The Stuff

I’ve seen a few blog posts out there from newish moms sharing what baby products they especially loved, so I figured I would add my two cents. When I was pregnant I was so overwhelmed with all the choices that are out there for everything! I did a ton of research before putting together my registry and buying items for Serena. I read blogs, parenting web sites, the Baby Bargains book one of Trevor’s co-workers gave us, Consumer Reports…

1. Snuggabunny Swing

We bought this swing on clearance at Target for a great price after hearing it recommended again and again. It’s great because you plug it in, so don’t need batteries, and you can choose to have it swing front to back or side to side. Some nights one or both of us slept on the couch and love seat in the living room while Serena slept in the swing. She slept longer in the swing, and sometimes it was the only thing that worked to get her to sleep! She loved this swing until she was about 5 or 6 months old.

2. Boon Grass Drying Rack and Accessory

This counter-top drying rack works super great for bottles and pump parts. The accessory is great as well for little parts and right now I have pacifiers and her toothbrush drying on it. One of my friends said she still uses hers for sippy cups. It works well and looks fun! We have the tree accessory but there is also a flower one available.

3. Baby Bjorn soft bibs

I tried a few different bibs but these are just the easiest to use and clean, and Serena doesn’t put it in her mouth between each bite like the others!

4. Graco Car Seat Stroller Frame

This was so great. It is lite and doesn’t take up much space and I used it a lot with Serena until she grew out of her infant seat.

5. Miracle Blankets

These worked great for swaddling as Serena would only sleep if she was swaddled! We were given several of these as a hand-me-down and they worked great!

6. IKEA Baby Stuff!

Most of Serena’s furniture is from IKEA. My wonderful parents purchased her crib for us from there, but we also bought her dresser and many other items from IKEA. They have great products for decoration and organization as well, and Serena has a few of their toys that she also loves!

*Pysslingar Underbead Storage

I have two of these under S’s crib that I store her extra bedding and blankets in. It works perfectly for us!

*Kusiner Wall Pockets

I have these pockets on the wall by her dresser/changing pad filled with her lotions, diaper cream, sunscreen, and also socks and hair accessories.

*Mula Stack and Nest Cups

This is her fave toy by far and she loses all the cups under our furniture! She loves to play with them!

IKEA also has some great lighting options. I got a lamp and shade for her room as well as a cute wall lamp that we leave on for her during the night. So many great options!

I could go on and on really, but these are probably my faves so far!



Operation Curb Appeal: Paint

During these past two weeks something happened that I’ve been waiting for for a long time….years, actually. It finally worked out to have our house trim painted! Parts of our house and the trim have been peeling for way too long. The most obvious was the paint on the garage and the dark green peeling paint on the windows and doors. Any time we were hoping to get our house painted in the past, Trevor was laid off from his job! Finally, this summer, Trevor is working and our friends with a painting business were available. Trevor will still have to power wash the house, but all the newly painted parts look so nice! Marque and Jose even surprised us and painted the board at the top the trim color to make it pop a little more, and also painted the front steps.

I went with a gray color for the trim. I wanted to pick something different than white, but something still neutral to not look too outdated.

Serena was fascinated by Jose painting the inside trim by the front door!

Now that the painting is done, we still have some other things to take care of- windows to clean, landscaping to fix, etc. But we are one step closer to a happy looking house!

P.S. See how dark this front room is, even in the middle of the day? I keep hoping to paint the walls white, but Trevor has been against it for a long time. Now he says I can do it if I want but he won’t help me. Should I try to get a friend or two to help and do it or should I leave it alone?

This House

Now that I’ve been at home a lot more lately, this house is kind of driving me crazy. I can rattle off a list of things that bug me about this house. So I decided to tell you about this house, and tell you the things I like about it.

Trevor bought this house eleven years ago in 2002 when he was a 24-year-old bachelor wanting to make a good investment. He lived here with one of his cousins and a friend to start out, and a few people came and went. It was a bachelor pad with all dirty white walls and dirty old lady curtains until I changed that when we got married in 2005. It’s just over 1000 square feet, and next year it will turn 100 years old. Trevor did not think he would ever be living here with a wife, and especially not with a family. We’ve put money into this house, mostly maintenance, and due to the economy, our house is also worth less than when Trevor bought it. Right now, we’re stuck.

I love that I “re-met” Trevor at this house when I came here for a party. I love that he asked for my number here, and that I met a lot of his friends for the first time here. I love that we had an impromptu engagement party with friends here. We’ve had many birthday parties here. We have celebrated some holidays here. This is Serena’s first home.

I love that this house has character- coved ceilings, wood floors, lots of windows. I like that we have some storage space in the basement and a large garage.

I like that the baby can have her room in the middle of the house and it’s so convenient no matter where in the house you are to go check on her, or grab something from the room, or go in there to change her diaper.

I like that I have done some gardening here (even though it’s a mess now.) I’ve learned a lot more than I knew about it before I lived here.

I like that we are surrounded by diversity here, even just in the few homes on this corner. I like that we have some great neighbors just a few steps away looking out for us. I like that a few of the homes right by us are being updated and flipped. I like that we are only a few blocks from the parkway, close to downtown, not very far from much of anything.

I am thankful we have a home of our own, that keeps us warm in the winter, and that has air conditioning on a hot day like today where it is 95 degrees/feels like over 100!

When I Worked at Washburn

Today is the first day of school for Minneapolis, and instead of handing out change of schedule forms and replacement schedules to kids, I’m hanging out at home with my very own kid! Working at Washburn High School was one of my favorite jobs. It’s sort of strange to not  be there now, but at the same time, I love my new job hanging out with Serena! I actually did go back on a couple of different days recently to help out- the counselors called to ask if I could come in for a few hours to help train my replacement and I happily did! Serena got to come with me and see everyone. She loved to see everyone. They also asked me to cut out some things for the bulletin board as I have done in the past, so I did that as well. So even though I am not there now, I am happy to help.

Towards the beginning of 2013 when I went back to work after my maternity leave, it was the same week as the baby doll incident. After this incident and all the media attention, meetings, etc. you would think that would be enough drama for a school. Then there was a  walk-out and sit-in after word got out that the athletic director might be removed. And then our principal was removed and we found out from the news before the district was able to tell us…

Let me tell you, the principal being removed with a few weeks left of the school year really complicates things. It makes things hard for all staff and students. It doesn’t make things easy when you are the person who orders diplomas and prints transcripts and tons of documents with principal signatures or makes the commencement program either….Just sayin’.

Adjusting to life with a baby and trying to work and be a mom and all of that is hard enough, but with all of this, life was just super stressful. When I heard that this new school year started out with the new principal being removed within just a couple of days, I new I made the right decision to not go back this school year….

I loved working at Washburn because I worked with some really great people and awesome kids. I loved that my job never got boring! My heart is with the staff this year and I wish them the best of luck with the new principal search also.

Here’s the e-mail I sent to my friends at Washburn on my last day this past spring:

A little over two years ago I was working as a temp for MPS and was asked to do a 3 day job at Washburn. On day two I was asked if I could stay and finish out the school year and before I knew it getting me to stay “for real” was in the works. In June we parted ways and I was full of hope that I would be back. In September I quit the permanent job I had taken that summer, with no notice, to be the official Washburn counseling clerk. 🙂 From the beginning I knew I was meant to be at Washburn. I had never worked in a place where people were so welcoming and supportive before. For the past two years it was exactly where I needed to be! I really thought I could stick around here forever!

Working at Washburn with these students and this staff has been an amazing experience and has forever impacted my life in many ways. I am excited for this new phase of my life and becoming a stay at home mom to my precious baby girl Serena, but I am sad to leave these wonderful friends I get to see each weekday. I want to say thank you for everything! Thanks for giving me a chance, for working so hard to keep me here, for the talks about all kinds of life stuff, for the support through my pregnancy, bed rest, and maternity leave. I will forever remember your kindness, hard work, and the passion you have for these kids and their happiness and success.

Be in touch!

Door County Trip Numero Dos

I haven’t updated in a while, but that’s mostly because I was gone for a few days in Door County again! This time Trevor went with Serena and I and my other brother, Andy, met up with us at my parents’ camper in Egg Harbor. We went to almost all different places than my first trip, celebrated my mom’s birthday, and Trevor and I even had a date night. It was an excellent trip, and Serena was a great little road tripper. She did awesome, and it helped to have someone to ride in the back with her from time to time.

This was Serena’s last road trip in her infant seat. She has almost met the weight limit! We actually picked up a new seat for her just the other night. Tuesday is her 9-month appointment so we’ll see her official height and weight then!

This is the little A-frame cabin the three of us stayed in that was a short walk from the camper and a little longer walk to the bathroom! Not a fun walk in the middle of the night, but we somehow survived! Ha! It was just enough space for us, the pack n’ play and all our stuff. The only bummer was the bed was basically a thin pad on top of a plywood board, so we would wake up all sore. I think next time we’ll try the bigger cabin, or use our tent (and our nice air mattress….). I guess I only rough it soooo much…

My parents have a great site that we spent most of our time at.

Check out mom’s birthday flamingo!

This time we did some shopping, wine tasting, dining with the locals (not so much the touristy stuff), went to Cave Point, and saw the animals at Dairy View Country Store.

Serena was tired so wasn’t as into them as I had hoped. She was a little more interested when we saw some piglets another day at a farm we stopped at for Dad to buy some organic meat. Waseda Farms was an absolutely lovely place with friendly people!

I requested we go to Cave Point because we had gone there two years ago and I thought it was absolutely beautiful. Plus I always love to see Lake Michigan any time I can. It feels like home to me.

Thanks to my parents, Trevor and I had a great date night out. We ate dinner at Coyote Roadhouse on my dad’s suggestion. It was a busy happening place with really great service and tasty hot food. We had steak. After dinner we watched the sunset at Egg Harbor marina. Perfect.

Saying goodbye is always tough, but I’m sure time will fly by and we’ll be with my family again!

That’s our last trip for a while. It will be different now to be home and figure out my new schedule now that I am home with Serena and we are just sticking around town! Hi friends! Let’s make plans. 🙂

Movie Recommendation- West of Memphis

I am a movie lover, and I watch all different kinds of movies. Documentaries are at the top of my list, and I watched a really good one last night. After seeing the Paradise Lost movies, I was looking forward to seeing one movie that told most of the story in one film, and even though I had seen the others, there was new information in West of Memphis. I also think it was different watching the movie as a mother, now having my own child. I felt for the mothers of the three children who lost their lives, but I also felt for the mothers of the boys, now men, who were imprisoned based on the way Damien dressed, unreliable witnesses, false information (especially about the knife and wounds), and a coerced confession given by a borderline mentally disabled kid. I never thought Damien, Jason, and Jessie were proven guilty and what is shown of their trials is just ridiculous. What do you think?


9 Month Old Serena!

Today Serena is 9 months old. This milestone feels especially big to me because I had imagined her reaching 9 months for quite a while as I made my decision to stay home with her. Yesterday the clerical staff started back for  the new school year, and I wasn’t one of them! I’ve been thinking a lot the past couple days about the people I worked with and hoping things are going well. I am appreciating even more that I am home with Serena as she just recently started to become more attached and cries if I walk away from her! She has always been great with people. She loves people! I used to be able to hand her to anyone and walk away with no issues. Now she is fine with being held by others, but I can’t walk away without her crying. Just within the past few days she has started to prefer me. I think it would have been especially hard now to bring her back to daycare- hard for both of us. I guess this is pretty normal 9-month behavior.

On Friday Serena started doing “so big” on her own for the first time. She did it for her Nana Tungseth first, when I wasn’t even around! She does it a lot now, sometimes just on her own without us saying anything to prompt it, when she’s excited. It’s so cute.

At 9 months Serena is crawling lots and crawling fast! She has been trying to pull herself up for a while and just figured out how to do it a couple days ago. She is constantly pulling herself up, sitting back down gently, and also pulling herself up and cruising a few steps. It’s crazy to see how fast she is changing- another reason I am lucky to be home with her!

Crawling around and wearing one of my dresses I wore when I was a baby!

She is a little squealer and squawker, and she makes a low roar I call her monster noises. She also just started saying gaga and baba, and says mama and dada and even said “Mom” to me the other day. It’s the best!

She loves to hold on to any kind of strap, and put it in her mouth if she can or if she doesn’t have a pacifier in, which she also loves!

She loves to feed herself and also tries to take the spoon away as well. She likes watermelon, blueberries, chicken, baked carrots, puffs, yogurt melts, banana. There isn’t much she won’t eat and will try any little pieces I put in front of her. She had mandarin oranges today for the first time and seemed to enjoy them as well. She still nurses pretty often and is getting better at drinking a bit of water out of a sippy cup with her meals. She is a great eater but has thinned out a bit since she started crawling!

Serena loves people. She will watch and smile at any kid she comes across.  She also loves friendly adults. Today at Costco she was smiling and looking past me so I looked behind me to see a blonde woman pushing her cart and smiling. After we checked out I got in the food line for my $1.50 hot dog and fountain soda lunch and she smiled at the man in line behind us the whole time. The blonde woman walked by and said “She flirts with everyone” and smiled. It’s true! She is so smiley and happy most of the time and so much fun. I am so blessed to be her mama!

A Trip Back to Bill’s Beach Road

Every summer some of Trevor’s relatives get together for “Lake Week.” Trevor hasn’t been in years. The last time I went was when I was home, laid off from work, three years ago, and it was at the same place it was this year (it’s been at a few different locations). This year Trevor had to work but Serena and I drove up to spend a few days at West McDonald Lake with some of her cousins!

Lake week means lots of people in a small place, lots of food, Linda’s famous fruit slush, time on the boat, swimming, fishing, and just hanging out in the sun. I was so happy to introduce Serena to Lake Week. She had a great time with her grandparents, aunt & uncle, cousins, great aunts and uncles and second cousins. She did “so big” on her own for the first time there! We had a great time.

It was so cute to see her interested in 2-week-old baby Cora!

There’s lots of little girls around she’ll be able to play with as she gets older, which is so awesome!

I am blessed with great in-laws. Some people thought it seemed weird I was driving a few hours to spend a few days with them without Trevor, but I didn’t give it a second thought. I love spending time with them. In fact, there were a couple other moms and kids there without their Tungseth husbands, just like me. We are lucky that we like each other so much and have a great time. We know our kids love it too! I am so thankful to have such great family of my own and through my marriage. And I am lucky Lake Week is part of it!

What are the odds?

Something happened the other day that has never happened to me before.

Trevor, Serena, and I went to run errands and decided to eat lunch at Panera Bread. We had to wait in a short line of people taking too long to place their orders…I was losing my patience with my arms full of a purse, diaper bag, and 21 lb baby. 🙂 I did notice the woman in front of me placing her order. Even though she was taking a bit to place her order she had a good vibe about her. The rest of you out there get these vibes from strangers, right? Anyway, she was a woman dressed in expensive athletic clothes, and was in her 60s, with a stylish haircut. She placed her order and then I placed our order next.

We found a table and a high chair and Trev sat down with Serena. I went over to the counter to wait for our food. The Panera worker called “Karen” as I was expecting since my name is rarely pronounced correctly by strangers. The woman who had placed her order ahead of me walked up to the counter at the same time as I did. She asked “Are you Karen or Karin (car-in)?” I answered, “Yes, I’m Karin.” She said, “I’m Karin! K-A-R-I-N?” I nodded yes. “I’ve never met another Karin in my life!” I said, “Really?!” and then we looked at the receipt and saw the order was hers. She grabbed her food and was out the door. No chance for me to say another word. Maybe that’s why she hasn’t met any other Karins if she is always in such a hurry. 🙂

My name isn’t very common, but I have met several others with it in my lifetime- in high school, at church camp, in a couple former jobs. But this is the first time my name was called, there were only two people there, and both of them were named Karin. It will probably never happen again!