Spring break in Madison

Last year we took our first vacation as a family of four — to Lutsen, over spring break. We had tons of fun, but it was tons of work, too. Blythe was 10 weeks old and getting up every three-to-four hours, and Bee, who had just turned two, had a hard time falling asleep at nap and bedtime. We had awesome hiking trips and a blast throwing rocks into Lake Superior, but Adam and I had no real time to ourselves. (We each stole away for a 30 minute run, but that was it).

But our spring break trip this year was vastly different — and better. Was it because we’ve fully embraced family life? Because the girls are older? Or because we actually made sure we did things for ourselves, too, not just the girls?

Comparing photos from last year and this year made me laugh. Reading books last year:

lutsen storytime

And this year:

dells hotel

We all look a lot happier this year, don’t we?! Way more relaxed.

Hiking last year:

lutsen hike

And walking around Madison this year:

madison group

Haha – I’m still wearing kids on my back, and the same hat is still in rotation.

We went to Madison, WI this year to visit our dear friends who just had a baby. The girls had a ball at the zoo, playgrounds, and children’s museum — Madison is such a lovely, family friendly town.

madison car driving

And Adam and I had a blast going on runs (we strapped the double stroller on the car for just this purpose) and even had a date night with our first non-family babysitter.

We ended the trip with a night in Wisconsin Dells at a waterpark hotel — a huge hit with the girls.

      girls swimming

There were still moments of hard parenting — when the girls didn’t seem tired at their usual bedtime. When we’d endlessly shoo Blythe away from the bathroom and trash can and TV and anything with buttons. When we’d ride that dangerous edge of letting them play hard right up until naptime and then swoop in and swiftly get them down before they crashed.

But it felt so awesome to not have to dig into the well of patience so much. To have real fun and not just the exhilarated thrill of having survived.

If you go…

We stayed at the Arbor House and loved it. Having access to a kitchen and space to spread out was perfect, and the included meals and evening dessert (and wine for the parents!) were much enjoyed. The location was a good home base for walking around town.

The 6.1 mile Arb loop is a beautiful run and easy for out-of-towners to follow.

In the Dells, the Cheese Factory‘s vegan menu was a nice change from typical restaurant fare, and the Grand Marquis Hotel was a good value if you have young children (4 and under).

A shopping event bursting with Minnesota pride

hammsDo you love handmade jewelry, gorgeous bags, cheeky letterpress cards, chocolate, beauty bars, beeswax, Minnesota-pride icons, beer, and tater tots? Of course you do.

Love the idea of supporting Minnesota artists, designers, and makers even more?

Of course you do. That’s why you are definitely going to want to check out the HAMMS Event on May 3 in St. Paul. It’s a pop-up market with a crowdfunding twist — one maker will receive up to $5,000 from the event’s ticket sales to support his or her business.

HAMMS stands for “Help a Minnesota Maker Succeed” and was founded by entrepreneurs Becky Sturm of StormSister Spatique and 3waybeauty, and Sairey Gernes of Urban Undercover and TowelTopper. They started the event in 2013 to help small makers like themselves reach a larger audience. It was an immediate success and super-fun; I went to it and was near giddy over my Minnesota-made finds (I gush about that here) and the funky St. Paul location. A fun shopping friend and a food truck lunch made it a great day. {Continue reading…}

The gift of Hannah: carrying and birthing a baby with a fatal genetic disorder (guest post)

family

I asked my friend Christine if she’d share the story of Hannah, her second daughter, with us. When she was pregnant with Hannah I wasn’t even thinking of kids yet and didn’t have a clue. Over the years (and especially when I was carrying my own pregnancies) I’ve thought a lot about what she went […]

{Continue reading…}

What’s surprising about having two kids

two kids

About six months into life with two kids, I felt overwhelmed, and felt overwhelmed about feeling overwhelmed. “Really?!” I berated myself. “It’s just two kids. Why is it so hard?” I’d done my research putting together Baby makes four: Advice for having your second child, but now that I’d survived the first few months, I […]

{Continue reading…}

Easy movie night party for tweens

movie feature image

Movie night might be the easiest tween birthday party theme ever. Easy for you, fun for them, win for all. Here are some photos and ideas from my son’s movie-themed sleepover party. Set the stage All you need to make a theater is a large screen, chairs in rows, and a concession stand. Our concessions are […]

{Continue reading…}

Six ways to make it easier

six ways feature

Yes and Yes, a blog we both follow and fellow Minnesota blogger, published this great post: How to make your life a million times easier (slight exaggeration). We both liked it, and found ourselves thinking about the little ways we simplify and make things easier for ourselves by removing the decisions required by the seemingly endless […]

{Continue reading…}

The grownups are coming

Mom and Owen Intrepid featured photo

I don’t want to be a helicopter parent. But I’ve just spent all morning on the junior high parent portal and coaching my seventh grader through a tearful “corrective” and “proactive” action plan process. Because my smart, funny, adventurous, gifted-program, advanced-placement, first-born son is getting an F. And a D+. And a C. Excuse me […]

{Continue reading…}

Try this with your kids: Give them the camera

IMG_4034

Beatrice demonstrating her technique with Adam’s phone. Over the holidays Beatrice snatched our camera and starting taking pictures. My first instinct was to grab it back from her (it’s not a super fancy one, but still. Expensive. Not a toy.) but then she charmed me with how sweetly she mimicked me taking pictures. “Stand by […]

{Continue reading…}