Monday, April 25, 2016

GIVEAWAY: "It's okay to laugh (crying is cool too)".

I was so excited to get my hands on an advanced copy of the book "It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)", by Minnesota Mama, Nora McInerny Purmort. The book is a memoir of Nora's relationship and journey with her late husband, Aaron, who died from a rare form of brain cancer. They got engaged on Aaron's hospital bed, married after his first surgery, and had a baby while Aaron was on chemo. Aaron died in Nora's arms. She is now sharing her hysterical, honest, and moving stories about her journey with Aaron. The book explores universal themes such as love, marriage, work, single motherhood, and depression, through Nora's frank humor. I can't wait to dive into this book! I'd like to save it as a summer cabin read, but I just don't think I can wait that long. The book will be released to the public on May 24th, 2016.

*** WIN A COPY OF THE BOOK ***

We are giving away a copy of "It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)" to TWO of you! Enter for your chance to win...

1. Comment on this blog post with your first & last name, and city you currently reside in.

2. Share this contest on your Facebook (click the "share" button), and/or Twitter (retweet) page.

You have two ways to enter, and two people will be randomly selected to win a copy of "It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)", on Monday, May 2nd, 2016. This contest is open to US residents only, and you must enter by 9 a.m. on Monday, May 2nd, 2016. The winners' books will be shipped upon the book's release date (May 24th, 2016).

Good luck!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Linna's "bompa" visits her school.

Linna and her Bompa.

Today, Linna's "Bompa" (my Dad), visited her school to talk about being the fire chief for Hopkins, MN (my hometown). Linna has been so excited for this day to come, ever since we scheduled the visit with her teacher a couple weeks ago. Bompa also brought along Garrett (another fire fighter) to demonstrate how fire fighters put on their equipment. My Dad taught the kids all about fire safety, and even brought fire hats, pencils, and some other fun things for all the kids to take home. Linna was so incredibly proud as she introduced her Bompa to her school friends. Thanks, Dad, for making Linna feel so special!

Proud little girl.

High-fives from fire fighter Garrett.

Linna's "Bompa" (my Dad) showing the kids fire fighting equipment.

Linna passing out fire hats to all of her school friends.

Baby Jimmy with Nana (my Mom) during Bompa's presentation.


More high fives.

Class photo.

Fire hats in the kids' cubbies. Just like the fire fighters!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Teething remedy.

Today was rough. Baby Jimmy was in so much pain from cutting his first teeth. He cried and whimpered for an hour after I dropped the 4-year-old off at school. I thought he just had a big poo coming, but when I started massaging his gums with my finger and saw the relief it gave him, I knew it was his teeth. This, followed by a small dose of infant ibuprofen, had him asleep and calm within 15 minutes. My poor boy! Wine o'clock came extra early today.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Jimmy's first haircut.

 
BEFORE                                     AFTER

It took me three years to get to the point where I was "ready" for Linna's first haircut. But since Jimmy was born with a mop of hair on his head, and his hair has started tuning into a "Bozo the Clown" hairstyle, we took him to get his first haircut at four months old. He just needed a trim, and we wanted to keep his little fohawk. Baby Jimmy did such a great job, and his big sister Linna was there for support. I was very pleased with the cut and style Jimmy got at Kid's Hair in Chanhassen. The lady who cut Jimmy's hair was patient, careful with the scissors, and she let me take as many photos as I wanted to. They also gave us a certificate of Jimmy's first haircut, with his little locks in a plastic case. Our baby boy looks SO grown up with his new haircut!



Baby Jimmy was born on November 14th, 2015 with a full head of hair.


Kid's Hair has toys and television to keep the kiddos happy during their haircut.

Lots of cowlicks = Lots of body.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Winter getaway to duluth with the family.

Since this was our first winter back in Minnesota after living in Singapore for the last three years, our family came down with a major case of cabin fever. We've been used to swimming in the hot sun every day in Singapore, so we kind of forgot the frozen reality that is the great state of Minnesota. And I've heard that this winter was a mild one! Wowzers.

My parents (Bompa and Nana) came along with us one weekend this winter for a stay at Duluth's Edgewater Hotel & Waterpark. Apparently, everyone in Minnesota with kids visits this amazing waterpark over the winter months. So, we booked an adjoining room at the hotel, packed up the 4-year-old and newborn, and hit the road. My parents came along with us, and even took the 4-year-old in their car so Papa Saigh and I could enjoy some peace and quiet.

4-year-old Linna making her way across the rope course at Edgewater Hotel's waterpark.

Pooped out kiddos back at the hotel.

Mama Saigh and Linna in the floating river.

Please understand that my opinion of this hotel is coming from a person who has stayed in some of the nicest hotels in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, etc., as Papa Saigh used to work for a large hotel company. If you're looking for a 5-star hotel experience, the Edgewater Hotel is not it. However, their indoor waterpark and family-friendly atmosphere is tough to beat. Our 4-year-old spent hours in the pool, The River's Edge, The Vortex, and she couldn't get enough of the rope course in the big pool. It was so relaxing taking turns with my parents in the pool with Linna, and then sitting alongside the pool with a beer. Edgewater has a decent cafe right inside the waterpark (Tiki Tom's Oasis & Grill), making it easy for grown-ups to order things like ice cream, soda, cheese curds, pizza, beer, and even wine! The waterpark seemed to be well-kept and clean, but you can tell it isn't brand new. However, it met all of our 4-year-old's expectations.

Kids of all ages loved the rope course. Linna made it all the way across!

The 4-year-old, Papa Saigh, Al, and Rich in the outdoor hot tub at Edgewater.

Our room was very basic, and you can tell the hotel has been around for a long time. But, it did its "job". We weren't expecting a 5-star hotel experience, and we were happy that the room was clean and safe for the kids. When we visit Edgewater again, we'll definitely book a room with two bathrooms, as we had to share one bathroom with five people on this visit. But the hotel staff did a great job restocking our towels and bath products. Plus, we had a beautiful view of Lake Superior, as we chose not to book a room overlooking the pool (too noisy, but very convenient for pool visits).

Linna doing the rope course at Edgewater.

On the first night, we decided to eat at the hotel's restaurant because we were all exhausted. We ordered a couple pizzas which were REALLY good. I'd highly recommend the Buffalo Chicken Pizza. It's SO delicious! We also received a few buy-one-get-one free coins to use on adult beverages, so we enjoyed a couple drinks as well. Linna played some games in the arcade and inside the restaurant while we waited for our food, and she slept SO well on the first night! Linna and I also checked out the buffet breakfast at the hotel on Sunday morning, while Papa Saigh and my parents stayed back and packed up the suitcases and watched Baby Jimmy. The breakfast is very affordable (kids under age 3 are FREE, kids age 4-12 are $.99 each, and adults are $6.99 - plus tax), but also pretty basic (eggs, pancakes, sausage, fruit, milk, cereals, etc.). However, can you really beat those prices?!

Linna and her Oreo pancakes at Edgewater's brunch.

Nana snuggling Baby Jimmy by the pool.

On our second day, we discovered the outdoor hot tub at the hotel. The 4-year-old thought this was pretty cool, as it was chilly outside, but warm enough to enjoy a dip. Plus, the outdoor hot tub was much quieter than the indoor hot tub. My parents were also nice enough to watch the kids for us on Saturday night, so we could enjoy an evening with friends outside the hotel. We met up with two of Papa Saigh's best friends (one lives in Duluth), and went to Lake Ave Restaurant & Bar. I can honestly say that this was one of the BEST meals I've ever had in Minnesota... And Papa Saigh agrees. I ordered the steak with brussles sprouts, Papa Saigh and his friend Rich ordered the duck, and Papa Saigh's friend Al ordered the beef wellington. Every one of these dishes was unbelievably tasty, and beautifully presented. We will definitely be making another visit to Duluth, just so we can return to Lake Ave. I'd personally keep this restaurant visit to grown-ups only, and leave the kids at home.

My parents with their grandbabies at Fitger's Brewhouse in Duluth.

Grown-up time! Best dirty martini I've ever had.

Linna walking in the rain through Duluth.

My mom and I also indulged by having massages at Eagles Nest in Duluth. My mom had a massage done there before, and said it was amazing. This health and wellness center is located inside a little old house, and has a very welcoming and holistic vibe. I had Tiffany as my massage therapist, and she was outstanding. I felt completely relaxed and rejuvenated after my 60-minute massage, and it was well worth the $80. I never felt "rushed" as I have with massages at other places in the past.

No make-up selfie after our relaxing massage at Eagles Nest in Duluth.

The only group photo we took during our trip. It was so cold and rainy!

We also took Linna to her first visit to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Duluth. This 4-year-old was in chocolate heaven! Her eyes were as big as saucers as she watched the candy makers stretch fudge, and strolled past the chocolate cases. This place literally has every kind of chocolate treat you could ever want. We had lunch at both Grandma's in Canal Park, and Fitger's along the lake (one of our favs). We did a little bit of shopping on Saturday, where I found two pair of Sorel boots for 50% off at Trailfitters. So, my parents bought me one pair for my early birthday present, and Papa Saigh got me the other pair. I had been looking EVERYWHERE for these spendy winter boots, so I was thrilled when they were a great bargain. Papa Saigh bought a couple pair of pants from Duluth Trading Company, that are actually made out of recycled fire hoses! He says the pants (which look like jeans) feel like sweatpants. Score!

Watching fudge being made.

The Chocolate Factory.

Both of the kids were so great on this trip. We loved that the Edgewater Hotel & Waterpark was only about a 2 1/2 hour drive from the cities, so it wasn't an incredibly long time in the car. Duluth is a "must do" trip if you live in or visit Minnesota. The history and old mansions are unbelievable, and the grandness of Lake Superior is simply breathtaking. If we were to visit Duluth again with the kids, I'd stay at the Edgewater Hotel, simply for the waterpark. And I'd highly recommend that parents bring or book a sitter, to get some grown-up time after spending the day with the kiddos. There is so much to do in the beautiful city of Duluth... With and without the kids!

*** EXCLUSIVE DEAL FOR OUR FRIENDS ***

Through June 9th, 2016, get 20% OFF a main building room at Edgewater Hotel & Waterpark, when you book online using the code MNBABY! (US funds only. Subject to availability. Discounts off standard rate. Not valid with any other discounts or promotions. Offer may change or end by the hotel's management without prior notice).

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I took away the 4-year-old's easter egg hunt... Then gave it back.

It's official. I'm a pushover. But seriously, my decision to "give back" our 4-year-old's Easter egg hunt after her EPIC temper-tantrum last week, did not come without a lot of going back and forth. Let me explain.

Last week while the kids and I were at the gym's cafe having a snack, the 4-year-old decided that she was going to take away the baby's toys whenever she wanted to. I tried explaining to Linna that she couldn't just snatch toys away from other people, because she doesn't like it when other kids do it to her. She was in a "mood", and yelled, "BUT I WANT IT!".

Here we go.

I grabbed the toy out of her hands and gave it back to the baby. This completely set her off, and she started "growl" crying (it's the best way I know how to describe it) at the top of her lungs. I told her that she was going to lose a privilege if she didn't stop screaming. The screaming continued, so I quickly reacted by taking away her Easter egg hunt with her cousins that weekend (2 days away). This hunt was something she's been looking forward to for a month. Realizing what her mom had done, Linna quickly begged me to give her back her Easter egg hunt. When I said "no", and explained how her actions resulted in this consequence, she FLIPPED out. The "growl" crying ensued. While people started turning their heads in our direction, I told her to step outside the cafe until she could settle down. She listened, but never settled down. She stood outside the cafe screaming, and even stopped a woman to tell her how horrible I was for taking away her Easter egg hunt.

Awesome.

Anyway, she continued to scream and cry all the way to the car, on the drive to school, and continued as we walked into her classroom. I tried ignoring her as she walked behind me, until she could settle down. The looks we got from other parents were actually quite comforting, but it wasn't until Linna walked into her classroom that she stopped crying. I walked back to the car with Baby Jimmy, and called Papa Saigh to "release" all of my frustrations.

My little Easter bunnies: Linna, age 4. Jimmy, age 4 months.

A happy bunch of Krekelberg cousins at Aunt Pulie's after their Easter egg hut.

I posted this story on Facebook, and received opinions from many of you on what to do. Could I really follow through with my discipline and make the 4-year-old watch her cousins participate in the Easter eggs hunt without her? The thought of this broke my heart. But, if I let her participate, she'd never take my "threats" seriously.

Parenting. Is. Hard.

In the end, we let the 4-year-old participate in the Easter egg hunt. After some serious thought, I realized that I reacted to my 4-year-old's tantrum a little too quickly, and took away something that I wasn't ok with actually taking away. That was my fault. It's also difficult for a 4-year-old to understand a consequence that isn't immediate. While I was so mad at myself for not "sticking to my guns", I realized that doing so might actually be more difficult for ME than her. I don't think I could have sat back and watched my little girl's heart break, as she watched all of her cousins participate in the Easter egg hunt without her.

(Linna hunting for Easter eggs.)

Yep, I'm a softy.

However, I learned a few things from all of this.

A. Parenting is hard. And it doesn't get easier as they get older.
B. I sometimes react too quickly when it comes to disciplining.
C. When it comes to 4-year-olds, consequences need to be immediate.

And parenting is just THAT... A never-ending learning process (emphasis on NEVER ending).