Wednesday, July 31, 2013

No more monkeys falling off the bed.

Our usually cautious 23-month-old decided to let her adventurous side shine tonight. She wanted me to get on Grandma and Grandpa Specken's bed after bath time, to show me her new game (Grandma and Grandpa are at the Twins game tonight). The first time she did this I thought she broke her neck. But after she let our a big laugh and said "again!", it was clear that she was having fun! Where did this adventure tot come from?!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Preschool playdates at the science museum.

GIVEAWAY WINNER: Congratulations to Amanda Hopkins of Pine City, MN! You have won a family 4-pack of tickets to the Science Museum of Minnesota! Please email us ( with your address and phone number, so we can verify and get your tickets sent to you. Thanks for participating everyone, and stay tuned for our next giveaway!

Linna, JJ, and Clark checking out the dinosaurs.
Last Tuesday, some of my mom friends and I decided to take our kiddos to the Science Museum of Minnesota's Preschool Playdate. The Science Museum hosts these Playdates every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to Noon, and they have some special activities just for the little ones. They have some "make & take creations" where kids can build and make their own project, puppet shows and theater programs, and storytimes. Our kids (all under three years old) spent a lot of the time just wondering around and checking things out on their own, as they have a lot of hands-on learning at the Science Museum. Most of the kids enjoyed the earlier morning puppet show (around 10:30 a.m.), which was a story read by one guy, while he performed the story with a puppet. But all of the kids loved the polar bear story/demonstration. The kids also liked checking out the dinosaurs, and since there weren't a lot of kids at the Science Museum on Tuesday for the Preschool Playdate, we basically had our own private storytime with a ranger! The ranger used puppets/stuffed animals to keep the kiddos interested, but since we were nearing lunch time, it was a little difficult to keep their attention on the story-teller. We grabbed lunch at the cafe on the third floor, which was nice because it was obviously kid-friendly. We might have to head back for another Tuesday visit when we're back from Singapore over the holidays!

Preschool Playdates at the Science Museum
120 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to Noon
Kids 5 and under are FREE with a paid adult ($13).
Minnesota Children's Museum members receive FREE Science Museum admission during playdates.

Mamas and babies watching the puppet show.

Budding musician.

Linna and Clark.

There's 5 kids in this pic. Can you spot all of them?! ;)

Storytime with a ranger.
Puppet show.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The a maze'n farmyard.

This weekend while we were visiting our family cabin in Hawick, MN, my mom, sister, and I took Linna and our little cousins Kayden and Kasen to the A Maze'n Farmyard. This place is about 15 minutes from our cabin, and about an hour and 15 minutes from the Twin Cities. It is such a fun outdoor spot for families with children of all ages! You could literally spend hours there, and not get bored. They have a giant slide, every farm animal you can possibly imagine, a bird house, pony rides, mini golf, puppies for sale, a maze, bouncy barn, train rides, corn pit, and so much space for the kids to just run around. Linna loved holding the bunnies and watching people feed the goats. It was really interesting to see our "city gal" on a farm! All of the animals were wonderful around all the crazy kids, and even on a busy Saturday, none of the attractions seemed to feel "packed". We were there for about two hours, and didn't even make it to the corn pit, train ride, mini golf, maze, or bouncy barn (we got a late start and needed to make it back to the cabin for lunch). Looks like we'll just have to go back again. Thanks Mom for showing all of us a really fun time!

The A Maze'n Farmyard
Eden Valley, MN
Open Memorial Day through Labor Day
Mon - Sat: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sun: Noon - 6 p.m.
Age 2 and under get in FREE
$10 for everyone else

Farm chic.

She's so rural.

Down the big slide with Auntie Paige.

Cousin Kayden showing Linna his bird.

Cute lil' cowgirl!


Holding a bunny. She LOVED this!

Singing "Baa Baa Black Sheep" to the lamb.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Great baby shower spot in the twin cities.

Last weekend, my college girlfriends and I put together a small baby shower for our friend Bonnie and her husband Matt, who are expecting their first baby (a BOY!) in January. Bonnie and Matt drove up to the Twin Cities from Iowa for a family get-together, so I needed to find a spot near their hotel to host a quick luncheon/baby shower on a Sunday afternoon, as they needed to get back to Iowa at a decent time.

Bonnie and Matt were staying at a hotel near the Mall of America, so I booked one of the semi-private rooms at the brand new Fire Lake Restaurant at Radisson Blu for the baby shower at 1:30 p.m. on a Sunday. I thought this room wouldn't be anything special (just a regular semi-private room at a hotel restaurant), but BOY was I wrong!

Not only is this semi-private room FREE of charge on Sundays, but it is spectacular and PERFECT for a baby shower... especially for a baby boy! The room is decorated in these gorgeous blue velvet curtains, and surrounded by a really pretty distressed wood, giving this room a rich and contemporary feel. Our service was exceptional, and there was no minimum charge to use this room. Nice! Parking was free and located right next to the hotel and restaurant, so you don't need to find parking at the Mall of America and walk. The staff at Fire Lake let us show up a few minutes early to put up a few decorations (some balloons, a sign, and gifts), and Mama and Papa-To-Be Bonnie and Matt were really surprised! The food was very reasonably priced, and absolutely delicious. The event staff gave me the option (during the planning process) of doing a set menu for about $21 to $26/person (includes a starter, entree, and desert), but we opted to order off the menu individually. For five of us to have lunch and a bottle of wine, it was about $120 (including tax and tip), and was worth every penny! Fire Lake's chefs use local meats, freshwater fish, produce and dairy, which is something we all can appreciate.

Left to right - Bonnie, Me, Carrie, and Sara

Walking into the semi-private room at the brand new
Fire Lake Restaurant at Radisson Blu near
the Mall of America.

Chicken sandwich and a salad. Delicious!

Turkey Burger and Fries. Nom!

If you're looking for the perfect spot to host a Sunday afternoon baby shower with a small group of people, book the blue semi-private room at Fire Lake Restaurant at the Radisson Blu Hotel next to the Mall of America.

Contact: Kelsey Busch at Fire Lake
Radisson Blu Mall of America, Bloomington
2100 Killebrew Drive
Bloomington, MN 55425 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Watch twin cities live tomorrow.

Can you guess which children's outfit in each photo is the "steal" and which is the "splurge"? Can you believe one of these children's outfits in each photo costs hundreds of dollars (one outfit is over a thousand dollars), while the other is around $90. Find out Monday between 3-4 p.m. on TWIN CITIES LIVE (KSTP)!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mama the sumo wrestler.

While Linna was playing with AJ's old toys at his parents house this week, she decided to tell me what she really thinks about my looks.

Thank you Linna.

Thank goodness you're cute!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Starting to love attention.

This is a something new, but Linna is starting to LOVE attention. She's usually a shy little bug (unlike her Mama and Papa), but this month she has really started to come out of her shell! All weekend, she's been singing and dancing for people, and I think she does it for the applause. She will literally cut songs short and get to the end, so she can hear applause from people. LOVE her!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Visit with great grandma and grandpa pollard.

Linna's Great Grandpa and Grandma Pollard (AJ's grandparents), and Aunt Peg came to Mankato to visit today! Linna was all about showing off, and sang a few songs for everyone, because she loved having everyone clap for her. You'd think she doesn't get any attention at home! Linna is named after her Great Great Grandma Linna May Porter (on the Pollard side - AJ's grandma's mother), so Linna and Great Grandma Pollard have a special bond. Here's a video and photos from their visit:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

22 months.

Linna on July 7th, 2013. One day before she turned 23 months.
I can't believe we only have on more month where we can say Linna is a one year old! I swear I was JUST planning her first birthday party, and no we're onto her second. Linna is growing up so fast, and we are loving the age she is at.

This month, Linna told me she pooped in her diaper for the first time. The things we get excited about as parents, right?! Until now, she's never really told us when she does a number two. She just does it. It's very obvious when Linna is doing her business, and now when she's finished she says "uh oh mama". When I ask her if she did a poop, she replies "yay, big one".

Linna is talking so much, and repeats everything. I mean EVERYTHING, so we really have to watch what we say around her. She loves pretend play with animals and puppets, and she is obsessed with little toys. She would be completely content for hours, putting small objects from one bowl or bag into another bowl or bag. She loves trying to figure out how things work by taking things apart. She's definitely her father's daughter!

This month, AJ spent his first two weeks away from Linna and I (Linna and I flew back to MN early to go to my cabin for the Fourth of July), which was tough, but it's one of the sacrifices we made when moving to Singapore. AJ said Linna grew an inch and was talking so much more even in that two weeks that he was in Singapore. It's been really nice for both AJ and I being home in Minnesota, as we have a lot of help with Linna from family. Linna has been spending time with her Auntie Lisa who flew in from New York, Grandma and Grandpa Saigh, and Linna and I spent five days with my mom's side of the family at our cabin in Hawick, MN over the Fourth of July. Linna loved playing with all of her cousins, running around outside, and swimming in the lake. However, I do think she prefers the pool over the lake.

Linna and Mama at the Bauer's Fourth
of July Toddler Party.

Linna's Minnesota playgroup.
(Left to right) Linna, Nolan, JJ, Taylor, Lilah, and Clark. So cute!

Linna and cousin Maris at the Fourth of July parade
in Spicer, MN.

Pony ride.

Linna and cousin Kasen.

Eating a bag of kettle corn the size of her.

It took us about four days to completely rebound from our jetlag after flying from Singapore to Paris and then to Minnesota. Linna was a trooper, and for the last three weeks she has been sleeping in until 9:30 a.m., while still taking 2 to 3-hour naps in the afternoon. Plus, she's in bed by 9 p.m. at the latest. We're thinking she's growing, but we're loving Linna's current sleep routine! She's still eating a ton some days, and then very little other days, while still drinking whole milk. I'm really trying to limit her snacks in an effort to get Linna to eat more meals, as she is a big "on the go" eater.

We are loving being back home in Minnesota with our family and friends! Linna and I got to meet up with our old play group for a little Fourth of July toddler party at the Bauer's, before we headed to our cabin for the holiday weekend. It's amazing how much all of Linna's little friends have gown up. We plan on seeing Linna's ECFE friends while we're in Minnesota, and we'll have all her little friends together for her birthday party in August.

Can not BELIEVE we will have a two-year-old a month from now!

Linna seriously has no interest in taking these photos
every month. So tough to get her to stand still.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Veggies made easy.

We've been looking for new ways to get veggies into our diet, and although we've found a few great recipes, we're always looking for more. Experts say that we should aim to have half of our plate filled with fruits and veggies at each meal. But  let's face it, veggies can be pretty boring on their own. So, we're always looking for ways to jazz them up so we'll actually eat them. Here's two of our latest store finds that make veggie eating very easy and tasty...

1. Jamba Juice Fruit & Veggie Smoothies

Smoothies are one of the easiest and tastiest ways to get veggies into Linna's diet, especially when she's in an "anti-veggie phase". We discovered the new Fruit & Veggie Smoothies at a Jamba Juice in Minnesota, and we're hooked! Both Linna and I will often replace a meal with these delicious smoothies. We're big fans of the Apple n' Greens Smoothie, and Berry UpBEET Smoothie, as they have 6 to 8 grams of fiber in a 16 oz. smoothie. The Apple n' Greens Smoothie has 220 calories, 240% of your daily intake of Vitamin A, and 90% of your daily intake of Vitamin C. The Berry UpBEET Smoothie has 230 calories, 120% of your daily intake of Vitamin A, and 100% of your daily intake of Vitamin C. They are both absolutely delicious. We also love the new Tropical Harvest Smoothie. These smoothies have veggies like Carrots, Beets, Broccoli, Spinach, Kale, Lettuce, Bell Pepper, and Spirulina in them. Yes they have a good amount of sugar in them, but they are packed with fruit which obviously has natural sugars in them. When you replace a meal with one of these smoothies, $4 doesn't seem like too big of a splurge, especially when you consider the nutritional benefits.

2. Lean Cuisine Salad Additions

I'm a big salad lover, but the salads I love usually include bacon, cheese, and some kind of fatty dressing. Yep, I'm a Minnesotan. I recently found Lean Cuisine's Salad Additions in the freezer aisle at Cub Foods, and when I read that they have almost two servings of veggies in each pack, I had to try them. I picked up an Asian-Style Chicken Salad and a Cranberry & Chicken Salad. I chose the Salad Additions with chicken in them, because I like having meat in my salad if I'm eating it as a meal. I must say that both are pretty decent for a frozen, no-fuss salad mix. Although these salad additions don't quite reach the level of a restaurant salad, they do force us to buy salad (and actually eat it), and it's an easy way to get my daily intake of veggies. Linna loves eating the edamame out of my salads, and I do like the vinaigrette in both Salad Additions. I'm not sure I could eat these all day, every day, but they are tasty enough to eat a few times a week. I'm looking forward to trying the other Salad Additions varieties!

Linna spells papa's name.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Swim diapers 101.

I love the convenience of taking a couple disposable swim diapers to the pool or lake, knowing I can just throw them away if the little lady does a number two. But swim diapers are really expensive! While we're living in Singapore, Linna and I are pretty much at the pool every day, so I had to figure out some swim diaper options that won't break the bank, and won't leave a mess (you know what kind of a mess I'm talking about) in the pool. Here's three of our favorite options so far...

1. Reusing Disposable Swim Diapers

I did not know this tip/trick until about a month ago, but so many of my mom friends in Singapore do it. Since disposable swim diapers cost about $2 a piece in Singapore, parents will reuse the diaper as long as their child  doesn't do a poo in it. Moms, including myself, will rinse the disposable diapers out after each swim, dry them out in the sun, and reuse them until they basically start falling apart. Some people just throw them in the washer and air dry them, but I just rinse with a little soap and air dry. Call it gross, but I can get at least three more wears out of each swim diaper by using this method. We do have reusable swim diapers, but disposable is just so much easier for all involved when our little ones decide to make a big poo at the pool.

2. Charlie Banana 2-in-1 Swim Diaper & Training Pants

I have loved these reusable swim diapers for Linna ever since the first day she wore them at the pool in Singapore. Linna has three of these diapers, and has worn them at the pool and at the beach since she was 12 months old. At under $15 each, these reusable swim diapers were a great investment, as she's stayed in the same size from 12 months to almost two years old (size L - we bought one size bigger than she was at one year). Charlie Banana 2-in-1 Swim Diaper & Training pants have a waterproof outer layer, and a soft organic cotton interior lining, which is gentle against you child's skin. They do contain a poo when Linna decides to do a number two at the pool, but I will admit that they aren't very fun to clean up afterwards. But then again, cleaning up after a child's poo at the pool isn't fun when they're wearing a disposable swim diaper either. Once you get the poo out of the diaper and off the baby (I usually just put Linna in the shower to rinse off), we just throw the swim diaper in the wash (don't use fabric softener), and hang it out to dry. I love the colors and prints that Charlie Banana offers, and Linna usually ends up wearing only her swim diaper and no swim suit at the pool. We aren't potty training yet, but it's nice to know we can use these swim diapers as training pants as well!

3. Splash About Happy Nappy Swim Costume

For under $25 (USD), I got Linna an adorable pink and orange Happy Nappy Swim Costume last year. We realized that for as much time as we were spending at the pool and beach, we needed another option with a little more coverage. We wanted something that protected Linna's skin from the sun a bit more. This Happy Nappy Swim Costume holds in poop better than ever! I'm always concerned about Linna doing a number 2 in the pool and having it leak out, but NOTHING gets through the Happy Nappy Swim Costume. Although nothing gets out, it's not the easiest to clean up after a number two. But once again, is there ever really an "easy" way?! The suit is made of a stretchy neoprene, and finished with a soft, snug fitting, deep bands of fabric with a high rubber content to keep all poo inside, and NOT in the pool! The suits are about $20 (USD), so you could have the suit shipped to you for about what it would cost to find a cute suit in Minnesota.

Monday, July 8, 2013

2013 children's summer fashion guide.

Linna in her Camouflage
Desiree Ribbon Flare Dress
tucked into 
a cute little skirt.

I recently found this store called Camouflage in Vivo City in Singapore, and may or may not have walked out with a few new outfits for Linna. I am in love with their clothing. Not only are the boy and girl pieces adorable, but the prices won't break the bank. Camouflage is known for their fashions for boys and girls, that look like miniature versions of clothes that moms and dads wear. Camouflage has five retail stores across Singapore and an online store that ships internationally. Their clothing aims at the 0-8 year-olds, and I can tell you that their clothing fits pretty true to size (doesn't run big or small). I love their dresses for little girls, especially the royal blue dress I got for Linna, which has a bow around the neck. I also got a shirt for Linna that says "My Entire Life is Being Posted on Facebook", which is obviously a perfect shirt for her. Most of the one-piece outfits and dresses at Camouflage are in the S$35 range, with most bottoms and tops between S$25 to S$35. This is one of my new favorite clothing stores in Singapore!

Linna in her Elly Wonderland Dress.


I received an Elly dress as a gift for Linna while living in Singapore, and soon after, I was introduced to this adorable line of children's clothing for boys and girls. Elly is run by two sisters who decided to bring the variety and uniqueness of clothing found all over the world, to everyone around them. Elly (the elephant) has scouted cities in search of beautiful pieces for children, and his stories of adventure can be found in the clothing, accessories, and toys designed by the Elly brand.  I absolutely love their dresses for little girls. They are easy to throw on our busy little toddlers, and I know my daughter stays cool while wearing them in the Singapore heat. The button-up shirts for the boys are made with fabrics that are similar to the girls' pieces. I got Linna's dresses a size bigger than she currently is, so she'll be able to wear them now (a little baggy), and a year from now! Elly's clothing washes very easily, doesn't fall apart, and I simply hang them out to dry so they don't shrink. They carry sizes 9 months to 6 years. I'm excited to see this company's latest designs!

501 Bukit Timah Road
#02-29 Cluny Court 
Singapore 259760
(Next to the Botanic Gardens MRT station)

+65 6466 8718

Linna in her Old Navy Tiered RuffleBikini -
On sale now for $8.
Old Navy

I don't think a summer or winter goes by without my sister-in-law and I buying clothing from Old Navy for Linna. Old Navy is pretty much a staple store for Minnesota parents, and it's easy to see why. Their clothing is affordable, fashionable, and they have a variety for both boys and girls. I always buy Linna's shorts and pants from Old Navy because they are classic, inexpensive, and go with just about any top. Their summer dresses are also super cute and very affordable too. If we ever have a couple birthday parties coming up for Linna's little friends, I order clothes for the birthday boy or girl online, and have it shipped to me for FREE ($50 purchase). Easy peasy! Old Navy is one of my go-to stores for cute mommy clothing too.


When you see Zutano clothing on a child, you'll know right away it's Zutano. Their pieces are super easy to mix and match, while featuring prints that are bright, fun, and unique. Located in Vermont, Zutano sources soft cottons for each new product, creating a line of quality clothing and accessories in a rainbow of colors and prints. They are inspired by a love of babies, and the belief that every child’s individuality can be celebrated. You can find Zutano clothing at Mother's Work in Singapore, at stores all over Minnesota, and online. They carry clothing and accessories for newborns up to size 4T, and offer free shipping for orders over $50. I can't get enough of the Sunshine Top! It's a reversable top for under $30, so you're basically getting two cute tops in one. It has a unique criss-cross back, and layers easily over long or short-sleeve tops, or worn with shorts on hot days. Linna has a Sunshine Top in Zutano's Dizzy Daisy print on one side, with periwinkle candy stripe on the reverse  side. Love them!

Pediped Light Brown Grip n' Go Jake.
Shoes by Pediped

Linna has been wearing Pediped shoes since she was a newborn, and I am completely in love with their new summer styles. Whether your child is crawling, learning to walk, or running all around, Pediped has a stylish shoe that will fit comfortably and ensure healthy foot development. Pediped has three footwear lines specially designed to meet the needs of a particular walking stage. Linna has been wearing the Silver Flex Vivian all summer, because they go with almost any one of her summer outfits. The White Grip n' Go Nikki is another one of our summer favorites for girls, and we love the Light Brown Grip n' Go Jake is a summer shoe that will go with almost any outfit for the boys. You can find Pediped shoes at many stores in both Minnesota and Singapore.

Shoes by Little Grass Hoppers

I'm completely obsessed with these new shoes I found in Singapore for Linna. We discovered Little Grass Hoppers at the Bukit Timah Fire Station Market a couple weekends ago, where the owner of Little Grass Hoppers (Sabrina) was selling the shoes. The first thing I fell in love with was the brightly-colored loafers for the little ones. Then, I saw the price. I totally thought I'd be running the family into bankruptcy by making a couple purchases for Linna, but the shoes were only about $20 a pair! This company just launched in March of this year. Although Sabrina (the owner) doesn't design or make the shoes herself, she travels around the world to find her quality products. Plus, she will ship the shoes worldwide! Linna has been "hopping" all over Singapore in these shoes, and they wear really well. Check out the Little Grass Hoppers website for shipping prices and policies. I would order a size or two bigger, because these shoes do tend to run on the smaller size, and with our little ones' feet growing a mile a minute, you'll want them to wear these adorable shoes as long as possible!

Friday, July 5, 2013


I recently found this store called Camouflage in Vivo City in Singapore, and may or may not have walked out with a few new outfits for Linna. I am in love with their clothing. Not only are the boy and girl pieces adorable, but the prices won't break the bank. Camouflage is known for their pieces for boys and girls, that look like miniature versions of clothes that moms and dads wear. Camouflage has five retail stores across Singapore and an online store that ships internationally. Their clothing aims at the 0-8 year-olds, and I can personally say that their clothing fits pretty true to size (doesn't run big or small). I love their dresses for little girls, especially the royal blue dress I got for Linna, which has a bow around the neck. I also got a shirt for Linna that says "My Entire Life is Being Posted on Facebook", which is obviously a perfect shirt for her. Most of the one-piece outfits and dresses at Camouflage are in the S$35 range, with most bottoms and tops between S$25 to S$35. This is one of my new favorite clothing stores in Singapore! Here a few of the outfits I got for Linna...

Summer Print Top and Ariel Sailor Shorts

Ribbon High Low Bubble Dress

Add caption
This Facebook tee-shirt pretty much sums up her little life.

Desiree Ribbon Flare Dress tucked into
a cute little skirt. What a little Vogue pose!