Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our Little Christmas Family

So, I haven't blogged in awhile, Christmas is a busy time. I stayed up way too late way too many nights wrapping presents, making cookies, and "preparing" for Christmas. Funny how those 48 hours of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day always pass by so fast after all the prep that goes into them.

Anyway, one thing that I have been meaning to post...our little Christmas family.

Someone gave us a bunch of cookies and this little family made of large stick pretzels, white chocolate, tiny chocolate chips for our eyes and buttons on our clothes, frosting (I think) for our noses, strips of fruit rollups for our scarves, and two different jelly candies combined to make up our hats. Are these cute or what?

Honestly, I don't know how anyone has the patience to make things like this...I definitely don't. But, they were definitely fun, appreciated, and the kids LOVED eating them.

We ate our family this Christmas ;)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Talking in Traffic

Last night and this morning the girls and I sat in the car for an hour (each time), stuck in traffic. It was super special. The girls are actually really great, vacillating between being super chatty and really quiet, they can't really fight much in the car and they don't scream in terror or anything.

I had some interesting conversations with Tryn that I have to write down before I forget. Last night we were listening to the Christmas music station and the song "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" came on. After listening to it for a few minutes Tryn says to me, "Mom, is there a good and a naughty list?"

As someone who is not discouraging the belief in Santa, but also not wanting to jump into the full on beliefs of everything that Santa is or isn't, I said, "Well, I think so babe, but I don't know exactly how Santa does everything."

She pressed further, "So, everyone is going to be on a good or naughty list?"

At this point, so that I didn't get myself into further explanations that I didn't want to follow through with, I just asked her why she was asking.

"Well, I think I am going to be on the naughty list."

WHAT? "What? Why babe? Why do you think you will be on the naughty list?"

"I don't know," she was very sad, "I just think I am going to be on the naughty list." This coming from my good, good girl who is so sweet and helpful and loving.

We had to have an extensive conversation about all the nice things she does and how she is helpful to Mommy, Daddy, and Berlin and that she is not naughty very often. Geez. What kid thinks they are actually going to be on the naughty list? Even the naughty ones don't think they are going to be.

This morning Tryn told me, "Mom, I love you. I will love you always."

"Thanks sweetie, I love you too."

"Mom, where will you be when I am a grownup?"

"I'm not sure, but I'll be around."

"But...I won't live with you? Will I live all by myself?" She was starting to get teary at this point. So was I. Especially since she decided to ask this question while the song "Christmas Shoes" was playing in the background.

I wanted to say, "Babe, there will come a day when you won't want to live with me at all, where you can't wait to move out." But I didn't. Instead I said, "You probably won't live by yourself, but maybe with some of your best girl friends. Or maybe you will get married and live with your husband."

Silence. Then, "Mom, are there alligators in Edina?"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sugar Cookies

Two blog posts in one day, I am on a roll!

I just made cookies with the girls this morning, sugar cookies. I don't really like sugar cookies. I used to think that I really liked cookies as a food group, but I am finding out that I am not really into cookies unless they have some kind of chocolate involved. Those are the only kind worth eating.

However, sugar cookies are an important and basically necessary part of childhood Christmas. They are the most fun cookies for kids to make, from the mixing, to the cutting out shapes, to the decorating. These are kids cookies. So I make them every year. And most years I end up throwing most of them away because nobody wants to eat them - except the kids, and at least my kids don't eat that many cookies.

Anyway, after cheating last year and just buying the Pillsbury rollout dough - which was not impressive or tasty at all - I tried a new recipe this year. Even though it does not have chocolate in it, and I still don't love sugar cookies, it is pretty good. The best I have found so far.

So, cause I am such a nice person, I will share :)

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

I halved the recipe, incase it wasn't good, and it made about 30 cookies.

I also tried some new icing because, let's be honest, adding milk to powdered sugar is almost like topping cookies with something that tastes like sweet dirt. This is much better. It's pretty tasty, Berlin couldn't stop eating it. Which might be why she is not napping right now.

Butter Icing
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk

Combine confectioners' sugar butter, vanilla and milk, beating until creamy. Thin with a few more drops of milk (if necessary) to reach desired spreading consistency. Stir in optional food coloring. Spread frosting over cooled cookies and decorate with colored sugar, if desired.

The best part of making cookies was my disobedient child. The girls kept taking little bites of the dough and I kept telling them not to, with the raw eggs and all. So while I was transitioning some cookies to the oven I saw Berlin take a little piece of dough from the counter. She looked at it, looked at me, brought it up to her mouth, and took it back down. Then, so I "couldn't see her" eat the dough, she crouched down on her chair where she had been standing at the counter, put her face down by her knees, and slipped the little piece of dough into her mouth. I pretended I didn't see. It was too darn cute, and I was expending my energy trying not to laugh noticeably so that she wouldn't know that I saw. Oh, kids :)

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

Snow. 16.5 inches a lot of snow, especially when it comes in a 24 hour period of time. And especially when it comes before Christmas. I can't remember the last time we had so much snow before Christmas - it's been years.

I tried taking some pictures of the fam out in the snow yesterday morning, but it was like the equivalent of bringing my camera out into the rain. The snow was falling so heavy and thick and my camera was so warm from being inside that when the snow landed on my camera it just melted. So I couldn't leave the shelter of the front porch. Which wasn't really a shelter yesterday. I had to stand against the wall of the house to not get any snow on my camera because of how much the snow was blowing around.

The snow was almost up to adult knees. Steve and I helped the mailman get unstuck, he had stopped right at the corner by our house to deliver mail. After pushing him for several minutes and having him get stuck two feet later, we were finally able to help him get going when a 4 wheel drive Jeep stopped and offered to let Steve push the mailvan with the Jeep. When I tried to step back up onto the curb my foot went into a snow bank that was over knee high. I was still in sweatpants - dumb.

Steve shoveled a lot of snow yesterday. I watched Steve shovel a lot of snow yesterday.

Here are the girls sitting on a snow drift. That spot in the snow right next to them is the top of the fire hydrant. Which Steve eventually cleared for the safety of the neighborhood - cause he's such a nice guy like that.

Berlin really, really, really likes to eat snow. Like her poor little cheeks were so red and cold when we finally came inside because all she did was eat snow while we were outside.

Supposedly this puts us on the 8th largest snow storm ever recorded to hit the Twin Cities area. The best part? The evening service at church was canceled and so Steve got to be home all day with us. It was so fun :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I more often find myself frustrated with Facebook rather than pleased, but for once they did something right. A couple of months ago I had started looking over my statuses for this year looking for some specific information that I knew I had written as a status. However, I couldn't remember when I wrote it - which was what I was trying to figure out for something I was working on. While I was looking for this information I kept laughing at all these status updates that I kept finding about funny things my kids had said. Then I got super bummed because I was thinking that I was going to have to go back, find them all, and copy and paste them into a word document if I wanted to keep track of those funny things. Which I did, cause that's the kind of person I am. But FB came up with this "Year in Statuses" thing instead. Which I love, cause it was so much easier. So here are most of the funny things my kids said this last year :) (You have to click on it to make it bigger if you are actually interested in reading it. Which, you should. Cause I have funny kids.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Tryn and I had an a heartbreaking conversation the other day. Well, rough for her at least. We were driving home after I picked the girls up from childcare and Tryn was telling me how part of her green mankie had fallen off that day. If anyone remembers my post from back in March you might remember how I wrote about one of Tryn's blankets falling apart. These poor blankets are becoming so thin and worn.

Anyway, I said to Tryn, "Those mankies are getting kind of old. Pretty soon we will have to put them away."

I didn't realize that she was in such a sensitive mood at the time, because she started sobbing like her heart was breaking, "Mom, wh-wh-WHY?! Why are they getting too old? I want to sleep with my mankies!"

I tried a little bit of logic, "Well, Babe, when people get bigger they don't sleep with mankies or animals anymore. Mommy doesn't sleep with any mankies, just pillows and my bed blankets to keep me warm."

"Not with animals?!!" Like it was the only part she heard. "Is Sophie going to get too old too?" Mind you, all this is said while she is still sobbing. "I need Sophie. And Sophie needs me. She needs to sleep with me!"

I tried explaining a little more, "Sweetie, don't cry. We won't throw them away ever, okay? Someday we will just start leaving them just on your bed and then maybe someday we will put them in a special box that you can keep for as long as you want."

"Nooooo! No! I need my mankies and my Sophie!"

"Okay, Babe, it won't be for awhile, okay? Maybe when you are like 6 or 7, okay?"

Just crying.


This is one of the times when I realized I messed up as a parent. I did either one of two things wrong here. I either let her get way too attached to some pieces of material and a stuffed dog (I mean, these things literally go everywhere with her. I can't even tell you the number of times Sophie has been to Target. The other day green mankie went to Target tied around Tryn's shoulders like a cape.) OR I brought this up way too soon and should have waiting until she was 6 or 7 to approach the subject. I don't actually know which one is the right, or was the wrong, decision here. Probably should have started phasing them out when she was younger.

Either way, this part of Tryn's future is going to be heartbreaking.

This is a picture of Tryn laying on her green mankie in Poland when she was 5 weeks old. Like I said, these manks have been everywhere.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sugar and Spice and Creepy Crawlies

Sugar and spice do not mix with creepy crawlies. At least, not in our household. There was one time over the summer when I was driving the car and the girls screamed like someone was chasing them through a graveyard in the middle of the night because there was a bug on Berlin's seat. Complete panic. All the way to Roseville.

Well, Friday morning Berlin was being a little stinker. She wasn't listening and just being all around ornery, so I placed her in her room and told her she had to play in there by herself for 5 minutes before she could come out, and I shut the door. Tryn and I needed a break from her. She, of course, reacted like she always does, she cried.

As I was busy trying to get ready to leave the house for the weekend, I didn't realize for about two minutes that she hadn't stopped crying yet. Behavior typical for Tryn, but not Berlin. At first I thought, "Man, she must have really needed that time by herself if it is taking her this long to get over it." But she still didn't stop. Just about the time I was thinking I better go check on her I heard her bedroom door fly open and little feet came running as fast as they could to my room.

"Mom! There is a bug in my room!" Big tears on her face.

"Well, sweetie, bugs can't hurt you." Me, thinking it's amazing that a fly is still alive this time of year.

"No, mom, there is a bug in my room. Come see!"

"Berli, I really don't need to see the bug. Why don't you show Tryn?"

Tryn and Berlin go running off to their room. Seconds later they are back, this time Tryn says, "Mom, come see the bug, it's really big!"

Okay, fine.

I go to their room. No bug. Anywhere. I asked Tryn where she saw it and she said on a blanket that was on the floor. I picked up the blanket. Nothing. I asked her what the bug looked like and she said, "It had 8 legs! And it was really long!" Oh no. I was starting to think big huge spider or something, one of my two completely irrational fears.

I look around some more. Nothing. I started cleaning toys off the floor and packing the girls suitcase. I told them that the bug had probably left because he thought their room was too messy.

Suddenly, blood curdling, hair raising scream from Berlin who was standing by the door. Right next to her foot in the middle of the floor was a 3 inch long centipede.

Tryn, standing right behind Berlin, screamed too and they both went running to my room screaming and crying to jump up onto the bed. The sobbing sounded like something out of a horror film. Pure terror.

I, of course, heroically killed the darn thing. But seriously, blech. *Still shuddering*

Sugar + spice + everything nice = not a good day for bugs to be in our house. Or in our lives for that matter.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Potty Training

Although I have brought two kids from diapers to big kid underwear, I am no potty training expert. Thankfully my first child was so easy to potty train it literally took her a day to start going on the potty and she only had maybe two or three accidents after that. She had just turned two and her main problem was that she was scared to poop on the potty, afraid it was going to hurt. So the second part of potty training, the #2, took a little longer. However, even that was easy because she also wouldn't do it in her underwear. She would wait until we put a diaper on her a night and so it was a fairly easy problem and it only lasted until I bribed her with a new Disney movie. Easy peasy.

My second child, I am so very proud to announce, is potty trained. This has been a several month process in which we would try for several days, I would lose my patience, take a break for several days, and repeat the process all over again - we are finally there! At least at the point where I can bring her out in public in underwear without much fear that there will be a problem. I did have to clean up pee off the floor by myself the other day at Victoria's Secret, as the employee looked at me in disbelief and disgust and said, "I'll get you something," when I told her my daughter peed on the floor. That accident was more my fault than Berlin's though, as I had realized that it had been a long time since her last potty trip, but totally spaced taking her to the bathroom. We have had many more accidents with Berlin.

My new dilemma? Berlin is just under two year younger that Tryn and much, much, much closer to being potty trained through the night than Tryn. Several mothers have told me that night potty training can take a really long time, some kids just aren't ready for it until there are 4 or 5 years old. Tryn has never really seemed close to being able to make it through the night in underwear so we have never really tried. A few months ago I got Tryn pull-ups and explained that she could get up anytime during the night if she felt like she needed to go. I even got her up when we went to bed every night to see if that could get her to morning with a dry pull-up, but that was not very successful. The problem is that I now have a child, a two year old, who can start sleeping through the night in underwear at basically any time, and her older sister who can't and I am not sure what to do about that.

Just wondering if anyone has any suggestions? Should I just put Tryn in underwear at night and let her wet her bed several nights in a row - which is going to be very annoying and not fun for any of us? Should I wait longer? Not really sure what to do...Like I said, I am no potty training expert. :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Of all the thousands of pictures I have taken in the past year of my little girlies, I am pretty sure this one is my favorite.

Yup. Love it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Toy Story

One of my girls new favorite movies is Toy Story 3. It might be because it is one of the only movies they have seen in the theater, but, let's be honest, it's just a good movie. I might have been trying to hold back a flood of tears as so not to terrify my kids teared up at the movie theater myself.

Anyway, it came out on DVD yesterday so I went to Target and picked up a Christmas present for the girls :) However, on the way home I had to stop at a Redbox to return a DVD and from the backseat Tryn screamed, "MOM!!! TOY STORY 3!!!! AH! MOM! AH! AH! AH! They have Toy Story 3!!" So, of course I had to rent it for them. Especially since they had a copy, which is pretty rare when new popular movies make their Redbox debuts.

I turned the movie on for the girls last night after dinner and went about my household business. After awhile, from the next room, I hear sobbing. Immediately I think, "Oh great, Berlin is bugging Tryn. It's going to be seconds before I hear little footsteps heading this way. Time to break up a fight."

But nothing.

I figured they must have worked it out and moved on.

A minute later, more sobbing. But this time it didn't stop.

I decided I had better check on the girls, to make sure they weren't killing each other. However, they were both sitting there, with tears in their eyes, mesmerized by the fact that Woody, Buzz, Jessie, and other various friends are about meet their fiery end. Tryn had been sobbing.

Apparently, they didn't actually remember what happened in the movie when we saw it in the theater. I had to hold their hands until that part was over.

Ah, my sensitive girls. :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween 2010

My kids LOVED Halloween. I think they loved it as much as I don't love it. Well, maybe they like it a little more than I dislike it. We did have ourselves a great time though.

For weeks Berlin has been planning to be an angel and she got this costume that she loved. After I put her in it on Halloween she looked at it and said with disgust, "I don't want to wear this." Like it was a piece of trash (and she looked so darn cute!). Tryn, lo and behold, did not want to be a princess. Instead, she was Jessie, the lovely cowgirl from Toy Story. Only her costume didn't really look like Jessie at all, just a regular old cowgirl. But we won't tell her until she is older. She even had a toy gun and handcuffs, which I am sure Jessie doesn't have.

Then our lovely friend Becky invited us over to trick or treat in her much safer neighborhood. She also made us chili and apple crisp, perfect fall meal. The girls were amazed that all that had to do was knock on a door and they would get a piece of candy or three. It was so funny how excited they were. :)

These pictures were so cute I couldn't decide on just one so I thought I would show them all:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Grow-up Conversations

Sometimes I have the most interesting conversations with Trynica.

On the way to the store today Tryn said to me: Mom, I want to be the most beautiful girl at Target. I have on beautiful clothes and I am going to be so beautiful.

Me, totally taken by surprise: What? What are you talking about babe?

Tryn: My clothes make me beautiful, and I want to be the most beautiful one at Target. Don't you think my clothes are beautiful?

Me: Your outfit is very cute, Tryn. But everyone is beautiful, no matter what they are wearing.

Tryn: Mom, boys aren't beautiful.

Me: Well, boys are handsome. But it's not your clothes that make you beautiful. Your smile is beautiful, your eyes are beautiful, when you are really nice to other people that makes you really beautiful. It doesn't matter what you are wearing or if other people are wearing clothes that you think are more beautiful...

Tryn: I want to be beautiful.

Me: You are so beautiful sweetie.

Later in the store...

Tryn, very sadly: Mom, I just saw a girl and she looked so beautiful. She was more beautiful than me.

Me: Tryn, it really doesn't matter what she is wearing. She looks very pretty, but you are very pretty too. And you will always be one of the most beautiful girls in the world to me and to daddy.

I thought I would have a few more year at least before I had to start having conversations like this. I am totally unprepared.

This was after she asked me this morning where babies come from - not kidding.

Friday, October 22, 2010

From the mouth of the babe...

Sidenote: Bff's Rollie and Cait are in town, YAY!!!

Yesterday we (Steve, Rollie, Cait, Tryn, Berlin, and I) were sitting at the table eating dinner. I don't remember exactly what the grown ups were talking about, but it probably sounded something like:

Cait: Taylor Swift's new album is gonna be awesome. I am so excited!!

Steve: What?! She can't sing. Tryn, take a bite.

Cait: Yes, she can! Have you heard her new single?

Rollie: This steak is so good.

Steve: I can't believe you are into Taylor Swift.

Cait: Whatever. She's awesome.

Rollie: Man, this steak is so good!

Steve: Babe, these potatoes are awesome.

Me: Thanks :) Tryn, please take a bite of your food.

And suddenly, in the smallest sweetest voice, in the middle of the most random conversation...

Berlin: We must always listen to God.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Things I Want to Remember

Part of the reason I have this blog is because I want to write things down so that I don't forget. Things like...

* Yesterday afternoon I got home from work and I was really tired. I went and laid down on my bed, just to shut my eyes for a few minutes. Tryn came and crawled up in bed with me. I told her, "Mommy, just needs to lay here for 5 minutes okay?" and I took my glasses off and held them in my hand. Without saying a word Tryn took my glasses out of my hand, folded them neatly, and placed them on my nightstand. Then she walked out of the room, colored for a few minutes, and came back about 5 minutes later. She's such a sweet and good girl.

* Berlin has been very loving lately, like she likes to hug and kiss us all the time and tell us that she loves us - very sweet. She has also been expressing her love to Tryn. Like the other day when I was going to drop Tryn off at her friend Sophie's house to play Berlin said, "Tryn, I don't want you to go to Sophie's. I love you." Or a couple of weeks ago Tryn was talking to Steve about going to school and Berlin piped up and said, "Trynie, I don't want you to go to school. I love you!" My girls showing love to each other melts my heart like nothing else. Like when Tryn will sacrifice her swing (at the risk of other kids taking it) at the playground to give Berlin a push on the swing. Or when Tryn calls Berlin Sweetie or Honey and tells me that she will take care of Berli.

* Tryn was telling me a story the other day while we were in the waiting room at the chiropractor. She was telling me the story of Pocahontas (which I am not actually sure that she has ever even watched the movie) and said, "And then Pocahontas had to text her Prince..." Oh, the modern Princess. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Steve and I

I don't normally mention Steve and I, as in our marriage, on my blog. Well, I don't think I ever have. But we, as in both of us not as in we as the group we are, had an epiphany today - the exact same one. Actually...two.

See, Steve and I made dinner together, something we do 3 or 4 days out of the week. Tonight we made tomato and basil bruschetta, steak marinaded in oregano, basil, and rosemary, and grilled rosemary potatoes. With a Malbec. It was divine. Yummy in every way.

The first thing we realized is that we love cooking together. In a lot of couples it's usually one or the other that cooks. Steve and I cook meals separately, but we more often cook together and neither of of us really has much fun cooking without the other. It's a chore when we cook separately, but it's fun when we do it together.

Second, we make a great team. I would have never made the meal that we made tonight if I would have had to make it all by myself. Neither would Steve. It's too much work to cut up all those herbs alone, try a new recipe (bruschetta), and make sure everything gets cooked perfectly. Everything was perfect. And because we cooked it together it didn't feel like that much work.

One of the things that I have always loved about Steve is that he is a better cook than me. I can hold my own in the kitchen, and I have come up with some pretty fun meals on my own. But Steve is better. I actually didn't know how to use herbs or spices until after several years of cooking with him. He can make a better burger than any that I have had in a restaurant and he is very skilled at the grill.

We have become foodies because of each other. Not in the sense that we have to try every kind of food and every new restaurant ever, but we really like to make good tasting food. A lot. And we make some pretty darn good food.

If I had to do it all myself, I just wouldn't. Or it would be bland boring stuff. But with Steve, who can sometimes pass my skill in the kitchen, it's perfect.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


First, Steve and I ran 6 miles. The first time I ever tried running 6 miles I didn't make it. Granted it was really hot and humid, but I tried running two times around Lake Calhoun (which is 3.1 miles around) and I ended up walking the last mile or so. Today Steve and I ran two full times around the lake...while pushing a double jogger with 60 lbs of kid in it, and we made it.

I wish I was a mathematician, because then I could figure out how much more I "weigh" while I am pushing a stroller. It is so much harder to run with a stroller and if I was really good at math I could figure out how much the resistance adds to the weight I am already carrying. But I am not, so just trust me, it sucks.

But we made it, the whole 6 miles. The best part was when I was pushing the stroller and Steve was passing Berlin a juice box, because we fed the kids in the stroller while we were running around the lake, and a mom passed us with one kid in a stroller. She looked at us amazement and said, "Wow!" Yes, I agree with her. :)

Then we decided to go on a bike ride along the river near St. Paul. We didn't realize how hilly it was going to be. We tried this one riverside path that had warning signs that it was closed for water. When we got to a big puddle I tried riding through it and it got so deep that my shoes got soaked. We had to turn around and find a different route, that was 10 minutes into our ride.

We ended up biking for 12 miles, which took us 1 1/2 hours. I am glad I wasn't hauling the kids - Steve is amazing. I decided that if you ever really want to give yourself a pedicure go for a 12 mile bike ride in wet shoes. Just make sure to bring a pumice stone with you, what a waste that I didn't have one with me. It was such a beautiful evening, it was such a perfect time to go for a long bike ride. Makes me sad that it could snow next week.

It was an amazingly awesome day.

I might not be able to walk tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


While out in Seattle Steve and I said on Bainbridge Island two of the nights we were there. It was so cute and quaint. There is a full on town there bigger than Aitkin (where Steve spent a chunk of his childhood). I think Steve said there were 2,200 people living on Bainbridge and 1,200 living in Aitkin - so decent sized town. There was a super quaint downtown area with really fun shops and restaurants.

This was our view during lunch one day:

We had to take a ferry out there, a process which added a good 40-45 minutes of travel time because of the 30 minute actual ferry ride and the waiting to get on and off the ferry. Because I don't live on an island and have to wait around for ferries all the time, I thought it was super fun. Although, I could see how I wouldn't really love it if I actually lived on the island. You could tell who actually lived on Bainbridge. Those people would stay sitting in their cars and would read books or take naps. Steve and I got out every time, even when it was raining. Sometimes it was SO cold and windy. One time we walked around the back of the ferry and the wind literally almost knocked me over. I started laughing so hard. Like so windy I couldn't even keep my eyes open.

Seattle from the ferry:

The ferry from our beach at night:

The super cute place we stayed, Abode on the Sea:

The first morning we were there we had to rush out, but thought we saw a rocky beach. Later that afternoon, there was only about 2 feet of beach, none in spots. [Beach: a surface near the water made up of rocks, and only rocks.] Once we figured out the tide patterns we were able to go on a beach walk that night, using our iPhones as flashlights. The next morning there was actually a significant shoreline, as we had thought from the previous morning, so we went on another walk. There are so many things that get left behind when the tide goes out! Tons of shells:

A big dead jellyfish:

Pieces of a crab, when we were out at night we actually saw little crabs scuttling around:

When the tide was out this very thin strip of rocky land appeared, of course we walked out as far as we possibly could:

We found this interesting little guy. He was not alive and actually was missing his innards, but he was so bright orange and awesome looking:

And I found the biggest shell. Which I brought home:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Places in Seattle

One of the ways that Steve and I like to explore while we are on trips is to not eat at any place we know. If we see a restaurant with a name we recognize we move on and find something else, something unique to where ever we are. We tried so many different places, these were my favs:

The first night we were in Seattle we had no idea what to do. We were so hungry I wanted to start gnawing on my own hand and so, with the handy dandy iPhone, we googled something like "fun places to eat in Seattle" and through a little bit of searching found The Pink Door. It's hard to find, tucked into an alley. The entrance we found I think ended up being the back door that went right past the kitchen, but it was so fun! Seriously, some of the best Italian food I have ever had in my entire life. We sat outside and we were just a few blocks up from the bay so the view was awesome. Right when we were leaving they were starting to play live music. Definitely a recommendation.

Our Bruschetta. So good.

We stayed at the Ramada Inn downtown for two nights and it was definitely nothing special. The only redeeming qualities are that it is within walking distance of Pikes Place and the Space Needle - basically right in between, but a little closer to the Needle - AND it is across the street from Top Pot Donuts. As I am not generally fond of donuts in any shape or form, so we accidentally discovered this place as we were exiting our hotel to go climb Mt. Rainier. It was convenient and they had coffee, which was top priority for me that morning. If all donuts were freshly baked on the spot and tasted like these donuts I would change my opinion about these globs of dough and frosting. They were SO good. So good. Really, what a donut was meant to taste like.

Down along Pikes Place we, of course, stopped at the world's first Starbucks and bought our only souvenir of the trip - new travel mugs that keep coffee extra hot. We also went to some place that makes cheese and had "the world's best mac and cheese" which was incredible. But my other most favorite place was Beth's Cafe. It is the perfect version of a hole in the wall, but it is also the perfect version of the great all American diner. We went there for breakfast on Sunday morning and had to wait for 40 minutes to get a seat. They give you these massive plates of food with an unlimited supply of hash browns and it's a perfect diner experience. They also have really fabulous chocolate cake, which we got to go since we were so full we could barely move. This diner was actually feature on Man Vs. Food once because they are especially famous for their omelets which they make with either 6 or 12 eggs. We didn't get one of those.

Of course, if you get a chance (meaning, if they have a reservation open, we got one of the last two for lunch and dinner was completely booked all weekend), eat a meal on top of the Space Needle. The view is spectacular and the food is really, really good. Really good.

I really liked Seattle. Except for the rain. :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Play by Play

This is what is happening in my house right now:

The girls disappear into their room for 5 minutes.

Tryn comes out and asks me: "Mom, can you help me put this on?" A Tinkerbell dress and some fairy wings.

Tryn disappears back into her room for another 5 minutes. The girls emerge, Tryn in her dress, wings, with princess slippers, and wearing a crown and necklace. Berlin runs into the living room ahead of her and moves some toys out of the way.

"Here is the ball," Berlin announces to Tryn and sweeps her arm towards the floor.

"Oh, what a lovely ball!" Tryn tells Berlin. "Can you dance with me?"

"No, I have to drive to the ball," and Berlin gets on her bike and pedals away.

Mumbling, Tryn acts out the scene where Cinderella walks into the ballroom. (Apparently, Tinkerbell can also fill in as Cinderella.) Berlin drives back up.

"Okay, we need to dance," Berlin tells Tryn.

"Okay, Prince," they hold hands and start swaying around the living room. Berlin is humming a song.

Suddenly, Tryn gets dramatic and starts running in circles around the living room.

"Oh, oh, oh, I am changing, I am changing!" and she falls to the ground.

Berlin approaches.

"I am sorry I took so long," Trynica tells Berlin, "I was having such a wonderful time."

Tryn turns to me, "Mom? Can you help me get this dress off?" This is the first time I have interacted in this scene.

After I help take the dress off the girls run to their room...

...and disappear for another 5 minutes. Can't wait to find out what happens when they come back out. :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hiking Mt. Rainier

Steve and I went hiking on Mt. Rainier when we were out in Washington. It was the most beautiful hike I have ever been on in my entire life.

It was cold, it rained on us part of the time, and the entire time we were on the mountain the top of it was covered in clouds. The best view we had of the mountain the entire time we were in WA was while we were driving out to the hike. We passed a few spots in the road where we had a perfect view of the whole mountain, but we didn't take a picture because we thought we would just take some when we actually got there. Unfortunately, by the time we got up to Paradise lodge the whole top of the mountain was covered in clouds and it pretty much stayed that way for the remainder of our time in Seattle. There were two other times that we saw partial views of the mountain, once from the Space Needle and once when we were on the Bainbridge Ferry at 6:50am, but both of those times weren't super clear views.

Regardless, it was the most beautiful mountain hike - ever.

I am a total sucker for wildflowers. They are so romantic. I think one of the most beautiful things in the world are fields of wildflowers, and this mountain had wildflowers everywhere. It was perfect. And there were waterfalls everywhere, one of my other most favorite things. And it was SO green, even though there was snow on top of green grass in spots.

It was amazing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Berli Love

While Steve and I were gone in Seattle the girls spent the weekend with their Aunt Kristy and their Grandma up in Brainerd. I know the girls had a fabulous time, they told me so themselves. Berlin, however, apparently doesn't like to be away from me.

Grandma told me that Berlin kept wetting her pull-up, even though she was being very purposeful about asking Berlin if she needed to go potty. When she asked Berlin why she kept going potty in her pull-up Berlin said, "Because I want my mommy to come home."

Even though the kid have been home for a couple of days now, Berlin is still pretty emotional about the fact that we were gone. Last night she kept asking me, "Up! Up! Up!" I was trying to get dinner ready and then bake a pie, so I finally said to Berlin, "Berli, why do you keep wanting mommy to pick you up?" and she told me, "Because I like you." Well...okay then :)

This morning she came and snuggled in bed with me and put her face right next to mine and put her little arm around my neck. Then when I was kissing her goodbye she wrapped her arms around my neck as tight as she could and told me, "I don't want you to go to work," in a sad little voice.

Break my heart.

I feel very loved this week.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Sight from Seattle

Steve and I just got back from a quick weekend trip to Seattle. I think Seattle and the upper-Northwest-corner-of-Washington area is one of the most beautiful places I have been to in the United States. I have so many pictures...

However, as I am trying to weed through the 685 pictures we took over our four day weekend, I came across these and I just can't wait to show you. Steve and I like to explore, and we found something that I still can't believe that I saw. This:

Yes, if you are thinking that this looks like a wall of gum, you are completely right.

In a little alley way right next to the entrance to Pike's Place Market there is this wall of gum. Actually, two walls. It's all over the walls on both sides of the alley/little street. Since I don't really chew gum all that much and definitely didn't have any with me, I pretended that I was sticking a piece of gum on the wall.

Then I freaked out because I almost touched it. EW!!

I guess it started back in the 1990's, people would stick their gum to the wall while waiting in line for ticket sales or to get into a nearby theater. And it just grew and grew. So random. People have even written their names, in gum, on the wall. I though it was kind of stinky - and not in a fresh minty sort of way.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One of the Reasons

Like I've said, there are many reason I have not blogged much this summer, but there is one bigger reason that I haven't mentioned yet. I became a runner. What's funny is that a lot of what I think about when I run is writing, but since running - specifically training myself for a half marathon - takes so much time I really didn't have time to write. But I did write about running.

Here's the story.


The swish, swish, swishing scuff of my feet hitting the pavement is still a foreign sound to me. The strength of mind that it takes to drive my body forward, farther than it wants to go, is something that I have never known before. I am 29 years old and ran the first mile of my life this past year. It seems silly, even to me, but it’s true.

Growing up homeschooled on a hobby farm had its benefits for sure. I learned a lot about responsibility, had a lot of free time to read and explore art, and had a lot of one on one time with my teacher, my mom, as the only person in my grade. One of the downfalls, however, is that I was never in any organized sports. I was never interested and, since there wasn’t anyone to follow into doing the popular things, I never cared. I was never on the dance team, never played basketball, and my extent of volleyball was playing with a co-ed youth group of equally inexperienced peers. The only reason we played volleyball was to have something to do on Wednesday nights in the dead of winter in Minnesota – not because we were any good or actually liked the game. I, for one, have terrible hand-eye coordination and could barely hit the ball. The most competitive I ever got was during the foot races my brothers and I would have down to the end of the driveway.

It never even crossed my mind to go on a run until I was in college and I lived relatively near the best friend of the boy that I had a crush on. I figured that if I went running by the best friend’s road once in awhile that there was a chance that the boy would be at the house someday and I would casually see him while out on my run.

That didn’t last long. My attempts at running were as follows: Run about a quarter mile downhill toward the best friends’ house, start wheezing, be concerned of chest pains and tightness in my throat, and turn around and walk uphill back home. I did have the sense of mind to try and give it some time. I tried for 5 weeks, but running never got easier. I never did see the boy.

After wheezing from walking across campus a couple of times, I went to a doctor who told me I had “Exercised Induced Asthma” and he prescribed me an inhaler. I didn’t even believe it was a real diagnosis; I was convinced the doctor was making something up to make me feel better about myself. Although, it did make sense that I would have something like that. Me, the girl who can’t throw or hit a ball and broke her foot while trying to learn a simple dance with friends, apparently has no athletic bone in her body. Not one. She can’t even run. I started joking around that, “I can’t even run a mile to save my life. In fact, running a mile might end my life!” A joke that I believed was 100% true. I simply could not run.

The problem was, I started to want to run. I have always been a healthy eater, conscious of what I ingested and how it affects my body. However, I always felt that I was missing that physical component of health. Sure, I knew how eating an apple was beneficial to me, but I also knew how physical exercise would benefit me as well and I wanted more.

Then, one summer, after marrying that boy that I hoped to see on my previous exercising escapades and after having two children, that boy turned man started running. I definitely didn’t want to be left behind, so one day I decided to go with him. It was rough, every step was self inflicted physical torture, but I survived. I did more than survive. I ran an entire mile – the first ever in my life.

Since I didn’t die that day, nor did I start wheezing or feel like my throat was going to close in on me, I figured I had somehow outgrown my asthma and so I joined a gym. Learning how to run was one of the hardest things I have ever done for myself. For the first three months I hated every single step, and all I could think about was each terrible step. Getting to the point where I could run for 30 minutes without stopping took months. The biggest motivator that kept me going during that time was that the Winter Olympics were on all the TV’s at the gym every time I went for a run. I would watch those sleek conditioned athletes conquer the world and think, “If they can do that, I can run for another 5 minutes,” and so I would.

Then one day I went for a run with my best friend and she, very enthusiastically, mentioned that we should run a half marathon together in the summer. I outright just laughed at her. Me? Run a half marathon? Absolutely not.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

A couple of weeks later my church started talking about a half marathon in August, a race where the runners would raise money to help provide clean drinking water for people in Africa. I knew that if there ever was a half marathon that I would run, this would be the one. However, deciding to actually do it was a pretty significant risk for me. At that point I could still hardly run for 30 steady minutes, and I was painfully slow. I was worried that if I signed up for this race that all the training could make me hate running for the rest of my life if it didn’t go well. This was also around the time that I had just had my first ever I-don’t-hate-every-second-of-this-and-it-was-almost-fun run. Not only could I end up hating running permanently, I could just downright fail. I could try and train for weeks, get to race day, and not be able to do it. How did I know? I had never taken part in any kind of sports event before.

It took me until the last day of race registration to decide, but I signed myself up. Immediately following I had several terrible runs and I almost gave up before I really started. I started to think that it would be best if I quit right away, that way it would be a little less disappointing, but I hate to fail. So I pushed myself harder than I had ever pushed myself before. I followed the training plan, lost toenails, and put around 200 miles on my first pair of real running shoes.

August 22 was race day, three days after my 29th birthday. I didn’t sleep for the two days leading up to the race. I could think of nothing else. What if I failed? I tried to tell myself that it didn’t matter, I had raise over $1,000 to help kids in Africa and I was more in shape than I had ever been in my whole life, but it did matter. This wasn’t about kids in Africa or getting in shape anymore, this was about me. It was about doing something that I never though possible, it was about proving myself to nobody but me. At this point, I was the only one who would lose or benefit anything from my performance during this race.

Except for walking through the water stops, which my training suggested I do, my main goal was to run 13.1 miles without walking. I didn’t think there was any sense in walking a race that I had signed up to run. My other goal was that I would not be the last runner to cross the finish line.

I accomplished both my goals.

Actually, I finished the race 15 minutes faster than I had planned that I would, and was far from being the last person to cross the finish line. I am proud of that. I am proud of myself.

Crossing the finish line was not as euphoric as I had imagined it would be during training. Honestly, when I finally saw the finish line all I could think was, “As soon as I cross that line I can just stop. I can just stop running,” which propelled me to actually sprint as fast as my body could go, which, let’s be honest, wasn’t that fast at that point, across the finish line. But thinking about it now makes me a little emotional. I ran 13.1 miles. Me, the girl who couldn’t run a mile to save my life and might die trying.

The year before, for my 28th birthday, I would have never thought that I would have been running a half marathon just a year later. I would have laughed at myself for even considering such an idea. Right now I think that I will never run a full marathon or be able to really dance like I want to, but who knows what I will be saying a year from now…right now it feels like anything is possible.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Not What I am Really Thinking...

If I were to write what I am really thinking about today, I would tell you how I am thinking about the fact that this is the last August for the next 15 or so years where I will not be helping someone get ready for school to start. I would tell you that even though I LOVE fall (the only months that I really don't love living in MN are January-March), it always makes me feel a little melancholy. The weather has been cool enough the past two days that we have not been able to go to the beach. That, and the fact that fall is literally two weeks away, makes me a little sad. Like summer is dying. Top that with the fact that next August at this time I will be buying school supplies for a very excited kindergartner and turning 30 (it's birthday week this week!!). Well, let's just say that's a whole bunch of stuff that I just really don't want to talk about today.

Instead, I am going to show you something that I made recently!! I love being creative. It feeds my soul. When I write or paint or edit pictures I get lost in this world where time has no value. I don't notice how much time passes, I don't care if I stay up way too late, and sometimes I can't hardly get myself to stop doing whatever it is that I am doing.

At the beginning of the summer I got frustrated when I went to look for pair of earrings and found a whole container of jewelry that I forgot that I had. I decided that I needed to find a way to have my jewelry more visible so that I wouldn't forget about what I didn't regularly see. I had a faint memory of something that I had seen in a magazine several years ago, so I can't take full credit for this idea. This display is based loosely off the idea that I remember.

It's like having a piece of practical and useful art! I glued cork boards together, attached ribbon strips for my earrings, glued buttons onto the ends of pushpins for my necklaces and bracelets, and made a place where I can easily see all my jewelry. I love it. And in a house lacking on storage space of any kind, this just works out quite perfectly.

And is so much more fun to talk about on such a lovely day.