Monday, April 27, 2009


This post was born from the true confessions that Emily posted here. I thought it was a wonderful idea, so I had to follow suit. Have confessions of your own? Post a blog of your own, and leave me a comment here to let me know!

For those of you checking in for any updates on lil Max...please bear with me...I need to get some new pictures uploaded and should be back later this week with those!

1. Not a day goes by that I do not question the choice I made to go back to work. I usually decide at the end of the day that I made the right decision, but during the day I experience quite a bit of turmoil.

2. I am addicted to coffee, chocolate, and smiled/giggles/kisses from lil Max.

3. I often wonder/forget what life was like before lil Max -- I know I must've had a lot more time on my hands, and wonder why I wasn't more productive with that time while I had it....

4. I have more furniture in my house than I know what to do with.

5. I rarely do my hair in the mornings anymore, which is a shame because if I took the time to blow dry it or style it, it makes me feel so much prettier throughout the day. The reason I don't do it? Because 1) I am too lazy; 2) I am afraid the blow drier will wake up lil Max and cut short my morning getting ready time... :)

6. I have been really horrible about calling/writing/sending cards to people lately -- I am sorry if you are one of those people I horribly neglected. Please know that I WAS thinking about you -- but then I probably had to change a diaper/pick up a mess/make dinner/give a bubble bath/etc, and forgot....

7. I wish I took more pictures...which is funny because I definitely take more pictures now than I did before the baby, but there are so many moments I want to capture now...that I feel like I don't take enough pictures...

8. I have really high hopes/aspirations for decorating/remodeling in my house, and then I usually fall short of those expectations either due to laziness, lack of money or lack of time...

9. I don't have a skin care regimine -- I think I should now that I am 30. Isn't that weird to put an arbitrary date on something like that? But, I think I should be taking better care of my skin as far as fighting wrinkles or something. I put on my SPF daily, but that is about it.

10. I worry about my parents and the amount of sun they expose themselves to. If you are reading this mom and dad, please get your skin checked. I love you.

11. I ran two miles last week (2o mins straight) for the first time in my life. It was really REALLY hard while I was doing it, but I kept telling myself to keep going. I was pretty beat when I was done, but am really proud of this accomplishment. My goal is to be able to run a 5K by July.

12. I have lots of things I wish I could change about my body, but lots of great things too that I don't give myself enough credit for. I need to learn to love the body I am in.

I could really go on and on with is a bit cathartic to see them printed out in black and white...I'll stop at 12 and continue on with the rest in my head.

Your turn! What confessions would you make right now?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend in MN

This past weekend, we drove to MN to celebrate the wedding of Max's brother, Fran to his new wife, Denyce.

Max's parents live on 10 acres of land, dotted with beautiful old oak trees and prairie grasses that grow taller than me in the summer! It is every child's paradise, and lil Max certainly thought so too -- he had such a blast running around the backyard, touching all the trees and leaves and just being outside.

Walking through the oaks with Grandpa...

Lil Max had to touch EVERY tree...and there were LOTS of trees!

Aww...this shot just melts my heart!

Max and Grandma playing games on the swing...

The windchimes were a good source of entertainment...

As was the horse ball (that the dog plays with).

Off to the wedding reception...

The bride and groom were properly labelled so that there would be no question...

Four generations of McLaughlin men!

The one family photo we got the entire weekend. My pants were dirty from a day's worth of toddler shoe prints, lil Max had pasta sauce all over his outfit..but we all managed a smile! That's gotta be worth SOMETHING! :)

Fran and Denyce also announced that they are expecting an addition to their family! So, lil Max will have a cousin around Nov 22, 2009 -- they must've been trying to make it easy for Grandma and Grandpa to remember birthdays! Congrats again!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Max and Jack, playing like buddies... For this short moment at least... in Jack's cardboard 'FORT'

After this picture was taken, Max probably made his famous raptor noise at Jack...because Jack took his toy, looked at him funny, or touched Max's mommy...

Poor Jack...he is such a good boy....

Max...we've got to work on that thing called 'sharing'....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The McBunny Visits....

The McBunny visited the McLaughlin house today...

Holy cow! Look at that basket!

Digging IN!

Look its Elmo!

What's in here?

Sidewalk Chalk!

What's in here? Candy?

Fruit snacks!! Mom, feed me!


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lil Man Updates

Ok, long overdue obligatory update post on the little one....

This past week, lil Max's 'language' has EXPLODED. He has learned upwards of 5 new signs just this week, and even vocalized a few new words -- at least twice! It is truly amazing to me how quickly things 'click' in their little heads, and how much they can pick up on...

Signs (new signs in bold): dog, cat, frog, fish, please, thank you, more, hat, milk, drink, eat, shoes, wash hands, all done, bird (this is one of his favorite signs, and he uses it properly to identify all kinds of birds -- ones he sees flying overhead on walks, the rooster in books, etc.), cracker, and cheese.

Words: pup-pup, more, mama, dada, thank you, Nina, Amanda (yes, I am counting the garbledness he says for this...because it is consistent), e-i-e-i-o (to sing Old McDonald, of course), and turtle.

Understanding: He is really good at pointing and grunting for those things he doesn't have a word or sign for. He also understands LOTS of words and phrases, and can follow two step directions, i.e. "Pick up your milk and put it on the table...". He understands when we ask him if he needs his diaper changed or if he is tired and wants to take a nap -- responding by either nodding, or heading for the stairs to go to his room. No fights!! (YET...) :)

Body Parts: head, hair, eyes (he blinks his eyes or points), mouth (points or opens and closes his mouth), ears, belly, be bo (aka belly button), arm, hand, and foot.

Cutisms: He is really into talking on the phone lately -- maybe because mom is always on the phone? He will pick up anything that resembles a phone and walk around the house with it up to his ear having a conversation in his own language. He even mimics the rise and fall intonations as if he is having a real makes me laugh EVERY time without fail.

Snuggling: He LOVES giving hugs (and kisses, see earlier video of him with his Auntie Amanda), but especially to the cat. He will chase her around the house until she lays down and then he lays on top of her chirping softly. He really adores the cat, and the cat really doesn't care too much for the hugs or the high pitched squeals he emits as he chases her....but she tolerates the hugs well. He has also taken to hugging the dog lately, but has to wait for the dog to be in a laying down position in order to hug him...otherwise he is too tall! :)

Teeth: He's up to 10 teeth now, including the 4 molars I JUST FOUND this weekend!!!

Mobility: He walks/RUNS 99.9% of the time, only using his knee walk for times when we're playing on the floor. He is very confident on his feet and has also started climbing on lots of household items....

Helping Out: He is such a good helper for: closing doors, getting himself dressed, getting his coat, brushing his teeth, changing the TV channel, turning on/off light switches, losing my chapstick, etc.

Sleeping: He is such a great sleeper! Consistently sleeping 11-12 hours at night, and at LEAST one nap a day (we are working on the transition from 2 naps to 1) for 2-3.5 hrs a day (this is at home...daycare is a completely different story)...

He is such a sweet, social, happy kid. He has a great sense of humor, and is laughing/smiling at least 90% of the time. I love him SO much!

To end, here is a little video to share of some of his little antics today:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Denmark Day 7

Last day in Denmark. I am happy to go home.

We got a late start to the day. I was so happy to sleep in and finally relax. We started by going over to the Hard Rock Cafe at 11:30 for some lunch. I was happy to find out they were serving American style brunch. It had eggs, sausage, hash browns, toast, and the best bacon I have ever tasted! It must have been apple wood smoked and seasoned just right. My recollections can not do it justice it was just that good.

We then walked to the harbour to see the Little Mermaid statue that is on a rock on the shore. Turns out that Hans Christian Anderson the famous writer of most fairy tales is Danish. There are statues all over the city from his fairy tales. The little mermaid is just another one of his tales that Disney purloined to make a buck. The statue was not that impressive to me, but the walk through the city was. All the old architecture was magnificent. There is just nothing in the US that can compare to the age and amount of details that go into these buildings.
We walked through the King's garden and through the Citadel. The Citadel is an old military fortress that is still being used today but is open to tourists also. It was built hundreds of years ago by the king to be his fortress from attackers. It is surrounded by two moats and a series of steep manmade hills that force the attackers to be exposed to archers on the hill tops. The moats and hills that surround the fortress are in the shape of a giant star. Bryan tried to look into one of the buildings and was almost arrested. He did not read the sign that says it is still an active military base so don't look in the windows. We walked the high hills over to some other statues and took pictures. We walked back to the "Walking street" to shop and find food.

Today we ate a Kinesisk restaurant (Chinese). Yes even here you can find that wonderful flavour of cheaply made deep-fried glory called sweet and sour chicken. We ate the buffet to get some variety. We did not stay long and started on our way back to the hotel since it was getting close to 5 pm. Most shops in Copenhagen shut at 5 pm so we thought we better get the last minute shopping done. We passed a shop selling some interesting garments and teased Aaron that we were going to buy them for his wedding present (Aaron is getting married on May 29). The one item in particular was a speedo that had suspender like straps that went over your shoulders. Needless to say Aaron was embarrassed just by the thought of it. Lucky for him the place was closed or he would have had a wonderful wedding present to share during the opening the next day.

We finished trinket shopping and made our way back to the hotel to relax before starting the nerve-racking journey home. We had a great time here, but I can't wait to be back in my own house.

Denmark Day 6

Another late night tonight. We went to the city of Roskilde (pronounce Ross-Kill-da) today to check out another CHR Hansen plant. We took the train from Copenhagen to Roskilde which was surprisingly simple and very quick. The ticket booth attendant was also very helpful and gave us the cheapest ticket for the trip. We punched our ticket and got on the train on platform 6, waited a couple of minutes then off we were going. The trip of >60km (around 36 miles) took only 20 minutes with stops on the way.

We stared at the map once we got off the train to find the location of our factory. I'm pretty sure all the locals knew we were tourists at that point since were pointing in different directions trying to figure out exactly where we were on the map. We finally found where we needed to go and started our trek. Aaron has been on a kick to find special Danish cheese everywhere we have gone. We stopped at a "Fakta" to look and purchase something. Aaron finally found some special Danbo cheese to take home and we were on our way again. The walk only took 15 minutes from the train station to the factory which kind of surprised us since we thought we would be walking for miles from the map.

We arrived at the factory unannounced and ill-prepared. Our colleagues were still eager to help and give us a tour. This plant is a remodeled old dairy facility and from the street looked like a motel. I would never had known it was a culture plant if it were not for the "Hansen" sign out front. We had a wonderful hour long tour and discussion on their operations with our own dissertations on current US operations. What I mean to say is, we talked too much. After the tour some members of the facility were drinking beer in the cafeteria. We were invited to share a glass of the special Easter brew. Never being ones to pass on free beer we gladly accepted. There was some small talk and beer consumed. We then were quickly kicked out so they could go "on holiday" for the next week or so. "On holiday?" We have been in this country for a week now at two Hansen facilities that were mostly empty to begin with and they were going on holiday now!? We started to get the feeling that they never actually worked.

After being booted from the facility we went to see the sights in Roskilde. We went to the walking street here and saw many shops that we had seen in Copenhagen (nothing new here). Then we saw Domkirke ( a really big church) from the outside. Then we made out way to the Viking museum.

The Viking museum was really quite cool. There were many old and restored Viking ships that were found in fjords along the coasts. Bryan (another travel companion and recently retired Naval officer) was very interested in the ships. The ship below was a recreation from a recovered and damaged ship. They had creosoted this one before we had got there. It smelled terrible yet they were willing to get close to it and Aaron even touched the stuff (carcinogen!). This was the technique of the old days to prevent rotting of the ships hulls. We then started to head back to the train station so that I could meet Mads for kick boxing. He called at that very moment to tell me that he was not going to be able to go! Oh well, I was getting hungry anyway. We instead met up with Lars to have dinner at his house.

Lars is the co-worker that arranged for us to come to Denmark for our project. He also had spent a few years working in Milwaukee with me before returning home. He loves having Milwaukee employees over for entertaining. His wife Heidi cooked us wonderful meal and their children entertained us with their antics. After dinner Lars took us to a little town with a large Castle. You know what they say about towns with large castles? They have big moats (hahaha! I know not funny). The castle was supposed to be lit up with a spot light, however they must have forgot to pay the bill because tonight the castle was dark. We could make out the outline against the horizon, but sadly that means no pictures. So instead we went to another Irish pub for beer! Irish beer and Irish couples fighting in broken Irish and Danish. What a great place! We moved on to another bar and drank more beer. Then Lars drove us all the way back to Copenhagen to our hotel. We thanked Lars for his hospitality and went back the hotel.

We walked by a guy that was laying on the ground against the hotel and thought he was just a bum (yes, they have them) trying to stay warm. Turns out he was actually sick, because someone called the ambulance to come help him. I guess we Americans are so used to seeing people on the streets that we tend to ignore them and not bother to see if they need help. This brought a down note to the whole day. Bummer.

Just one more day here. I can't wait to be going home. I want to get back to my creature comforts and my family. Until then

har en god nat (have a good night)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Denmark Days 4 and 5

I had a bad internet connection on Day 4 so I could not compose any kind of email. However, to catch you up here is the latest.

We finished the first task we had come here to do. I don't know how much we actually accomplished since there was a lot of discussion and no decisions made. The group is to decide what will be all included in our new factory control scheme and global database. My part is to help in development of the factory control scheme and align the many factories production parameters into a unified process. Translation: Hansen as a company, does the same thing in every country. That can be hard when every factory seems to do things differently. We all produce product, but we have our own little tweaks we add to get there. The work is far from over. Now, we get to go home and dive into the heart of the project before the group re-convenes in Milwaukee.

Last night the Team leaders took us to a fancy Italian restaurant called Bacino on the canal front in Copenhagen. I was only able to get one picture on the way to the restaurant since they were in a hurry. Bacino was very nice and obscenely expensive (I'm glad I did not have to pay). The food was tiny, but full of flavour, and there were 5 courses. We were treated to wonderful French wine (wait I thought we were in an Italian restaurant) that my French counterpart knew all about. After 3.5 hours of sitting (waiting) and eating we finally were led back through the city to our hotel. Yes, we walked back. The Danish futbol (soccer) team played the Albanians in a world cup playoff game that night and won so the streets were teeming with happy, drunk fans.

Now that the work is done the rest of my time here is for fun. I'm growing tired of going out every night, but we were invited by an American ex-patriot (one of our company sponsored transplants) to join him for beers at Kennedy's Irish pub down the street from his house. How could we refuse, he was buying! Mads, one of my good Danish friends joined us for beers also. We had a good time in the traditional Irish pub. We talked shop, old times, and made fun of the televised English dart league on TV. I have a picture of Mads in his natural setting (with beer and attitude). His middle finger is short since he got half of it cut off in a farming accident. That means it doesn't have quite as much potency for swearing at people.

I also encountered this famous (only in Denmark) soda. It is called Squash. At first, I thought it was squash flavoured which would be disgusting. However, it is really orange soda and pretty tasty. You might notice that it is labelled "appelsin" and think that it is apple juice flavoured, but that would be wrong. Appelsin is orange juice in Danish. Something to do with the oranges coming from china. I don't get it but whatever.

I also found out that almost all candy in Denmark is Licorice flavored. I don't mean red rope licorice. I mean black licorice, or anise, flavored. Aaron, one of my travel companions, found this out the hard way when we stopped at "Rema" (a grocery store). He thought he would get a variety pack of bulk candy that would be chocolate and gummy types. He found that every piece of gummy type was licorice flavour. I like black licorice so this would not bother me, but he can't stand that flavor. He could only eat the chocolate candies (I got the rest for free, yeah!).

Hot dogs are BIG here. They are the national food ( I think they were invented here) and you can find a street vendor every block selling them. There are several types that can be bought so don't just stop anywhere, and they range in price from 20 - 35 DKK (Denmark krown, which is 6 krowns to $1). That's right they are not cheap, but then again nothing is cheap here especially gas ($6/gallon). Anyway, back to hot dogs. You can get the hot dog without the bun, with bun, and in a bun that is like a shell for easier carrying. I prefer the shell for when you need to move and eat. Definitely get the mustard on that. It is a horseradish mustard or wasabi mustard that packs a kick which is worth it.

Enough for tonight. It is nearly 1am here. I need to get up so we can travel by train or rental car to Roskilde to see one of our other plants here in DK. Then I have plans to go kick-boxing with Mads. Hopefully, he won't ruin my good looks. :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Apparently, lil Max has learned the concept of give and take.

Or, you could say that he's learned the trick of bribery...

In any case, it is pretty darn smart of him to put two and two together.

See for yourself! In this video, Auntie Amanda is showing him pictures of him and her on her camera. When she turns off the camera, and he wants more pictures, he decides that by patting her on the head, pointing to her nose, and kissing her....the camera will turn back on. Of course, because he's so darn cute, it does.... Seriously? When did he learn this?

Better question? How will I resist????

No matter how you look at it, though, it is pretty clear that he ♥s his Auntie Amanda. And so do I!