A Vacation Top Ten

J and I were the lucky winners of a weekend getaway – and by winners, I mean we funded/planned the trip…but you feel like you are winning whenever you get a small parenting break (anyone with me?).

IMG_2376If we are being honest, it was a really unproductive trip. I was trying to think of what to write about from our trip…and I came up short – but maybe that was the beauty of it. When I think back to our four-day stay away from home, I remember some of the little things, the conversations, the way an exact bite of food tasted. Having less busyness gave me more space to remember the meaningful moments. So here are a few of those highlights!

Let’s do this (in no particular order…do not get the feeling like these build up to an explosive ending…).

  1. This trip would have been (financially speaking) impossible without a super generous friend that agreed to let us stay in her home. When you stay in a hotel, there is a certain level of distrust I bring into that experience. Did they really REALLY wash the sheets/towels well? Did someone vacuum this floor? Will I find stray hairs in the shower? Sorry for planting those questions in your mind – nevertheless, my point is that when you stay with friends, you enter the experience with a major level of trust. Her home was welcoming. She left lights on in our room for us. She gave us giant hugs when we bombarded their house in the morning. And you guys…they have 12 chickens that were so cute! And lemon trees! It felt like our own tiny resort – and it provided us the exact calm we needed on this vacation. IMG_2365IMG_2375
  2. This is a no brainer to most parents in the world – but we had our first experience with the Dohm noise machine. On a couples getaway / baby moon, you look forward to quality sleep – and this noise machine did not disappoint. We are currently buying one on Amazon.
  3. When in California, do as the Californian’s do…which translates to “eat at In-n-Out as many times as possible.” We were staying near Pasadena where they have the most adorable In-n-Out – our first night we sat out on the patio eating our burgers / fries (animal style) / shakes. It was a slice of heaven. Our other trip to the burger joint was of equal joy. IMG_2377
  4. My friend suggested a local breakfast joint called Lincoln – and I’ll be honest, I’m married to someone who places a lot of importance on the first meal of the day. The guy could live on breakfast food. So naturally, he ordered their daily special – the Notorious P.I.G. This was the most delicious breakfast experience of my life – bacon/cheddar pancakes with salty caramel syrup and almonds. Yes, SUPER crazy food combo, but literally…it was so good we went back the next morning. IMG_2359IMG_2363IMG_2354IMG_2400
  5. We went to Santa Monica – we walked the massive beach – we put our feet in the ocean for 0.05 seconds because it was an ice bath. And there was this lady chasing birds on the beach with the biggest smile on her face. It went on for minutes on end. Pure / free entertainment. IMG_2382IMG_2380
  6. Before our trip, we talked about what each of us wanted to do with our time away from home. We agreed that we must go to a movie. We have not been to a movie since I was pregnant with Soren (sidenote: we saw Unbroken and I had contractions during most of the movie b/c it was so intense). We saw La La Land and I (re)fell in love with Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, and movie theater popcorn. IMG_2402
  7. Did I mention my friend’s home (or as I’m now referring to it, our “resort”) had a pool? I parked myself on a chair in the sunshine (it was 62 degrees and yes I was in a bathing suit because #minnesotawinter). And I read. And I read. And I read. And guess what? No one interrupted me. IMG_3225
  8. J and I wanted to spend time on our marriage this trip – we  by no means have the perfect marriage (mostly because that doesn’t exist) but we both want to continually work on it, learn about each other, and make progress to be a better wife / husband. A good friend of mine shared a list of topics with discussion questions. Sounds super intense – and it kind of was…but we took one section at a time – usually at meal time or in a long stretch of LA traffic. We had great conversation about our communication style, we had tough conversations about expectations and where we are falling short, and we talked about our hopes and dreams looking forward. You guys, take time to have these conversations in your marriage! It is worth it!
  9. On the middle day of our trip, it was pouring rain. We found this a good day to road trip to the desert…but…halfway to said dessert, we said, “What are we doing? We would rather be lounging around and go to a movie.” So we turned around and went home. It was an insane waste of our time – something that would normally irritate me – but my mantra going into the trip was to be relaxed and live in the moment. We changed our minds – and we made the most of it. Plus we had great conversation in the car and listened to some amazing ’90s throwback jams…so really…no time wasted!
  10. Gosh…you look forward to vacations because you just.need.a.break from your kid, and then you get on vacation and find yourself staring at pictures of your kid on your phone. It’s real. If you are not yet a parent, just wait. You’ll do this. Getting home and seeing my boy squeal when I picked him up was honestly one of my top moments of the year.

 

And now we are back home and getting ready for baby boy coming in June!

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A Lunching Experiment

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When I decided to quit my job and stay home full-time, the biggest hesitation (if we’re keeping it real…and we are, always) was what that would mean for us financially. We were by no means wealthy when we were both working, but we were definitely comfortable. Chalk that up to two good jobs and a modest lifestyle – but cutting out one entire income meant change. And despite the scary uncertainty, we took a leap of faith and went for it. I feel another blog post coming on this topic sometime because that is a totally different story – one of taking risk, exploring the unknown, following your heart/intuition. But that’s not where I’m taking you today. Let’s get back on track.

As you know (if you’ve hung out here for at least five seconds), I quit my job and that super scary budget cut happened. And guess what? It’s fine. It means different choices, different comforts, less spontaneity, more cooking at home, but it is working.

When I anticipated being a stay-at-home-mom, I envisioned myself “lunching” with friends on the regular. Like that would be my main source of socializing because who doesn’t love food and getting out of the house? But when I began staying home, it never happened. It was likely a combo of a toddler that begins to get cranky by 12:15 everyday and the aforementioned skinny budget. But I’m getting to that point in motherhood where I’m feeling a little bit like, “Hey kid – I know you’re cranky, but we’re getting out of this house ASAP.” I miss being with friends. I miss those conversations – even if they’re interrupted a million times by a toddler attempting to run out of the restaurant or eat food off other people’s tables. And from everything I’ve read and heard, connecting with friends and other mom’s makes this phase of life feel lighter. Less isolated. More understood. More connected. And surely someone to sit across and roll your eyes together about the reason your two-year old had a tantrum today.

So this week, I invited two friends (read: one friend and one sister that is a friend) and their kids to join me for a lunch out. An experiment. And you know what? It was amazing. We had lunch at Potbelly Sandwich Shop. (To be totally candid – I have been craving a meatball sub for a few weeks and promptly ordered one for myself and a child’s version for Soren. Pregnancy cravings are real.) We met early to avoid the lunch rush – and allow our kids to run around the place. The three of us mom’s got to talk about what was going on in our lives. And we got to eat our delicious meal when it was relatively warm – a true treat.

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And when the kids started to get a tad antsy, Potbelly had a live musician come in to play music for the lunch hour. The timing could not have been better! Soren and his friend, William, were born for the dance floor – they immediately became groupies and danced their hearts out. It was equal parts adorable and helpful…so that the mom’s could keep talking!

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So in summary of my lunching experiment, I’m crazy for not doing this more often! It was so easy, so fun, so delicious – especially that meatball sub!

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This post has been in partnership with Potbelly Sandwich Shop, one of my regular lunch spots for years…with more to come in the future.

BOY OH BOY!

We are expecting baby #2 in June – hooray – but old news. What’s the new news? We just found out that we’re having a B-O-Y!!! Soren Junior! (Just kidding…we need a name!)

We were not going to do anything special to announce the gender – I mean…come on…it is our second child. What special attention do they get? Wait…I’m a second child…so I demand to keep the fun going and do special things for all the kids!

We had our ultrasound on Monday and requested they write down the gender and place it in an envelope. My sister picked up said envelope from us and figured out a way to surprise us at our family party on Thursday. I am actually shocked at how long we waited to find out. I was so excited to know…but the suspense really was not too bad! Not to get too cheese-ball on you, but I am just so thankful for this baby and for a healthy ultrasound that I do not care what gender it is! Cheese-ball moment over.

So Thursday…we invited both of our families over. My sister and her husband ordered a surprise balloon filled with confetti. Once everyone arrived, we had each person cast their gender vote. I even had Soren vote (because I couldn’t vote! I was too torn) and he voted girl. Sidenote: every.single.time I asked Soren if we were having a baby brother or sister, he answered, “Mia!” For reference, Mia is a little friend of his…that apparently he wishes were a part of our family.

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The votes were even boy vs. girl!

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Soren casting his vote for a sister

The moment came. We put the balloon in place. I drew a large knife…and .001 seconds later, it exploded and BLUE confetti covered the floor. Honestly – I was mostly in shock of having confetti blowing into my face and a massive balloon popping…and moments later noticed the blue confetti.

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To be totally candid – I really thought it was a girl – this pregnancy has been different in every single way from our first pregnancy. Totally sick for the first 19ish weeks vs. not sick last time. But that’s just it – it is a different boy – it’s not Soren. It’s a new baby and we get to meet HIM in 20 weeks!

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Hello sweet boy! We’ll see you soon!

Friday Coffee

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Last Friday, my husband was heading out of town which meant I had already begun my countdown until he returned. I do not do parenting on my own very well. I can handle the daytime – but I need a break. So when my hubs is out of town, I cry a little bit inside my head.

Side note: I have many friends that have spouses that travel a lot. Like a LOT! And I also have friends that are single parents. I realize that they may read this…and laugh. But guess what? I’m aware of my weaknesses…maybe I’ll get better at this eventually! For now, I admire all the single-parents and people who have traveling spouses. You are heroes in my eyes!

And…back on topic.

Since my husband took the day off work and had a few hours before he needed to leave, we decided to enjoy a family coffee date at one of our favorite places. We found a table right in front that was warmed by the early morning sunshine. We ordered one of our favorite egg sandwiches, two coffees, and a chocolate cookie (What’s up 8:30AM cookies!). Then we reordered the exact same thing 15 minutes later when we realized we are adults with appetites and one of us is growing a child which requires all the good food.

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And sometimes, when your two years old, you climb on tables because you can generally do whatever you want and still look cute. img_3017img_3034img_3022

Let me just tell you – if you ever go to Rustica, order the bittersweet chocolate cookie. You’ll honestly cry when you eat the last bite. But you can always order another…img_3045

Telling Your Honest Story

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this is motherhood (old picture from two years ago…) 

I recently wrote a post for Twin Cities Moms Blog – you can see it here.

But before you read it, I would love to tell you a little context to how I wrote it, to why I wrote it. I typically have not written such honest and raw posts. I am a somewhat open person – but bearing my inner struggles, my deepest aches to the total internet world? A bit scary.

But I had to.

You see, I had this crazy experience. I was driving home after visiting my parents and when sitting at a red light, an idea hit me. I was thinking about friendships – both the healthy and unhealthy kind. I was thinking about what makes up an unhealthy relationship – how I diagnose it. I thought of it as someone that does not stand for you – does not believe in you – turns their back on you when you need someone to fight on your behalf.

And it hit me – sometimes I am this type of friend to myself. I have done a lot of processing lately on self-talk. I guess you could call it both processing and observing. Anyway, it hit me that I can be a terrible friend to myself. Like, if the girl that lives inside my head sharing her thoughts with me was an actual person outside of my head – and she spoke to me the way she speaks to me inside my head – I would, no doubt, punch that girl in the face. Ok, maybe not. But I surely would not choose to be friends with her.

She’s mean. She’s not trustworthy. Yes, she supports me in good times. Who doesn’t? But she kicks me in the shins during the tough times. This is no friend of mine. Luckily I can talk back to her – and attempt to correct her, lovingly. To remind her of the real me – the girl that’s trying her hardest to be a good mom, be a strong woman, be a good wife, be her unique self without conforming to all the “should’s” she faces everyday.

This was a story that needed to be written – to be told. Because let’s face it – we all have a friend like that…likely living inside each of our own heads. Right? Hopefully not all the time, but sometimes, in a moment of weakness, she raises her ugly voice. And I wanted to write this post – this awfully vulnerable post that exposes my inner dialogue and inner struggles – so that people would know they are not the only ones struggling. To know they do not have to listen. To know they can fight back.

So take a look – and I hope you find some encouragement and feel the strength to fight your own fight against negative self talk.

Soren Has A Party

Okay – I know the title says that Soren had a party, but let’s get real – I had a party because he gave me a reason! He is turning TWO!

In the past, we have rarely had people in our home because we always say “Our house is so small! No one can fit.” Well guess what? 2017 is the year we start opening our home to people because we want to – even if it’s a little cozy. Plus, it’s Minnesota in January – we need to be cozy to stay warm, right? (Respond with: Right, Lauren.)

So – I am not a crazy party planner with millions of details – I prefer to keep it simple. It reminds me of my classes in college when my professors would say to KISS it. Keep It Simple Stupid. Could be offensive, but I just agree so fully with this concept. No need to make it more complicated (translation: stressful) than it needs to be.

Let me introduce you to my magical birthday party formula that is two years running: morning party + donuts + bowl of fruit + coffee. DONE. You guys – it’s so easy that I almost can’t believe it. But guess what? Believe it! It’s the real deal and no one needs a full blown brunch at a two year old’s birthday party.

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We had so much fun and I am putting approximately 500 pictures below to prove it. Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy! And especially enjoy Soren’s crazy hair due to my blow drying hair skills.

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Soren Benjamin – I’m so dang lucky to be your mom. I can’t say I feel that way all the time – because I’m super winging this motherhood thing and sometimes feel unqualified – but we’re stuck together and I think it’s a sweet life with you.

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Friday Freaking Friday

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I am still building up my endurance as a stay-at-home-mom. By Friday, I’m spent. That means that I need to get out of the house and do something fun (read: fun for me, not a totally kid geared activity).

Quick interruption: I just thought of a new hashtag: #FFF or #FinallyFreakingFriday.

Moving on…

This Friday we had no plans, so I called (…ok…so I sent her  a Snapchat…because I’m so millennial) my sister, Taylor. We’ve hardly seen her in the past month (outside of Snapchat…) and asked her to take a coffee break with us.

We met at one of our family’s favorite bakeries – Isles Bun and Coffee. It’s only a couple blocks from her apartment so it was a quick walk on her coffee break. We met up, we drank coffee, I ate my favorite coffee cake in the world, and we caught up on life. It was probably as simple as it gets, but so refreshing. After a week with a cranky kid and frigid temps keeping us mostly indoors, a simple adult conversation with someone you love is pure medicine.

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