from south dakota to florida - a road trip story

Day 1

Hour 1 (somewhere outside Watertown, SD)
Spirits are high as we embark on our journey. We have known we would be moving since December, so it feels good to actually be doing it! I want to say the most stressful part is behind us, which is packing and cleaning the house in Stillwater. We’ll see what I’m feeling by Day 3 of driving with a toddler and a dog.

5 minutes later
Strike that, sprits are not high. Pippa is already screaming in the back seat. We’re praying the Sand Man comes soon and makes her nap.
I already want snacks. 

Hour 6 (somewhere between Stillwater, MN and Milwaukee, WI)
About an hour ago we passed through Stillwater for the last time to pick up our canine family member, Pablo. It was strange and bittersweet to drive those highways and pass the familiar landmarks for the last time. Something so average takes on new significance when you know you won’t be seeing it again in the near future. 

The goal for this road trip was to pack healthy foods and snacks  to avoid fast food as much as possible. Today was kind of an exception, since we had the wedding rehearsal and the wedding itself the past 2 days, with no chance to shop for and prepare things like fruits and vegetables. We got away with some IsaLean shakes, IsaLean bars, and one fast food stop so far. We’re planning on making a late night stop at the grocery store for tomorrow’s meals! 

I’ve been so thirsty and chugging water like crazy - slightly inconvenient in light of the almost full-term baby nestled up to my bladder.

Pippa is halfway through her Curious George movie for the second time already today. 

Day 2
Hour 1 (Oak Creek, WI)

After a stop at Hotel Rasmussen (my parents’ house), we feel somewhat refreshed - at least showered. We even had the chance to pick up some fruits and veggies from the grocery story, make some PB&J sandwiches, and fill up our water bottles. We are stocked up for the open road! Devices are charged, Curious George and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse are downloaded, and we’re read for Day 2!

Pippa is in a fairly good mood, even considering the long day yesterday and lack of naps. She got to see Auntie Abby and Maggie (Abbys and May-May), so that helped! 

It’s Father’s Day, so we thought we would treat ourselves to some Starbucks to kick off our 8.5 hour day of driving. 

Hour 5 (Somewhere in Indiana, approaching Louisville)

We are somehow all still sane. Pippa finally fell asleep in the middle of eating her apple slices, and I even got a nap in while watching Bridesmaids. There was an incident with Pablo eating Pippa’s sucker, but I think she actually fed it to him in an effort to share? She didn’t seem too upset about it. Justin won’t stop singing the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song, so I just keep reminding myself it’s Father’s Day and I have to be nice. I really have to use the restroom (thanks Baby), but Pippa’s sleeping and I don’t want to wake her up. 

Day 3

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, folks. Day 3 was tough. We had a wonderful overnight stay with some very hospitable and kind friends in Nashville, TN. We woke up refreshed and ready to hit the road. 

However, by midday, temperatures were high, and tempers were short. The 2 year old was fed up with her carseat, and not even Curious George could coax her out of a screaming fit. The pregnant woman was uncomfortable and crabby. Justin spilled a bottle of water all over himself and the driver’s seat. It was a perfect storm of humidity, exhaustion, back aches, and dehydration. We all yelled a little bit. We all said things we didn’t mean. Pippa yelled for chicken a lot. I melted a fast food worker’s face off with my laser beam glare after she asked me if I was having twins. At one point there was a meltdown because we had to change Pippa’s diaper and buy some cold bottled water, but when we pulled into the gas station, we failed to notice the MegaBus in the parking lot. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to wait 10 minutes in line to get in the bathroom to change Pippa’s diaper, and I wasn’t going to wait 10 more minutes in line to buy bottled water. We thought we would try pulling over to the “grassy” area to let Pablo out and change her diaper, but instead of grass, there was mostly rusty cans and garbage. More regretful words were exchanged. (This all seems hilarious in hindsight, and we now refer to that whole horrible hour as the Rusty Can Incident). 

But we made it. We’re about 30 miles outside of our new city, and we’re all still alive and well. There are palm trees outside our window. 

As good as it feels to have arrived in our new home, I would never wish moving across the country with a toddler while 9 months pregnant on my worst enemy. It’s...not fun. 

A few days later

Currently we’re settling into our new home, counting our blessings, and still marveling that there are palm trees in front of Target, and that we’re 10 miles from the ocean. Change is good. Life is good. God is good. 


philippa's second year

Happy 2nd Birthday, Philippa Florence!

Philippa Florence
completes her second year of life today.
When did the switch happen?
When did she stop being a baby and 
become a little girl? 
With opinions and preferences?

The parents spend baby's second year of life
guiding, teaching, 
and putting out (figurative) fires.
But also laughing deep belly laughs
because suddenly their baby tells jokes.
And pronounces some words...

things get easier.
is a beautiful thing.
We get to watch as their vocabularies explode,
they pour their own bowls of cereal,
and they love you back.
You're so proud you could burst
(or post way too much on Facebook).

But also.
It's not always easy.
There's the chasing.
The temper tantrums, the hitting,
the throwing, and the pouting.
The constant questioning...
are we doing this right? 
do we ignore it or correct it?
Are we bad parents for letting her listen to
"All About That Bass"?

She's soaking it all in.
She's learning 
about the world around her.
Words. Numbers. Colors. Songs.
She's showing us she's a big girl.
But she's also still our baby who needs a snuggle and a kiss. 
She's mimicking Mommy's every move.
She's Daddy's little girl.

That second year. There is nothing like it.
I feel like the best 5 words to sum up this past year:
Uh Oh. It's too quiet.

Philippa Florence

you have traveled to:

South Dakota
Iceland (a layover...but still)

you're awesome because you:

can count to 14 in English and Spanish
still sleep from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
put together full sentences
exclaim, "Jesus!" every time you see a church or a cross
love to dance, and ask for "mookie" when you want music
listen to podcasts with me, and say, "One mo' podcast?" at the end of each one
love to "read" your books to yourself
talk about Baby Brother's heartbeat, which you heard at the doctor: "Buh-bum"
sing Jesus Loves Me in English and Spanish
remind us to pray before meals
chant "Da-ddy's home! Da-ddy's home!" every time you see Dad's car in the driveway
ask to brush your teeth in the morning by saying, "Dientes?"
ask to pet every dog you see
slide down the stairs on your stomach at lightning speed
still eat almost every food
straddle Pablo like a horse, and tell him, "Sit. Down. Good boy."
say, "Oh Mommy! Cute!" when you like what I'm wearing
smile coyly and whisper "Mommy, cookie?"

favorite foods:
cheese, broccoli, cereal, apples with dip-dip (peanut butter), any kind of berries

favorite songs:
Jesus Loves Me / Cristo Me Ama
The Alphabet
Que Llueva
Shake It Off (Taylor Swift)
I'm Ready (AJR)

favorite shows/movies:
Curious George
Winnie the Pooh
Mickey Mouse Club House Road Rally
Daniel Tiger

It has been a year of learning and changing for you, Philippa! It's so much fun to hear the thoughts, phrases, and sentences you put together. We can't imagine life without you, and can't wait to see you grow into your role of big sister! 


currently °3

making || affirmations and visualization part of my morning routine (along with prayer and devotion)
cooking || less, grilling more! 
drinking || all the water
reading || "HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method" by Marie Mongan
wanting || Pippa to sleep until 7 a.m. again...just like the good ol' days
looking || at my vision board - big goals require intense focus
playing || the Mechanic to Millionaire podcast all day, every day
trying || to eat healthy during the week, and enjoy whatever food I want on the weekends
remembering || how I felt 2 years ago at this point when we were 3 weeks away from meeting Pippa
watching || less TV, and flexing my mental muscles more. (But also 1 or 2 episodes of 30 Rock before bed)
deciding || what to do with extra junk before moving...sell, donate, trash...
wishing || someone would come wean Pippa off her pacifier for me before the baby comes...pretty please?
planning || a certain little girl's 2nd birthday, a move across the country, and the birth of Baby Brother
enjoying || sunshine and spring blossoms
waiting || for someone to take our town house so we can be done with these showings already!
liking || the third trimester so far
wondering || if it's ok to have a smoothie for every meal?
needing || a snack at 3 a.m. apparently...so hungry all the time!
wearing || the same black maternity tank top every single day
noticing || mamas of a baby and a toddler
smelling || a toddler covered in sticky syrup
thinking || intentionally 
buying || 0-3 month onesies 
feeling || in awe of the changes God has placed in my life


mama said

Moms give the best advice. Sometimes it's wise, sometimes life-or-death. Sometimes it's ridiculous and other times quirky. Our mama has raised six girls, and consequently has had the chance to dispense lots of wisdom and advice.

Now that I am mothering my own children, my first instinct when I have a question about rashes, tantrums, or basically anything else I'm too afraid to Google search, is to pick up the phone and call my mother. Funny how we roll our eyes at our parents' proverbs when we are teenagers, but as soon as we reach adulthood we revert into scared little kids who turn to their parents at every challenge, setback, and confusing recipe. "My mom and dad will know what to do!"

So in honor of Mother's Day, here is some wisdom from my own Mommy Dearest:

Don't talk to shmucks. Called after us as we head out the door on the way to the park, work, the bar, or vacation.

Don't put your drink down. 5/6 of us have turned 21. 5 times now my mom has had to go through the parental nightmare of knowing your child is out on the town with potentially irresponsible friends and LOTS of shmucks. Keep your drink in your hand, ladies!

Always overdress. Mom knows that if you're going somewhere - a graduation party, the airport, the grocery store, etc. - and you're not sure what's appropriate to wear, you would MUCH rather be caught overdressed than underdressed. To this day I still wear dresses to the airport, put makeup on before heading to the grocery store, and wear sundresses almost exclusively all summer long. This definitely comes from our Nana (Mom's mum) and our English heritage.

You're never too good for ANY job. I don't care if you have to go work at McDonalds as a 27 year old college grad. Who do you think you are, young lady? Suck it up and take the honorable work that is available to you. She leads by example, too! 

Suck it up. I will never forget the time I sprained my ankle during an 8th grade basketball game. Tears sprung to my eyes as I felt the twist and sting of the injury. I didn't just ask to be taken out like a tough athlete...no, the coach (my dad) had to come out on the floor and the whole game stopped. My mom also had to came out from the stands. I really was being a baby about it. She was so embarrassed for me, and hissed "Suck it up," as she applied ice to my ankle. I have seen my mom get concussed, gash her finger with a knife, get stung by a swarm of bees to protect one of our sisters when she was a baby, and basically get her nose broken by our dog without tears. She's as tough as they come, and I admire that. Now that doesn't mean mom's not the best caretaker there is when we truly are sick or injured...she just doesn't tolerate unnecessary drama, fake illness or injury, or being a baby.

Be kind to everyone. Doesn't really need an explanation, but is something our mom has not only preached to us over the years, but more importantly lived out by example. I have never seen my mom turn away anyone who needed a bed for the night, a hot meal, a helping hand, or a pan of chocolate chip cookie bars. I mean really inconvenient situations where I would have rolled my eyes and said, "Sorry, you're on your own." 

Go with the flow. Kind of necessary in a family of 8. This has served me well in life.

Always have chocolate chips in the fridge. She didn't so much say this, but just always did it. You never know when you'll have to bake chocolate chip cookies for someone, or when you'll need a quick fix of chocolate and have no desserts in the house!

Going for a walk or vacuuming will solve any problem. Again,  I don't think she ever said this, but whenever my mom needs to think through a situation or blow off steam, she does one of these two things. It seems to work, so....

Have a cup of tea. Sick? Have tea. Sad? Have tea. Mom often thinks this is the solution to any ailment, which is sometimes annoying but also endearing.

Laugh often. Even in the darkest of situations, our mother keeps a sense of humor close at hand. Life is hard, but life is also amazing and beautiful. Laughter helps the tough situations and enhances the good times.

Sisters, did I miss anything?

Everyone else, what is your favorite piece of advice from your own mother or grandmother?


the best moment of my day

You're hearing it everywhere these days, but it's clich√© advice for a reason: have an attitude of gratitude (or some variation on the theme). 

I first really tuned into this concept with the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. The writing is a little flowery for my taste, but overall the book inspired me and refocused my mind on how God not only fulfills our needs, but gives us so many other beautiful gifts that we don't even think to ask for.

In that spirit, I'm compiling my own short list of gifts. Several times throughout the week, I've thought, 'I think this is the best part of my day.' I want to share those moments here both as my own exercise of gratitude, and so I can hear some of your favorite ordinary moments.

1. The first 3 sips of coffee when it's that perfect temperature. I'll never find that temperature again by heating it up in the microwave...it's just not the same! So I've been savoring those 3 beautiful sips like an actress in those Folgers commercials.

2. Stepping into the sunshine with Pippa in the stroller and Pablo on the leash for a 45 minute afternoon walk. It's a blessing to be able to move and exercise. It's a joy to have people to share it with. And after a long midwestern winter, I will never take a warm day for granted. Sometimes I listen to an inspiring podcast. Sometimes I just enjoy the birds chirping.

3. Getting into a car warmed up by the sunshine on a chilly spring day. Spring in the midwest can get pretty windy with a remaining chill in the air, so that moment of closing the door and soaking up the warmth are pure bliss. (Also, it probably doesn't help that I insist on wearing flip flops as soon as it hits 50°).

4. Piling into our king size bed to read Pippa her books before bed. She has been having some trouble falling asleep right at bedtime in the last few weeks, so we've extended her bedtime routine to help her ease into it. She calls it "Mommy Daddy 'nuggles." Feeling her newly lanky toddler body relax into me for another round of Buenas Noches Luna must be a piece of heaven. In those moments I have to grab for her sweaty little hands to remind myself that she's still my baby. (The day she stops having sweaty baby hands will be a sad day indeed).

5. Collapsing onto the couch with my best friend and husband after mutually long days. Deciding if tonight will be a healthier Greek yogurt nighttime snack, or popcorn while watching 30 Rock for the 18th time.

Those are just a few of the moments that stop me in my tracks to say a silent prayer of thanks. What are yours?


my virtual magazine: stress and simplicity

We don't get the newspaper. I don't subscribe to magazines. Instead, I like to look at the internet, specifically blogs, as my own free, personal, and virtual magazine each morning. I love that I can pick and choose what is applicable to my life at that moment, and what isn't.

This past week was a stressful one, so articles and posts related to stress and simplicity really spoke to me. I am determined to face this week with a short list of priorities for each day, so I don't find myself overwhelmed when Pippa goes down for her nap. I also realize that I am living in the future instead of enjoying the day that God has given me now. These articles all give some excellent tips for finding joy, rest, and simplicity in even the busiest, most stressful times of our lives.

This devotion was the perfect way to start my morning. 

Sometimes we go through stressful seasons of life. Here are 5 non-negotiables to get though each day.

I love the idea of minimalism, but it's easy to get carried away with legalistic rules that make minimalism more stressful than freeing. Here's a guideline than can help.

Ladies transitioning between maternity, nursing, and different sizes of "regular" clothes can relate to my struggle to keep things simple. Here are some good tips.

Spring cleaning! I'm in spring cleaning overdrive right now with a cross-country move and a new baby in the near futures. This article is filled to the brim with practical tips for decluttering, organizing, and storing things in your home. 


a crucible of sorts


noun | cru • ci • ble 
: a difficult test or challenge
: a place or situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions

Thanks, Merriam-Webster.

Anyway, we seem to have found ourselves in a nice little crucible of challenge and change. First there's the conundrum of packing while keeping the house perfectly clean for showings. Then there's just...pregnancy in general, and figuring out in what state and hospital we will give birth. Also, someone seems to have entered the terrible 2's a few months early. She's certainly been strong-willed and vocal about her preferences lately. Finally, there are all the everyday responsibilities that come with being an adult. 

School ends in 5 weeks. The countdown to our cross-country move is now 8 weeks and change. Baby's guess date is in exactly 12 weeks. The showings on our town home will, apparently, never end. Ever. And anyone who has ever tried to keep a home show-worthy with a toddler and a dog knows this is a Herculean task. (Maybe it's just because I'm pregnant or out of shape or both, but I feel like I've run a marathon after cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, swiffering, and wiping down mirrors). 

It's so absurd to complain, because we don't even own the townhouse, so we don't have to worry about selling it, or even setting up the showings on our own. We just have to keep the place clean and vacate the premises when necessary - that nomad life. So many friends are in the same situation right now, but with the added stress and pressure of actually selling the home and having multiple children. And after venting to my mom, I am reminded that she and my dad did this at least 6 times while in the process of having their 6 children. Perspective.

Most days I feel up to the task, even excited about everything that's happening. Then there are days where the exhaustion knocks me flat on my back, and let's just blame the pregnancy hormones for all the emotions that come bubbling to the surface. Just keeping it real, folks. 

I'm getting better at prioritizing, and deciding what truly needs to get done each day, what can wait, and what can get done in a "good-enough-for-now" manner. (I'm looking at you, hiding extra junk in the garage when there's a showing). 

I'm also learning that most worthwhile changes come after a period of intense work and challenge. 

And most importantly, I'm learning that I am human. I can only do and handle so much. But God  promises to be my refuge in times of stress. When I am weak, then his strength is shown. When I feel overwhelmed, it is then that he shows me what he can do. 

Our current situation is temporarily stressful, and will lead to so much joy. It is truly not trouble or hardship. Many face far more difficult and dire situations on a daily basis. Many battle illness, tragedy, and persecution. 

Despite knowing all of that intellectually, I still feel overwhelmed some days. So I am reading and rereading this section of scripture:

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." {2 Corinthians 12:9-10}

I'm thankful for God's mercy each day. I'm grateful for those around me who have shown me grace as I fumble through our "crucible of change." I'm thankful for all that I'm going through, and all that lies ahead. 

In conclusion:
It's all good. The end.