Choosing to Love

IMG_4867.jpgWe spent Valentines Day at home this year. There were lots of opportunities to leave or do something but due to an upcoming trip we really wanted to try to stay healthy.
The girls are really into holidays. The decorations, food and probably in this case the candy. We also did our traditional chocolate covered strawberries with Grandma and Grandpa Maloney. A very yummy tradition indeed.
One of the best things that I started this year was to hide paper hearts around the house with secret messages on them as their valentine surprise. My sister did the heart scavenger hunt and I added writing on white paper with white crayon onto the idea .
I wrote each kids name on the back with a number 1-7.  Then they switched hearts and hid each other’s.
I think by the end of the game Lillian was mad because Norah couldn’t remember where her heart was hid. Leeland told Norah were her last heart was hidden. Dear me we had to stop like two times and apologize and get control.
After the game I told them that part two was water coloring the hearts to reveal their message. They didn’t realize that that it was there! It was fun to write the messages on their hearts and for them to paint to reveal the message.

Before we painted we were going to take a Valentine picture.  More fighting about who holds Amelia and spots on the bench.  Mom has a time out this time.

… life is challenging …. even on a day focused on Love like Valentines Day!

We apologized again. Took a cute picture and moved on.  Valentine’s Day gave us plenty of opportunities to CHOOSE to love each other as God loves us.  For bible that day we have been studying the events leading up to Jesus dying on the cross. Yesterday’s lesson was when He dies for all our sins. A perfect Valentine message to us all I think!


This Weekend

This weekend was another lovely weekend of time spent at home!


We started with a fun homeschool field trip to a Stendland’s Dairy farm. Chris was able to join us and boy was he glad he did. We saw a farm fully functioning with only about 7 employees and a bunch of robots! Plus the kids got to bottle feed calfs what is better than that?


We introduced the creek at Mary Jo Arboretum to Chris.  We had been on Monday and it was so much fun. Kids played in the water, built mud sculptures and donut holes, and Leeland threw rocks. This was Amelia’s sort of fussy day so it also involved constantly soothing a child.  The creek was pretty busy that day in terms of events. We watched a family photo shoot, senior picture shoot and a wedding set up. We were almost those people across the bank – with a crying baby and swim suit clad kids- that were the backdrop to their wedding. We decided to leave when the guest started arriving 😉

Also after reading the Magnolia story about Chip and Joanna Gaines we have been watching lots of Fixer Upper. There has been lots of talk about taking out walls and changing rooms in our house. Most of it is future stuff but we did decided to tackle the fire place and paint the brass black. We also want to change out the mantle with something more rustic.

Saturday we did his and hers shopping. Chris and big kids went to Menards and Amelia and I went to Targetand the Dollar Tree.  I had two missions. Buy activities for our upcoming van trip (blog post yet to come) and buy decorations for two campers bunks for Royal Family Kids Camp. Successful trip!


Church and inside projects and lots of cute Amelia pictures. Can’t believe she is already 6 weeks old. She has developed some serious cheeks.


Two Lost Teeth

Usually naptimes are pretty uneventful. I try to pass out in the chair with Amelia and the kids upstairs play quietly in their rooms.  

This nap time, however, ended with crying and much excitement. Lillian came with her loose tooth in her hand followed by crying Norah with her loose tooth in her hand. 

Lillian was twisting her very very loose tooth and it came out. Then Norah wanted to show Lillian how loose her tooth was and out hers came as well. 

This is Lillian’s 5th tooth lost and Norah’s first! I am guessing it will probably not be the first time in those girls lives that they experience something at the same time. Here is to sisters and all the moments that they share- good , bad, funny, and sometimes a little painful. 


When the cousins came

One of my favorite books children’s book is called When the relatives came by Cynthia Rylant

This is a delightful story about how aunts and uncles and cousins all travel in one big station wagon from Virginia. They fill the house with laughter, hugs, and fun!

This week my sister Molly and her 3 kids came to stay at our house from Monday nap time to Wednesday nap time( read here blog post here) . That is 7 kids 7 and younger in one space.  We had our own little version of when the relatives came.

Here are a few things we did when the cousins came.


  • Played with indoor toys: dollhouse, bug trucks, lego cars, etc….
  • Reading books in the shade
  • Crying
  • Girls playing Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Random people getting hurt
  • More crying
  • Henry decided that he didn’t like Molly holding Amelia
  • Spotting hot air balloons
  • Went for a walk in the field.( Chris mowed in walking paths)
  • Had watermelon for dessert
  • Fed chickens watermelon scraps
  • girl sleepover with Anne in their room


  • Meet more cousins and aunts in the park to watch a play ( Read Ashley’s Blog post here)
  • Eat a picnic by the park’s flower beds
  • Celebrate Darin’s 16th birthday
  • Try not to lose children in the sunken garden
  • Laugh, smile and be oh so happy for family
  • Go swimming in the indoor pool
  • Meet cousin Ross- bonus helper at the pool
  • Swim, warm up in towels, rebound, swim some more
  • Confuse Henry about who is mother is (Darn those sisters they all look alike)
  • Snack time
  • Naps in car rides home
  • Transition video for the tired
  • More indoor playing
  • The Anne and Norah put on a play.
  • Playing on the swing set and doing trains down the slide
  • Put REALLY tired children and parents to bed


  • Catch up day
  • Quiet self play indoors
  • Kickball game with Aunt Molly
  • Over an hour of the girls playing baby dolls and house
  • Boys were wearing fire hats and playing with cars!
  • Lunch
  •  & Goodbyes

I texted my sister  after she left that these days are really hard as a mom ( the crying,  the feeding, the whining , the hurts and the fights) but they are the best( everything else:)!!


Berry Pick’in

One of the things that has been on our summer bucket list for the last few years is picking strawberries at Hansen’s Berry Farm in Beaver Creek, MN.  We love going, picking and eating the fresh strawberries.

Their opening day was on Saturday and so Chris came with and we picked 13 pounds of red ripe strawberries!

Amelia got to hang out with me in the baby carrier and blissfully slept.

Later that night we had some friends over and for the kids we just set out a 5 gallon bucket of strawberries and let them go at it!

Let summer begin!

Read about  past trips to the Strawberry Farm {2015} &  {2014} & {2013}

Family, Kids

The Little Cousins

In my family there is an age gap of 15 years between my eldest brother and my youngest sister. Growing up we were spaced out and that translated into many years of grandchildren for my parents and now my mom.

My younger sister Molly and I have birthed a little tribe of children and it’s always an adventure when we get together. This week Molly and her three children came over to meet Amelia. They all wanted to hold her while she was still so small and new.  That meant that we had a very fun and excited group of 7 kiddos. Aged the following ( 5 days, 10 months, 2 years, 3 years , 4 years, 5 years, and 7 years).

The day was fun, sweaty, loud, filled with play, dirt, injury and lots of cousin love.

They played hard until then sun went down and way past tired boundaries. Leeland kept getting hurt every 10 minutes and we ended the day with a text to Aunt Laura to ask about signs of a concussion. We were in the clear but boy do boys play hard.

Funny things:

  • Leeland said,” oh cute! Now Henry has a baby friend!”

  • Watching Leeland Henry and Peter all sit around Amelia

  • Anne wore her dress that Grandma Wilken made and soon all three of the girls came down in their matching dresses.

The Blessing of Family

If you would have asked us who was watching our kids while we were at the hospital our response was: we have lots of options but no idea who.   The fun/hard thing about going into labor naturally is that you can’t plan when it’s going to happen. Chris an I would often start to say if it happens on this day or at this time so and so can watch them. But then we would have more questions wth answers we couldn’t figure out.  So we just didn’t figure it out.  It was hard not to have a concrete plan but honestly we could have figured out a better plan than God orchestrated last week. 

My water broke on Thursday night at about 7:00 pm. Earlier in the day Grandma and Grandpa Maloney texted that they were back from the cabin and could come stay overnight with the kids if we went into labor. So one piece of our puzzle was figured out. Grandma and Grandpa were going to be our “night shift team” . They slept at our house and gave our kids the ability to sleep in their own beds and have some normal in their schedule. 

The second God timing blessing was having Amelia on the weekend. We started contacting different family members to help us cover the “day shift”. The Rupp’s had just finished school and offered to watch the kids on Friday, Aunt Heidi took Saturday, and Keith and Laura took Sunday.  Our kids went swimming, played at parks, were fed , watched movies, played with, read to, loved on, shuttled around the city and well taken care of! 

This made Chris and I super relaxed about the care of our children.  My mama heart was filled to overflowing as I was truest blessed by the loving care our children received.  God has blessed us with a loving and supportive family that came along side us and help us transition smoothly from being a family of 5 to a family of 6!


In the “Waiting Room”


I got this text the other day from my mentor mom from MOPS.

Enjoy this waiting room! You have the privilege of carrying a gift from God. The Lord says, “Do not fear, for I am with you.”

I’ve been thinking about this text a lot. The word “enjoy” was also my word I was focusing on this year.  One of my goals was to “enjoy the rest of my pregnancy, and enjoy this time with my kids before baby arrives”. The “waiting room” is  also definitely where I feel I’m at.  I’ve literally been sitting in lots of Dr. waiting rooms for weekly appointments, and today an ultrasound appointment.  Everything looks good with my blood sugar numbers, and with the growth of baby.

So now we wait…..

We wait for little one to arrive   We wait for His perfect timing and learning waiting  doesn’t always fall into our own plans.

I was listening to the song “Take Courage” by Bethel Music this morning and the lyrics really stuck with me.

Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting, He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope, as your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing, He’s never failing

So around here we are taking each day at a time, enjoying time at home, dreaming and thinking about baby.  Knowing that God is in the waiting and is in control.





Has anyone ever heard of a babymoon before? I had read about it on a few blogs and here is wikipedia’s official definition

babymoon: A babymoon is a relaxing vacation taken by couples who are expecting a child. Babymoons are often taken in luxurious locations, as the babymoon is seen as the last vacation that the couple will have alone until their child leaves home when they reach legal age.

In parenthesis is what describes our babymoon this past weekend: A babymoon is a relaxing vacation (overnight at a hotel .. and eating food we don’t have to cut up for others or convince them to eat) taken by couples who are expecting a child. Babymoons are often taken in luxurious locations ( ie….Luverne, MN- 20 minutes away), as the babymoon is seen as the last vacation (until the next child)  that the couple will have alone until their child leaves home when they reach legal age( or is potty trained, and can strap themselves in  a car seat independently and is watched by a very loving, responsible older cousin).

We our little adventure might not be textbook babymoon but it was perfect.  I had really wanted to have an overnight before little one arrives. Knowing the kind of attachment and work a newborn is… it was nice to have a 24 respite away from the kids and alone with Chris.

We went to Luverne, our home away from home. The weekend was set, babysitter booked and off we went.  Lucky enough for me it also coincided with the Luverne City Wide rummage sales.  We drove into town and hit a bunch of them before dinner. Checked into our hotel and drove to dinner at the Bluestem.  (Bonus about doing an overnight close to your house: cuts down wasted time driving, everything is minutes away, you get to try new things that you could easily go back to again. ) Dinner was lovely, quiet, good food, long, uninterrupted, filled with talking and conversation! I totally ordered dessert and didn’t check my blood sugar after dinner:)

Our 2nd thing we really wanted to do was hit their downtown and maybe a few more rummages on Saturday.  The weather was so beautiful and it was just very relaxing not to have a schedule and meander around.  During our morning rummages we even scored the last few items on our baby-to-buy list: infant stroller and carseat, and nursing pillow.  We had flatbread pizza downtown ( a good thing to eat when watching carbs) and then went exploring the blue mound state park.  We will definitely try to bring the kids back to that park to do some hiking and exploring soon.

~The kids had a fabulous time with their cousin! Thanks Maddie!!!!! She took them to different parks, took them out to ice cream, watch a movie, listen to Leeland chat constantly, and played hard for those 24 hours.  I had no worries or concerns what so ever.  You can see by the pictures that they had a pretty amazing time too!


Next Time There Will Be One More

Last week we took the opportunity to do a little traveling. The motivation behind the trip to my mom’s house and to the cabin was the fast approaching due date of this little baby on June 9th. We knew that the next time we travel to Grandma Wilken’s house and Grandma and Grandpa Maloney’s Cabin there will be one more.

there will be one more little cousin in the mix when my sister and I get together

the adults will be that much more outnumbered

a baby’s schedule will dictate our schedule a bit more

6 hour trips to the cabin won’t be able to be made in the truck

less sleep will be had by Chris and I

we will be maxing out the number of people that should sleep together in one room unless you are Pa and Ma Ingalls living in the Big Woods of Wisconsin.


there will be a little one to cuddle, love, and hold

At Grandma Wilken’s House Leeland got to ride along with Uncle Bryan on the mower and pick up sticks. I gave tons of Rhino ATV rides to all the little cousins.  Mom, Molly and I took the kids swimming at the hotel pool on a particularly cold day.  We did played Easter games, read Easter books,  and played hard.  We packed up and went home only to repack and get ready to go to the cabin.  My philosophy is that if you are going to disrupt the normal schedule you might as well put it together in one week.

The next day we packed up for the cabin with Chris.  Grandma and Grandpa Maloney where up and ready to greet us when we arrived at the cabin! The weather was beautiful for this time in April. The ice was off the lake so Chris and Grandpa could put in the dock.  We visited the Head Waters Science Center in Bemidji, MN. We got in for free with our Science center membership.  There was animals to hold and look at.  It was a simple afternoon of fun.  For the first time we also got to experience a beautiful Easter Morning up at the lake. We visited a small church, with a nice short service on Easter morning. We played at parks, and ended the day playing rounds of Skip-bo. It was a pretty perfect week if you ask me. And next time there will be one more!!