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Mill City Mom: A Minnesota Mom's Blog
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Two years ago today, we got the keys to our house.

As I sit outside on a breezy May evening, I hear kids running through the yards, laughing, playing hide and seek.  I hear dogs barking.  I see people walking, running.  I see people puttering about in their gardens, moving bags of mulch around on the sidewalk to let people pass, or moving gallon sized plants from space to space like a game of chess, before finally putting it into the ground.

Our neighborhood is bustling with activity.  It is both quiet and alive.

I love it here.

One thing we haven’t really done, is get into a groove with the neighborhood kids.  I can’t just let L & W roam the alley with the other kids their age, and no one seems too keen on just hanging out in our yard, at least not so far.  We are going to try and change that this summer.  Today J invited a neighbor boy his age over to play.  They were in and out of the house, up and down the sidewalk on their scooters, and hanging in the backyard with L & W, for three solid hours.  It felt really good.  It felt like the thing that was missing.

I might have chocolate smeared on every wall of my house, and my kitchen floor might need to be swept for the 5th time today, and my laundry might never be folded, but I will welcome any kids who want to run through my yard, and tromp through my living room, and sit at my kitchen table and play LEGO with my boys.  It’s going to be a very long summer if I don’t.

The Welcome mat is out.  I’m stocking up on freeze-pops.



iloveI’ve been blogging since 2007, and I’ve been reading blogs for even longer.  Over the past few years, I’ve lost the hours where I could leisurely click from page to page, catching up, peeking into other people’s lives.  Now my reading usually happens during a nursing session, and more often than not, I end up killing that time with games of Two Dots, or taking the Buzzfeed quizzes that clutter my feed.  I’m not reading nearly as many blogs as I did in the past, and I kind of miss it!

I’m starting to get back to reading, and I thought I would share some of my favorite bloggers (old and new), and some of the posts that made me fall in love.  I’ve also started listening to podcasts- pretty much anything MPR puts out or that is history related.  Why waste those precious hours spent washing dishes when I could be learning something, right?


Brittany, Herself

This was the first post that hooked me.
This inspired me to buy boots.
This inspired me to, well…

The Bloggess
The post that still makes me laugh just thinking about it.
A Diary of a Mom
The post that made me think about how I talk about the boys and autism.

Serious Eats
The post that became a staple of our meal plan.

The Candy Perfume Boy
As fragrance reviewers go, he’s at the top.

The History Chicks
Grammar Girl
Russian Rulers History Podcast (I totally nerd out to this one. No apologies.)
Librivox Not a podcast, but free domain audio books- pretty much any classic you can think of.



Return to blogging

So, it’s been awhile.

Almost 2 years.  Do you know what happens in two years?  LIFE happens in two years.

A few posts back I acknowledged my 35th birthday by revisiting The List.  Let’s just look at the list and see where we are:

The List

1. Travel in China (cliche I know but I’d like to)
2. Travel in Russia (can’t justify my major without it)
3. Live on the East Coast (retire to Annapolis, see 4)
4. Learn how to sail (actually, have a nice boat, sail to boat shows)
5. Spend Christmas in Virginia (John, Debby- don’t move!)
6. Make Christmas Eve tamales from scratch (I cheat and buy from restaurants) (2014)
7. Tailgate at Homecoming (10 hours is not a long drive)
8. Live on the water (lake, ocean, river, doesn’t matter)
9. Learn how to sew (relearn, I’ve got the machine…) (2014- badly!)
10. Own a big old house with nice woodwork, claw foot tubs and radiators (I love me some radiant heat)

11. Have another baby (that would be 4 kids) (2014)
12. Have a VBAC (not because I feel cheated, but because there is no reason not to)*N/A
13. Learn how to can something (Pepper jelly? Pickled Cabbage?  The possibilities!)
14. Do something official with Breastfeeding (IBCLC? Aim high!)
15. Belong to a CSA (2013-2015)
16. Work out regularly (at least 3 days a week)
17. Learn how to do my hair (properly)
18. Own a bonafide CUTE purse
19. Learn how to frost a cake (well)
20. Travel to northern Europe and see where my ancestors came from (Sweden, Norway)

21. Join a Church
22. Get the boys baptized (2013)
23. Enter something in the State Fair (2014)
24. Win a State Fair Ribbon
25. Walk the lake 3 times a week (Harriet, Calhoun…)
26. Stop biting my nails (a new habit of mine)
27. Take a weekend getaway with my husband
28. Get to the library every week
29. Learn how to plant a vegetable garden
30. Get involved with Autism advocacy in some way

Seven things are off the list:

– I made Tamales this Christmas, and they were amazing.  I can’t believe it took me this long.
– I started sewing on my new machine, and it’s actually a million times easier than on my old machine.  I’m still pretty bad at it, but I’m getting better, and I now have it out and ready to go at all times, so it’s not a big deal to sit down and sew.
– Shortly after we moved into our house, I kind of panicked a bit, and we made the decision to have another baby.  S will be 1 in March.

– We joined a CSA the spring before we moved, and we’ve really loved it.  We just signed up for our 3rd year, AND, we added the cheese share. Who doesn’t like fancy cheese?
– I made the decision to stop fighting my gray streak, and I have been slowly getting all of my highlights crown out and cut off.  In the meantime, I figured out that I like my hair shorter, and it’s actually pretty easy to maintain if I actually put some product in it right after showering.  It took me almost 37 years to get here.
– The boys were baptized at our church in 2013, and it was pretty great.  I was really nervous about the whole thing, but they just made us feel so welcomed and at ease about the whole thing.  I love our church, even if getting there isn’t something that happens very often.
– I entered my candied jalapenos in the state fair, and was pretty bummed when I didn’t win, considering there were only 8 entries in my category.  When we visited the exhibit I immediately knew that I had been disqualified- I used a half pint jar instead of a pint jar.  Next year I will be sure to use the correct jar size!

On top of those things,  we bought our first house; survived another hyperemesis plagued pregnancy; I had a freak accident while pulling up carpet that necessitated hand surgery, we graduated the twins from day treatment; started them in kindergarten; took a family trip to Wisconsin with my in-laws (and survived!); and started the long slog of figuring out what makes Tonka tick.

It has been a very full, very overwhelming, and very exciting two years at our house.  I’m kind of ready for things to slow down a bit.

I’m also excited to get back to this space now that things are starting to calm down in the baby department.  He’s almost walking, still nursing, cutting teeth like crazy, and I’m trying to soak up every minute of it.  He is the absolute last baby, unless there is an act of God. I didn’t realize I loved this stage so much, but it’s pretty awesome and I’m going to miss it.

Our house is finally getting put together.  Word to the wise: do not get pregnant immediately after moving if you have terrible pregnancies, everything will get put on hold until the baby is like 6 months old.  I finally got things up on our walls when I was decorating for Christmas- 18 months after we moved in.  Overall we have a long way to go until it’s where I want it to be, but we are actually starting to do things and work towards the vision.

I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.  It’s a good life.



I have been addicted to cloth diapers for awhile now.  Seriously addicted.  I know there are moms bitten by the bug much harder than I have been, but I have been contemplating figuring out a way to keep them in my life for quite awhile now- even though my boys are all in various stages of potty training.

I don’t have a lot of interest in opening up a store- I have met some great women over the past few years who have done that, and I think for me, it would be more work that I am looking for.  The other option (not that it’s less work), was learning how to sew diapers and open up my own Etsy shop (or Hyena cart), and sell diapers.  Hybrid fitteds specifically.

I have had my grandma’s sewing machine for years, just hanging out in my closet, and last week I finally decided this was the time to take her out, and see what she can do instead of just thinking about it.

Well, she wasn’t doing much the first week!  Every stitch brought a broken thread (or needle) and my patience was waning.  I just wanted to practice- get the basics down- anything.  And here I couldn’t even sew a straight line without re-threading my machine.  The week was particularly stressful with the boys and at one point I wanted to hurl that sewing machine across the room.

But, I didn’t.  I went to Facebook, I sent out an SOS on a cloth diapers sewers group, and I took a break.

I ordered fabric (thank you Aunt Judy- your giftcard will be put to good use!).  I printed patterns.  I started a wishlist on Amazon with all of the things I will need to get this going- mostly so I can keep track of all of the little things I am constantly finding myself needing- like sewing scissors and elastic and pins!  I bought a domain name.  I started a Facebook page.  I started an Etsy shop.  I started tweaking logo designs and seeking out help in that arena.  I started sourcing materials.  I started reading up on CPSIA compliance.

Last night I went through my diaper stash to look at my favorite diapers- what were they made of?  How were they sewn?  What don’t I like?  What did I love?  I want to start basic, so I found one of my favorites, which is pretty much the most basic AIO you will ever find.  It’s by OsoCozy, and I figured it was a good place to start because I have plenty of prefolds laying around just waiting to be used for something.

I traced the OsoCosy onto a prefold, then I traced it onto an old T-shirt.  Then I went to bed.

This morning I got up and went back downstairs to take a look at Betty Lou.  That’s her name- after my Grandma.  I can’t really get too mad at a sweet retro sewing machine named Betty Lou, can I?!

I sat down, I adjusted tensions, I cleaned under the feeder dog plate, I cleaned the shuttle, I re-wound the bobbin- nothing.  Still breaking.  Still jamming.

I grabbed a piece of a prefold just to see if a different fabric was going to make a difference.

And it did!

Nothing broke.  Nothing jammed!

I grabbed the prefold and the T-shirt fabric, and I started to sew.  I won’t lie.  It’s not good.

My curves are atrocious, I am all over the place with my straight lines, mostly because I was so freaked out that the machine was still stitching that I kept slowing down and speeding up.  I turned the diapers and then had a lot of difficulty closing it because the fabric was so thick, but I closed it (it ain’t pretty).  And then I called it done.

It’s not a hybrid fitted (maybe a contour?).  It is not top-stitched.  It has no elastic.  I have no idea what size this would be- something in the small, under 15 pound range.  It needs a Snappi or a pin and definitely a cover.

But, it’s done!

I almost cried.  After days of frustration at that machine, I whipped this out in minutes.  It only gets better from here, and I am so excited to start seeing what I can do- Mama needs a hobby!

1st diaper

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When I read the pop-up on my Google Reader that it was going away in July, I had a mini freak out.  Seriously.  Thoughts of never seeing my favorite bloggers again because I depend on my reader for URL’s like people depend on cell phones for phone numbers.  I spent a good part of the next few days agonizing about all of the things I was going to miss out on- would the bloggers I read miss me?  I surely wasn’t going to be reading as many blogs as I currently do- however would I find them all!!!

Yeah.  So it was a little dramatic.

I popped over to Feedly on the recommendation of pretty much everyone, and you know what?  It took about 8 seconds for me to transfer my Google Reader.  But, the most exciting thing?  All the blogs I had subscribed to on a whim and never ever read and could never get out of my reader because no matter what I did, no matter what trick I followed, those blogs that always came back as soon as I logged into Blogger?  GONE!  All of them!

I also took the time to cull though all of the blogs that had long since closed up shop- last post 56 days old?  They might be back.  Last post is 1,347 days old…probably not!  It was the most satisfying kind of organizing.

So, starting fresh with a newly pared down reader.  I have less than 100 blogs in there for the first time in years.  Of course now I am itching to add some more- preferably people who are not dabbling in blogging until they find something new and shiny in 5 weeks.  Also- no strictly monetized blogs.  I get it- I do it to an extent over at The Slacker Mom, but when every single post is brought to you by a sponsor- it doesn’t matter what your story is, if every post is sponsored, it just reads like copy and I’m not buying it.  I want some real, old school blogs.  Blogs where the writing and ideas took center stage.  I feel like I’m trying to resurrect a dieing breed, but I know they are out there.

Here are 5 blogs that stand out to me in some special way:

– The first blog I ever read (before I even knew what a blog was) was A Serious Job is no Excuse.  I am so not into fashion, but I LOVED that blog.
– The first blog I commented on, and the first Minnesota blog I ever read, AND the first blogger who I sought out via google months after she shut down her old blog knowing that she would probably pop up somewhere else is Kitchen Blogic.  (I was totally right, and I’m so glad I did!)
– The blog post I have linked to the most is the tutorial on washing an lanolizing wool diaper covers from The Gnome’s Mom.  It is seriously the best.  If you are addicted to wool- check it out!
– The blog that makes me nod my head, laugh, and cry is Yeah. Good Times.
– And the blog that has never steered me wrong when it comes to food is Smitten Kitchen.  I miss our Friday night dinners with my mom- kids really do change everything.

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