Happy Family Friday, folks! Yes, I know, it’s a week late. We’ll be doing a double header, I promise. We’ve been busy.

That’s right. Mommy has been organizing! Watch out or you’ll get organized!

We will get to Family Friday, but I want to do something a little different first.

Early this week I had a dream. I was falling asleep saying the Rosary, as I almost always do, and suddenly, without warning I was standing in the middle of a street in Aleppo. I have never been to Aleppo, I just knew it was Aleppo the way you know things in dreams. A bomb had just gone off on a crowded street. To my right there was a pile of rubble from a collapsed wall, with about a dozen bodies in it. To my left was a tent where some first responders were just starting to set up a triage point.

I saw all this in no time, because my attention was immediately focused on one woman lying among the rubble to my right. She looked about middle-aged, in a black hijab, and she was alive, and not wounded at all, but she lay among the dead, not moving, because she was cradling her dead baby.

She did not cry, or move, or look around, or give any sign that she saw any of the commotion around her. She just held her baby close and stared at her baby’s lifeless face with blank, empty eyes.

Again, this took less than a second to take in. I must have started to wake up, because I had a horrible moment of confusion where I thought the woman was either Kathleen or I, and the baby was either Evie or Ellie. Then I was awake with my heart going about 180 BPM, and Kathleen breathing softly beside me, and my rosary in my hand. The real strange part is that I felt a sudden reassurance that it was a dream, and that the girls were safe and well in their beds in their room. This assurance was so strong and complete that I didn’t feel the need to get up and go check on them, which is completely out of character for me.

There was more to it as I drifted back off to sleep, before I completely passed out, but that doesn’t really matter. I was left with two strong impressions. One was of the Blessed Mother weeping for her children: “And a sword of sorrow shall pierce your soul.” The other was the certainty that I was being asked to pray and fast and offer sacrifices for the children of poverty and war: “Blessed are they who mourn.

I don’t want you to think this is some kind of PTSD thing, or anything silly like that. It isn’t. It was a completely fictitious, though plausible dream, not based on any real experience of mine. Nor would I consider it a spiritual experience, except in the way that every experience is spiritual, since we are spiritual beings.

It may seem like a strange thing to share in a Family Friday, and it is, but there is a point to it, which is really the reason we do Family Friday at all. That is, we hope to show that Family is the great adventure of our time; that it is good, it is beautiful, it is meaningful, and it is worth it.

Planting flowers!

It is also fragile and vulnerable. Our relatively happy, stable and peaceful family life coexists in a world where children are murdered, families are torn apart, lives are ended too soon, souls are lost to hatred, violence, addiction. These things happen in Syria, in Cambodia, in Nigeria, in Tacoma, in your home town. We are at war. We are in a spiritual war against demons of unimaginable power, cunning and malice, and their all too real human allies and minions. We are supported by beings of light, and incomprehensible strength, intelligence and burning charity, and by the saints, known and unknown.

But we are at war. Our happy family exists on a battlefield, and is a target in the war spiritually, if not also physically. It is never far from my mind, eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. (There is a difference between eternal vigilance and paranoia. The key difference is a sense of humor.)

But more to the point, I think, is that I want you, the readers, to remember that there are children who deserve a stable happy family no less than Evie and Ellie and your children do. Do not feel guilty because you have some happiness and stability, and they do not. This is not a privilege that we were given and they were not, it is a human right that they have been horrifically denied.

Do something to give it back to them. Pray and Fast. Give to worthy charities. Adopt. Join an NGO. Whoever has two tunics should share with the one who has none. Whoever has peace and security and financial stability should share with those who do not. You don’t need to look in Aleppo. They are not far from your door.

And enjoy the gifts you have been given with gratitude. Do not take them for granted. Hug your children and your spouse, be there for them, love them with every fiber of your being.

And that’s all for this week, or rather for the last two weeks. It has been a very busy, and I hope not too depressing, post. Please do pray and fast. It can move mountains.

And live with a grateful heart.

God Bless you all!

Hello, Folks! It’s time for another Family Friday! We hope you have been having a great week. Ours has been… productive.

Any time you enter the week riding on a great black concrete bear, you know it’s going to be a good one.

It has been a busy week, but more of an odds-and-ends kind of busy, not so much a major event kind of busy. Laundry,



That’s just the first pick, since then we’ve been getting about 1.5 quarts per day.



Kathleen found a recipe for Peony Jelly and decided to try it. It turned out tasty and a gorgeous color but didn’t jell to a full jelly consistency, more like a warm jello consistency.


Okay, let’s be honest, cleaning impacts our schedule pretty minimally because we don’t do very much of it. Sweep the major floors (as opposed to the minor floors, right?) every couple days, and mop maybe once a fortnight-ish. We begin to see the wisdom in our ancestors’ division of labor, with one of the spouses primarily in charge of the outside, and the other primarily in charge of the inside.

But, welcome to America in the 21st century, where we both work outside the home at least 40 hours a week. And when we talk about the 40 hour work week, which became the American standard in the days when you lived within walking distance of your workplace, we don’t necessarily consider commute times which varies in Ryan’s case, but for Kathleen adds another 1-2 hours to her day, depending on traffic.

And of course, the small people continue to insist that we feed, clothe and shelter them. Or at least they would insist upon it if we ever fell far enough behind in these tasks for them to feel the pinch. Well, maybe not the clothing part. Ellie, for one, would be perfectly content to roam around in her diaper all day in this nice weather. And she has some rather colorful diapers, so it could potentially be borderline socially acceptable, and might save us about 1.5 minutes in the morning…


But who are we kidding? The one who takes up all the time in the morning is Evie. Sometimes all you can do is just keep them contained while you knock out a few quick tasks…

But I digress…

Deedee’s birthday was on Monday so we went out to all you can eat buffet on Sunday evening. We didn’t take any pictures of that, because, let’s face it, one AYCE buffet looks pretty much like any other. But we did take a picture of the girls playing in the mall play area afterwards.

You can see Deedee’s hands hold a phone on the right. Does this count as a picture of the birthday girl?

Happy Birthday, Deedee!

With the nice weather we have been having a little more success with our gardening. The cone flowers we planted back in march have come up.

Only two have come up, which means we probably put them in too early when the ground temperature was too cold and most of the seeds rotted. These two represent the survivors.

Ellie is getting bigger and more accomplished as a climber. She can now climb up in the net at the play ground, she can climb into the first crux of the Japanese maple by the deck, and she can climb out of her crib without assistance. She still can’t open the door of her room, but that’s a-comin’.

She had to join Daddy on some frantic errand running yesterday while he desperately (and unsuccessfully) tried to pull together all the stuff he needs to go out for annual training next tomorrow. The major piece of equipment he was looking for wasn’t ready, so improvisation will have to occur.

As usual.

But it was the Army’s birthday, and they had cake at Military Clothing and Sales, so that was a win!

She was done after 3 bites. Not much of a sweet tooth, that one.

And that’s all for this week, folks. We hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend. God Bless!

Keep on trucking!

This is going to be a short and hurried Family Friday, because it is after our bedtime.

Poor Ellie was a sick baby last week, with all kinds of snot and such. That’s been the story of this whole winter, just one runny nose after another. Ryan is seeing the same thing come through the clinic ever day, toddlers and little kids with runny noses.

But then the weather got nice and colds vanished like magic in our house. It’s the same at the clinic. Now instead of every other patient complaining of a cold, every other patient is complaining of allergies.

Talking with Uncle Matthew

Mommy made some lovely mini-blueberry pies to take to her work for a co-worker’s birthday.

They were eaten, every one, as you might expect.

Ellie is old enough to start caring about what she is wearing. She has a few outfits that she gets really excited for, but her favorite clothes are her sweaters and her boots. This picture was of Evie explaining to Ellie from her vast store of fashion knowledge, why it was she couldn’t wear two sweaters at once.

Isn’t it wonderful having such a worldly-wise older sister?

Evie informed us that she picked this bouquet of dandelions, “For when I die.” Then she practiced striking dying poses with her bouquet.

We thought it was very considerate of her to take care of that detail of her funeral arrangements for us. We sometimes wonder if Anne Shirley wasn’t rather like Evie when she was a four-year-old?

Nice weather also means grilling!

Although we are by no means done with the indoor cooking. Kathleen canned a few jars of a delicious, though not very rib-sticking, carrot soup.

😀 Hee hee hee!

Thursdays are Daddy’s day off so he and Ellie usually spend the day grocery-shopping and trying to catch up on progress. Ellie really enjoys her Daddy time.

And then on Friday night Evie and Ellie went up to Deedee and Papa’s house, and Ryan and Kathleen got a date breakfast by the simple stratagem of getting up at 4:30 on a Saturday morning. But it was a good thing we did, because the weather was gorgeous, and we spent the rest of the day outside. Kathleen weeded the flower beds around the edge of the front line, while Ryan built a greenhouse box so that we can extend out our growing season by a few months for smaller vegetables.

You can see the almost-finished product in the background of Evie…

I asked her why she was sitting like that. Her answer, “Because that’s what princesses do, Dad!”

Ellie has been helping out a ton in the garden.

And this is how you do it to keep good, healthy food on our plates.

That’s all for this week folks., keep us in your prayers. God bless!

This has been one heck of a week at the Kraeger house, folks, (at least at this Kraeger house. As you may, or may not, be aware, there are actually quite a few Kraeger houses, and the heckiness of any given week may vary slightly depending upon which Kraeger house is polled.

Whenever Grandma is around, the week tends to get more interesting.

This week started off with Evie and Ellie getting sick, the car bursting a water pump, Grandma arriving from New York, and Mommy leaving for Hawaii.

So we were down a vehicle. Fortunately Kathleen’s co-worker’s husband was able to come and take a look at it, and he took it away to fix it, so we just got a rental car for the week.


Kathleen had a medical conference to attend with her friend Jen, so they arrived on Saturday in time for a whole week of learning, sightseeing and relaxing. Back in Washington the weather was unbelievably gorgeous, so we all went out to enjoy it. Evie protested at first, because she wanted to watch a movie, but once we got out there she loved it.

HRH Princess Sophia (She came up with a new alter ego).
Ellie wants to climb too!
Both of the girls’ dresses were made by Grandma Ann.
A bit o’ somethin’ ‘ere, an’ a bit o’ somethin’ there.

Daddy and Grandma and the girls went to Annarose’s first birthday party!

Yay! Annarose is a whole year old now.

She is a big, happy, chunky baby girl.

Trying out her Daddy’s new GR2 he got for their upcoming trip to Lourdes. #Pilgrimage #GoRuckBaby

It was a wonderful celebration full of good friends and noise and laughter and kids hyped up on sugar and chocolate. So noisy was it, in fact, that Ellie was quite overwhelmed, and refused to step away from Daddy for the first couple of hours.

Too much partying for this baby girl.

Everyone else had a great time, though. Especially Evie, who was essentially a multicolored blur for the duration of the festivities.

Ellie didn’t warm up until about ten minutes before we left, but when she did get warmed up, she found herself a rocking chair and really kicked the party up a notch.

Whoa, there Ellie, slow down!

Silly baby girl! She’s a little old lady at heart, just like her Mommy. ❤

On Sunday Adam and gang came over for beef stew. We made a delicious beef bourguignon, and hung out outside for most of the day.

Ellie helped sweep off the deck before company arrived.

Grandma and the West Coast Grandkids

Ellie decided Annarose could try out her new hat.

Here you go!
See Daddy? I share!

Surprisingly, Annarose did not appreciate having a bucket on her head. However, when Daddy explained this to Ellie she was a good sport about it, and even helped her cousin remove the offending headgear.

They really are very good friends, though.

Grandma was the one taking Evie to and from school all week.

Evelyn is ready for breakfast… At Tiffany’s.

Meanwhile, Mommy got out to do some sightseeing.

Daddy and Evie went to Ash Wednesday Mass on Wednesday night.

At first she didn’t want ashes on her forehead, but then she got used to the idea and even got quite excited about it. But she couldn’t keep from touching the ash spot on her forehead, so it was gone by the end of Mass, having returned to the dust from whence it sprang. Sic Semper Transit Gloria Mundi.

This is a drill weekend, but it was just re-deployment classes, so Daddy decided to bring Ellie to drill with him and give Grandma a break.

“Hi Mommy!”

She was far more entertaining than any of the speakers.

And then Mommy came home! Yay!!!!

Kathleen saw a little sun while in HI. The girls wasted no time scratching, scrambling, poking and climbing all over Mommy’s sunburned arms and shoulders, you may be sure.

Also, if you are wondering what is encrusted on Daddy’s hoodie, it is just snot. Ellie still has a runny nose, so that happens. In fact, Ryan composed a slimerick about it. (A slimerick is like a limerick, only slimier).

My hoodie is covered with snot.
You might think that is gross, but it’s not.
When the babies are sick
They bring it on thick,
And this is their favorite spot!

And now it is time to close out this Family Friday with one last picture of Grandma and all her West Coast Grandkids. She flies out tonight for back East and all her East Coast Grandkids.

We can never get them all to look at the camera at the same time.

God Bless! Have a great weekend.

It is Baby Sale season again! This means yet another job to add to Mommy’s already full plate.

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Baby clothes, baby clothes, baby clothes for days…. Literally.

This year she is accepting used baby clothes and other items from other people, so she and one of her coworkers have spent a few evenings sorting and tagging hundreds of outfits and other baby paraphernalia.

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Evie really liked this stroller.

Except for items like the stroller above which we decided to keep.

Mommy has also been on night shift this week, which means lots and lots of time with Deedee and Papa.

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They have a piano, which is the best toy ever!

Deedee and Papa sure know how to throw a party. They wear the little girls out!

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Papa gives the best horsey rides.

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Even when he is too tired to be a horse, he makes a great jungle gym.


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It is all very tiring for Papa.

It is very tiring for Ellie too.

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Tired baby girl.

She is working hard at getting bigger. She is ten months old now. She is so big and happy, even though she is a little stuffy right now.

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She is also developing a mind of her own. Heaven help us, we have two stubborn, strong willed children in the house. (I can’t imagine where they get it from…) Evie is also getting big now. She is beg enough to make macaroni and cheese! (Talk about life skills, right?)

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Daddy has to reminder her to follow instructions, even though she is big.

This week, Mommy and the girls got a package ready to ship to Daddy.

If it fits it ships
Flat rate shipping: If it fits it ships, right?

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Ellie adds the finishing touches (the drool stains of love).

And they mailed it out filled with love and supplies.

Meanwhile, Daddy keeps working and as a matter of fact, needs to get back to work. So that’s all for this week. You stay classy. Keep us in your prayers. God Bless!Family Friday 174 (5)



It has been a fairly ordinary week here at the Kraeger house. Just hanging out, working, playing with the girls. You know, that sort of thing. Deedee had a birthday on Sunday, and she turned 60!!!

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Happy Birthday Deedee!

We went out to lunch at a restaurant called “Shenanigans,” and let me tell you, there were some shenanigans.

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A rare picture of Evie sitting still and looking at the camera, sort of. And Grandma Betty looking classy.

Evie made herself right at home next to the window and kept calling out all the things she could see on the water. She also made friends with the man in the next seat. By the time we left she had dubbed him “Captain Tim” and also “Uncle Tim.”

Not shy at all, that one.


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Ellie enjoyed herself with much less fanfare. 




Then Evie and Ellie went up to Deedee and Papa’s house for the night, where they ate all the strawberries.

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Evie is big enough to help pick, but if I were Papa I would make her do the bending down. She’s a lot closer.

Evie found Mommy’s old hand prints!


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Still a little smaller than Mommy was.

Daddy continues to excel at physical therapy.



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If you can’t work both arms, work the one arm twice as hard. 

It’s a good technique.

With one arm out of commission, Daddy is trying to make time for reading, and is actually making it through some books, a little bit here, a little bit there.


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He gets really into it.


Ellie is working out too.

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The trick she is working on is called, “Pull myself up, any way I can.”

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Almost there! If I just… stretch… a little… further!

Which is ambitious, considering she doesn’t crawl yet. Who needs that, right? Skip the horizontal, go straight for the vertical.

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Unfortunately, horizontal has a way of catching up with you.

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I’ll just practice crawling right here. Perfect!

Mommy has also been busy, as usual. Last week she made some plum jam and canned it.

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It is as yummy as it looks.

She made a small batch because it’s more of an artisanal jam than one that you would put on peanut butter sandwiches or anything like that. It has a sweet, tangy flavor with a gorgeous color.

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Four beautiful half pint jars.

The rest of the week has been pretty much normal. Here are some pictures of it:


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That’s all for this week, folks. Have a good weekend, God Bless!




This is a pink car on a book shelf.


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And also a picture of Ryan’s Grandparents. And some books.

It is the most annoying pink car in the universe. It has a squeaky little cartoon voice that says things like, “Ha Ha Ha Ha!” and “Voom!” and “Here we go,” alternated with a silly little ditty about riding into town in a pink car with the top down, and the more classic and educational “ABC’s.” The slightest turn of the wheels causes one or another of these sounds to burst forth, the volume is loud, and the use of electricity, apparently, very efficient as the batteries have not yet died. The worst part is that the on/off switch is large and meaty and not the least bit hidden, easily found and manipulated by little fingers.

It is a great favorite of Evie and Edmund both, which is why the car has been living on that shelf non-stop since sometime last fall. That is, at least six months, maybe longer.

It was placed there during a visit from Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne, much to the consternation of the under-two crowd. They had been fighting over it non-stop for the whole evening, despite being warned that if they couldn’t share it, it would simply get taken away. They couldn’t share, and it did get taken away. Tears and mutual recriminations followed, but not the slightest sign of understanding or repentance, until five minutes later when the whole episode was completely forgotten.

We were none too anxious to have it returned to general population so there it languished through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Birthdays, Easter, until one fateful day, a week or so ago.

Kathleen was upstairs, playing with the girls, Ryan was downstairs loading the dishwasher. All of a sudden Evie looked up at the shelf and said, “That’s the pink car. It got taken away because Edmund and I couldn’t share.”

Well, Kathleen and I were flabbergasted. I came to the top of the stairs and shook my head and made some comment about never taking for granted what Evie remembers or doesn’t remember. She didn’t seem to want the car at the time so we just left it there until a few days ago when she said, again out of the blue, “Mommy, may I have the pink car, please.”


So now we are enduring the squeaky cartoon voice every waking hour, but we are content with it. You have to enjoy the parenting victories when they happen.

Evie has inherited Daddy’s habit of retreating into her own little world and ignoring anything that she doesn’t like. Of course one of the things she doesn’t like is being told “no,” or having the relationship between choices and consequences explained to her. She likes to avert her eyes, start humming, kick her legs, spontaneously make up stories about “Cousin Masha…” anything and everything to distract herself from the discipline. We can’t break through her trance without resorting to corporal punishment or physical restraint, and most often those merely escalate the situation and make her pay attention even less, so we have to outwit it or maneuver around her blocks. Most often, we just have to outlast her.

That is the secret weapon of parents, I think. We can be more consistent, and we can last longer. We can afford not to be heard in the moment, we just can never give up repeating ourselves ad nauseum saecula saeculorum Amen. If it requires six months of fermentation in a three-year-old brain for a concept to sink in, so be it. If it takes the next fifteen years, so be it. We’ve got all the time in the world, kiddo. We can afford not to get freaked out in the short term. That’s the toddler’s job, and she does it magnificently. Our job is to keep our perspective and our cool and remember, we got this. One way or another, one day or another, you will get the point. It’s just a matter of time.




Happy Anniversary to my Wife!


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A lot has changed since we got engaged.

You are the greatest earthly blessing I have been given.Ryan and Kathleen Wedding Color (132)We have been through a lot together, but we started on a good foundation.

Wedding eucharistAnd of course we are not out of the hard times yet, but God has seen us this far, and will take us the rest of the way too.Ryan and Kathleen Wedding Color (229)

It has been a good four years. We have both changed and grown a lot. But you are still the most wonderful, ingenious, stalwart and loving woman I have ever known.

And you have great taste in aprons.

I love you.




Welcome to the weekly update from this branch of the Kraeger clan. Unfortunately, we are currently a plague house, as the two-bucket-disease is moving through like a square-wheeled steamroller driving over a field of whoopee-cushions. Evie started the party on Sunday morning by throwing up all over her pretty dress on the way out the door for Mass. Then she threw-up all over another pretty dress in her carseat in the church parking lot. She attended Mass in sweatpants, in the crying room about ten feet from the bathroom. Daddy was next to take the baton, with two days of bubbly guts, but Daddy’s GI tract is rather like an industrial strength pressure cooker: no matter how bubbly it gets on the inside, it doesn’t show on the outside. We are not sure when Ellie contracted it, because she is very stoic, and also doesn’t speak English yet, but she did produce an impressive string of three diapers in a one hour period, remarkable both for volume and explosiveness.

Mommy was the last holdout, but even she had to succumb eventually, and when it got her it did so with a vengeance. She was up two or three times an hour from midnight to 7:00 AM this morning. Daddy got to stay home from the hospital to take care of Evie and Ellie while Mommy tries to recuperate.

But we have still managed to have some fun this week. During a trip to Costco Evie found some flowers that were just so beautiful!!! Since the weather was nice, and it is almost her birthday, and she asked nicely, and they were a good price, Mommy said they could buy some… and also because they were a good distractor from the jewelry case, which also caught her attention.


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Ohhh! Shiny!

Then Mommy and Evie and Ellie went outside and planted flowers all afternoon.



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It’s sunny, but still chilly, so Ellie was wrapped up snug as a bug in rug in her bunting. 



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“We are pyanting fyowers, Mommy!”

Evie had so much fun she stayed outside until her lips were blue and she was shivering.



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Digging in the dirt is fun!


Teaching Ellie how to make a rock castle.




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Cold is what happens when you have 0% body fat and refuse to wear gloves. 

She insisted she wasn’t cold, but Mommy says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness to thy goosebumps.”



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This chunky little goober wakes up like this. Every single day.



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I wish I woke up this happy.

Mommy arranged a surprise get together for Daddy’s birthday (he turned older this week). She and Ellie made a delicious beef and bacon stew. Kathleen is kind of a Super Mom. 

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(Or would that be… a Souper Mom?!)


We had some friends over for a low-key dinner. Daddy likes things low-key. Especially birthdays.Family Friday 144 (4)

And Mommy and Evie and Ellie made Daddy a new tea mug at the pottery painting house.

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Gus took this picture of the mug. He likes to have Jordan in the background of pictures. 

They made it with Mommy’s and Evie’s and Ellie’s handprints, one inside the other, all inside the handle, so that when he holds the mug like that above (which is how Daddy holds his tea mug) he can hold all their hands at once.

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I have the best family ever!


More pictures from the party.

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Jordan enjoying her Ellie time.


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Evie conned Auntie Amanda into reading “Rattlebang Picnic” to her and RJ. 

Good times, with good people.



Ash Wednesday also happened this week. It was Ellie’s first Ash Wednesday, but she tried to look appropriately penitent.


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Repent of my whats? But I don’t have any yet!

Daddy is working on prepping some of his Army gear for upcoming National Guard events and Evie wanted to help.

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I think she looks better in it than Daddy does. 

Oh, and the biggest news of all this week?!

Auntie Maryanne had her baby!

Annarose Just borned
Welcome Annarose!!!


And that’s all for this week. Hope you all have a fun weekend, and enjoy much love and grace.

Bye!Family Friday 144 (13)




Ellie heard a mommying noise!

I hear a Mommying-Noise!


*First of all she said to herself: “That Mommying-noise means something. You don’t get a Mommying-noise like that, just Mommying and Mommying, without it’s meaning something. If there’s a Mommying-noise, somebody’s making a Mommying-noise, and the only reason for making a Mommying-noise that I know of is because you’re a Mommy.IMG_7859

Then she thought another long time, and said: “And the only reason for being a Mommy that  know of is making milk.”IMG_7858

Then she started screaming, and said: “And the only reason for making milk is so as I can eat it.”IMG_7857





*Adapted from A. A. Milne, although if you need to be told that you are an uncultured clod.