Friday, May 30, 2014

Great House Update: Kitchen Sneaks

We’ve been busier than bees these past couple of weeks. Traveling to Wisconsin and back to visit family, yard work, planning a shower for tomorrow and hosting guests. It’s crazy!

But in a good way.

Today we are taking off in a little while once our sleeping girl wakes up to hit the local beach. It’s a family fun afternoon complete with dinner out so I’m hoping it’s a hit with our little one. I know I’m ready for the beach. In fact, I’m really looking forward to heading up north. There’s something about being at a lake “up north” that screams summer to me. Plus playing at the beach for a few days with Elizabeth doesn’t sound that bad either.

Hope everyone has fun plans for the their weekend. Ours is chock full with more of what you read above! In a few weeks we hope to have a berm started in our backyard and hopefully by September we will have grass…lol!

Here are some sneaks of our kitchen to get your ready for a post I hope to have up next week if I can just find my other camera lens:)

photo 1


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Transitioning out of the crib

I’m not an expert at this.


In fact, I would probably caution you against proceeding in the same way. Our daughter is a month away from turning two and we will be due with our second in just four short months.

It was now or never in my mind.

And on Tuesday evening, just 30 minutes before bedtime, with my husband away at softball oblivious, I ran with my crazy thought to take the crib rail off and install the toddler rail.

That folks, is definitely a what not to do. But for us it worked.

At least for the past two days.

Elizabeth helped me unscrew the crib rail and screw in the toddler rail. We played a bit on her bed. I stealth-fully slipped the crib rail into the next room and shut the door. And then we went about our bedtime routine. And when I went to tuck her in, she clung and whimpered.

I had a feeling in that moment that the tools were about to come back out. But then we cuddled a bit more and talked about the bed and few minutes later she climbed on in and let me tuck her in.

Knowing that we were in for a potentially crazy night I just stayed really close. And of course with the newfound freedom she came right to her door within minutes. I opened it, led her back and we talked again about staying in bed. 10 minutes later I intervened when she brought her books into bed. And then she fell asleep.


Transitioning her out of her bed has been on my mind for months. I’ve read countless stories of people making the transition at her age and heard countless tales from families that have waited. The hardest part about the waiting was the cost. I’ve seriously turned into a bit of a miser. Alex would agree. Even though our second crib would be free we still needed to buy another crib mattress ($100) and paint it ($$). I knew by three we would transition Elizabeth out of her crib because she has been pulling her leg up and over the rail for the past few months (although never attempting true escape). All the rigmarole associated with two cribs seemed like a waste of money when we would just have to buy a twin bed in a year and in the back of my head I always wondered if she could do it. I know most people wait because of the “if it’s not broke, don’t change it” mentality.” I totally get that, but it wasn’t enough to sway me!

Our daughter, though she has her strong willed moments, is actually a fairly good listener for her age. She’s pretty mellow and for whatever reason I didn’t think we’d have any issues. In fact I almost dreaded switching things up later. Usually with decisions like this one I think of the worst case scenario. This to me was having to put the crib rail back on in a couple of days if all hell broke loose. It’s just a couple of screws. Didn’t seem like a horrible scenario to me. And that’s why you found me late Tuesday evening unscrewing a crib rail, spontaneously.

For the past few months, Elizabeth has stirred at night looking for her pacifiers. So it was no surprise the first night that she stirred twice in the middle of the night. This was normal. At midnight she was stuck because she was unable to turn around with the crib rail gone. At 3 am a little voice called out “help please, help please, help please” and I ran into her on the floor in the dark searching for her pacifier on the floor. It was comical. I tucked her safely back in bed and she slept until 7:45 and then we heard her doorknob twisting. She hasn’t quite caught on to the “stay in bed until mommy comes” part in the morning but at least she’s contained in her room and cannot escape.

The second night we didn’t hear a peep until 6:15 when we heard a thud and a cry. Somehow she did twist her way out of the bed. Oops. Nothing some cuddles with mommy in her bed couldn’t fix. Both naps have been super successful. She has stayed in bed and remained in bed until she wakes. No playing with toys or anything.

I know fully that this could be early success and we could be in trouble next week. But I also know that she could succeed and be ready for a twin bed next week. In fact, I think if we had a side rail on a twin bed she would actually do better than on a toddler mattress. But we are taking this one day at a time.

In the end I’m thankful, in a way, for my spur of the moment thoughts. Sometimes I wonder how I’ll ever know what she’s capable of if I never give her the chance to try something.

She may be ready for a big girl bed…but I would have never known until we tried it.

I’ll keep you posted if the crib stays put and everything falls apart:)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Great House Update: The Exterior part 2

oh my…it’s a doozie of an update.

It’s rare in our house, well at least for me, that something bothers me so much that I just have to have it changed. For my husband, on the other hand, when something begins to bother him, It must get done now.

WE ARE FINISHING OUR HOUSE! (haha, not everything!)

Just the outside! This summer we are planning on finishing our exterior project which means replacing all of the remaining original windows, siding, trim and front door. Our project list is beyond long and our summer will probably speed on by as we await our new exterior and a new baby.

My husband asked me, “New van or windows?” It wasn’t even hard. Windows. Having new windows in the living room and kitchen has made such a difference, not only for their newness but also for the beefier trim and coat of paint surrounding them. While our baseboards and doors throughout will stay put until it’s time to do the floors, our windows will look amazing. I really can’t wait!

Last year we met with a Landscape Designer from Southview Design, mainly to achieve some direction in what to do with our mess of a yard. When we bought our house, renters had been living in it for years. Basically they did not lift a finger to do any yard work. As a result our yard was in a less than desirable state. Our goal with our landscape designer was to come up with a plan that we could implement with a little help from them. We are pretty much novices when it comes to gardening and plants, so having some input was really helpful.

Here’s part of the plan they came up with for our backyard:


After thinking through our plans for the summer we decided to add and subtract a few things. We’d like to have our house re-appraised this fall so we are attempting to have the exterior looking a little more manicured.


-Create beds in the back, assemble a berm along our fence line to deal with water issues, install our arbor from our wedding, and add plants/beds to the front of our house. The back is waiting for next year!

After thinking through our yard a bit more and making room for a play set (coming next year hopefully) we tweaked the plan to look a bit more like this:


We’ve been thinking over how to deal with the play set and what material goes underneath. We’d like to use mulch in the back bed and my initial thought was to match the color and switch to rubber mulch under the play set. We will see what our professional says about that! We are meeting with our landscape designer to tweak the new plan a bit more, his name is Bob Renaud and he’s now with Minnesota Green. He’s been fantastic!


We went to the nursery on Sunday after brunch and it’s overwhelming to say the least. We have a long list of plants we really like, especially flowering plants like peonies, and so we’ll go armed with our favorites inspired by the Landscape Arboretum and the nursery. Hopefully Bob will be able to add a few of them to the plan!

Needless to say this summer is chock full of work. We’ve been out playing in the dirt and pulling up weeds/trees/bushes everyday for the past week. Multiple hours a day. We were very excited for a rainy day to give us a break. Alex just planned out all the projects on our list and came up with work plan. From now until September we will be spending approximately 10-12 hours a week working in our yard. At least I’ll stay strong for labor:)

Wish us luck…since we’ve slotted this as our “forever house” as the Lord sees fit, every change we make helps this house feel even more like ours. All the sweat equity so far has been worth it!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Summer Bucket List 2014


Our summer is going to be quite full. I have a post coming regarding our house plans, but we are planning on doing quite a bit of work to our exterior and yard this year. My husband jokes that by the time we get done we will be celebrating our 80th birthdays.

But despite all of our yard work and exterior projects, we love to spend time doing things as a family. At the beginning of the year we made a pact that we would budget in money each month to do special family fun days with our kids. Not all of them are expensive, but some can add up. We’ve been doing this ever since and those are some of my favorite memories since the 1st of the year. It’s just a way to keep us on track and we really do love doing things together.

SO this year our list isn’t that long and I know we may miss out on some of these. Either way it’s fun to have a list to look forward to and cross things off of as we make our way through. Between all the fun and work this summer I’m sure the end of this pregnancy will fly by!


1. Edina Pool days (we have a pass so I’m sure we will be there multiple times a week)

2. Farmer’s Market Saturdays

3. Minnesota Zoo

4. Como Zoo

5. Red Barn Pizza Farm in Northfield. (I cannot wait to do this one!!)

6. Picnic at the park

7. Gale Woods Farm Saturdays

8. Beach day at Bryant Lake Beach

9. Brainerd vacation (scheduled for early June)

10. Alexandria vacation in August with family

11. State Fair

12. Sprinkler

13. Playgrounds

14. Izzy’s for ice cream

15. Twins Game

16. Raspberry & Strawberry picking (maybe Blueberries?)

17. Homemade popsicles and ice cream

18. Outdoor barbecues

19. Splash pad

20. Hiking down by the river

What are some of your favorite things to do in the summertime in the Twin Cities?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New Beginnings: Essential oils

I have to say I’m still a bit skeptical. Just being honest. But here we go.


Enough of my friends and acquaintances have been helped by oils. It’s kind of the new rage amongst our generation, isn’t it? Get oiling or get left behind:) Not quite but I’m sure you’ve noticed the trend. Oils and tutorials are being pinned by the thousands on Pinterest. Everyone it seems is curious about these little jars.

To be honest, I’m totally new at this. We haven’t experienced any ground breaking changes yet although the other week Elizabeth had a terrible cough and after a couple of days of oils it’s basically gone. My skeptical mind is curious to know if the cough would have went away as quickly without any intervention. We’ll never know. But my husband is coming down with something as well in the past couple of days. And we’ve been oiling him up in hopes of seeing the sickness fade. The jury is still out.

All that being said, I am intrigued. If I could stop buying all the over the counter meds that we rely on for colds/sickness and just use oils that would be fine by me. Reasoning, meds are expensive! I’ve become a bit of a miser and it usually comes down to money for me if you haven’t noticed. Also since my husband owns his own business we have a pretty high deductible…translation: we pay the full amount for every doctor visit. If we could treat things at home without having to head to the DR. we’d save money. Using more natural means is a bonus. I’m really quite backwards sometimes in my thinking.

But I’m rambling. When I began chatting with friends about oils I began doing a bit of research on my own. And after a friend signed up and I’d heard more about Young Living oils I decided to sign up as a distributor as well…basically because it’s the best bang for your dollar.

 $150 (well ~$172 after shipping/tax) and you get 11 oils and a diffuser. It’s called their Premium Starter Kit and is really the BEST deal. The oils included are as follows (5ml) Peppermint, Thieves, Lemon, Joy, Frankincense, Purification, Lavender, Panaway, Peace and Calming, and Valor as well as a (5ml) bottle of stress away . As a distributor you will also benefit from a discount (24%) on future orders. Only catch is to spend $50 over the course of the next year to keep your membership. That’s it. Or if you hate them you can never buy again and let your membership expire.

In case you think I may be biased, I did just attend a DoTerra party a couple of weeks ago. Their oils seem great as well although their sign up kits are far more expensive. They have far more up front costs especially if you want a diffuser. As someone new to oils I wanted the best deal to get started, including a diffuser. I figured if I was going to try it out I wanted enough to get me started. Oddly enough, that diffuser was a huge selling point to me and we’ve used it almost everyday since receiving it.

I also have good friends that use Eden’s Garden oils amongst others. The thing I’ve been told to make sure of is that your oils are therapeutic grade and pure. Young Living achieves this. Oils can be ingested, used topically, and diffused. I’m not quite into ingesting oils so we are only using them topically and through our diffuser.

Because I’m so new to oils and learned there are oils to avoid while pregnant I ordered a couple of books to help me learn the ropes. If I was going to spend the money on the oils I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing…don’t want anyone to suffer! Both of these feature Young Living oils and blends, just FYI.

Essential Oils Pocket Reference by Gary Young

Gentle Babies: Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for Pregnancy, Childbirth, Babies and Young Children by Debra Raybern

I have to admit I’m deliriously curious to see how this pans out and very excited to be trying something new at our house. I’ll give most things a try just like as a single lady I gave almost every guy that asked me out a shot:)

If you are at all interested in signing up to receive oils from Young Living or to sign up as a distributor this is the one post where I will promote it. I’m not in this to make a career out of it or make money but I do receive a little something extra if you use my distributor number to sign up. I’d love it if you were kind enough to do that and as time goes on I’ll keep you posted if we’ve been bowled over by the “amazingness” of oils!

  • Go to:  Distributor Sign-Up page

  • Please make sure you've checked Young Living WHOLESALE MEMBER (and not retail customer---you will not get wholesale prices as a customer)

  • Enter this number {1797532} in the Sponsor ID and Enroller ID areas

  • Fill out your info

  • Select your kit ($150 premium starter kit is the best value)

  • At this point, you can add more product to your order if you'd like

  • You're all done---yay for learning about oils!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Baby #2 : 20 Weeks

We are halfway there. And no I can’t believe it.

Today we went in for our 20 week ultrasound and baby girl looks great. Everything was just the way it should be and we loved getting to see her again. Seriously every time I’m able to see a baby via ultrasound I’m totally amazed at how much you can see and notice and understand. Baby is weighing in around 10 ounces and is still dating a few days behind my due date.


Only one issue came up and it seems I have a low lying placenta again this time. Last time it moved up just where it should be so we are not worried in the least. Actually we are a bit excited because we get to see her again at 28 weeks. I love ultrasounds!

The best photo I have is from our botched attempt at Mother’s Day pictures. Elizabeth was not interested in the least, although I can’t say I blame her. Yesterday ended up being a great day to play outside.


Shockingly everything seems a bit different this time around. I’m definitely carrying higher so I’m still in my pre-pregnancy pants (with a hairband/bellyband) and I can still wear most of my pre-pregnancy tops although I’m usually found in maternity tops. Not complaining in the least but it is a bit baffling since last go around I was in maternity pants from 14 weeks on.

How far along: 20 weeks

Gender: GIRL!!!

Weight gain: 9 pounds

Maternity clothes: Tops…the bottoms are still a bit big

Stretch marks: No…relying on Palmer’s Cocoa Butter in the jar

Belly button in or out: all the way out

Sleep: great minus a few bathroom breaks

Best moment this week: Mother’s day and just getting to be surrounded by my two favorite people, Alex and Elizabeth

Miss anything: not yet

Movement: A little bit but definitely not as much as I did at this point with Elizabeth. Today’s ultrasound uncovered the reason…my placenta is anterior, so in the front, meaning I may not feel this baby near as much as I did Elizabeth.

Cravings: Still Pizza. I could eat it everyday…seriously.

Looking forward to: Bringing the crib back Memorial Day weekend and starting to work on getting the nursery put together. Our crib mattress arrived today so I have to get moving on cleaning that room out!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dear Elizabeth, on Mother’s Day


Dear sweet, sweet girl,

It may seem odd for me to write to you on Mother’s day but there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. You see, you made me a mother. There were two before you and of course they really made me a mother, but I got to hold you in my arms and kiss your sweet little face.

I get to mother you.

On Friday we spent our day turning millions of circles in endless games of “Ring around the Rosie.” It was your first time really understanding the game and by bedtime you were spinning your own circles singing “ashes, ashes, fall down,” complete with a dramatic fall of course.

And in the morning when you woke up, hair all a scatter and holding your blankies in your slowly thinning fingers, you called out “mommy, mommy.” And in I came and we caught each others eye and smiles took over.

I love each and every moment with you.

Even those times during the week when you flail your little arms and shake you little head back and forth and scream no. Even when mommy has to buckle your seatbelt and you get so frustrated that I didn’t wait just a few more minutes. And even when you purposefully disobey.

I love being your mama.

Sounds a little cliché maybe, like a hallmark card. I mean, how could I really enjoy most every moment with you. Most moms can’t wait to have a break and I’ll admit sometimes I do need a break but not because you’ve done anything wrong, mainly just because it’s a healthy thing for mommies and daddies to take a break. But I hope you know it’s really not a cliché to me. I truly look at you as a precious, precious gift.

I truly delight in living life with and alongside you.

I don’t know what the days or months or years hold in front of us Elizabeth. I don’t know how long I will live or how long you will live. But I do know that I will strive to point you to Jesus every single day and shower you with grace. And I will love you, in tangible and heartfelt ways, as lavishly as I can. It’s my promise.

You know firsthand that I am not a perfect mommy and I delight in that. Because it’s painting a bigger picture for you that we are not perfect and in every fiber of my being I pray you will see that the antidote to our brokenness is Jesus.

It’s like when we dance in the kitchen in the afternoon sunlight and David Crowder’s “How He Loves Us” streams out of my phone as loud as can be and every time you see mommy’s eyes fill with tears. Sweet girl it’s because my heart is overcome with love and joy. And I hold your little cheeks and look you in the eyes and repeat, “Elizabeth, Jesus love you so very much. Don’t ever forget that.” And you look at me and giggle.

I pray that He will overcome your heart.

He loves you with a love mommy will never come close to.

But I love you as close to that as I possibly can.

Elizabeth, my lizzy-lou, I’m so very blessed to be your mommy.

You’re making parenting my very most favorite job ever.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Disclaimer: I’m not perfect

The other day I posted a link noting that I had just signed up to receive Essential Oils from Young Living with a note: “We’re changing some things up at our house.” I want to blog about some of these changes, what we are doing, how we eat, etc. but before I can I find it necessary, even if just for myself, to offer a disclaimer.

I am not perfect.

I’m sure you all knew that already, especially those who really know me! But I want to delve a bit deeper into that statement. You see we’ve made some changes but probably not for the reasons you think. I can give you some examples on how irrational my mind can think sometimes.

-I use Norwex and love it. Mainly because I no longer have to buy cleaning products. Just water.

-I just ordered Essential oils (#1797532) because I know they can help with some things. But I love modern medicine and am a vaccinating mama all the same.

-We use homemade natural soap products and Honest Co. products. Mainly because I love the scents, ease of delivery, and they are more gentle on our skin.

-We eat grass fed beef but only because a friend invited us to split a 1/4 of a cow with her. We love it and would order again but haven’t noticed any noteworthy changes/tastes.

-I breastfed Elizabeth but only because it was free and it worked. If she would have had any issues I would have happily given her formula rather than fighting through it.

I hope you are noticing a theme. We’ve changed certain things and incorporated certain things into our life. We’ve gone a bit greener  but probably more due to simplicity and cost reasons more than saving the Earth. Although all of those are a benefit, of course.

What I want to stress is that I personally, and my husband of course, believe 100% in a Sovereign God who has given us incredible things here on the Earth to be used, tasted, and practiced in a way that brings Him glory.

When we were trying to get pregnant the first time I heard SO. MUCH. ADVICE, natural/homeopathic remedies, that when shared really sounded like magic pills. Sometimes we all have the tendency to love what we are doing, experiencing, and using SO MUCH that we forget who’s really in charge. All the advice was fine and very well intended but here’s the thing. What made those natural things better than using modern medicine? Both were given to us equally by the Lord. They are gifts, tools we can use that may aid in helping certain ailments/conditions. But in no way are they a cure all.

I think we need to remember that, myself included, more than we think we do.

So that’s my disclaimer. I’m not perfect. My reasons for changing some things in our home are not perfect and by no means even rational. Posts to look forward to include cleaning up our cleaning regime, starting Essential Oils, how we eat (you may be surprised about this one or not!), and potentially others.

We hope, well I do and I’m just including my husband, that when you read the posts you will not feel pressured or lured or coerced or anything. It’s our story and we’re not perfect. And I don’t think anything is a cure-all except for the saving blood of Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection on the cross. That folks, is LIFE CHANGING!

So there you have it.

If you didn’t already know, I’m NOT perfect.

Nope not even close.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

skincare and aging…do we have to?



Now that I’m nearing my mid-30’s, I’m starting to feel like I need to get a bit more serious about my skin care regime. I know I should have started years ago but I figure at least I’m starting now.

Due to years of loving the sun and disregarding sunscreen (um, don’t do that) my skin, especially my face, isn’t in the greatest condition. I have huge crows feet/smile lines that I’m sure are partially hereditary and now that I’ve gone through pregnancy, I have some darker patches due to Melasma that haven’t fully gone away.

So with another summer coming and another baby on the way, I want to get things under control or at least try, now. To be honest, I think I haven't been bothered to figure this out because I’m kind of a low maintenance girl and I’m not super into beauty. But I know the benefits are there because when I take the time not only do I feel better, I usually look a bit more put together as well.

My friend Sarah wrote a post awhile ago about creating a skincare routine and after reading her post I frantically added the book, Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me by Paula Begoun to my library list. After reading through it and then borrowing it again this week I’ve come up with a plan that I hope will begin to help slow the aging process and help my skin to feel better.

Before I read this, I had a very low-key system (well I still do because my order hasn’t arrived yet):

PM: Clean & Clear Sensitive Foaming Cleanser to remove makeup, then apply Apple Valley Natural Soap Argan oil (which I love by the way).

AM: I wash my face in the shower with natural soap from AVNS (we switched over about a year ago and have really seen a difference) and apply Aveeno Positively Radiant Moisturizer. Then L’Oreal BB Cream, a bit of powder if needed, and mascara and lip-gloss/chapstick.

That’s it folks. If I’m going out I’ll add eyeshadow and try to make sure its lip-gloss and not chapstick. Pretty minimal.

After reading reviews on, and the EWG Skin Deep site, I’ve made a few changes.

I’m adding a toner, a facial serum, switching up my BB Cream and my moisturizer. And I’m going to strive to make sure lip-gloss and eyeshadow become a daily occurrence, just because it gives me a bit more pep in my step.


So curious, do you have favorite products?

Are you serious or lackadaisical about your skincare regime?


Ps. If you don’t want to get the book, you can also browse all her reviews and information on her website. It’s super informational and very interesting!!