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Master Bedroom Redo

10 Mar

Over the course of our marriage, Travis and I have been fortunate to receive lots of free furniture and find good deals on Craigslist. When we moved into our first house, we bought a brand-new queen-size bed, and moved my full-size bed from college into the guest room.

The rest of our furniture was hodge podge. We had my grandparents’ old bedroom set, plus a dresser bought from a garage sale (which was so beat up that you had to hold up one of the drawers with your knee to get anything out of it). We used a garden table and wicker hamper as night stands, which we replaced with cheap, tiny Target night stands when selling our house, just to have something that matched. The assortment of couches and futons we had over the years were all given to us (with the exception of a new futon for the guest room before Emma was born, and the couches downstairs in our current house, which we found for an awesome price on Craigslist).

All that to say, last year when we had saved some extra money from Travis working so much overtime and were wondering what to do with it, buying a nice, quality bedroom set came to mind. Travis’ main desire was to have a nightstand taller than 2 feet with more surface area than a dinner plate; mine was to improve the aesthetics and functionality.

But as we always say with having kids and dogs, “We can’t have nice things.” So when we were looking at bedroom sets, we were drawn to the rustic, imperfect designs–I love that look in the first place, and they would hide chips and scratches easily. After looking at several stores and quite a bit online, we had decided to buy a floor model dresser and bed frame from HOM in St. Cloud that was made with reclaimed wood from an old tobacco mill (the brand-new prices were out of our range), but it was sold before we could get back down to buy it.

Then I saw a Costco flyer with a bedroom set I really liked. It was about the same price as the floor model we had wanted, but it came with two nightstands, a bed frame with two drawers, a 6-drawer dresser, and a large mirror. After several weeks of consideration, we finally decided to pull the trigger.

We had a great experience ordering from Costco. Almost right away, we received an email from a customer service representative, giving us a delivery timeline and number to call if we had any questions. The delivery team worked around our schedule and showed up exactly when they said they would. They set up the furniture where I asked them to, and were very efficient and friendly.

The brand of furniture we bought is aspenhome and we love it. The drawers slide easily and between the six dresser drawers, bed frame drawers, and large nightstands, we easily have enough room for all our clothes. The headboard has buttons on each side for turning on lamps, as well as two outlets on each side. The nightstands have indirect lighting with 3 settings underneath them that work great as night lights when one of us comes to bed later than the other. We didn’t expect to use those features much, but we do all the time.

ANYWAY, since we bought a new bedroom set, we decided to paint the walls (before the furniture came) and finally do something with the TV built-in between our closets (which was just being used as a dumping ground to keep things out of reach of the girls).

Without further ado, here are the before and after pictures.

Before

master 2

The wall color was MEH.master gallery wallbefore

Lots of clutterIMG-4487IMG-4505After

IMG_7173IMG_7174Comforter is the Avondale Manor Ella Pinch Pleat set; bedroom set is the Audrey 5-piece Queen set from CostcoIMG_7188Prints from Hobby Lobby and cotton wreath from AmazonIMG_7175IMG_7179IMG_7176IMG_7178IMG_7182I plan to replace the toolbox for Travis’ stuff once I find something.IMG_7180IMG_7183IMG_7190IMG_7191Jewelry hangers from Hobby LobbyIMG_7187IMG_7186Lamps from TargetIMG_7185Curtain rod and curtains from Kohl’s

2018 Focus: White Space

6 Feb

whitespace copy2017 was a crazy year…

Because of me. I made it one.

The whole year, my mantra was, “I just have to get through this/finish this/do this… THEN life will slow down and I can spend more time with my kids/have a consistent quiet time/read more books…” Except that following each one of those “had-to’s” (some my own doing, others expected of me) was another, and another, and another.

Don’t get me wrong, I was busy with good, worthwhile things…

I decluttered our whole house, did a garage sale with friends, and we donated $500 to the Lakes Area Pregnancy Center.

I co-organized and hosted a pallet-painting craft night. I organized several events for our church group. I threw a baby shower for my brother and SIL.

I brought meals to families with new babies and other needs.

I served on the leadership teams of both my local MOPS group and our church group.

I worked 2 days a week and served in the church nursery once a month.

But the more important things suffered…

I had no consistent quiet time with God. I’ve been using the same journal since June of 2016, which for me is unheard of. To me, that shows how poorly I’ve prioritized my relationship with God as well as my mental health.

I went months without actually playing with my kids, or spending time outside. There were too many “When I finish this” and “I can’t right now” responses to my girls’ pleas to do something with them. Too many days of errand-running and just keeping the kids “occupied.”

By the end of the year, I was feeling crushed by obligations. I deeply desired a day to just BE and not have anything I had to do, but it seemed I always remembered something that was either already overdue or would be overdue if I waited. I felt bitter and boxed in by my life.

Life actually slowed down in December, giving me the chance to reflect and decide that this year…

I’m choosing White Space.

I’m going to Say No and Do Less.

I’m giving myself permission to not bend over backwards to meet every demand, see every person, milk every opportunity, and take every chance.

I’m letting myself step back from being the responsible person, and the person responsible.

I’m promising myself (and my husband) that I won’t plan any events this year, and will never do a garage sale again.

I’m setting up boundaries, limitations, and borders on my time and my family’s time, so that we can live out a schedule that aligns better with what we say our priorities are.

Because that’s the thing about busyness and no margin, regardless of how good the reason: they squeeze out the important for the sake of the urgent.

NO MORE.

Things may fall through the cracks. Balls may get dropped. Opportunities, untaken. Fun things, undone. Expectations, unmet.

But I’ll be gaining my own sanity. And spontaneous memories. Time with my family. Relaxation. Refreshment. Freedom from responsibility.

That’s not to say I won’t ever Say Yes and help others. I don’t think that’s what God wants. But I will Say Yes with a much more intentional mindset, remembering that a Yes to one thing is a No to something else. My time is finite, and I can only do so much. And I want to Say Yes to my family more.

WHITE SPACE. It’s about time.

Pregnancy #3: 8 Months

1 Feb

I was 32 weeks this past Monday, and my due date was 2 months from the previous Friday.

I’m both ready and not ready to be done. Ready, in that pregnancy is not my favorite thing ever, especially the last few months. Not ready, in that the end of pregnancy means the beginning of taking care of a newborn, which comes with challenges and limitations of its own.

OB Appointments

I had 2 appointments 2 weeks apart but my OB said that since my pregnancy is going so well, I don’t have to go back in until I’m 36 weeks. I did ask her about Jellybean being breech, and she said that only 3% of babies are still breech at 37 weeks, so it’s not a concern until then. And the fact that I’ve had 2 babies who were head down is encouraging that baby boy will turn.

Symptoms

I still get a decent amount of Braxton Hicks contractions, which make me walk bent over like a grandma. I’ve had fairly bad acid reflux with this pregnancy (more so than with the previous two)–more foods give me acid reflux and even Zantac sometimes doesn’t help. The only thing that helps is sleeping in a sitting position in bed, which does not result in great sleep. So I’ve been trying to be extra vigilant in avoiding foods that give me acid reflux, even if they’re some of my favorite things.

I’ve been having crazy dreams similar to previous pregnancies, and I’m still ridiculously tired. So far, minimal swelling and very little inner thigh pain (I think it helps that instead of sitting at a desk all day like I did during my pregnancy with Emma, I’m up running around after kids, even if I’m doing less official exercise). I use a heating pad on my back and belly every night though.

I’ve also thankfully avoided the linea negra and facial acne that I had with Emma.

Clothes

My wardrobe is little by little becoming more limited, and the maternity leggings that I bought from Motherhood Maternity are unfortunately pilling hair collectors like I had feared they would be. They’re still comfy, they’re just relegated to being worn at home. :\

Food & Cravings

My latest cravings have ice cream and fruit (specifically berries, grapes, clementines and peaches), but otherwise my eating habits are pretty similar to what they are when I’m not pregnant. So far, I’ve gained a little over 20 pounds, which is pretty much on par with my other pregnancies.

Exercise

When I walk on the treadmill, it’s usually between dinner and bedtime, and my belly feels huge and heavy. As a result, walking is not so enjoyable and I’m often not motivated to do it. But yoga and Pilates can be done then too, and they feel better, so I’m hoping to do that more. Honestly, though, I’m prioritizing sleep over exercise, and I’m totally ok with that. I’ve been here before, and bounced back after pregnancy, so even though I am not as active as I would ideally be, I’m ok with that.

Sleep

I’m still taking naps most days that I’m not working, and they are glorious. Sleep at night is becoming more and more elusive. I miss sleeping on my stomach so much. This is my least favorite part of pregnancy.

Nesting

I got Jellybean’s clothes assembled and organized, and his nursery (which is the room Annabelle is sleeping in right now) is mostly organized. I am planning to paint our old dresser and move that into the girls’ room, so that they can both share one dresser (right now, they have a smaller dresser and a 3-drawer nightstand for their clothes). Then I’ll move the nightstand back into the nursery for storing burp cloths and blankets (and we’ll probably just store the other dresser).

My main nesting instinct right now, though, is cleaning. I finally found the motivation (and the weather cooperated) to clean out our disgustingly filthy windowsills. Seriously, they had not been cleaned since we moved in (and who knows when they were cleaned before then?) and they are just so gross. I also find immense satisfaction in cleaning things that I don’t plan on cleaning again for at least a year or two (as opposed to a bathroom that gets dirty again by the next day).

But my girls are mess-making maniacs so who knows how long my energy for cleaning will keep up.

And that’s pregnancy #3 at 8 months!

Confessions of a Deer-Hunting Widow

7 Nov

Ah, deer hunting season. How I hate thee.

I knew when I married my husband that he liked to hunt. He grew up hunting, almost his entire family hunts, it’s just their thing. But when we were dating, and then got married, Travis was at his all-time hunting low–as in, was doing the least amount of hunting in his life. (On the other hand, I was doing the most hunting of my life. One deer season. One day. HA!)

But it didn’t last long. The fall after we moved to Colorado in 2007 commenced Travis’ family’s annual week-long pilgrimage to the Rockies in search of the elusive elk. That pilgrimage remained a strong tradition until 2016, when Travis opted to hunt antelope in Wyoming instead, and then this year, opted to fish for a week in Canada instead of hunt out of state.

And that was just one season of hunting. Before we had kids, Travis hunted elk, deer, antelope, and ducks. All different seasons. All back to back during arguably the busiest time of year (fall and winter). One year, Travis shot FIVE animals: 1 elk, 2 deer, and 2 antelope. After butchering and vacuum-sealing meat for what seemed like two months straight, I told him he was never allowed to shoot that many animals again.

Then there was the time that Travis had been hunting a lot, and I jokingly (but not jokingly) lamented, “Hunting is taking over your life!” We laughed about that then, but somehow since having kids, that joke isn’t quite as funny anymore.

Because once you have kids, hunting is no longer just a hobby for one spouse. It’s a SACRIFICE for the other. (Unless both spouses like hunting, I guess, but from what I’ve seen, that’s a rarity.)

It’s taken me literally years to remember that hunting doesn’t involve just the time in the stand, or even the time at deer camp. It’s also setting stands. Brushing trails. Cleaning guns. Site-ing guns in. Assembling gear (which for the elk pilgrimage involved two pickup trucks completely bedded down with stuff, including a wall tent with wood stove). And then if the hunters are successful, retrieving the animal. Butchering meat. Grinding meat. Vacuum-sealing meat.

And one year, this process also involved Travis boiling an elk head and scraping out the brain cavity with a tiny wire in order to make a European mount of his bull rack, which we now have displayed in our living room. (He learned to have it done professionally the second time around, and that European mount is in the basement awaiting its placement.)

The hardest part about hunting for our family is that it always happens in the fall (with the exception of duck hunting). And ever since we’ve had kids, fall also happens to be the time of year when Travis’ job is the busiest, and requires the most travel. So it’s no wonder that every October and November, I find myself at my wit’s end. And actually, that’s a very mild way of describing it. Perhaps I should say, I find myself drowning?

Because that’s how it feels. Every moment, my body is consumed with a frantic panic similar to what I imagine a caged animal feels. No matter how much I dislike my circumstances, no matter how stressed out or overwhelmed I feel, I am stuck, spending what feels like endless days and nights by myself with little humans who do what I don’t want them to do, and won’t do what I do want them to. Little humans who refuse to go to bed without tantrums, or who get sick and won’t sleep, or who seemingly break out their most unruly behavior at the very moment I need them most–for my sanity’s sake–to behave. (Thank God for technology, or I would completely lose it for good.)

Then there are the annual marital fights over the H word: how much hunting costs, how much time it takes, how many seasons he should hunt, etc etc. Because Travis’ family’s “thing” is hunting, the amount of time we spend with each side of the family gets brought up defensively. Last year’s argument included my throwing a Camelbak water bottle, complete with expletive, at the wall, breaking the water bottle, and puncturing a hole in the sheetrock. (That happened after Travis said, “I really haven’t gone hunting that much.”)

After that shameful but ultimately productive incident, I was finally able to put words to my feelings and tell Travis, “I know you love hunting. And I want you to continue doing the things you love to do. And I want to be supportive of you doing them. But right now, I can’t be more supportive than simply telling you through gritted teeth that you can do them. I want to have a good attitude about all of it, but I just don’t. And I don’t have the emotional capacity to change that. Because I feel like I’m drowning. And I can’t do anything more right now than just survive.”

And that’s where I find myself again this hunting season, even though now I work two days a week (a change that was brought about by last year’s hunting season). Because Travis has traveled for work 4 out of the last 6 weeks, and is set to leave for another 5-day work trip on the last day of deer season.

But what can I do? I know for a fact that if I asked Travis not to hunt anymore this season (since he HAS already shot two does), he wouldn’t. He doesn’t blaze a hunting trail with no thought to his wife or kids. But if I do ask him not to hunt anymore, then I end up feeling like the needy, no-fun ball-and-chain who doesn’t let her husband do anything. And I honestly do want Travis to continue doing the things that he loves. So even though it’s hard, and I don’t have the attitude about it that I wish I did (because honestly, how can I?!?!), I will grit my teeth and tell Travis to go have fun while I change poopy diapers and wipe poopy butts, diffuse umpteen fights over toys, assemble meals that do not get eaten, and keep my girls from destroying my in-laws’ house.

There is no tidy wrap-up to this blog post because this is an issue that we are still working through, and I imagine will work through until the day our kids can take care of themselves, or go hunting themselves. Rather, I write this more to say that if you find yourself a hunting widow with young kids, and you’re having a hard time maintaining sanity, I understand. I’m there with you.

Emma Grace: 4.25 Years

30 Aug

Emma was 4.25 years old on July 7 (so now she’s just a little over a month shy of being 4.5 years). Like I did with Annabelle, I forgot about/didn’t make time for an update on her birthday (April 7). This year has been kind of crazy.IMG_4305IMG_4193Size

At her 4-year well-child checkup, Emma weighed 37 lb 12 oz (72%) and was 41.5” tall (85%). She is starting to outgrow her 4T pants, though she is so thin with no butt that she can wear Annabelle’s 2T shirts and shorts if we’re in a pinch (or if Daddy isn’t paying attention to whose clothes are whose).IMG_4447IMG_4383Eating

Emma’s eating habits are pretty much the same as they were in her last update at 3.75 Years. She has started recognizing the foods that she doesn’t like, however, like pepperoni on pizza (“too spicy”) and mustard on burgers (at McDonald’s, “Mommy, the adults put mustard on my burger again. Hmph.”)IMG_5053IMG_5020IMG_3707IMG_4226Sleeping

Emma is almost officially done with naps. Most days, she just has “quiet time” in Annabelle’s old room for 20-30 minutes (which is just her playing with toys in the room by herself), and then watches iPad for another 30-45 minutes. That way, I get at least a small break to read a book or lay down. She still does nap some days, though – if she’s particularly crabby that day or I’m particularly wiped, I’ll make her lay down in my bed with me for 20 minutes. That’s usually long enough that she ends up falling asleep (with minimal fight because she’s not “taking a nap,” she’s just “lying down for a bit.”)

During the summer, we have been staying outside after dinner to enjoy the extended daylight so the girls don’t usually get to bed until between 9:30 and 10:30. It’s so hard to not burn the candle at both ends in the summer when you live in Minnesota! During the school year, we try to get the girls to bed between 8:30 and 9. Emma usually wakes up around 7:30.IMG_3451IMG_4149IMG_5108Development

Emma is finally, officially, 100%, day and night, #1 and #2 potty trained (and has been pretty much since my last update in March). Only took us about a year. She still dislikes going potty before bedtime or trips (when she doesn’t think she has to go) but she has had hardly any daytime accidents (though there was a short period of time where she was waiting too long and did have a few accidents).

Her main challenge right now is that she is so out of it when she wakes up in the middle of the night to go potty that she doesn’t fully remember what to do. She’ll stumble to the bathroom, but then just stand there and pee on the floor. Or she’ll get out of bed but not open her bedroom door, so she ends up peeing on the carpet. My favorite was a morning when we were in Michigan on vacation, she stumbled out of bed, down the hall to the room she had been sleeping in the previous night, and into the closet. Luckily, I had followed her, realized that she wasn’t totally with it, and got her to the bathroom in time.IMG_4431IMG_4374IMG_4244As far as “academic learning,” Emma can recognize almost all the letters of the alphabet and loves to spell words as we read books; she can count to 20 and recognize numbers 1-9 (for the most part); she can memorize the words to her favorite songs and sing them all by herself; and she has gotten really good at coloring within the lines and cutting shapes out with scissors.

When Emma is interested in something and asks me how it works/why it happens, we often look up an educational YouTube video about it. I think Emma is a visual learner, and the videos usually have a better explanation than I would anyway.

Emma is a born leader, and when her and Annabelle play together, Emma is almost always calling the shots. Luckily Annabelle has a very easygoing personality, especially when it comes to playing with big sister, or they would butt heads a lot. Emma just needs to work on letting other kids (and her little sister) contribute their own ideas to playing, and not needing her ideas to be the only ones.IMG_3931IMG_3955IMG_3860Emma’s favorite things to do lately have been:

  • Coloring, crafts, painting – This girl loves creating. Puffy paint and glitter are definitely favorites.IMG_4147IMG_3910
  • Getting messy – Sand, mud, water, paint, soap, food, marker, shaving cream – you name it, Emma has probably made a mess with it.IMG_4443IMG_3561
  • Playdoh – Emma is obsessed with YouTube videos about playdoh creations, and also really enjoys playing with playdoh herself.
  • Picking flowers and raspberries in our backyardIMG_4701IMG_4245
  • Checking the mailbox for mail – Emma is now tall enough that she can check for mail by herself, so she loves doing it.
  • Parking all of her riding toys down by the lower garage – Somehow, they’re only good for the ride down there, and then she’s over it.
  • Finding treasures outside, imagining them to be the ingredients of a cake or something – We got a free kitchen playset from one of Travis’ uncles. Since we already have one inside, we leave that one outside on our porch, and the girls love playing with it using real water and their “ingredients” like grass clippings, pine cones, green berries from a tree, moss, leaves, etc.
  • Barbies – Emma has really started to enjoy imaginative play the past year, and then we went over to a friend’s house who had Barbies (!). Emma fell in love, so we bought her some from the thrift store. She has really enjoyed them! She even chose a Barbie backpack for preschool.
  • Water – always and forever, this girl loves water. When we were up at Travis’ parents’ cabin for the weekend of the Fourth, Emma would play in the water until she was shivering and her teeth were chattering (because the water temp was only about 68 degrees), then she’d get changed into dry clothes, and go back in the water…in her clothes.IMG_4727IMG_4830IMG_3810IMG_3582
  • Boat rides – Emma has waffled back and forth between loving and hating boat rides. At the beginning of this year, Emma was still slightly terrified at being on a boat and made Travis drive at trolling speed when we went out, but now, she’s warmed up to the idea and loves “going fast.”IMG_4023
  • Getting “beautiful” and “fancy” – “Mommy, I need fancy hair, a necklace, earrings, and lip gloss” is what she tells me when we’re getting ready to go somewhere. She also loves putting on my makeup, though sometimes she ends up looking strange instead of beautiful because she puts dark eyeshadow on her cheeks or eyebrows. Emma also still loves skirts and dresses, and thankfully we have found a new favorite dress to replace the horribly faded and stained Striped Dress.IMG_4857IMG_4800IMG_4074IMG_4060IMG_4084IMG_3850
  • Baking – Emma loves helping in the kitchen, and one day out of the blue, she asked to make “watermelon cookies.” Not knowing what in the world she was talking about, I googled it and turns out, they are a thing! So we bought the ingredients and made them (they’re just sugar cookies dyed green with pink frosting and chocolate chips).IMG_3815And that’s Emma at almost 4.5 years!

Race Recap: 2017 Northwoods Triathlon

23 Aug

Back in January, I signed up for the Northwoods Triathlon in Nevis, MN, on August 12 this year. I had good intentions of following a training plan — I downloaded Hal Higdon’s, made some edits in an Excel spreadsheet, printed it out, and hung it up. But then life happened and I didn’t do a single workout from that plan.

Instead, I winged it. I swam, biked, and ran about once a week each, working up to peak distances of swimming 600 yards, biking 18 miles, and running 4.5 miles. I did a few brick workouts, where I’d run half a mile to a mile after biking, and one Saturday, I did a mini tri where I swam laps at the Y, biked half an hour on the stationary bike, and then ran 4.5 miles.

So even though I didn’t follow a training plan, and didn’t train a whole ton, by race day I felt like I had definitely trained enough to do the triathlon. Whether or not I would beat my 2015 time of 1:39:05 was another matter. (The differences between my times are in parentheses below with my 2017 times.)

PRE-RACE

Travis and I got up on race day around 6 AM to make it to the transition area by about 6:45. The race started at 8, and I still had to pick up my packet (but that’s the glorious thing about small races: packet pickup is a breeze!). I made a bagel with cream cheese and ate half (I ate the other half about 30 minutes before the race started), a cup of coffee (which I would later regret), and we headed out.

I easily found a spot near the Bike Out to rack my bike and set up my gear while Travis chatted with a friend from high school (Travis grew up in Nevis). After my stuff was all set up, I went to pick up my packet and get bodymarked. Once that was done, all I had left to do was use the bathroom and wait. Travis left around 7 to go pick up his parents and the girls. I used the portapotty twice and ran a few hundred feet in my flipflops for my warmup. My approach to this race was very laidback, can you tell?IMG_4989IMG_5007SWIM

I got in the water about 10 minutes before the race started. The air was about 60 degrees, and the water was about 73, so it felt pretty good! My wave was the 5th to go (pink caps). When we were on deck and waiting for the countdown, I put my face in the water and tried spitting in my goggles so that they wouldn’t fog up (which they do every single time I swim, but thankfully they didn’t this time!). Finally it was time to go!

I started out a little too fast with the people around me, so I had a hard time catching my breath for the first 150 meters or so (of 400). I was also trapped in a group of swimmers until about the first buoy, so it was hard to find my stride. And I was swimming on the inside lane (closest to the buoys) so both times around the buoys, I had to doggie paddle because all the swimmers who had been in the middle or outside took the corner sharp and cut me off. Needless to say, it wasn’t my best swim and I was relieved when it was over.

I stood up when the water was about thigh-deep and walked/jogged up the hill to the transition area.

OFFICIAL SWIM TIME: 12:05 (+1:12)

T1

Once I arrived at my stuff, I toweled off as best as I could, rinsed my feet off, and put on my socks, shoes, race belt, helmet and sunglasses.

I had set up my stuff on the wrong side of my bike so when I took my bike off the rack, I was on the right side of it, instead of the left side. So I had to get on the other side, and while doing so, it almost fell over. I was so flustered from that, that I almost mounted my bike right in the transition area instead of walking it to the Bike Out. Oy. You’d think I’d never done one of these things before.90C721D1-D8F1-4D3F-9475-0817C677AAADOFFICIAL T1 TIME: 3:15 (+0:32)

BIKE

The bike portion would’ve gone really well except that starting at Mile 5, I had to pee really bad. It was horribly uncomfortable. There were no portapotties out on the 14-mile course, so I could either hold it or hop off into the woods. I seriously contemplated going in the woods, and even now, I think that’s probably what I should’ve done, but I just feel weird about that. So in the end, I held it for the whole bike, which really slowed my speed down between miles 8 and 12. Ugh, it was brutal. I probably drank too much coffee too little time before the race. What is this, amateur hour?

Otherwise, I felt like I handled all the rolling hills decently well. My legs actually felt great (or maybe I just didn’t notice them being tired because of how bad I had to use the bathroom).

OFFICIAL BIKE TIME: 54:22 (15.7 mph) (+1:58)

T2

Immediately when I got into the transition area, I leaned my bike against the portapotties and used one. Better.

Then I racked my bike, took off my sunglasses and helmet, put on my hat, grabbed a Gu, and headed out on the run.

OFFICIAL T2 TIME: 2:24 (+1:16)

RUN

I used the same strategy during this run as I did in 2015–just settle into a comfortable pace and don’t worry about how fast or slow I’m running. So I did just that, though finding a “comfortable pace” was a little harder this time than last time. The run portion was when I could really tell that I hadn’t trained as much for this race as I have for other races.

I ate my Gu right before the water station near the turnaround, got cups of water both times through, and walked while I drank them. Otherwise, I ran the whole distance, albeit slowly. By Mile 2, my legs were really starting to feel tired, but I muscled through. Finally, the finish line was in sight! I gave high-fives to Emma and Annabelle, and crossed the finish line.

OFFICIAL RUN TIME: 35:54 (11:35/mile) (+3:56)

OFFICIAL RACE TIME: 1:47:57 (+8:52)IMG_5005So I didn’t even come close to my 2015 time, but all things considered, I think this race went as well as I could realistically expect. I knew going into it that I hadn’t trained as well as past races, so I just focused on enjoying myself and gaining the feeling of accomplishment that I had completed another sprint triathlon.

We hung around after the race for the kids’ races. Emma ran in the 3- and 4-year-old race. She got hung up behind a few kids that collided and fell over, so she didn’t win, but she had fun, which is all that matters!IMG_5006 She got a rainbow-colored ribbon for participating and a coupon for a freezee pop from the grocery store/cafe in town, but the line to redeem the coupon was super long, so we were going to buy Emma something else, but she had seen rainbow ice cream in the cafe where the line was, so we ended up leaving without anything, carrying Emma kicking and screaming. She fell asleep on the ride back to Travis’ parents’ house, so I think being tired had something to do with her meltdown.

And that’s that!

Our Trip to Michigan 2017

2 Aug

Back in June, Travis, Emma, Annabelle, and I vacationed in Holland, Michigan, with almost my whole family—my dad, 2 of 3 brothers, 2 of 3 sisters-in-law, and the 2 nephews on my side (to be joined by 2 nieces by the end of the year!). We were the first to arrive on Saturday. We flew from Brainerd to Grand Rapids (with a layover in MSP), rented a car, and drove an hour to Holland.IMG_4540IMG_0297 (Large)IMG_0298 (Large)IMG_4541The beach house we rented through Airbnb was in a small community of private owners, right next to the mouth of Lake Macatawa, and had its own private beach, which was super nice. Would definitely recommend this area!IMG_0435 (Large)IMG_0431 (Large)IMG_0317 (Large)We didn’t know it at the time, but the day we arrived was one of the nicest days we had there. The girls were so excited to be at the beach that we dropped our stuff in the house, got suits on, and headed out. It wasn’t extremely warm, especially for being at the beach, but it was warm enough to enjoy being out there, even in water that was only 68 degrees.

Later that day, my dad, and the 4 Js (Jeremy, Jen, Jensen and Jackson) arrived. Brian and Jill arrived the following night. Chris and Meg were unfortunately unable to come because of last-minute complications with selling their condo and building a new house.

Most days were a combination of hanging out in the house doing puzzles or watching movies, kids playing on the beach or in the water, chilling, drinking, playing Kubb (which Brian introduced us to), and going on some kind of outing.IMG_0319 (Large)IMG_0335 (Large)IMG_4615IMG_4631IMG_4592IMG_4562IMG_0373 (Large)IMG_0375 (Large)IMG_0437 (Large)Sunday, we had planning to go on a hike in a state forest but turned out it was only a random trail through the woods. So instead we went to the Lake Macatawa State Park, which was where the public beach was located. We ate ice cream, watched kite flying, walked out on the break water, and played on the playground. The funny thing was, it was literally just on the opposite side of the red lighthouse and mouth of Lake Macatawa as our beach house–but it took us about 30 minutes to drive there. After seeing all the people on the public beach, we were grateful for our private one. IMG_4586IMG_4573IMG_4576Monday, Jen and I went to a used book sale at the local library while Brian and my dad bought groceries. Then we visited the Windmill Island Gardens, and learned a little about Dutch culture. We took a tour of the working windmill and learned how they grind flour and cornmeal, which was really interesting. The kids rode the carousel a couple of times, we listened to an antique Amsterdam street organ, and bought some yummy Dutch treats in the gift shop.IMG_4603IMG_4642IMG_4609IMG_4602Tuesday, Annabelle got sick. 😦 Poor little girl didn’t have much of a fever, but she got a ton of mucus buildup, so she had a hard time sleeping and just wanted to cuddle all day. That evening, the four of us did a little shopping downtown while others went grocery shopping and then we all went out to eat at New Holland Brewing, where the food was delicious (and I heard the beer was too, but I am not a beer drinker).IMG_4620Wednesday, we finally had a day that wasn’t super windy so we spent most of it on the beach. Annabelle still wasn’t feeling well, but she enjoyed snuggling on the beach and listening to the white noise of the waves.IMG_4630Thursday, Annabelle was starting to feel better, but still wanted to be carried most of the time. We debated about whether we should have her out and about, but after much hemming and hawing, we decided to go for it. We went on a Saugatuck Dune Ride and a hike at Sand Dunes State Park. The dune ride was awesome. Our girls loved it, putting their arms up in the air and squealing whenever we went around a fast turn or down a steep hill. Jensen and Jackson were a little apprehensive about the ride at times though. I don’t like rollercoasters whatsoever, but this ride was tame enough for me (while still being fun for others with stronger stomachs). Our guide, Joey, was very friendly and told us some of the history of the sand dunes.IMG_0405 (Large)IMG_0409 (Large)IMG_0390 (Large)IMG_0387 (Large)IMG_0383 (Large) Afterward, we ate ice cream, then went on a short, easy hike in the state park, which ended at the beach, where Emma and Jensen proceeded to go swimming fully clothed.IMG_0411 (Large)IMG_0415 (Large)Friday, we went to the Outdoor Discovery Center, which was a great find. There was a nature center with some impressive taxidermied animals, a kid-size zipline, a bunch of walking trails, and a birds of prey center, where we saw bald eagles, hawks, owls, and more who had all been rehabilitated from an injury and could no longer survive in the wild. Oh, and we also lost Emma on the never-ending maze of trails for a good 10 minutes.IMG_4664IMG_4647 We also stopped by the fishing pond, where Jensen and Travis both caught a few fish.IMG_0426 (Large)Saturday, it was time to pack up, tidy the beach house, and head south to South Haven to see Jeremy race in the National Auto Sport Association (the J’s had driven there the night before). We got there right as Jeremy was on the track for the Qualifier, and got to see him drive by a couple of times. Then there was a break for his class/division (whatever you call it), so we got to chat with him, see their car trailer/RV rig, and eat lunch. Right after lunch, Jeremy had his big race of the day so we all made our way up to the big spectator hill. Unfortunately, Jeremy only made it around the track a couple times before his car had a major malfunction and he was forced to exit the race, and also be done for the weekend. Such is the life of a race car driver.IMG_4666We left soon afterward for the airport in Grand Rapids. Because Travis has often flown Delta for work, and we made two separate itineraries for this trip in order to use mileage points, he and Emma were TSA Pre-check and got upgraded to first class seats on the way back, while Annabelle and I were all the way back in Row 24. Honestly, it wasn’t bad at all. I just love giving him crap about it. 😉

And that was our trip! We would definitely love to go back!