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!
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.
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.
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”).
I walked in, Anna looked up at me and said, “Baby Gosie is an acrobat!”
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!
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…
…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!)
Anna helped decorate our Christmas tree for the first time.
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!
After playing outside, we decided we needed something to warm us up, so we devoured a cup of hot chocolate together.
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.
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.
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!
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.)
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!
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.
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!
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:
(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.
(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…
Merry Christmas to one and all.
May God abundantly bless you in 2012.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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!
It’s no secret that games of all sorts (board, computer, roleplaying) are a pretty big part of my life. I grew up playing lots of games in our household, and I enjoy the way board games in particular bring people together, provide an intellectual challenge, and establish a framework for friendly competition. And, of course, I’m secretly hoping that my daughter will grow up to be a gamer too, though we’ll definitely have to see what her interests are as she grows older. I’ll have to accept it if she determines that games are just “something silly that my dad does.” But for now, I’m doing my darndest to make sure that she’s participating to the degree to which she’s able. For example: