Life Lately

"Joke," Nolan says, "Joke!" It started with our Google Home. Caden and Brooklyn discovered they could walk over, "Hey Google. Tell me a joke!", and it went from there. Then Tyson told them the classic "Why did the chicken cross the road?". Since then they come up with their own versions, all ending with the punchline "to get to the other side." Caden's are usually something like "Why did the chicken cross the road and fight the car and then fall into a tree?" If you ask Nolan what his joke is, though, he responds with, "Cross...tree!" or "Cross...cheese!" or "Cross...water!" or "Cross...*insert noun of something in his immediate vicinity here*!" He thinks it's just hilarious. 

2017 01 23 Nolan Bed 02.jpg


At the end of January - a mere month ago, though it seems much longer - we traveled to Arizona to visit Tyson's brother and his family. It was the first time we flew with the kids and they did great! We filled their backpacks up with snacks, Target dollar section goodies, and, most importantly, their tablets. Caden and Brooklyn did just fine on our 3+ hour flights, though Nolan tended to bounce around between Tyson and I, to Tyson's mom, to Tyson's dad, who traveled with us. 

2017 01 25 Both Arizona 01.jpg

Our flight back home was late, we didn't land until 11:00 at night, and while everyone was certain the kids would fall asleep on the plane I knew better. Caden conked out during the last hour, Brooklyn literally fell asleep as we touched down on the runway, but Nolan was active on his tablet until the bitter end, until we were taxiing to the runway and he gave up while I rocked him on my shoulder. "Bed! Go to bed!" he sobbed and the entire airplane laughed in solidarity.

It was nice to escape to the sunshine for a few days in the midst of this long, cold winter. We visited the beautiful and amazing Phoenix Zoo, explored the concrete structures and fed the ducks at the Riparian Preserve, and ate some delicious, local food at Joe's Farm Grill. We also learned that Tyson's brother and his family will be moving this summer to join us up here in Minnesota! We're very excited to have them nearby, and glad we took what was probably our last chance to visit them in the Arizona sunshine.

2018 01 26 All Arizona 02.jpg
2018 01 27 All Arizona 02.jpg


I'm sure you've seen that we celebrated a slew of birthdays recently. First the twins', then Nolan's. I curse February every year, especially birthday week since it all feels like just so much, but as soon as it's all over I think, "Hey, that wasn't so bad. And now we're done for the year!" Basically I spend two weeks in February overwhelmed with all things birthday and am thrilled about it for the other 11 1/2 months out of the year. 


Something less fun during our mega-super-birthday week was getting rear-ended while we were sitting at a red light. On Caden and Brooklyn's birthday. We're all just fine, but our van...

not so much. Caden was more curious about it all than anything else ("It was really loud and then our window broke.") while Brooklyn was upset once the police showed up ("Are we going to jail?") but they really haven't talked about it since, so I guess they're over it? We're waiting to hear back from the repair shop before moving forward with anything (And at just what point do they total out the car? Seriously, how much does an entire rear power door to a van, and then some, cost, anyway?) but since the driver who hit us was charged with a DWI, well, they're in a lot more trouble than we are right now.


The Parkland shooting has been weighing heavy on my mind. I plan to join the Minnesota March for Our Lives taking place on Saturday, March 24th (Local? Join me!) and have been waiting for our local Moms Demand Action group to have a chapter meeting near me (South and East're just not doing it for me). 

I've toned down my news consumption and social media usage since the 2016 election had me reading ALL THE THINGS for too many months and I found it obsessive and ultimately not good for me. Of the few things I have read, Emma Gonzalez and her fellow students are giving me life, this article by Washington Post's editorial board was both direct and insightful, and these parents are my heroes for standing up and asking the intense, direct, right questions of both their senators and the NRA.


We've had quite the winter this year. Some years are cold, some years are snowy, this year we've had more than our fair share of BOTH. As I type this it's snowing and we're in the midst of yet another Winter Storm Warning. We've had snow since before Halloween, making this our fourth month of full-blown actual winter. It's safe to say I'm over it

Except when it's pretty.

Except when it's pretty.

One way I've been tackling the winter blahs is to really create a schedule for us. Not only for activities outside the house but also for when we're at home. Art Time has been a major life saver these past few months. At 4 or 4:30 or so we put everything away for the day. I pull out some sort of art supplies or project, (as well as my own coloring book and pencils), turn on some music, and we wind down.

Caden has been working on this piece for weeks now. He calls it his "beast's castle" (we have a slight Beauty and the Beast obsession) and it's something he pulls out almost every day to work on. He usually values quantity over quality, cranking out page after page after page in his coloring book, construction paper, etc., but this is something he continues to come back to. I'm impressed by his attention span and the level of detail he's put into it. I also can't recommend ginormous pieces of paper enough, since the sheer size keeps them occupied far longer than your average piece of construction paper.

2018 02 05 Caden Art Time 01.jpg


Nolan has hit full-blown two-year old independence in recent weeks. "I do it" has become his life verse. Except he says, "I did it!", even before he's even done anything. Garbage to throw away? "I did it!" Me grabbing the remote to turn the TV off? "I did it!" Putting the lid on his sippy cup? "I did it!" This is often accompanied by lots of jumping up and down and stamping of feet, of course, for sheer emphasis.

2018 02 22 Nolan Birthday 02.jpg


We've also been about all things OLYMPICS! The kids have gotten into it a little this year and you better BELIEVE the birthday party theme four years from now will be a winter Olympics one. Nolan cries out "Hockey!" whenever we turn the TV on, whether hockey is actually playing or not. (That's my boy.) I've been particularly into the women's skating events, the pairs free skate, skeleton (y'all are bananas), bobsledding, and the snowboard cross racing. I didn't watch, but I'm also thrilled the women's hockey team picked up the gold medal. Now that everything is all wrapped up, our lives can go back to normal, and we can resume catching up on everything from the shows to the podcasts to the household cleaning we've missed from being camped out in front of the TV from 7-10:00 pm (at least) for the past two+ weeks.

Big Chip 2015

Some posts don't need any words.

(Okay, except for a few in parentheses.  You know I can't resist.)

(After doubting that they would ever dare to go near the cold lake water, (i.e. not bath water temp pool water they are used to), Caden and Brooklyn immediately proved me wrong by running right in the first day, and never looked back.)

(Beer?  Who, me?)

(Lots 'o lovin to go around.)

(And skeptical looks.)

(And these two starved.  There was absolutely no food to go around and they never ate anything.  Ever.)

(*Sarcasm alert!*)

(Also, nobody wanted to play with them and Caden and Brooklyn got absolutely no attention whatsoever.)



(*Double sarcasm alert!*)

(Definitely voguing for the camera already.)

(But the most LOLs of all were had by throwing hair products into the water.  Because the bottles float.  Get it?  I dunno...seriously, I think this was the most fun they had the entire trip.)



(This picture sums up how they felt by the end of the trip.)

(In other words, it was a perfect time at the lake.)

Big Chip, A History (Sort Of)

When my mom was younger, her parents and their six kids, and their neighbors and their eight kids, and some of their other neighbors with not quite as many kids, decided to take a vacation together during the summer, somewhere "up north", to a resort on a lake in Minnesota.  Somehow my mom's family fit everyone, and their luggage, into something like a station wagon.  I realize that things like car seats and booster seats and luxuries like seat belts weren't really required then, but I'm still not quite sure exactly how they made this work.

Though the venue changed those first few years, it's remained constant for almost 40 years now.  (I feel like people have been saying it's the 38th or 39th year for, oh, at least 5 years now.  I figure we've got to hit 40 one of these times.)  My grandparents brought their kids, and then their kids brought their kids, and now us kids bring our own kids...and every year, the Saturday after the Fourth of July, we continue to head up to "Big Chip".

Being fabulous on the beach.

Once upon a time, I fished.  Then I realized that things like worms, and leeches, and the fish themselves were kind of slimy and gross. forward several years since I apparently have no scanned images of my middle to high school years (and that's probably a good thing)...

And last year Caden and Brooklyn got to make their debut.


Hopefully they enjoy the water a bit more this year.

Excited (now that I've actually started packing) to head up to Big Chip!

The Fourth/Second Reception/Big Chip Mega Post!

So we were gone for a 1 1/2 weeks again (for the last and final time this summer!) for the Fourth/second wedding reception/my family's annual vacation to Big Chip.

(If you are a picture-hater, this post is not for you.)

While we were many different places and did a lot of different things, I did notice one theme running through all of the photos I took...






And the big people, too.

(Click below for more...much, much more...)

The Fourth of July featured some cute babies wearing their Stars and Stripes.

(Wearing and/or tasting those stars and/or stripes...)


(I have about 40 photos of Caden with this same blank expression.  Like, "No woman, I shall not indulge your whim of taking photos today.")

(The only photo I have of him semi-smiling.)

Twins holding twins!

Next up: the second reception, where you might have thought we all coordinated our clothing on purpose...

And while getting dressed up is all well and good...

...this is much more my speed.

(Being up at the lake is exhausting.)

Also, nobody loved these babies and they never got held at all:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

Exhibit E




Mommy and Daddy even occasionally got to hold them, too.

(And have a well-deserved cocktail when off of baby-duty.)

And, as evidenced by the absolute LENGTH AND NUMBER OF PICTURES in this post already, Big Chip is the perfect time for family photos:

(Anchor prints everywhere!)

Babies did NOT AT ALL EVEN A LITTLE BIT enjoy having their footsies dipped into the lake.

But I did.

As Tyson said, when we were going through photos last night...

"Wait, why did we leave?"

Life, Lately

First off, someone snuck in at night and replaced my teeny, little babies with ginormous, big babies.  

They grew, and they got huge, and now I'm about to pack up their second set of clothes (the 3-ish month-sized ones).  (Even though some of the 3-ish month-sized ones still fit really well.  And some of the 6-ish month-sized ones are too small, so they never even wore them because why would I have thought they would be in a 6-month size already? Seriously clothing companies, get your act together.  I'm looking at YOU Jumping Beans.) And by "about to pack up" I mean "just as soon as I remember to buy another container to pack their clothes away in".  

Second, and more seriously, my grandpa, "Pa", passed away.  He died on June 12th, at the age of 88, after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's over a decade ago and fighting a tough battle for the last couple weeks of his life.  He was a navy veteran, married to my grandma for 65 years, father to six, grandfather to twelve, and great-grandfather to another six.  It seems like there's nothing you can really say that doesn't sound trite and cliche at a time like this.  Even so, he was a great man, the funniest guy to be around, and everyone is really going to miss him.  He had phrases-little one liners-for every situation in life. Christmas was "Smismas", his favorite drink was a "Manhootan", and if someone belched, he might say, "If it comes up again, we'll vote on it!"  That or, "Good morning, Father!"  They made boards showing 88 of these "Redderisms", and we were still coming up with more of them later.

His funeral was beautiful, and really represented who he was.  My favorite part (can you have a favorite part at a funeral?  I did.) was the military part of his burial.  They saluted the hearse as it pulled up, played "Taps" in the distance, and folded up a flag which was then presented to my grandma.  Again, I can't explain in words how unbelievably awesome it was, but if you've ever seen something similar, you'll understand.

Pa and I, circa...oh, maybe 1990?  That bow is as big as my face.

Big Chip last year.  Fun fact: I was five weeks pregnant.  Though I didn't yet know with twins...

And he did get to "meet" the twins, back in April before he passed away, so I'm thankful for that.

On the day he passed away, we were already scheduled to travel to Iowa for a golf tournament for Tyson's grandpa, who also passed away earlier this year.  (We started out the year with all eight of our grandparents living, and now we each lost a grandpa.  Life is weird.)

As much as I could never live in Iowa, you have to admit that this is a pretty sight:

Although keep in mind that basically the entire drive is like that, so...yeah.  I realized that it's the first time in YEARS that we've gone to Iowa when it's green out, instead of in the dead of winter when it's just...white.  And brown.  But mostly white.  Bleeccchh.

Hanging out with their aunt and uncle.

Caden taking a snooze with Grammie, who insisted that she absolutely, positively, did not fall asleep.

The twins made no such claims, though, and also fell asleep on Grammie's bed.

Tyson and I didn't golf, but hung out in the clubhouse with the twins during the tournament.  They didn't seem to mind their confinement so much.

"Infant jail isn't so bad after all!"

And we watched Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt, and Uncle (Tyson's mom, dad, brother, and (new!) sister-in-law) play some of their round.

Also Tyson tried his hand at hitting a drive...

Let us never speak of it ever again.

I was sort of bummed at first that I didn't get to golf (since I'm the Girl with the Milks), but then this happened:

So...yeah.  Those aren't golf balls out there, that's hail.

And that's...mostly it.

Oh yeah, and the twins turned four months old.  (Official update to come tomorrow, after their four-months doctor's appointment.)  (Probably.  Because: shots.  All the shots.)

"Dude, it's been four months.  Is she still taking all these pictures of us?"  (YES, because cute, coordinating crab outfits, guys!)

"Seriously, my hand and foot are so much more interesting than getting my picture taken."

"Caden, are you smiling?  Is this a serious shot?  What expression am I supposed to have?"

"Nonchalant it is then."