Wednesday, August 31, 2011


If we ever buy a new couch, this is my only criteria: it must reach all the way to the ground so that toys cannot roll or be pushed underneath.

Today I decided to clean out under one of the three toy-hideouts in our living room, and here is what I found:

5 Duplos
4 Matchbox cars
3 Bristle Blocks
2 Lincoln Logs
2 books
1 piece of plastic corn
1 plastic ant
1 wooden xylophone mallet
1 foam building block
1 piece of dollhouse furniture
1/2 wooden cucumber

Next up, the loveseat!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys

This summer, I found a steal of a deal at a garage sale: a solid wood dollhouse, complete with furniture and cloth dolls, all for $10. I couldn't pass it up. I made Paul lug it home and set it up on our (newly painted... pictures to come!) front porch. Max loved it! He plays make-believe with anything he can find; currently, the "people" in his games are wine corks stolen from my friend Lindsay's wedding. But now he has real people, real dolls to use...if he wants to.

I left him alone with the dollhouse for awhile, then came back to eavesdrop. And you can probably guess what I heard. "Yarrr, matey! Walk the plank!" His dollhouse had become a "pirate castle" within seconds of owning it! I love it. My son will turn anything into pirate paraphernalia.

Since the first days of the pirate castle, his interest in the dollhouse has ebbed and flowed, Now sometimes it's a pirate castle, sometimes it's just a cool tiny house with tiny furniture. Can you guess what his two favorite pieces of furniture are?


The grill and the toilet.

Boys will be boys.


It's been awhile since I've graced you with the latest, greatest Max quotes, but the last two days have brought two gems that I just had to share.

On my cousin, who was coming over to babysit: "Shanni has bracelets on her teeth!" He hadn't seen her since the beginning of July, but he remembered those cool decorations in her mouth before he even saw her! They must have made a big impression, and who knew she could use them as wrist jewelery when they are done correcting her teeth?

Then, on the warm pants that I put on him this morning: "My pants are made of sweat!" ...Now, that's just not something I really want to picture.

As for Lucian, his word list has expanded to "Dada", "Na!" (no), "A-Gah!" (all done), "Ah!" and "Daahhh" (up and down), "Mama" (only on VERY rare occasions), and joining the list just yesterday, "Da" (dog). I'm convinced that he will wake up on his second birthday speaking in complete sentences. But if not, he's plenty good at communicating his needs nonverbally. That's a good skill to have, right?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vienna and My New Best Friend

I know you've all been dying to hear about my trip, I just thought it would be fun to keep you in suspense for awhile. Well actually, T&C and family were Stateside until Friday so I've been spending lots of my time with them rather than writing about them. But now they have departed... and now I will spend time reminiscing about how much fun we had!

The overnight flight to Vienna was uneventful and relaxing. I don't know when the last time is that I've been surrounded by quiet for that long. (Or maybe I should say "surrounded by noise not caused by my own dependents...") I finished an entire book and slept for a few hours... and no one was seated next to me. Score! I arrived in Vienna mid-morning and a driver brought me to the house where Cath and the boys were waiting for me. Alexander and I hit it off right away; he asked me to build towers with him and told me all about his dino claws (He's a dinosaur, you know).

And I got to meet little angel baby Isaac. Oh what a dear! He let me hold him and gave me all kinds of smiles and coos. But he was also content to just lay on the floor, kicking his legs and examining the ceiling. Seriously perfect baby.

Between playing with dinos and cuddling a baby, I still had plenty of time to chat with Catherine and catch up on life. Honestly, one of the very best things about this trip was sitting around chatting with my sister-in-law when both of us had nowhere to be and nothing to do... I've never gotten to spend that much time with her before, and now I feel like we finally really know each other.

Tony got home in the late afternoon, and we ordered Chinese for dinner and had a lazy evening in. We went to bed pretty early, and I slept like a rock. I awoke in the morning to a little voice calling "Taaaaayn! Taaaayn!" and my brother quietly saying, "Shhh, Auntie Taryn is sleeping", but I couldn't stay in bed. Zander wanted to play!

It was Saturday, so the whole family went to the mall for party supplies. Did I mention that I got to be there for Zander's Dino Birthday Party? What a treat, what a treat. So Saturday we got groceries and a few odds and ends, and of course stopped at Starbucks. Tony and Catherine are a living Starbucks commercial- they met working together at a Starbucks, and their son already has brand loyalty. It's quite adorable. Then Tony and I ventured into the city for some errands and decided to grab a beer at the organic market in one of the town squares. Oh Austria, I agree with you- no farmer's market should exist without a beer stand!

That night we took the bus to a restaurant with a beautiful outdoor patio. Alexander got to explore while we ate and took turns chasing him! Dinner was authentic Austrian and super tasty.

The next day was the Big Dino Party! Alexander helped his Daddy assemble and cut out an enormous green dinosaur to tape on the window for decoration, and he also got to decorate the cake with little plastic dinos. He was in dino heaven! While the family prepared for the party, I braved public transportation in order to attend Mass at Stephansdom in downtown. I get nervous any time I travel somewhere by myself for the first time, and even though there was only one bus ride followed by a few blocks to walk, this was no exception. However, I got there and back without a hitch and the Mass was beautiful!! One thing I love about the Catholic Church: you can attend a Mass in any language and still know exactly what's going on.

That afternoon, I got to meet many of Tony and Catherine's friends at the party. It's been awhile since I've been in a social setting full of new people and I didn't have my own kids to hide behind... Max tends to make socializing pretty easy. But everyone was so nice and I got along with them well. Presents were opened, cake was eaten, champagne was consumed, and everyone had a ball.

Monday was the actual date of Catherine and Alexander's birthdays, so Tony got up and made crepes for breakfast. Oh yummm. Alexander got to open presents from his parents, including an adorable carry-on suitcase for the flight to the states. He packed and repacked it several times with all of his very favorite toys, and he practiced rolling it around the house until he was a pro!

That night T&C went out on a date while I stayed in with the kids. It gave me a chance to call home and do some reading... but I definitely ended up doing more reading than calling. Max would have nothing to do with me on the phone, he was far too busy with Grandma and Uncle Liam to waste time talking to his Mother. I could hear Maureen on the other end of the line, "Say hi to your mom, Max! Max... say hi! Just say hi." and then finally I got a "Hi, hihihihihihihi. I wanna watch Ponyo!" and off he went again. Oh well, better that they didn't miss me at all... (Sob...)

Tuesday night was my turn to go out with Tony (thanks Cath!) and he took me to a vineyard for a glass of wine. Apparently every little restaurant in Vienna has their own vineyard, and after we drank we were able to walk through the rows of grapevines on the hill right behind the restaurant! The view was incredible. I attempted a couple of pictures, but it was dark by the time we were walking, so all I have is my memory.

Catherine and I took the boys into town Wednesday for a little bit of last-minute souvenir shopping (and a Starbucks stop, of course), and when the boys got tired I continued on to meet Tony for lunch at his office. Yes, you heard me, I once again braved public transportation ALONE. Three cheers for courageous ME! Tony's office is in the tallest building in the area, so his view is unbelievable.

The rest of Wednesday was spent packing and preparing for the trip, and we left Thursday morning. Aside from being randomly chosen for a security check involving bomb dogs and being herded like cattle through DC customs, the trip was pretty flawless. The kids were wonderful!

So in all, the trip was everything I dreamed it would be. Alexander and I are best buds now, and I think this time he's old enough that he'll remember me next time I see him. Grandma and Liam were a Godsend, and the kiddos did great for the week without me, even if part of me wishes they would have missed me more.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for making this trip a reality, and Thanks, T&C, for opening your home to me! You have a beautiful family, and now I can picture you in your beautiful home and your beautiful city! I miss you already.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Girls Weekend Strikes Again

I had a conversation with Sara (R) awhile back, in which we discussed whether it's acceptable for us to refer to ourselves as "girls" anymore. Should it be "Women's Weekend"? Maybe "Ladies Weekend"... But once a tradition is begun, it is hard to deviate from it. So for the second time, the Book Club girls kissed their husbands and kids goodbye for a weekend of R&R at Chez Radecki.

It was HOT and HUMID (as was the entire midwest for the entire month of July). So humid, in fact, that I only took two pictures outside because the lens of my camera instantly fogged up the moment I left the air conditioning! Even though it's foggy, I have to share one of them. Since Burnsville has a law against parking on residential streets overnight, we had to fit all of our cars into the driveway in order to avoid tickets. How many cars can my parents driveway fit? Thank goodness it's massive, because get a load of this:

Yes, that's right, TEN cars. I know, we cheated a little with the minivan, but I swear the night before, all ten cars were touching only asphalt, not a single blade of grass. Are we skilled, or are we skilled?

I slacked on the photography this time, catching only a few pictures of the fun we had, but it was such a perfect weekend! We spent most of the daylight hours in the pool, and we stayed up way past our bedtimes both nights. Friday night, the girls all accompanied me to a show that I played with Ben at the 331 Club in Minneapolis. Our friends Shannon and Catherine got to celebrate their very first hand stamp at a bar! The show was fun, and it meant a lot to me that all the ladies wanted to see us perform. Thanks for cheering me on, girls!

Saturday morning we slept in, feasted on all the brunch food we could handle, swam, snacked, and swam some more. In the evening, we retired to the living room for (of course) a rousing game of bowls! A fun time was had by all, but the Karen/Sarah team was the team to watch! Not because they won... in fact, they got one point the entire game... but because they were so invested in the game, and so animated. They were on their feet shouting during every round! Hilarious! I hope some of the pictures Jess took turned out, because there were some moments to remember!

On Sunday, we went to Mass together and then had a great time showering Lily with gifts and well-wishes at a baby shower! We are so excited to welcome the next round of babies into our group: Lily, Emily and Jinger are all expecting! (Who will be next?? Only time will tell...) Thanks, Sara, for planning a great baby shower and baking a delicious cake!

Only 350-ish days til the next girls weekend! Let's start the countdown!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

If Wishes were Horses

Maybe it's something he picked up from someone while I was gone, maybe he feels that never gets his way regardless, but for some reason Max has started wishing for everything he wants. No more does he demand, or even ask for, a bag of M&M's in the store. Now he says in a sugary sweet voice, "I wish I had some M&M's to eat..." and when this brings no response, he repeats it louder (but just as sweetly) "I WISH I had SOME M&M'S to eat...!" I usually respond by saying, "It would be pretty cool to have that, huh?" and then leave it there.

I guess I can see where it came from. If he asks me point-blank for something, odds are the answer will be "no". Not that I don't want my son to have everything he wants... but, well... I don't. I would like him to understand that even though he really really waaaants an item, having it will not make him a better person, or even necessarily a happier one. I haven't ever explained it to him in those words, but it seems to have sunk in somehow. I find it kind of sweet when he wistfully wishes for dessert after breakfast, gum at the grocery store checkout, you name it.

Well, I wish a brand new Toyota Sienna would magically appear in our garage, but as they say, "If wishes were Siennas, then beggars would ride..."

Friday, August 5, 2011


While in Rapid City, I got to spend almost every day with my friend Bridget, and I got super spoiled. I may have mentioned this before, but we decided that we probably weren't meant to be neighbors because if we were, we would never get anything done. We would just sit on the porch drinking coffee all day while the boys would build their imaginary worlds in the yard.

But would that be all bad? Who really needs to do laundry anyway?

The four boys had a great time together, and as long as Patrick was around, we knew they wouldn't get into too much trouble. The quintessential oldest child, he made sure that the other kids were following the rules and staying out of trouble. As soon as he was busy elsewhere, Max and Joey did what they do best: wander away. We decided that the two of them are two peas in a pod. They don't deliberately break rules, but they get so engrossed in their games that they forget to stay inside the fence... they forget to not cross the alley... they forget to not try to pet the neighbor's dog... (oh man, oh man.) But Patrick usually reins them back in before too much harm is done. I could sure use him around our place!

I also got to meet beautiful Baby Veronica! She looks just like a tiny version of her big brother Patrick. She's such a sweet baby, and her brothers just dote on her. Not bad to have those two as protectors!

Bridget and I renewed our pact to never go more than three months without seeing each other. We try, but with sick kids and pregnancies and life in general, it doesn't always pan out. But we will continue to try, until they move to Minnesota. (Kidding, guys, I just had to say it)

I'm looking forward to the next Patrick-Max-Joey-Louie adventure. Will they sail in a pirate ship? Swing through trees in the jungle? Explore uncharted territories? Whatever they decide to do, I know I will be content with a cup of coffee and a good friend.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I have spent more time on the road than at home this summer, so I apologize for the awful lack of updates here. I am finally home for a decent stretch, welcomed back by my boys at the airport last Thursday, and it feels good to be home! I'll write all about my trip to Austria soon, but I'm going to try to keep things chronological, so that brings me to our mid-July trip to Rapid City for the Ordination of Fr. Nathan Sparks!

Oh my, oh my, as if I needed another reason to miss South Dakota. What a blessing to the Catholics of West River!! Fr. Sparks grew up with Paul- they used to spend their free time camping and fishing together. I got to meet him in college, then we also worked together at Blessed Sacrament for a summer when he was a seminarian and I was sick and pregnant. I spent many an hour eating oatmeal in his office, wasting time because I lacked the energy to be productive. What a humble, holy man. I know this for a fact: If holiness is contagious, it will spread like wildfire with him at the Altar.

The Ordination was beautiful. The church was packed, and I think that every priest in the Diocese attended. Every moment of the ritual was Spirit-filled... I couldn't keep my eyes dry during the Litany of the Saints, and hearing his voice during the Eucharistic Prayer was awesome. Awesome.

After Mass, we stuck close to Susan, knowing that being near her would give us the greatest chance of receiving one of Fr. Sparks' first blessings. We were right. We waited around during photo after photo after photo, and as soon as the professional photo shoot was done she cornered him. "Blessings, Father?" He had us follow him downstairs to the reception hall, where Susan knelt to receive his blessing. Our family was right behind... and then throngs of people poured into line behind us! Wow, he stood giving blessings for HOURS. And I know that even the hundredth blessing was as personal and meaningful as the one he gave to us.

Alleluia, there is a new Father among us!!