Post-Holiday Coffee Date

White woman holding holiday themed coffee cup.

Hi! HI!

*big smile, aggressively waving*


I’m so excited to be here with a COFFEE DATE after a long (too long) hiatus, and I have about a million and one things I want to tell you about. And I’m back on caffeine so, yeah, that adds up!

I’m titling this a Post-Holiday Coffee Date because I feel like I’m still sort of recovering from the holidays (lol) and sometimes the easiest way back in is to start with what’s easy and fun.

So, before we launch into this, what are you drinking?

I’m still drinking peppermint coffees because I am a monster who bought an excessive number of peppermint creamers in November and December. They are WINTER drinks to me, okay? Not just holiday. And winter in Minnesota is long! We need a lot of this stuff.

I’m also showing off a photo of my Caribou drink in that photo up there because what is Midwestern holiday season without 500 Caribou drinks? And also, the designs on the cups this year were SO GOOD that I am tempted to flatten all my used cups and repurpose them as wallpaper. Seriously. Well done over there, team.

Alright, coffee (caffeinated!) is refilled, so let’s chat.

1: Life With Two

White woman reading a book to her two daughters  in a chair.
Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

This could be the start and end of this coffee date, because some version of this is what I am doing pretty much most of the time.

Having two kids is a trip. And I mean that in a sometimes-fun-sometimes-omg kind of way. 2021 (the baby / toddler combo year) was not the easiest time for us. We pretty much haven’t had a night of sleep straight through since… 2020 sometime? I don’t know. It’s all a blur. You guys know.

That transition from one to two has been quite a ride for us, but now that it’s even-ing out a bit and we’re out of the very thickest of the chaos of middle of the night feedings and potty training, I am just enjoying these two little floofs so, so much.

In the category of random things that moms talk about:

  • Breastfeeding: Yes, I breastfed Lena, and now we’re done. Mixed feelings about it. Mostly sad feelings, actually. But I couldn’t keep up with pumping anymore and she was just too interested in other things to have the patience to keep nursing. She does just a few whole milk bottles each day now.
  • Sleep Training: Yes, we did it, with both girls. Yes, I mostly hated it. Yes, I think it was the best decision for us. No, I don’t want to start any debates. We did the Taking Cara Babies program – Solvi did perfectly and she has been a great sleeper until this summer when it all fell apart (fun!), so we are now rebuilding a bit. And Lena, from literally the first night in the hospital, she just had her own agenda. Screamed all night unless she was held. And I mean ALL NIGHT. Sleep training at 6 months with a sleep consultant sorta worked, sorta not. But at this point she’s doing so well and she definitely wins the “most improved” award. She wakes us up with snuggles every morning and it’s absolutely worth all the extra dark circles I’ve gained this last year.
  • Solids / Food: I know Baby Led Weaning is The Thing right now, but we are not doing Baby Led Weaning with Lena. Didn’t with Solvi either. They both ate purees as their first food because I was too anxious for BLW. And because I liked making purees! They now both eat table food of all varieties and I’m glad I didn’t do it just because I felt like I should do it, know what I mean? If you are doing BLW, that’s awesome. I love the concept of it. It just wasn’t right for us.

Overall, knock on wood, things are really in a good place. As a former elementary school teacher with a minor in preprimary education, I’m finding this preschooler + pre-toddler combo to be really, really awesome. I love where both of them are at developmentally and it’s such a joy to learn a little more about their personalities every day. I feel like almost everything they do or say is funny, cute, or just totally off the wall weird… unless it’s one of the 100 things they also do that are frustrating in which case nevermind. 2022 is looking solid. It’s exhausting, but – cheese alert – I am just having so much fun being a mom. ️

2: Solvi’s Heart Surgery

Photo of little girl walking in the snow. Photo has filter making the photo look like a painting.

(SIde note – this is a photo from one of my favorite Christmas memories this year that I turned into a “painting” with this fun app called Brushstroke. I don’t care if it will look weird in 5 years, I love it so much.)

Many of you followed up after the coffee date post in September to ask about Solvi’s heart procedure and how it went. Thank you so, so much for your care. ♡

The short version is that everything went as well as it could have possibly gone.

The doctor had given us a 40% chance that this procedure would not work for her, in which case they’d move to open heart surgery as the next step. But when the surgeon walked into the waiting room to talk to us, he held up the photo of her heart and how the issue had been repaired, and we just cried with relief.

She is doing so well and has no restrictions on anything from here on out, assuming all her checkups continue to appear normal and healthy. We are so grateful to the doctors and nurses who took such amazing care of her and her heart, and grateful for all of the prayers of our friends and family who held us up during that time.

Life is a gift.

3: Spas Are Great

Image of the Anda Spa in downtown Minneapolis with rows of private lounge chairs.

On a lighter, stress-reducing note, spas are amazing for making you feel like you’re on a vacation for 4 hours! This one in particular is really luxurious, if you’re in Minneapolis and looking to treat yourself to a day that feels like vacation.

This is the Anda spa in downtown Minneapolis and I would highly recommend it. It’s gorgeous, quiet, and super easy to navigate being that they give you free valet parking with spa services. WIN. I’m planning to move in for the winter.

4: The Invisible Work Of… Everything?

Table with cards and a book on it.
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I’m not sure if this is a book rec or just more of a hey-we-did-this-and-it-was-interesting kind of thing. Maybe both?

This is called Fair Play and it’s basically a book / card system to divvy up domestic responsibilities of life between partners.

I read most of the book this fall (felt kind of meh about it), but Bjork and I used “the cards” for it which I found a lot more useful. It’s been a really interesting way for us to look at dividing the load of life – housework, parenting, chores, etc.

The concept is that for each task that needs to happen in life (groceries, car maintenance, yard work, kids’ clothes) you assign one partner the card for that task. And when a person holds a card, they’re in charge of it from start to finish – conceptualizing, planning, and executing. With the goal that no one person in a relationship feels overburdened with all the tasks (even if those tasks are invisible or just mental). It doesn’t have to be equal in number, but just agreed upon in terms of who does what – and what things you can get rid of altogether.

There are some things about it that I didn’t love about it – mainly that it paints a picture of male partners who don’t do any work, but I will say even in a partnership where both of us were very involved with various domestic tasks, I feel like the cards were still a good tool for having some conversations about how you could create more of an efficient partnership in how you manage your home life.

Anybody done this?

5: Christmas

Woman and baby dressed in formal clothing playing with Christmas ornaments on a tree.

Here’s a photo of Lena wearing a Christmas dress that I wore as a baby. MY HEART.

Our Christmas was really sweet this year, especially after a year of limiting social contact last year. Christmas fast-facts:

  • Best present I got: a gift card to Anda spa (see you soon!), a molcajete, an “I Love My Mom” mug from Solvi, and a spring trip with my family to Arizona. YAY!
  • Best present I gave: Paw Patrol Skye figurine to Solvi, water bottle to Lena (lol), and a big batch of Swedish meatballs for our extended family Christmas.
  • Best recipes I made: the merry mocktail (SO MANY MOCKTAILS), cinnies, and the caramelized onion dip.
  • Favorite memory: taking Solvi out to play in the snow on the evening of our biggest snowstorm – running through the dark streets with snow falling, her laughing, and just the streetlights on.

6: Really Just The Best Ice Cream Of All Time

Woman holding ice cream tub with spoon in it.

End of story.

I’ve spoken about this at length on Instagram and I really do think it’s the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. It’s supremely creamy, with the right amount of flavor and crunch, and there is nothing else like it. Please go find it.

7: Five Years

Two pairs of feet next to a grave surrounded by snow.

Hard to believe it’s been five years.

There were moments of sad this year, but overall this year felt peaceful.

I’m so grateful that all the love we feel for Afton has an adjacent place to land with Solvi and Lena. It’s not the same, and sometimes it still takes my breath away when I see a little boy and his mom having a moment together, or when I think of what life would be like with him here. But the fact that we don’t have to just hold onto all that love in empty arms anymore definitely softens that pain. Sharing that love with our girls is such a gift.

Sage Says

Oh, Sage.

She’s still our sweetest, snuggliest, growl-at-strangers nervous girl, and she is usually slightly annoyed with the girls for constantly getting in her space, but then sleeps next to the door outside Solvi’s room every single night like the loyal protector and friend that she is.

Our girl is getting older, though. I knew it would happen, but also, why does it need to happen. Her knees and joints are getting weak. She’s struggling to go up and down the stairs and she is taking arthritis medication to help her manage the pain in her legs. And I feel a little tender writing this out because it makes it more real that our fur baby is entering old age. I’m not ready for it.

Sage with our friend Joe, one of her favorite people for snugs.

This quote is less of a Sage-Says and more of a Sarah Bessey-Says, as it’s taken directly from a newsletter she wrote that landed in my inbox this afternoon, but I think it fits as we think about a new year:

“Some of your work for 2022 will be evident to people. Other work will only be evident to you, perhaps your therapist, your closest people, our Holy Spirit. It’s all good work and I bless you in it. But perhaps this is also a year to be excessively gentle with yourself, too.

Gentle with your words to yourself. Gentle with your expectations. Gentle with your demands. Gentle with your soul. Gentle with your plans, your time, your hours, your sleep. Gentle with your partner, your kids, your people. Gentle with your needs, your wants, your desires. Gentle with your mind and your body.

Be excessively gentle, my friend. You don’t have to earn this. You are beloved by God, our Mother, let Them love you as a mother loves her baby.

As a mother loves her baby. As a girl loves her dog. And I think that sums it up: whether to Sage, or your people, or yourself, gentleness feels really right these days. ♡

Thanks for being here, as always. Wishing you gentleness as you enter the new year. Cheers to good, good things ahead.

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