Travel Often

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Love Deeply, but Laugh Along the Way

"Happiness is only real when shared." - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

View Marriage as an Adventure

"Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage." ~Finnish Proverb

Fuel your body with GOOD (It's the only one you get)

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Open your Soul to Motherhood

A Grand Adventure is About to Begin - Winnie the Pooh

A New Kind of Love is Born

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jackson's 12 Month Milestones

Our baby is 1 year old.
And he is on fire. The boy is on the go go go go go. Did I mention daycare told us he is one of the most active babies they have seen...maybe even ever....? 
One year pics - taken at church
Jackson is in full point mode. SO SO SO curious ALL THE TIME. Everything gets a point followed by a “da?” or “whoa” or “waw”. We could spend countless hours staring at all the pictures on the refrigerator or even in his books. Jackson likes going through every single one over and over. He points, says “da?” and then moves on to the next, “da?”, smiling bigger and bigger as we go through each one.
Finally made it out to eat! Celebrated Jackson's one year bday. It went better than I thought.
Don't be jealous of J's hairline or fuzzy hair!
Jackson is a walking pro, even started to jog here and there. I guess he figured out how to get places even faster. Super! He has four new pairs of sneakers to choose from to help him get where he needs to go to thanks to Grandma Cindy. Those little shoes are just too cute!!
Like my new kicks? How about this cool outfit?
He enjoys pulling our DVD player forward and trying to rip apart all the compartments. That doesn’t fly too well with dad. Trying hard not to overuse the word “no!”. He also has a SOFT spot for animals. ALL animals. This is why the zoo will be SO FUN for him. I CAN'T WAIT to take him!!!
Loved this fish tank at the chiropractor. Wouldn't say he enjoyed his adjustment so much though...
He spotted this dogie 100 feet away and marched over to her!
Jackson also LOVES staring out the open crack in the window…even if it’s snowing out in April (seriously!?!? Blizzard one day and 80 the next). He watches the cars, people, doggies…you name it. You can almost hear him thinking.
My favorite spot in the house
My favorite toy in the house (yes, travel size shampoo)
His pediatrician loved watching Jackson move throughout the exam room during his 12 month checkup. He was all over the place…ALL OVER. That was until the shots came in. He KNEW. He immediately burst into tears and looked at me like HELP ME, MOM!!! This KILLED ME. It was a tough appointment. She pulled the wax out of his ears (meaning pinning him down), he had three shots and had his finger pricked and blood drawn. I was so flustered by the time I got to work, I couldn’t see straight. These are the moments I wish I could be home with him. I shouldn’t have to pass him off to someone else. I should be the one comforting him. Grrrr.
Oh, let's see... weight: 21 lbs, height: 30 inches (or maybe taller than that?), head: 50% (I don't have the paper in front of me and it was so hard to pay attention with Jackson so upset).
I've officially incorporated working out into my playtime with Jackson. He loves being active so I'm going to wear him out. He loves his little indoor bike and he loves it more when I push him on it. I invented this thing called the monkey crawl. I get on all fours and then rest my hands on the base of the bike and fly through the house, pushing Jackson lap after lap. My butt, thighs and hamstrings burn. When I can’t catch my breath or go anymore, I collapse on the floor and Jackson jumps on me and we laugh. Then I chase him all over the house in a game of hide and seek. Fun stuff.
Pretty sure he would sit on this all day if someone pushed him all the time
Speaking of laying on the floor, when I am on all fours, Jackson will stop what he’s doing and come over to me. He likes to push my shirt up a little and pull at my pants until a mole on the small of my back shows. He then flicks this mole on my back. OK…so maybe there is a little of me in him. I always flick Karl’s ears…. I know. Weird.
FINALLY nicer weather hit and I was so excited to take Jackson to a park. SO EXCITED. Things aren't as crazy when I can let Jackson run wild outside. I like this nicer weather A LOT. We went to a couple different parks and I let him loose. He shrieked and shouted with excitement, especially watching all the other kids play. He followed them everywhere and up the stairs he went and through the blue tubes he went. Ummm…wait…what?? I had to chase after him – through the tubes I went. I felt like a kid again. We had a blast. And we went again when Karl got home (after a stop at the local Dairy Queen). Now this is what I’m talking about. This is what families do, right? This is all I ever wanted. TO SPEND SOME TIME TOGETHER. THE THREE OF US.
Beginning of the week...cold and snowy. WHACK.
End of the week - 80 degrees. He loves his awesome trike/stroller!
Hit up the river bottom as a family! Dad even got a wood tick...
Playing at the park - full speed ahead! Mom had to be quite flexible in those blue tube thingy
No words needed here....
Life is so much better with ice cream!
Ask for a hug and you’ll get it. BEST FEELING EVER. He’s really showing love. Hugging his stuffed animals and us. So sweet. So innocent. So precious.
Jackson loves flipping through all the pages of his books. He has one book he goes to all the time. A book full of colors. Want to know his favorite color? Or at least his favorite page? BROWN. Yeah. BROWN. Every single time he goes to his book, he MUST flip to the brown page. Then he laughs and smiles and points to the teddy, horse, monkey and owl. I also noticed he did his first finger painting at daycare. Guess what color? BROWN. OK…so we know he might not like all the colors his mom does.
My mom reading Jackson's favorite page...BROWN
I stopped all midnight feedings. I know. We’re going on night five. I was scared half to death to do this. But Jackson’s pediatrician reminded me about cavities. Yeah, yeah, yeah… I just was more nervous about losing more sleep by taking away the feedings. I was worried he'd be up and scream his brains out for hours. Not so! So far, so good. Last night he did wake a little at 3:00 a.m. and I went into his room and rubbed his back. He fell back asleep. Same again at 5. But now I’m worried his molars are coming in and he’ll be up lots. I was incredibly engorged and uncomfortable last week but taking all this day by day.
You’ve all heard of the Gummy Bear Song, right? This is one song that will STOP Jackson in his tracks and also got us through his one year pics. It’s about a 2 minute YouTube video, but 2 minutes is two minutes. I kind of am addicted to it too. I mean, a gummy bear jamming in a low rider? Sweet. Thanks Jenna!!
The Gummy Bear Song ROCKS
One of Jackson’s favorite things is to knock blocks over. Between Karl, my brothers, my dad and me, we try to outdo one another and build a bigger tower for Jackson. Jackson doesn’t mind…he gets crazy excited and then his eyes start fluttering because he knows what’s coming. He swipes a hand over the blocks and CRASH. Then he claps. YAY!
The street sweeper came through last week and Jackson would not take his eyes off of it. It was fun to watch him get excited (and stay preoccupied for more than a couple minutes). I was able to get lunches ready and packed up! Win-Win.
Way too cool, mom! "WAW!"
In a trance.


It's All About the Small Stuff

Some of the unusual things that made me smile last week

You know when you're going at TURBO SPEED? Yeah, pretty much every day, right? Well I'm kind of over it. Except I'm having the hardest time letting stuff go so I'm living in a cycle of madness here. There is always SO MUCH TO DO ALL THE TIME. I'm working at it though. But with that said, there are only a few things that stop me in my tracks these days and either make me bust a gut or force me to simply STOP and SOAK in the good around me.

Last week, it was these moments for me:

Say what??? Did I read that right??? My bust a gut moment.
A gorgeous snowfall on April 23. Ahhhh. God's work.
So pretty! (Plus, I knew it'd melt by the end of the day, so it was OK in my book)
I took the long way to work to capture these shots. Late? Oh well.

For one second I wanted to ENJOY what was going on around me. And I did. I didn't care. All I have been doing is rushing through everything just to keep up. Sound familiar? I didn't want to miss the opportunity to be silly and laugh or the last snowfall of the season...even if we're talking April here...

I'm trying to capture as much as I can in video and pictures because maybe when I'm old, I can actually let this all soak in and remember how awesome I had it. I just wish I could realize it now and ENJOY ENJOY ENJOY. Of course I know what I have, but I'm talking about throwing my head back and laughing myself silly and not worrying about the dishes or menu planning or laundry or paying bills. JUST LIVING IN THE MOMENT. These pictures help me get there.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Jackson's One Year Photos

One-Year Photos

Here's how this went down. A month before Jackson's birthday I asked Karl if we should get professional pics done. I knew we'd be getting pictures for the church directory. What I didn't realize is $90 and ONLY THREE pictures later, we'd only have one good shot of Jackson to choose from. I thought that was good enough, especially on our wallet after throwing that crazy, HUGE birthday bash. But they only turn one once...right?

As crazy as things get, I love this family of mine.

I had heard of Be Creations Photography from a friend I took a Baby and Me class with. I knew this photographer was located right in town and was fairly reasonable, but wasn't sure when we'd be able to fit in pictures with Karl's crazy work schedule.

I sent a text asking Karl if there was a day that worked better out of two days available the week after Jackson's bday. Never got a response from hubby. All I got was an email saying J.C. Penny had a Groupon for $20 pics. I figured that's the route he wanted to go and so that was that. And clearly I was supposed to purchase the Groupon, but I was at work and thinking of 500 other things that pictures quickly slipped my mind before I did anything. I mean, the church picture we did get of Jackson was SUPER CUTE.

Fast forward to the week after Jackson's birthday. I was getting ready for bed when hubby says, "So I'm leaving two hours early for those pictures tomorrow."

SAY WHA!?!?!?

What pictures????

It is now Wednesday and I'm at work trying to set up these one year pictures...not looking cute...nor am I sure what the heck to put us all in.

As God would have it, the time was still open and we MADE it. I do not know how. Sometimes I do not know how I make it at all with everything going on all the time.

Anyway... Here are some of our faves. Oh, and if you're looking for a photographer, check out Jolene is awesome. AND she has dimples:)
Smooches all around

How is my lil boy ONE???

Happy family
This candy looks GOOD!!
Heck yah, I'm diggin in
Wait...there is more?
Where is all started:) LOVE.

Cocktail I'm Loving this Spring

Strawberry Chile Martini

This is a must post. FINALLY WARMER WEATHER. What better way to celebrate than taking the stroller out and going for a bunch of walks and runs and playing at all the parks. There is something about the sun and warmth that makes me smile...and crave a yummy adult beverage.
Yes, you are seeing a jalapeno floating around with a strawberry

Everyone knows I get 20 different magazines every month. Yes, up to 20 now. One of my favorites is Eating Well. Tons of healthy recipes and informative articles about the nutrition we consume.

Karl flipped through the pages and came across this drink recipe and made it for us. YUM. YUM. YUM. Sweet AND spicy.

Strawberry Chile Martini
Recipe found in Eating Well - June 2013

Makes: 2 servings
Active Time:
Total Time:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Munchkin Meals

I follow several blogs, but one of my favorites is from a first-time mom who is an inspirational health and fitness nut. Every once in a while she posts Munchkin Meals. I love this. She basically highlights what her toddler eats in a typical day. I thought I’d borrow her idea and highlight what I feed Jackson (now 1 year old) during specific mealtimes. I’m going to start with breakfast.
Enjoying breakfast

I’m doing this because I am ALWAYS looking for good healthy food ideas for Jackson. I’m trying to introduce more and more protein into Jackson’s diet because he is so skinny so I’ve been doing research and trying to stick to healthy grains and more natural foods, that also taste really great.


To me, eggs are a great source of protein but we haven’t yet incorporated them into Jackson’s diet. Now that he’s a year old, I WILL be making these Mini Quinoa Egg BLT BITES this weekend.
BLT Quinoa Cups

Otherwise Jackson will get one of these dishes for breakfast regularly:

1.       Spiced Breakfast Quinoa  -
Spiced Quinoa

2.       Whole wheat oatmeal pancakes with blueberries -
Blueberry Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

3.       Overnight steel cut oats with a fruit cooked in -
Overnight Steel Cut Pumpkin Oats

4.       Two cubes of frozen pureed fruit, heated and then mixed together with ground oatmeal. I stir in Yo-Baby Whole Milk yogurt.

5.       Cottage cheese and a fruit chopped up and cheerios

All of these are served with a cup of breast milk, but we’ll soon be moving over to organic whole cow’s milk.

What do you serve your toddler for breakfast?

Spring, Are You Out There?

This weather is killing me. Anyone else with me here? I know this is somewhat expected in Minnesota, but this cold snap seems a lot longer than usual. Is it me? And more snow is coming our way( in mid-April)?? I try not to complain because I do love our seasons but winter is hogging way too much time and eating away our already short summer.
Sun is nice, but a little heat would be good.
The forecast doesn’t even look promising. I keep searching for hope every single week… Hoping there is a 60 somewhere in the extended forecast. Not a one.

I wonder if this season feels longer than normal because I had Jackson in April last year and I didn’t get a whole lot of time to run free outside? I felt like summer was spent catching up on sleep and when I somewhat woke up, it was already fall.  Once fall hits in Minnesota, the skies get dark even before we get home from work so getting outside is harder. And then the weekends were spent catching up on a bunch of stuff.

Yes, we went on walks a lot when I was on maternity leave and even when I’d get home from work but IT IS COLD OUT. And these haven’t been my normal long walks because I never know how long Jackson will last.

I haven’t been to the gym as much as I’d like and I noticed when I don’t get there regularly, things on my body droop. This has never happened for me because I always had volleyball to tone me up – and I haven’t played in almost a year!!! My butt is sagging. So depressing. I feel like I’m about to jump out of my skin. I miss the sun. I miss the warmth. I even miss the SMELL of spring and warmer weather.  I miss my endorphins. I’m popping Vitamin D but even that doesn’t seem to be working. We’re trying to eat more fish too…  

I’m trying to find activities to get us moving more. Maybe a trip to the zoo? Or Underwater World at the Mall of America? Who has suggestions of inexpensive things to do inside with a one year old that almost feels like we’re outside?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Nursing for an Entire Year!!!


There are only a handful of moments in my life where I get an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. You know what I'm talking about. The proud moments in your life. The times you feel like you are on top of the world. You faced something hard head on and SUCCEEDED.
Bye-bye pumping station. Until next time...

For me, these have been...

1. Earning the title of MVP on my high school volleyball team
2. Earning an athletic scholarship
3. Letting parts of my past go as much as I wanted to hang on to them (learning forgiveness)
4. Becoming Chancellor Scholar Athlete of the Year my final year in college
5. Earning a 3.8 GPA a couple semesters in a row during college and graduating in four years (while balancing 18 credits, playing volleyball and holding a part-time job)
6. Moving to Minnesota on a whim knowing only my brother
7. Starting over from heart break, empty and lost and building incredible amazing new relationships with strangers who are now some of my bestest friends
8. Allowing myself to be vulnerable in front of hundreds of people
9. Marrying my husband
10. Traveling and exploring parts of the world
11. Writing an entire 300+ page novel
12. Giving birth to my son Jackson
13. ....and now this...

I talked about this awesome feeling in an earlier post. The day when you wake up and you feel it... MAGIC. You do something for YOU - something HARD and GRUELING and CHALLENGING, but you keep getting up and keep on truckin' because you know when you finish, you'll feel so damn proud of yourself, it's ridiculous.

The moment when you realize how strong you really are. 

I don't need anyone else slapping me on the back or handing me an award. It's a feeling that I've only created and I'm treasuring it.

I successfully nursed for an entire year. Why is this such a big deal for me? Maybe because nursing was SO hard for me. SO SO SO hard. Painful. A HUGE time commitment. But I knew if I kept at it, I could and would do it. And I did.

I remember at 6 weeks, I thought a year seemed so incredibly far away. I was cracked and bleeding and so sore. Every latch made me feel like one of Dexter's victims - like he was sticking his razor blade to my skin drawing blood for one of his slides. I wasn't sure I could hang on. But I did. People told me to give up, but I wanted this. I needed this. Maybe a control thing? Maybe because I'm crazy? I don't know. 

Three pumps a day at work, 5 days a week, 25 minutes a a smelly, gross bathroom. Yes, I says I shouldn't have to pump in a bathroom. Sadly, it was my only option. At 8 months I dropped a pump. I was pumping twice a day at work. 11 months I went to once a day. This week Jackson turned one, and I'm doing one pump for 5-10 minutes each day. Next week I drop all pumps.
At least Jackson likes my pump parts...

So tell me this. Why am I sad??? I hate lugging that big ol' pump bag around and cleaning my parts and bottles out every night. Drives me crazy. And now I'm sad!?!?!? What gives?

This is when I know the moment is pure. Real. One that means something. And I grow. I'm a force to be reckoned with.


Jackson’s First Birthday Party with 70 of His Closest Friends

Big or Small Party? Which way to go?
Happy Birthday Jackson James

I’m officially a mom of a one year old!!!! There are so many emotions going through my head and heart today. First and foremost I wanted to recap Jackson’s first birthday party.
Jackson's 1 year Birthday Invite

Karl and I went back and forth on the size of the party. We first settled on small because we didn’t have a whole lot of time to devote to planning, and well…space was a huge issue too. We still live in a town home and there was no way we could invite everyone we wanted to. Weather is always sketchy in Minnesota in the spring (hello snow). We knew our families wanted to be included, but that meant inviting EVERYONE on all both sides. Right there, we were already at 60+ some family members.  There was no way our house could hold that many people – not even our garage.

We told Karl’s parents the dilemma and they offered up their home. Did they know what they were in for??? Karl’s sister offered helping, which was HUGE for me. HUGE. We ran with it. We kept the list down as much as we could.

The day of the party 70 family and friends showed up to Karl’s parent’s house. Holy PARTY. Can you feel my stress level? But this wasn't about me...
Birthday boy!!

This is when my mantra became: Go big, or go home. They only turn one once. Right??? Are you laughing at me yet?

In attendance? The oldest guest: 86 years old. The youngest: 10 days old. The variety of people was insane, but we loved every single one of them. And we KNOW they love the three of us. A pretty overwhelming feeling if you ask me.

We could not have done ANY of this without the help of Karl’s sister. She is crazy AMAZING at planning, organizing and setting up parties. She rocked the show. When I think about all she did for us, I get choked up. Party planning does not come easy for most of us. But I know she did this because she loves Jackson [that much]. I’m not an aunt so I don’t know how that feels just yet, but Kelly has taught me a lot about love. She has a LOT of it and shows it better than anyone I know.
Kelly's stellar party planning skills

Jackson, Kelly and Ben

My older brother supplied all the burgers thanks to his sweet discount from Cargill! I mean, these were the burgers they send to places like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebees. YUMMY!

My friend Kimbra worked feverishly on making the YUMMIEST carrot cake of all times. Not just one, but a smash cake for Jackson that looked like a puppy bowl (since he LOVES puppies) and a sheet cake and 100 mini cupcakes!!!!!!!!!! Seriously, I haven’t had a cake that good…well, since…ever.
Front of the smash cake
Back of smash cake
Adorable puppy sheet cake!

My grandma supplied some entertainment. A Polish tradition is to set four objects in front of Jackson and whatever he reached for would be his destiny…. A shot glass, a rosary, a golf ball and coins. Jackson selected the golf ball right away and then the whiskey glass. Hmmmm. The next Adam Scott (2013 Masters winner)?
My grandma supplying some entertainment through a Polish Tradition

And the gifts!! WHOA!!! Jackson is SET!!! And now he has some really awesome toys to keep at grandma and grandpa’s when they watch him! Jackson was spoiled though. My brothers and sis in law found a really cool bike I've never seen before!! Jackson is so lucky to have such neat uncles and aunts on BOTH sides!
Jackson's cool bike!

Yes, the house was PACKED and there were around 10-15 little adorable energetic people running around and it felt like I was back in college at an awesome keg party trying to slide my way through a ton of people (minus the kids). But these were all people we love and who love Jackson. I looked around. I soaked it in and saw how happy Jackson was and how many people adore him. It was pretty cool and insane all rolled into one. Jackson had no problem going to other people and loving them up. I LOVED THIS!!! He impresses me EVERY SINGLE DAY so much.
The little people

We stripped Jackson down, stuck him in Grandma Judy’s highchair from when she was a little girl, and everyone sung Happy Birthday to Jackson and he rocked back and forth before his cake came. He was so sweet. He IS sweet. He quite didn’t know what to do with the cake and gagged on it a little. Then cried. We tried. But that’s OK. He made our hearts smile.
Our little man getting ready to dive in
What is this? Sugar?
Wait, they are all singing for me!!
I'm not sure my mom will be OK with me eating sugar... Guys, I'm serious here...
Maybe just a little taste...
Don't make me!
It is pretty....
Nope. Not my thing, mom.

I created a photobook last week of a bunch of pictures I took over the year, but it didn’t arrive in time, so I also whipped together a video slideshow of Jackson in a matter of a day. I have no idea how I did this or when. I really don’t. But it has brought me to tears every time I’ve watched it.

A whole year whizzed by in the 12 minute video – and that’s exactly how time feels right now. Time and life is cruising by so fast. So much has changed in such a little of time, but for the first time I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be and I’m doing exactly what I should be doing. I am happy. Busy. Challenged. Tired. Amazed. Every single moment of the day. Pushed beyond my limits. But I come out stronger every time. The craziest part of it all is I am happy. Happy. So very happy. And I feel incredibly blessed.