Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekend Recap

It's one of those time where I need a weekend to recover from my weekend. Luckily, it was all great stuff...and I have Tuesday off! Score!

Friday was long and stressful. Thankfully, my rockstar chef of a husband made an amazing dinner. He whipped up chicken breasts stuffed with spinach and brie, with the most amazing mushroom sauce (and I don't even really like mushrooms) and baked potatoes. Minus a Linnea meltdown, it was a wonderful meal together. By the time dinner was cleaned up it was time for Linnea to go to bed. Jeromy did some work and watched some TV. I spent most of the night making cookies to bring to the blogger party. It was a new recipe for me - German Chocolate Cake Cookies. They turned out great! I will include more in a future post, as the recipe is one of my 20 new recipes for 2014. Once I had the kitchen cleaned up (I am a notoriously messy baker), it was time for bed.

Saturday morning started with a family movie party! We had hoped to watch Frozen on Friday night, but it got too late after dinner. So we decided that it was a good way to start Saturday. We sat altogether on our little loveseat and watched the movie. It was Linnea's first time, and Jeromy's too. but they both knew the story, thanks to Linnea's favorite book that we read a zillion times a day. I didn't know how Linnea was going to react (I actually wasn't sure she'd sit through it because she has a pretty short attention span). But she sat awe-struck, and watched the whole thing. She didn't have a strong reaction to anything in particular, but seemed to really enjoy it.

Pardon the morning hair and pj's :-)

After breakfast, I was feeling a little lazy, but Jeromy motivated us all to get out and go for a walk since the weather was decent. So we went for a walk (all of us, including Luther) to the park. It was a little icy at the playground, but it was all just perfect. Linnea loved going down all the slides, and mastered climbing the big ladder. Luther loved basking in the sun, watching everything.

Making our way to the park...

This is the face of a Minnesota girl who has been cooped up all winter, and is finally getting to be outside!

We made it back home in time for Jeromy and Linnea to enjoy lunch, and me to head out to my first (but hopefully not last) MN Bloggers gatherings! My friend Melissa has been a part of the group for a while, and encouraged me to join in the fun! I still feel like a bit of a wannabe blogger, given that I'm still figuring everything out and getting going, but everyone's gotta start somewhere, right? ;-)

The party was great fun! It's such a fun concept - each person brings 3 of their favorite things (we had everything from wine, to hair care products, to hand soap, to chocolate (which of course is what I brought!). Then we draw names three times, and each person gets to choose what they will take home. I loved the things I came home with - a couple different chapsticks, a fun pouch, some candy, and an awesome salad dressing shaker. Best of all, I was able to meet some awesome bloggers, many of whom I have been following/communicating with already. I was especially happy to meet Dawn and Sarah, both of whom I had met online, and looked forward to meeting in person. Pleasure meeting both of you, ladies!!

The table of gifts (thanks for the picture, Melissa!)

The whole group...I stole this from Melissa, who stole it from someone else... :-)

After the party we made a Target run (they seriously get all our money), and then headed over to Eden Prairie for the evening. First, we had a quick family dinner at Panera, and then dropped Linnea at my parents' for a sleepover (because we had our friend Tom's birthday). It was a bit of a bummer, because Jeromy got called into work, so he drove all the way back home to get his work computer, only to find out they had accidentally called him for a project he wasn't working on, so he drove back and forth for no reason. Regardless, we had a great time at the party with our friends. We laughed because our party was very segregated - all the guys downstairs watching basketball and playing pool, and all the ladies upstairs having girl talk. After the party we headed home and crashed.

Because Linnea was at my parents' house on Saturday night, we were able to sleep in a little on Sunday morning, and found that it was much easier getting out of the house on time...imagine that! :-) We got up and got ready to go, and headed to church. Linnea did awesome at my parents' - she slept until 7:50 (which she hardly ever does for us!), and came to church very happy. After church we went to Costco (they get the rest of our money) for a few things. We ended up having pizza for lunch there (seriously...have you have their pizza? It's the best!). We came home and put Linnea down for a nap, and then I headed out to help my mom set up for my dad's big 70th birthday party!

The party was awesome. It was held in the common room of  one of my mom's friends from church. Another set of friends (one of whom does competitive BBQ competitions), catered the food - awesome pulled pork sandwiches and BBQ chicken, pasta salad, and a delicious lettuce salad. My parents' neighbor, who is a baker, made the cake. It was one of the best I've ever had - lemon (one of my dad's favorites) with this lemon curd/mouse filling. YUM!

It was a little crazy, with Linnea and all the other kiddos running around, but it was so much fun! We are really blessed with an amazing group of family and friends. And let me tell dad is one of the greatest guys around. He is one of the nicest, most generous, friendliest, loving man I've ever known. And it shows in the quality of his family and friends. It was a great night celebrating a wonderful man. I love you, Dad!!

My amazing parents. How cute are they? (Notice the name tag I made my dad) :-)

Helping Grandpa blow out the candles

A great joy of my life right now is watching these two peas in a pod together...

 The party...

Linnea had been talking about Grandpa's birthday cake for at least a did not disappoint!

It was a great weekend filled with lots of fun with friends, both new and old. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Five on Friday

In my "scientific research" (read: obsessive reading of other blogs) as I was preparing to start my own, some form of Five on Friday posts seemed to be a thing. I like them, because it's a fun place to put all the random thoughts and events of the week. And let's face it, I have a lot of random thoughts each week! So here we go...

You guys. (And by "you guys" I mean the one..maybe two people reading this). This is my 8th blog post!! Hooray! That may not be a huge milestone for others, but for me, who's struggled with sticking with the routine of blogging before, 8 posts in a month or so is great! An item for my 14 in 2014 list is to do 50 blog posts in the year. I was intentionally conservative about this number, to allow for falls off the wagon, writer's block, etc. To think that I'm already almost a 5th of the way through so early in the journey is very exciting. It motivates me to do even more! Let me know if you have any post suggestions!

I went to the doctor yesterday for ear pain. My ears have been bugging me for about a week. It started as just pressure...kind of like if you were in an airplane or leaving a loud concert. They felt like they needed to pop. But on Wednesday they were really painful...and it was radiating down my neck too. I was convinced I had an ear infection or some type of blockage in my ears. Verdict? Nothing! The doctor checked my ears, throat, and lymph nodes and found no indication of anything. It's nice to know that nothing's wrong, but it makes me feel like a crazy person! My ears are legit bugging me. If it's not an ear infection or blockage or something, what is it?? The doctor and I talked about the possibility of it being stress-related. So I guess I need to relax, and hope my ears are back to normal soon! It's driving me nuts. Anyone else have a similar problem? I swear this happens to me all the time...I have some random symptom that's bugging me, but nothing wrong. It's incredibly frustrating.

2 1/2 year olds are the most irrational, crazy creatures on the planet. And adorable. But crazy and irrational too. As referenced in my last post, it's been a rough couple weeks for us. We've given up the nuk, dealt with bad molar teething, and are living with a very emotional two-year-old. Tons of power struggles. Tons of whining and "I don't want ______" (most usually followed shortly after by "I want ________ - whatever she JUST turned down). She insisted that she didn't want to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house (which is one of her favorite things in the world), after whining every day previously about how she wanted to go there. I've spent a lot of time with kids in the past, but never truly understood the crazy-level of two until I had my own.

Luckily, it's mostly balanced out with lots of awesomness too. As challenging as two is, it's so much fun too! Linnea is constantly learning new things, and she surprises us every day with what she knows, does, and says. Just this week she learned the song "Down by the Bay," and has been having a blast making up verses. "Have you ever seen a Daddy dwiving a twuck?" (followed by huge giggles).

God is smart to make two-years-old so cute. Otherwise a lot more two-year-olds would be thrown out the window (I kid, I kid).

But yeah. She's cute. Which makes the crazy, irrational stuff easier to manage.

I often get stuck on songs. I'll hear a song a couple times, and really like it and then play it practically on repeat for the next several days. The song of the week for me is Sara Bareilles "I Choose You." Honestly, I really don't like her current hit "Brave," but I heard this a bit ago (I think on Jimmy Fallon?) and immediately loved it. Her voice is amazing, and this song is so sweet and catchy in the best kind of way. "We are not perfect, we'll learn from our mistakes, and as long as it takes I will prove my love to you." Check it out...

While we're on the topic, while I was listening to this, I couldn't help but think about how this would be such a cute proposal/wedding song. I LOVE sweet proposals - not the overdone crazy ones...but the cute, sweet, thoughtful ones. So of course I had to look and sure enough I found this gem...

A couple things about the video... in my opinion, the mark of true singing talent is when artists are even better live. This seems to ring true for Sara (yeah, we're on a first name basis). Her voice is just as strong, if not stronger live - and this is just a video! I'm sure it was even better in person. Secondly, how cute is this?! I love how genuinely surprised she is ("Holy shit! It's happening!") and then how she spontaneously altered the song. And then the funny banter after the song. All of it is so awesome. I think I have a girl crush.

I've got a fun weekend ahead, that I'm really looking forward to! Tonight is a "typical Friday" for us - which mostly involves crashing and watching either a movie, or stuff off the DVR, with some laundry and clean-up thrown in (which actually is perfect). Tomorrow I have my first blogging event - the "Favorite Things" party. I'm really excited...and a little nervous. I still feel like a very "wannabe" blogger. My blog layout isn't as fancy as others, I don't know the terminology, and it's all still so very new for me. I already really admire a lot of people who I will meet, just from what I've learned about them on their blogs. Hopefully I get some helpful advice, and gain some new readers. I am confident I will meet lots of cool people! Thank you, Melissa, for encouraging me to join in and sharing your blogging friends! Saturday night we have a friend's birthday party, and Sunday afternoon is my dad's 70th (!!!!) birthday party. Woo hoo! Should be lots of fun. Full report next week!

What are the random things on YOUR mind today?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It Never Gets Easier, Does It?

It's a question I've asked my mom, and a few other more seasoned mama friends a handful of times in the last 2 and a half years. "It never gets easier, does it?" Part rhetorical, part joking, part completely serious. And the answer I get every time is some form of "no."

It is a more complicated answer than just "no" (I know and understand this now). Most of the time, it sounds something like, "Each age and stage brings its own set of challenges..." "It doesn't get just gets different..." and so on and so forth. Short answer: No. It doesn't get easier.

I have no idea why I would think that motherhood would get any easier. I suppose, upon some reflection in the last couple days, it's because most new things get easier with time. In my work as an Academic Coach, I talk with students on a daily basis who are starting or restarting their educational journey. We talk about the challenges, and the adjustment, and how little by little, it's getting easier.

I think about my running. I NEVER thought I would be a person who enjoyed running. As a kid, I dreaded the mile run at school. But when I started to practice and work at it, it got easier. There are still ups and downs, but running is MUCH easier today, than it was those many years ago running around my high school track. And with practice, it will continue that way.

But motherhood. Motherhood is a different beast.

Now let me say before writing any further that I love being a mama. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mom. From the time that I could comprehend that it was a role I could play someday, I knew that it would be one of the most valued roles in my life. And it is, without a doubt.

But as someone who sets high expectations for herself, and is used to doing fairly well in most endeavors I take on, there are times that the weight of motherhood weighs heavy, and the reality that it won't really ever get easier sets in.

Are you totally depressed yet? This is coming across as a total bummer of a post. That was not my intent.

Anyways, the last couple weeks has been a bit of a motherhood challenge. I've always heard that 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 is a particular challenge. And that's just where we are at.

Don't get me wrong. We have many wonderful, relatively easy, happy days. We laugh, we play, we snuggle, we enjoy our days as our little family of three.

And then we have hard days. The days that both Jeromy and I have busy, stressful days at work. We rush to get out the door to work, we rush to get to work, we push through the work day to rush home, and make it through the routine of our life. The days that whatever we do or offer to Linnea is wrong. "I want some milk!" "Okay, Linnea, here's some milk" (screaming) "I don't want milk!" The days that I literally have to wrestle Linnea into her clothes in the morning. The days I get 2 hours of crabby, moody Linnea...and get a report from daycare that she had a great day. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

And we have the nights (we've had lots of these lately) where Linnea wakes up in the middle of the night insisting that it's time to be awake.  I spend these nights up and down the stairs between our bedroom and hers, consoling, scolding, snuggling, pleading, medicating, and everything in between. Those nights I am convinced that I will never sleep again. I watch the minutes...hours tick by, begging for sleep. Just in the last week we've given up the nuk, gone through a rough patch with teething, and realized that the transition to the "big girl bed" is on the horizon... it's been rough. Last night, for example, I was awake from 2:30 until 5:15. During that time, she insisted she wasn't tired and it was time to be awake. When I went back into her room at 6:00, after she had finally crashed, she told me to "get away from her," and said she was sleeping. Oh, little one. Why don't you sleep when it's time to sleep?

I think back to naive, new mama me back in late 2011, when she first slept through the night and I thought, "thank goodness we got through that!" I'm not stupid enough to have thought that she'd never wake up in the middle of the night again. I just thought it would be a little more consistent than the reality turned out to be.

So that's where I'm at. It's certainly not horrible, and I know many parents have dealt with so, so much worse (including my own parents). But I am a perfectionist. I'm a planner. I'm a worrier. I'm emotional. All these parts of my personality are still making peace with the fact that motherhood is imperfect, unplannable, filled with worry, and an emotional journey. I am still making peace with the fact that it never will get easier. Just different. As I continue on this journey, I will promise myself to enjoy the moments where all is right with the world, take the ones where all is not in stride, and always remember that "this too shall pass" and that it's not supposed to be easy. And that's okay.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekend Recap

Linnea and I were on our own for most of the weekend. Despite missing Jeromy, who was at a friend's house for March Madness for all of Friday and Saturday, it was a really great weekend!

On Friday I left work a bit early to pick up Linnea at my parents' house. It worked really well, because there was an event at church that we wanted to go to. Church was hosting a kids' movie night, where they did a showing of a new Veggie Tales video. It was super fun! They invited kids to wear their pajamas. They had a big space cleared out with carpet squares and blankets for people to sit on. After a chicken tenders dinner, we settled in for the movie. They even had a popcorn cart with freshly popped popcorn to munch on! :-)

Ready for the show!

Munching on popcorn

Although I don't think that Linnea really followed the story, she enjoyed the movie. She kept saying it was funny. She laughed and gasped and danced her way through the show. When it was over, it was time to head home for bed. As I mentioned in my last post, we got rid of Linnea's nuk last Sunday. She's had great nights and awful nights this past week. I was nervous to be alone with Linnea, especially since she knows I'm the softie at bedtime! Thankfully, Linnea fell asleep quickly, and didn't make a peep all night! Hooray!!

We had a slow, lazy morning on Saturday, which was nice and much needed. Mid-morning my dad came over for a secret project for Jeromy. He and I had talked for a long time about getting a toolbench/work space for the basement. We've got a bunch of random tools and tool sets, but no good place to put them. Jeromy likes tinkering and wants to take on some projects, but can't without the proper space. So with him away for the weekend, it was a good time to get it done as a surprise! After a trip to Menard's, we came back with a tool bench to put together (a side Linnea story: my dad and I were telling Linnea we were going to the store. As we were walking in, she noticed the letters on the storefront. She proudly pointed and said, "M - E - N- A- R - D - S, that spells STORE!"). Anyways, when we were home, we put the table together (most of it was done by my dad - thanks, Dad!!).

An eager helper...

Linnea "helping" Grandpa (notice the hammer blur!)

Linnea and Mama working on the bottom of the table.

Helping Grandpa

Finished table

My dad headed out once it was done (shorty after Linnea went down for her nap). I relaxed for a bit while she slept - she took a nice long nap and wasn't up until 3:45. After a quick nap, we went back to Menard's to get some hooks for the pegboard on the tool bench. By the time we got back, it was time for dinner, bath, and bedtime already!

Post-bath sillies!

I tinkered around more in the basement, cleaning our our utility space, and doing some final updates on the tool bench. Jeromy came home after I had gone to bed. It was so nice to see him! We don't often spend time away from each other, so it was good to swap stories from our weekend so far.

Sunday I woke up with Linnea and earned some wife points (I think) by letting Jeromy sleep in to recover from his March Madness party (minimal sleep Thursday and Friday and junky food all weekend left him feeling pretty rough). The two of us girls went to church. She did okay... pretty distracted. She was doing well and then all of a sudden announced, "I need to get out of here (the sanctuary)." I probably would have put up with her a bit longer if Jeromy was there, but since I was soloing it, we spent most of the rest of the service wandering around church. We came home to a rested, showered, post-workout Jeromy. They were pretty excited to see each other, and we were very excited to show him his toolbench. Linnea pulled him downstairs without even taking her shoes and coat and stuff off, she was so excited. He was super happy (or as outwardly happy as he gets - for those who don't know him, he's a man of few words and very even emotions), and that made me happy.

We were "wicked" and got corndogs and deli salad from our local grocery store for lunch (our little splurge/treat), and then all napped/rested. We then went BACK to Menard's (yup, you're counting was a three Menard's kind of weekend) to exchange some stuff for the toolbench and get some other stuff. We got home and played a bit. Then our neighbor Lisa came over with her daughter Raia to watch Linnea while we went out to dinner with our WOWZA/MANZA friends. We went to Brasa in St. Paul. Ummm...have you been there? It's amazing! Seriously, we were a group of 8 and all of us LOVED everything we ordered. It's a rotisserie restaurant with a variety of awesome meat choices, and southern-ish inspired sides. I had pulled pork seasoned with garlic and lime, mac and cheese, and chips and guac. Yum. WOWZA/MANZA dinners make my soul happy. We ended the night by walking to Cafe Latte for dessert. Jeromy and I split the turtle cheesecake. Mmmmm....

What a great weekend!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Weekend Recap

In reading other blogs, as I've been working to figure out what mine could be like, I've found that weekend recaps are pretty common. Which is good...because let's be honest, if I were to recap my week, it would be pretty boring... most days are: wake up... a bit...dinner...bed for L...crash and repeat. I'd love this blog to be part journal, so weekend recaps sound like a good plan! So here it goes...

On Friday, I made it home after a pretty good day at work, and Linnea was eager to play outside. I love that about my girl. She is SUCH an outside girl. As it's been warming up this week, she greets me at the door in her wellies, insistent that we go outside. Absolutely! So the three of us walked up and down the street a bit, Linnea on her beloved Radio Flyer worm. We stopped a couple times to splash in the big puddles, and then decided it was getting a little cold, so we headed in for dinner.

Enjoying the nice weather!

After our ravioli supper, and a bath and bed for Linnea, Jeromy and I settled in for an in-home movie date- Hunger Games - Catching Fire. I've read all three books, but wasn't a huge fan of the second two books. The movie, however, was well done. I joked with Jeromy that I have book amnesia (I seriously do!) and cannot remember the plot of books I read. So I couldn't quite remember everything that happened, which made the movie all the more exciting for me! Ha! The movie was accompanied by Jeromy's awesome stove top homemade popcorn. Seriously. Reason number 4,298,430 I love my husband - he makes really, really good popcorn. :-)

I was really excited because we didn't have any plans this weekend (see "Signs You Know You Are Old and Boring"). I get really stir crazy when we don't do anything in a weekend, but it's nice to not feel like we HAVE to be anywhere.

So we woke up on Saturday really early - seriously, why is it that during the week it's a battle to wake Linnea up at 6:00, and then on the weekend she wakes up at 5:30? I KNEW that she was not ready to be awake (nor were Jeromy or I), so I managed to convince her to just "rest" and let her take her (which is actually my) Frozen book to bed with her. She read for a little bit, and then sure enough fell fast asleep for another hour and a half or so. Mama victory! Bonus: she was MUCH happier when she woke up the second time. We played at home a bit, read Frozen another 375 times, and then decided to go to the History Center.

I've created a monster...

We are members again of the MN Historical Society, after a year or so hiatus. Jeromy is a big history buff, and loves being able to support the society. And I, the penny pincher, like that if we go 3 or so times to a historical site/museum around the state within the year it pays for itself.

We puttered around the museum for a couple hours. They do a good job having kid friendly exhibits to help hold the attention of little ones. Certainly, Linnea doesn't care or understand the history component - yet. But it's nice that it's a fun place for her to that when she does understand, she'll enjoy it!

Ringing up Daddy's ice cream sundae in the Greatest Generation exhibit...

Calling Grandma and Grandpa on the old-time telephone...

Riding on the airplane. When we asked her where she was going, she said "Puerto Rico." Do you think we've talked about our trip too much? ;-)

We had a quick lunch at Noodles (a Carlson family favorite), and then headed home for naps (plural because I took a little one too). After naps we ran a couple errands (Home Depot and Target), and then came home for a bit more play time and dinner. I cooked (you'll learn this is not common place), making a new recipe for my 14 in 2014 (Chicken Parmesan). It turned out well...stay tuned for a blog post covering it in greater detail.

After getting Linnea to bed, Jeromy and I had ANOTHER movie date (suddenly there are actually movies at RedBox that we are interested in seeing!). This time we saw About Time - a drama starring Jeromy's celebrity crush and one of my girl crushes, Rachel McAdams. I really liked it. It was really sweet, and had a GREAT message, especially at the end. I won't spoil anything, but the main character suggested we live each day as if we are reliving it - free from the worry and the from the hustle and to enjoy and savor each moment. It really, truly spoke to me, and I hope will stick with me for a while.

Sunday was another slow morning. Our church was putting on a musical - one of the performances was in place of the late service. We don't usually go to the late service - it was really nice to have a little extra time in the morning. The musical was fun - Linnea really liked the music - she danced and clapped a lot. After church, we headed home for lunch and nap for Linnea. I went out and ran errands - which was a total bust. I went out for three specific things, and they did have any of the three things I needed. Arg! I made it home just in time for Linnea to wake up. She woke up before she was ready and had a total meltdown. We are talking beyond tantrum - like a "call the exorcist" kind of meltdown. Honestly those types of meltdowns are totally alarming to me. Usually Linnea is a pretty happy, easy going kid. But during the meltdown she was SCREAMING, kicking and flailing, and really hard to calm down. It took a bit - but she turned around - just in time for our friends the Imbodens to come over!

It's always fun to have them over, especially because their daughter Azalea is just a little older than Linnea (and their new little guy Ashford is pretty awesome too!). The girls had a great time running around and playing together (bummer, no pictures!), and we enjoyed pizza from Fat Lorenzo's, one of favorite pizza places in the city. They left, and we gave Linnea a quick bath and put her to bed. Then the two of crashed for the rest of the night.

 Sunday night was a big move for us - Linnea went to bed nuk-less. We've beaten the nuk habit in every other part of the day except bedtime. As I put Linnea to bed I saw that the plastic of her nuk was all torn up...legitimately torn up. So we talked about how it was broken, and we threw it in the trash. Last night actually went really well...minimal fussing going to bed, and then just one short wake up in the night.

As I type, Linnea is finally setting down after a rough time. Lots of tears. Lots of delaying. Lots of sadness for mama. I think she's finally out. Fingers crossed we make it through the night, and that tomorrow is better.

Friday, March 14, 2014

14 in 2014

Those who know me well know that I'm a list girl. At any given time I have a couple different to-do lists going - things to do today, work items that need to get done, house projects, and the list (ha!) goes on and on. So when I turned 29 a couple years ago, and suddenly found myself staring down the barrel of turning 30, I knew I needed a list.

Now I'm not one of those people who thinks my life is over at 30 or anything like that. Quite the opposite actually. At 30 (almost 31 now) I feel like I know myself better now, and am more settled and secure than I EVER was in my 20s. I know that my 30s will bring me new joys (and challenges), but I feel (mostly) good about where I am and who I am right now. Additionally, I have known too many lives that have been cut short, that I see each passing year and birthday as a big time reason to celebrate.

The thing about me is that I a) am not very adventurous and b) am a total cheap wad. These things have only gotten worse as I've gotten older. I'm comfortable in my day to day routine, and I don't do great with change, so it's easy to just let life pass me by a bit (ugh, that's not as depressing as it sounds, I promise). It's also hard for me to be willing to do things for myself, especially if it costs money.

So as I was approaching 30, and realized I needed some sort of list, I thought about things a lot. What were the things that I had always meant...wanted...hoped to do that I either hadn't gotten around to, cost too much, or was too nervous to do? I sat down and made a list. I dubbed it my "30 Before 30" list. 30 things...some big, some small, some fun, some kind of boring...that I wanted to do before I turned 30. Of course I could make a list of really fun, extravagent things (2 week trip through Scandivavia, anyone?), but I wanted this to be a list of attainable that at the end of the year I had a sense of accomplishment rather than a list of things that didn't happen. You can see the full list here:

It was a really fun year getting the list done! By the time I turned 30, only 2 things were left undone. One (Learn how to drive a stick shift) because of poor planning - I should have figured out where I would actually get a car with stick shift. And one (Go on a hot air balloon ride) because of plain old bad luck. We scheduled that sucker many, many times and it got cancelled because of bad weather. And now, another year later we STILL haven't been able to do it. Soon, I hope!

After that year I found that I was actually better overall at loosening up a little. Since then I've done even more things that I have wanted to do for a long time. I just bit the bullet and did it - and never really regretted any of it!

I've missed having a list like that, so I decided that another list - albeit a smaller, less extravagent list - was in order. And so "14 in 2014!" Same idea - a list for the year of things that I've been wanting...meaning...hoping to get around to. Without further ado, here is my 14 in 2014 list (in no particular order):

1. Get up to 1,000 geocache finds (we are in the low 700s right now)
2. Read at least 14 books (perhaps not a huge feat for some, but I'm not a big reader. I enjoy books, just don't usually make time to read them)
3. Finish - and order - Linnea's 1st year photo book (I started this sometime during the 30 Before 30 project if I recall)
4. Visit the Bakken Museum (I've heard good things, have always been curious, but never have been)
5. Take a family trip to Decorah, IA (the home of our alma mater - we haven't been there in years!)
6. Start and maintain a once sentence/day journal (I've always wanted to journal - I got a one sentence journal for my birthday last year, and feel like it's something I could actually keep up)
7. Start and maintain a "Linnea says" journal (girlfriend says lots of funny things - I don't want to forget!)
8. Set up giving for church (we try to remember our offering each week and never do, and have talked about setting up automatic donation for a long time but haven't)
9. Commit 5 random acts of kindness (I have been wanting to do this and then I was further inspired by this post: Thanks, Dawn!)
10. Make 20 new recipes in the year (For the 30 Before 30 project it was more meals - this can be anything...just something new)
11. Eat a Juicy Lucy at The Nook (yeah, we're burger fans!)
12. 50 blog posts in the year (I am so tempted to aim for more than that, but like I said...I want it to be attainable - 50 allows space to fall of the wagon, and get back on, etc.)
13. Start and finish at least one sewing project (I've done a couple things here and there, but now I have a sewing machine of my own and want to be more intentional about it)
14. A new water sport opportunity (kayaking down the creek and/or stand up paddle boarding) (I fully intended to do stand up paddle boarding last year, and it never happened)

The plan is to blog each item as I accomplish them. But in the mean time, here are some of my favorite pictures from my 30 Before 30 list:

 #16 Participate in a mud run - with two of my best buddies and fellow mud runners, Jackie and Sarah

#17 Try water skiing (again) - with my friend and teacher Gary

#1 Eat a Juicy Lucy at The Blue Door Pub (not pictured: the Juicy Lucy, which was delicious!)

#29 Ride a mechanical bull

#18 Try a new winter sport (I chose snowshoeing) 

#7 Explore the Walker Sculpture Garden

#25 Get a make-up consultation (I kinda surprise myself how nice I can clean up...)

#4 and #5 Try a new recipe each month and have a lobster dinner - this was a two for one!

#19 Climb a rock wall

#27 Take a carriage ride

#11 Hide a cache on my own (with my little geocache buddy "WeeNorge"

Here's to another fun year! I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

About Me

The ultimate goal of this blog...or any blog, I suppose is to have readers. I'm not sure who will end up reading this (hopefully someone). In case there are folks who don't know me "in real life," I figure I should tell you a little bit about me.

I am a very proud, born and raised Minneapolis girl. I was raised in the northern suburbs of the city with my mom and dad, and my big sister Beth.

My childhood was pretty iconic, except for one very large exception. Late in 1991, my sister was diagnosed with a very rare form of pediatric lymphoma. After an 11 month battle, she lost her life, six days shy of her 12th birthday. It was, and continues to be, the absolute worst experience of my life. Grief is a funny journey in that it comes in waves. The pain of her loss, in many ways, is so familiar. I'm used to it, and it stops hurting every day (there was a time that I couldn't say that). But in most recent years, there's been a new layer to the grief as I've gotten married and had my first child...just so much she's missed out on. So much she should be here for....

Uff. Anyways...

After high school I got my Bachelors of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Luther College in Decorah, IA. Being at Luther was seriously the best four years of my life. I don't have enough words to say all that I love about my dear alma mater. It certainly doesn't hurt that while at Luther I met and fell in love with my amazing husband Jeromy. We met as freshmen, when he was dating one of my floormates. We became friends that year. The following year he was single and we became closer friends. We spent a good amount of time in denial that anything was going on, even though it was completely obvious. Seriously. We'd sit and watch movies while holding hands and playing with each others' hair. But "nothing was going on." :-) After a couple months of this, we couldn't deny it any longer and we started dating. He was my first boyfriend. I think I did pretty well on the first shot!

After college, Jeromy and I started our professional lives. The teaching market was incredibly difficult then - during the economic decline - so my career journey took a different path. After living separately for a while, we got engaged in 2006, married and bought our first house in 2007.

We've had our good times and bad - most notably our back to back unemployment. Ugh. I don't wish unemployment on anyone. And the very best time was the birth of our daughter Linnea in August 2011.

Motherhood has been, without a doubt, the most joyful and challenging experience of my life. It has been more profound than I ever could have imagine. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a mom. Being Linnea's mom literally fulfills a life long dream.

I work currently as an Academic Coach for an online university. Jeromy works as a Business Analyst. Our days and weeks are busy with all that comes along with working full time, parenting, being home owners, all while having to have some sort of social life.

I hope this blog helps to capture the days and weeks, to remember the happy little moments that shine through the busy-ness of life.