Tag Archives: Minnesota

Life lately…

24 Apr

This poor little blog has been dominated too long by other urgent matters. I have so much to write about! So here’s what we’ve been up to (and what I hope to elaborate on in coming weeks):

  • I got a job! At the beginning of January, I started working at our church as the Children Ministry’s Assistant two days a week. Emma and Annabelle both go to the same daycare those days, and I think it has been a good change for all of us. I really enjoy my job, and getting out of the house to do adult things. Most of my days as a parent are spent feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m not very good at this parenting thing, so having time to do something that I am good at, is very rewarding! I’ve also been doing some freelance graphic design for the company Travis works for.
  • We went to Europe! Travis and I spent a week in Paris, Florence, and Rome in the middle of February just the two of us (an early celebration of our 10-year wedding anniversary in May) while all three grandparents wrangled the girls at our house. It was an amazing trip, but not without its stressful moments. I want to write detailed posts about each day of our trip (because this blog is also my online scrapbook 😉 ) so for now, I’ll just list a few of the things we got to see: the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Catacombs in Paris; the Duomo in Florence and nearby Tuscany; and the St. Peter’s Basilica, Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Pantheon in Rome. IMG_3010IMG_3311
  • We are soon to be licensed for foster care! We finished up all of the paperwork and training last week, and we should be licensed by the end of this week. After we’re licensed, we just wait to get a call about a child needing a home. It’s both exciting and daunting at the same time! To start out with, we’re only going to accept one child, under 24 months old. We are praying and trusting God to provide us with emotional strength, physical ability, and wisdom/discernment.
  • On a related note, we bought a minivan. With two medium-sized dogs, our SUV was already too small for our family–when we went on road trips, we had to pack our bags in totes and strap them onto a hitch carrier! We muscled through, but now that we are anticipating needing to transport three children, we finally took the plunge and traded the SUV in for a minivan. So far, I LOVE it.IMG_3953
  • I stumbled across a book at the library called “Better than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits” by Gretchen Rubin. I grabbed it because building better habits has been a desire of mine for a while, and the book delivered! One lasting habit I’ve created since reading that book is our morning routine: we eat breakfast right when we get up, then the girls get dressed, and while they watch iPad or mommy’s phone, I do the breakfast dishes and clean for 5 minutes. It is a great start to our day, and has enabled me to keep our house cleaner, in an easier way, without getting overwhelmed. It has changed my cleaning life!! I’ll do a whole post about this soon.
  • The girls turned 2 and 4! We had a joint party on April 8, the day after Emma’s birthday. It was a mermaid theme, and we had a day with nice weather so could spend some time playing outside after cake and presents. So fun to celebrate with friends!
  • Emma is going to preschool next year at the public school in our district on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other Friday. We still don’t know what our plan is for kindergarten, but for now, we have peace about this decision. The preschool is in the same school as their daycare right now, so I think the transition will go really easily.
  • I signed up for the Northwoods Triathlon in Nevis, Minnesota, on August 12. I did this race two years ago, and since it’s in Travis’ hometown, it’s a fun one to do. I need to start training for that in about a month! Travis was training for a half-marathon on May 20, but a couple weeks ago (about halfway through the plan), he injured his Achilles, and has only run once since. He’s pretty bummed. 😦
  • We threw my mother-in-law a surprise party for her 60th birthday this past Saturday. She was totally surprised! All of her kids and grandkids, and some family and friends came to celebrate. It was a great time.
  • Our big summer vacation is going to be a trip to South Haven, Michigan, with my whole family. We are renting an Airbnb right on the beach for a week at the end of June. I can’t wait! I think the girls are going to have a blast. We are also going to go up to Travis’ parents’ cabin in Voyageurs National Park for the 4th of July.

And that’s life lately!

Christmas & New Year’s 2016

13 Jan

I better get posting about Christmas before it’s February, huh?

We celebrated Christmas first just the four of us on the Thursday before Christmas. I made chicken cordon bleu (from the deli), green beans, red potatoes, and rolls, and we drank “bubbly” (which Emma loved). Then the girls opened their presents from us, and their present from Papa Dave since it was a big box that we didn’t have room to transport from Rochester. We got them some art supplies, a few books, a bouncy buddy, and a Little People nativity set. Papa Dave bought them this treehouse with the camping buddies from The Land of Nod. Within 15 seconds of opening it, both girls were drawing on it with crayon. (Seriously…) Luckily, I was able to scrub most of it off. Their favorite present by far, though, was the box that the treehouse came in. Of course.15741131_1332807960082856_4438754616654293238_n15781037_1332807950082857_3583310463122747060_n15727286_1332807923416193_7831163184979449209_nThe next day, we headed up to Travis’ parents’ house in Nevis, arriving in time for dinner. Travis’ sister and nephew, and brother and sister-in-law were also there almost the whole time we were, so we were able to spend some nice time together. Emma and Annabelle were in heaven. They love their Nana and Papa, and Aunties and Uncle, and have a lot of fun with them. Their cousin Drew isn’t so much of a kid person at age 16. 😉

Christmas Eve (Saturday), we headed into Park Rapids to have breakfast with some friends. That night, we dressed up all fancy and attended the Christmas Eve service at Travis’ parents’ Catholic church, Our Lady of the Pines. The girls actually did fairly well, all things considering! And they were adorable in their Christmas dresses.15726473_1332807670082885_2760584912961896007_n15672976_1332807490082903_846264537335391369_n15726223_1332807436749575_6890398017756359744_n15697791_1332807883416197_1671014031762530795_n15780738_1332807703416215_2116758220268045907_n

Cousins

Christmas morning, we ate the traditional breakfast of egg bake and monkey bread, and then it was time to open presents—the time that Emma had been asking about for the entire month of December. It started off well. Emma helped divvy up the presents, and was even tasked with the job of deciding who should open a present. But eventually that petered out, and both girls ended up throwing a tantrum in the middle of opening presents. Emma wanted to do something besides open presents, and Annabelle was apparently ready for an early nap, because I ended up putting her down around 11. By the time I got back downstairs, Emma was entertained with some of her new art supplies, and the adults were able to continue our gift opening in peace. Kids!

15726344_1332807373416248_4862802626677382042_n15726258_1332807200082932_8528536388724082939_nNote that Emma is wearing a tank top and shorts, despite the several weather-appropriate, cute Christmas outfits I had for her.15697526_1332807043416281_5419901375432218552_nSo tired15672964_1332807230082929_3678291493226962891_nMmmm… chocolate15697834_1332806786749640_3627580145260719665_nEmma went “Christmas shopping” at daycare this year for Nana Beth and Papa Al, and she chose a measuring cup for Nana and a fishing sinker for Papa without our help!15672680_1332806713416314_6249755915390785047_nTravis’ gift from his sister… perfect for him15780887_1332806673416318_9097940835346127866_nMy gift from Travis’ sister… love it15747611_1332807103416275_4427022023995455069_nEmma loves all thing art

The rest of our time up in Nevis was pretty lowkey. We ate a lot of yummy food and Christmas cookies, played outside sledding and snowmobiling, the guys cut down a tree and burned some brush, the adults played some games (including Speak Out, where you put that big plastic mouthpiece in—that’s quite the game!). There was only one political (civilized) discussion that we non-debaters had to break up, for fear that the discussion would last the whole night.

We stayed up in Nevis until Tuesday morning. The plan had been to head back home Monday night but the ice storm on Christmas Day made the roads pretty nasty, so we decided to at least drive home in the daylight.

We spent the rest of Tuesday and all day Wednesday at home. Travis had work off, but wanted to work on some projects (including cutting down a tree in our front yard, which almost ended up falling on our cars, due to a little miscommunication and lack of thought on my part…whoops—but all was well in the end, praise God). The girls and I went to 321 Bounce with our neighbor friends.

Thursday morning, we packed up and hit the road down to Rochester. Since we weren’t trying to get there by any certain time, we decided we could stop every hour on the 3.5-hour drive. Well, Travis wasn’t completely a fan of our many stops, but it was nice to take our time. We stopped for gas right by our house (#1), for lunch in St. Cloud (#2), at Cabela’s in Rogers (#3), and at a gas station just south of the Cities for a potty break (#4).

We arrived in Rochester just in time for dinner. My oldest brother Jeremy and sister-in-law Jen, and their two sons had arrived the day before, and my other brothers would arrive later, so it was just us, them, and my dad that night.

The four kids—Emma and Annabelle, and Jensen and Jackson—had a blast playing together. One of the cutest sights was seeing the four of them run around in circles together. Another favorite activity of theirs was jumping on the couch and building forts out of couch cushions (much to Papa’s dismay). They were also pretty wild and crazy with one of those Fisher Price ride-on toys and a little dog that you pull along behind you. Four kids is a little crazy at times!15781534_1338920992804886_5472908077247000943_n15823490_1338920989471553_969281655933574630_n15823680_1338921229471529_3041714289093367911_nOn Friday, Brian and Jill arrived around lunchtime. Chris and Meg arrived Saturday. We spent our time drinking lots of coffee, eating delicious food (frequently topped by grated Asiago), and watching animated movies that we turned on for the kids but that they didn’t end up watching. 😉 We also played outside in the ice-encrusted snow, which was great for sledding but not much else. I pulled Emma and Jensen on a sled all the way around the house, and it was a workout!15732661_10103166680174752_2259524021720836268_o15800359_10103166677405302_1021290843782300839_o15800498_10103166678178752_6830543933580665853_o15844768_10103166677744622_7747851522964179194_o15825795_1338921386138180_1443544932537754384_nThanks to my sister-in-law Jen for these great photos!

On New Year’s Eve, we opened presents in our now-traditional way (we draw names, and then try to go around and try to guess who had us), and then ate our special Christmas dinner. Everyone pitched in with various sides and dishes, and it was great! Though the orange sherbet jello salad that I attempted to make was an epic fail. Jello: a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

We apparently had a little bit of trouble getting the girls down on time that night, because I was downstairs getting Emma to sleep until 11:55… though I might’ve fallen asleep, it’s really hard to say at that hour of the day. I actually made it back upstairs for the ball drop, though, and stayed up until 2 am watching bad New Year’s entertainment on TV and chatting with those who were still up. It was the first time I’ve stayed up for New Year’s since having kids I think, and it was nice! Thankfully the girls slept in the next day, and we were still able to make it to church at 10:30.

There was another snowstorm predicted to hit Rochester and the Brainerd area on Monday, so we ended up leaving Sunday night instead of the next morning. We got home around 11, got the girls to bed, and hit the hay ourselves.

Though I always love spending time with family, it was a hard holiday season without my mom (and the first). We miss her dearly, and talk about her often. My dad, as usual, bears the brunt of her absence, and through a series of miscommunications, ended up spending Christmas Day alone, which I feel badly about. A loss like this continues to reveal situations and circumstances that have been forever altered, and the best way forward is not always readily apparent.

When Your Husband Hunts Out of State

4 Oct

About a year and a half ago, I posted the saga of the most horrible week of my pregnancy with Annabelle, which happened while Travis was traveling for work. There was another saga that happened about a year ago while Travis was hunting out of state, which I never told on the blog. Until now.

img_1156It was October, aka the beginning of hunting season. Travis and most of his family had gone elk hunting in Colorado for a week. The girls and I had stayed back, since having a 2.5-year-old and a 6-month-old in a wall tent for a week would be an extreme form of torture. We had just been up to Bemidji to visit Travis’ sister, Carolyn, who had also opted to not go elk hunting. After a long day of driving (two hours both ways), shopping at Hobby Lobby for bridal shower decorations, and eating dinner at Applebee’s (during which Emma spilled her entire water all over me and Annabelle swiftly knocked her full container of yogurt to the ground), the girls and I were heading back home in the dark.

Everything was going fine. I was staying awake, the girls were content… oh and did I mention that I had the dogs along too? They had spent the day socializing with Carolyn’s two dogs, and were worn out too.

But then Annabelle started crying.

And she kept crying.

We were almost an hour from home, and in the middle of NOWHERE driving on a two-lane highway with no shoulders at night on a Sunday. The nearest gas station was 30 minutes away. Travis’ parents lived only about 15 minutes away, but in the opposite direction as our house and they were in Colorado with Travis.

I hoped Annabelle would stop crying on her own… but five minutes passed. Then 10. Which doesn’t sound like much but when your baby is screaming in the backseat, it feels like an ETERNITY. I started looking for places to pull over, thinking maybe if I just nursed her a bit, she’d be content enough to make it home without crying the whole way.

But it was pitch black outside so I couldn’t see any of the pull-outs soon enough to slow down for them. Finally, I saw a sign for an intersection with a county road. Perfect. I’d be able to drive slow enough on that road to find a spot to pull over.

I turned down the county road and there was a wide grassy shoulder that seemed to be pretty level and even. It didn’t seem to be a road that had much traffic on it, so a ways from the highway intersection, I started slowing down and pulled over onto the grass.

WHAM!

I didn’t understand what had happened right away because it was so unexpected. All I heard was a loud noise and saw that my car was all of a sudden at a very odd angle and I was looking at what looked like corn stalks out my windshield.

Panic surged through me, but I couldn’t panic because I was the lone adult with two kids and two dogs out in the middle of NOWHERE. “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” I started repeating. My hands were shaking as I started trying to think logically about what was happening.

My car has fallen in some kind of a hole. My first idea was to try to back the car out. I put the car in reverse and gunned it a little, but the only effect was to make my car lean over even more precariously, and make me panic even more about completely tipping over into the field.

Ok, Plan B. I would call a towtruck. Where’s my phone? Where’s my phone? Oh yeah, Emma’s playing games on it. I pleaded with her to give it back to me. She probably heard the fear in my voice because she didn’t fight me on it.

Then I realized, It’s late on a Sunday night and I’m in the middle of EFFIN NOWHERE! Who is going to help me at this hour? No one local, that’s for sure. My brain was scrambling and all I could think was, What’s that acronym for car assistance? AARP? That doesn’t sound right... I googled “car towing” and discovered, Oh yeah, AAA. But when I tried calling the 800 number, it assumed I was in Colorado because of my cell phone number, and I didn’t have the mental wherewithal to figure out how to switch it. So screw that.

Plan C. Call Travis. Maybe he could help me think because now I was on the verge of tears and FREAKING OUT. But Travis didn’t answer. Dangit! I can’t call my parents because my mom will freak out even more than I am. Who else is with Travis? My mother-in-law Beth. She didn’t answer either. Double dangit! I called my brother-in-law Matthew. He answered. FINALLY! I tried to sound somewhat normal as I asked to talk to Travis. When Travis got on the line, though, I completely lost it. I started crying and babbling on about how I drove off the road and fell in a hole and couldn’t get out and I was so scared and I was in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.

Travis’ first words back to me were, “Are the girls still alive?”

Ok, maybe I should’ve led with that. “Yes, they are. We’re all fine.”

As I was talking with Travis, I decided that I should probably get out of the car to see what was really going on. I discovered that my front passenger tire fell in a hole up to the bumper, and my rear driver side tire was completely off the road by about 18 inches.

Holy crap.

I’m sure I told Travis what I was seeing. I’m sure he suggested calling a towtruck or something along those lines. But after being on the phone with Travis not even five minutes, a man driving a pickup truck happened to turn down the county road I was on. Not only did he not hit me even though I was standing in the middle of the road, he slowed down to ask if I was ok. I sobbed that I wasn’t, and then asked if he could pull me out. He said, Yes, he could. As he got his chains out and set up, I told Travis about Pickup Man and said I’d call him back.

The man told me to get in my car, put it in reverse, and to gun it and turn the wheel when he said to. I did exactly that and in less than a minute, my car was back on the solid ground of the gravel road. I thanked the man profusely for saving us, and briefly thought about paying him, but I didn’t have any cash, and my brain was fried from stress. He looked my car over and said that amazingly, he didn’t see any damage. Then he warned me to not stop on the shoulder of back-country roads anymore, because they weren’t safe. I know that now, I thought.

Hands still shaking, I got back in my car, put my car in drive, and traveled a little farther down the county road before completing a 20-point turn to head east back to the highway. I passed Pickup Man, who was continuing west. I said a prayer of thanks to God, for the man who helped me (God knew who he was), and for God’s provision of a person, driving a pickup, with chains, who knew how to use them, to be there right then. From the time I drove in the hole to the time I was pulled out was probably only about 15 minutes.

After getting back out on the highway, I called Travis to tell him I was out of the hole, there was no damage to the car, and I was on my way home. Hallelujah! Oh, and I’m never stopping on a country road EVER. AGAIN.

A few weeks later, we were headed back up to Travis’ parents’ house for deer hunting. Travis was curious to see where “the incident” happened. In the broad light of day, we could see that the hole I drove into was really a culvert, and what I had thought was a cornfield was really a swamp. img_1155Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. And it only happens when Travis is out of town.

Thankfully, his hunting trip this year has been much less eventful… So far. ::knock on wood::

Annabelle Lyn: 16-17 Months

29 Aug

I am SO overdue on a post for Miss Annabelle! Annabelle was 16 months on July 27 and 17 months on August 27. I can’t believe my baby is almost a year and a half!IMG_20160725_20393420160824_104922 The big news this update is that ANNABELLE IS FINALLY WALKING!

Because of that, we’re going to start with…

Development

Annabelle started walking around the third week of July. She had been cruising around on furniture for a while, pulling up on everything, and mastered crawling up and down stairs around 12 months, so I didn’t think that her walking would really change anything, except make it easier to be outside.

I was wrong.

She gets into everything, and she is fast! Annabelle’s favorite things to do are:

  • Whatever Emma is doing
  • Putting tiny scraps of toilet paper into the toilet while Emma goes potty
  • Being by people, which usually means playing in the exact cupboard I’m standing in front of while making dinner or doing dishes
  • Doing whatever Emma is doing
  • Putting stuff in the kitchen garbage can, like Travis’ Bluetooth headset, Emma’s waterbottle, undies, socks, etc.
  • Pulling clothes out of Emma’s dresser (her clothes are too high for her to reach)
  • Somersaults (she saw Emma doing them—she can only put her head down with her butt in the air, waiting for Travis or me to flip her over—it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever)

IMG_20160801_115438Annabelle is similar to how Emma was at this age in that she likes to move things from one place to another, and she likes emptying drawers and bookshelves, but she’s different in that she’ll actually play with the mess she makes, instead of immediately moving on to make another one. I remember being so frustrated with all the messes I had to pick up with Emma (and… she still makes them and I still am).

Annabelle loves being outside and frequently brings me her shoes to put on. Her favorite things to do outside are play with water in bowls and pails, “draw” with sidewalk chalk, push strollers and trikes around, ride in our Little Tikes truck or wagon, and do whatever Emma is doing. I told Travis the other day that the benefit of having an older sibling is that Emma is so much more interesting and fun than we parents are, but the drawback is that Emma also hogs toys, takes over, pushes Annabelle out of the way, etc. Poor girl has had a couple of bloody lips and noses already, and taken many a bonk to the head (at least half are self-inflicted though). So we try to balance sibling time with alone time, and to teach Emma how to share and be nice. (Easier said than done with a 3-year-old 🙂 )IMG_20160629_163613FB_IMG_1468349202805IMG_20160822_104539Annabelle also has an independent streak. She will refuse to do some things (like drink her chocolate milk) if we try to help her. She still loves climbing, snuggling, being held upside down, being “body slammed” onto the bed or “steamrolled” on the living room floor (rough housing), being pushed/pulled, and taking baths.

Annabelle is learning new words every day, which is so fun! She understands a TON of what we say to her and can now say: Doggy, Dada, Nana, Cracker, Quack, Moo, Night Night (Ni Ni), Bye Bye, All Done (Ah da), Emma (En na), Hot (Haw), Water (wa wa). I’m sure Annabelle is pretty average for her age in terms of speech, but Emma was such a late talker, that it’s fun hearing Annabelle learn words so much sooner! Emma is a chatterbox now though.20160818_115112IMG_20160824_16400420160810_100748Size

I’ve been in denial about Annabelle getting bigger. I thought most of the shirts she had been wearing this summer were 12 months, but they’re 18 months. She has short little legs, so she does still fit into a lot of 12-month pants, though they’re starting to get a little short (but in the summer, who cares?). I pulled out the clothes that Emma wore the fall that she was Annabelle’s age, and I just cannot believe that Annabelle is old enough or big enough to wear them! Where did my baby go? So, Annabelle is in mostly 18 month stuff, but starting to wear 24 months and 2T. ::sniff::

IMG_20160817_143624IMG_20160809_095900Eating

Annabelle is a pretty good eater, but has started getting pickier. Many dinners require several attempts at finding something she’ll finally eat, usually in the form of fruit. Her favorite foods are: bananas, blueberries (she likes most berries but these are her faves), mandarin oranges (from a can), peaches, applesauce, yogurt, baby cereal, bacon, chicken sausage, chicken, macaroni & cheese, pasta with sauce, bagels, and cooked broccoli. Her favorite treats are suckers, fruit snacks, and Starburst, and the only way she’ll drink milk is if I add chocolate syrup, so she usually gets a cup of that each day.

IMG_20160819_102952I’m still nursing Annabelle 3-4 times a day, usually in the morning, before naptime, before bedtime, and in the middle of the night. I have no real plans for weaning at this point. I’m hoping it will work itself out naturally. That’s usually my approach to most transitions: Wait and it’ll happen on its own. 😉

20160817_183838IMG_20160806_203029Sleeping

Annabelle has made some progress at night in the just the past couple of weeks. I had been sleeping on a mattress in her room pretty much every night, but now it’s down to about 50% of the time. I get her to sleep and put her down in her crib, and she usually wakes up crying between midnight and 3 am. I’ve started trying to get her back to sleep and putting her back in the crib, with some success and some failure. But progress is progress! I’m trying to keep this in perspective. I know she’ll outgrow this. She has slept through the night in her crib several times in the past couple of weeks, so I know she can do it. It’s not ideal for me to be sleeping in her room, because I don’t sleep well, and I don’t think she sleeps that well either when she’s on the floor, but it’s better than listening to her cry. Again, I know it’s just a phase. Emma was over 2 before she really figured the whole sleep thing out.IMG_20160819_110931IMG_20160804_092259And that’s Annabelle at 17 months!IMG_20160801_124209IMG_20160729_182348

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Emma Grace: 3.25 Years

2 Aug

Emma was 3 ¼ years (39 months) back on July 7.IMG_20160728_172253 (Large)20160526_130356The most notable update for this post is that Emma is about 70% potty trained!

After half-heartedly and unsuccessfully trying several times, we scheduled a weekend to focus on potty training, and built it up to Emma (Big girl undies!). We also bought candy as rewards for going on the potty (Starburst and suckers have been the most motivating). She was really excited at first, and since she’s had practice going on the potty at daycare, she totally knew when she had to go (she only had one accident the first couple of days).

But then the excitement wore off, and she started refusing to sit on the potty. We changed our rewards a few times, with some success. But if she threw a fit about going on the potty, we just put a Pull-Up on her and continued suggesting she sit on the potty. She finally did come back around on the whole thing, and has been wearing undies for almost all awake time for the past couple of months.

IMG_20160729_083832 (Large)Sleeping time is a different story. She has stayed dry for some naps (she still naps from about 2-5 every day), but some naps she wets the bed, so we generally still put a Pull-Up on her for naps and a diaper for bedtime. Up until a few days ago, she was also pooping in a diaper. She’d grab a diaper, bring it to me, and say, “Mommy, I want to poop in a diaper.” HA! So she totally knew when she needed to go, but just didn’t want to go in the toilet. But a few days ago, we were shopping at Herberger’s when she had to go, and Travis convinced her to go on the toilet! She earned a freezy pop for that milestone, and has pooped on the toilet once since then. Hopefully she can keep that going, so we can keep moving away from diapers.

My experience with potty training has been both easier and harder than I expected it to be. I thought Emma would be all about it once we got going, but she wasn’t. I thought dealing with shopping and road trips would be really hard, but it hasn’t been. Sure, it’s slightly inconvenient, but I was psyching myself out on that. (And when they’re so young, even girls don’t mind popping a squat in a grass field on road trips—or at least, our girl doesn’t. J) One trick I’ve learned that has helped a ton is to cover up automatic sensors on toilets with Post-It notes so that they don’t flush unexpectedly.

IMG_20160506_105250 (Large)Matching mommy/daughter pedicures (colors chosen by Emma)

Anyway, moving on… here are some of Emma’s favorite things right now:

  • iPad—Emma still loves watching shows, mostly on her iPad (sometimes on the TV). Her latest obsessions have been the Floating Palace episodes of Sofia the First (which are about mermaids) and the mermaid scenes in Penguins of Madagascar. She has also been watching Alvin & the Chipmunks, LEGO friends, Strawberry Shortcake, Penguins of Madagascar, Minions, Brother Bear, and a few other random shows that she found by herself on Netflix.IMG_20160613_184644 (Large)

She fell asleep while watching Netflix… and pooping.

  • Books at night—After we say goodnight to Emma, she sometimes asks to read books while she “watches moons” (a toy that projects a rotating image on the ceiling and plays music) for 10 minutes. Every once in a while, she enjoys reading books during the day (which I savor when it happens!), but overall, she has too much energy for books. When we do read books together, she insists on holding them but can’t sit still enough for me to read the words.IMG_20160505_075159 (Large)
  • Helping—You name it, Emma likes helping with it. She asks to help with cooking (and won’t take no for an answer), putting dishes away, yardwork, doing things for baby, doing laundry, cleaning, putting things in the shopping cart, etc. I try to let her help as much as possible, but some things are just off-limits (like cutting up raw chicken and cooking on the stove).emma garage crop
  • Running—We’ve taken Emma on a few “family runs” around our neighborhood. She does so well! One night she ran almost a whole mile (with a few walking breaks). I think next summer we might see if there are any kid runs nearby. We’re talking about doing a local 5k as a family in September. I think Emma would have a blast! We got a bike trailer from my parents as a Christmas/birthday gift, thinking we could take Emma and Annabelle out in it. We haven’t tried biking with it yet, but a few short jogs have been a no-go—mostly because Emma’s excitement to ride in it wears off right about the time we reach the end of our driveway. She hasn’t ridden in or on something for longer than a few minutes since she was about 18 months old. She just has too much energy. Speaking of which…20160505_092501 (Large)
  • Bouncing—Emma jumps up and down in place a lot. When she’s excited, when she’s watching a movie on TV, when she’s waiting for me to go outside with her… She just has so much extra energy. She also still does this thing with her hands/arms (she has since she was about a year) when she gets really excited—it’s hard to describe but just imagine a little girl moving her hands like you do in the first part of the Chicken Dance song and waving her arms around in an excited frenzy. It’s hilarious, and so uniquely Emma. She also still does her “leg exercises” in her carseat (moving them in circles), presumably when she’s feeling antsy.IMG_20160716_001550 (Large)IMG_20160602_165216 (Large)
  • Jetskiing, fourwheeling and canoeing—This summer was the first real experience Emma had with any of these things, and she loved them! She hasn’t been a fan of riding loud things in the past, so this is a new development. And we thought she’d move around too much for being in a canoe, but she actually has done great both times she’s been out! Travis is very happy she is starting to like the outdoorsy things that he likes.IMG_20160729_182348 (Large)20160710_171838 (Large)20160618_202048 (Large)20160518_200621 (Large)20160725_093655
  • Being pulled around in a sleeping bag—This is pretty random, but one day, Emma wanted to get my sleeping bag out of the closet. One thing led to another, and pretty soon, I was pulling Emma around our basement completely zipped up in the sleeping bag (meaning she was in the dark). She can’t get enough of it! Her friend Noah likes it too. But it’s a decent workout, so mommy needs to take frequent breaks.
  • Picking raspberries—Emma has asked to pick raspberries every single day this summer (we have lots of wild ones growing on our property). But what usually ends up happening is that she picks a few and then plays with Annabelle or sticks or something while I end up picking by myself. This year, we’ve had an awesome crop of raspberries. We couldn’t pick them all, there were so many!IMG_20160629_170432 (Large)
  • Playing outside and in water—Emma still loves being outside and playing with/in water. The past three months have seen a lot of time at the beach, playground, water table, and cruising around our driveway on her trike (which she can now pedal!) and a new electric scooter we just got her. She also still loves to push/pull Annabelle around in the wagon/stroller/trike. In the past month, she has started to love floating on noodles in the water without her feet touching. She’s a pretty good little kicker too!20160720_201530 (Large)20160720_201517 (Large)
  • Sharing—Most of the time, Emma has a very generous spirit. She will share snacks and toys with Annabelle, me or Travis without being asked. (She still has plenty moments of sharing poorly, though.) One of my favorite things in the world is seeing Emma’s little arm stretched across to Annabelle’s little arm in the car, handing her a cracker or water bottle. It’s adorable!IMG_20160610_092617 (Large)
  • Being like mommy—Emma likes to imitate both me and Travis, but I think she imitates me more because I’m also a “dirl” (girl). She always says “Me have some” as she watches me get ready and put on makeup. She often emerges from our bathroom with some kind of beauty supply, the latest being a cotton pad wet down with micellar water. “I’m washing my face,” she says. Similarly…20160427_102735 (Large)20160601_211600 (Large)
  • “I want mom”—Emma is still a complete mommy’s girl. The only person that can sometimes come close is Nana Beth. Emma loves her daddy too, but for activities like fishing, roughhousing, and outdoor fun. When it comes to naps, bedtime, feeling sick, or getting hurt, she wants mommy only (unless she knows mommy’s mad at her for being disobedient, then she wants daddy!). It’s endearing, but also frustrating because I almost always end up putting both girls to bed. Travis at least does Emma’s bedtime routine though.20160506_183754 (Large)
  • Asking questions—It has begun. Emma asks “Mommy, what are you doing?” about 50 times every hour, even after I’ve repeatedly told her what I’m doing. I don’t always handle the constant questioning the best… more than once, I’ve said, “What does it look like I’m doing?”IMG_20160422_083319 (Large)

But on the flip side, one of the most fun things about Emma’s current age is that she has started saying the most hilarious things that just crack. me. up. Here are a few of my favorites:

Me: “Why do you want to put a ponytail in right before you go to bed?”

Emma: “Why not?”

Travis tackles me onto the bed, pinning me down.

Emma: “Daddy, no! Don’t! … She’s too dangerous!”

“His hands are red, he’s itching them, and he’s got a pumpkin head!” (talking about an episode of Sofia the First)

….

Emma: “I want to watch my iPad.”

Me: “Not right now.”

Emma: “I want to watch mommy’s phone.”

Me: “Emma, no, you’ve watched enough shows for right now.”

Emma: “iPad! I want to watch my iPaaaaaddddd!!”

Me: “The answer is no. Please stop asking.”

Emma: “Grrrrrrrr!!!”

A minute passes in silence, then Emma looks up with a smile and says in a sweet voice,

“Watch big TV downstairs?”

I point out stinging nettle to Emma as we’re picking raspberries, reminding her to not touch it.

Emma: “Mom, that’s what I was telling you about!”

Talking about the time she fell off the dock last summer into a few feet of water, Emma said,

“Nana Beth jumped in the wa-wa. Nana Beth saved me. … Nana Beth pushed me.”

(The full story is that Emma was standing on the dock waiting for Nana Beth to get off the pontoon. She backed up to give Nana more room, but backed up right off the dock. She didn’t get hurt and Beth jumped in right after her, so she was fine.)

IMG_20160801_124917 (Large)IMG_20160708_215902 (Large)With cousin Jensen on Papa’s pontoonIMG_20160629_121329 (Large)She loves cutting! The smaller the pieces, the better!IMG_20160503_105204 (Large)I LOVE this picture — from Emma’s birthday party.IMG_20160507_125750 (Large)She’s always trying to sleep in the doorway. I don’t know why?!?!IMG_20160523_133631 (Large)She took all the clothes out of her dresser in search of her pink princess phone.IMG_20160429_083725 (Large)20160526_140341 (Large)20160518_202213 (Large)Emma loves picking flowers. She was very disappointed when we mowed our grass and all her flowers (clover, not the ones pictured here) went bye-bye!

And that’s Emma at 3.25 years!

Even More Thoughts on Grief

19 Jul

July 13th would’ve been my mom’s 63rd birthday. July 12th marked 5 months since her death.

We had the Krsnak family reunion the weekend after the Fourth with two of my mom’s brothers and their families. It was enjoyable, but bittersweet. My mom’s absence was palpable, inescapable. We all commented that it seemed like she’d show up at any moment, ready to cruise the lake on the pontoon or whip up something yummy in the kitchen.

We picked flowers from her garden and displayed the bouquet in a pickle jar. We took shots of pickle juice again, just like we did right after she had gone to heaven. We served her favorite foods: dill pickle chips, everything bagels, cucumbers in vinegar, barbeque pulled pork, snicker salad. We spread buns, bagels, muffins, and cheese slices out on plates, placed chips and fruit salad in bowls, just like my mom would’ve done. Even for a casual lunch, she’d put things on plates for a nice presentation. I never realized how much effort she put into things until trying to fill her shoes. They’re big shoes. I’m exhausted.

The human experience is so varied and multi-faceted that once I adjust to the idea of my mom’s absence in one sense, something else pops up and I have to deal with all over again. While we were in Ohio over Memorial Day, we had been relaxing on my aunt and uncle’s shaded brick patio, talking about where we should go for dinner. I had suggested sushi since Travis and I love sushi, and there’s nowhere to get it in Brainerd. Then I remembered there was some reason why we didn’t usually go out for seafood as a family… what was it again? Oh yeah… Because Mom didn’t like seafood.  A wave of grief overtook me.

It’s hard to move on and make memories and have life experiences that your loved one isn’t involved in, and doesn’t have any knowledge of. For so long, you’ve forged memories together and shared experiences together, to the extent that you didn’t even realize how much of your identity and experience of life was wrapped up with the other person. Until they’re gone. Then you see that, just like C.S. Lewis talks about in The Weight of Glory, that your enjoyment of something was enhanced, brought to fruition, by sharing that enjoyment with someone else. And when that person is no longer there to enjoy it with you, you no longer enjoy it the same way—and may never enjoy it that way again.

Another idea that I’ve been mulling over quite a bit recently is from C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves:that each individual person brings out a unique aspect of someone else, so when you lose a friend, you not only lose them, but also the facets of the personalities that they brought out in other people. You lose the dynamic they brought to the group.

I love my family, and always look forward to spending time together. I inherited that quality from both of my parents, who would (and did) bend over backwards, and move heaven and earth to spend time with and help out their family. But I’ve discovered since my mom’s death that the thing I enjoyed most about being with my family, was being with her with my family. She, in many ways, was the hub, the turnstile, the bonding glue. Our family dynamic will never be the same.

Looking through photos of my mom the other night, I was reminded of how much fun my mom was. She was never afraid of looking silly or doing things that were beneath her. She’d wear funny hats and costumes, play in the sand with the kids, make us all answer an icebreaker question despite our groaning, coordinate games and activities like a contest to see who could spit a cherry pit the farthest.

Last Thanksgiving, we were sitting at the dining room table of Travis’ parents’ house, eating dinner. There was a lull in the conversation and I thought to myself, “This is the moment when Sheri Moen would ask everyone to say one thing they were thankful for.”

Even though I’m consumed with missing my mom, I’m not devastated. Because I know that she is still alive in heaven. Her soul still exists. She is still conscious, and having experiences. She is with Jesus, and in His presence there is fullness of joy. It’s like my mom moved to a foreign country. I won’t see her again for the rest of my earthly life, which I mourn, but I will see her again. At the same time I see her again, I will also see Jesus, and we will all glory together in God’s goodness and love for the rest of eternity. That is my hope in the midst of this earthly grief.

Signs of Spring 2016

11 Jun

We are now officially (at least according to Minnesotans!) into summer. While I LOVE warm evenings, open windows, al fresco dining, and beach days, I think spring is quickly becoming my favorite season. Maybe I just didn’t pay attention to these things before, but this year, I was mesmerized by the beauty of God’s creation. There were flowers everywhere! The sunrises and sunsets seemed to be consistently stunning. But I even encountered beauty in lichens on tree bark, stacked piles of birch firewood, dandelions on the edge of the driveway, and a leaf fallen on the asphalt.

A line from one of my favorite running songs says “Heaven and all the universe proclaim Your power and Your worth” (Your Love Goes on Forever by Sonicflood). How true that is.