Friday, October 29, 2010


My dad is bald. That's no secret. While he is cue-ball bald by choice, his hair would be sparse even if he tried to grow it out. So... we tease him. It's all in good fun, but his children are sometimes ruthless! Luckily, he's really easy-going and laughs along with us.

Well, yesterday, his grandson joined the charge. He was playing in a little tent at my parents' house when Grandpa came home and crawled in to say hi. After a few minutes, I heard a little voice from inside the tent say, "You really don't have any hair, Grandpa??"

Nope, and apparently your hairline is genetically linked to that of your mother's father... Sorry, Max.

Grandpa and Max on the teacups at Como Park

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Time!

Oh what a night! It's been awhile since we've had plans on a Saturday night. We decided it was a good day to carve pumpkins, so we invited Ben and Amzie over for dinner and some good old fashioned pumpkin carving. I must say, with the limited supplies we had available (crayons and steak knives) we created some beautiful - and very expressive - pumpkin faces! We spread out the newspaper and drew our outlines...

Then cut open the tops and scooped out the insides. Max loved this part! He was not a bit afraid to get messy.

In fact, I think he was a little afraid that he wouldn't get messy enough! We carved the faces out and Max attempted to put his entire head inside my pumpkin...

And finally, the finished product!

After all of that hard work, we needed some refreshment so we sent the kids to bed, lit our Jack o' Lanterns and made ourselves some Flaming Pumpkins!

Next up, pumpkin pie!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Little House on the Prairie

When Paul went back to Minnesota on Monday after the wedding, the boys and I stayed out in Elm Springs with the Trasks until Friday. What an adventure! But the best part of all was putting the boys to bed and staying up until midnight, one or two o'clock with Bridget and catching up on life. However hard it is to live 600 miles apart, this is something we would likely never do if we lived in the same town. Most of our time spent together since having kids has included our children, so the late nights in combination with the long drive finally gave us the hours of conversation that we've been needing!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The trip was a total success (I was a little nervous about single-parenting for an entire week) and the boys had a great time together! Some of their favorite moments (since, believe it or not, the trip wasn't all about me):

Playing in a mountain of alfalfa seed (Max loves being friends with a real farmer!)

Ice Cream!


Bob the Builder videos in the car (Can he fix it? Yes, he can.)

On Thursday, we brought the boys into town and met up with Annie for an evening of shopping with the girls. Oh my goodness, I haven't done anything like that in way too long! We went to Someone's in the Kitchen, Pier 1, Borders and Hobby Lobby, mainly just wandering the aisles and chatting. Good times. Thanks Maureen, Patrick and Kelley for watching all four kids! I know that wasn't easy...

We left Friday morning for our road trip back to St. Paul. We decided to take the scenic route, and even though it took much longer, I'm so glad we did! We passed through some beautiful (remote) parts of South Dakota that I would otherwise never have seen. Our first stop was in Pierre for lunch- the boys loved the park and the chance to stretch their legs. Patrick is totally enamored with Lucian, and he even shared his lunch with him!

Second stop was De Smet, SD, the location of one of the homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Bridget is a huge Little House fan, and she brought her set of books along so we could compare the stories with the area we drove through. It so made me want to read them all again!

As we got into Minnesota it was getting late and dark, so we decided to forgo our planned stop in Walnut Grove (another Laura Ingalls Wilder stop) and turned instead up toward Marshall to grab some dinner. I called Grandma and Grandpa Moorse as we pulled into town, and they jumped right in the car to meet us at Perkins! I think they enjoyed the surprise, and it was really fun to see them, if only for a short time.

We pulled into the garage at about 12:30am, and a slightly groggy Paul came out to meet us and help haul all of our gear and sleeping children inside. On the table was a bouquet of flowers and a box of "welcome home" chocolates! I think maybe my husband missed his family... That makes me happy.

We went to the Mall of America with Bridget's brother and his family on Saturday, and Max got to try the Nickelodeon Universe rides for the first time. He was totally fearless! He even liked the log chute! Child of mine, where did you come from? Not your scaredy-cat Mommy, that's for sure.

Bridget and the boys left Monday morning for her own little house on the prairie. I think maybe Max was ready to have his mommy to himself again (as they drove off, he climbed onto me and repeatedly sang "I like you, Ilikeyoualot") but I sure wasn't ready to see them go!

A cross-country road trip with four boys under four is not for the faint of heart, but where there's a will, there's a way! We did it and lived to tell the tale. Thanks for letting us invade your home, Al & Bridget! When are you coming out here?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rhyme Time

Underneath a billowy willow tree
(Sorry, I couldn't resist)

Max is a rhyming maniac! If I tell him it's time to go to bed, he'll say something like, "It's pime to bo doo ved!" It's pretty cute, and it's fun to hear him use his verbal creativity, but usually the words are pure nonsense. There are, however, two examples that have completely accidentally turned into hilarious new phrases!

Example One: Lucian received a little doll dressed as a butterfly as a gift from his Great Grandma Moorse. It has crinkly wings, antennae that are great to suck on, and a hard plastic face that's perfect for teething gums. He loves it. Recently, I asked Max if he wanted to name the doll for his brother. Up until this point, the names he gives to toys have all been variations of "TeeTee" (ToTo, TeeTo, TaTee, etc). He has officially turned a corner. Want to know what he named this cute little butterfly girl? "Mommy Salami"

Meet Mommy Salami

Example Two: At Bridget's house, we were heading into the bedroom to go to bed and I told him to say good night to Patrick and Joseph. In true rhyming form, he responded, "Good night! Bud Light!" Bud Light?? It has to be a total random occurrence- his Daddy doesn't drink that stuff! If he had said "Good night! Summit IPA!" I might think we were responsible. But no, this was just a laugh-worthy choice of rhyming words befitting our beer-loving son. What a poet!

So I'll be back with more stories
That hopefully won't bore ye,
And pictures of Max
With his friend Patrick Traxx (ok, that was a stretch)
When my computer is kind
And allows me to find
A better way of downloading
Without my brain exploding.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Love and Marriage

I can't believe the big day has already come and gone, and Monica and Glenn are now Mr. and Mrs. Gerardi! I was so honored to stand up as one of Monica's bridesmaids- along with Kelley, Megan, and Katie (Monica's best friend from high school). I'm sure I've made it well known, but I've never been a bridesmaid before, so I was STOKED to be involved in all of the preparations and festivities.

We made it to town late Wednesday night, ready to roll right into bed. No such luck with two little boys who were very sick of sitting still! When we separated them (Lucian and I ended up on the couch upstairs) they were finally able to quiet down enough to fall asleep... although I found out the next morning that the crash I heard around 1:00am was Max falling out of his pack-and-play in an attempt to make it to the big bed with Daddy. Oy.

Thursday was set aside as girls' day- Luncheon with the future family-in-law, followed by manicures at the beauty college in town. I found myself nodding off while getting my nails painted (did I mention Lucian woke up at 5:00?) so when the rest of the girls went to Bully Blends for coffee and wine, I made the hard decision to forgo my favorite spot in Rapid City to catch up on a few winks before dinner.

Oh my, dinner... I haven't laughed that much in a long time. Annie and Bridget joined us for a delicious meal at the Pirates Table, complete with chocolate wine! Two of my favorite things in one glass ... someone is a genius. Our waiter was fun, outgoing, and he happened to be dressed like a pirate. Get a load of this:

The bride-to-be with our pirate waiter

Back at the Yantes home that evening, Kelley broke out her bartending skills and whipped up some tasty Flaming Pumpkins. There also may or may not have been a hookah present... and it may or may not have tasted like apricot... It was a fun night.

Yes, we drank this. No, it was not still on fire.

Friday was a whirlwind of preparations, a two hour rehearsal, Mass with the family, and a beautiful Groom's Dinner out at K Bar S Lodge in Keystone. I had never heard of it before, but what a gorgeous facility! After dinner, Monica and Glenn got up to speak. I had hoped to make it til Saturday before the waterworks, but their words to their families and to each other were so touching that I quickly lost that battle.

Then Saturday arrived! I met the girls at the Best Little Hair House in downtown at 8:30, and I was greeted with a spread of bagels, cream cheese, orange juice and champagne! I have an amazing mother-in-law, have I ever said that? (I love you, Maureen!)

Working on the bridal updo

I did get a picture of them all smiling nicely, but I'm posting this one instead as payback for never smiling when I ask them to!

Well, we got our hair done, then headed to the church to get ready for pictures. Photography was done by Jacques Daniel- you can check out his work here, he's super awesome!

This photograph (and the other two really good ones) by Jacques Daniel

Then we retreated back downstairs to wait for the guests to arrive and the ceremony to begin. Although spending an entire morning in a salon with mimosas and no children was close to divine, my very favorite moment of being a bridesmaid came when we were waiting to go upstairs before the ceremony. The flurry of makeup and dress preparations had calmed and we were waiting for our cue from Fr. Mike when Paul Sr. led us in a beautiful prayer to help us prepare our hearts to witness (and in Monica and Glenn's case, enter into) the sacramental reality of marriage.

Is that Hollywood glamour or what?

Finally, up the stairs and down the aisle we went. Oh, you should have seen Glenn's face when he first saw his bride- he's so totally in love!! And Monica was absolutely glowing. The whole ceremony was beautiful, prayerful, and joyful. And as Fr. Mike said, it was such a testament to the faith of the couple to see three priests on the altar with him, concelebrating the wedding! That doesn't happen every day. Wow, I was so glad to be a part of this- what a perfect start to a life together.

Pictures after the wedding were done quickly, and off to the reception we went! I forgot to mention earlier that my parents came into town Friday afternoon to watch the kids for the rehearsal and wedding. Monica wanted to make it clear to them that they were invited regardless of whether they babysat, but it sure was a Godsend to have them there!! They juggled the boys for the whole reception, freeing us up to relax and enjoy the evening.

Again, what is with this family and not smiling nice??

Max and Luci ... he looks like he's about to go for the "yawn, stretch, arm around the shoulders" move

The food was wonderful, the music was fun, and the decorations were awesome! Each table had an individual cake on a vintage cake stand, and each cake was to die for. I think I tried five different kinds... lucky for me, my dress had extra room in the tummy area. Thanks to Annie Daniel (yes, the photographer's wife... very very creative, artistic family) for help with all of the decorations. She has such an eye for detail that made the overall effect stunning!

We partied long into the night, and the workers finally had to shoo us out the door. The party migrated elsewhere, but I headed back to baby and bed. The whole family came together again for Mass in the morning, then the rest of the day was spent chilling at the Yantes home, eating leftover cake and drinking coffee (lots of coffee...). In the evening was the gift opening, and Max got to swim with his daddy at the hotel swimming pool. Thanks hun for skipping the gifts to keep our child happy!

The happy couple said their goodbyes to the family Monday morning, and headed off on their first adventure as Mr. and Mrs! I am so excited to have a new brother-in-law, and I can't wait to see where life brings these two. Congratulations, Monica and Glenn Gerardi!

Monday, October 18, 2010

We're Back!

We have just returned from an amazing trip to South Dakota! I have so many awesome pictures I want to share, and so many stories to tell, I don't know where to begin. Sadly, my computer has decided to mutiny and will not allow me to download my pictures ... grumble, grumble.

Wednesday through Monday was one big celebration of Monica and Glenn- congratulations you guys!! The wedding on Saturday was BEAUTIFUL! They were both so happy, and I was proud to be able to be a witness to their vows.

Monday through Friday, I stayed with my friend Bridget in Elm Springs. It was great to get to spend some quality time with her. Then Friday we road-tripped with our four boys (and one baby in utero) back to St. Paul. Bridget stayed the weekend and visited with her brother who just moved to the Twin Cities. She just left this morning :(

The days have been flying by at warp speed! But now it's time to get back in the swing of things here at home.

More details (and visual aids!) from our trip to come as soon as I whip this machine into shape.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monica's Weddin'

Ever since Monica and Glenn stayed at our house on their way to Rapid City, Max has been enthralled with "Monica's Weddin". As soon as he is strapped into his carseat, he says "We're goin' to Monica's Weddin!" and he has to deal with a big letdown every time we say "That's not until next week, honey. We're just going to the store."

Finally, today at breakfast, when Max told me that we're going to Monica's wedding, I was able to say, "Not today, but we're leaving TOMORROW!" Oh, the excitement! We're doing some last-minute shopping and packing tonight (who'd have thought black kids socks would be so hard to find??) and when Paul gets home tomorrow, we're off!

I think Max is most excited about the chance to wear his new "dancing" shoes- he will probably be a permanent fixture on the dance floor during the reception. As for me, I can't wait to watch beautiful Monica float down the aisle and stand with her groom as they promise to love and honor one another all the days of their lives. Anyone got some waterproof mascara I can borrow?

We are so ready to officially welcome Uncle Glenn into the family!

The happy couple just after getting engaged at the St. Paul Cathedral

Monday, October 4, 2010

On the move!

Oh boy.

Here we go...

This morning, Lucian started scooting! Backwards, mind you, so he hasn't quite figured out how to get where he wants to go. He mainly scoots himself halfway under the couch and then gets mad. But seriously, at this point, it's only a matter of days until he takes off!!

Farewell, sweet days of peace. Soon my children will be running in two different directions! It was inevitable, I know, but man... I can't believe it's already here.

I have been so open about my desire for Lucian to take his sweet time becoming mobile that I've even been accused of nailing his pants to the floor (Jess!), which I promise I've never done... however often I've thought about it.

But regardless of how hard I have hoped and prayed, the day has arrived. We have two mobile children!

Lord have mercy.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Quote of the Day

"A day without cookies is as gray as mud."
-Maximilian Yantes, age 2 1/2

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Little Flower

It's October 1st! Besides now being undeniably autumn, this date has another important significance to me: It is St. Therese of Lisieux's feast day!

For some reason still unknown to me, the parish that I grew up in decided that choosing Confirmation saints was unnecessary. So when I got to college and really started examining the Catholic Church and taking my faith seriously, I decided that I wanted a patron.

I don't feel like I chose Therese, I feel like she chose me. Somewhere along the line, I had acquired The Essential Writings of St. Therese of Lisieux, a collection of Therese's letters, plays, and excerpts from her Story of a Soul. I found it on my shelf and opened it for the first time.

It SPOKE to me.

I sat in my dorm room and read it from cover to cover, underlining and marking every page. Every word she spoke was exactly what I had been searching for- she showed me that simply loving Christ and living humbly can change the world. She died at age 24; already I have seen more years than she ever did, but she is recognized as a Doctor of the Church- an honor bestowed on only the very greatest of canonized Saints. I fell in love with her "Little Way", and the earnestness and honesty with which she spoke of her love of God and desire to bring souls to Him.

For my adopted patron's feast this year, I am going to begin her writings again and fan that flame she lit in me seven years ago.

"I offer myself as a victim of holocaust to Your merciful Love... I want, O my Beloved, at each beat of my heart to renew this offering to You an infinite number of times, until the shadows having disappeared I may be able to tell You of my LOVE in an Eternal face to face!"

St. Therese of Lisieux, Pray for us!