and I just hung out at the house. Emma and I actually watched the majority of Finding Nemo before she got bored and wandered off. (This has proven to no longer just be something she does when she’s sick! She enjoys watching shows now, though her attention span is still about 20 minutes). After dinner, Travis, the girls and I headed back to the Nevis beach so that I could do an open water swim (same beach of the triathlon I’m doing). I feel more confident knowing that the water gets deep enough, fast enough that the seaweed doesn’t touch me! Seriously, that’s the worst part about swimming in open water for me – I have an irrational phobia of seaweed.

That night, Emma took forever to go to sleep. She asked for anything and everything (milk, water, juice, yogurt, strawberries) to get out of going to bed. And silly me, I believed that she might actually want something to eat or drink. She did end up drinking a few juice boxes and eating some strawberries in bed – after over an hour of trips downstairs to the kitchen for food and drink. By the time we went to bed for good, I had had it. That’s when it’s nice to have reinforcements in the form of a spouse.

Friday, the girls and I headed up to Bemidji to go to the zoo (Paul Bunyan Animal Land) and have lunch with Travis’ sister, Carolyn. It was really fun – we fed deer and kangaroos from our hands, gave the monkeys bananas through holes in their cages, and saw a lion, pot-bellied pigs, camels, rabbits and tortoises.

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Afterward, we ate lunch with Carolyn at Green Mill. Emma took a nap on the drive up and drive back, so when we got back to the house, she was wide awake.

After work, Travis packed up his stuff and headed back down to Brainerd to make sure everything was good with the house. Meanwhile, I packed up Annabelle’s and my stuff. Once I got the all-clear from Travis, Annabelle and I sneaked out while Emma stayed with Grandma and Grandpa.

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While leads me to the weekend that Travis and I had without Emma… coming soon in another blog post.

Kriswold Family Reunion 2015

2 Aug

The weekend after the Fourth of July, we hosted my annual family reunion at our house in Brainerd. The reunions started out as my mom’s side of the family but my dad’s only brother Noel and his wife Pat have attended several years too. The more, the merrier!

My mom and dad, brother Jeremy, sister-in-law Jen, and nephews Jensen and Jackson all came up on Wednesday night. Besides getting food and tables ready for the day of the reunion (Saturday), we went to the beach both Thursday and Friday, played with the kids outside, watched Frozen at least a half dozen times, and of course, ate lots of food.

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Jen and Jackson

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Jensen
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Friday night, Noel and Pat, my uncle Roger and aunt Sharyn, and my uncle Kim came over for pizza. We ate outside on our deck and patio. It was a beautiful evening and the best part – no mosquitoes! We had our lawn sprayed by the Mosquito Squad and it was very effective. Definitely worth $150 in my opinion! My brother Chris and sis-in-law Meg showed up after dinner.

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Saturday was the official day of the reunion. We were slightly worried about rain, or about it being too hot (previous forecasts had called for 85 and sunny) but it ended up being low 80s and mostly overcast – perfect weather for a reunion!

This year’s theme was Disney. I had really wanted to find a Belle (Beauty & the Beast) costume for Annabelle but just couldn’t find one in her size. So she ended up being Snow White.

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Emma was Minnie Mouse – I found her dress for $0.25 at a garage sale, and princess shoes and Minnie ears at Walmart (that she wore for about 1 minute).

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I had really wanted to dress up as a princess with a fun dress and tiara, but since I’m nursing, a dress wasn’t very practical. I already had a skirt and tank that would work well for Ariel (The Little Mermaid) so I decided to do that. I bought a purple bikini top from Walmart and a red wig from Walmart.com.

I tried my hardest to convince Travis to dress up as Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid – I even bought him a white polo shirt, blue shorts and a red sash from Walmart. But he refused. He said the costume made him feel like a Walmart hobo. So what did he do instead?

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If you guessed the hunter from Bambi, you were correct.

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Tinkerbelle, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Mr. Smee11053615_852957471425792_358843996009049173_o

The Jedi (apparently Star Wars was bought by Disney?)11709926_852956574759215_5461904379036690660_o

A few of us kept our costumes on for most of the day but most people put theirs on long enough for pictures, and then took most or at least part of them off. I wore my wig and bikini top until after dinner and then ditched them. The wig wasn’t itchy at all, and surprisingly not too hot, but that darn long hair was always in the way with holding and nursing Annabelle!

Other people that showed up for the day of the reunion were my aunt Jayme, cousin Jody, second cousin Lacey and her son Parker, uncle Don and aunt Marilyn, and cousin Tim and his daughter Charlotte. All in all, we had about 25 people. It was a troop!

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Snow White & the Five Dwarfs, plus Malificent11722617_852958474759025_3315473040157688123_o 11700623_852957248092481_4235108760304224122_o

We ate a giant brunch of food around noon, and then dinner was around 5:30 I think. Honestly, the day was one big blur – between keeping track of kiddos, nursing, people coming and going, helping in the kitchen a bit, and catching up with relatives I hadn’t seen in years, it was kind of chaotic. Fun, but crazy.

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Sunday, my immediate family (minus Chris and Meg who had left Saturday night because Meg had to work), Travis, our girls and I all made it to church. Amazingly, we weren’t even that late. It was a Christmas miracle!

After church, we had our relatives who were still in town over for lunch. My dad’s cousin Brian and his wife Dianne who live in Brainerd came over too with their daughter. We had been talking about seeing them ever since we moved to the area, so it was nice to see them. I didn’t get to chat much between taking care of kids though – such is the life of a nursing mom!

While the family was there for lunch, we celebrated my mom’s and my birthdays, which were on July 13 and July 15 respectively. She turned 62 and I turned 32. Everything that has happened this past year with my mom’s health makes us thankful for one more year of being alive, and being together.

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(This was earlier in the week — we celebrated more than once — but you get the idea.)

Sunday evening, Jeremy and Jen headed back out on the road with their boys. They made a short pit stop at my parents’ house in Rochester and then continued on their way to southern Indiana – all in all, a 13.5-hour jaunt! They’re brave souls for making the trek with two little ones and two wiener dogs.

After everyone, except my parents and Noel and Pat, had pulled up stakes and left town, we settled in for some White Collar episodes. We were pooped! But our viewing was interrupted by a crazy storm system that quickly blew in. Travis was watching on the porch and called us to come and look. There was a huge wall of greenish, purple clouds blowing in. The wind picked up so fast that after just a few minutes, we were spooked and decided to head to the basement. About 15 minutes later, we lost power. The trees looked like little rag dolls in the wind. A huge branch fell off a tree in the middle of our yard, and a tree on the side of our yard came crashing down too. I was too freaked out to even watch. Not only is it sad to lose trees, it’s scary to know that one could fall on your house!

The worst of the storm lasted for less than an hour, but we were without power until Wednesday afternoon. That night, we got out all the candles we owned, played music through little speakers connected to my iPod, and the guys went out to survey the damage. We were extremely lucky – a tree fell right next to our shed, but did minimal damage. Another tree next to our house was blown partially over, but not snapped. There are other branches in the middle of our woods that broke off too, but we suffered no structural damage.

Other people were not as lucky. This was one of the worst storms to hit the Brainerd Lakes area in decades. In the woods just 4-5 miles north of us, about half of the trees were either snapped off or completely uprooted. And we’re talking big, 60-year-old trees. One of the resorts right in our area had its entire roof ripped off. It’s just devastating.

When you live in the country, no power means no sewer and no water. So after cleaning up the yard on Monday, my parents headed home and we headed up to Travis’ parents’ house in Nevis until our power came back on.

This post is crazy long already, so I’m going to cover our time in Nevis in a separate post. Coming soon…