A blog for all that goes on in our family.

Sara’s Family

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.

Welcome, Ellie Jo!


Our newest little niece (and first on Sara’s side of the family) has arrived! Ellie Jo was born on Thursday, July 18, and is already stealing hearts. She was 6 lbs, 3 oz, and surprised everybody by being born three hours away from home, three and a half weeks early. We’re so excited to welcome her to the family and can’t wait to see her again soon.


Anna holding baby Ellie


Rest in Peace

My grandpa passed away on March 14. We had the services last week, just before Holy Week began in earnest. My sister wrote (and husband read) a beautiful eulogy, which made us laugh and cry. And while it was good to see so many family and friends, it was also hard to say some last goodbyes to Grandpa. Thank you again to those who wrote, called, and sent flowers and cards.

Only a few days later, we were at Easter Sunday, where we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and, with hope, “look forward to the resurrection” of our own bodies someday. While we continue to pray for Grandpa and for our family members who will miss him, we also remember the joy he brought to our lives and look forward to meeting him again.


The girls with their Big G's in November before the snowbirds headed to Arizona.

The girls with their Big G’s in November before the snowbirds headed to Arizona.

Looking Back

In mid-October we went on our (final?!) annual trip to the North Shore over MEA weekend. The tradition started when Terry, a friend of the family, invited us to go along with his family one fall. My family has been going ever since. I was in elementary school when we started going, and it’s sincerely been the highlight of the year for us; I think it occasionally even beats our Christmas time together. The last five years we have also had the Cahills join us to add to the fun. And you can bet that over the past ten years, between the “kids” getting older and bringing more people, the level of alcohol consumption (and food, for that matter) has increased exponentially.

We are really heartbroken to see this tradition end, but we still greatly enjoyed this year’s trip and hope to start new traditions as time goes on. Still, it was hard to leave that Sunday!

Grandma Sherry and Anna watch the waves roll softly in to the shore…


…or maybe not quite so softly! (Notice Grandma’s pants… both she and Anna got sprayed by a larger wave.)


Anna smiles as she throws some rocks into a little pond.


Anna and her friend Torin explore the landscape at Gooseberry Falls.


Do you see it? (Do you get it? We’ve now brought Anna in on our “Lewis & Clark” fun photos! How lucky is she to be born to such cool parents?!) ;)


Josie poses for the camera while on a walk with Mommy. This will be on our Christmas card but it’s just so cute I can’t help but share it now!


The Rogers and Cahill clans in 2008, just for comparison… (You’re welcome, everybody!)


The Rogers and Cahill clans in 2012


The Nigons and Rogers clans in 2008, for comparison, minus my sister Traci, who I tried unsuccessfully to Photoshop into the picture. :) (Do you see that shaggy-haired guy on the left? He ended up marrying my sister after meeting my family like that! :) We love you, Jerrery!)


And finally… the Nigon, Cargill, and Rogers clans in 2012.

Fall Photos

First – happy birthday to Auntie Traci! We love you! :)

We traveled down to Eyota in late September to see my family as well as the Kramer family. I grew up with the Kramers and the families have stayed in touch pretty well as we’ve grown, but one thing we always enjoyed growing up was having a big brunch together after church on Sunday. My sisters decided it was time to do it again, so we managed to pull it off and had a good time, with the exception that Brian (Josie’s godfather) couldn’t make it. (We missed you, Brian!) His wife Brianna and daughter Hailey were able to spend the day with us, though, which was great. Anna doesn’t get to see Hailey often, but we hope that they’ll get to be good friends as they get older now that they’ve moved closer to the Cities. The two girls were born only two weeks apart, and Hailey is our goddaughter.

My parents wanted to have some family photos taken, so Dan offered to follow us around and get some outdoor shots. He did a great job! Take a look through this gallery for a few of the highlights, both the good and the bad.

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.)


Twins Game for Anna

For Anna’s birthday and just because, my parents took her to a Twins game. (Yes, she’s been to more games than I have in the past year. If the Twins were doing a lot better, I’d be complaining a lot more, but… they’re not.) From what they told me, she had a GREAT time. Even in the really warm weather, she wanted to keep going back to their seats outside in the sun, while it sounds like Grandpa and Grandma were pretty much dragging her indoors to cool off every so often. We have trained her well, though; every player was “Goe Mauer” and she even got Tony Oliva to say hi to her, even if she wasn’t too excited to talk back to him! She also really enjoyed the light rail ride and is still, a month later, talking about the train in conjunction with Grandpa and Grandma.


Anna and Grandpa enjoy the game together.


Anna and Grandma. I assure you that she did have fun; she just doesn’t usually enjoy having her picture taken, which is why she’s not often smiling.


Anna, Grandpa, and Tony Oliva


I love this picture. LOVE it. If it were a little less blurry, I’d frame it.


Anna and Grandpa snuggle on the light rail.


Thanks for taking her to the game, Mom and Dad – we hope she grows up to enjoy the Twins as much as we do!


Happy birthday to “the Big G!”

My grandma and grandpa are called the “Big G’s” for Anna’s sake – they wanted something easier than “Great-grandma/pa Hammel.” The Big G (grandma) happens to almost share a birthday with Anna; they’re just a few days apart. (And happy birthday to the other “big G,” Grandpa, this coming Saturday!)

This year was the Big G’s 70th birthday, so a party was thrown at – where else? – the American Legion in mid-August. We drove down on Friday and stayed at my parents’ home, complete with beautiful sunsets overlooking the farm and the rolling hills. The party was that night, and we got to see a lot of family, including my great-aunt Toot, my aunt Kel-lee, and her new baby boy Caden, who all traveled up (sans husbands and another child) from Arizona to celebrate with us. It was so great to see them and spend time celebrating all that my grandma has done in 70 years, including raising four awesome kids. Anna got her fill of the Big G’s favorite candies, which were all set out on the table. Every person’s lap she encountered was another opportunity to ask for “sickles, peas” (Skittles, please); and of course, no one wanted to disappoint her. Happy birthday again, Grandma! We love you!

Saturday was a relaxing, sleepy day. Anna ran around with Copper, and we all really enjoyed pizza and then a campfire outside that evening. The next day we found out that as relaxing as it had been, we had still apparently worn Anna out, because on the way to see her friend Hailey, she fell asleep in less than 20 minutes in the car – something that rarely happens anymore! She did wake up and we had a nice time visiting with Briana and Hailey before we finished our drive back home. We were sad to see that weekend end, but we get to go back already this weekend and are excited about that!

First cousins, once removed – at least I think that’s how it works. Caden was born in July. Isn’t he adorable?!?


Anna plays with my cousin Jeff at Grandma’s party. Right after this picture she went up and gave him a big ol’ kiss. :)


Enjoying the fire outside – Josie’s first!



Our sleepy girl.

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.

Gopher Count

We had our attic re-insulated a few weeks ago (okay… so maybe more like 6 or 7 weeks…), so while the dust was heavy in the air, the girls and I escaped down to my parents’ home near Rochester. We had a great time just hanging out around the house, while Anna of course loved playing with, terrorizing, and giving treats to the puppies. (Both Copper and Sparky were there, as my sister and brother-in-law were living with my parents for a month before moving out of town.) This trip also explains our recent deluge of blog posts; I finally had some downtime to put together the pictures and videos I wanted to share.

The highlight of our trip happened the first morning we were there. Viola Gopher Count is the second oldest continuously running town celebration in the US, and I attended some part of it probably every year until I went to college. I hadn’t been there in oh, about ten years, but this was a great year to go again! The weather was great, and Anna got to really enjoy the parade, while Josie – who already loves to be outside – smiled and cooed for us all afternoon.


Our cute pink and plaid summertime girl.


Anna watching the parade.


Josie enjoying the blanket outside while the rest of us enjoy some yummy, greasy food.


Anna’s first Freezie. (Most of it ended up on the ground…)


I know, creepy photo, right? At least we know the guy in the gopher suit!


We of course had another fun time visiting my family. Thanks for letting us hide out for a few days, Mom and Dad! We love you!

Visiting Ming and Bapa Arf-Arf

Ming Arf-Arf = Grandma with the puppy

Bapa Arf-Arf = Grandpa with the puppy

These are Anna’s names for her grandparents (John’s parents are Ming and Bapa bears – because they have stuffed bears she plays with there), although the “arf-arf” has since evolved into “puppy” and “Cah-poo” (Copper – their puppy’s name). We visited them twice in the last month, the first for a family wedding in mid-May. Anna enjoyed her time with her aunties and uncle, as well as all the dancing at the wedding, and, of course, the puppies.

In June we visited again for another wedding reception and then a belated housewarming-slash-50th birthday party for my parents. Once again the dancing and puppies were a hit with Anna, while Josie enjoyed being passed around from person to person on what turned out to be a beautiful but very warm day. John and I got to play a few rounds of Beersby (a frisbee-related backyard game my sister and brother-in-law set up) and enjoy a little bit of baby-free time.

Thanks, Ming and Bapa, for having us down and for some great memories! (Oh… and for all the pictures!)


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. 


The Amazing (Slightly Intoxicated) Mirror Maze

Yes, you read it correctly. An intoxicated maze. No, the maze was not drunk, but the people entering it may have been slightly so.

It all started with a Groupon. My sister Traci bought one for cheap admission to the Amazing Mirror Maze at the Mall of America, thinking that she’d use it when a friend was visiting. That never happened, but she did mention to John that she still had to use this Groupon and was thinking maybe the sisters/brothers-in-law could do it together. I imagine the conversation went something like this:

Traci: I have these Groupons I need to use. We should all go together!

John: That sounds okay. But you know what would make it really fun?

Traci: If we dressed up in costumes?

John: No, but that would be awesome too. It would be really fun, though, if we went to a bar first!

Traci: Wow! Like, have some beer? That would be amazing! (Ha! Amazing! Like the Amazing Mirror Maze!)

Both: Let’s do it!

Okay, so the conversation didn’t exactly go like that, but John did make the suggestion and Traci did think it was a great idea, so the plan was made. Unfortunately, we forgot all about it until the day of, and didn’t have anyone to watch Anna, so she got to join in the fun. (The maze, people, not the drinking. We’re not that kind of parents.) It also meant I decided to stick to Shirley Temples, but I did get to cart Anna around in her stroller and watch five people get slightly tipsy and then try to go through a mirror maze. I do have to say that it was quite entertaining. Totally worth the money spent! (Also, it turned out to be a good thing I didn’t drink, as I found out I was pregnant the next day.)

We got to the maze… but first, Jeff rides the mechanical bull. Twice!


He’s a blur!


Anna with two of her aunties, wearing the shirt Traci got her from Boston. (It says, “Life is good when you’ve got an aunt like mine!”


You think you see me with the stroller down there? It’s an illusion. There wasn’t any path that straight in that maze, which made it fun to try to find people; you always thought they were right there!


Traci, Jeff, and I in the maze



Our Awesome Autumnal Journy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girls’ Night Out

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

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

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

Whitewater Wines’ Vineyard
Beth takes on the dare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Beautiful Bachelorette


“Today I Marry My Best Friend”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.