Monday, September 15, 2014

Baby List

I am no parenting expert, and there are a million of these lists out there. Every baby is different, but I just thought I would share the things I really loved/appreciated throughout the last three years.

Newborn to Six Months
1. Aquaphor. This stuff is amazing. I used it on everything - baby acne, scratches, diaper rash, dry skin. A big tub lasted TWO YEARS. It is essential.

2. Pacifiers. Every baby will prefer something different, some babies won't take any pacifiers. I was very grateful that my kids liked pacifiers, especially on long car rides. We preferred the Mam brand for our kids, and the cute designs were a big plus. I would also recommend getting a Wubbanub - because ADORABLE!

3. Sleep sacks/swaddles. Get whatever kind works best for you. Our hospital used Halo and that is what we used for Agatha, but we also got a Miracle Blanket for Oliver and loved it.

4. Footed pants. Baby socks do not stay on baby feet - it's a fact of life. Save yourself the trouble and buy footed pants (or always dress them in sleepers!). These and these are cute.

5. Fisher Price Rock n' Play Sleeper. We got the bunny one (but ours didn't vibrate - that must be new) for Oliver and this thing was a life saver! He slept in it exclusively for the first few weeks, and then at nap time for almost six months. I loved it and have recommended it to everyone I know who is having/has had a baby recently.

Six to Twelve Months
1. Baby Led Weaning. Okay, this isn't a product, but I really recommend doing this. Our kids were such adventurous eaters (and one still is) and I really credit Baby Led Weaning (or BLW) with that. It was so nice to not have to spend extra money on baby food, we were able to just prepare the same food that we were eating and let the baby try it out on his or her own terms. I suggest getting the book and reading up about it.

2. Baby Bjorn bib. Whichever way you decide to start feeding your baby, you'll need a bib. I bought one of these for Agatha and we still use it every day for Oliver. I prefer it to any of the other bibs we have purchased. It catches everything, is easy to clean and strangers are constantly commenting on how much they wish they had one when their kids were younger.

3. B. Zany Zoo or any other activity cube. This is a really great, long-lasting toy. Both kids still play with it but they really loved it when they were learning to sit and pull themselves up. It's color scheme is not as garish as a lot of the other toys out there, too. This has pretty much lived in my living room for the last three years.

4. Books. At this age, my kids were into books they could interact with, so the Usborne Touchy Feely books and Dear Zoo were big hits.

One to Two Years
1. Boon Swig Sippy Cup. I have purchased approximately eight trillion sippy cups. This one is the best, in my opinion. It doesn't leak, it's easy to hold, there's not a million parts, it's kind of like a bottle - WINNER.

2. Play kitchen. It doesn't matter what kind. ours is a plastic stove my mom picked up at a garage sale. Would I like something nicer - sure, this works fine. The important thing is the pots, pans, spoons and pretend food. Every home needs a pretend kitchen.

3. Books. Books. Books. I like to get our books from library sales or the clearance shelf at Half-Price
Books. I have found some amazing books there. I also like to buy books I loved as a child, it's so fun to share them with my kids now. I could do a whole post on amazing kids books.

4. Water table. Again, it doesn't matter what kind. We have this one.  My kids love water and this is a great way to spend time in the sun and let them get as wet and crazy as they want.

Two + Years
1. Play-Doh. Make your own or buy the real stuff. It's a classic for a reason. Agatha is also SUPER into watching You Tube videos of adults playing with Play-Doh. Yes, that's a thing.

2. Endless Alphabet (and Endless Numbers and Endless Reader). This app has entertained Agatha a lot. And I feel no shame in that because it is educational and awesome. And adorable.

3. High Five magazine. Agatha is so excited to get her magazine in the mail each month, and it usually has pretty cute stories in it. She especially like the "That's Silly!" pages and the hidden pictures.

4. Bollie Ladybug Bubbles. This wand was super easy for Agatha (and Oliver!) to hold and she actually managed to blow bubbles from it. It might be appropriate for younger kids, but she didn't get the hang of it until this summer.

Do you have anything to add?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

What the H is wrong with me?

The kids are at grandma's, Chris is at a rock show, and I am bored. BORED. I cannot believe it. I actually don't know what to do with myself.

That's not actually true. There are several things I could/should be doing: Grocery shopping, sorting kids' summer/fall clothes, sewing curtains, exercising, cleaning, even WORKING. But I don't want to do those things. I don't know what I want to do.

Hmmm. I guess I'll wander down to the wine shop and get myself a bottle and rent a movie.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Agatha: Three Years Old!

Well, this is almost two months late - so right on time for me! I am still in shock that my little baby, the girl who made me a mommy, is THREE! And has her own opinions, and voices them regularly. She is changing so much every day, I am amazed. I am so lucky to be able to be her mama.

This girl cracks me up almost every day. She is so into imaginary friends and pretend play. For a while every doll, animal, toy, etc was named Billy. Everyone was Billy. Billy was Agatha's best friend. She (yes, Billy was a girl) was "tall, with brown hair and big arms" according to Agatha. She's now moved onto a friend named Fiargo, who apparently lives in a triangle and plays the violin.


She is still insanely into reading and books, THANK YOU. We read at least three books before bed every night and a lot of nights, Agatha is the one "reading" to us. Grandma Tomi got Agatha a subscription to High Five (the younger version of Highlights) and she LOVES it. There may have been times that I have hidden the magazine so I wouldn't have to read the entire thing at bedtime. She is amazing at finding the hidden pictures.

Lately, over the last few weeks, Agatha has been really interested in helping with dinner and baking. This interest coincided with receiving an apron from her older cousin, Alexandra. I will admit I have used helping make cookies or other treats as an incentive for good behavior (mainly staying out of Oliver's crib during the night).

Agatha is learning to tell jokes, but she doesn't really understand why they are funny. I told her the knock-knock joke that goes: "Knock knock!" "Who's there?" "Little old lady." "Little old lady who?" "I didn't know you could yodel!" and she then began inserting the punch line into any knock knock joke ("Who's there?" "Banana." "Banana who?" "I didn't know you could yodel!") which makes me laugh anyway. She also has her own words for things, dancing is "balleting," playing catch is called "ball catch," juice boxes are "juice can boxes."
Potty training was fairly easy and mostly taken care of at day care. I think she was fully trained a few months before her third birthday (maybe April?) but we still have her wear pull ups at night.


Agatha love, love, loves her grandpas. Her face lights up as soon as she sees them and she won't leave their sides when she's around them. At her third birthday party, both grandpas were in attendance and I don't think she knew what to do with herself. Poor Grandmas.

Her birthday party this year was fun - we decided to have it at a local park with a splash pad and the weather was a bit windy, but we still had a good time. She mostly remembers there was a butterfly on her cake and she got presents.

I love you , Goose.

Monday, September 8, 2014


A year ago, my dad fell and fractured his hip. He was taken to the local hospital, moved to a larger hospital due to breathing troubles and ultimately moved down to the ICU at HCMC in Minneapolis. The trauma of fracturing his hip had exacerbated his emphysema and made it almost impossible for him to breathe on his own. Over the course of three long weeks, he was almost constantly attached to an oxygen mask, bi-pap machine or full on respirator. Eventually, his condition worsened and in accordance with his wishes, he was removed from life-saving care. My brothers and sister and I got to say good-bye to him and were with him when he passed.

I miss him a lot. There is honestly not a day that goes by where I don't think about him. And the oddest things will trigger a memory.

Here's a partial list of things that call him to mind immediately, and may he rest in peace.

Washing dishes
Macaroni and cheese
Old Milwaukee
John Wayne
The Weather Channel
Reader's Digest
Ice Cream
The library
Michael Bolton
Action movies
Wood stoves
Country air
Balanced breakfasts
Bird feeders

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What black magic is this?

 I think my daycare provider is a witch. I've thought about it and thought about it and there can be no other explanation.
To say my three-year-old is a picky eater is being generous. Although she isn't to the point where she only eats blue foods or McRib sandwiches, she certainly isn't an adventurous eater. I did everything I was supposed to - started her on solids at six months by following Baby Led Weaning guidelines. No juice until she was two years old and only on special occasions. She ate what we ate - no special meals prepared just for her. But somehow, she came to have a very narrow definition of acceptable foods.  I don't think it's any different than most other toddlers, but she is not enjoying the lamb chops, quinoa or avocado popsicles of her babyhood.

Daycare, however, tells a different story.

"Oh, I never have any trouble with her eating," my provider tells me.

I start quizzing Agatha about what she has for lunch each day. Grilled cheese, goulash, barbecue sandwiches, pizza, corn, peas, apples, watermelon, pears. The list goes on. A lot of these things are on her "accepted food" list at home as well, but some of them are on the "negotiation" list. That entails me saying, "Try two more bites" throughout the meal until I'm satisfied with her miniscule food intake.

And it's not just food. I frequently show up to see Agatha putting toys away WITHOUT A FUSS.

At home, my requests for picking up are either ignored outright or surrendered to after various threats.

The one year old LAYS STILL and does not cry during diaper changes, I'm told. 

Black magic, I tell you.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fab Four: July

Some things I am loving this month.

Images: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

1. Locke and Key by Joe Hill. This is a great new comic series and the whole thing is out now. I am on volume 3 and am loving each one more than the one before. The gist of it is: Family is struck by tragedy. Family moves across the country to the old homestead. Trouble follows. Oh, and magic keys and doorways, too.

2. Runkeeper App. I am starting to get back to running and this is helping me stay on track. I set a goal of 50 miles for July and I'm trying my best to get there. It's pretty basic but it's doing the job.

3. Witches of East End. I just finished the first season of this show on Netflix. I am a sucker for shows about witches and magic, so this was right up my alley. Plus, I was pleasantly surprised to see Andrew from the Buffyverse in a small role. The show is campy and fun, and special effects are decent. It is definitely a show where you have to suspend your critical thinking skills - I caught myself saying, "How did they know that? Why would you do that? How did she know he was there?" a lot, but it's a fun show. I tried to read the book a few months ago and stopped a few chapters in - one of the few times I will say a show is better than a book! The new season is on Lifetime now.

4. Burrito bowls from Dinner: A Love Story. I made these on Sunday night and they were great. Took the leftovers to work Monday - even better! I am so glad I can get my Chipotle fix without the approximately two million calories I would ingest from Chipotle. If you aren't reading Dinner: A Love Story, get thee to that blog.

That's all, folks.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


It's 12:00 AM. Your toddler is in your bed. Your husband is playing a rock and roll show at a local bar. It's dark and you are just about asleep.

"What's that noise?" your toddler asks. (Why is she awake? When you find out, LET ME KNOW!)

"What noise?" you ask groggily. No answer. "What noise, sweetie?"

"'That noise."

You have recently been diagnosed with mild hearing loss. You concentrate, straining your cursed damaged ears to hear something. All you can hear is the constant buzzing you always hear. (Stupid ears!)

It's nothing, you tell yourself. She's just tired.

But wait! What was that?! Some sort of jingle or shaking noise. Or a footstep?

Your mind jumps to intruders (possibly dressed as court jesters to account for the jingling) and you race through all the options of how to get your toddler and sleeping baby in the other room to safety. You will, of course, fight off these dastardly home-invading RenFest rejects with your last dying breath, if need be. Should you stash the kids in the closet and hope they're quiet? Break a window and toss them to the ground outside?

Your body is tensed, your arms ready to reach for the light, either to turn it on or brandish it like a weapon.

The cat jumps on the bed. You sigh with relief.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Omaha Trip

Almost every year over the Fourth of July holiday, Chris and I (and now the kids) road trip down to Omaha for an extended stay at his parents' home. Before we had kids, the trip was all about relaxing, which restaurant to eat at, strolls around Omaha's Old Market, fireworks, movies and adult beverages.

The two trips we have made with the kids (once when Agatha was one and this past Fourth) do not resemble those pre-kid trips very much. For one thing, it's hard to relax in a non-baby proofed home with a child who has recently learned to walk. Instead, you spend most of your indoor time following the baby around and redirecting him away from the stairs, the cupboards, the electrical outlets and the cat dish. Then, take eating out. I don't know about you, but taking kids to restaurants is not high on my list of "fun activities." It is high on my list of "things I'd rather not do." The perfect place for kids to eat on vacation is outside. Make a mess! Run around! I don't care!

We did get a lot of fun activities in on this trip and the kids had a lot of new experiences. Also, they were really well behaved on the 6+ hour ride to and from.

Our first full day in Nebraska was actually mostly spent in Iowa. Chris' brother, Jeremy, and his wife, Amber, recently moved to Avoca, Iowa from Lincoln to try their hand at farming. We took the 45 minute ride to Avoca to enjoy their 4th of July parade. The town is so cute and the parade was great - not too long and not too many tractors! I was very worried about Agatha running into the street and getting run over on her quest for candy, but she did really well and the kids made out like bandits! Agatha and two of her cousins, Ernie and Lenora, each filled a quart sized Ziploc bag. We even had to stick overflow into a backpack!

Cousins patiently waiting for the parade to start.

 After the parade we headed across the street to the library book sale and picked up a few books including Giant John and a copy of Stuart Little from 1945. I love old books. Agatha ran over to the library sign and posed herself like that with no prompting from me, I swear.

We then headed out to Jeremy and Amber's farm for some lunch and more fresh air. Agatha had a blast feeding chickens, picking mulberries, looking for the barn cats and taking out every single board game in the house. We tried laying Oliver down for a nap, but we had forgotten his special lamb in Minneapolis and he was having a hard time falling asleep without it. On the way home, we stopped at Target and Oliver picked out a Mickey Mouse doll that acted as a surrogate lovey for the rest of the trip.

The next day, Chris' parents went with us to the Henry Doorly Zoo. The last time we had gone was when Agatha was just turning one, so it was fun for her to actually understand what we were doing there. We saw a lot of different attractions this time and I especially enjoyed the hippopotamuses and the cute prairie dogs that were just out in the open as you walked along a path. Agatha and I even rode a camel! Oliver and Agatha stopped into the petting zoo area but neither one seemed too sure about the whole concept of petting the animals. I was excited for Oliver to ride on the carousel. I wasn't sure he was going to make it since he cried and was trying to get off his horse while we were waiting for the ride to start, but as soon as the music started up he started smiling and ended up loving it!

 That last picture reminds of Agatha's first ride on the carousel.

We also had plenty of pool time this trip. I bought Agatha some arm floaties and from the minute she got in the pool she was adamant she did not need us and she wanted to swim by herself. And she did great - I was a little surprised the floaties held her up, but they exceeded my expectations of what $4.00 will get you. I was excited for Oliver to try the pool for the first time, I had high hopes since he loves baths and the small kiddie pool we have at home. And I was right, he took to the water like a, well, like a fish, I guess. He happily sat or stood at the edge and "jumped" (really, just fell) into my arms and lounged in his baby float/tube/thing like a boss. Agatha loved jumping off the side of the pool as well and yelled "CANDYBALL!!" every time she jumped. Too funny.

Agatha insisted on watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving four times throughout the trip, but it give us a break to pack up on our last day. We ended up stopping at The Incredible Pizza Company in Urbandale, Iowa for a few hours on the way home. We ate lunch, watched Bambi (SAD!) and played arcade games. It was actually pretty fun.

The whole trip was a blast and since the driving/riding has been going so well, we're hoping to get down again in early September.

One last picture of Agatha at a splash pad we stopped at one night when everyone was squirrely and needed to get some energy out.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Oliver: One Year Later

Happy belated birthday, Oliver!

You came into our lives so peacefully and thoughtfully and easily, and have continued to demonstrate those traits over the last twelve months. We brought you home and you were so easy going, happy to have attention when attention was given, content to observe your surroundings when we were distracted.

I worked from home part time for a month before returning to work full time, and you would lay in your rocker and watch me, waiting for me to be done so I could hold you or play with you.

You watched your big sister with interest and tolerated her too-rough kisses and smothering hugs. We called you Meatball, Mister Guy, Chubby Wubby, and Buddy. You slept in Target, on walks, in the car, on our laps, on our chests and in our bed.

You learned to kick, to roll, to sit up, to crawl, to stand, to cruise, to climb and to walk. You say Mama, Dada, Aga.

You are the smartest baby that has ever lived (in my opinion). You are fascinated by how things work and I can see you watching to understand - Why does this go in here? What happens if I do this? Can this be put on this? - and you will try and master toys at this age that Agatha did not play with until she was two, if ever!

Your idea of Heaven is an open toilet to splash in, endless cupboards and drawers to open and close, a kitty to chase and millions of pacifiers. And food.

Oh, the food. You. Will. Eat. Anything. You are a lean, mean, eating machine. And I mean that literally. Although  you would be happy to be fed constantly, you are still a tiny guy. I pray that your love of food continues through toddlerhood, because I don't know if I can fight that battle with two children.

You love the bath. You love the pool. You love the water table. You love the treat of water in a REAL cup not a sippy cup. (Those are for BABIES!)

You go to bed like a champion. You grab your stuffed lamb, Sam, and snuggle into our shoulders. At nap time your make nary a peep. At bedtime you put up with your sister climbing into your crib to "entertain" you three or four times a night before you manage to fall asleep.

You are starting to enjoy books. You like books where you can DO something - lift a flap, feel a texture, etc. You love music, and dancing, and banging on instruments of any sort. 

I love you, little man. I love your open mouth kisses. I love your one floppy ear. I love your four little teeth and your belly laugh and how you clap for yourself when you are proud of something you've done. I love how you race towards the door when your dad gets home, how you try to put your sister's shoes on, how you love taking my shoes off my feet when I get home from work. I love when you walk over and rest your head on my knee, or crawl on the ottoman and lay down. I love how you bounce up and down to music. I love how you are such a snuggle-bug. I love how you make people so happy when you reach for them and hug them and lay your head on their chest, then pick your head up, look at them and lay it down again. You are the sweetest boy in the world and I am so proud to be your mama.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Back in the Saddle

So, it has been almost a year (!) since I posted. I can't believe that, and I also feel like I have said that the last few times I posted. This last year was...a lot. There was a lot happening.

Parenting two kids is a lot of work and I finally felt like I was getting my into my groove when Oliver was about 9 or 10 months old. So I didn't feel like I had a lot of time to blog, or take very good care of myself, or read, etc. I did manage to find plenty of time to stare at my phone and play Candy Crush and look at Facebook ten times in 15 minutes, though. Gotta have your priorities.

But these kids. I love 'em. Yes, our house is too messy and too small, and they are noisy and throw tantrums and don't eat the dinner I just spend an hour making, but they are smart and hilarious and so so so sweet. And mine.

As I was saying, a lot happened this year and it's been hard to find a way to write about my experiences while giving them the proper weight and respect they deserve. I haven't figured it out quite yet and I don't know if I will.

There were plenty of good things that happened this year, though. I got a new job opportunity, Chris' mom finished her cancer treatment and it was successful, we got a two new nephews and are expecting another any day now, and summer finally came to Minnesota.

I told my mentor at work earlier this year that 2014 was going to be my year. I am trying to make that happen. Wish me luck.