A blog for all that goes on in our family.

BY JOHN

Due Date!

stroller

Elias (front seat): Hang on, Goose. I’ma put ‘er down hard. Jude: Roger that, Maverick.

 

due_date

Elias (left): Happy due date, brother! Jude (right): Wait, you mean I could have spent the last 44 days inside Mom, nice and warm?!?


The Twins are Here!

On June 16 at 7:35 and 7:40 AM, Elias James and Jude Robert were born at 33 weeks and 3 days gestation. Elias was 4 lbs, 8 oz, and Jude was 4 lbs, 6 oz. Sara was a champ all throughout this pregnancy and labor; she is a strong, brave woman. The boys are still in the Special Care Nursery but should be coming home relatively soon; they are still learning how to eat. For now, a few pictures will have to suffice!

Operating room selfie.

Operating room selfie.

Elias on O2. They were off of it after only a few hours.

Elias on O2. They were off of it after only a few hours.

Jude gets his snuggles in.

Jude gets his snuggles in.

Elias snuggles, eyes wide open.

Elias snuggles, eyes wide open.

Anna snuggles Jude. So happy!

Anna snuggles Jude. So happy!


A Saturday Morning in Advent

It seems we have skipped right over December in Minnesota. Temperatures have plunged into single digits with below zero wind chills, which is usually a feature of late January weather. Nevertheless, our daughters have found ways to stay entertained, even if it is a little too cold to play outside for any length of time.

As Mom and Dad put up Christmas decorations this morning, two little girls played:

Butterfly wings, angel wings.

Butterfly wings, angel wings.

The lineup.

“The angels say, ‘Oh no, we forgot about the new baby! Sorry Mary. Look at Jesus! He’s so beautiful!'” (Actual quote.)

Meanwhile, Josie thought about going outside...

Meanwhile, Josie thought about going outside…


Sleepy Josie

This was taken almost two months ago by John and I just found it for the first time tonight. So sweet!


Our Youngest’s First Story

Josie’s Wonderful, Amazing, Magical Day

by Josephine “Gosie” Immaculata
(Daddy helped)

Hi! My name is Josie. Join me as I recount my wonderful, amazing, magical day!

First I did a magic trick. Tada! No more left hand.

First I did a magic trick. Tada! No more left hand.

Next I did another magic trick. Tada! Now only my left hand is there.

Next I did another magic trick. Tada! No more body…just a left hand.

Then I took a walk. It was so cold, my nose started to run.  Because this is April in Minnesota, my boogies froze. Wagh!

Then I took a walk. It was so cold, my nose started to run. Because this is April in Minnesota, my boogies froze. Wagh!

Later that night, I went home and ate a small person in a flouncy dress.

Later that afternoon, I went home and ate a small person in a flouncy dress.

My belly full of small person, I lounged in a nice orange chair.

My belly full of small person, I lounged in a nice orange chair all afternoon.

After my nap, I woke up, got into my high chair, and shouted, "Hail, Brother Fire! You give us heat and light!"

After my nap, I woke up, got into my high chair, and shouted, “Hail, Brother Fire! You give us heat and light!”

Later I tried on some clothes.

Later I tried on some clothes.

And late that night I fell asleep on a soft animal.

And late that night I fell asleep on a soft animal.

Thanks for joining me on my wonderful, amazing, magical day. Buh-bye!

 


Our 2012 Christmas Letter to You

 

We hope our Christmas letter finds you both happy and healthy. It has been another busy year in our family, one of many blessings.

 

Perhaps no blessing has been greater than the birth of our second child, Josephine Immaculata, born on 4/4 and weighing in at an even 4 pounds. After a brief stay in the special care nursery as she learned how to eat, Josie came home with us, packed on the pounds, and began crawling around Thanksgiving. She is a happy-go-lucky baby and gets along very well with her sister. Her interests include trying new foods, grabbing Anna’s hair, and exploring everything on the floor that intrigues her (think cords, fireplace grates, and Anna’s beloved Pooh Bear; pretty much anything but her own toys).

 

Anna turned two at the end of August and is as rambunctious as ever. Her favorite activities include reading, exploring with her best buddy Pooh Bear, hanging out with her sister “Gosie,” and learning about music and astronomy. This past summer she took swimming lessons at the local pool, and is very excited about the first snowfall of the season! Currently her favorite book is The Adventures of Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman. It’s a lot of fun watching her grow up and navigate the world; she may be the big sister, but she’s still our Sweetest Pea.

 

Sara is still working as the community life coordinator at the Church of Saint Peter in Mendota, the oldest church in MN. She’s a part time employee, full time mom, and helps to keep her women’s book club running (almost six years and counting!). In addition, she continues to teach the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning and transcribe for Marketing Roundtables occasionally.

 

I’ve made the move from English to theology teacher, though I’m still at Saint Thomas Academy. In addition, I coach the mock trial team and moderate the yearbook. In my little spare time, I still do a bit of blogging, brewing, and board gaming. This update is brought you by the letter “B.”

 

With two little girls in tow, we didn’t do as much traveling as last year, but still made it to the North Shore in October and made several trips to Rochester to visit Sara’s parents. Anna and Josie are both very good travelers, and we’re looking forward to taking them camping in the coming summer.

 

As we draw nearer to Christmas, please know that you are in our prayers this season. May God abundantly bless you and draw you closer to Himself in the coming year!

 

With love,

 

John, Sara, Anna, and Josephine

Saint Kateri, Pray for Us!

We are so excited that this weekend the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, will be canonizing Kateri Tekakwitha at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. She will now be “Saint Kateri” instead of “Blessed Kateri.” You can read a bit more about her here. Kateri will be canonized alongside Marianne Cope, a nun who assisted lepers living in Hawaii. Both women assisted the sick and dealt with illness and pain themselves because of the lives they had chosen.

Kateri holds a special place in our lives, because she is one of the patrons of Catholic Youth Camp, where we met in 2004. Anna’s middle name is Kateri.

Saint Kateri, Lily of the Mohawks, pray for us!


MC Sweetpea: Album Art Edition

The month long heat wave here in MN finally abated today, so Anna and I spent some time playing the yard after I got home from work. Although it was cool and cloudy, she insisted on wearing her glasses, which led to me taking some photos of her. Strangely enough, when I looked at them later, they all sort of looked like album art photos from a mid-90s rap album. So, without further ado, I give you… 

Lil’ MC Sweetpea 

Her first underground hit: “Swingin’ in da Hood”

‘Sup, fool? You best buy my album.


Photo Ops

Foreground: Josie snoozes.
Background: Anna explores in her pith helmet.

 

“You can’t prove we did anything.”

 

No longer criminals, but philosophers.

 

Josie: “Who’s tapping me on the shoulder? I don’t even have the muscle control to check it out.”

 

Anna: “What happens when I squeeze your toe really hard?”

 

Josie: “I get mad and punch you in the face!”
Anna: “That tickles…”
Josie: “Curse my tiny baby muscles!”

 

Josie: “So, did I hurt you?”
Anna: “What? Oh, that’s what you were trying to do?”

 

Anna kisses and makes up.

 

Anna: “Well, I tried kissing her, but noooo, she wanted her pacifier.”

 


Josie’s Baptism

[Note: Again, sorry we have been remiss in updating. Life has been pretty busy for us lately.]

On Sunday, May 27, we were very happy to welcome our little Josephine Immaculata into the Catholic Church. She was baptized at our parish by our head pastor, and our friends Brian and Briana were godparents. (You may remember we are godparents to their daughter, who is just two weeks older than Anna.) About 25 family members and friends were in attendance, and got to participate in the ceremony by singing and praying with us.

I think my favorite moment was the Rite of Exorcism. Josie had been a little upset before that, fussing, crying, and spitting out her pacifier. But the second the rite was over, she promptly spit up and calmed down. (I was half expecting her head to spin all the way around–it didn’t.)

After the baptism, we retired to our house for a party. It was really muggy and hot, so we spent most of the time inside, eating cake, drinking beer, and enjoying each other’s company. Sara’s family got to stay pretty late, around 4 PM, which was excellent. Our newest Christian was held by all and enjoyed by all.

Just like when Anna was baptized, I was a little surprised how much the day meant to me. I might joke that, “Thank the Lord there are no pagans in our house anymore,” but on a deeper level, having one’s child baptized does bring a great sense of contentment and even relief. And while it’s years off, I’m excited for our children’s first communions.

Welcome into your new life in Christ, Josephine! May He abundantly bless you in the years to come.

Grandma holding the candidate for baptism.
Big sister and Pooh Bear singing during mass.

The big moment!
Typical photo with our children. “Oh! Oh!” *spit up*
Godparents and parents.


Our Tiny World

My sister-in-law and I were talking a few days ago about our first children. She mentioned that when your first kid is born, your whole world shrinks down until it just includes you, your spouse, and your child. Well, I’m here to say that the same is true of Josie’s arrival, although it has not been nearly as stressful. Sara and I both feel much more sure of ourselves, and we are enjoying our time at home together. Little Josephine is already weighing in at 4 pounds, 9 ounces, gaining 1-2 ounces a day. She is a good eater and it’s a real joy watching Anna get to know her. (She likes watching her get changed, enjoys shaking her bottles, and pointing out her body parts.)

It will be hard to go back to work on Thursday. Until then, I’m enjoying every moment spent in our tiny world.

Mom walking her youngest to the house. 
So tiny! 
Our happy family at home.
Story time with Daddy.


Josie is Coming Home!

Just a quick note to say the doctors have cleared Josephine to come home! Our family will be together again this afternoon. Very happy.


Tea Time in Anna’s Wagon

Very ladylike!
The less formal pose.

A Whirlwind Few Days

As I write this, Josephine is now about 100 hours old and doing pretty well, all things considered. She was under UV lights for a while to stave off jaundice, a nice little gift from two parents with bloodtype O+ and the fine Minnesota climate. She was taken out from under the lights and the isolation chamber this morning. This means she is still hanging out in the special care nursery because of her feeding tube, but she’s now in a bassinet at least.

Yesterday I busted Sara out of the hospital where she’s boarding and took her to lunch at Great Waters in downtown St. Paul; it was nice to have a burger and just be a couple for an hour or two in the middle of all that’s going on. Then today we had Easter at our house with grandmas and grandpas from both sides of the family and Sara’s sisters. Again Sara got to take a few hours off to help Anna hunt for Easter eggs.

It’s hard to say what the near future will bring for our family. Josie is five weeks premature and needs to learn how to eat properly. Once her suck reflex has fully kicked in, we will be able to take her home. If you are reading this, please say a prayer for our family, and especially for little Josie that she grows strong quickly so our family can all be home together. Also please ask Josie’s patron saints, Joseph and Mary, to pray for her too!

It’s been a difficult past few days for me as a dad; I want nothing more than to have all my girls home with me. But we are connected by love, prayers, and the support of our wonderful family and friends, and I can’t ask for much more than that.

And now, some photos:

Some skin-to-skin time with Daddy.
A smile for Mommy!
Super futuristic Josie basks in the UV glow.
Meanwhile, a little girl in her Easter best hunts for eggs!

 (If you made it this far, you get one last story.)

Last night I had given Anna a bath and was putting her PJs on in her room. She kept asking for a song, but after I started each one of her favorites, she shouted, “All done!” Confused, I asked her, “What song do you want?” at which point she began saying “Night night” in a deep voice and following it up with “Picka picka!” (her version of birdies tweeting.)

I eventually deduced that she wanted me to sing “Goodnight Ladies” from The Music Man, which you can watch here. This evolved into me exchanging the word “Anna” for “ladies.” Then she shouted out, “Baby! Baby!” So I sang “Goodnight, Baby…” and she began to wiggle, grin, and clap.

What a sweet big sister. I was a proud poppa last night.


Welcome Josephine!

We are happy to announce the birth of Josephine Immaculata Rogers, who came into the world at 5:31 PM on Wednesday, April 4, 2011. She weighs 4 pounds, 0.75 ounces and measures 17 inches. Right now Josie is in the special care nursery and is taking food primarily through a tube, but she is doing great in all other respects. We are excited to talk to the neonatal doctor and see how she is progressing by tomorrow evening.

Sara was amazing in labor–relaxing through each contraction, and facing the pain with determination and bravery. She is a wonderful mom who deserves all the credit in the world for persevering through another difficult pregnancy.

The only hiccup is I got pink eye, and so I have had to stay out of the special care nursery since this morning. It’s terrible and I hate it, but I should be able to go in starting at noon on Friday and spend some quality time with my little munchkin dooder.

Please continue to pray for Josie, as she is 35 weeks old and has some catching up to do! And now, some pictures…

5 minutes after birth.

Getting ready for a feeding tube.

One happy family!

Saying her first night time prayers with Daddy.

With thankful hearts,
John, Sara, Anna, and Josie

Zoo Visits!

I was on Spring Break this past week, which meant lots of fun time with one of my three favorite girls, Anna. On Thursday Sara, Anna, Baby Girl, and I headed to the Como Zoo together. We were expecting to get a nice parking spot near the entrance 15 minutes after the doors opened, but we had forgotten that pretty much every schoolkid in St. Paul is also on vacation right now, so the zoo was a madhouse of strollers, kids, and parents. Yay! We still had a lot of fun, however.

Anna really enjoyed checking out the monkies (“mong”), fish (“fich”), penguins (“la la,” which means “waddle, waddle”), lions (“rawr!”), and giraffes (she is silent and points to her neck). Her favorite animal by far is the mighty polar bear. And Como Zoo has a new polar bear exhibit, which is quite impressive. When we arrived inside, one of the bears was swimming in his pool right next to the glassed-in viewing area. He was trying to get a red ball out of a floating barrel, and he kept pushing up against the glass, diving underwater, nudging the barrel, and coming back up for air again. Anna was just giggling in delight watching all of this:

Very excited about the polar bears. 
Funny bears!

For months after her last visit in November, Anna would tell everyone she met about bears including how they jump and eat snow, which is what she observed back then.  Now whenever anyone asks her about animals, she shouts out “Bear!” and then says “baw, baw!” (ball), followed by “pash!” (splash). It’s quite cute.

She also visited the Minnesota Zoo yesterday with Baba and Ming (Grandpa and Grandma R). She enjoyed herself very much as she got to hug a bear statue and dress up in a bee costume.

Watching her learn and grow is a treat. I love every minute!

Snuggles!
Bzzzzz.


The Crimes of Sciurus Carolinensis

Two weeks ago, we left the house on a bright Friday afternoon with Auntie Beth and Grandma Sherry to head to our regular ultrasound appointment for Baby Girl #2. The sun was shining, the wind was mild, and Anna’s grey friends were happily gnawing at our  bonafide Cands Products Squirrelog ™. We nodded pleasantly at them, they nodded back, and then we were in the car and on our way to the ultrasound. (All went well, by the way.)

Afterwards, we stopped for a drink at the Cherokee Tavern, the local watering hole, before picking Anna up from our friend Taryn–the Sweetest Pea was taking a nap, so we wanted to kill a bit of time. (I ordered Alaskan Brewing Black IPA, Sara had a Shirley Temple.) At 4 P.M., with Sweet Pea in the backseat, we arrived home. And then we saw it–or rather, we didn’t see it. The  bonafide Cands Products Squirrelog ™ was…gone. It’s hard to even type it. Yes, those thieving squirrel b******s had, during our absence, donned ski masks, picked up wire cutters, hopped into their 1/8 scale pickup, drove it onto our deck, cut the bonafide Cands Products Squirrelog ™ off of its chain, loaded it  into their truck, and absconded with the goods. No way it could have been a one-squirrel job. The thing was the size of a baseball on Friday afternoon, when the world was pure and we were friends with the rodents in the back yard. A whole furry clan must have planned it for weeks–no, months.

Now when Anna toddles to the glass door in the dining room, clicks sadly, and makes the sign for “more, please!” I don’t say anything about the squirrels. I don’t know what to say. “Your gray friends betrayed you, Sweetest Pea” just seems too cruel. She’s so young, and it’s better we keep the truth from her…until I find a way to get revenge, that is. Then I can tell her the whole story.

The scene of the crime.

A Musical Look Back at Christmas 2012

(We apologize for the lack of a full Christmas post. I guess we’ll make this fun and do a musical/pictorial version!)

“During Christmas vacation, my true love gave to me…

 …board games with Wifey…
…fun brewing equipment…
…sleepy Christmas cousins…
…one sweet god-daughter…
…one more sweet god-daughter…
…one wagon from Nigons…
…a ride on Grandpa’s four-wheeler…
…and a happy little family!”

Rejoice! He is Born!

Overwhelmed by Christmas #2.

 Merry Christmas to one and all.
May God abundantly bless you in 2012. 

 


Our August Trip to Duluth (a bit late!)

During the hectic start of the school year, we completely forgot to blog about our end-of-summer trip! In late August we packed the car and headed north for a short trip to our favorite Minnesota town, Duluth. We scored a half-price stay at Fitger’s Inn, a hotel built into the old brewery down by Canal Park, by using our Minnesota Public Radio member card. The hotel was beautiful, and I would recommend it to anyone staying in the area. We really felt like kings and queens while staying there.

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. On Monday we hit the road and stopped for two hours at the North West Company Fur Post along Highway 35. We were treated to a wonderful tour by a Friendly! Interpretive! Guide! and Anna got to pet some beaver pelts. Good times. By early afternoon we had checked into our hotel and purchased a Must See Duluth pass, which got us cheap access to a boat tour of Duluth and Superior harbors. Sara and I watched the sights roll by and took some pictures while Anna…well, kept the whole boat entertained by doing laps around the bar in the boat’s center. That evening we put Anna to bed and watched The King’s Speech on my laptop.

Tuesday we hit two major tourist spots. The first was a train ride through all of Duluth. Again, we got to see the sights roll by our window. Anna had fun sticking her head out the window into the cool, fresh August air. Then we checked out the Duluth freshwater aquarium, which was pretty interesting. We got to check out a bunch of huge freshwater fish and Anna cracked up at the sight of a life-sized plastic moose. Go figure, right?

Tuesday evening the three of us met up with one of Sara’s college buddies, Zach, and his wife at Fitger’s brewpub. I was really impressed with the XXX ESB on tap, as well as the smoked fish salad. Again, Anna had fun pointing at strangers and making funny noises, much to the delight of everyone around her.

There’s not much to say about Wednesday. We packed up, walked along Canal Park (and in many nearby shops to find a children’s book), drove around town, and headed home. It was a low-key trip of only two days, but it was still a perfect way to end the summer. The weather was beautiful, the lake was impressive as always, and we said goodbye to summer in style. Till next year, Duluth!

“Captain, I think I see a strange balding man with a camera in those weeds!”
“Buh!” said Anna. “That’s right, tugboats,” I replied.
An ore boat heads out onto the lake.
“One more round!”
This bird did not get the hint.
“Gah, it’s cold!”
Tiny toes on the strand.
Leaving on a big train.
Anna learns about locks and dams at the aquarium.

Happy Halloween!

Reprising her role from last year, Anna once again dressed as a pumpkin. But this time she enjoyed two new activities: An awesome party at her godparents’ house on Oct. 29 and trick or treating on the 31st. Though she was not able to get out the words “Trick or treat!” the Sweetest Pea Pumpkin waved at our neighbors and hung on to her first piece of “epic loot,” a Snickers bar, for the entire evening.

Genna says, “Rawr!” Anna asks, “What noise does a pumpkin make? Anyone?”
Dino Baby is alert and watchful.
Ah, the spirit of the holiday–stuffing yer face!
“I’m cute! Give me candy!”
Pumpkins–vegetable, animal, and synthetic.
Enjoying the fruits (candies) of her labor–Three Musketeers.
“Hm, I bet I can steal from the family supply of candy. Daddy always does. It’s the source of his power.”


Our Awesome Autumnal Journy

In the autumn of 2005 I was tired, stressed out, and swamped with work. It was my first year of teaching, and I was quickly learning how stressful the profession it can be. However, a four-day weekend was quickly approaching, and I could at least look forward to catching up on grading quizzes and planning lessons.

All that changed when Sara called and invited me to head up north with her family for four days of watching Lake Superior waves crash on the strand, drinking beer, playing games, and hiking. Despite how wonderful it all sounded, I still needed convincing that leaving all my grading behind was okay. Seven years later, I’m glad I decided to go, and we’ve gone back every year since.

Each year we’ve rented out the same cabins at the Gooseberry Park, though the sleeping arrangements have changed a bit over the years. Since 2009 Sara’s parents and sisters have used one cabin, while we have stayed in another with our friends Luke and Angela. This year saw a few more changes to the usual cast of characters. Our crew included Sara’s mom and dad, middle sister, youngest sister and husband, our friend Angela and her two boys, and family friends the Ottjes family. We occupied two cabins and a hotel suite in all.

Anna did a great job on the three-hour car ride up to the cabin, and she enjoyed watching Lake Superior. The weather was uniformly beautiful—50 degrees and sunny, which we all appreciated. We played a lot of games including cribbage, 7 Wonders, Carcassonne, and Bowls, and spent most of our time drinking beer and eating delicious food. Every night one family hosted dinner, so we got to sample everyone’s cooking at least once (it was all excellent!). On Friday several of us piled into two cars for a worthwhile trip to the tiny Castle Danger Brewery; it’s here that I fell in love with their Nestor Grade amber ale. However, it was not a hit with the rest of the group, and that night we had a beer tasting back at the cabin during which, surprise of surprises, my homebrew took first prize in a blind taste test! Saturday we took our usual trip to Gooseberry Falls in the afternoon, attended mass in Two Harbors, and returned to play games and watch the World Series.

All in all, it was another relaxing weekend, and we’ve already booked our cabins for next year!

That’s what we call an “active” lake.
I spotted a creepy anthropomorphic bear-baby shuffling along the shore. We kept our distance.
One! Happy! Family!
Torin, Lachlan, and Anna. This is photo #457, and the one in which the most children (zero) were looking at the camera.
The Cahill, Cargill, Nigon, and Rogers familes all happy at the end of the weekend. Success!
Our big girl!
Hey there, blue eyes!
Channelling great-grandma Dolores.

“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.

Onward!


“Today I Marry My Best Friend”

Last week was an absolute flurry of activity as we prepared for and eventually celebrated the wedding of Beth, Sara’s baby sister, to her one-and-only, Jeff. We headed down to Eyota on Thursday afternoon and enjoyed dinner at Mr. Pizza in Rochester with Sara’s family, including Aunt Kel-lee, Uncle Rob, and cousin Xander (who travelled from Arizona) and Uncle Joe, Aunt Kari, and their three girls. Later that night, Anna managed to bash her face on Grandma and Grandpa’s entertainment center; she would spend the rest of the weekend looking pretty tough with a big bruise under her eye. But that didn’t stop her from helping Grandpa fix a leaky faucet!

“Someone get him a bigger wrench! Hey, am I talking to myself here?!”

Okay, let’s be honest; Grandpa still had to call a plumber on Friday. But we were busy decorating the local American Legion and holding the rehearsal at a parish in Rochester. We set up tables, hung lights from the ceiling, made dozens of ham sandwiches, and generally made the place ready for the wedding reception. Lots of folks came out to help, including our goddaughter, Vyctoria.

Uh-dor-able.

The rehearsal went off without a hitch. I spent most of the time keeping the Sweetest Pea amused while Sara (now a Matron of Honor!) practiced entering and exiting the church. That night we attended the groom’s dinner, held at a park in Eyota, ate food, and visited with family. Oh, and we also got some nice presents from the happy couple–Sara for being the MoH, and me for lectoring. In fact, we used my present on Sunday when we drove back up to the Cities. (I received a Battle of the Sexes quiz book.)

A statue in the gathering area outside the church.
When you’re about to get married, even rehearsing is fun.

Saturday, the wedding day, was gorgeous–partly cloudy with temperatures in the mid 80s. I had one job while Sara went to the salon to get her hair done: keep the Sweetest Pea out of trouble. I failed. She tumbled off a recliner and banged up her nose good, and was not a very happy camper after that point. However, she was good for Grandpa Jim while I ran some quick errands around town. I got very strange marching orders on Saturday: decorate the bridal suite. Looking back, I still can’t believe anyone trusted Beth’s dorky brother-in-law with the job, but I did my best. Chocolates? Check. Streamers? Check. Fake rose petals? Check. Peanuts and Cracker Jacks? Check. (Don’t ask.) Car window paint? Check.

I’m sure the maids hated me for marking up the mirrors.

The wedding ceremony itself went very well–the groom was dapper in his tuxedo and the bride beautiful in white, though it was the Matron of Honor that caught my eye. The Sweetest Pea even did well sitting on Grandma Kay’s lap, even though she had missed her afternoon nap.

“You should see the other guy!”
All grins in the receiving line.
Smoochin’. Married people do this sometimes.

Of course, no wedding would truly be complete without one teensy weensy little problem, and it occurred after the ceremony. We piled into a party bus that had been rented for the wedding party, only to find out that despite having been fixed the week before, it would not start. Uh oh. We sweated it out in good spirits and were just arranging alternate transportation when, miracle of miracles, it started! Hurray! The only downside was that we had worked our way through our supply of alcohol in the meantime, so we had to stop at a liquor store to fill back up. In the end, the happy couple still arrived at the reception hall on time, and we ate, drank, and danced the night away. And like all weddings the Nigons put on, it was an absolute blast. Around 10 PM I got to see an amazing rendition of the Total Eclipse of the Heart sung by none other than Sara, Traci, and Beth. Wow, I’d pay money to see that again!

On Sunday, we were a little stiff and tired out, but we had fun sitting around at Grandpa Jim and Grandma Sherry’s house, watching Jeff and Beth open presents. I took a few family photographs, and then we headed home. It was a fun weekend, but infinitely more important was that we finally got to see two of our favorite people tie the knot. May your marriage be blessed, Jeff and Beth!

Grandma Sherry with her parents and siblings.
“Can I officially call you Uncle Jeff now?”