Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Saturday when I was dropping my boys off at my mom's house for a sleepover my sister handed me this piece of paper. She didn't say anything. She just handed it to me.

I read the first line, put the paper down and instantly the tears started. Once the initial surprise calmed down a bit I began to read the rest.

"My hero is my sister, Emma. She is the strongest most caring woman I know. She makes good out of everything and makes everyone smile. Emma has always been my role model, even when I was little. She is special to me because she is my sister and I love her. I don't love her because she is my sister. I love her because she is a good person. Even though I don't see her as often as I'd like to, she is my hero."

I cried. A lot. And hugged her. A lot. Tears started welling in her eyes. I grabbed her face in my hands and I said, "I know I could be a better sister to you."

This was really eye opening to me. My little sister (13 years younger than me) feels this way about me and yet I feel like I don't deserve it. I haven't been there for her like I feel I should be.

When she was born and I found out she was a girl, I was beyond excited! I now had a sister! She was just the sweetest little thing (and still is). So fun, so spunky and such an awesome individual. When I was pregnant with Levi I have the best memories of spending time with her. She loved playing dress up and dancing and letting me do her hair.

Then once Levi was born everything changed. I was a single mom living at home trying to work and go to school. Then I moved out when Levi was 5 months old and I didn't see my sister (and brothers) nearly as often as I should have.

I love my sister tremendously. She is an amazing young woman.. intelligent, kind hearted, fun loving, adventurous.. I am so blessed to be able to call her my sister.

I miss her though. I want to know everything there is to know about her. I want to be my sisters best friend. Because to me, that's what sisters should be. Best friends.

Now's the time to make a change.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Chipped Beef Recipe

I woke up yesterday morning craving Chipped Beef BIG TIME! It was a meal we had often in my childhood. I've had it since, but not my moms. You know how there are some foods out there that when other people make it, it just isn't the same as when your mom made it?! I mean, not saying that it's bad.. it's just not the same!

So, we got the recipe from my mom when picking up our kids from their every other week sleepover with her and then Andy made it for dinner.

I posted this picture on Facebook last night and I was a little surprised by all of the comments! People who also ate this as a kid and loved it (some who didn't love it), others who had known of it but by a different name (Shit on a Shingle?? Ha.) and others that had never heard of it before and asked me for the recipe!

Well, here ya go!

*This is the recipe TRIPLED.. we're a family of 4 and barely had any leftovers from it.

6T melted butter
6T flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 cups milk
Jar of dried beef (we were able to find it at Target by the cans of tuna)

Heat first 5 ingredients on the stove and occasionally stir until it thickens (15 minutes or so?). Meanwhile, boil water and rinse off the beef so it isn't so salty. Dice the beef and mix it into the sauce once the sauce has thickened.

Serve over toast and ENJOY!!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Mamas Going on Vacation!

Part of me can't believe this is really happening but the tickets have been purchased and it's official!


And not only that but I am going with one of my favorite people.. My paternal Grandma! 

I've been to San Francisco before but back when I was eight/nine so I'm really looking forward to taking it all in as an adult. We have some family and close friends of my Grandma that live there so we'll have great company to stay with and hang out with while we're there. 

A whole week in San Fran in May without my kids or husband. I'm not nervous at all about leaving them (my husband is a rockstar dad) but I know I will miss them a ton! 

Let the countdown begin! 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Go on my children, eat those stale french fries!

When I came across this on Facebook a couple weeks back it brought up all of the old feelings of trying to do things "right" with my kids when they were younger. I realize now that it really hasn't mattered all that much on THEM how I did things when they younger but more so how my choices on them have affected ME. Let me take you on a little journey through the past.

Most of you know that I had Levi as a teenager. I had all of the best intentions but to be honest, I now think of myself as a selfish idiot when it came to being pregnant and having an infant.

[For the record, I DO NOT care what other people do during their pregnancies, labor, delivery and with their children.. this is all about ME and how I feel about MY choices.]

I trusted everything my Dr's and nurses told me and suggested for me during my pregnancy, labor and delivery with Levi. I didn't once think about all of my options or do much research on ANYTHING. In the end, I had a labor and a delivery that, to be completely honest, pisses me off whenever I think too much about it. Now, don't get me wrong, the day Levi was born is [tied for 1st for] the most amazing day of my life! There's no way to describe the instant love you have when meeting your child! Though everything about the labor and delivery was just wrong, wrong, wrong.. not letting me progress long enough before recommending Pitocin (nurses suggested it, so why not!?), then getting an epidural because Pitocin makes your contractions so insanely intense, followed by more Pitocin because epidurals stall labor, followed by suggesting a vacuum to assist Levi in coming out because he was "sunny side up" instead of oh, I don't know.. having me change positions? But wait.. I couldn't do that because I got an epidural making me immobile and in no control what-so-ever. Long story short.. I regret getting that Pitocin. And let's not forget me allowing them to do an episiotomy.. my oh my.

The biggest mom guilt I have of all is choosing to stop breastfeeding Levi at 3 months old because I just wanted to be a smoker again. Seriously, Emma?! What a freaking selfish idiot. The thought of this really actually makes me cry.

So, I KNEW that the next time I had a child I would "DO IT RIGHT". I quit smoking the day I found out I was pregnant with Rex and never looked back. I researched everything I possibly could, watched documentaries around pregnancy and birth, read a countless number of books and became as educated as possible. I found an amazing birth center with a group of midwives, hired a doula and was determined to have an unmedicated, natural water birth with Rex. Long story short, everything went as planned and I could not be happier about my birth experience with him. Rex was exclusively breastfed for 6 months only taking a bottle a few times a week while I was at work. When he started on solids after 6 months old I made his baby food with only organic food. I even went as [freakishly] far as to boil. tap. water. and cool it before letting him drink it. HA! I seriously had gone a little too far with this "making-up-for-the-past-and-doing-it-right-this-time" stuff by boiling tap water (I was seriously off my rocker).. I let Rex self-wean from breastfeeding and he was done with it at 17 months old. Was I ready for him to be done!? Hell no I wasn't! I felt like it was after the breastfeeding ended that I started to get symptoms of postpartum depression. Then slowly but surely the hormonal fog of pregnancy and breastfeeding lifted and so did my grip on "doing things right".

Now, my kids hardly eat any organic food (that s*** is expensive!) and I can barely keep their [unhealthy] snacking under control.

Parenting has been a constant journey of learning, growth, guilt, pressure and doubt. I've learned that I'm happiest when I don't put so much pressure on myself for "doing things right" and just let my kids be kids without putting so many limits on things.

In the end of it all, I have two amazing and healthy children that have turned out just fine no matter how they were brought into this world and the choices I've made for them. So go on my children, eat those stale french fries! I really do appreciate the few minutes you've saved me from cleaning them up myself.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Day in the Life

I've gotten the question a couple times since becoming a SAHM again about what it is that I do all day. Just like anyone else, some days are way more productive than others! Here's a little idea of a "normal" weekday:

8:00am - My dreaded alarm goes off (if Rex hasn't woken me up yet) and I wake Levi up for school.

8:10am - Kids eat breakfast (Levi: oatmeal and Rex: cereal) and I drink coffee while getting Levi's backpack ready.

8:15am - Andy rolls out of bed.

8:20am - I tell Levi a thousand times to, "Get dressed, brush your hair and brush your teeth"

8:30am - Levi starts getting his stuff on for the bus stop.

8:35am - Andy brings Levi to the bus stop.

8:45am - Andy gets ready for work. I do 30 minutes of [heavily interrupted] Yoga.

9:15am - Andy leaves for work and Rex is already begging for a snack.

9:30am - I might decide it's time to brush my teeth [just being honest].

9:35am - Sit down at my computer to "work" [blog, line up Dove tasting parties, update Facebook business pages, check email, etc. etc.].

10:45am - Start household chores [but it usually turns into me doing the same 5 puzzles with Rex for over an hour].

12:00pm - Eat lunch with Rex.

12:30pm - Attempt some quiet time [plop Rex in front of a movie so I can maybe catch up on a show or read] and finish up chores.

3:00pm - Shower.

3:30pm - Try to make sure the house doesn't look like a disaster for when Andy gets home.

4:00pm - Andy is usually home from work by now.

4:15pm - Levi gets home from school.

4:30pm - The boys start tearing up the house and acting wild. I might raise my voice once or twice..  ["We sit on the couch!" "Would you please not scatter Nerf gun bullets all over the living room?!" "Rex, stop touching your brothers butt!"]

5:00pm - Andy makes dinner [I am an awful cook.. unless it's hotdish. I can do hotdish.]

5:30pm - Andy, Levi and I eat dinner while Rex takes one look at it and refuses to eat.

5:45pm - Homework time with Levi.

6:15pm - If we don't have to go anywhere we'd usually play a game together or watch a show [depending on our stress/energy level].

7:45pm - The boys get ready for bed [pj's, teeth, potty].

8:00pm - Levi goes to bed perfect while Rex gets up at least 5 times.

8:15pm - Beer time. Andy goes downstairs to watch TV or play video games while I watch TV upstairs. Gotta try to get in some "me time".

10:00pm - We watch the news together or catch up on a show we both like to watch.

11:00pm - I've either already fallen asleep on the couch or I stumble up to bed.

Well, there ya have it! A day in the life..

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Total Money Makeover

This book had been collecting dust in our house ever since it was loaned to us years ago..

I finally gave it a read recently and I wish I had done so the day I got it!

Here's what I've walked away from it with:

-If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.
-A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.
-Leasing a car is the biggest waste of money and you might as well just throw a $100 bill out of the window every week instead.
-Save $1,000 fast.
-Implement a budget at the beginning of every month and give every dollar you make a place to go (paying a bill, saving, etc). Do not spend $1 out of place.
-Pay off your debts starting with the smallest and ending with the largest.

My list could go on and on after reading this book but these were my biggest "AHA!" moments.

Since reading The Total Money Makeover Andy and I have sat down and figured out our first months budget, we'll be cutting the cord with cable this week, I've lowered my cell phone bill by $40/month and I've sold useless things in our house making hundreds of dollars to put towards our saving $1,000 fast!

I've never been more excited about saving money before and having a goal and budget in place for ourselves. I highly recommend giving this book a read and giving yourself a Total Money Makeover!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Our dream will have to wait..

Over the last 9 months we've really gotten the itch to move. And not just move.. but MOVE! It happened to us last spring after we had started spending so much more time at our cabin. We always dreaded coming home. We hated leaving the country (and still do whenever we are there). The country is where we are happiest! In the middle of [almost] nowhere with spotty cell reception, fresh air, tons of wildlife and a slower pace of living. We went so far as to picking the brain of our wedding reception caterer (we got married in the same town as our cabin) about the area and what it's truly like to live there. It made us want to move there MORE! Everywhere we drove we scoped out different back roads and other towns nearby for the perfect place to live and when we came back down to the city a lot of our free time was spent looking online at houses for sale up there.

Though, with all of this dreaming we've ultimately decided that our dreams will have to wait.


Because of the amazing opportunity our boys have by going to a Spanish immersion school.

The odds to get into this school are quite low. It's all thanks to our neighborhood elementary school being at max capacity that Levi was able to get into it. The kids who had applied to the Spanish immersion from our neighborhood were put on a separate lottery list because they needed to put as many kids as possible from around here into other schools so that our local elementary didn't overflow. Levi didn't get into it after the first lottery draw but a few weeks later I got the email saying he was accepted (and Rex is an automatic in because they're brothers)! I cried so many tears of joy! I was going to have kids fluent in Spanish by 3rd grade! The opportunities they will have in their future are HUGE!

We just can't bring ourselves to take this away from our children.

Which brings me to my next point.. we DO have to move. Just into the other side of our school district. But this will come into play a few years from now.

For now, our dreams of living in the country will have to remain in our dreams. But I'm certain it will be worth the wait!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

First Skating Party

We LOVE getting together with family and friends. If we could have it our way, we'd have people over everyday of the week! If only our house was bigger. But thank goodness for our big yard! In the spring, fall and summer we have as many bonfires as possible and now that we're full into the middle of winter we're now able to host SKATING PARTIES! Our first one included my mom, brother, sister and grandma. Complete with DCD White Chocolate Chicken Chili for lunch and of course hot cocoa!

Me, my husband, son and brother

My mama even got out there to skate!

My husband, son, brother and sister

It was pretty much the first time that my brother had been ice skating. He and my sister love to rollerblade so they picked up how to ice skate in no time! My brother even said "I could do this for hours!" It was so wonderful to watch them all enjoying themselves and then to be able to watch them from the comfort and warmth of our kitchen! It so beats going to the park to skate! And even though you really can't pick up speed on our rink at least you can practice going in circles :-D 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Make Your Relationship a Priority.. Before It's Too Late

Anyone that's a parent knows how incredibly difficult it can be to put your relationship with your partner high on your priority list. When we got married we wrote our vows and part of our vows stated "... to make our relationship and date nights a priority." 

It wasn't until 16 weeks after our honeymoon that we had our next date night.. [some vows, huh?]

Days drag on but the weeks go by fast and with everything we've had going on in our life since our wedding it was honestly something I didn't notice until I REALLY started to notice. If we don't allot specific time to hang out and spend quality time together then it sadly just doesn't happen. Our days become so routine and predictable it's nearly boring. We go through every day practically on auto pilot. You know you're in need of quality time with your partner when you start to miss them while you're living under the same roof. 

A few weeks ago my mom asked if she could have the kids overnight that Saturday. Honestly, it was the best thing I've heard in months! Then, when she said she'd like to make a routine out of it (every other Saturday while my stepdad is gone overnight working) I just about cried tears of joy! 

Not only is it great for Andy and I to get that time together but I can't tell you how good it is for the kids. In our case, yes, it's quality time with their grandma but even if we take grandma out of the equation and just look at it as the kids taking time away from mom and dad it's incredibly beneficial (in my opinion). Rex has become super attached to me the last few months so this gives him practice with separating from me and will help him realize that he can be okay without me and even have fun while I'm away! It also shows our kids that we have a relationship outside of being their parent and it sets a good example for when they may be parents someday. I would hope that they would make their relationships a priority and do the same thing. 

Someday our kids will be moved out of our house and it will just be the two of us together. It will be a life we have never known before. But that's another reason why maintaining a healthy relationship (date nights, communication, etc) NOW is so important. It's setting the stage for the rest of our lives. 

How often do parents typically get out for a date without their kids? I bet the majority don't do it nearly as much as they should. 

I would LOVE to see more parents out there getting a sitter for their kids on a regular basis and going out on dates. Can't afford a sitter or don't trust one? Talk to a close friend about alternating babysitting duties! Every other week you can switch off watching each others kids so you can each get alone time with your partner. DO IT! AND PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDARS! MONTHS OUT! Make it a priority and don't feel bad about it! 

So, how often do YOU get out on a date with your partner? Do you feel it's enough? What are some things you like to do together? I'd love to know! 

Heading up to the cabin for a weekend away from the kids

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Our First Backyard Ice Rink

Back in November of 2015 I remember looking out at our backyard with Andy one night and saying "We should put an ice rink in our yard" and he was all for it! We (he more than I) did a bunch of research on it. He consulted with people who have done it themselves before, read things online and watched videos so we could try and do it "right" the first time. Well, no matter how much information you have, there's more than likely going to be a few bumps in the road and learning experiences along the way! 

Here Andy is working out the shape of the rink. We ended up expanding it into an 'L' shape instead of sticking with this smaller rectangle. We may or may not come to regret the shape change!

He ordered the rink liner from a local MN company out of Sauk Center. It was quite difficult to get the liner to lay flat because of the creases it came with. We were also putting the liner in on a breezy day.. not a good idea BUT it was either that or do it the next day when the bitter cold had set in. The day we started flooding it was a bit of a headache. We had to thaw out the faucet and completely take apart the spigot outside. The hose wasn't long enough to reach the other side of the rink so Andy had to go get another hose. And the biggest issue was that we realized the slope of the yard was a lot bigger than we planned for so we got an inch away from the frame with the water and the rink wasn't even half flooded. Whoops!

After reworking the frame and building the sides up with snow and boards to keep the liner in place we were able to finally finish flooding the rink 6 days after we first started. 

What we will do different next year: 
  • Reposition the rink (which will mean moving the swing set over the summer)
  • Build up the boards a few feet taller
  • Install the liner on a calm day
  • Turn the water off to the outside faucet before it could freeze
Here's the 3 year old his first time on the ice this winter (when it was only half flooded).

We are very anxious for the temps to rise (it currently feels like -30 degrees F) so we can have friends and family over to skate in our backyard! It's going to be a fun winter at our house!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

We fell in love with Puerto Rico

When we first started planning our wedding we didn't put any thought into a honeymoon. Neither of us thought it would even be financially possible. I crunched some numbers and thought, "We can make this work". Without talking to Andy about it I checked in with our moms to see if they would be able to care for the boys if we went somewhere. With the go ahead from them (and the encouragement from my mom to plan a honeymoon "because you'll never go on one otherwise") I surprised Andy on Fathers Day by telling him that I'm paying for us to go on a honeymoon to Florida. I thought for sure he'd try to talk me out of it because of money but he didn't question it and instead started doing some research and figured out we'd save a ton of money by going to Puerto Rico instead! So, Puerto Rico it was! We found an AMAZING hotel (La Concha) right on the beach in Condado (basically San Juan) and we were only gone three nights but we made the most of it and fell absolutely in love with the island!

The view from our room

Old San Juan

A castle in Old San Juan

There were a lot of stray cats!

The view from a tower in El Yunque Rainforest. The only rainforest in U.S. territory!

Waterfall in El Yunque Rainforest. The water was so cold!

View from one of three pools at La Concha.

I could go on and on and on about Puerto Rico and how much we loved it. We cannot wait to go back! But next time we'll stay on the other side of the island to surf, bring our kids with, stay for a week and maybe even scope out schools, jobs and neighborhoods to live in ;-)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Winter Break FUN!

With this being the first big break with both of my boys since I quit my job I really wanted to make the most of it! 

It seems as if we had TOO much fun because I almost literally had to drag Levi out of his bed yesterday morning and all the way to school (perks of working your own hours include being able to drive your kids to school whenever you want!). 

We had a blast going to Maple Maze (a huge indoor playground) to play and then swam at their pool, drove around at night and looked at holiday light displays, visited Santa, celebrated Christmas four times with different sides of our families, went sledding, my mom took Levi to Rollergarden to roller skate, we had family over for a NYE party and of course had a couple lazy days in there as well! 

I really couldn’t be happier with my decision to switch gears and take on a business that I can work around my life. A lot of these amazing memories we’ve created would not have happened otherwise. I feel incredibly blessed! 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Making My Mental Health a Priority

I’m one of those people that stresses out far too much and puts too much pressure on themselves.  

I need to find ways to slow down and relax. 

It’s my hope that daily reading, meditating and journaling will make a huge difference in my life. 

Is it possible as a mom with two kids (a house and a business) to take enough time for themselves every day? 

I guess I’ll soon find out. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Raising Brothers

While Levi was on winter break I watched the relationship between him and Rex evolve into a bond and friendship I’ve never seen between them before. 

Now that Rex is older (nearly 3.5 years) they’re able to play and communicate in a whole ‘nother way. 

Some of their favorite activities together include nerf gun battles, hide and seek, chasing each other through the house, and playing in blanket forts. 

It has taken some getting used to for Andy and I. At first I found that we were hindering their play by telling Levi to be careful all of the time with Rex. We wouldn’t want him to get hurt! But then we really started to take a step back and just let them do their thing. Are they getting along? Are they laughing? Is what they’re doing REALLY a risk to their safety? If my answers are yes, yes and no then hell, go ahead and run through the house falling over and tickling each other! Yes, one of you could totally run into something and get hurt or get a head to the nose (like last night) but on the flip side, you could both come out of this just fine and then have this awesome memory of the time mom and dad let you run laps through the house and you ended up laughing so hard you could barely breathe! 

It’s one of my biggest goals as their mom to foster a great, lifelong relationship between the two of them. 

And when at the dinner table last night Levi asked Rex, “Do you want to live with me when we move out of mom and dads house?” it brought me more joy than you could imagine! 

So boys, I hope you continue to run through the house, build blanket forts and have nerf gun battles for many more years to come! It’s what best friends are made from. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Goodbye 2015 - Hello 2016!

Reflecting on 2015 brings me more negative feelings than positive ones. 

What stands out: the stress of opening and operating a home daycare, the stress of planning our wedding, both of Andy’s sisters had babies (within 5 weeks of each other, one boy and one girl - YAY!) and 3 close family members suddenly passing away within 6 weeks of each other with our wedding smack dab in the middle of it all. One of those passings included my paternal grandfather at the age of 69 from a massive stroke. He’s the first grandparent of mine to pass away. It’s still incredibly difficult to wrap my head around (which is why there isn’t a big long blog post on him yet..) 


So many changes. TOO many changes. 

Though when I separate all of the huge, life changing, dramatic moments from 2015 what I’m left with are the memories of an incredible 6 months of cabin season. April-October we spent more time up north than we ever had in a cabin season before. With the addition of our trailer this year we longed to be up there and escape reality as much as possible. There’s a happiness we feel at our cabin that we just don’t feel when we’re anywhere else. I can’t describe it. It’s simply our most favorite place on earth. 

Looking ahead at 2016 - 

Last week my best friends, Bobbi and Chelsea and I were group texting (like we do pretty much every day) and the topic of our “Word for 2016” came up. I didn’t even know that was a thing! I didn’t give it much thought until it was NYE and Bobbi asked me “Em, did you decide on a word or resolution?” I wasn’t very clear in the head (thank you tequila and pinot) to think about it on NYE but when I woke up on NYD the first thing to pop into my head was ‘persist’. I thought about sitting down and making a list (I love lists) of all of the words that came to mind and make a better decision about it but when I just tried to make a mental list the ONLY word I could think of was ‘persist’. 

Persist - verb - continue firmly or obstinately in an opinion or a course of action in spite of difficulty, opposition, or failure.