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John’s Family

Elias and Jude’s Birth Story

It’s so overwhelming to even begin writing this story; there are so many emotions that flood my heart! We had been expecting the boys for quite some time by that point, because we’d just been trying so hard to keep them in my tummy after around 20 weeks.

I woke up around 1 am on Monday, June 16, 2014, and went to the bathroom. When I went back to bed, my water broke, and I remember feeling a deep peace when I realized what had happened. I was ready to meet them, and I knew it. I so wanted to hold them each in my arms.

I woke up John, and since we’d been ready for the hospital for a few months, he got ready while I calmly sat on the bed and called Beth to come over, and then Grandma Kay (who would take over for Beth so she could go back home). When Beth got there a few minutes later, we went in to wake up Anna to tell her where we were going and that Grandma Kay would be there when she woke up; she was so excited, even in her sleepiness! We also went in to kiss Josie goodbye.

A few minutes later we were in the car and heading to United Hospital. My contractions weren’t strong, but getting more so as time went by. I remember during this time I still had such a strong feeling of peace and excitement – we were both SO excited!

In the parking ramp, I decided I didn’t need to be wheeled in, so we parked together and got out of our cars next to another couple who was going in to have their baby. In the elevator we asked them if this was their first, because they looked quite terrified. (It was.)

We had to wait a few minutes for our room (maybe 3 or 4 – it wasn’t long), and when we got there, the nurse apologized because their internet system had gone down a while before and it was throwing everything off. We, again, didn’t mind. We were just. so. excited.

By about 3 am my contractions were strong and regular, and I started to get “the shakes,” as I call them (I’ve heard other people call them tremors or shivers). They were continuous; I knew that with Josie’s (natural except for pitocin to induce labor) birth, they had been strong but not continuous through contractions until close to the end. At this point I was still only dilated to maybe a 4 or 5. They asked if I would like to have the epidural placed or the cerclage removed first, and I asked for the epidural. It went great with the exception of the shaking throughout (it’s hard to hold still when your body is involuntarily bouncing all over the place). But it worked, and although the shaking continued, the pain was diminished and I was ready for the next step.

About a half hour later, the doctor was ready to remove the cerclage, so they brought me to the operating room. And then came the only true pain I remember during the entire labor. About 20 minutes into the procedure (which normally takes place just in a doctor’s office), I was crying and I told John to ask if this was how long it normally takes. The doctor, who was very kind but whom I didn’t have nice feelings toward at this moment, said that it typically is done in just a couple minutes, but that the second stitch of my cerclage had moved up so far that she couldn’t get a good view of it and she didn’t want to cut blindly (with which I suppose I agree). Finally, another 10 minutes later, they were done, but I must have been cut or scraped somehow, because I could feel pain in that area every time I had a contraction.

They then asked if I’d like to go back to a room or stay in the OR. I knew I’d have to deliver here, so with an epidural, it meant I’d need to be moved to another bed and then back again before delivering, and I actually prefer just lying down during labor. So I opted to stay where we were, and I’m thankful they gave me that option. We sat/laid there for the next hour or two; I listened to my calming labor playlist and tried to rest, while John dozed off next to me off and on. At around 7 am, the nurses began their shift change – and I said I felt like I needed to push!2014 06 16_0090

The nurse had checked only about 5 minutes before this and I’d been at a 7, but I was sure I was ready now. So she checked me again and sure enough, I was dilated all the way. There were suddenly a lot more people in the room than just the few nurses changing shifts and giving their reports! They asked me not to try my best not to push until they got the doctor there. There were two NICU teams and a lot of nurses, and then in came Dr. Cappechi. There were many doctors who could have delivered me, but I’d had a bad experience with the doctor who delivered Anna at United, so I was a little nervous. But I had met Dr. Cappechi at St. Peter’s, and I felt a strong reassurance from God that this was his extra blessing for me this morning. The only question I had for him was whether or not he would try to deliver Jude (Baby B at the time) breech if he changed positions, and he said he would, which was what I was hoping for; no one wants to recover from both a vaginal birth and a c-section if they can help it.

Dr. Cappechi started by asking if the epidural was working, and he touched a few spots to ask if I could feel it. At one point I said yes, and he looked at me with surprise. “You can feel this?” he asked. “Yep!” I responded. “That, too!” He then wanted to know if I wanted some numbing medication for that area, and I told him to go right ahead! I assume that the epidural doesn’t or didn’t work in certain spots in my body, which is why the cerclage removal had been so painful. Either way, I was not in pain anymore and was excited to meet my babies!

By the time the shift change was over and I could go ahead and push, John said there were 17 people in the room (not including the babies). I was completely oblivious to everything else going on, with the exception of John, the two nurses, and the doctor all standing immediately around me.

I was ready, and after only one contraction, at 7:35 am, Elias James was born. He came out so easily and I remember seeing his sweet hands and little head pop up as they placed him on my lower abdomen and cut his cord. They quickly took him over to the warmer to make sure he was healthy and breathing ok.

At this point, I had always expected to think, “Oh no; now I have to push again!” But it was the complete opposite. All of my endorphins and adrenaline had me running on high, and I had just met one perfect baby boy and couldn’t wait to meet the other. I vividly remember thinking, “I get to do this again!” It was beyond words to describe how wonderful that felt, knowing another baby was coming soon.

As soon as Elias was in the warmer, the nurse began to push on my stomach to get Jude to move head down. His water broke sometime around here, although I don’t really remember it. He moved pretty easily, and they started monitoring his heart rate again right away, as it had dropped a few times earlier. I had asked that it be turned down during labor, but with all the people around, it was hard for anyone to look at it closely during the deliveries, so they had turned it up a bit. I would guess that about three minutes after Elias was born, the doctor asked to have the monitor turned up more; he had noticed (as had I) that Jude’s heart rate was still dropping repeatedly, with no relation to contractions, as I hadn’t had one since pushing out Elias. And then we started to lose his heartbeat all together. We would hear it slow down and stop for a few seconds, then speed back up a few seconds later. The first time it did this, the doctor asked if I was having a contraction yet, and I wasn’t. Then he told me to push as soon as I felt a contraction coming on. The next 30 seconds or so I remember being very still and quiet as we all listened to the heart beat and waited. I am thankful, looking back, that I still had the endorphins and happy feelings of having Elias born, or I think this would have been a lot scarier at the time. It felt like forever (but was really so short – a lot can happen in five minutes!), but I finally felt a contraction coming, and at 7:40 am, with only one push, Jude Robert was born.

I didn’t see Jude right away, but I remember listening for his cries. John said that they did something with his neck and thinks the cord was wrapped around him, but he stretched his skinny arm out and grabbed my finger. I was elated. They took him to the warmer right away and got him started on oxygen, while Elias was only requiring the nasal cannula for a little extra air at the moment. As they were checking both boys out, I asked how much Elias had weighed and when they said 4 lbs, 8 oz, I started laughing. He was the same size as Anna, and she had been born over three weeks later. And then Jude, being 4 lbs, 6 oz, surprised us because the last ultrasound had said that he might not be growing as much as Elias. But they apparently shared their resources quite well!2014 06 16_0095

The nurses brought each baby over to me one at a time before they were taken to the NICU. I kissed Elias’ sweet head and was sad to see him go, but was also still a little nervous about Jude. They brought him to me and I got to kiss him quickly. Everyone reassured me that he was doing great now (his original Apgar score had been a little low), and then I sent John to go with the boys.2014 06 16_01082014 06 16_0111

The doctor cleaned me up and said I didn’t tear at all; no stitches or anything. I was thankful for that! They returned me to my original delivery room, where I had to stay for one or two hours (I can’t remember) while the epidural started to wear off and they checked my vital signs. The tremors/shaking I’d had before pushing came back full force, and the nurse struggled to take my blood pressure with the cuff and eventually did it the “normal” way. I made a few calls from the room and had breakfast, then got the ok to get in a wheelchair and go see my babies.

I held each boy for as long as I could, and I remember feeling elated that they were here and sad that I couldn’t hold them both at the same time. But they were doing so well! They were both on just extra air through a nasal cannula by the next morning, and I was discharged from my maternity ward that afternoon.

I spent that second night in the NICU with the babies and the pump. Early in the morning, I went out to use the restroom and when I got back to the room, I felt like my water had broken, but when I looked down I realized I was bleeding. Everywhere. It had soaked through everything in about 10 seconds, and I called for the nurse, who brought a wheelchair and they brought me down to the Emergency Room.

I called John and he came over to be with me, because I was a wreck. I was scared something was wrong and also missing all of my children. The doctors checked my hemoglobin and also did an ultrasound, but everything looked fine, so I was able to go back to the NICU and rest there.

The boys were born at 33 weeks and 3 days, only six and a half weeks early, and were beautifully healthy. They also were right around the 40th percentile for weight, which was great – twins are typically smaller than other babies born at the same time, but these little ones grew really well.2014 06 18_0072

Anna got to see her little brothers the afternoon they were born. She was able to go from isolette to isolette and she sang them an equal number of songs. It was just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. She didn’t care about the wires or any of the machines; she got to touch the babies’ hands and was just so excited that they were here. Unfortunately, Josie had a pretty bad cold and had to stay out of the NICU.

About a week after they were born, Children’s NICU was almost at capacity and they needed to take on more babies who were in much worse positions than our boys were. They requested that we transfer to Regions Hospital, which we accepted, although it wasn’t easy to make that choice. John went with the babies as they transferred them in their little pods. As he was leaving, one of the nurses watching happened to mention to another coworker that she was so happy we were making more room for other babies; I think her exact words at one point were, “Yippee!” John was not thrilled with this, as even though we knew it was for a good reason that we were being moved, it was still not an easy thing to do (you always worry about your babies, and now we also had to learn another new set of protocols for visitors, pumping, parking, etc.). He ended up mentioning the interaction with a nurse supervisor and just said that maybe staff shouldn’t talk about things like this in front of parents who are under a little bit of stress. The nurse apologized, and we made the transition pretty smoothly.

Brothers- edit copyThere were a lot of great things about being at Regions. It was a lot quieter, for one, and the boys were also able to be in one large room – TOGETHER! Jessica Shurts came to visit the first night we were there and the nurses let me hold both of my boys in my lap while Jess took a few photos. I hadn’t realized that they would let me hold them both, so to have them in my lap together, and to see their faces at the same time, right next to each other – it was just incredible. These are still some of my favorite photos of Elias and Jude, and I’m so thankful Jess was able to be there to capture such great shots of a really meaningful moment for me. (Thank you again, Jess!)

On Thursday, June 26, Josie got to meet her brothers. Our whole family was finally together, if only for a few minutes. Josie held each of them and gave them lots of kisses, while Anna continued to sing to them. So sweet to see the love they had for their brothers right from the start!

Also on that day, the doctors informed us that it was likely they could go home in 7 to 10 days, as they were starting to eat well from a bottle and had been keeping their temperatures up on their own. They had a few breathing and heart rate spells throughout the past week and a half, but nothing too alarming. Typically once you noticed it, they got themselves out of it, but Elias had one heart rate spell that took a lot of work to get it back up (nurses rubbing his legs, moving him, etc.). Because of that, he had to be monitored one full night at Regions before being allowed to go home. That Sunday, going home became much more real; they said they could probably go home the next day if Elias passed his heart rate test. So John went off to buy some diapers, because we didn’t have any at home!

Elias passed his test beautifully and on Monday, June 30, after only two short weeks in the NICU, the boys were given the green light to go home. We packed them up in the minivan and the girls welcomed us home with lots of gusto. And we began our life as a family of six (with four under four!).

I can’t finish this story without thinking of all of the help, support, and prayers we received over the course of the boys’ pregnancy and newborn stages. A huge number of meals were brought, our girls were always well taken care of, our house was cleaned and laundry done, money and gifts were received, babies were fed so parents could sleep. I am so grateful for all of the many people who supported us through their immense generosity; it made the time considerably easier than it could have been. If you helped us in any way, THANK YOU. You were Christ to us, and we hope we are able to do the same for you some day.2014 06 30_0016

A Twins Shower

To help us prepare for the next two members of our family, my sister-in-law and sisters offered to host a baby shower for us. There are a surprising number of items that are needed (or at least very convenient to have on hand) with two little boys on the way, not least of all a whole new double wardrobe of boy clothes.

Even though I was on bed rest, the shower went really well and was so much fun! It was, of course, MN Twins-themed, which worked out especially well when we learned that the babies were boys. (But no, they will not be named Justin and Joe… sorry, all you other Twins fans!) A couch was pulled out for me to lie on as we all enjoyed the stadium eats (brats and hot dogs: some of this pregnant woman’s favorite foods), the gifts, and the conversation with a lot of friends and family. I couldn’t resist sharing all of these photos that my mom took, because the decorations at this shower were amazing!

Thank you to everyone who helped plan this fun night, and to all of you who were able to attend. We are so grateful that you are all a part of our lives!


Winter ’13-’14

When I say “winter,” I mean the time of year when there is snow on the ground here. And this year that lasted quite a long time. I may be starting a bit early with a Thanksgiving picture (I can’t remember now), but it definitely lasted past Easter.

These are just a few of the events from our lives this past winter, and I wanted to make sure I hit most of the highlights. Unfortunately I’m sure we’re missing a lot, but still, it was a pretty fun winter… even if we did have to stay indoors almost the entire time.

Mother’s Day

We had a really nice Mother’s Day, thanks to my sweet husband, his brother, and his dad. The family all went to Mass together, then came to our home for a big brunch and some playtime at the park (where I am pretty sure John and Mike had the most fun).

I am so blessed to share my days with such a beautiful, loving, fun family – and I am ever thankful for our two children in Heaven and our two adorable, silly little monkeys I get to see every day.

Mothers Day 2013

The Circus Artist

Anna was lucky enough to be taken to the circus with Grandpa Rob and Grandma Kay a few weeks ago, and she LOVED it.  Elephants and baby elephants pretending to sleep? Check. Trapeze artists and juggling? Check. Alone time with Grandpa and Grandma? Double check!

Apparently it still stands out in her mind, because while she was playing with her dollhouse a few days ago, this is what I found. Note the little pink doll (named “Baby Gosie”).

Baby Gosie Acrobatics

I walked in, Anna looked up at me and said, “Baby Gosie is an acrobat!”


Jump Around

I haven’t made the time to post much lately, but Kay took this cute video of the girls and their cousin Genevieve last week and I just had to share it. (I am sure Mari will be joining the fun in a few short months.) If someone wants to put some music behind it, go right ahead – it looks to me like they’re on stage!

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


Anna Turns Two

Our Sweetest Pea is now past two years old. She did really, really well at the doctor’s office last week, which I suppose is encouraged by the fact that there are no more shots for a few years! She is definitely a growing girl; her height and weight are both at right about the 50th percentile (34 inches and 26.4 lbs, respectively), and if you do the “times two” method (see #2 in this link), she will be approximately 5 feet, 8 inches when she’s grown up. (I was curious!)

Her head remains in the 70th percentile. She has come a long way since the tiny 4 lb., 8 oz baby I delivered two years ago! She now can sing a few songs, count to 10 (if you make her do it “for real” – and sometimes to 13), knows most of the basic colors, and pretty much doesn’t stop talking. She is such a ham and is turning into a very sweet little girl who likes to give hugs and kisses; we really enjoy her antics!

We celebrated her birthday with immediate family and some close friends who live nearby. It was a beautiful evening, and although she had a few meltdowns during the afternoon before the party, she was the perfect party hostess that night in her cute pigtails and pretty dress. She didn’t even bat an eye when her friend Lucian blew out her candles for her! We did relight them and she “helped” me blow them out again. She really enjoyed the balloons, the family, the friends, the brats, the puppy cake, the candles, the presents… pretty much everything! We couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate her birthday. Thank you so much to all of you who came – we love you all and were so glad to have everyone there!

(Click on a picture to view a larger image and to go through the gallery.)


Another Baby Girl!

We are SO excited to introduce you to our new niece, Mari Beatrice! She was born Friday evening and if you want to see a cute photo so you can gush over her like we do each day, check out this link. Congratulations, Mike and Hallie (and big sister Genna)!

And also congrats to our friends Mike and Patience who welcomed their little boy Oscar into the world on the same day – we are waiting anxiously to see more photos on your blog! :)

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.

In Standing Water

To celebrate Josie’s birth, a friend (whose kids are big swim team competitors) gave us some sunscreen, sun hats for both girls, and a little kiddie pool. A week ago I had some time to finally set the pool up in the backyard, get Anna in her swimsuit, and generally prepare my girls and myself for the outdoors. This took me all morning. (I’m not kidding. I still need to work on getting both girls ready to go anywhere in less than, oh, about four hours.)

We did eventually make it outside, with the help of Grandma Kay (Ming Bears), who also brought some squirty pool toys for Anna. And finally, Anna was able to swim! I use the term “swim” lightly – she didn’t even sit in the pool. But she did at least walk around in it, and loved splashing with her feet. Honestly, I don’t blame her for standing – the water was pretty chilly!

Having Ming there was not only helpful but simply made it possible for me to get Anna in the pool and still take care of Josie. Thank you for coming over to play with us, Grandma Kay! We all had a lot of fun and hope to spend a lot of time in the water this summer!

How high can you splash?


Woah! I like to squirt the water!


I finally moved my hands enough off the hole to spray water over at Josie and Mommy.


Ming is helping me drink water from the squirty toys. I like it so much that I do this for about 10 minutes!


Hehe, I got my face!

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

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. 


Genevieve is Welcomed Into the Church

As we didn’t have any pictures on our camera for our niece Genevieve’s baptism a few weeks ago, this post is a little late in coming. (All photography courtesy of Rob, John’s dad; thank you!)

Genevieve was welcomed into the Catholic Church through the sacrament of baptism on July 3, which was exactly 9 months after Anna’s baptism, as Hallie pointed out. The day was gloriously sunny and Mike and Hallie’s parish church was gorgeous, making the ceremony that much more beautiful. Genna stayed awake for all of the rite, and even opened her eyes up wide in amazement when her dad held her up for all to see as the newest new member of the Church. After the Mass we were treated to a small celebration at her home, where we all enjoyed a really delicious lunch… and cake! (I never forget the cake. And this one was exceptionally yummy.)

We were honored to be asked to be her Godparents and loving praying for Goddaughter #3 every day! She’s a sweetheart, that’s for sure.

Genna wakes up at the baptism!

With the godparents and parents.

A sweet smile from the newly-baptized.

“Et tu, Brewte?”

My brother Mike and I received a very generous gift from our parents for our June birthdays: a homebrewing kit from Northern Brewer in St. Paul. Last week we picked up all our gear and chose what beer we would try our hand at first (nut brown ale), and Thursday was brew day at Mike and Hallie’s house. Although it took us several hours to get the job done, it was a lot of fun (lots of faux shouting, “You’re doing it wrong!”). But we did not ignore our responsibility to the brew. We steeped grains, added malt extract, boiled wort, added hops, did some “product research” (see below), achieved a cold break, filled the primary fermenter, aerated, added yeast, and corked it. All those terms are just a technical way of saying, “Had a blast. Thanks Mom and Dad!” Now we wait two weeks before moving to secondary fermentation, bottling, etc. And then…we’ll see if the beer is any good!

Steeping barley in hot water.

Mike snorting hops--Fuggle, to be exact.

While the wort boiled, we did some "product research".

  • More product research and wort stirring.

Five gallons of cooled wort in a glass carboy. Luckily, this brew slave avoided a hernia.

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

Happy Father’s Day!

Dear Grandpa Jim,

You are my favorite grandpa with a mustache. And with a puppy! You are so sweet to me because you come and visit a lot, and you know that I got my habit of rubbing my feet together from you. Thank you again for the tickets to the Twins’ game last week (Mommy will be posting about that soon), because I had a lot of fun and I can’t wait for you to take me to more as I get older! Thank you for being a funny, loving grandpa and I will hopefully see you via Skype very soon. I love you!

Your Anna Banana

Me and Grandpa Jim (That OJ looks yummy!)


Dear Grandpa Rob,

You are my favorite grandpa with an apple. An iPad, I mean. Or a Mac. I’m sure I’ll learn these things as I grow up, and you’ll be there to teach me. I love to come visit you and spend time playing on the floor with you; you are so good at keeping me happy! Thank you for taking me to watch the horses yesterday. I really liked them (Mommy will be posting about that too)! Thank you for being a wonderful, loving grandpa and I can’t wait to spend all night with you next weekend. I love you!

Your Anna Kateri

Me and Grandpa Rob


Dear Daddy,

You are the BEST daddy in the entire world! And I know, because I’ve seen a lot of daddies. You are the best at making me smile and giggle. You encourage me to be daring by flipping me upside down and throwing me in the air, and those are two of my very favorite things! You also help me see the world differently by putting me up on your shoulders, and I know that you’re very thoughtful because you’re always very careful that I don’t hit my head when I’m up there. You are so good at being a daddy and I am so blessed and lucky that I get to grow up with you around, teaching me how to love God and love everyone around me. Thank you for being there to play when I’m happy and snuggle when I’m sleepy. I love you very, very much!

Your Sweetest Pea

Me and my daddy

Early Summer

We’re only a few weeks into summer (between Memorial Day and Labor Day) and we’ve already been very busy. We spent some of the Memorial Day weekend camping with Sara’s family outside of Oronoco, MN. It involved the usual: hanging around on camp chairs, eating lots of good food, drinking beer, and playing games. Anna really enjoyed being outside, and played for hours on her blanket in the sunshine. On Memorial Day proper we did some early summer cleaning, installing new curtains in the nursery, planting out first vegetable garden, cleaning out gutters, etc.

This weekend Anna spent Friday with John’s parents, and then spent Saturday and Sunday up in Alexandria with Sara’s parents, who were visiting some of our mutual friends, the Kramers. By all accounts she had a great time, and she even showed Grandpa Rogers what she hasn’t shown anybody else so far–her ability to go from laying down on her stomach to sitting. Apparently even she was a little surprised she could do this! I’m thinking she’ll be crawling in no time.

Squinty country baby. Country because she has a pickup truck.

Relaxing in the backyard.

Chillin' on Grandma Nigon's lap on Memorial Day weekend.

Welcome Genevieve!

Well, it’s clear that the gender balance of John’s family has definitely tipped in favor of the women. This past Saturday, my brother Mike and his wife Hallie welcomed their first child, Genevieve Dolores, into the world. Although almost a month early, she was over six and a half pounds and came out with a head of thick, dark hair. She’s a sweetie pie.We can’t wait to see how she grows over the coming months and years!

Her father's daughter--check out that hair!

Snuggling in Grandpa's arms.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day Poem 2011
by Anna Kateri Rogers (Daddy helped, but not a whole lot.)

You kiss my cheek when I am sad;
I smile and learn, “It’s not so bad.”
You feed and clothe me every day,
love me in all kinds of ways.

I’ve met some moms; you’re the best!
Dancing or snuggling on your chest,
I’m a happy kid who wants to say,
“I love you, Mom. Enjoy this day.”

We hope all moms have a wonderful day today, and in a special way thank our own moms for all the love they have shown and continue to show us. And congratulations to the newest mom in the family, Hallie! Genevieve Dolores was born on Saturday. She’s a darling little girl.

A Mother's Day smile for Sara.


I LOVE Christmastime. The lights, the smells, the sounds, all of it! The whopping 33.4 inches of snow we had received by December 24 this year (well… last year… this post is a bit delayed in making its appearance) definitely didn’t hurt either, although I don’t think everyone would agree with me on that.

I’ve also decided that adding a baby to the mix only makes things more enjoyable.  Anna isn’t old enough to thoroughly appreciate the beauty of the season, but she had a good time nonetheless.

The three days leading up to Christmas day were spent with my family in Eyota, which meant lots of dog barking, beer drinking, and soda cracker cookie eating.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner with some friends from high school (thanks, Bankers!) and games and drinks with my “second family,” the Kramers (always so fun!).  Anna looked beautiful in her Christmas dress borrowed from the Shurts family, and the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass was movie-worthy: how often do you get to see a donkey dragging another donkey by the tail down the church aisle? Hysterical!

Anna all dressed up for Christmas Eve Mass (Thanks for the dress, Jess!)

Anna slept through her daddy reading The First Christmas to her, but we are sure she loved it. Christmas morning she also slept through most of the gift opening, including the new pair of glasses she received from Auntie Traci.

Sleeping as her gifts are opened

She had received the Jumperoo from Grandpa Jim and Grandma Sherry on Wednesday night and LOVED it!

She also got The Night Before Christmas in Hawaiian from Auntie Beth and (soon-to-be) Uncle Jeff, which we are sure will inspire her to someday move to Hawaii and bring her wonderful parents along.

Christmas Part II was celebrated with John’s family in Golden Valley.  We had a great time and I am happy to say that I am now down to only 2 books remaining until I own the entire Harry Potter series (John and I were on a HP kick for awhile… more on that in another post).  Anna got lots of cute clothes and toys, including an awesome “play Bible” from her Godparents , and John got (surprise!) another board game.  We also enjoyed lots of yummy food, such as Kay’s scotch eggs, zelnicky, and chicken wild rice soup.

Anna's new hat

Auntie Hallie holds an excited Anna next to some pretty new clothes.

Anna is intrigued by Uncle Mike's IPad.

We had a beautiful time celebrating Christ’s birth, and we hope you all did, too.  May we always be thankful for the gifts God has given!

Giving Thanks

I want to take a moment to express how thankful we are at this point in our lives, and also to explain our journey over the past few years.  Thanksgiving has never had a more profound meaning for us than it does this year, although every year there are more reasons to thank our Creator.

When John and I got married three years ago, we had no idea what God had in store for us.  We were believing Catholics, had a fun group of friends we saw consistently, and enjoyed spending time with both of our wonderful families.  For some reason, we were also fairly naive in thinking that because we were generally “good” people, good things would happen to us.  In fact, a lot of circumstances came together perfectly around our wedding, including both of us finding and starting new jobs, and finding a cheap apartment almost exactly halfway between those jobs.  We felt so blessed and grateful.  We never really thought there might be any trouble when we’d want to start growing our family.

About a year after we were married, John and I began to grow our family.  Using the natural method of family planning (which I teach) we managed to get pregnant right away and did not have to deal with the heartache of infertility.  My heart truly goes out to those people who have that cross to bear.  I teach many couples who have struggled with infertility, and it is a long and hard road to travel.

Although we conceived right away, the happiness was short-lived; after visiting the doctor I began to miscarry almost immediately, only a few days after confirming we were pregnant.  Our hearts were broken.  For those of you who have gone through this horrible ordeal, you know the emptiness that it can cause; it can consume you.  John was my stronghold; he kept me talking so that I didn’t close off myself.  I still believed that God was there, that He had a plan, but I was so angry at Him!

A few months later we conceived again.  Although there were many scary moments (once you have miscarried, you are absolutely terrified that it will happen during any consecutive pregnancies), we began telling people and believing that this would be the first of our children to make it out to the world.  But that was also not to be.  I will never forget the bleeding, and the ER trip that landed us in front of an ultrasound monitor showing no heartbeat.  The funny thing is, although I remember everything that happened that night, my clearest memory is of the ultrasound technician giving me a hug when we realized what everything meant; it was so incredibly sweet of her, and I thank God that she was there and willing to be so kind.

Of course, this was still not the end of our second child’s story.  Three weeks later, my doctor called (you know something is wrong when the doctor calls you out of the blue!).  We had had a partial molar pregnancy.  Because of this, we were told we needed to wait one year before trying to conceive again.

This was a hard blow.  I was almost in shock.  I trusted that God had a plan, but this was my darkest hour; I just could not understand why this should happen.  I had felt called to be a mother, and yet my babies were being taken from me!

Again, God worked through my husband to reach me.  He made me talk, made me go to Mass, to Adoration, and to reconciliation.  We both began to see how something so sad could also be beautiful; God had given us these two lives, and although we wanted them, they were truly gifts that were not “ours” to keep.  The most beautiful thing about it all is that our two children are WITH GOD!  They are engulfed in so much more joy than they ever would have experienced here.

As Christians, we believe that these children deserved recognition as complete human beings, and after hearing of the idea from a friend, we decided to name them both.  We also had a memorial mass said for them at our home, which really helped bring some closure for us, and we plan to continue going to a mass (or having a mass said) for them every year.

Anyway, one year later, we were able to conceive our third child.  Only a few weeks later we were told we would lose this one as well.  We were devastated, but a bit more prepared emotionally this time around.  However, God had a HUGE surprise in store for us; five weeks later, on March 3rd, we had an ultrasound which showed our little Anna Kateri to be healthy and right on her dates! We were ECSTATIC, to say the least, and cried for joy multiple times.  (In fact, I still do!)  On August 29th, we welcomed her into the world, and she is filling our lives with smiles.

We are thankful for so many things; for our health, our friends, our family, and so much more.  For our parents who raised us, and especially my mom today, who gave birth to me 27 years ago. And although we have had to deal with a lot of heartache, we are SO thankful that God has blessed us with three children: Anthony John, Julia Dolores, and Anna Kateri.  They have each taught us so much about our faith and have helped us grow closer to each other and closer to God.  I am so incredibly thankful for my husband, the sweetest, most caring, and selfless person I have ever met – John, I love you! And finally, I am thankful for the faith and the LIFE God has given us.  May we be humble and faithful enough to finally enter His Kingdom one day.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!