Thursday, September 30, 2010


A friend pointed out to me the other day that my blog posts have been pretty happy lately, and she was wondering if things were going especially well for me. That got me thinking- am I actually happier than I've been in awhile? If so, why? What's different? And I decided that it may not be so much happiness, but rather contentment that has changed my view of the world. For the first time in a long time, I am not going through a transition period. My life has settled down, and I find myself finally being able to be in the now, rather than fret about the future.

Starting around Max's first birthday, Paul and I realized that we could not keep up our current lifestyle much longer. We were both working, and I was bringing Max with me to work every day. I am so thankful that my church allowed me to tote him with for so long, but as he got more active, it got harder and harder. Daycare was not financially viable, and I really didn't want to go that direction anyways. My mother-in-law was a lifesaver (as were Patrick and Liam!!) because she would take him whenever I had something to get done... but the stress of balancing motherhood and my job was really getting to me.

When Paul was offered a job in Minnesota in February of '09, it was the answer to prayer! His wages would support us all, allowing me to stay home with Max, and hopefully we could begin to grow our family... (hmmm, foreshadowing much?) But the downside was that he had to be in St. Paul in TWO WEEKS! They needed him by the beginning of March, but our lease wasn't up until the end of April- plus I had a ton of events going on for the end of the school year at Blessed Sacrament. So, we made the hard decision to live apart for two months- me and Max in Rapid City, and Paul in Burnsville (With my parents, no less!), knowing that we would look back and it would be barely a blip on the radar of our lives- thanks for the great perspective, Dad. It's already proven true.

Finally, as April came to an end, I said goodbye to my wonderful church family and to my days as a youth minister. I packed up and moved the last of our things to Minnesota, where I would join Paul at my parents' home as we began our house hunt.

The next six months were a blur- we were searching for a home every spare moment, and I soon found out that I was pregnant! Joyful news, but another level of stress as I battled morning sickness (coupled with motion sickness) while we endlessly circled the Twin Cities on our hunt. After five failed attempts at bidding on a house (outbid every time), we were finally successful in September! Looking back, I'm so glad we ended up exactly where we did. It was worth the headache and heartache along the way.

We closed on our house on October 15, 2009, then took the next month to make the home our own. Paul's dad came to help us out (without him, the project would have either taken 10 times as long or cost 3 times as much!) and finally in mid-November, we moved into our home! Really, it was not a moment too soon, because I was very pregnant at this point, and we were starting to have some preterm labor difficulties. From about October on, I never really knew if I'd be pregnant the next week or not! Thankfully, we made it to January... January 24 at 5:30 am, to be exact!

We welcomed Lucian into our family with excitement and joy, and not just a little stress. Sleeplessness, nursing difficulties, juggling two children- all of these things made for the first few months of Lucian's life to be, simply put, hard.

I would say around his 5 month birthday, I really began to feel like myself again. Every day since then has been better and better, and now that he's 8 months old, I've been at a good place for a whole quarter of a year! I'm getting out around town, meeting neighbors and St. Joe's parishioners, and finally feeling like I can do this homemaker thing!

Even with life getting turned upside-down every few months, the last year and a half has been wonderful! All of the changes have been good, but now I finally feel like I can sit back, relax, and settle in... well, at least metaphorically. I don't see any real relaxation on the horizon. But that's ok, because I have the "peace of God that surpasses all understanding"... I am content.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Great Weekend

It was.

I don't know, it must be something about fall, but everything is just so GOOD right now! On Saturday, we hung around in our PJ's and made pancakes with real maple syrup for breakfast, then leisurely got ready for a trip down to Burnsville. We showed up just in time for lunch (completely coincidental, I assure you...) and left the kids with Grandma and Grandpa so Paul and I could run a few errands. Suit shopping (success!), haircut, seamstress, coffee (much needed. Lucian has decided this no-sleep thing is going to continue a little longer) and then back to get the kids.

Our friend Laura came for dinner and to babysit the kids while Paul and I went out for the evening. My brother Ben, his friend and I performed at the Eagle's Club in St. Paul. It was so much fun! Ben is a super talented guitarist and songwriter, and I love having an excuse to play my violin again. I hope we get to do it again soon! Thanks so much, Laura, for allowing Paul to come hear us for once, instead of having to stay home with the kiddos.

Sunday we got up slowly again, went to 11:00 Mass (saw Sara, John and Anna- getting ready for Baptism class!), then checked out the orchard by our house. Turns out they don't have the insurance to let people pick their own apples (bummer) but we picked up a bag of tasty Haralsons and a few caramels to go with them.

We took on the Cherokee Park trail again, this time making it all the way to the bottom and back up again. Max took his sweet time, stopping to pick up every rock and poke at every puddle he saw. The only thing that kept him moving was the promise of a caramel at the end of the trail... and even that didn't entice him at times!

The trail is awesome- there's a waterfall, old brick ovens, caves, fossils... it's hard to believe it is within walking distance of our house! However, the hike back up to the top was quite interesting. It was really too much to ask a two year old to hike these steep trails on his own, so Max go a ride on Paul's shoulders. This meant that I inherited Lucian and the backpack... I think that's the most exercise I've gotten in years!

We survived the return hike, made it home, and collapsed into bed- where we all stayed until dinner time. Well, except Max. He never actually fell asleep (just stayed in his room reading). After a two hour hike- are you kidding me?? Needless to say, he went to bed early and slept hard.

Our next goal is to find an orchard and pick our own apples. Emma Krumbees, maybe? The only (and I mean only) downside of fall is the inconsistency of the weather. Who knows how many gorgeous weekends we'll have? What I would like would be to see every single leaf change color before the frost hits.

Hey, I can dream, right?

Splish Splash

Max and Lucian had their first bath together Saturday morning! I finally trusted that Max wouldn't clobber or splash his little brother too much, and that Louie has gotten tough enough to hold his own. It went so smoothly, I wish I would have started months ago! Just one bath instead of two... whatever possessed me to wait this long??

Friday, September 24, 2010

Our Comventure

There is an apple orchard right by our house, and we noticed that they recently opened their gates for visitors! So I told Max on Tuesday that we would be going on an adventure when Daddy came home from work. Sadly, it turns out the orchard is only open Thursday through Sunday... but Max was so excited about going on "a comventure" that we had to come up with a backup plan quick!

We decided to pick up KFC and bring it to the park for a picnic, then check out the trails that lead down to the river. It was a fun hike, but the first part was all downhill... so when we turned around it was, of course, straight back up! It wasn't too steep, but Max sure moved a little slower on the return trip.

There was a gorgeous lookout at the top of a very steep hill- I didn't enjoy the view quite as much as I would have liked, as I was fairly certain Max would take a wrong step and slip out of my grasp, tumbling to the bottom of the hill. The TV show Parenthood coined a phrase that I think sometimes applies to me: "catastrophization"- In matters involving my children, I tend to play out the worst-case scenario (catastrophe) in my head, usually something that has about a .001% chance of actually occurring. That's catastrophization. Luckily, nothing of the sort happened, and everyone got out in one piece.

To the left, a steep drop off. Catastrophization.

Lucian is big enough for the backpack now, but he's still super-sensitive; he did great for almost he whole hike, but toward the end, he bumped his forehead on the back of Paul's head,. It was as if the world was coming to an end! He may be big, but he's not nearly as tough as Max. Think more teddy bear than football player.

Hopefully the weather will clear up and we'll get to visit the orchard soon, but this hike was definitely a fun alternative! We used to hike all the time, so it felt great to get out in the "wilderness" again.

Traditional hiking family portrait... it's getting harder to get a good one!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Lucia Ann!

Our Goddaughter turns two today! I can't believe how fast time has gone- I still have vivid memories of Max leaning over to kiss the newborn Luci when he could barely stand up by himself. And now look at them- if you can catch up with them! This photo caught them at a rare moment of rest during a gymnastics routine on the couch.

I'm happy that Max and Luci get to grow up together. I think they will continue to be great friends for life... well, until middle school, that is. Then they'll have cooties, I'm sure.

Happy birthday, sweet girl! We love you!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I was tired today. So, when both boys were asleep (or at least, in Max's case, confined to his room), I conked out on the couch. When Paul got home from work, that's where he found me- he gave me a quick kiss hello and let me drift back off into oblivion. Unbeknownst to me, he was about to get a big surprise...

Apparently, after saying hi to me, Paul went upstairs to change. All was quiet... until he heard from Max's room "WASH my HAAANDS and LE-E-EGS!" He went to investigate and found our son standing in the middle of his room with a horrified expression, a full diaper, and his hands covered in said diaper's contents. Ohhhh my goodness, son. What were you thinking??

And through all of this, I slept on.

My husband is amazing! Without a word, he hauled Max into the bathroom and scrubbed him down. I woke up to the sound of the shower running and wandered casually upstairs to see if the boys were still sleeping. Lo and behold, Max was standing in the bathtub covered in soap from head to toe. Only then did I find out what I had missed!

Thanks, honey, I love you.

Hearing Check

A conversation overheard between Paul and Max

Max: (pointing to the hem of his jeans) That is the bottom of my pants.
Paul: Yeah, imagine that!
Max: (misunderstanding his daddy) That is the magic bottom of my pants.
Paul: Yeah, right there!
Max: I'm a white bear!

I'm sure he'll need glasses sooner or later, but hearing aids too??

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sometimes, the mess is worth it

I am not a naturally tidy person. Have I said that before? Well it's true. For me, trying to keep up with house cleaning is like paddling upstream in a holey canoe. But I really do try, even if you can't tell by looking at our home.

However, I used to get really stressed out if there was a major mess occurring before my eyes. I would find myself trying to organize as Max was pouring out boxes and boxes of toys, or putting the books back on the shelf right behind my little toddler as he pulled each one off and dropped it on the floor.

I had an epiphany when I was pregnant with Lucian. I was tired and feeling sick, and Max had found my CD case(upwards of 100 CDs) on the bookshelf. He commenced to pulling out each CD, stacking it in a pile, and moving every CD booklet into a pocket in the front of the case. I went to stop him, then realized that this game of his would give me an opportunity to sit on the couch and rest for a good 20 minutes. That sounded much more appealing than attempting to stop him or clean up behind him as he made his mess. When he was done and had moved on to something else, I picked everything up and put it away on a higher shelf.

Since then, I have used this tactic to gain myself a few moments here and there, and I have realized that the cleanup usually isn't as bad as I think it will be! So, we recently got a package in the mail, which came in a box full of packing peanuts.

See where this is going?

I was able to get dinner started while Max entertained himself for a looooong stretch of time... cleanup on this one required a broom and vacuum, but it really was worth it!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Up Close and Personal

Last week, we took a trip to the Minnesota Zoo with Max's Great Grandma Radecki. What a day for viewing the animals! I think it might have been the cool weather, because they were all super active and right in our faces. Max had a great time, getting to see all of his favorites only inches from the glass!

We saw the playful otters

The big huge bear

And the majestic tiger

Plus many, many more! I think I like going to the zoo in the fall, when the animals (and people!) aren't trying to beat the heat.

Thanks for a fun day, Grandma!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fly Me to the Moon

Max has decided he is going to be an astronaut.

He is enthralled by anything moon-related, and he wants to ride in a rocket ship to the moon! We have been checking out all of the kids books we can find on space travel and moon landings, and we've found some fun songs that teach about the planets and rockets. I'm really enjoying this, Max's first future occupation! Who knows what he'll come up with next?

Yesterday, he had Daddy fly him around the room like a rocket for a long time. When Daddy finally got tired, Max ran back and forth across the room, throwing himself at the couch and yelling, "Rockets go fast!" at each impact. Then he told us that when he travels to the moon, we can come too.

We explained that if he wants to be an astronaut, he needs to study hard and do well in school- so his plan is as follows, in his own words: "Go to 'cool, 'tudy hard, and be an atro-naut!" At the end of one of his library book, the author asks, "Do you think you'll go to the moon someday?" And each time we read it, Max replies with confidence, "Yes, I will!"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hi, My Name Is...

Max has a new favorite question. He asks everyone, whether he knows them or not, "What's your name?" The other day he asked my brother, "What's your name, Uncle Ben?" Um, I think you know the answer to that one, Max. He has asked the Target checkout lady, two women in an elevator at the Mall of America, and our waitress at Perkins. That was an interesting one-

She came to take our order, and Max asked "What's your name?" "I'm Nancy!" she replied. He then continued, "Whaddya gonna bring me?" When she paused, I whispered to Max "You wanted the mac and cheese..." so he continued, "You want to bring me mac and cheese!" If he wasn't two years old, she probably would have been expecting to see his phone number scrawled on a napkin next to her tip.

I think it is probably his way of showing interest in people. He doesn't know how to ask about your job, or how your day went, so he simply asks your name to get the conversation going. So next time you see Max and he asks for your name, understand that he probably already knows it and really just wants an excuse to talk to you!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Our Latest Favorites

Strega Nona, by Tomie de Paola

My grandma owned this book and when we were little we would read it all the time! I saw it at the library recently and realized that Max had to read it. It's a funny story about Big Anthony and a magical pasta pot... Big Anthony learns a big lesson, and the punishment fits the crime!

Achoo! Bang! Crash! The Noisy Alphabet, by Ross MacDonald

We came upon this book totally by accident. It had a cool looking cover, and anything with the word "noisy" is a sure-fire winner for Max. This book goes through the alphabet using noises (F is for "Fa-DWAP!") and great illustrations. Plus, all of the lettering was done on an old-fashioned printing press with antique carved wooden letters. Cool!

Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson

Written in 1965, this is a classic children's story that every kid can relate to. Using his trusty purple crayon, Harold draws his own world - sailing across the ocean, climbing a mountain, and eventually ending up safe in bed. Since reading this book, Max's purple crayon has gotten more use than any other color!

Beethoven's Wig

An awesome introduction to classical music, the group Beethoven's Wig has written hilarious lyrics to popular classical works! They are great musicians with a great sense of humor. We could listen to them all day.

Putumayo Kids

These CD's were created to introduce kids to music from all over the world. Our favorites are the African Playground and Asian Dreamland. We just returned a stack of items to the library, but Max wanted to hold on to his Putumayo CD for one more week!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Mommy's Lounge

Wednesday was our book club night out! We went to Dixie's on Grand for half-price wine, and amazingly there was only one pregnant woman with us! Both Sara and Angela brought their precious new babies (born less than two weeks ago each) and Jess brought adorable Will, so much of the evening was spent trading babies... all of them MUCH lighter than Lucian... although Will is quickly moving in the right direction.

Since there are so many of us who have gone through pregnancy and labor, it seems like when we get together conversation inevitably turns to pregnancy stories and the trials of giving birth. I fear that we may be scaring the living daylights out of our single/engaged/newly married book club members, because with upwards of ten children between us, we have experienced a little bit of everything!

Then we move on to talking about how difficult motherhood is- the sleepless nights, the crazy toddlers, the messes, the meltdowns... and our childless friends stare at us in horror. "Why" they seem to be thinking "would I ever want to go down that road?"

Yesterday I was finally able to put into words what all of us moms know instinctively but may not voice as often as we should, and I think it bears repeating (for all you future moms out there).

If I think back on my job as a youth minister, what I remember first is the fulfilling, rewarding time spent with wonderful people. I loved my job and I miss it tremendously. But there were days when I cried because I wasn't getting through to them, when I wanted to throw in the towel and quit. Sometimes I worked my tail off and seemed to get nothing in return. But even with those moments, I knew that I was doing what I was called to do at that time. I took the good with the bad, the hard work with the fun times, and I loved what I did.

In short, being a mother is like having the best, most challenging job you can imagine (and SO much more). For some reason, it's part of our human nature to need to vent our frustrations to people in similar situations. I think it helps us to know that we're not going through it alone. At Dixie's last night, it was as if we had entered the Teacher's Lounge for mommies, where all the trials and tribulations are aired. I'm sorry to those who had to listen to two hours worth of mother troubles without getting a clear picture of the JOY that comes with childbirth and parenting. It's easy to voice our frustrations; it is much harder to put into words how incredible it is to be a mother. For all the tough times I've had, and for all the tough times to come, I wouldn't trade a minute of it!

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

I have a riddle for you:

On good nights, she gets five
She dare not hope for seven
And the only time she'll merit nine
Is when she gets to Heaven

Any guesses? Think about it...think about it...Right! Hours of sleep per night as a mother. I first heard this riddle when Max was a baby, and I thought it was really cute and clever. But as for me, I was easily getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night! Those sleepless babies were someone else's problem. Even Lucian, after the first few months of colic, has been a dream baby... until this week. Let me tell you my schedule last night to give you an idea of what my week of sleep has been like. (Note: times are a rough estimate. I'm not looking too closely at the clock in the middle of the night.)

8:30pm Paul puts Lucian to bed
10:15pm I come home from an evening out with the girls
11:00pm Lucian wakes up to eat, I feed him and go to bed
12:30am Lucian wakes up to eat
3:00am Lucian wakes up to eat
4:00am Lucian wakes up to eat
4:30am Max wakes up crying, just long enough to wake me up and get out of bed before falling back asleep on his own
5:00am Lucian wakes up to eat
6:15am Lucian wakes up to eat, I bring him in bed with us and never really go back to sleep
7:00am Lucian wakes up for good, I try ignoring his happy (wide awake) babbling and kicking
7:15am Lucian finally convinces me to get up
7:45am Max wakes up
9:30am I'm ready for a nap.

Good thing he's darn cute.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mary's Birthday!

Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God,
heralded joy to all the world.
For from thou hast risen the Sun of justice,
Christ our God.

Destroying the curse, He gave blessing;
and damning death, He bestowed on us
life everlasting.

Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
For from thou hast risen of Sun of justice,
Christ our God.

Happy Birthday, Mary!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Moorsetown, USA

My Grandpa Moorse has been talking about taking Max fishing since before he could walk! My Grandparents have some land down in Marshall, and there are several places to go to catch some pretty nice fish. We had no Labor Day weekend plans, so we decided to invite ourselves down to Marshall to see if Max could reel in a keeper!

We arrived Friday evening for dinner and found out that, unfortunately, the road out to the pit (where the best fishing is) was underwater. Bummer! So we made a quick change of plans and decided to check out Moorsetown instead. Max spent the evening exploring Grandma and Grandpa's house, especially the electric keyboard in the bedroom. We were treated to an instrumental version of "My Heart Will Go On" more times than I care to remember!

Saturday morning, my mom and cousin Shanni arrived (Shanni came down to finally fulfill her dream of driving a tractor!) and we set out for the lake. If I could create the perfect place for Max to spend a day, it would look a whole lot like Moorsetown. He had full reign to explore the trees and tall grasses, there were rocks to climb and big open areas to run around. But the main purpose of the visit was the fish, and Grandpa lead us out on a makeshift dock, through grass and cattails over our heads, to the fishing spot. Max managed to land a catfish, with a little help from Daddy, and he was pretty stoked!

The other highlight of Moorsetown was Shanni's driving lesson with Grandpa. They took a couple spins around the land in his truck, and Shanni became the unofficial ferryman between the fishing hole and the fire pit!

With the arrival of Sunday came even more excitement! Out to Grandpa's shop we went, to drive a tractor and a loader. Shanni took to the tractor like a pro, and Mom didn't do so bad herself! Paul took Max on a ride, and I was plenty content to snap a zillion pictures. Even push lawnmowers make me nervous... no thanks, tractor. Max got a private ride in the Loader with Grandpa- they even scooped up a mound of dirt and dropped it! What a trip!

Our weekend ended with a visit to Great Great Grandma Lanoue (my mom's grandma) in the nursing home. She's 97 years young, and she looked great! She actually remembered Max from our last visit, and Lucian stole her heart with his big toothless grin.

I have great memories of visiting Marshall when I was young, and I'm so glad that our kids will have those memories too! Thanks, Great Grandma and Grandpa!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Winter Clothes

I love cool weather. I'm packing for a trip to Marshall (to visit Great Grandma and Grandpa Moorse) for the weekend, and it's about 50 degrees outside. The weekend looks like it will be cool, maybe reaching the mid-seventies. As I was packing clothes for the boys, I got to start sorting through their long-sleeved shirts and cute jackets- I am at risk of WAY over-packing!

Summer is great; I love to swim, it's nice that there is no bundling involved when leaving the house, and I will definitely miss sitting out on the back porch with a glass of wine at 9:30 at night. But oh! The smell of fall is in the air, and I love it! I am so looking forward to nights that I can cuddle up under piles of blankets, rather than sprawl out on top of the sheets with the window open and the fan on full blast.

I am ready to welcome fall with this duo of cute cold-weather outfits for the boys, and my favorite long-sleeved shirt.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Four Years!

Four years have gone by in the blink of an eye. I remember thinking on our wedding day that it was the best day of my life, but I know now that it was just the beginning of a long succession of "best days". Yes, there have been bad days and good days; sharing a life with someone, and bringing new life into the world, is hard. But never have I once wanted to go back. Speaking from my experience- and from the experience of several close friends- there is a profound sense of peace that comes with entering your vocation, whatever that vocation is. There is still the daily question, "Am I doing what God wants me to do?" in the specifics of daily life, but no more do I have to wonder where God is calling me. On my wedding day, I knew the answer with certainty.

I write a lot about my children, but today I am remembering that my calling is first and foremost to serve my husband (and to allow him to serve me). I want to raise up our children to know how much their parents love each other.

Happy anniversary, my Love!