Sunday, December 19, 2010

Baby shower and family wedding


It's been while since I've posted. This weekend we're enjoying our first laid-back weekend in a few weeks. Two weekends ago, I hosted a baby shower for my friend Ruth at my house. She is due February 15, right around Willow's birthday. The shower was a success, if I do say so myself. Here's a couple photos of Ruth with her gifts.

You might have noticed the large breasts behind Ruth on the window. That's because we played "Pin the Baby on the Boob", a game we also played at one of my baby showers. Here's the boobs once the game was over. Not every baby made it this close -some were also off of the paper and on the wall or window.

We also tie-dyed onesies, burp rags and socks for Ruth's baby, which was fun, and they turned out great:

Here's the cake I made for the party:

Our new fireplace got installed just in time for the shower. It was the final step in our remodeling project! Here is the "after" photo, along with the "before" again so you can see how much of an improvement it is! We are very happy with the results.

Then last weekend, we went to my cousin Matt's wedding in Minnesota. We left Wednesday after work and spent the night at Andy and Sharon's in Duluth. This is a great way to break up the trip. I was bad about taking pictures and didn't take very many. But here are a few.

This hotel had a great pool area. I think the first day we stayed there might have been the best day of Willow's life. She was grinning ear-to-ear for like two hours straight. She loved the pool. Of course I didn't get any pictures of her...just this one of my relatively un-cute (sorry dudes) brother and Dad:

Here's Josh, my dad and my two uncles by the pool. You can see by the mess on the table that we had lots of good food and a lot of beer.

Here's Willow zoned out in TV-land in our hotel room. We don't have TV so she really liked watching it there. We also let her watch some DVDs in the car. We had a total of about 18 hours of travelling and she did really well, thankfully.

The night of the wedding, we tried to get a picture of the three of us all dressed up by a Christmas tree n the hotel. This was the best one we got...not that great since Willow's not smiling.

Willow had a great time at the reception. Here she is with my aunt Karen. Karen's been an avid blog-follower since the beginning.

She also had a great time dancing! I did get some good shots of that. Here are a few...I couldn't decide which one was best so I'm posting them all:

Willow loves to dance and she is still a singer. Here's a video of her dancing to a song Josh has been singing to her lately. He makes up the words as he goes. It takes her a while to get warmed up so keep watching. I bet you didn't know Josh was such a talented songwriter!

She is absolutely obsessed with the moon these days, which she calls "na" for some reason. Every evening when it starts to get dark, she says "na" and points to the window. Then we have to go look out the window to see if it's there. If it's not, she runs around the house to look our all the other ("da-doe") windows hoping to see it. It's been cloudy a lot lately, but when it is clear enough and we can find the "na", it is an exciting moment indeed. Here's a video of her finding the moon outside our hotel in Minnesota. It was literally like 10 below this night. Willow didn't care as long as the "na" was there.

So, we've been gluten-free for about three weeks now. It's been sort of a challenge making sure she still gets enough calories and carbs without gluten, but I think we've been doing a pretty good job. (We brought a huge bag and a cooler of food with us on our trip). I don't think she's grown much though. We did take her to a pediatrician for a second opinion. This doctor didn't seem concerned with her size, growth or liver enzymes. She also said she wouldn't have recommended the gluten-free diet, but admitted that it's a topic that many doctors and people disagree on. I think it's sort of a new area with lots of different research and studies coming out, so there might not be a consensus among the medical community. Anyway, we decided to go ahead and continue the gluten-free diet for the two months, just to see. We're just starting to get used to it so may as well just finish it out.

We're heading back to Minnesota this week to the Jenson's for Christmas. I hope everyone has a happy holiday!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gluten free

Hi everyone,

We hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. Josh, Willow and I went over to my parents house for a low-key meal after delivering a few meals for Little Brothers.

Willow's doctor has decided she should go gluten-free for a trial period of two months to see if it helps her grow. She's always been tiny, of course, but her growth has leveled off in recent months and she is no longer even on the growth charts, even for her corrected age (she used to be at about the 5th percentile). At her last doctor's appointment she was just under 19 pounds...18 and 12 ounces, I think it was. That was about 6 weeks ago. At that time they did a bunch of tests on Willow to rule out some causes of her small-ness. They checked her growth hormone, her thyroid, checked for celiac disease, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Everything came back normal except one of her liver enzymes which was slightly elevated. The normal range was up to 36 and Willow's was 40. At that time the doctor said it may be caused by an intolerance to gluten (not celiac, which as I mentioned they tested for). If she had an intolerance it could cause the liver thing, and also cause her to not absorb some nutrients which would cause her to not grow very well. But it was such a slight elevation, we sort of pushed back and said let's give it another 6 weeks and re-test and then decide from there to do the gluten-free trial. Well, 6 weeks later and the liver number was up to 44. So we're doing 2 months of a gluten-free diet to see if it helps the liver thing and her growth. Since I'm still nursing, I have to avoid gluten as well (no, I'm not weaning her so I can eat gluten, as people keep suggesting).'s been a few days now, and it's going OK. Of course my mom went out the day we found out and bought us a ton of gluten-free stuff - thanks Mom!. That has helped the transition. The ready-made and convenience type gluten free food is really expensive, so I guess we'll have to learn how to make our own bread and stuff, and definitely need to add a few good, quick recipes to our weeknight repertoire. Maybe it will be for a couple months, hopefully it won't be forever...but I have a feeling it might. So many people nowadays have gluten intolerances and celiac disease. Every single person I've told about this has said someone close to them is gluten-free. My friend Andi's 2-year-old son Lewis (their blog is linked to mine) was diagnosed last summer with celiac; she's talked a lot about it on her blog.

Anyway, enough about that. Winter has arrived full force here in the UP, and we are excited! We haven't been out skiing or anything yet but have been on some wintery walks around the 'hood. Here's Willow in her snowsuit. She hasn't really been able to enjoy the snow much...she just can't really move in that getup! I'm not sure how to get around that. It is pretty bulky. We have a snowpants and jacket set for her that is less bulky but it is still way too big. Maybe after 2 months of being gluten-free she will fit into it!

The last couple months Willow has really gotten into stuffed animals and dolls. She carries them around, talks to them and puts them "ni-ni" with a blankie over them. It is pretty damn cute. She has really become partial to Elmo. I was sort of surprised she picked him because she's never even seen Sesame Street. But she has an Elmo doll and two books, and she loves him. She carries him around, sleeps with him and showers him with hugs and kisses. I bet when they came up with Elmo, a lot of research was put into what he should look like, sound like, even what his name should be, to be most appealing to small children. I bet the word "Elmo" is very easy for little kids to say. Willow calls him "Melmo". Does anyone else remember Telly? When I was a kid, he was the red muppet on Sesame Street. I am pretty sure he isn't around anymore, and Elmo replaced him. Maybe he's still there, I guess I don't know. But you sure hear a lot about Elmo and I haven't heard anything about Telly.

Here's Willow this morning with Elmo and also hugging him.

Willow is still very much is the climbing stage (did you notice her in the last post climbing the sawhorse I was standing on to paint?). When she is hungry she will try climbing her high chair:

Speaking of painting, our painting project is finally done. What a relief to have that room back. I don't have the "after" pictures yet though. Those will come once we get the new fireplace and mantel in. I hope it will be done before the baby shower I am hosting at my house next weekend for my friend Ruth. Josh is in the basement right now working on the mantel while Willow naps.

Here are a few other photos from the past week.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Home Improvement


As I started this post and looked back at our pnotos the past couple weeks, I realized we hardly took any. That's because our lives have been pretty much taken over by a home improvement project we started last weekend.

It started with our fireplace. Earlier in the summer, we found out that we basically couldn't use it anymore. That's because on the outside of the chimney, the mortar between the bricks was in bad shape, and water seeped in and ruined the metal box-thing that lines the fireplace. Josh fixed the mortar a few weeks ago (an all-weekend project) , but it was too late. We looked into replacing that box and doing all we needed to do to get the fireplace up and running again, but it was going to be way, way too expensive. So then we thought about getting a wood stove insert. We always had wood stoves at our houses/apartments when we lived out west,and we loved them. The problem with that idea was that even the tiniest wood stoves put out a ton of heat, enough to heat 1300 square feet for the smallest ones, I think. This room that our fireplace is in is an addition, and it is connected to the rest of the house by 2 doors. We decided that if a wood stove was putting out all that heat, the one room would end up being like 95 degrees and the heat would have a hard time circulating to the rest of the house. So then we looked at gas fireplace inserts. Now, I've always been opposed to gas fireplaces, to the point of vocally spouting off my dislike for them. I always hated those fake logs. kinda seemed like our only option. And after researching them, of course they do put off far less emissions that wood, and are much more efficient. Well, they do use gas, which is not a renewable resource like wood, but oh well. We liked how much easier and cleaner it would be, and also that Linda and Willow could have a fire during the day on those freezing winter days. So gas it will be.

Then we decided to paint over the 1970s wood paneling too. That's pretty much the extent of the project, but the painting alone took an entire week of painting every day. Josh did most of it while I did the child care. Thanks to Emily and Jimmy who helped too. Sorry for blabbing on about out fireplace for so long; I know you might not care! I got a little carried away.

So, here are some "before" photos.

Unfortunately we won't be doing much about that tacky furniture just yet; that's not quite in the budget this time. Someday...

Here's one "during" photo; hopefully by the next post we'll have the "afters".

Willow turned 18 months corrected on Friday and will turn 21 months on Monday. Her vocabulary is getting quite large. For awhile I was excited about it and was keeping a list of all of her words, but then it got the where I couldn't keep up because she was learning them too quickly. She has some words that only we can understand. For example:

Boo-bye = butterfly
na = moon or sun
na-na = nurse
da = light
da-doe = the other one

She hasn't really spoken any sentences yet, other than a few 2-word ones, like "Linda's here", "all done", and "Dada's home".

Willow has gone pee on the potty twice this week. It was cute how proud she was. It was in the morning when she first woke up, and when Linda arrived we told her about it. Willow was beaming with pride when she heard us telling Linda.

Although she is becoming such a big girl, she's not too big to be worn when necessary. Here she is catching a ride with Dad while he was cooking.

Here are couple videos. Sorry, I'm not the best videographer!

This is a silly one. Linda taught her this.

Actually, this means Willow is a cultured baby, because "ca-ca" means poop in Finnish. We learned that from Maisa, Willow's bilingual friend.

Sunday, November 7, 2010



It's been too long since I posted. Things have been crazy around here as usual. Willow has done a lot of fun things over the past few weeks.

Grandma and Grandpa Jenson came for a quick visit, which was fun. We went on a hike along the Pilgrim River with them but forgot the camera. Here are a couple shots of Willow with Grandma and Grandpa:

Willow and Emily and I went on on another one of the hikes from our book, the Marsin Preserve.

It's just a little nature trail under a mile long, and the trail wasn't very well-defined, so I'm not even sure if we went the right way. But we had fun anyway, especially Scout and Willow.

On Friday of Halloween weekend, downtown Houghton had "Treat Street", where the stores hand out candy and the kids all walk through downtown trick-or-treating. The three of us went, along with Anna and Maisa. It was very, very crowded down there. I don't think we'll do that again unless they close off the street. Willow was a sock monkey. We completely forgot that she was the sock monkey last year too, until someone mentioned it and then we looked back at the blog post from last Halloween. Oops. Oh well, she doesn't know any different! Next year, she will probably be a ladybug. Maisa borrowed that costume this year because it is still too big for Willow. I didn't manage to get a single decent picture of the two girls where they were both looking at the camera.

Willow has this great toy that started out as a push-toy to help kids learn to walk. Then it converts to a ride-on toy. We thought she was getting too old for the push toy, so we converted it. Too bad her little legs are too short to reach the ground!

She still loves to ride it, so someone has to push her around - it's hard on the back. Hurry up and grow, little legs!

She also likes to ride in the trunk:

And this morning, it was this. Circus baby!

I know, we shouldn't encourage that. She is very into climbing right now. For a couple months there, we were able to leave her alone playing while we were in the next room, just peeking in on her once in a while. We can't do that anymore, because the minute you take your eye off of her, she has climbed up onto something and is balancing on it precariously. We had to put the rocking horse and the ride-on toy out in the porch and only bring them out when we're supervising because she climbs them. I keep thinking I have to bring her to that "Treehouse" indoor playground so she can climb safely. The cutest part is, whenever she gets to the top of whatever she climbed, and stands up, she goes, "Ta-da!!" Linda taught her that.

We also started swimming lessons a few weeks ago. It's a Saturday morning parent-and-child class with other parents and babies. It's pretty fun. We sing songs with splashing motions and play with balls and bath toys. The point is to get babies used to the water. Willow seems to like it but hates when we get out and it's cold. Music class is still going great. The new sememster starts soon, and we're totally signing up again. I can hardly wait to get a new CD with new songs!

Here's a few parting shots:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mount Baldy and more fall fun


I went to bed early last night, then woke up early this Saturday morning to sneak downstairs to get some alone time. Maybe I'll finally get this blog updated!

We've done a lot of fun things the past few weeks. It seems like Willow is really starting to fit into our "regular" lives a lot better. It's getting easier, is what I'm trying to say. Infants are so much work! It's just so much fun to bring Willow places and watch her experience new things. She learns so much every day.

Two weekends ago, me, Willow, my friend Anna and Willow's friend Maisa went to the local corn maze and pumpkin patch. Neither of us had ever been to a corn maze before. I guess I don't know what I was expecting, but I think I was sort of envisioning this little maze where kids could scamper around and the moms could hang out and watch. Not quite. When we got there and paid our $5 to the lady, she looked at us and goes, "do you have strollers?" We're like "". "so, are you going to carry them?" We then found out that the maze usually takes people an hour to an hour and a half to finish! There were goals you were supposed to find throughout the maze to win prizes and stuff. We hadn't even brought diaper bags or sippy cups or anything like that. Well, we went in anyway and didn't take it too seriously and the girls had a great time. (Okay, I did have to leave Anna with the kids and sprint back in to the maze once we were done to find the last goal we were missing). Then we picked out a pumpkin, the girls played in a tepee, and we watched a pumpkin get launched across the field with a huge catapault-thing. It was a really fun time!

Then last weekend, while poor Josh was slaving away all day fixing our chimney, me, Willow, Beth and Beth's friend Amanda went on a hike from our book: the Helmut and Candis Stern preserve at Mt. Baldy, or just Mt. Baldy for short. It was a 6-miler, the longest hike I've done with Willow. She did great, just hanging in the ergo carrier the whole hike, snoozing on the way back down the mountain. We had lunch at the top - it was an amazing view! I can't believe I never knew about this hike or did it before. There were 360 degree views of the lake and trees. We missed peak leaves by a week or so, but it was still beautiful.

At the top, you definitely wouldn't want to take your eye off your toddler for even a second - there were huge rock cliffs that went down hundreds of feet, with no safety rails or anything.

Great-Great-Uncle Anton made and Grandpa Chuck painted this rocking horse for Willow. It's a replica of one I had when I was a kid. She loves it. This photo is sort of blurry because she is rocking so fast, but you can see her big smile. We'll have to try and get a better picture of her on it. The horse is still face-less because the face was supposed to be my job and I haven't had time to do it yet.

Here are some other random photos.

We finally snapped a photo of Willow and her dolly wearing their matching hats. She is starting to like dolls and stuffed animals and will carry them around with her and give them hugs and kisses. She likes to put a friend in her rocking horse with her sometimes too.

Playing the piano. Just the way she has her hands in this photo makes it looks like she is actually playing a masterpiece or something.

At her bookshelf. She will sit here for quite a long time (that would be 5 minutes for a toddler), paging through books and singing or talking about them.


On the potty. She hasn't used it since the random poop with Linda, but she sits on it sometimes with a toy...I guess my theory is that it will get her used to it and maybe she'll end up using it by accident? I actually have no strategy for potty training. I have been meaning to read up on it and see what I'm supposed to be doing.

Playing in the leaf pile in our yard! She actually didn't like it all that much. This was a really lucky picture - I tickled her neck to get her to smile, a technique I learned from the photographer at Wal-Mart.

And last, here is another video of Willow's tricks. Some are repeats from the video a couple posts ago. I had to post it anyway because I love her newest trick of showing how old she is. :)