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Day trips

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!


December 2012

With the season of Advent last month, our family tried really hard to make it more meaningful and, particularly, to take it at a slower pace than in past years. I have to say, looking back, we were actually – very surprisingly – successful!

With the holiday season, December is full of preparations: putting up a tree and other decorations, buying and wrapping gifts, and making delicious, only-eaten-for-one-month-of-the-year treats. Although that is all fun too, Advent is meant to be a different kind of preparation: getting ourselves ready to meet Jesus someday. Somehow, only by the grace of God, we managed to get most of the typical Christmas to-do’s done by early December, leaving much more time this season for family, friends, and faith. Just a few high points of our joy-filled month:

Anna loved playing with her Nativity set and was visited by St. Nicholas on December 6.

We spent an entire day with John’s family: after attending Mass together for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the girls (including the four little girls under 2 1/2) baked Christmas goodies while the men brewed beer, then we all dressed up and went out for our yearly dinner at the Oak Grill in downtown Minneapolis. John’s parents started this tradition over 30 years ago, and this year had two new attendees (yay babies!). Also, we’d like to point out that even with all the little ones, we were able to enjoy a nice sit-down dinner: good conversation, great food, and not a single tantrum or even minor meltdown. It was beyond wonderful! Thank you, Rob and Kay!

John and I had a nice date night which included lots of Christmas lights; some of the best we’ve seen in years, actually! We also fit in a few fun, glamorous (for us) Christmas parties and dinners.

And now, the moments when we actually remembered to take pictures:

Josie turned 8 months old…

Josie 8 months


…and became much, much more mobile. (Please ignore the spit-up on her sleeve… editing photos is not something I made time for last month!)

Josie 8 months WATCH OUT!


Anna helped decorate our Christmas tree for the first time.

Anna decorating


We had a huge snowstorm and it was just nice enough to go out and play in the snow for the first time this year. She loves it, like a true Minnesotan!

In the snow!


After playing outside, we decided we needed something to warm us up, so we devoured a cup of hot chocolate together.

Hot Chocolate


Josie really wanted to play outside too, but those mean parents of hers just haven’t gotten around to finding a water-resistant snowsuit yet.

Josie at the window


In early December we had the chance to explore the Children’s Museum for free (free parking, even!) as a benefit of being part of the National Children’s Study. It was AMAZING! There were maybe 20 other families there, tops, and Anna could play with whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. We even got to enjoy the night as a little date with just our Sweetest Pea, as Kay and Rob came over to babysit Josie.

Anna at the Children's Museum

As we start the new year, we hope you were able to relax a bit during the busy holiday season and enjoy time with your family and friends as well!

Anna and Daddy at the Children's Museum


Summer Gallery

We had a beautiful summer and are sad to see it end, even if the new school year has brought some fun and exciting changes: a new niece is about to be born, and John started teaching theology classes this fall, which I’m sure will lead to some great dinnertime conversations as he reveals what 17 year old boys think about Christ and His Church. We realized that although we did manage to post a few times this summer, we just couldn’t catch everything.  Here are a few things we missed that we’d like to share with you.

Five Years and Then Some

John and I celebrated our fifth anniversary this summer by taking the girls to Grandpa and Grandma’s for the weekend (thank you again, Kay and Rob!). We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend reenactment of the newlywed stage, complete with being able to eat all of our own food (as in, not having to share it with a little one) and sleeping in. Dear sleep, how we adore you!

Although we didn’t head far out of town, we did travel a few places. Our first stop was a great (and free!) brewery tour in Stillwater at Lift Bridge Brewing Company. We both appreciated the samples they gave as well as the free popcorn in their tap room, where we bought a few beers to drink as we waited for the tour to begin. We liked it so much we went back over Labor Day weekend with my family.

Yum… Farm Girl, my new favorite beer.


You can see how high the St. Croix River was behind me (where the walkway is supposed to be).

After Lift Bridge we headed all the way over to St. Michael, where we said goodbye to one of my former Apex coworkers whose family is moving to Idaho. It was nice to see them and since John and I enjoy traveling in the car together, it was an afternoon well spent. Afterwards we dined at Emily’s Lebanese Deli in Northeast Minneapolis, one of our favorite dinner destinations. (If you haven’t been there, you should check it out.)

As many times as we’ve been to Emily’s, we’re pretty sure this was our first photo there.

To top off the evening, we went to Cold Stone Creamery in Mendota Heights after we picked out a movie from Redbox. I love ice cream, and we’ve had a gift card for Cold Stone sitting around for months – I was so excited to use it! We really loved sitting outside on a bench, taking in the beautiful twilight and a fountain that was all lit up… at least until the bugs came out.

We love our girls and we know that God has made our family into a beautiful image of Christ and His Church (one that we try to live up to, though we often fall short). But it’s still nice to have some time to spend as just a couple again; it rejuvenates you and reminds you of how it all started. Sometimes our wedding seems like it was just yesterday. But most of the time now it seems like we got married so long ago; so much has changed in only a few years! We paid off our student loans, traveled when we could, and bought a house. We drove two cars into the ground and purchased new (to us) ones for our growing family. Most importantly, we have been blessed by the laughter of two little girls in our arms and the prayers of two children in heaven. I am so excited to see what the next five years, and many more after that, hold in store for us!

I am so thankful that God put John in my life. He has given me a beautiful five years (and counting) to remember!

Rally Time

Our little family decided to take advantage of John’s time off this summer and attend a Religious Freedom rally in downtown Minneapolis about a month ago. The rally was fine, but the real highlight of the day was our ride on the light rail, which Anna has never used. She was mesmerized by the passing scenery and talked about it the rest of the day. Josie   enjoyed the quiet hum of the train as well as the cozy comfort of her mommy’s wrap. I hope that we can ride the rail more in the future as they complete tracks into St. Paul.



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!


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 Old Ball Game

My wonderful father had two tickets to a MN Twins’ game last Thursday and couldn’t go. Poor Dad… lucky us! He offered the tickets to me, and since I had the afternoon free and Anna had yet to be to Target Field, we jumped at the chance. John had to work, so I asked my friend Karen to go with us because she’s one of the biggest Twins’ fans I know.

After Karen found us a great parking spot, we walked to the stadium (signal chorus of angels to start singing) and got to our padded Legends’ Club seats just in time to see my favorite player, Michael Cuddyer, up at bat. Anna sure is a good luck charm for her parents’ favorite team, because the first pitch she saw just happened to be a home run!

Karen and Anna enjoying the game.

"I'm so happy to be at a game with Mommy and Miss Karen!"

The day was gorgeous, the seats were amazing, and the game was perfect (not literally, but it was an entertaining and short 2 hours and 8 minutes). Anna did really well and happily waved at anyone around us who would pay attention and cheered the team on to a 1-0 win against the White Sox. Apparently going to a Twins’ game suits her fancy, which is just fine with me. She even had her first taste of Cherry Coke, which was probably a bad idea on my part; she only wanted more!


The great afternoon was made complete by picking up a “first game” certificate for Anna’s baby book, taking a walk around the beautiful stadium, and of course enjoying some tasty stadium food.

Thank you, Dad/Grandpa Jim, for the tickets – we had a blast and I have no doubts Anna will grow up a Twins’ fan.

Karen: Thank you for going with us to the game and helping me with a 9 month old. We are SO glad you were able to join us!!!


A Fun and Busy Weekend

We’ve been very busy so far this June, and this weekend was busier than most. This past Friday Beth and Traci, Sara’s sisters, came up for a girls’ night. They watched movies, ate nachos, and hung out at the park with Anna. I spent the evening with my dad; we attended the American Beauty Project concert at Orchestra Hall. It was excellent, and as an added bonus, we were treated to some natural fireworks after the concert in the form of a lightning storm that rolled into downtown Minneapolis around 10 PM.

Methinks the swing is still a bit big...

On Saturday, I headed to the State Fair grounds in St. Paul with my father-in-law and one of his friends for the Minnesota Street Rod Association’s “Back to the 50s” car show. This is a yearly event where over 11,500 classic cars are shown, though not a single one built after 1964 is allowed. I’m not a big gearhead, but this is the third year in a row that I’ve gone to the show, which should tell you something about how spectacular it is!

A chopped-down street rod.

The interior of a Messerschmitt KR200, a very tiny car.

"Oh, they don't make 'em like they used to..."

You've got to love State Fair signs!

On Saturday afternoon, we packed up the car and headed to my parents’ condo. My cousin Sherri was visiting from Omaha, and we had a good time drinking beer, talking, and celebrating Father’s Day together. Sherri had not seen Anna since Thanksgiving and commenting that she is getting So! Big! Sherri also got to meet Genevieve, now jokingly called Dino Baby because she makes screeching noises like a tiny T-Rex. Father’s Day proper we had an especially fun time; the whole family headed to Canterbury Park for an afternoon of horse racing and people watching. Many of us had exceptionally good luck. My dad and I picked winners in three out of four races, and my winnings managed to cover Sara’s losses (sorry dear!). Looking back, it was a weekend packed with fun.

"All hail Her Royal Cuteness, Princes Anna Kateri Sweet Pea I, and her rockin' headdress!"

This week we have very few items on our schedule and are just enjoying being home together with Anna. Since it’s been raining on and off all day, she used part of her afternoon indoors to peruse the bookshelf.

"Oh, what learning is!" (Romeo and Juliet, III.iii.160)

"Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house." --Henry Ward Beecher

Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My! (Well, almost…)

On Monday a bunch of friends, their kids, and Anna and I went to the Minnesota Zoo. It. Was. AWESOME.

I love the zoo, so I was 100% okay with using my child as an excuse to go see a bunch of fun animals and exhibits, not to mention spend a Monday morning with some of my closest friends. And yes, Anna was an excuse; 7 month olds are not exactly jumping up and down to see birdies and monkeys, although she did seem to enjoy herself, which of course made it all the more enjoyable for me. And… surprise! She stayed awake for the vast majority of our time there! So of course I needed to capture that fact on camera.

Here is Anna on her first trip to the zoo, much more interested in the camera than the animals everyone else is looking at.

And here she is again, much more interested in her toys…

…and here she is much more interested in her bottle (yes, she can hold it pretty well on her own now)…

…and finally, here are Addy and Luci, much more interested in the baby in the stroller!

Here is my favorite picture. Anna loved sitting in front of the glass (6 inches thick!) and watching the fishies and sharkies swim by.


Both Torin and Anna were trying to touch the glass to see if they could reach the colorful animals swimming around in front of them. Apparently I need to take her to an aquarium next!

I said I went with a few friends; 4, to be exact. So 5 adults and 10 children. I was the only one without a double stroller! Here we are having lunch, which we somehow managed to do crammed around two small tables.

And finally… I wasn’t even going to try to get Anna in one of these for a picture, but I did catch Lucia and Addy, who are cute as can be.

Even though I didn’t see any lions or tigers (although I did see a few bears), we had a great day at the zoo. Anna was most impressed by the fish, and she also watched some otters chase each other for a bit, but most animals move too slowly to keep her attention. I got some fresh air and a free trip to the zoo (thanks, Emily!) with my friends, and I am ready to do it again. Feel free to give me a call whenever you want to go!