Christina Ries
Feature
Here I am, 37 weeks pregnant, asking BabyNameWizard.com to generate sister names for Maria and Jane, my two daughters. Three come up on the lists for both girls: Elizabeth, Anna and Sarah. For a moment, I feel something loosen in me, a surrender: OK, we’ll just use one of these. We’ll let the experts decide for us. Only yesterday a friend commented on how lovely Anna Ries would sound, and I know it’s a family name. Good enough.  Finding the perfect baby name may well be... more
It's a boy!
It's a BOY! The refrain keeps ringing in my mind. After having two girls, these three words are so new and thrilling. When my husband announced them, they brought tears to my eyes, and I reached forward and pulled a beautiful baby to my chest. The dream of Archibald Kenneth has been in our hearts for many years. We've... more
Our Peppa Pig-themed 2nd birthday party
Peppa Pig made the perfect theme for Jane's second birthday party. It's a favorite of Janie's -- and of mine. The British show is refreshingly simple. I think the girls find comfort in its simplicity, its oft-played melody and tidy structure. The plotlines are fun with relatable family dynamics, including some subtle, gentle... more
The best present for a new baby
I am still pregnant. This past week has felt like an eternity.When I typed today's date at the top of this article, I wrote Feb. 27, 2018. That's how it feels. I've been nesting up a storm. Cleaned the refrigerator. Trimmed the girls' finger and toe nails. Had my eyebrows waxed. Purged the kitchen counters. ... more
The prettiest Easter dresses you ever did see
It's not too soon to start searching for the perfect Easter dress for your little girl! In a crowded market, these are the stand-outs.For more than a century, Feltman Brothers has delivered the most exquisite classic children's clothing. Theirs are the heirloom pieces you hand down generation to generation. And Feltman's new bouquet... more
Pregnancy update!
I had forgotten how the final weeks of pregnancy turn me into the boy who cried wolf. I’m almost 39 weeks along now, and every day I can feel the baby lowering. For a fleeting moment, the lower abdominal pressure can masquerade as a contraction.I keep telling my husband that labor feels imminent, even though my due date isn’t until Feb.... more
Birthday-party fashion for sisters
Long before I'd considered the date, the venue, the menu or theme for my daughter's second-birthday party, I determined her outfit.Priorities, people. Therese McInally's pinafores, which are sold on her Cottontail Etsy site and were featured in my fall fashion round-up, have long impressed me. What's more, she is a delight to deal... more
Everyday dresses for active girls
Introducing Smiling Button dresses -- frocks as cute as the name! There's something about these dresses that feels different, like they're designed to be played in and enjoyed, not just unveiled for formal occasions. As the website notes: "We create everyday dresses for little girls that make as much sense for the playground as they... more
Inside our hot cocoa stand
Years ago -- before I had become a mom -- I spotted a full-page magazine ad featuring a bundled-up brown-haired girl behind a hot cocoa stand, and I tore it out. I can't recall what the ad was for -- maybe an insurance company? But I remember feeling utterly charmed by the scene and wanting to file it away to try out one day as a... more
25 winter activities for toddlers
It’s tempting to hibernate during a frigid Minnesota winter, but your tots have just as much energy to burn now as ever.Making the most of the season, however, requires a bit of creative thinking — not to mention a lot of winter wear. I was reminded of this recently when I helped my young daughters run their very own hot cocoa stand... more
A very vintage Christmas
There's something about Christmas that invites nostalgia -- tales of years past, faded photographs and images that remain timeless. The idea of an old-school Christmas feels refreshing as we become increasingly high-tech. If you're looking to visually counter our screen-addiction this holiday season, opt for the vintage -- and let... more
Celebrate St. Lucia's Day, tap into tradition
Growing up, I was a huge fan of the American Girls -- particularly the book series. My favorite from the Kirsten collection was "Kirsten's Surprise," which tells of the Swedish family's first winter in Minnesota -- 1854 -- and their struggle to preserve Christmas traditions from home in a foreign place. Thirty-something moms, does... more
A holiday gift guide for everyone on your list
Based on reviews, recommendations and a few personal favorites, this comprehensive holiday gift guide should cover everyone on your list!Chief criteria for adult gifts was either practicality -- something super useful -- or comfort, for the person who has everything but could use a little R&R. Kid gifts were selected for their fun... more
Flower girl survival guide
We survived!In fact, the big day went as well as I possibly could've hoped.All year, Nov. 26 loomed large on our calendar. It would be the biggest day of our year, the wedding of my husband's younger brother. Much as I looked forward to this occasion, I also took a deep inhale: We're talking an out-of-state wedding where my husband... more
Admire the supermoon and taste a 'bimulous night'
Grab your aspiring astronomer and head outside: There's a supermoon! Because the moon's orbit has an elliptical shape, sometimes it is closer to Earth than other times. Astronomers call the closest-to-Earth moment the perigee. And what makes Nov. 14 special is that the moon "becomes full within about two hours of perigee -- arguably... more
The best fall fashion for little ones
I’ve combed lookbooks and mined the web. It’s time to present my favorite fall fashion for little ones!We’re talking fair-isle foxes, mouse mittens and pleated pinafores! Whether you’re heading to the pumpkin patch or snapping a photo for the Christmas card, there’s no better season to don your beautiful children in beautiful clothes.... more
The perfect autumn picnic
Summer may be considered prime picnic season, but Minnesotans know that autumn offers the most glorious opportunity to eat al fresco. If you're looking to make a meaningful memory as a family (and snag a gorgeous photo) without much fuss, now is the time to grab a blanket, fill a basket and search for a bright maple. They're at... more
Becoming a family of 5: pregnancy news
I'm so happy to share our good news with you: I'm pregnant!We are expecting Baby No. 3 in late February. I just popped earlier this month. My first time wearing maternity jeans was at our trip to the RenFest. (Isn't Maria's fox dress adorable? It's from Little Rabbit Wears. I'm obsessed with all things fox and will be blogging about... more
A wart-covered pumpkin to love
I've been on pumpkin look-out for several weeks now, and we happened to be at our local Cub the day the pumpkins arrived out front. I couldn't resist. I don't know why pumpkins make me so happy, but they do. I let Maria make a selection. She quickly zeroed in on a big pumpkin covered in warts. The only one with warts.In a... more
Celebrate Grandparents Day
There is no way I could ever repay my parents for all they have done for my children. Yet every time Ted and I drop the kids off and head out, they make it seem as if we are doing them the favor.Honestly, I’m behind by about 1.3 million thank-yous. Life just keeps rolling, and I try to file them all away in my mind to properly address... more
New Beatrix Potter book released today
Today brings exciting news for Beatrix Potter fans: Penguin Random House has released a never-before-published book discovered a century after it was written. Brought to life with illustrations by Quentin Blake, famous for his drawings in the Roald Dahl books, "The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots" is an instant bestseller sure to delight... more
10 things I buy at garage sales
Few phrases excite me more than "city-wide garage sale."And tomorrow is the opening day of Inver Grove Heights' three-day city-wide sales, which run from Thursday, Aug. 25 to Saturday, Aug. 27.Neon signs are starting to crop up at intersections, and my heart is aflutter. I picked up the $1 directory outlining the 47 participating... more
Fun at the county fair
We just returned from the Dakota County Fair in Farmington, which has become a tradition for our family -- just as it was for my parents, who took my siblings and me every year when we were young. The beauty of the county-fair scene is the ease and access -- simpler parking, smaller crowds, plenty of furry friends and fried foods.... more
Maria's beloved new mermaid swimsuit
The email arrived in all caps: "YOU NEED THIS FOR MARIA." And then, simply, this link.My fashionable friend Mollie is always scouring the interwebs for the best of the best, and she is kind enough to include toddler apparel on my behalf. When I spotted the darling suit, I couldn't resist its charms. Maria was even more... more
Rain, rain, stay here!
Some days you have to stop and let the kids play in the rain. For us, this morning was one of those days. Maria showed Jane the ropes. She studied Big Sister's technique. Reached for Big Sister's hand. And soon was off to the races! Then we met up with Cousin and Grandma for more rainy fun. (Grandma never let a... more
All the details on our mermaid party
When I talked to Maria about her third-birthday party, a theme immediately emerged: She wanted a mermaid party. For an almost-3-year-old, the concept feels as obvious as it is simply put, “a mermaid party.” No explanation needed.Mermaids have captured Maria’s imagination. We’re not just talking “Little Mermaid.” We read a variety of... more
How to make the easiest flower crowns
Flower crowns are having a moment.Suri Cruise, the 10-year-old daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, recently appeared in her mom's Instagram feed sporting a dainty purple-and-yellow flower crown.Tiffani Thiessen (better known as Kelly Kapowski) decked out her 5-year-old daughter and a group of frocked friends in flower crowns this... more
Getting started
I’ve become that mom who cannot stop talking about her kids. It’s gotten so obnoxious I’ve even begun meetings and presentations by whipping out photos. They’re just so important to me, so central to who I am. If you don’t know about them, you don’t really know me.I am passionate about my career as a writer. But becoming a mom has... more