Tag Archives: blessings

Celebrating another milestone

Celebrating another milestone

I’m turning another year older in a few days – and it’s a “special” birthday.

My friend, Michelle, planned a get together at a local restaurant and a great group of friends showed up to help me celebrate! I wish I had had our server take a group picture of everyone, but one of my friends did capture these pictures for me. (The lone color one is of the ladies I know from our old parish – several who have known me since before we had kids.)

In the invite, Michelle offered to put together a spiritual bouquet for me. On the vase that held 40 roses are the prayers she collected. I can’t tell you how much the love, support, and friendship of the ladies who came tonight (and many others,) means to me – especially as I close in on the “T-2 months til surgery” mark, which coincidentally is my actual birthday. I am truly blessed to have so many beautiful women supporting me in the rough times and celebrating with me in the joyful times. ❤️

St. Louis trip 2010

St. Louis trip 2010

Our family has been privileged to journey with our friend, (now Fr. Joseph) for the last 2 1/2 years of his seminary formation.  He has become part of our family and has impacted our lives in both large and small ways.  He was present for Lincoln’s baptism and will hopefully be able to return in the fall to baptize our new baby.  We have shared birthdays, daily life events, losses, and successes.  Our boys have also had the opportunity to witness the joy of the call to the priesthood on a personal level.  He is an amazing young man and we look forward to seeing where God takes him!

We took a trip to St. Louis over Memorial Day weekend to attend Fr. Joseph’s priestly ordination.  Friday evening, my friend Jess and I (who are both preggo) took a short flight to the “Show-Me” state.  Our husbands, friend Michelle, and the boys loaded into the suburban and headed south just a little bit before 7AM.  Their trip was a tad more eventful than ours.  They started the trip out with a delicious breakfast at Michelle’s parents’ house, a visit with Sonic the bunny, and then got back on the road.  A few pit stops, books, movies & kid songs later, they arrived at our hotel in St. Louis right about the time Jess and I did.  All in all, we heard the drive went very well.  Jake and I are both so thankful for Brandon & Michelle’s willingness to travel with our two little guys.  Michelle has traveled with our family before, but it was Brandon’s first time – hopefully we didn’t scare him off!  I have no doubt that the kids did so well because of the care (and entertainment) they received while Jake manned the wheel.

Friday night we spent a little time walking around the area near our hotel, the Drury Inn, next to the St. Louis Arch.  We had a partial view of the monument from our corner room on the 5th floor – it was amazing!  The next time we visit, I hope we have a bit more time to explore the parks & fountains in the downtown area.  Maybe we’ll even get to take in a Cardinal’s game.  As we strolled by Busch Stadium, Nolan noticed the player banners hanging from the street lights.  He immediately said, “There’s Joe Mauer!”  We had to tell him that they probably weren’t Joe fans in St. Louis 🙂  After grabbing a bite to eat and eventually settling the kids down, we all crashed at about 11pm.

Saturday morning, we were up early to have breakfast at the hotel before heading to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.  The ordination mass was beautiful!  It is actually somewhat difficult to put into words what being in the congregation felt like.  Being present to witness the transformation of the lives of the 8 newly ordained men was an experience I will never forget.  There is something about the rich tradition and ritual of the Catholic Church that is quite overwhelming at times like these.  (What I need to remember is that each Sunday I have the opportunity to experience that same overwhelming feeling when I attend mass…something for me to work on.)

(Ordination photos compliments of our friend, Rob Jensen.)

After the ordination, we had lunch and went back to the hotel.  We had a few hours between the ordination and the celebration reception, so we all crashed for about 2 hours.  It would have been fun to check out more of the St. Louis area, (like others from our MN group) but I think our time was better spent catching zzzz’s.  The reception for Fr. Joseph was very nice.  Throughout the evening, there were several people who spoke of his character, maturity, devotion to his vocation, and genuine love for the people of God.  We dined on a delicious tenderloin steak meal and enjoyed cupcakes from the Cupcakery.  Yum!  The boys also received steaks.  And thanks to the fact that there were 3 adult men at our table, I’m happy to report that none of their meat went to waste.

Our final day in St. Louis began with breakfast (again) followed by attending Fr. Joseph’s first mass.

(Mass and family photos compliments of our friend, Rob Jensen.)

After the brunch reception after mass, we packed up our hotel room and spent a little time down by the Arch.  (Or, as Lincoln called it, “Big Arch!”)  We strategically planned on letting the boys run around for a while before we strapped them into the suburban for the trek home.  It was a muggy day, so we took advantage of the air conditioned museum/visitor center underneath the arch.  While we were there, I learned something about animals – check out the pictures below.

Jess and I had dinner with our friends, Brad & Libby, before getting dropped off at the airport to fly home.  Our suburban counterparts rolled back into town about 2:30 in the morning.  Apparently Lincoln had a couple of rough hours on the way home, but once home in their own beds, both boys slept soundly.  Over the course of the 2 1/2 days they were gone, Nolan & Lincoln spent a little over 20 hours in the car and close to 5 hours in the Cathedral Basilica.  They were real troopers!  I think we’ve probably maxed them out as far as road trips go for the summer though.  I think we’ll be staying pretty close to home for a while.

5 days of fun

5 days of fun

Wednesday night we had to scrounge up some pj’s for Nolan.  I was a tad behind on laundry, so his “normal” pajamas were still in the dirty laundry pile.  We made due with sport pants and a Twins shirt.  Not to be left out, Lincoln “requested” a t-shirt of his own.  Actually, he requested one of Nolan’s and we put it over his sleeper.  He was SO proud of the fact that he was wearing the Corn Dog shirt.  It’s a Sheck boy favorite.

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Thursday was Thanksgiving Day.  Nolan and I worked on a special project Wednesday afternoon & Thursday morning.  We made turkeys using an outline of his hand and finger paint prints of his fingers.  He had a lot of fun gluing on the beaks, “gobblers,” googly-eyes, and feathers.  After the glue dried, I had him decorate the place settings at the table.  He was pretty proud!

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We hosted my family and our friends Teri & Nate for Thanksgiving dinner.  My parents brought the main course (turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing & gravy,) I put together a couple of side dishes (the token green bean casserole and squash & apple dish I made a couple of weeks ago,) Tony brought fruit salad, and Teri made two delicious desserts.  We dined with a couple of pilgrims who gobbled up the food on their plates like old Turkey Day pros.  It was really nice to spend the day with family.

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Can you tell they’re brothers?  Lincoln has started smiling the way his big brother does.  Both of them really know how to ham it up for the camera.

After Thanksgiving dinner I made the mistake of drinking two cups of coffee (with lots of flavored creamer.)  The kids went to bed at 7 & 9.  Jake did the same around midnight or so and I was up until 3AM!  When I laid my head down at 3, I laid awake for another hour.  It was ridiculous.  I don’t know what I was thinking putting that much caffeine into my body so late in the day.  Lesson learned…the hard way.

Friday we spent some time at Larissa’s apartment.  She had a group of us over to swim in her pool.  It was a tad on the chilly side, so we didn’t stay in the water long.  We gave the boys a warm bath to raise their body temps and then had pizza for lunch followed by ice cream sundaes.  Yum!  Jake then took the kids home for a nap while I went in to the office for a few hours.  When I got home, we put the kids to bed and went out in the porch for a while.  Not much was on TV on Friday night; somehow we ended up on QVC.  I ended up making my first purchase thanks to the TV pitchpeople.  (I didn’t call in though – I made the purchase online.)  I’ve been looking for sleeping bags for the boys’ Santa presents and found the perfect ones on QVC.  Who would have thought?  And not only are they sleeping bags, but they’re sleeping bags with cots!  So as the boys get bigger and we’re able to bring the cots with when we travel, the kids won’t have to make camp on the hard (and nasty) hotel floor.  Thanks QVC!

On Saturday we made the annual trip to Menards to pick up our Christmas tree.  We thought about going to a tree farm to cut one down this year, but I think we’ll wait a bit longer before we go on that adventure.  At this point, the kids are more excited about just getting the tree inside the house and decorating it.  Down the road when they’re able to enjoy seeking out the “perfect” tree, we’ll head to the tree farm.  Until then, Menards will bring the tree selection to us.  We convinced the kids to take a nap after we got the tree home, telling them we’d decorate it if they napped.  It worked perfectly.  We all got some much needed sleep and then later in the evening, enjoyed hanging lights and decorations.  We put the tree in the porch so little fingers can’t get to it unless they’re monitored.  Thanks to the former owners of our house, some of the outlets in the porch are on a switch that is in the toy room.  So even though they can’t get up close to the tree without mom or dad, the boys can turn the lights on and off by themselves – it’s perfect.

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Having two little boys in the house means we build a lot of forts.  Sunday afternoon was no different.  The card table we used on Thursday was still in the living room, so we covered it with a sheet and then placed the kids’ hut next to it to extend the width of the fort.  Jake crawled in to see if he would fit.  😉 His feet stuck out one end and his head peered out the other.  Being the helpful toddler, Lincoln checked on his daddy and then proceeded to try to rescue him by pulling on Jake’s head.

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Birthday part 3

Birthday part 3

Nolan had his first preschool conference this morning.  From the sounds of it, he’s doing pretty well 🙂  I’m glad he is enjoying it as much as he is.  I catch him singing things he learns in class from time to time.  Those moments really make me smile.

After conferences, I took the boys to MG to swim.  We picked up Nana and headed for the pool.  Both boys had a blast going down the kid slide and playing in the zero depth area.  I wish I had brought my camera to capture the excitement on their faces when the fountains and waterfalls came on.

Tonight we celebrated my birthday for the 3rd time.  How’s that for a three day party?  My parents and brother came over for cake (Angel Food this time) and ice cream.  Afterward, we hung out in the porch with a nice warm fire and Nana read to the boys.  I love that my kids have opportunities to spend time with their grandparents, aunts & uncles.  They are loved by so many people.  What a gift that is to me as their mom.

Today’s randoms from Nolan:

For some reason he wanted to attach balloons to his pockets.  I don’t ask why anymore, I just roll with it.  (See the last picture above)

While in the porch this evening, he told Nana & Papa the “mometer” (thermometer) on the wall “measures the number of colds outside.”  Papa then asked if it measures the “number of hots” outside in the summer.  Good question, Dad 🙂

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

My view of birthdays changed a few years ago.  I’ve reached a point where I really don’t keep track of how old I am, but still enjoy having a birthday.  (As I’ve mentioned before, I love cake!  Especially birthday cake!)  I’ve come to realize that once you’ve hit the “milestone birthdays” – 16 (driver’s license); 18 (voting); 21 (legal consumption); 25 (insurance rates go down) you don’t need to necessarily make as big of a deal about your specific age.  Birthdays become more about celebrating with family & friends and reflecting back on the year God has given you, with thanksgiving.

Today, I’m specifically thankful for the disappearance of the migraine that plagued me most of the day today.  I was hoping to get out of the house with the boys this morning, but instead, laid on Nolan’s bed while the kids played in their room.  We only had one casualty in the form of the barnyard lamp that was on their dresser.  Jake came home at lunch armed with Tylenol and a Coke so I could try and combat the pain while resting.  It seemed to work.  When I woke from my nap 3 1/2 hours later, most of the migraine was gone.  Unfortunately, so was most of the day.  But we made the most of the few hours we had left before the boys went to bed.  The kids had been waiting since Saturday to give me the presents they wrapped, so I had them help me open them .  Before I could open my 3rd gift, Nolan said, “It’s an iPod!”  He actually slipped up and mentioned something about it a while ago, but I had forgotten until that moment.  He was SO excited for me to remove it from its packaging.  I think it’s crazy how at 3 1/2 he knows what an iPod is.  Maybe I should have him teach me how to use it.

After we opened presents, we had dinner as a family and had birthday cake again.  Thanks, Larissa!  Nolan even sang the Happy Birthday song to me 🙂  Here’s to another year of good times with family & friends!

OTW – nature, family, scrapbooks & cake

OTW – nature, family, scrapbooks & cake

We met friends of ours at Springbrook Nature Center on Friday morning.  There is a visitor center with live and formerly live animals that the kids enjoyed looking at.  I’m not much for snakes, but they had some pretty cool ones that were native to MN.  Maybe I didn’t mind them so much because they were contained in their aquariums.  Once we were done with the inside part of the visit, we ventured outside to walk one of the trails.  The older boys had fun running ahead of us while my friend Brooke & I pushed the little ones in strollers.  It was a beautiful morning to be outside.  We ended up finding a grassy clearing and hung out there for a while so the kids could explore, play & eat a snack.  They had so many animal crackers I don’t think any of them needed lunch.

Side note…Nolan has a book called Help’s on the Way! It’s about rescue vehicles.

Firehouse Tales

In one part of the book, Red, the firetruck helps rescue Milky, the ice cream truck.  Milky is a big, white, boxy, truck.  On our way to the nature center, Nolan said from the back seat, “Look at all those Milkys!”  I paused for a moment, wondering what in the world he was talking about.  When I looked in my mirrors, I noticed that we had just passed the RV sales lot with all of the big, white, boxy, RVs.  I couldn’t contain my laughter 🙂  To his credit, the RVs DID in fact resemble Milky.

Friday night & Saturday I was able to spend time with friends organizing pictures and putting together a scrapbook with pictures from our engagement & wedding.  This has been a project I have been meaning to start for quite a while, but just haven’t gotten to it.  (I wonder why.)  Now that I have things organized and also have a scrapbook to put the finished pages into, I’m hoping to be able to complete the book some time in the next year.  We’ll see…

While I was doing my thing on Saturday, Jake took the boys to Hastings to see Auntie Kari (who was in town for the weekend), Grandma & Grandpa.  From the looks of the pictures, they had a good time playing outside!  They also helped wrap my birthday presents, which was pretty cute to see.  I made sure not to look closely at those pictures until after I opened the gifts.

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Sunday evening, Jake’s parents came over so Jake and I could go out to dinner (a day in advance) for my birthday.  We went to Biaggi’s and had a fantastic meal!  Our server was a friend of my brother’s, so it was fun to catch up with him a little, too.  We ended the evening with pumpkin pie and funfetti cake (made by Larissa).  It was a great birthday-eve!

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Water & Graces

Water & Graces

The boys and I spent time in the backyard this afternoon.  They got to play with squirt bottles while I gave the lawn a quick once-over with the lawnmower.  (It was my attempt to keep the mosquitoes at bay – they seem to really love my kids.)  As you can see from the pictures, Nolan has the correct form down pat.  Lincoln on the other hand is still learning how to manage the squirter.  Actually, maybe the direction of his bottle is intentional.  He figured out that he can actually squirt the water into his mouth if it’s pointed this way.  Smart boy!

This evening, “Auntie Lissa” (this is how Nolan says Auntie Larissa) came over so Jake and I could attend a meeting at our church.  We’re part of a small group of people who meet once a month with a seminarian friend from the St. Paul Seminary to discuss a topic of our friend’s choice.  The overall goal of the meetings is to give our friend a chance to discuss parish and family life from the laity’s perspective.  Tonight’s topic was a re-visitation of last year’s first meeting topic, “graces we have received over the course of the summer.”  I couldn’t help but reflect back on how much our family and friends have supported us through prayer this summer and what a huge blessing that has been to our family.  We know that the peace we have felt throughout recent difficult situations is an answer to the prayers being said on our behalf.