A blog for all that goes on in our family.

Archive for September, 2011

Camping (…or something similar)

As long as I can remember, my family has always owned a camper. I know that my parents had a tent when I was born, but they moved into the pop-up era soon after, and since then they’ve upgraded every few years. It made for some great summer vacations, because we’d pack up everything in the camper and head out for weeks, usually going west. No, we weren’t “roughing it” by some standards, but it made for fairly quick and easy overnight stops to our main destination. (Maybe not so “easy” if you ask my dad, who usually ended up doing most of the work…) We LOVED it. There are so many great stories from those trips; most of them involved all of us in very close quarters, laughing until we cried.

John and I haven’t been camping a ton since we got married, but we have made a few trips, and we were able to take Anna out in a tent at least once this summer. And although she hasn’t stayed overnight yet, she has also enjoyed Grandpa Jim and Grandma Sherry’s camper. One of these times was over Labor Day weekend at Lake Elmo Park Reserve.

My family grew up going camping with my uncle and aunt, Scott and Denise, and their four kids, every Labor Day weekend. We used to go somewhere new each year (I just have to mention El Rancho Manana; it was the best in all of our minds because we WON the scavenger hunt! Free s’mores supplies, camping gear, and ridiculously happy memories were OURS!). Somewhere along the line we stayed at Lake Elmo and we’ve been going there ever since.

This year we weren’t able to enjoy the entire weekend, but we did go out for one day. Here are some pictures of Anna enjoying herself. I hope she gets to grow up with wonderful camping memories, whether with us or with her grandparents.

Smiling with Mommy


Laughing at supper


Reaching for the camera while we play on the blanket


Learning to play beanbags with Grandpa Jim


Mesmerized by the fire

The Answers

A while ago I posted the questions to the trivia game we played at Anna’s birthday party. Here are the answers… see how you scored!


1. What is Anna’s birthday? 8/29/2010
2. What was Anna’s due date? 9/20/2010
3. Why do we call her our “miracle” baby? We thought we had miscarried (and we obviously didn’t)
4. How much did Anna weigh when she was born? 4 lbs, 8 oz
5. How long was she (in inches)? 17.5″
6. What was her head circumference (in inches)? 11.75″
7. What time was she born? 11:22 AM
8. Who are Anna’s Godparents? Mike & Hallie Rogers
9. What day was Anna baptized? 10/3/2010 (Sunday)
10. What month did Anna stop wearing her helmet? May
11. What is our nickname for Anna? Sweetpea/Sweetest Pea
12. What was Anna’s first word? Hi
13. What is her favorite stuffed animal’s name? Pooh Bear
14. Anna’s middle name, “Kateri,” is “Catherine” in what language? Mohawk/Iroquois
15. How many states has Anna been to (including in the womb but NOT including airplane layovers)? 5 (MN, FL, IA, ND, MA)

How did you do?

Walking and Talking

No, Anna is not walking yet (nor is she anywhere close to doing so). But we have been going on quite a few walks lately, trying to hold on to the last few remaining strands of summer. I love walking with Anna, who sits so happily in her stroller, arms straight out “airplane-style” as she looks at everything around us. I think she mainly is waiting for puppies to walk by, but even without them, she seems to really enjoy our walks.

Finally, I love going on walks with friends. I’ve managed to get a few in lately, which has been wonderful; like I said in my post about Beth’s bachelorette party, there is just something special about spending time with other women, especially those you share foundational beliefs and morals with; you always feel free to talk about anything (and I do).

I was able to enjoy a walk with Angela and her two boys about a week ago, and it meant some much-needed discussion as well as some playtime for the kids. (By the way, if you or your kid loves to watch airplanes, boy, do I have the picnic place for you!)  I also went on a walk with Taryn and her two boys, where we got to play at a park I didn’t even know existed; there are some pictures below. The time I was able to spend with these ladies was priceless. Thank you, and hopefully we can do it again soon! (Anyone else who wants to go for a walk? Call me up!!)

Finally, and probably most of all, I love going on walks with my husband. John and I just read “The 5 Love Languages” and we discovered that we both have the same top language: Quality Time. In other words, we feel the most loved by each other when we spend time together, discussing our days or our troubles or our future. Although I am a true Minnesotan and I love the fall and the winter seasons, I definitely will miss these times together… at least until next spring!


Louie (Taryn’s youngest) crawls in the tube and the static gets to his hair.


Taryn and Anna: Two cute girls in pink striped shirts!

1 Year Comparison

It may be three weeks late, but we finally got around to taking our (probably last) comparison photo of Anna with her puppy, Max. For once we were able to catch some great smiles on camera. It only took a year…

Enjoy the progression below!

One month old. Isn’t she so sweet and tiny?!?


Three months old, with the ubiquitous bib.


Six months


Nine months. Ready for summer!


So happy to be 1! My heart melts at that smile.


“It’s My Party…”

About one week ago we celebrated Anna Kateri’s birthday by throwing her a party here at home. We started off with a lunch full of Anna’s favorite foods: pepperoni, grapes, and watermelon (no, that is not all that we ate). While eating, people were asked to fill out “Anna Trivia,” and before the presents were opened we gave the answers. Godparents Mike and Hallie won the trivia contest with an astonishing 13 out of 15 answers correct: way to go! The questions to the trivia game will be at the end of this post and the answers will come in a few days, in case you weren’t at the party and would like to take a stab at answering them.

Next came the presents. Oh, the presents. They were all so great! Miss Kateri was not too interested in unwrapping many of them, but she did seem to love her new vacuum cleaner (tough she will have to keep her feet on the floor to play with it!) and her new musical toys: a “music parade” ride-on and a DJ Mixer, complete with “applause” sounds and a microphone. She has since spent many hours playing with ALL of her new toys, not just the ones mentioned here – they were all great picks. Thank you, family and friends!

Our little family


Hailey teaches Anna how to clean with a new vacuum cleaner


Anna eats… I mean kisses… her first doll

Finally, there was the cake. My mom decorated a cute “doll cake” just like I had when I turned one (as did my sisters). She loved the cake, especially the frosting. I expected a huge Anna mess: cake in her hair, frosting on her feet, you name it. But the Sweetest Pea suddenly turned into a prim and proper little girl. She didn’t get a thing in her hair or even on her ears. Pretty easy clean up!


“Where’s that cake everyone keeps talking about?”


Grandma Sherry’s pretty doll cake




“That was sooooooo good!”

The party was a success, and we want to thank everyone that came and everyone that helped. You are all blessings in our lives and Anna (and John and I) loves you all so much! Thanks for helping us to celebrate such a special day!

As for Anna Trivia… here it is, if you’d like to give it a shot!

1. What is Anna’s birthday?
2. What was Anna’s due date?
3. Why do we call her our “miracle” baby?
4. How much did Anna weigh when she was born?
5. How long was she (in inches)?
6. What was her head circumference (in inches)?
7. What time was she born?
8. Who are Anna’s Godparents?
9. What day was Anna baptized?
10. What month did Anna stop wearing her helmet?
11. What is our nickname for Anna?
12. What was Anna’s first word?
13. What is her favorite stuffed animal’s name?
14. Anna’s middle name, “Kateri,” is “Catherine” in what language?
15. How many states has Anna been to (including in the womb but NOT including airplane layovers)?

Answers will be posted soon!

Health and a Time Capsule

As you all know by now, Anna turned one a few weeks ago. (There will be many posts to chronicle that event.) At the doctor appointment she got the usual shots, weighing, etc. Here are her current stats:

WEIGHT – 20 pounds even (10th percentile)

HEIGHT – 29″ (30th percentile)

HEAD – 18″ circumference (still holding strong in the 75th percentile!)

Everything else went beautifully at the appointment, and I am thankful for a great doctor and a healthy child.

Also, I have to mention the Time Capsule. We asked Anna’s birthday partygoers (and anyone else we know, really) to contribute to a time capsule for Anna. Currently it contains many items, including pictures, magazines, a CD, a coffee mug with her picture, and many letters and a poem to Anna. I will be putting in the story of my pregnancy with her, and John will be writing her a letter, although we have yet to figure out what to store this all in. The Time Capsule will be hidden, to be opened on Anna’s 18th birthday: August 29, 2028. We wonder what the world will be like then. One thing we really don’t know is if there will be a CD player around anywhere!

If you would like to contribute something to Anna’s time capsule, please let me know by the end of the month. We hope to have everything sealed up around then.

I can’t wait to see her reaction when she opens it. We’ll try to remember to give you all an update in, oh, about seventeen years!

“I Had a Hard Run…”

Since graduating from college a little over five years ago, my level of physical activity has steadily decreased. Gone are the days of walking up five flights of stairs to get to my theology class, living on the third floor of an apartment complex, and playing racquetball three times a week at the SJU athletic complex. I’ve lived on a typical American diet of processed carbohydrates and large quantities of red meat for quite a while, and at 28, I’m reaping the consequences–increasing aches and pains, general flabbiness, difficulty sleeping, etc.

However, I am also blessed with a loving and supportive wife, who has encouraged me to move beyond my disgust with myself and get in shape so I can live to see my children’s children’s children. To that end, I got up on Labor Day and went for my first serious jog since quitting my high school track team in April 1999. When I turned in my track uniform that day 13 years ago, Coach told me I would “never succeed at anything” if I “kept quitting things.” But I had been cast in a play, which appealed to my ego much more than running. But I digress!

While my Labor Day run was a humbling and painful experience, I think I’ll get up and do it again tomorrow. This is primarily because I know Sara will cheer when I come in the door, and her enthusiasm is an excellent motivator. Also, I’ve set a goal of running a 5K using the Couch to 5K plan available online. Oh, and when I started up my mp3 player at the start of my run, the song that came up was Bertha by the Grateful Dead, which must be some sort of sign that my weak attempt at exercise pleases the Man Upstairs, if only because my plodding pace greatly amuses Him:

I had a hard run, running from your window.
I was all night running, running, running;
I wonder if you care?
I had a run-in, run around and run down.
Run around a corner, run smack into a tree.

(Luckily, I did not run into a tree.)

Also, I’m posting this to ask you for your help. When you talk to me next, please ask me how running is going. It is my nature to dislike exercise and avoid discomfort. This is one of my great failings, and you asking how things are going will help me stay motivated.


Girls’ Night Out

My sister Traci and I hosted our little sister Beth’s Bachelorette Party the Saturday before the wedding. I drove down to Traci’s apartment Friday night so we could finish up a few details and so I could see her new, awesome apartment in SmallTown, Minnesota. When Saturday morning started out with Traci locking her keys in her car, I was praying that this wasn’t a foreshadowing of a problematic party, but everything went off better than fine.

We all met at Chateau Kramer (family friends who were sweet enough to let us use their home for our overnight party) around 12:30. The group of us boarded our party bus, driven by our cousin Sam: policeman by day, bachelorette party bus driver extraordinaire by night… at least for one day. 🙂

We first drove to Whitewater Wines, a vineyard about 40 minutes from Rochester. Let me tell you, if you are looking for a nice tour, many delicious wines to taste, and the friendliest people on the planet, this is the winery to visit. We each had 15 (yes, FIFTEEN) wine tastings for only $6. And they weren’t skimpy on the samples, either! I think we were all feeling pretty good by the time we left. Not to mention that our Bachelorette, Beth, had an extra glass we had given her, so she was double fisting it through most of these. To top it off, Beth agreed to take a dare to drink a glass full of the wine dump. She did make over $50 doing it, but that couldn’t have tasted good. Never underestimate my baby sister; if food and money is involved, she WILL take the dare!

Whitewater Wines’ Vineyard
Beth takes on the dare

Once we had all finished, we all agreed that this was a place to revisit. We had gotten progressively louder throughout our time there – there were 12 women, after all! – and I am pretty sure the hospitable staff was ready to see us go. But let me just mention one more time: their wines were great!

Sisters 🙂
Beth and her party bus
The whole group of us at Whitewater Wines
Michaela and Beth high-five during a crazy game of wedding pictionary

Our next stop was Salem Glen Vineyard, only a few miles from Rochester, and it was okay. We had called ahead to make reservations but somehow they didn’t manage to move some tables together for us, so we ended up at two separate tables; not a big deal, but odd when calling ahead apparently did nothing. Not to mention that they were going to charge us an extra $2/person just for having a group over 10, but thankfully they didn’t end up doing that, and the service was friendly while we were there. I wasn’t as impressed by these wines (we were given tastings of seven wines here), but that could just be my preference. Either way, Bethany Jo was well on her way to feeling like a rock star!

Group photo op at Salem Glen Vineyards
The bride-to-be rocks out to the great party mix (which she created)

After that we headed to dinner at Glynner’s Pub. Our bachelorette wasn’t feeling very well toward the end of dinner, but we managed to make it back to the house, where we enjoyed a game, gift opening, snacks, Rummy Bears, and… a performance of “Super Trouper” from Mamma Mia by our mom (Sherry), our “second” mom (Laurie) and Beth’s newest mom (LeAnn). Mom and Beth both love the movie and had joked about Mom doing this at her bachelorette party; I think she was happily surprised!

My Three Moms: Beth’s “Moms” perform Abba.

We slept, we woke up, we rehashed everything that had happened the day before and talked about how great the party was. Truly, there is nothing quite like a fun girls’ night out. There’s just something exhilarating about it, and I hope everyone else had as good a time as I did. Thank you, Traci, for all the help planning, and thank you, Bethany, for being a fun bachelorette! We love you and congratulations!

The Beautiful Bachelorette