In which we go on an airplane trip! (Ellie’s first. Evie, of course, is a veteran traveler).

It was only a about a 75 minute flight to Kalispell, MT, but SEATAC is a busy airport in the morning, and we had to fight Seattle-bound morning traffic on the way to the airport. This meant early rising and being at the airport early and lots of excitement and missed naps.

Ellie approves of the trunk space.

The upshot being that we had two very tired baby girls who were passed out before we left the airport parking lot in Kalispell.

Arriving on Friday afternoon we didn’t really do a whole lot except buy groceries and get checked into our air BNB. Actually, I suppose we didn’t really get checked in because there was no one to check us in. We just, I don’t know, walked in.

Mommy and Ellie doing some coloring in our room.

After getting our clothes and food put away, we headed out to walk around the town. After being stuck in a carseat/airplane all day, our girls had some serious sillies they needed to shake out.

The town of Whitefish is very small, but has a fairly large grassy park that the girls could run around in with trees that they could climb. Or rather, a tree that Daddy could climb, and the girls could wish they could climb. Our rule is if you can’t climb it yourself, you can’t climb it at all.

And they had trains to watch!

It’s a touristy, artsy little town, well worth walking around in, but overall geared towards taking your money.

Although this bike is brilliant!

On Saturday we headed out for Glacier National Park. On the way we saw our first real wildlife of the trip…

Yes, that is a silver fox with a squirrel or ground hog in its mouth.

It rapidly became apparent that there were going to be some constraints on our trip. For one thing…

The park is HUGE! It covers millions of acres and crosses the border into Canada, and is home to five distinct climate and wildlife zones (Pacific Northwest, Alpine, Boreal forest, Grassland prairie and Rocky Mountain).

“Whoa, Mommy, that’s a big map!”

The park crosses the border, but the Canadian side of the park was on fire, (hence the hazy, smoky look to some of the pictures). We thought about going to Canada anyway, but there is only one road that crosses the park, known as “Going-to-the-sun Road,” and it was still blocked with snow from the winter. To get to the east side of the park, and from there to the Canadian side, we would have had to drive two hours around the south edge of the park. With two little people in car seats, that did not seem appealing. So we settled for exploring just the tiny little southwestern corner around Apgar visitor center and MacDonald lake.

But first we had to convince the girls that they could not have everything in the visitor center.

So we set out hiking from the visitor center. Evie was leading the way with Mommy…

Using the map in her national parks book to help us find the trail.

Yes, that is a picture map of the entire USA. She was quite sure she could find the trail on it.

It’s okay, Evie, we love you whether you know how to read a map at four years old or not.

We stopped at a bike rental station, but all the child trailers were out, so we reserved bikes for the following Monday and moved on. Evie and Ellie did not want to move on. They were quite content to play in the kayaks at the rental place.

MacDonald Lake was gorgeous, albeit somewhat obscured by smoke.

And it came supplied with rocks to throw and trees to climb!

After a picnic lunch we decided to rent a rowboat, as they are relatively stable and safe for rambunctious four-year-olds, and the price was very reasonable, less than $20 for an hour.

It was lots of fun. Evie is very excited about going out in Papa’s boat later this summer.

Huckleberry ice cream on the way back to the car.

It was a fun day, and we went to Confession and Mass for First Saturday in Whitefish. Afterwards we went out for supper, but this was a bit of a fiasco. Both girls were tired, and Ellie was so tired she couldn’t even eat properly.

Although she did try to eat the wooden bear’s wooden fish.

Evie and Ellie discovered the mesmerizing wonder of front-load washing machine, a.k.a. cat TV.

But after a good night’s sleep, we were up and at it again, heading south this time to a museum called “Miracle of America Museum.” This is a private collection of vintage historic artifacts running from pre-colonial to mid-20th century American history and culture.

Essentially the folks who run it are glorified hoarders who spent a lot of time organizing their hoard. But they had a ton of interesting stuff. I find it interesting that the see-saw, metal merry-go-round, and metal slide are now museum pieces. Are you kidding me? I grew up with those!

Some beautiful country out here.

That was a lot of time in the sun and heat for baby girl. She was plum tuckered out by the time we got to our picnic spot at Flathead Lake State Park (East).

So we had some lunch and then Evie went in the lake (as far as her ankles). Before long Ellie woke up and was so excited by the water that she didn’t even want to eat lunch. We couldn’t even get her to sit still for some sausage!

On the way back we drove through more absolutely beautiful countryside. We saw a couple of spreads that we would love to buy, and fell even more in love when we realized that they were within a mile of a Catholic Church!

Sure it only has Sunday services now, as far as we could see, but once we buy all the land, relocate the locals and move in the entire Kraeger clan the Catholic population will probably double and at that point we’ll rate a full time priest.

And check out the backdrop!

All in all, great Sunday. We went back to our room, nice and tired.

Monday we had to be up nice and early to be out there for our bike ride. Let’s just say, expensive, but BEST TIME EVER!

We are considering getting one of those trailers for home, although Puyallup is not very bike friendly. Most of the roads outside of downtown don’t even have a shoulder, let alone a bike lane.

Then back to Lake MacDonald for snacks and tree climbing.

Much clearer today than on Saturday.

After lunch we headed up Going-to-the-sun Road as far as the south end of MacDonald Lake. It was only a few miles but it was a long drive because they were busy resurfacing the road after winter damage. It wasn’t too terrible, though, because Ellie fell asleep and Evie enjoyed playing with her magnadoodle.

The Lake McDonald lodge was amazing! We were especially impressed by the fireplace.

I am pretty sure we are going to put one like it in our living room when we build our new house.

Lunch time outside the lodge, at the junction of the river and the lake.

That was another full day, and we topped it off with supper at Craggy Range Bar and Grill, which was phenomenal. We were very impressed with the burgers, which come with the top buns branded with the restaurant logo.

The Smokey Classis cocktail, quite interesting with real woodsmoke in the bottle! How crazy is that?!

And then it was Tuesday morning. Time to go home.

Evie loving her some coloring with her new travel activity bag.

Ellie, true to form, slept the whole flight.

Best traveling buddies!

Ellie, for one, is very glad to be back home where she can water her plants again.

The rest of us… Well, let’s just say there was something to be said about not having to drive in rush hour traffic. Kathleen got stuck behind these folks for about an hour on her way home from work last night.

And the worst part was they just drove like that for an hour and then sped up and drove away for no apparent reason. Silly WADOT!

That’s all for this week, folks. Have a great rest of your weekend, and remember to pray for us.

God Bless!

Whoah! Isn’t that something? This is our 200th Family Friday. Assuming 52 Fridays in the average year, that means we have been doing this close to 4 years…

I just checked the Archives. Family Friday 1 was published on May 29, 2015. May 29 is a Wednesday this year, but I think we’ll have a cake or something. Or at least a beer. I don’t know. Stay tuned, we’ll figure it out

This has been a week of gorgeous weather which, thankfully, seems to be coming to an end.

I say thankfully because all this dry, blue skies, sunny-yet-cool nonsense is very bad for our new little baby plants,

and by extension for our pocket book. Irrigating gets expensive.

The girls really enjoy it, though. Especially Ellie.

On Saturday we went up and visited Deedee and Papa. Ryan and Kathleen went and got taxes done, and then we came back and played outside. Evie and Ellie played with the riding horse.

Ryan played with some blocks of wood that Papa needs split into firewood.

Kathleen made a batch of mixed berry jelly with her new “squeezo.” It took a four hour process and turned it into a two hour process, including cleanup.

Kathleen had to work on Saturday night, so Ryan was left to make Sunday’s huckleberry pie by himself. (His first ever pie attempt). It was not terrible, but he didn’t realize that the frozen huckleberries would be very juicy. First he tried to cook it on a pizza pan so that it wouldn’t overflow in the oven. It didn’t over flow… It also didn’t cook.

So we had to rebake it the next morning. It overflowed, but what can you do. Apparently tapioca or cornstarch is the answer.

Then on Sunday we went and visited the hot chicks.

Then we went up and visited Adam and Maryanne and the gang.

Ryan and Kathleen have been super busy this week, and there has been a couple short rounds of sickness (stomach bug, pink eye, stomach bug again). It’s a total mystery how we always manage to share our germs so effectively…

Let’s see, what else?

Not really much.

That’s all for this week, folks. Thanks for stopping by. One of these days we will get back to writing thoughtful and topical blogs about learned and relevant subjects. In the meantime, we hope you continue to enjoy our Family every Friday. Or most Fridays anyway.

God Bless!

Long time no Family Friday! It is for the usual reason, AKA, we have been busy. The Saturday before last, we woke up to this.

That bright light in the midst of the snow is one of our 12″ tall pathway lights completely buried.

Of course Evie was over the moon with excitement. As soon as she woke up and looked out the window she wanted to go outside in her jammies. We disagreed that this would be a good idea, since flannel jammies, although very insulating, are not very waterproof; also since Evie gets super cranky without breakfast. So we made some pancakes and told her she could not go outside until she ate at least two of them. Daddy tried to make them as interesting as possible.

Ellie, however, was not so excited about the snow that she let it interfere with eating all her maple breakfast sausage links. Turns out the grease from maple sausages also makes an excellent hair product.

Who knew, right?

Ironically, with all Evie’s excitement and hurrying, she really did not get outside any faster than the rest of us. We all made it out the door at about the same time.

Actually Ryan ran outside in his sandals to take this picture before it got marred by all the footprints.

But finally, there we were, out in the great white winter of the 2019 Snowmageddon. Evie promptly went wild…

While Ellie was a little out of her depth.

She couldn’t even squish her feet all the way to the ground, there was so much snow, and sometimes she would fall down and then it would get in her face and neck, and sometimes her glove would come off and then her hands would get cold. Once her boot came off.

When she wasn’t following behind Daddy or Mommy shoveling a path, she was much happier when she found her way to the rocking chair on the front porch.

Other than that she had a lot of fun!

Mommy tried to show Evie how to make snow angels. She made quite a lovely snow angel herself, but she couldn’t talk Evie into flopping down on her back in the snow.

Silly child.

There is nothing like snow for wearing out your toddler. Also for wearing out a Daddy. Just shovel out an entire cul-de-sac by hand (they don’t believe in snowplows in Western Washington) and boom! a great workout was had by all.

This is what happens when Evie gets distracted and doesn’t finish her breakfast.

Ellie takes care of it after she gets down from her high chair.

On Sunday after Mass we had Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne and the kids, as well as Ben and Christine and their kids, over for a pre-valentine’s day Rom-Com viewing. We were going to watch the greatest romantic comedy ever made, (i.e. “The Quiet Man.”) However, while we were waiting for the food to come out of the oven we sent the kids outside to shake their sillies out and wiggle their waggles away. Ben went outside to haul them around in a sled…

Then Adam and Ryan went out to throw snowballs at him. Then they started making a pile of snow, and Ellie and Daddy started rolling snow-boulders…

So Christine had to take over pulling the kids.

Aunt Maryanne was called upon to shape the snow-lady’s more feminine characteristics…

Group photo!

You can even see the little snow-baby that Noah made right next to Edmund!

Then Ben and Christine had to leave so Christine could nap before going on night shift, so they didn’t get to watch the movie with us. It started snowing again later so Adam and Maryanne had to leave before it was over. But it was still a great time for everyone.

After a long day there is nothing like standing over a warm-air register in your flannel nightgown (That Grandma Ann made for her).

The fuzzy thing in the foreground is Ellie’s hair photobombing the picture.

For the next week we played in the snow more (it was one snow-day after another for Evie) while Ryan began his final clinical rotation in a nearby family medicine clinic. He is already learning important wisdom which will serve him in good stead in his future practice.

On Thursday we ran errands as usual.

Evie and Ellie were happy to wake up and find fresh baked cookies that Mommy made before she went to work. (Grandma Ann also made the farm animal dress. Ellie’s favorite is the duck.)

On Friday Evie’s class celebrated her birthday at school. We took a picture of her official birthday questionnaire for posterity:

Daddy was especially pleased that her one wish would be “Having a sword.” As it should be. The only thing better than a sword is a book.

Evie’s family birthday was on Sunday, with Deedee and Papa, Dude and Susie, Gigi, Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne and kids, and Ronnie and Amanda and RJ.

Evie would have like to have everyone else over. In fact, she did invite every living person she has met for the last two weeks over for her birthday party, but Mommy and Daddy are a little more selective, and a lot more logistically minded. As it was we about maxed out our capacity for a formal “sit-down” type meal. There is just only so much space at the table.

More of Grandma Ann’s handiwork (we got a birthday package in the mail, hence the new dresses).

Evie loves being the focus of any gathering. She informed us that she is “A special gift to the world,” and that her birthday is her favorite birthday.

Grandma Betty (Gigi) and the girls.

Ellie too was enjoying all the people over as she had an all-but-unlimited supply of people to read books to her (have we mentioned that her favorite word is “boop” [book] and her favorite activity is bringing books to any adult who stops moving and demanding that they read it to her?)

Ellie also stole the spotlight a little bit by confidently walking up to the bathroom door and requesting to sit on the potty (non-verbally) and actually peeing in the potty… twice! We had not even started training her yet, but she figured it out on her own has been doing it a couple times a day ever since. You better believe we are positively reinforcing the crap out of that. (hee hee hee. See what I did there?)

😀

So Evie is now a four year old. She is now very grown up, and very wise, and knows a lot of things, and is very good at so many things. If you don’t believe me, just ask her. She’ll tell you herself straight up.

We tried to calm things down a bit the rest of the week. Daddy likes to relax in the evenings, since he seems to work late every night at this new clinic.

We visited Deedee and Papa last weekend.

Ellie says, “Guck! Guck!” (Truck! Truck!)

Alas, with being four comes the unpleasant task of the four-year-old well child check. Evie is done with doctors. She has decided she wants nothing more to do with them, and was, in fact, quite anxious and distraught over breakfast.

She can be a bit of a worrier sometimes. She said she was going to like doctors when she got big and becomes a doctor, but she is not going to like them while she is little.

Ellie, on the other hand, is not a worrier at all. She threw up twice in the night and still woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to make scones for breakfast.

If she were selling scones, I would buy all of them. (College fund bakesale, anyone?)

And also, just like that, the snow is gone the crisis is past, winter is back to its usual rainy self, except for today which was gorgeous.

Those are the earthly remains of the snow-family in the background. The rest of them, we hope, has gone on to a better place… that is, into our lawn.

That’s all for this week, folks. God Bless, and have a wonderful weekend.

This has been a topsy-turvy week.

We started it off on Friday evening by attending a Mass and Party to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Mass Consumption!

That’s right, Mass Consumption is ten years old! It has been 10 years since Diana and Celyn started meeting with any and all interested young adults on Monday evenings to read the Mass Readings of the day, and talk about them. Back then Ryan was getting ready to go to the Q course, and Kathleen was paying off her student loans. We didn’t start attending until January 2012, when Ryan first got stationed in JBLM. I think the way it worked out was that Ryan met Ronnie at MC, and Ronnie invited Ryan to the St. Frances Cabrini Young Adult Group, which is where Ryan met Kathleen, whom he subsequently invited to Mass Consumption.

The rest, as they say, is history.

It has been a great, and I might add, highly unusual group, especially in our area. They were told by their parish priest when they first started that in the Seattle Archdiocese a group that put on only one event per year was considered a success, so difficult is it for our generation to overcome our distractions and the atomization of our culture to commit to a community. And yet MC has been meeting every week, with no real breaks since 2009. Diana and Celyn still meet every Monday night at Panera Bread and welcome any who want to join to read and talk about the Mass Readings, or talk about their day, or ask for prayers, or just hang out and be silent.

Of course the group has changed in those ten years. A good number of us have gotten married (Ben and Christine, Ryan and Kathleen, Adam and Maryanne, Margie and Dane, and then Danica to Dane’s brother Brennan, Ronnie and Amanda). Others are engaged, soon to be married. Now that we have families with small children, it is harder to make the Monday evening meetings. Others have gotten jobs farther away. The picture above represents only a part, probably less than half of the people whose lives have been shaped to some degree, greater or lesser, by this remarkable fellowship.

God willing there will be many more years of MC, and more importantly the relationships and faith built and strengthened in its 10 year history will continue to grow, continue to overcome our distractions and the atomization that seeks to pull apart our community at every level.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

Saturday was a busy day, and Mommy had to work in the afternoon. We did manage to get in a family hike at Bradley lake in the morning, but the evening was just Daddy and the girls playing and reading books upstairs while Mommy scanned arteries and veins. At least we had all Sunday together, and on Sunday afternoon we got a very special surprise!

It snowed!

At least it was a surprise to Evie and Ellie who were absolutely enchanted by the miracle of white flakes falling from the sky. It was less a surprise to the grownups who had heard such rumors on the weather forecast.

Since there was apparently some big football game, and the roads were empty, it was a perfect day to go out for Frozen Yogurt.

Ellie wanted to boop the bear’s nose.

Monday morning was when it got weird. Ryan was supposed to have a campus week in Seattle, and when he got up at 4 AM to brush off the truck and get to the train he saw only about 2 inches of snow on the ground, nice, light fluffy stuff, dry and powdery, no slush or ice in it. Being from upstate New York, he did not give it a second thought, but drove down to the train station and hopped on the train to Seattle.

Well about 20 minutes later someone at the U of W woke up and freaked out at the snow-a-geddon that had descended in the night, and sent out an alert email cancelling all campus operations for the day.

Oh well, no big deal. Ryan would just ride to King’s Street and take the 6:05 south. Inconvenient, but it’s a free day off.

Then the girls’ Nanny got stuck and couldn’t make it out to the house. At that point Kathleen had no choice but to stay home with the girls until Ryan got home. Since she was suppose to start at 7:00, and Ryan likely wouldn’t get home until 7:00, this would make her about 30-45 minutes late, depending on traffic, but not terrible.

Then the doors on the train refused to work in the snow. They had to be opened and closed manually, and the conductor refused to run the whole length of the train opening every door at every stop, so we had to wait for the next train. Another 20 minute delay. Then the next train pulled out of King’s Street Station and promptly stopped on a siding to let two northbound trains pass… 20 minutes apart. Then it turned out that there was only one open track for a good portion of the run (apparently Washingtonian trains cannot run on tracks that have snow on them) so we had to stop again on another siding to wait for the northbound commuter train to leave a few stations ahead of us and get past us.

It was after 9:00 when Ryan got home.

Meanwhile, Kathleen was not moping around waiting. She got the girls up and they were too excited by the snow to wait, so they went outside to play before breakfast.

I’m ready to go!

Then back inside for an enormous breakfast of eggs and hashbrowns (Evie ate like a horse!) and some hot cocoa.

So Daddy got a free day home with the girls, and we spent the morning making bread. It was a new recipe he had not tried before, but Ellie helped and it turned out quite well, actually.

And we worked out.

After nap we went outside again.

“Look, Mommy! I made a butt!”

She insisted we send a picture of her butt-print to Mommy at work.

Apparently they didn’t get as much snow in the south at Mommy’s work.

The whole fiasco was repeated on Tuesday, minus Grace not being able to make it. Ryan came outside and saw that the snow had mostly melted and nothing was left but a few spotty patches of ice and compacted snow, with perfectly clear tire tracks. No email from the UW, so he drove down and hopped on the train.

Grace arrived and Kathleen went to work. Then we got the alert that Sumner school district was still closed, so no school for Evie. Then UW sent out another alert, cancelling all campus activity, again. This time Ryan stayed on campus, since he was already there, and got some work down on the internet until lunch before taking the bus home.

We made a snowman!

Wednesday the college returned to normal, but Sumner school district did not. And apparently we are expecting more snow this coming weekend!

That’s okay, we have plenty of food and drink, and nowhere to go other than Church.

And always plenty of entertainment indoors.

God Bless, y’all. Have a great weekend!

Happy Friday, Y’all!

Let me just say, last weekend was delightful. Neither Mommy nor Daddy had to work, and we had nowhere we had to go except shopping (can’t have everything, right?) and the weather was beautiful.

We made latkas out of leftover mashed potatoes and topped them with fried bacon, apple and onion. Yes. It was as delicious as it sounds.

Ellie’s favorite drawer to play in. She likes to sort through it while Mommy and Daddy are cooking.

Then we went out to buy food, and came home for lunch and naps. Well, one nap, at least. Ellie took a nap. Mommy made some lentil soup to can for Lent. Daddy doesn’t believe in naps and Evie is too big for naps, so we went out to color with chalk.

The shadow of the truck suggested an Idea to Daddy…

“Daddy! I’m riding an Elephant!”

We also collaborated on a dragon. Evie drew the fire around the head and the butt…

Apparently this dragon has been hitting the extra spicy salsa.

When Ellie woke up from her nap we had popsicles and bubbles on the deck.

It was Ellie’s first time chasing bubbles, as she was too little last summer. She was entranced by them. It always amazes me how much magic there is in a little water with soap and sugar in it.

Then Daddy and the Girls went for a ruckmarch. Mommy couldn’t go because she was busy tending the pressure canner. We did not want it to blow up in our absence, so we thought it best someone stay behind to regulate its temp and pressure.

Since Evie took the trouble to carry that rock almost the whole ruckmarch, she had more than earned the right to paint it when we got back.

And we closed out the day with a nice, relaxing supper, a bath (which became relaxing when the Washing of the Hair was over), and some books before bed.

Pressure canning soup is a long process, but worth it.

By bed time Kathleen had added an additional three quarts to the stash.

On Sunday we had our old friend and pastor, Fr. Peter over for dinner, along with our friends Ronny and Amanda and their son RJ. Fr. Peter was our former pastor at St. Frances Cabrini, founder of the young adult group where Ryan and Kathleen met, and the priest who officiated our wedding. Ronny was a member of that young adult group. Now Fr. Peter is a pastor up in the great white north, up near Alaska or Marysville or some such benighted wilderness. Ronny is married and has a son.

Time flies, doesn’t it?

Being good hosts and bad bloggers, we have no pictures from the evening except this one of Evie helping to make the pizzas.

And these ones of Kathleen making the mincemeat pie.

Even Ellie is big enough to help make pizzas now.

Let’s see, what else did we do? Ryan is having fun in the ER. Lots of interesting patients, and great stories I can’t tell because of HIPAA. Some happy, some funny, some sad, but that’s the ER.

The beard helps to reassure the patients.

Daddy had the day off on Tuesday due to the way the ER schedule played out, so he and Ellie had a busy day running errands after we dropped Evie off at school. Our travels finally took us to the Camp McChord Commissary and Px where we had lunch. Ellie thoroughly enjoyed the popeye’s gourmet Cajun fries.

Ellie saw the coin-operated merry-go-round and asked very politely if she could “up! up!” So Daddy set her on the merry-go-round horse. He happened to have some quarters so he dropped them in, thinking she would think that was awesome.

Turns out she was not expecting it to move. She didn’t quite fall off, but she lost her grip with one hand and Daddy had to stabilize her, and then she had a patiently puzzled rather than an excitedly joyous face the whole time.

Plus the darn thing didn’t even play any music, which I thought was a bit cheap. $0.50 and you don’t even get a synthesized calliope?

A brand new box of sidewalk chalk arrived on Tuesday, and we couldn’t wait to try out the new colors.

We went out for dinner with Deedee and Papa on the spur of the moment, which, when you think about it, is pretty amazing. A lot of people cannot afford the time or the money to do that, but we can. It is an amazing gift, one that demands to be shared.

One other little adventure, we ordered a box of worms for our compost pile. Evie and Daddy had fun dumping them into the compost before we went to school.

Evie’s comment: “Oh! They’re so cute!”

At this point we are not sure how they are going to do, whether the moisture balance is right, whether we have enough paper and such in there to keep them satisfied. It’s an experiment. One of these days we’ll move far enough out of the city to have a proper composter, i.e. a pen full of pigs or chickens.

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

This week we started out by being awesome! Ryan and Kathleen went to their first race together! We signed up for the first of the Fort Steilacoom resolution run series. We even took a pre-race selfie!

Ryan is not good at smiling for pictures, but he really was having a great time.

Then the race started and we split up for a bit. Kathleen ran the 5k version, and Ryan rucked the 5 mile version. This was Kathleen’s very first 5k ever (yay!!!!) and she ran it in 44:45. Ryan has done lots of rucks, and he ran it in 57:30.

It was a really nice course with lots of friendly people running. Of course, we were both really tired afterwards, but we had to take the girls to a birthday party in the afternoon. They were not tired at all.

Fortunately, that birthday party had a bouncy house, which is great for making not-tired kids into tired kids.

The next day we had Uncle Adam and Maryanne over for supper. We kicked the kids outside to pray for about 30 minutes until it started raining too hard.

You have to be tough to be a kid out here!

We made a delicious pot roast with carrots and potatoes and Kathleen made a mincemeat pie out of the mincemeat she canned a few months ago. It was amazing, except that we learned that canning cooked meat dries out the meat. Next time we are probably going to skip the meat or just freeze the mince meat.

And we gave some last Christmas presents.

Cold mincemeat pie makes a great breakfast, by the way.

Monday was the big day that Ryan finally went back to PA school. He started his Emergency medicine rotation in Everett. Note the patented thrilled-and-excited selfie face:

Daddy’s first week back at school was interrupted, however, by fevers and throwing up. This was Tuesday morning…

But this was Tuesday night…

And this was later Tuesday night…

Poor Ellie had a fever of 104.5.

This was Wednesday…

Two sad and tired baby girls were so happy to see Mommy back home from work.

Things started looking up on Monday, so Daddy went back to the ER (as a student rather than as the parent of a patient. Evie and Ellie started eating again. Ellie especially was a hungry baby girl.

But Friday morning came, and Evie and Ellie were back to normal! Evie was excited for sharing day at school. She helped to make a snack to share with her friends.

Then Daddy and Ellie got to go to Friday morning Mass and do some gardening outside.

We spread pine mulch under the blueberry bushes to increase the acidity in their soil. Then we played with sidewalk chalk.

And that’s all for this week. May you all have a healthier week than we did.

God Bless!

Summer time is hiking time in the Pacific Northwest! We found a nice little trail hike in Dupont last weekend that took us from the town hall down to the sound.

Family Friday 165 (3)
There was an ouchie on the trail down that resulted in tears from Evie. Mommy still opted not to carry her.

Family Friday 165 (5)
The trail went under the railroad tracks to the beach.

Family Friday 165 (29)
Evie was enchanted with the tunnel

Family Friday 165 (4)
I don’t know how she bends her arm back that far.

Family Friday 165 (31)
And chased the little crabs.

Family Friday 165 (32)
Evie is not afraid of the little crabs. Neither is she very interested in them.

Family Friday 165 (30)
She would rather throw rocks.

Family Friday 165 (33)
We could not put Ellie down because there were too many things for her to put in her mouth.

Family Friday 165 (34)
Even the Puget sound looks good in July Sunshine.

Family Friday 165 (35)
Hiking is hard work

Family Friday 165 (6)
Evie, however, had plenty of energy after hiking the 1.5 miles down and 1.5 miles back up.

Family Friday 165 (7)
Picnic time!

Evie is really quite a good hiker. Hopefully she gets lots more practice this summer.

Mommy made some absolutely delicious coconut prawns on Friday. Family Friday 165 (1)They were amazing, as evidenced by the fact that Ryan and Kathleen ate about two pounds of them together. Even Evie ate two of them, and she is very averse to eating new things.

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Ellie says, “I notice you’re not offering me any shrimp!”

A friend of ours had a baby baptized on Saturday evening after Mass, so we went to Mass Saturday night.

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“Yay Maddie! You got baptized!”

Then Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne came over and we hung out at our house for a while. Ellie was very intrigued by her baby cousin.

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Daddy, why doesn’t she crawl? It’s more fun than just lying there!

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It’s okay, I help her.

Sunday was the day of the annual Moergli Picnic (The Moergli’s are Deedee’s Mom’s family). We are sort of related to them, twice removed, in Kathleen’s case, three times in Evie and Ellie’s, but that’s close enough for a picnic. Mommy spent the morning concocting deliciousness:

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Whole wheat dough rolled flat with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar.

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Rolled into a roll

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Sliced into slices

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Magic!

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Mommy’s valentine!

The picnic was almost intolerably hot for everyone except Daddy (he has spent a lot of time in hotter places) but everyone still loved seeing the girls.

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“I call dibs when she wakes up!”

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Aunt Susie beating the heat!

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Even in the pool hats are required when you are as white as Evie and as resistant to sunscreen

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Everyone loves an Ellie!

We experimented with camping out in the back yard last weekend, but that didn’t work so well (Evie did very little sleeping. Consequently, so did Daddy). Daddy has been trying to get a hammock up behind the tent, but has been having issues due to not having the right materials.

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Evie helps set up one of the anchors. I taught her “ERNEST” (Equal, Redundant, Non-Extending, Solid, Timely, a.k.a. the qualities of a good anchor).

The only points to anchor the hammock are approximately 30 yards apart, consequently if you hang it with any dynamic material (i.e. material that has any stretch to it), you end up lying on the ground as soon as you put weight in it.

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The tent works well enough, for what it is.

We did eventually find the right combination of hammock, straps and price from Amazon, and with a few times tightening with a ratchet strap…

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Voila! A hammock!

Why does it appear to sag so low in that picture, you ask?

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How else could all the short people get into it?

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Evie: “I’ve always wanted to be on a boat!”

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It is now a wonderful place to read Beatrix Potter.

Daddy and the girls got to go to MC on Monday. Unfortunately, Mommy wasn’t feeling well.

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Nosey nellies.

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Auntie Celyn loves her some Ellie snuggles!

We also celebrated Uncle Adam’s birthday this week. Unfortunately, he has requested us not to post any pictures of him so no one will see how old he is looking now. It’s really quite shocking. What hair is left to him at his advanced age is as white as printer paper and twice as crinkly. Aging. It’s a son-of-a-gun.

Just kidding. He doesn’t look a day over 42.

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Meat. Lots of Meat.

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Evie and Edmund were too excited to eat very well. They spent most of their time pushing the table around and complaining about the other pushing the table around.

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Tunnel of Fudge cake.

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He needed help to blow out his candles.

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Evie and Edmund playing with Uncle Adam’s birthday present.

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This picture was taken right before the chain snapped.

And that’s all for this week.

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Evie modeling the Dr. Seuss shorts/overalls combo thingy that Grandma Ann made for her. 

Have a great weekend. We’ll see you all later!

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We had an ADVENTURE last weekend! It was intense!

Or should I say…

IN TENTS! 😉Family Friday 164 (1)

(No pun in-tented!) 😀

Actually, yes it was. I’ve been waiting to post those all week!

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Evie checking out her new digs.

Daddy set a tent up in our back yard on Friday afternoon so he and Evie could sleep out. (Mommy will sleep out in a tent if she has to, but considers the presence of a nice comfy bed a few yards away in the house to be indication that she doesn’t have to).

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The neighbor kids were fascinated by the presence of a tent in our yard.

Then we had a cookout on the back deck, preparatory to s’moring it up on our backyard.

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Evie was not optimistic about liking the trout (which we had in our freezer, courtesy of papa).

The weather was turning gray, but we grilled the trout as well, along with some stuffed portabella mushrooms.

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Yummy!

Not surprisingly, Evie did not like the fish. Also not surprisingly, Ellie loved it. Daddy could not de-bone it and get it between her gums fast enough.

Then the rain came, and it rained cats and dogs all night. No one got any sleep what with the caterwauling and the barking and our yard was a mess of fur and blood the next morning…

Just kidding. Actually, it was a welcome treat for our garden, which is doing beautifully, BTW.

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We got carrots!

On Saturday we went on a hike on Mount Rainier. We drove up to the Carbon River and hiked up a trail from there. It used to be a vehicle trail, but it is closed to vehicular traffic now, so we didn’t have to watch out for cars, which is an important consideration when hiking with a three-year-old.

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After about 1.2 miles we came upon a little side trail that led up to a mine. It said it was only 0.3 miles to the old mine entrance, so we decided to check it out.

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Someone was nice enough to put steps in.

Turned out that about 90% of that 0.3 miles was uphill, up the side of a narrow gorge that ran up the hill.

 

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When we got to the cave we found that there was a gate across the mouth, just inside the entrance. We couldn’t go in, so we decided to go on. There was a goat trail leading up the side of the mountain so we took it.

 

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It led us to a wonderful little picnic spot where we had an early lunch.

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Terrible family selfie.

After lunch we headed back down the hill. Ellie was a little tired.

She was hiking very hard!

When we got down to the car we went a little bit further so that Evie could throw stones in the river.

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Good family selfie!

The final result of all this adventuring was…

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Parenting win!

I can’t remember the last time she fell asleep in the car.

We went to bowling with Deedee and Papa on Sunday, but we didn’t take any pictures so you’ll just have to take our word for it. However, here is a picture of our Sunday morning coffee hour/baby swap.

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Pip was not pleased that his mom was holding some strange baby.

 

And that’s all for this week. It has been mostly a work week.

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Ellie waiting for Daddy to be done working.

We still made time for some healthy dream building, including conversations about possible alternate career paths.In Vestments

Keeping the romance alive, people.

Anyway, y’all have a great weekend. Stay classy!

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As classy as a baby with a mohawk.

God Bless.

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter Week Everybody!!!!Family Friday 151 (1)We hope you have had a wonderful week of celebrating the Resurrection. Mommy and Daddy kicked off our celebration sundown on Saturday with some Guinness floats.Family Friday 151 (5)

No Easter Vigil for us this year. Alas, we decided that a 3-hour mass starting at bedtime was not a smart move with a toddler who refuses to acknowledge her need for sleep.

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We started out Easter like this.

Mommy was on call on Easter Sunday so we had to go to the really early Mass, 7:30 at Saint Andrew’s in Sumner. It was packed to the rafters, and bursting at the seams. Father Jerry extended an invitation to everyone to return next week as well, which would be great since next week is the feast of the Divine Mercy.

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Evie loved the Easter Flowers. 

We went home for a late breakfast and an early nap.

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She decided to improve her Easter look.

After nap we went up to Deedee and Papa’s house for Easter Dinner. The first thing we found when we got there was a gift for Evie.

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“Wings! I have wings, Daddy!”

She now has her very own pair of sparkly fairy wings. They are quite sparkly, just like Tinkerbell’s wings.

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She immediately became inseparable from those wings for the next two days. Family Friday 151 (14)

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She also has her can of “pixie dust” (a.k.a. silly string). (Pixie dust is an outside toy only).

Since Evie is the only egg-hunting grandchild so far, she had about 2-dozen eggs to find, all by herself, inside, in two rooms.

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Talk about shooting fish in a barrel!

Ellie needs to hurry up and get big so she can provide some competition.

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Ellie is very curious about her big sister’s new look.

She has been paying a lot more attention to Evie in the last few weeks.

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She can move all by herself!

She isn’t really sure what Evie is for. After all, she doesn’t do anything important, like feed Ellie or change her diaper. She must have some purpose because Mommy and Daddy certainly spend a lot of time with her. Ellie is very impressed with her big sister’s ability to stand up and move all by herself.

Ellie herself is learning all kinds of new skills.

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She can express herself with facial expressions.

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She can grab her toes.

Her exercise program is coming on apace. Daddy is training her in the art of the pushup, which is a noble and necessary skill, foundational for many functional movements which she may want to employ later in life (i.e. crawling, getting out of bed, mowing the lawn, etc). Family Friday 151 (23)

And she can sit up in her bumbo chair and eat her hanging toys, which is good exercise and good practice of essential life skills.

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The Swiss flag is especially delicious.

In fact, she will try to eat pretty much anything she can get her little hands on.

Sitting up turns out to be useful for eating other things as well.

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Rice Cereal! Yummmmmmmm!!!!!

She even has her first household chore already! When the weather is nice, she gets to help take out the compost. She can hold the compost bucket all by herself!

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Never too early to start earning her keep.

Nice weather also means she can enjoy the great outdoors.

 

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“Is this what you mean by ‘getting close to nature?'”

 

Since Mommy was working nights and Daddy was working days this week, the girls were living with Deedee and Papa from Sunday to Tuesday, and then Deedee and Papa were living at our hour until Thursday morning. It was a rough schedule for everyone except Evie.

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She decided she was a “tinker fairy” and she needed to fix Ellie’s toy. 

She never seems to run out of energy.

Ellie, on the other hand, had a terrible head cold from Saturday night through to Thursday morning. It was not a fun time, involving several wakeups every night for Daddy, and several wakeups every day for Mommy. Her poor little nose was so stuffy the only way she could sleep at all was propped up at an angle on a pillow, her chest and neck all covered with vicks vapor rub, and a humidifier going full bore in the bedroom. (There was a 2:00 AM run to Walmart for a humidifier for Deedee and Papa’s house, while Mommy nursed her and kept her in a steamy bathroom.

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Even when she is sick she is a happy baby.

Even with those measures there were many midnight steam sessions, and waking up to feed at all hours of the day and night because her little tummy was full of snot and she couldn’t eat normally. And there was the sneezing herself awake at 2:30 in the morning.

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Even Daddy got tired, and he usually has tons of energy.

Needless to say when she started feeling all better on Thursday we were all ecstatic.

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I love her happy little face!

Daddy has been very busy National Guarding all week, but one bit of good news from that is that he (finally) got promoted to E-7. At least now when he is away from his girls he will be sending home a few hundred more dollars per month.

Since the unit was too busy to do a formal promotion, Evie did the honors herself.

E7 Promotion (1)
Take off the old sticker.

E7 Promotion (2)
Put on the new sticker! 

(And ignore the unauthorized headgear.)

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Daddy caught a fish!

We like our family. Daddy is going to have to be away next week, so we are enjoying what family time we can right now.

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Mommy was coming home from work, Daddy was leaving for work, and the girls were just getting up, so we paused to take a picture.

I highly recommend you do the same. God Bless!

 

 

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See ya later!

 

 

Sorry Folks, last Friday was just too busy for blogging. That’s how it is when you have a real life that keeps interfering with your blog life. We ask you to stay flexible, just like we try to do:

Family Friday 148 (1)
Kathleen demonstrating her Yoga skillz at the Y.

It has been a busy couple of weeks. We had a long weekend last weekend, which was great for family time. Mommy had to bow out for parts of it because she was working her annual Baby Sale in Puyallup, but she managed to outfit both girls for the next six months for under $100. Baby Girls are expensive, yo!

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Who, lil ol’ us?

Daddy was home all the week before last and had good times with the girls while Mommy was busy. Ellie and Daddy sat out on the lawn.

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Ellie is practicing her sitting skills.

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She is getting pretty good at it!

And watched Evie playing with the neighbor kids. Evie is a little confused about what this sport is called: soccer, football, basketball? Whatever.

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And also about what exactly she is supposed to do with this particular piece of sporting equipment.

And Evie and Daddy went to go gawk at hot chicks at the local farm supply store.

 

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Yes, she is wearing pink knit gloves.

We have a new member of the Catholic Church in the family! That’s right! Annarose was baptized about two weeks ago. Kathleen is her Godmother, and Ryan stood in for Uncle Ian who is the Godfather.

Family Friday 148 (7)
YAY, Annarose!

Father Wagner kept trying to rename her “Ann Marie” during the ceremony, which is funny, because that is Grandma Kraeger’s name, but Adam and Marianne named her Annarose so she would be named after both of the Grandmas. But we rectified the mistake before it became official.

 

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Ellie is like, “Who is that little kid?”

 

 

The weather was great the weekend before last. Absolutely gorgeous. Of course we took advantage of it by exercising our right to bare our arms.

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And our legs!

We got our clothesline up, and hung some laundry.

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Ellie likes watching it spin around and wave in the breeze.

 

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She can literally be entertained watching laundry dry. It’s amazing!

 

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She likes the great outdoors.

We also got to work on our garden. Daddy rototilled in all the lovely mulch we put down last year, and then he messed his back up hoeing the whole thing up into rows and hills.

 

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Mommy and Ellie deciding what gets planted where.

Evie and Daddy put raspberries and loganberries in the pots on the patio.

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Evie is a good worker when she isn’t distracted by anything. She’s is pretty much always distracted by something or other.

And Mommy and Evie planted beans and peas in the pots on the deck.

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She likes to garden in style.

 

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They make gardening look good.

 

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Getting those onions in the ground!

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Daddy made outside pizza in his new Pizza oven.

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Building the new composter.

 

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Planting posts for our grape arbor.

 

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Planting grapes.

 

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Relaxing in the deck chair. Or next to it.

 

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Alfresco lunch. (Too much whiteness! Ah! It’s blinding!)

Daddy’s girls!

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Of course, we must bare in mind that the right to bare arms is one of the most sacred and controversial rights that we as Americans possess, and like all liberties should not be taken to excess.

 

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#PNWsunburn

 

Our very dear friend Jenn Pimento came over to visit for a little bit, to give some going away gifts. She is entering a Carmelite convent in a few weeks.

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Getting in some baby snuggles while she can.

Evie says she wants to marry Jesus too! “Because He is a good person.”

Master of the understatement.

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Sorry, kiddo, you might need to adjust your sense of fashion before you are ready for the convent.

Her official MC going away bash was on the following Monday at Red Robin. A lot of old friends showed up, including some faces we haven’t seen in a good while.

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We will miss her, but she is going to be praying for us, and she will do more good there than she ever could anywhere else. In a way, she is being moved to the front lines of the spiritual warfare, so it’s kind of like a deployment. Keep her in your prayers, please.

When the girls get older we will take them to visit her, since she can have visitors once a month.

We had a pretty good shindig for St. Patrick’s day, which, since it is a class 1 feast, relaxes the discipline of Lent, as does St. Joseph’s day, and Sundays. Since St. Patrick’s was Saturday and St. Joseph’s was on Monday this year, we essentially had a three-day weekend from Lent! Praised be!

 

So Adam and Maryanne and the Kids, and Ronny and Amanda and RJ all came over, and we at meat and potatoes and drank beer (Guinness) and whiskey (Jameson) and watched The Quiet Man, which is the best romantic comedy ever made.

Unfortunately, since Ryan is going to be working with the National Guard for a while, he had to shave on Saturday. I don’t understand why, but apparently the Army thinks that in order to be effective as a soldier I need to be transformed from a magnificently bearded paragon of titanic manliness:

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Exhibit A: magnificently bearded paragon of titanic manliness.

 

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Exhibit B: still a magnificently bearded paragon of titanic manliness. Because who needs head-hair?

To this wussy baby-faced weakling.

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Exhibit C: Wussy baby-faced weakling.

Oh well, I shall just have to retain a bearded soul underneath the shamefully naked jawline. And remind myself that it could actually be worse…

Family Friday 149 (1)

 

Sunday we went to Mass, of course, and Evie was very happy to see her buddy Josh, who was sick last week, but he got better this week.

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Apparently they coordinated their outfits sometime that morning. We parents certainly didn’t. They must be in cahoots!

Then we went out to dinner an to the Washington State History Museum with Uncle Adam and Marianne. Surprisingly, we spent most of our time there in the toy exhibit.

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And then the rest of the week has been a blur, with Mommy working 12 hour shifts at the hospital, Daddy working similar hours at the armory, and the girls staying at Deedee and Papa’s house.

But we are home now, although Daddy still has to work today and tomorrow at least.

But we are still trying to make time for what is most important. Like celebrating Ellie being four months old!

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For her month-day celebration she requested “something a little more substantial than breastmilk, but with the same basic flavor palate.”

 

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Okay then, rice cereal it is!

 

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Oh my! What is this stuff?

 

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I like it! Give me more!

Such a goober. That’s why she has more than doubled her birthweight and is now a solid 14 Lbs 9 oz.

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We love you Baby Girl!

That’s all for this week. You folks stay classy and keep us in your prayers. God Bless!

 

Bye!

 

 

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Wait, what?