Tag Archives: Emma

Evansville Trip, Fall 2015

28 Nov

My oldest brother, Jeremy, and sister-in-law, Jen, live down in Evansville, Indiana. My (and Travis’) last visit to their house had been when my nephew Jensen was a couple months old — he’ll be 4 in January. So we were due for a visit.

Timing-wise, it worked out best for me and the girls to go while Travis was going to be elk hunting in Colorado during October — which obviously meant he wouldn’t be joining us this time. I had a hard time deciding whether we should fly or drive. Flying sounded challenging because I’d be on my own with two kids. Never mind Emma’s craziness or Annabelle’s dependence — the sheer logistics of getting all our crap into the airport by myself were mind-boggling.

But the thought of driving 13+ hours with Emma was equally intimidating. And I had a $100 credit for Southwest, and tickets were very reasonable. So in the end, I decided to fly. We would fly from Minneapolis/St. Paul to St. Louis, where my parents would pick us up and drive us the last 3 hours.

After much thinking and strategizing, I pared our stuff down to a manageable amount: I had our jogging stroller with Annabelle’s carseat (and Annabelle), a single giant rolling duffel bag with all of our stuff, and one larger carry-on bag that contained toys/markers/iPad/snacks for entertaining the kids during the flight, as well as my small purse that contained only the essentials. For Emma’s carseat (that we would need once we got to STL), we ended up buying Annabelle’s convertible carseat early and shipping it to my parents’ house, so they brought that with them in their car (they drove the whole way).

Thursday morning, the girls and I left the house right on time. My plan was to park at an off-site airport lot so that the shuttle would pick me up at my car and drop me off right at the door. Well, right as we were driving through St. Cloud (after we had been on the road about an hour with 1.5 hours more to go), Emma puked up the copious amounts of applesauce she had just ingested. I pulled over at a gas station (soooo happy we were right by one!) and spent about 30 minutes wiping off her carseat, changing her clothes, and rinsing the dirty ones.

I didn’t feel like we had enough time for the off-site parking anymore so I decided to just park at the airport. It would mean more walking but less time waiting. We made it to the airport without further incident and got our stuff unloaded how I had planned. As we were walking through the parking garage trying to find the entrance/elevator, Emma got freaked out by all the loud noises so I pulled over and ended up putting Annabelle in the Ergobaby, Emma in the stroller and carrying the carseat in the same hand I was using to push the stroller (the other one was pulling our duffel). It was tricky to say the least.

Luckily, getting our bags checked and going through security were both a breeze. We had plenty of time so while we waited for boarding to begin, we played at the kids play area they have in MSP Terminal 2.
The flight went well. Emma got a window seat and I sat in the middle with Annabelle. Emma started getting a little impatient on the jet way before we took off because she had to be sitting down and buckled in but I turned an iPad movie on and that solved that. It was tricky nursing Annabelle on the plane because the seats are so cramped and she really dislikes the nursing cover but we made do.

When we got to St. Louis, my mom met us at baggage claim to help with all our stuff. We got everything and everyone loaded up and hit the road after a quick lunch at Culver’s. Both girls napped almost the whole way to Evansville.

That night, we got settled in at J&J’s house, ate dinner and hung out. It was really warm that day — probably mid-70s — so our bedroom upstairs was hot that first night. Thankfully it cooled down for the rest of our trip and then it was very pleasant. Emma alternated between sleeping on the air mattress with me and in Jensen’s toddler bed.

The next day (Friday), we checked out the Evansville Fall Festival (what we Midwesterners call a fair). Emma went on the several rides, including the carousel, swings and train (Jensen was not interested one bit!).
Jeremy and I went on a crazy ride called Freak Out. It didn’t look that bad from the ground but holy cow, it was crazy. I’m not a fan of roller-coasters so my mom was surprised that I was actually willing to go… she was right. I screamed so loud that my throat hurt the next day.
We also tried a bunch of different foods at the Festival, including a deep-fried Monte Cristo, kraut balls, Creamsicle float, and deep-fried pickles. My stomach and esophagus hated me later.
Saturday, we stopped by Ruby Moon winery on our way to Cates Farm in Henderson, KY. The winery had some of the best wine I’ve ever had. My favorite was a white called Stellar White. I definitely need to get some more sometime.

Cates Farm had a little of everything. They had a pumpkin patch, sandbox full of corn kernels, rubber ducky racing, slides, bouncy house, hay rides and a corn maze. We spent our first hour or 2 doing all the kid activities. Emma LOVED this big slide they had, which was just a 50-foot-long black, plastic culvert pipe. We went down it 5-6 times. She also loved the duck racing because it involved water.
She did not love the bouncy house though. She wanted to jump in it but the two times she tried, she got scared by the bigger kids and had a meltdown so I had to go in and get her out.

The only bad moment of the day was when we couldn’t find Emma for about 10 minutes. We looked everywhere we had been in the kid area… she wasn’t anywhere. It felt very surreal. We started asking employees and other patrons if they had seen her; no one had. FINALLY, we found her. Apparently, she had wandered into the corn maze alone. A wonderful lady had seen her in there and heard me calling for her, and brought her back out. Thank the Lord!

After we walked through the minion-shaped corn maze (watching Emma like a hawk), went on a hay ride, and picked out our pumpkins, we called it a day.
On Sunday, we went to J&J’s church and then just spent the afternoon at their house. Jensen and Emma painted their pumpkins and spent the rest of their time doing what they had been doing the whole trip: chasing each other around, wrestling, screaming, jumping off couch cushions, playing with toys. They had a great time together.
Monday, we packed up, ate a quick breakfast and hit the road. When we got to St. Louis, we ate lunch at a hole-in-the-wall BBQ place called Mark & Wanda’s. It had great service, great prices and great food. We’ll definitely remember that place for the next time!

The flight home went well. My mom helped me get our stuff into the airport and stood with me in the security line until I got to the TSA person. We had just enough time after getting through security to buy Emma some candy (she chose Swedish Fish), change diapers and go to the bathroom, get our stroller tagged for gate-checking, and fill up my water bottle. Then it was time to board!

When we got on the plane, I was worried that I was going to have to ask someone to move because only middle seats where left. But there were two rows on one side in the back that had a middle and aisle seat open so we sat in the very last row. Again, both girls did well and it was definitely easier to nurse Annabelle sitting in an aisle seat and not the middle.

It took us over an hour to leave the airport after we landed. First, I thought I should try to nurse Annabelle a little more so she didn’t get hungry on the way home. So we stopped at the kids play area for a bit and met another little girl named Annabelle.

Then we made our way down to baggage claim but we had taken so long, they had already moved our bags back to their offices. We walked over there, found our bag and Annabelle’s carseat, and then Emma had to poop. So we stood around for 10 minutes waiting for her and then changing her diaper.

We were finally on our way to the car except then we took the wrong elevator, so we went up, got out, got back in, went down, walked to the correct elevator, got back in, went up and got out. All that while pushing a stroller, pulling a duffel and wrangling a toddler. Ugh.

Emma then discovered moving sidewalks, which she thought were pretty fun. So we rode it a couple more times than necessary (that part of the airport was dead) just for fun.

Then came the fun of finding the car. In the midst of the chaos of getting to and into the airport, I forgot to take specific note of where I parked. I knew the general area but we had to walk around a bit before finding the car. Emma was walking and wearing her backpack leash, and she kept whining “Emma’s car. Emma’s car.” I was relieved when we finally got loaded up!

Both girls slept the whole way home and it didn’t mess with their bedtimes too much either. So all in all, it was a very successful, enjoyable (albeit exhausting) trip!

Emma Grace: 30 Months

7 Oct

Emma is officially 2 1/2 years old today! She won’t go back to the doc until she’s 3 so these are just a few rough estimates by me, but she’s now 27 pounds and 3′ tall. This BabyCenter percentile calculator puts her in the 10-20th percentile for weight and 25-50th percentile for height.


Fun with chalk

Here’s what Emma has been into the past 3 months (July, August, September):

* Peach tea — She’s obsessed. One day, we had run out of peach tea. While we were playing outside, she wanted to get in the car and be buckled in her carseat. As I’m doing it (hey, she’s asked for weirder things), she says “Peach tea buy.” I laughed, and we went to the store and bought some more. Who was I to turn down that determination?


Having a living room picnic on a rainy day

* Beach — Even though it is no longer beach-going weather, Emma still asks to go on a regular basis. We went to the beach quite a bit this summer. Probably at least once a week. At the end of summer, we started going in the evening. I loved it because it was still warm but we didn’t need sunscreen, didn’t need to worry about baby getting burned, didn’t need to pack food and we usually had the place to ourselves.

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* Being outside — In addition to the beach, Emma’s favorite things to do outside have been: gather acorns and leaves to throw in the river, ride her truck/trike/bike in the driveway and down the hill in our front yard, play at a playground or swing set, play with water and/or the hose, and go down to the dock and “poke the water” with a stick (there’s lots of algae and weeds to entertain her).

* Taking care of her baby — Emma has started wanting to take her baby doll with her everywhere. She wants baby to swing, go in the stroller, sit in the Bumbo, come in the car, and she’s even asked me to “tick Baby” at night (by that she means rubbing her foot or back). She also likes taking care of Annabelle, but since she is real, I obviously limit what she can do with Annabelle.

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* PINK everything — Emma is so obsessed with pink that she is adamant about getting or using the pink version of anything — even if it’s just a CD of 70s music she wouldn’t like. She even suggested that instead of replacing our roof with gray shingles, we should use pink shingles. She’s also started using pink to describe things that have no color, like the booms we can hear from artillery hitting the ground on the military base near our house (“pink booms”) or the beach (“pink beach”). What a silly girl.

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* Watching TV — Right around 27 months, Emma started getting interested in watching movies and shows on TV, and now she is obsessed. I have to admit that she watches quite a bit now because it’s just so easy to turn a show on while I’m nursing Annabelle and/or putting her down for a nap (and other times, I just don’t feel like fighting Emma over it). But she only sits down for about 20 minutes before running off to do something else, then comes back to watch for a bit, then runs off. She also stands right in front of the TV and jumps up and down during her favorite parts. Emma’s favorite movies/shows so far have been: Ratatouille, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (1&2), Despicable Me 2, Minion mini movies (specifically Banana, Puppy and Training Wheels), Gnomeo and Juliet, Super Why, Horton Hears a Who, Finding Nemo, and Flower Power and Farm Feet from a Little People DVD we got with a toy.


* Playing games on my smartphone or the iPad — Emma’s favorite games are painting, puzzles, counting, fish in a koi pond, and tea party. I think this could end up being our incentive for potty training…

Speaking of which, no, I have not potty trained her yet. I think about it often, but I am just dreading the time commitment and hassle of it. I’m thinking we might wait until the winter when we’re hunkered down inside and have nothing else to do…


We’ve had success on the toddler bed front though! For the first 2-2.5 months that Emma was in a toddler bed, we laid with her on her bed until she fell asleep — which sometimes took 1.5 hours! It was not sustainable. Not only were we losing precious “me” and “our” time, we almost always emerged from her room frustrated that it took so long, and too tired to do anything but stumble to bed ourselves.

Finally, about a month ago, I decided enough was enough, so at bedtime, I explained to Emma that we wouldn’t be staying in her room until she fell asleep anymore, that she needed to be a big girl and go to sleep on her own again. Then I went through Emma’s usual nighttime routine of put on pajamas, drink peach tea, watch moons, brush teeth and rub her back/arms/feet/legs (what she calls “tick”). Then when we got to the point where I’d just lay there until she fell asleep, I explained to her again that I wasn’t going to stay until she fell asleep, but that I’d be right on the other side of the door, and would leave it cracked. I gave her extra kisses and snuggles and then went out of the room, leaving the door cracked.

The first few nights and naps, I sat in the hallway outside her room, watching her on the video monitor until she fell asleep. She did get out of her bed a few times, but I just went back in her room and told her that she needed to get back in bed. I kissed and hugged her again, and left the room. That was it. We really haven’t had any problems since. Sure, there are nights when she rolls around in bed for an hour, putting her feet on the wall, and throwing stuff on the floor and then reaching for it with her body half off the bed (really testing the limits). But we are so happy to have “our time” back!

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Now that it’s fall, we’re back into our rhythm of MOPS on 1-2 Mondays per month, daycare on Tuesdays, ECFE and speech appointment on Thursdays, with Wednesdays and Fridays open for play dates, errands or chilling at home. It’s a good mix for us!

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And that’s Emma at 2.5 years!

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!

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.


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




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.


Annabelle and Jackson “playing” together11016961_10102176484544732_5167785230461321536_o


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.


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).


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?


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!


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.


(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…

Emma Grace: 27 Months

22 Jul

I don’t do monthly updates on Emma anymore but because I want to remember what she was like at this age, I think it’s time I do another update. Emma was 27 months on July 7.



Emma’s obsessions lately have been:

* Moons — She points them out whenever she sees them — in books, on towels, in the sky during the day. She also has a projector that projects stars, teddy bears and a moon while playing music and we ‘watch moons’ together before she falls asleep at naptime and bedtime.

* Bikes — She points them out all the time and loves trying to ride the bike we bought her at a garage sale for $10 (she’s still a little too small for it and we have to hold her upright on it). One of our friends biked with his 4.5-year-old son to the beach using one of those pull-behind bikes. Emma saw that and now will randomly say “Andrew. Bike. Daddy.” It’s hilarious… but annoying if she gets stuck on repeat.

* Airplanes — We have a teeny tiny airport near our house so we see small airplanes flying fairly often. If she hears any noise that even resembles a plane, Emma says “a-pa” and looks in the sky for an airplane.

* Choo-choos — There’s a railroad track about a mile from our house but over the river, the sound carries a ways, so we can hear the train really well. Whenever she hears one, her mouth gets wide, “Ooohhh… choo choo.”

* Yogurt — This girl still loves yogurt… A LOT. Just like her cousin Jensen. Those two must’ve eaten about 15 things of yogurt in the few days he was visiting.
* Pointing out colors — Emma is doing really well with recognizing colors! Now we’re getting her started on counting.

* Hearts and all things pink — She’s totally a girly girl! At the library one day, she ran around collecting pink books. She will also pick out or point out everything pink, like purses, the record from the Fisher Price record player, and the pink squid on Finding Nemo (which we just watched for the first time this past week!).
* “If You’re Happy & You Know It” — This is by far Emma’s favorite song. My parents bought her a little bunny that plays the song, wiggles it ears up and down, and claps. It’s really cute.

* Her Baby Sister — Emma loves helping with Annabelle. She unbuttons her onesie and pulls her diaper off, throws the dirty diaper away, brings burp cloths and blankets, entertains Annabelle when she’s unhappy, holds Annabelle on her lap (for about 30 seconds at a time with our help), and goes “Shhhh” if we mention Baby is sleeping. She also loves giving Baby hugs and kisses.
* Being outside — Emma’s favorite things to do outside are: Draw with sidewalk chalk, roll down the hill in her wagon or truck, jump in puddles, play at the beach, and play at the playground or on our swingset (specifically swinging). Emma also loves to watch older kids play. I joke that that’s the only thing that can get her to stand still.
* Towels — I have no idea why, but Emma loves playing with towels, specifically the pink ones she used as a newborn (she loves the hood and “wears” them around). One of her favorite things to say is “Pink towel.”
Even though Emma is a challenge and a very stubborn, determined little girl who will knowingly defy me while looking me straight in the eyes and saying “Naughty,” she is a sweetheart most of the time. She’s also at a very fun age. I love that she’s talking so much (except for when she repeats the same thing over and over hundreds of times in a row) — it’s just fun to learn her personality and hear the crazy things that toddlers think about and say.

On a more developmental side, Emma has officially transitioned to a toddler bed AND is done drinking bottles! Both things went much better than I had thought they would.

For the toddler bed, we had talked about bringing it up to Emma’s room several times and just never got around to it. Then we went to Rochester to visit my parents for a week and discovered that Emma could crawl out of her pack ‘n’ play. So she slept in the big bed with me and after seeing that she did really well with not rolling off and could get out of bed and come upstairs when she was done sleeping, we decided to just go with it. When we returned home, we brought her toddler bed up and the rest is history. Emma loves sleeping in a big girl bed. We still stay in her room until she falls asleep and there have been several nights when Emma comes into our bed, but I’d say 80% of the time, the toddler bed has been good.
For weaning Emma off her bottles, we first started giving her the bottle separated from naptime and bedtime. I’d give her a bottle after lunch and after dinner, but not as part of her bedtime routine. We did that for a few weeks. Then when we went to my parents’ cabin over the Fourth, we forgot to bring bottles along and decided it was time to pull off the Band-Aid. It was hard those first few nights — Emma really wanted a bottle. But she survived without it and it got easier the longer she went without one. We did end up telling her that “bottles went bye-bye” and she seemed content with that explanation… I have no idea why. Once we got home from the cabin, we moved the bottles to a higher cabinet so Emma couldn’t see them. Now Emma drinks milk from a sippy cup before bed (if she drinks any at all). Yay!

Next up… potty training. Oy. Momma’s not ready.

Fourth of July 2015

16 Jul

I’m a little late with this post but right after we returned from the cabin over the 4th, it was a sprint to get stuff ready for our family reunion that we hosted at our house this past weekend. And now we’re up at Travis’ parents’ house because our power is out for 4 days. So. I think I have an excuse for the tardiness.

For the Fourth of July this year, we headed down to my parents’ cabin near Pine City. Travis’ parents Al and Beth, brother Matthew, Matthew’s girlfriend Diana and my brother Chris joined us as well. But first, we stopped at a friend’s parent’s lake house in Aitkin to see our friends who we hadn’t seen in about 5 years! It was great catching up with them — they live down in Minneapolis so we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like. The kids played on the beach and in the water while the adults chatted and snacked. They had shelled peanuts that Emma was obsessed with — except that she would try to just eat the shell too. Silly girl.

Around 3:30 pm, we headed down to the cabin, arriving around 5 pm. Al, Beth and Matthew got there soon after and we ate dinner. We sat around and talked until it was time for bed. Since Emma is now able to climb out of her pack ‘n’ play, she slept in the bed with me and Travis slept on a twin air mattress on the floor. Annabelle slept in her swing. We were a little nervous about having all 4 of us in the same room, but it ended up working out ok. We put Annabelle down in my parents’ room until Emma got to sleep (with me) and then Travis moved Annabelle into our room when he went to bed. We had a loud fan going in our room so I was able to get up, change Annabelle’s diaper, nurse her and put her back down without waking up Emma. Always a dicey situation!

Saturday was the Fourth and for the morning and early afternoon, we took it easy. Chris had arrived the previous night after Emma and I went to bed, and Diana arrived mid-morning. Travis, Al and Matthew went fishing around 7 on Al’s fishing boat.

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The rest of drank coffee and tea, and ate French toast for breakfast (my fave!). When the fisherman got back, we filled up the kiddie pool and played Bocce ball.

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Emma ended up falling asleep in Grandma Beth’s arms mid-morning — she was definitely acting a little off all that day. I blame teething.

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After lunch, we got the pontoon out of the garage, charged and launched, and made it over to the sandbar beach area by 4 pm (my parents’ property has a rocky shoreline) after Travis and Matthew got a short tube ride behind Al’s boat. Better late than never! We enjoyed our time over there, though Emma is still NOT a fan of boat rides, at all.

Soon, it was time for dinner so we headed back to the cabin for dinner. I wasn’t feeling the greatest and we discovered that both Emma and I had a fever of 102! No wonder she wasn’t acting like herself. Since we have 2 young kiddos and a slew of adults who hate fighting traffic ;), we made a campfire and watched the amateur fireworks around the lake. The cabin just 3 properties down from us put on a great show — though they were so close and loud that the whole time, Emma kept saying “House! House!” because she wanted to go back inside. Annabelle slept through the whole thing.

On Sunday, we ate breakfast and hung out on the pontoon at the dock watching Emma throw rocks in the water off the dock.

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It was at this time that Emma fell off the dock. She had been getting off the pontoon with Grandma Beth and accidentally backed up off the dock. She wasn’t wearing a lifejacket, but it was really shallow (she could’ve stood up) and Beth jumped in to get her really quickly. Emma was ok, and only slightly terrified. She still loves the water! About an hour or so later, we got motivated to get to the sandbar beach. We got there around 11 I think, and spent a couple of hours there, floating, snacking, and playing in the sand.

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We headed back to the cabin for lunch and then the packing up began. Our time at the cabin is always too short! Al, Beth, Matthew and Diana all left during Emma’s naptime. My parents, Travis and I loaded up a trailer of stuff to take up to our house for the family reunion, got packed and headed out around 8 pm — later than we had planned on leaving but it’s amazing how long it takes to get going when you have 2 little kids, especially when one is nursing.

All afternoon on Sunday, it had been threatening rain but we didn’t get anything more than a shower here and there… until we got 5 minutes from home. Then the heavens opened up and we got caught in a such a downpour we could barely see the road. Needless to say, all the stuff we had in the trailer got drenched. It wasn’t anything that couldn’t get wet necessarily but still. Figures.

It was a great Fourth regardless! I’m glad I got to see some fireworks this year.

Mother’s Day 2015

20 May

I am very behind on blog posts but since I love to look back at old posts and be reminded of what life was like 1, 2, 5 years ago, I am going to post about these things even though they’re not really ‘timely’ anymore.

For Mother’s Day this year, Travis took care of the girls and let me sleep in. When I got up around 8:15, he had homemade waffles and eggs waiting for me. Delicious!


We went to the second service at church and then headed home for lunch, which was a veggie pizza from Papa Murphy’s, one of my favorites. When Emma went down for a nap and Annabelle had nursed, I headed to the Y for a swim (this triathlon won’t train for itself). As I swam up and down the pool, lap after lap in my own underwater world, I was transported back to the season of my life when I spent hours upon hours every week getting my body in shape for a race. I remembered the challenge of pushing myself. The satisfaction of being a little sore after a good workout. The thrill of doing something I previously couldn’t. These are the reasons I love endurance sports.

After my wonderful swim (a one-sided pyramid of 200, 50, 300, 50, 400 yards), I went home, nursed Annabelle and we got ready for dinner at Olive Garden. It was a zoo there. We waited 25 minutes for a table and then another hour for our food. Emma was a little rambunctious but she was actually pretty well-behaved considering the situation. Annabelle wasn’t the most content baby ever and I ended having to nurse her a bit. Travis and I didn’t really talk at all during dinner because we were just focused on keeping the kids happy. Ah, such is the life of a mother (and father).

After we got home, Emma went to bed, I spent some more time nursing and bouncing Annabelle and we called it a day. It was a very enjoyable day — the only thing that would’ve made it better is a nap.


Easter 2015

14 Apr

Even though Miss Annabelle decided to arrive early, our Easter plans pretty much stayed the same and were executed with success! We ended up going to the second church service at 10:45 instead of the first one at 9:00, and only planned to stay for the worship at the beginning. Emma had thrown up the night before (from teething mucus we think) so we didn’t put her in the nursery like we usually do, and she doesn’t have a very good track record of making it through a church service. But when the worship was over and both girls were still content, we decided that we’d just stay until one of them started to crack. And we made it through the whole service! Annabelle ended up being held by Travis, and I had to entertain Emma with games on my phone but I was impressed that we were able to stay for the whole thing.

After church, we headed back to the house to pack up the rest of our stuff, I nursed Annabelle, we loaded up the dogs and girls, and were on our way to Nevis by 1 pm. We got there an hour later and poor Emma woke up the minute we parked the car, so her nap was very short. She rallied though and had plenty of energy to enjoy her new toys from G&G and Auntie, and do her first Easter egg hunt.


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She also went on the swing and slide.


Annabelle met her Aunt Carolyn, Uncle Matthew and Cousin Drew for the first time.


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We ate Easter dinner around 4 pm. It was delicious. After dinner, the guys went out to move snowmobiles into storage and jockey boats. We bought Travis’ parents’ old fishing boat and were going to tow it back but didn’t have the right ball hitch. (We tried towing it back last weekend too but couldn’t get the trailer lights to work. I told Travis, one more strike and it just wasn’t meant to be. 😉 )

Around 6 or 7, we ate strawberry shortcake for dessert and then packed up our stuff to head home. It was a short but sweet trip! Both girls did really well.


Without fail, Travis always makes a goofy face in the best picture of the rest of us.

Emma’s 2nd Birthday Party

8 Apr

Today was Annabelle’s due date. Since Emma’s actual birthday was just yesterday, we decided to have her party early so that we didn’t have to worry about having a newborn and throwing a party (or having to cancel the party because I was in the hospital). Good thing we did because Annabelle arrived the weekend after we had Emma’s party!

Since Emma loves dogs, we decided to have a puppy theme. We kept things pretty lowkey, though, because she’s only 2. There’s plenty of time for more elaborate parties later on. For party decorations, we did balloons, streamers and paw prints that I printed at home (and colored in by hand, since our printer is out of yellow ink).

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We invited all of our immediate family, as well as a few of Emma’s friends. We had a great turnout! My parents, Travis’ parents, Trav’s brother, and Emma’s friends all came — so there were 6 kids under 5 including Emma (though one was a baby). (I now realize we didn’t take pictures of Emma with all the grandparents or her friends that day! Bummer.)

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For the one activity that I planned, I cut dog ears out of paper that the kids could decorate with markers and stickers, and then make into a hat/headband, but the kids were much more interested in playing with toys, so that’s what we did for the first hour of the party.

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Then we ate lunch — again, we kept it simple with Papa Murphy’s pizza, fruit salad, carrots & dip, and puppy chow.


For Emma’s birthday cake, I made a pawprint — which was just a 2-layer round cake with 4 cupcakes for the toes. The red frosting did not turn out how I had envisioned. Next time, I will just buy the can of frosting with a cake tip instead of trying to squeeze it out of a ziploc bag! At least it tasted good.


After the kids were done eating, we sang Happy Birthday and had Emma blow out her candles (she had help from mommy).



The kids ate cake and then we opened gifts. Emma received fun toys from her friends, a pair of rain boots from G&G Kluthe, a Radio Flyer trike from mommy and daddy, and a stool from G&G Moen.

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The party ended “on time”, but I told everyone to feel free to stick around as long as they wanted, and they left about an hour later. We gave each kid a goodie bag with a couple packs of Scooby Doo fruit snacks, puppy stickers and a small bottle of bubbles.

It was a great party!