Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Do you know the legend of the first Easter Egg? The story goes that after the Resurrection, Mary Magdalene went to the Roman Emperor to proclaim the risen Christ. She brought an egg as a symbol of the resurrection: the hard outer shell gives way to new life within, just as the stone in front of the tomb gave way to Jesus risen from the dead.

The emperor regarded her as a fool and said, "No more could a person rise from the dead than that egg you are holding could turn red." At that moment, the egg in Mary's hand turned red!

On Saturday, we celebrated the Easter Vigil with egg dying and Chinese takeout with my parents. Max had a great time coloring eggs, especially plopping them into the cups of colored water... we had a few casualties because of his overenthusiasm, but overall he was very careful.

The Easter Vigil Mass didn't start until 8:00, so our plan was to bring Louie in his jammies so that he could sleep through it. Ha ha. The kid never closed his eyes, but even though he was exhausted, he was in a good mood and quiet for the nearly three hours we were there. Thank you Lord! And thank you, Mom, for carrying him around for a good chunk of the service- he's no light load!

The Mass began with the lighting of the new fire and the procession with the Easter candle. Paul took Max outside to watch the fire being lit, and he got to carry his very own lit candle into church. I watched for them to come into the church, waiting, waiting, until finally- the very last ones to enter- they came walking slowly down the aisle. The sight nearly took my breath away! My little baby boy suddenly looked all grown up in his suit, in a state of total concentration that I've never seen before. He carried the candle to our pew and got to light the candles of Grandma and Grandpa before being relieved of his burden. I think he was proud and terrified to be holding actual fire! (I was nothing but proud of him)

Grandpa spent most of Mass with Max, bouncing between the potty, the gathering area, and the pew, but I found out afterward that he sat Max down for each of the readings and tried to explain it in words he would understand. The reading that peaked Max's interest the most? Pharaoh's chariots being drowned in the Red Sea. "What's a chariot? Is it like a boat? Does it fly? Who rides a chariot? Does it swim? Is it like a horse?" Kudos to Grandpa for fielding those questions!

We all left feeling tired but joyful. Alleluia, Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Max at Mass, Lenten Edition

The triduum liturgies are the most solemn of the Church year, and they all have plenty of long stretches of silence. Very prayerful and beautiful, unless you have two children under four who don't yet have the word "silence" in their list of vocabulary words. Then these solemn liturgies become one long exercise in patience and humility (at least, they can be... not sure I succeeded)

Max had some major volume issues at the Holy Thursday Mass. Thankfully, most of his outbursts were not severely embarrassing, but of course he chose the best (i.e. quietest) times of Mass to express himself... But I'll get to those details later.

Lucian was just one big squirm ball. I ended up taking him out of church during the Gospel, and he spent the rest of the Liturgy of the Word literally running from end to end of the gathering space. "Yeah, Mom," he seemed to be saying to me, "You bring me to a two-hour Mass that doesn't even start until 7:00, and you expected things to be different?" No, no... I just hoped...

In the middle of the homily, I suddenly saw Paul carrying a very unhappy Max out of the chuch for a timeout. He hauled him around the corner to a bench, then came back to try to hear part of Fr. Creagan's message. Suddenly, the hallway lights started flicking on and off. Hmm, wonder who that could be? So Max got moved to a bench even farther down the hallway, out of reach of all light switches.

But pretty soon, a little girl went walking down the hallway (probably to the bathroom or something else harmless) and Paul saw Max start to talk to her. As he got closer, he could hear our poor, tortured son saying, "Help me." Oh. my. goodness.

After awhile, we all ended up back in the church- Lucian had settled down, and Max was ready to give it another shot. Still a little unclear about the meaning of "Whisper", Max set about making friends with the people in the pews surrounding us. "Are you sort of nice?" he asked to the man directly behind him. Thankfully, the man answered in the affirmative. We don't want any sort of mean people around us during church, now do we?

Then during the Sign of Peace, Max took it upon himself to shake hands with everyone in his reach and proclaim a loud "Peace be WITH YOU!" to each of them, followed at the end by a resounding "Peace, PEACE to EVERYONE!!" That one drew some chuckles.

At this point, we were nearing the end of the Mass, when everything is quiet and there is a procession to carry the Eucharist to the chapel. Paul preempted some possible Lucian issues during the silent moments and decided to bring him out until the end of Mass, so I stayed with Max and did the best I could...

As I explained to him that the procession was to bring Jesus to the chapel, Max thought for a moment and asked, "Is Fr. Creagan Jesus?" Well, no, not exactly... I attempted to explain that Jesus was in the "Holy Bread" (Max's term for the consecrated Hosts) that we receive at Communion. "No, Fr. Creagan IS Jesus!" he argued, to the amusement of the poor souls trying to pray around us. I left it at that and decided we would discuss more later.

As the procession left the church, Max started to get very wiggly. He tried to escape a few times, and I barely got my hands on him to keep him in the pew. He took a break from wiggling long enough to tell me emphatically, "I want to go to the dance party!" Then there was no stopping him, so I gathered all of our jackets, Mass bag, purse, baby bottle, blankie, and hightailed it after him before he could get too far away. He beelined it directly to the chapel and I managed to catch him just before he ran in and began his own dance party right in front of Jesus, three priests, a deacon, the entire choir, and half of the congregation.


The rest of the Triduum liturgies were much, MUCH easier than Holy Thursday, and Easter was absolutely wonderful. But I'll have to save those stories for another day. For now, I'll leave you giggling and sighing about how glad you are that it wasn't YOU at Holy Thursday Mass with my sons.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lord Have Mercy

My friend Angela at Cahill Chaos took this beautiful photo on Palm Sunday, and I just had to share it with everyone. Today is Good Friday, the day that we remember the death of our Lord... and I don't really have any profound words to share that couldn't be summmed up with one look at this picture.

On Palm Sunday, we celebrated the return of Jesus into Jerusalem. He was greeted by crowds of cheering people who lay palm branches on his path. He was treated like a king. Less than a week later, that same crowd was calling for His execution.

I know that when we got home from Palm Sunday Mass, I stuck our palms behind the crucifix in our bedroom like I do every year. But it wasn't until seeing this picture that I was struck by the juxtaposition of these two symbols. In one glance, I can see the entirety of Holy Week: how quick we are to throw down our palms and take up the cry, "Crucify Him!"

But the Lord knows our weakness and loves us just the same. Our God is merciful.

I am so thankful.

Today begins the Divine Mercy Novena; if anyone would like to join me in praying it, the daily prayers can be found many places including here. It concludes on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1... also the day of Pope John Paul II's beatification!

Have a blessed, prayerful Good Friday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Lent: a time to clean up my interior mess...

Holy Week is here, and I look back and wonder... where has Lent gone? Usually I feel as though the season of Lent drags on and on, and I spend my time waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel. Don't get me wrong, I really do love Lent- it's a time to reflect on God's work in my life, and how well (or poorly) I've been responding to Him. It's a time to join our tiny little sacrifices to Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross in hopes that we can understand even in the smallest way what a great Gift our Savior is.

But to be honest, I generally spend less time meditating on the Cross and more time meditating on how many days are left until I can eat my chocolate again. I think that's what was different about this year. In addition to the usual "giving something up", I decided to make it a point to take some serious steps to kick my prayer life into gear. And through these whirlwind forty days, I've been getting hit over the head with three different themes again and again and again and again.

The first is humility. Book club women, you can probably guess where this one came from! There is not a page in St. Teresa's Interior Castle that doesn't deal with the virtue of humility. Literally everything hinges on the understanding that without God, we can do nothing. Really, nothing. St. Teresa doesn't mince words when it comes to this one, and as hard as it is to hear, it's true that nothing good I've ever done has come from my own power.

The second is penance. I have been reminded that even though everything is in God's hands, He still welcomes my small gifts, my small sacrifices, whatever I am able to offer Him. Every time I take a hard situation and offer the hardship as a gift to Him, He takes it and multiplies it a trillion-fold and pours it right back out onto us. I should be welcoming every little injustice, every sideways glance, every papercut as an opportunity to suffer with Christ Crucified for the sake of the world.

The third, and my favorite to think about, is mercy. I said before that I am learning that without God I can do nothing. But the important counterpoint is that with God I can do EVERYTHING! Not just some things or most things, but EVERYTHING. Because of His great mercy, we have become His daughters and sons- all we have to do is say "yes" every day to the gift He offers us.

So this week is Holy Week already, but instead of thinking about Lent coming to an end- back to the daily grind- I have decided to take my Lenten resolutions into the Easter season and beyond. I don't know if the clarity I have right now will last, but I'm planning to keep the windows of my soul squeaky-clean as long as I can!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Word Up, week 2

This week's word was found in the book of Numbers. When Paul and I were reading the Office of Readings a few weeks back, I got the giggles because of the sheer number of times this word was repeated. Try to say it ten times fast and see if you can keep a straight face.


(rē-kə-ˈnȯi-tər) v. To engage in a preliminary survey to gain information.

"The LORD said to Moses, 'Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites' ... In sending them to reconnoiter the land of Canaan, Moses said to them, 'Go up here in the Negeb...' So they went up and reconnoitered the land... After reconnoitering the land for forty days they returned..."

As with last time, I challenge you to use this word in conversation this week. Good luck!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Out of the mouths...

A few days ago, I decided to switch up our normal music routine and treat Max's ears to a little culture. I flipped through my old CD case, and into the CD player went Andrea Boccelli. I hadn't listened to those songs in years, and I was so enjoying his beautiful tenor voice singing Vivere and Con te Partiro. But apparently Max had a different opinion.

"Mommy, I want some different music," he said.

"But Max, this is great music! Why do you want me to change it??"

"Because I'm feeling song-sick." Huh. That's a new one.


Often when I need to tell Max that it's time to leave somewhere fun, I like to give him a three-minute warning. That way, he's not blindsided when we have to head home from Grandma and Grandpa's house, or the library, or the park. He has time to process the transition that's about to take place. All well and good in theory. However, after three minutes, he usually is still not ready to go. He is starting to come out of his awful tantrum phase (thank goodness), but instead of throwing himself on the ground when we need to leave, he has started to try to outwit me.

"Three minutes are NOT up!" he says with confidence. "Three minutes are still DOWN!"

And I hear him thinking, just try to argue with THAT logic, Mom!


As a three-year-old, it's really hard to not get your way. You don't ever completely understand why, and for some reason whatever your parents say holds more weight than your best arguments. I think that's how Max envisions our conversations sometimes; he knows he can't win, but he wants something so badly that it almost goes beyond words.

In those situations, as we calmly explain to him why he can't have a third dessert or why he has to put his jammies on for bedtime, his angry response has lately been, "DON'T say anything! Stop talking!!"

Apparently, the words that are coming out of his parents' mouths are so horrifying to him that the only possible way to right the situation is if we cease speaking altogether.

I think I'll try that next time I don't like what someone is saying to me. Watch out, it could be you!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Hear Music

Thanks to everyone who made it out to see our show on Sunday night! We had such a great time, and I hope you all enjoyed it too. Hopefully we will be playing more in the near future, and I'll be sure to let you know. Thanks especially to my book club chicas (Angela, Karen, Catherine) who chose coming out late on a Sunday over getting enough sleep... it really meant a lot to me that you were there.

And an extra special thank you to Sara- without her, Paul would have been at home with the kids instead of at the show! He was really glad to be able to make it, and I was SO glad to have him there. He even bought a rose for me from a street flower salesman who happened to wander into the restaurant when we were done playing. So sweet!

Even with a few little hiccups (no one told the workers we were supposed to play at 9, they weren't expecting us until 10! And no one could find the sound guy...) things went pretty smoothly. I definitely got the jitters more than I ever have for a show before, but I'm blaming it on the fact that I've never played this music for a crowd this big and this full of talented musicians, including another violinist. Pressure! Oh, and speaking of talented musicians, Joe from the Okee Dokee brothers happened to be there too. Double pressure! But as always, once we started playing, we got lost in the music and had a blast.

It's exciting to feel like a musician again after a few years of my violin (and vocal chords) collecting dust, and I'm looking forward to getting out there more. It's pretty cool to have a super gifted brother who can sit down and write an amazing song in one sitting... and who wants to share the stage with me! We're still on the lookout for a band name; all suggestions will be considered, most will be tactfully shot down... but you never know when that perfect one will come along!

Again, thanks to those of you who gave us a listen- I truly hope you liked what you heard.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a good King and his wife the Queen. They lived in the Kingdom of St. Paul, Minnesota, and their castle stood on the bluffs overlooking a beautiful river. The King and Queen had two sons,
Maximilian the Brave

and Lucian the Tenderhearted.

Everything was wonderful for the family and the Kingdom, except for one small detail. There was a monstrous Dragon who lived in the Valley of the Waterfall. Each day, Maximilian the Brave had to feed the dragon by throwing a handful of special Dragon food into the valley. No one had ever seen the dragon, but they heard his roars and knew that it would take a very brave knight to stand up to this terrifying beast.

One day, Maximilian the Brave wandered off by himself to ponder the problem of the dragon. He knew there had to be a way to relieve the Kingdom of its constant distress. But who would dare stand up against a dragon?

Suddenly he had an idea. "I am going to slay that dragon!" he said to his mother and father. "But Maximilian, you are so young! Aren't you afraid?" they asked him. "I am brave," said Maximilian, "and I have my trusty sword. I know I can do this!"

So his mother walked with him as far as the bridge that led to the dragon's lair, but from that point he had to travel alone. Soon he saw a gravel hill rise in the distance. "That's where I'll find the dragon," said brave Max. He climbed the hill with his sword, and when he reached the top he saw the huge, fire-breathing dragon! He was frozen with fear for just a moment, but then he stood up tall with his sword and slayed the mighty dragon.

He came down in triumph from the hill to his waiting family. "Hurrah!" the kingdom exclaimed when they heard the wonderful news. "Our Kingdom is at peace once more, thanks to Sir Maximilian the Brave!" During the celebration, Maxilimian took his brother aside.

"I defeated this dragon alone, but when you get a little older, you and I will go out together to the far corners of the world to save other kingdoms in distress. And someday, we will rule our own kingdom. We'll be good kings, just like our father, King Paul the Second."

The Kingdom of St. Paul and the royal family lived happily ever after.

The End.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

30 with 20 years experience

Decorations in a beautiful shade of "Over-the-Hill Black"

My parents just celebrated their 50th birthdays last week! On Thursday we had them over for a little party, just us and the kids. It was nice and low-key: just dinner, dessert and presents, but Max always gets hyped up when there's a birthday in the house. He kept the party moving right along, he knows the drill- After dinner, it's not time to sit around and chat when there are unopened presents in the room! And as soon as the wrapping paper settles, it's time to blow out some candles! So we followed Max's lead and saved our conversations until after the dessert bowls were empty.

Happy Birthday, Mom and Dad! Thanks for choosing to celebrate the big day with us!

Monday, April 11, 2011


My firstborn child is a walking accident-waiting-to-happen. Not a day goes by where he doesn't trip over his own two feet, hurling headlong toward the floor. He was late learning to clap, he never really got into songs with actions (well, he loved singing them, but generally just waved his hands around), and he can't throw a ball to save his life. I never took much notice of these "shortcomings" until Lucian started getting mobile, and I realized that some kids actually do have that elusive thing called dexterity. Louie is amazing with his hand-eye coordination. Just yesterday, he decided that the best way to eat yogurt and cheerios was to wait until I put the spoon near his mouth, pick up a cheerio from the tray, place it carefully onto the yogurt-covered spoon, and only then open up for the bite.

I feel completely responsible for Max's lack of coordination. Even though I was a dancer through high school, outside of the studio I never learned to put one foot in front of the other while simultaneously avoiding the obstacles in my path. I have walked directly into a no-parking sign, I have tripped and fallen backward over a low retaining wall, I have tripped and slid down the stairs... I know everyone does stuff like that, but I can almost set my clock by it! "Hmmm, haven't made a fool of myself in public this week, it's about time to run over my foot with a shopping cart."

Pregnancy is even worse, Paul can vouch for that. Generally, it's my elbows that take the brunt of the beating. Every door frame seems to jump out and hit me. And to top it all off, I am emotionally teetering on the brink of disaster at any given moment, so each bump causes much greater wounds to my ego than to my body. The worst moment (or best, depending on your perspective) was midway through my pregnancy with Max. I tripped over a cardboard box coming into our bedroom and got so upset and frustrated about this klutzy move and all those that had come before that I threw myself onto the bed sobbing. Luckily, I was facedown, so I didn't see Paul's intense struggle to keep from bursting out in gut-busting laughter. He managed to keep a straight face when I turned around and did not comment on the absurdity of my reaction until I had done so first. What a great husband.

As a friend pointed out to me recently, I don't really need to worry about Max's lack of coordination; his gifts lie elsewhere. For example, when his little brother is a full head taller than him and the captain of the football team, Max can pick up his guitar and write angst-ridden songs all about it!

I joke, really I do. But in all seriousness I'm not at all worried about Max. Even if he can't dribble a basketball or pass a football, the kid is going to be just fine. He has a mind like a steel trap... a steel trap that's lost in la-la land half the time, but a steel trap nonetheless. And I have a feeling he will be successful at whatever he puts his mind to. Maybe he won't have a God-given athletic talent (or maybe he will, who knows?) but if he wants to do something, he'll figure out a way to do it. That's my Maximilian.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Need a night out?

This is me and my brother.

My brother is super awesome, and he writes really great music.

You should come see us perform at Nick and Eddie this Sunday night at 9:00. I guarantee, it will be worth your time, even if you'll be a little tired at work on Monday. We're playing a full 45-minute set, and then if you have nowhere to be, you can stay to hear three other awesome bands after us!

So find a babysitter, clear your calendar, and come hear great music. The show starts at 9:00- be there!

Nick and Eddie
1612 Harmon Place
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sigh of Relief

I have some good news! Believe it or not, we were able to get the money fully refunded for our stolen camera, and you'll never guess who refunded it... The credit card company! The credit card that was used to purchase the camera has theft protection up to a certain dollar amount, and our camera theft fit all of the necessary criteria. So while there is still a certain electronic device floating around out there that does not rightly belong to its carrier, our financial situation has been righted and... we ordered a new camera...

Which arrived TODAY!!

Ain't she a beaut?

Thank you again to everyone who pitched in to give this gift to Paul. He is really excited; he hasn't put down the manual since he got home from work, and once the battery charges, I'm sure I won't be able to pry the camera from his hands. I know that I'll be posting many pictures in the months to come courtesy of our gorgeous little Canon.

Just in time for SPRING!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Something to Write Home About

On Saturday, my friend Jess invited some people over for a day of card-making. Every Lent, she makes one greeting card a day to send overseas to soldiers through the program Operation Write Home. The soldiers are then able to take these homemade cards and use them to write home to their loved ones. This year she let us all in on the fun and we spent an entire afternoon buried in scrapbooking supplies. Jess is quite the scrapbooking guru; she has every craft supply imaginable, enabling even beginners like me to pull off some pretty sweet cards. But to see the master at work, you should check out her scrapping blog here, you will be blown away by what she's able to do with paper, scissors and adhesive.

Will and Torin hard at work

Catherine and Ellie

I showed up around 1:30 with my two little storage boxes of scrapping supplies... and just about dropped them when I saw the spread on the dining room table! I quietly laid my boxes aside, realizing I had nothing to add... the room was full of paper, ribbon, buttons, scissors, stickers, and an awesome Cricut machine. If you don't know what that is, don't be embarrassed- I didn't either. Basically, you press a button and this machine cuts out intricate shapes, words and pictures from the paper of your choosing. Suh-WEET!

Sarah and Augustine showing their finished product

The Master Craftswoman hard at work

Addy and Lachlan... loving the markers and scissors

Don't mess with Angela, she's got an adhesive applicator and she knows how to use it!

When dinnertime rolled around, Jess mentioned pizza and we all took a quick break for Papa John's. Mmmm... gaaaarlic saaaaauce... Then we had the idea to collaborate on a card, each person adding one or two details, and this was our final result:

I didn't get home until Louie was about to go to bed! It was the longest stretch that Paul has had the two kids to himself, what a trooper. I think the three of them had a really great time, but I know I did! Jess, let's do it again soon.

Some of our finished cards: very nice, yes?