A first time Minnesota Mama sharing the little things in life that make it so worth living!

Top Ten Update

Hello World!  We’re finally back into this blogging thing-a-ma-jig after a very long winter & spring!  I’m anxious to tell you what we’ve been up to these last few months but first and foremost I have to acknowledge the passing of someone special in our lives.  Nick’s Grandmother Carol Trevena passed away a few weeks ago.  Carol may or may not have been one of the only people to read this blog and I know it brought her a lot of joy.  She loved her Grandson Nick and her Great-Grandson Calvin equally as much even if she only met him twice.  We will miss sweet Grandma Carol’s kind words and big heart.

So what have we been up to these many months?  I tried to think of a few highlights so here is a top ten list in no particular order:

1.) We watched it snow, and thaw a little, and snow, and snow, and be cold and cloudy and windy and then snow again.  Calvin has been very anxious for summer to finally roll around.  He really started taking off and walking on his own around 13 months and he hasn’t slowed down since.  We are loving the outdoors and Calvin’s mobility!

Snow melt!  Little did Cal know the snow would stick around for almost another three months.

Snow melt! Little did Cal know the snow would stick around for almost another three months.

2.) We sold our sweet little house in St. Louis Park.  I still get very emotional when I think about the house that Calvin came home to.  We had so many memories in that house and I’m still mourning the convenience of St. Louis Park!  We are loving our new house in Chanhassen and know we will have many great memories to come in that house too!


3.) Calvin started to grow some hair.  He rocked a pretty sweet mullet/rat tail for a few months before he finally got his first haircut in June.



3.) We fed a giraffe!  We love going to the Naples Zoo when we are visiting Grammy and Al-Pal in Florida and the latest exhibit is the giraffes.  For a pretty penny you can even feed them a few romaine leaves!


5.) While in Florida Calvin was able to really dig his toes into the sand (and proceed to put the sand in his mouth)!  Calvin visited Grammy and Al-Pal when he was just a few weeks old but we loved this recent trip to Florida because Calvin was so cognizant of his new surroundings.  Green grass, the smell of salt in the air, colorful flowers, warm sand-Cal was so curious and took it all in.




6.) In order to keep up with his growing body Calvin explored new foods!  While Calvin still struggles to sleep through the night he doesn’t put up too much of a fuss when it comes to food.  At Easter brunch Calvin’s intake rivaled the rest of the family.  No mimosas for him- just to be clear.


7.) Loving the park across the street!  One of the perks of our new house is the park that’s right across the cul-de-sac.  Calvin ventures to the park on a daily basis.  Some days it’s literally the first thing he wants to do.  Heaven forbid Mom or Dad get a chance to get a cup of coffee in first.  The photo below was taken on a Saturday morning at about 6:45 a.m.  Christmas jammies in May and all.


8.) Calvin hit a major milestone in May when he moved from the infant room up to the toddler room at school!  The kiddos don’t sleep in cribs after the infant room but sleep on cots and are essentially free to roam as they please (sort of).  I was convinced Calvin wouldn’t nap at all unless he was confined to a crib.  To my pleasant surprise, Calvin goes down like a little champ and naps for at least two hours everyday.  Calvin also gets to go swimming, have art time and music class once each week.  I am so thankfull for our childcare at the Jewish Community Center!  They are the best!



9.) Calvin loves to read!  He takes a book off the shelf, finds the nearest reader and scoots his little but into their lap and is all eyes and ears.


10.) What books does Calvin love to read?  Books about transportation of course!  Choo- choo, zoooooooom, brrrrrrum, honk- honk, ding-ding are all a part of our daily vocabulary.   We can’t drive past a boat on a trailer or go by a truck without the “brrrrrooomm” noise coming from the backseat.  Why are boys so interested in vehicles?  I’m sure there are girls out there that are super into bulldozers as well (more power to ya sisters) but it screams boy to me.


You are growing up so quickly Calvi (as we like to call you).  You do something every single day that astonishes me.  You also do something every other day that makes me want to scream (like wiggle like a mad man during your diaper changes and inevitably slam your foot into your dirty diaper).  I will take the good with the messy poop foot as long as it always means I get to be your Mama.


Calvin James Turns One!

I can’t believe that Calvin is one! In preparation for his party I was going through all of our photos and couldn’t believe a).  how many unprinted photos of him I have (bad Mom) and b). how amazingly fast this little baby has changed and grown up. I often find myself thinking about the future and how much fun it will be when Cal can do …XYZ.. when he’s walking or when we aren’t tied down to two naps, etc… Looking back at the pictures reminds me to live in the present, enjoying him in the here and now. Each baby stage is so fleeting and I want to do a better job of recognizing the wonderful moments in each day and try not to fast forward to the next milestone.

It seems just like yesterday when Cal first started giggling, taking his first bites of solid food and sitting up on his own. I wished weeks and months away in hopes that he would finally give us all a good stretch of sleep. Cal now sleeps for a good 5-6 hour period of time and only gets up once. He’s babbling up a storm, trekking up the stairs 15 times a day and cruising on the cupboards, furniture, anything that’s his height.

Calvin doesn’t seem to have any interest in taking his own independent first steps. He loves his walker for short periods of time and every once in a while will take a few steps holding our hands but that’s not very often. I’m making a conscious effort not to wish away the crawling or the cruising. One of my favorite parts of the day is when I pick Calvin up from daycare. When I walk in and he spots me from across the room he makes an absolute beeline to me, crawling as fast as those little arms and legs can take him with a huge smile on his face. If someone were to watch the security footage at our daycare they would literally see me running to the door each day because I can’t wait to see that furious little crawl!

I’m so proud of the little boy Calvin has become and can’t even begin to express how much joy he brings to our life each and every day. Calvin, I hope you always know that I could move mountains with the love I have for you!

It’s been a big first year in the life of Calvin James! Here were some of the highlights:

Your Actual Birth Day:


Visiting Al Pal & Grammy in Florida with family at 7 weeks:


Attending your first hockey game at ten weeks-Benilde St. Margaret’s in their run to a State Championship:


Starting daycare at the Jewish Community Center and meeting new friends at 3 months:

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Your first trip to Gull Lake, a very special place I hope you love for life:


Pool time at the Arndt’s in the summer sun:


Your first 4th of July parade:


Your first trip to the Great Minnesota Get-Together:

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Fall walks with Mom & Dad:


Visiting pumpkin patches:


Starting Christmas Eve traditions:


Now for your actual first birthday celebration we hosted a Winter ONEderland themed party.   It was SNOW much fun to celebrate your first year of life with friends and family and you entertained the crowd by tackling of your first cupcake!  Poor Daddy was holed away upstairs due to the stomach flu and missed your party but he did sneak down to watch you eat your first cupcake.

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Here are a few more of the party detail pictures:

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And some friends and family who made your party extra special:

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Last but not least I had the party-goers fill out  “Wishes for Calvin.”  Cousin Riley’s was my favorite, remember how important math facts are Cal!


Thank you to all of those who helped us celebrate Cavin’s first year of life.  “It takes a village” and we all feel your love and support in helping to raise Cal.  We are looking forward to the adventures the second year of Calvin’s life will bring!

13th Annual Ornament Exchange

This year we celebrated our 13th (jeeesh!) annual ornament exchange with the BSM girls and Moms.  It’s definitely one of the highlights of the Holiday season and we are all so grateful for Mary Mulvehill and Katy Mucahy (sounds weird still) for putting it on.  We started this event when we were just baby freshmen back at Benilde.  The topics of conversations have certainly changed over the years.  In high school I’m sure we were gossiping and chatting about our sports and activities, teachers, boyfriends, parties and college acceptances.  In college we drank a lot and smuggled out a few extra bottles of champagne from the Mulvehills for the after party events.  Now we’ve moved on to job relocations, graduate schools, weddings and even babies!  I don’t know where the time goes but I’m so grateful for this annual tradition and love the opportunity to laugh with our friends and our Moms.

A few of the lovely Moms & Daughters

A few of the lovely Moms & Daughters

All Moms and one Mama to be!  Yeah Meg!

All Moms and one Mama to be! Meg and Baby Bob!

The spread is amazing and what’s a Mulvehill party without sprits?!?  We mingle, catch up, laugh, swap stories and move on to the main event, the ornament exchange!

The spread!

The spread!

Despite all of us participating in this event for over a decade, we can never manage to remember the rules and there is usually a somewhat lengthy discussion about how to proceed with the game.  Once the cobwebs have been dusted off we draw our numbers and begin.

One of the highlights of this year was the voluptuous male bust ornament with the red and silver bedazzled G-string brought to us courtesy of Becky from the German Christmas Market in Chicago.   Mrs. Quealy was lucky enough to open it but it was Annie who went home with the prize to deliver to the one and only Mrs. Tilton as a surprise on Christmas morning.  I’m convinced Mrs. T, given her covert sassy and sexy ways, will truly appreciate this ornament more than anyone else in the group possibly could.

Hubba hubba!

Hubba hubba!

Surprise Mrs. T!  I know Big Lou looked like this back in the day!

Surprise Mrs. T! I know Big Lou looked like this back in the day!

The rest of the ornaments were exchanged and while I had my eye on an adorable little MN snowman, I was stuck with the awfully wonderful tacky gift that I brought.  Little did I know that this fierce feline would end up on OUR Christmas tree for years to come.  Yes, he will go up on our tree every year.  While I admire those of you with the perfect Christmas trees full of glass ornaments with a coordinating color scheme, I personally like our tree to be a little eclectic and have a story to tell of its own.



Looking forward to the 14th Annual Mother/Daughter Ornament Exchange next year and more babies to come too 🙂


Admiring Baby Bob.

Admiring Baby Bob.


Candy Making

I can’t believe how far behind I am with these posts!  As magical and wonderful as the Holidays can be they can also be a huge time suck!  Other than budget season, year end is also my busiest time at work so here I am three weeks behind with my Christmas posts.

Leading up to Christmas we had a very special evening with the Murphy and the Jetland family making Candy!  Candy is capitalized because it is THAT special in our family.  My Grandparents were known around Grand Rapids for making this delicious treat and it was a staple at many Grand Rapids hockey games.  Legend has it that Papa J sold this stuff for $0.25 a piece back in Junior High!  The aroma of the candy takes me back to my childhood, especially around Christmas and always makes me think of my very special Grandpa Harold.

I will never forget the last day I saw my Grandpa, he had been very ill for many months and I was lucky to spend time with him on his last “good day.”  It was a Thursday and we had driven up to Grand Rapids to spend the day with him.  He was walking and talking a little which was a miracle given his condition previously in the week.  While we sat and ate lunch he was entranced, looking out the window at the snow-fallen February landscape.  We thought maybe he had spotted a deer or some wildlife but there was none to be seen.  We could barely pull his attention or gaze from that window.  I think he was looking at loved ones who had gone before him.   His daughter, his stepson, brothers, sisters, friends, his parents, Grandma Mickey.  All the while he was transitioning into the next life, seeing angels no doubt, his right hand carefully held a napkin which was covering up a little bag of his most favorite candy.  A little piece of the present world he wasn’t quite ready to give up just yet.  As we left lunch that day his older sister and my Great Aunt (age 98 at the time) said to me, “he’s ready to go home.”  Grandpa Harold went home that Sunday and his candy was passed out to everyone at his funeral.  I know he would have been pleased.

It’s no wonder I love making this candy and thinking about my Grandpa Harold!


Jan and Quinn adding the sugar...lots of sugar.

Jan and Quinn adding the sugar…lots of sugar.

Pouring the first batch.  The best aroma!

Pouring the first batch. The best aroma!

The tricky part.

The tricky part.

Jerry and Jeanette taking it all in.

Jerry and Jeanette taking it all in. Jerry is Grandpa Harold’s younger brother.

Cousin Paige and Cal.

Cal loves his cousin Paige!

Jetland Elves

Jetland/Murphy elves hard at work.



Beautiful and delicious. 

We can’t wait for candy making night 2013!

Green Teeth

We celebrated another long running tradition the other night with our annual wreath making party!  Annie, Moraghan and I along with our Moms have been making wreaths for well over ten years.  It’s something I look forward to each year and I’m pretty sure our Moms do equally as much.  We usually have food and wine, tell stories (many involving Mrs. T revealing something from her past that makes Annie squirm) and of course end up with green teeth from the gobs and gobs of green food coloring that goes into these marshmallow and corn flakes treats.


Calvin was fortunate enough to get an invitation this year and he loved all his time with the ladies!



What a ham!

What a ham!


Put your phone down Meecie.



After Cal was picked up for bedtime back at home the real work began!

Gifts were exchanged:


Delicious food was eaten no picture, drats!

and wreath making commenced!

Fanciful aprons are a must!

Fanciful aprons are a must!


Annie practicing forming a wreath.

Annie showing us how it will be done.

Friends for life :)


Friends for life!


The fruits of our hard labor.


Thanks for such a fantastic evening McKennas!  I hope this is a tradition we pass along to all of our kids!

We’ve Been Christmas’ing

There’s something about having a child of your own that makes you understand and appreciate your own traditions and I’ve certainly found that to be true around this Christmas season.  We’ve been reaching back in our memories to think about what Holiday tradtions were important to us growing up and which ones we want to continue.  An equally important question, what new traditions do we want to start as our own little family?

A few weekends back we picked out our first family Christmas tree!  We had intentions of getting out of town to cut down our own tree but you Mr. Cal really don’t love car rides beyond 45 minutes so the Our Lady of Grace lot was the next best thing.  They had Christmas music playing, lights were strung, a heaping bonfire roared and they were serving hot apple cider-the perfect combination to jump start our Christmas’ing.  I should mention that I realize Christmas’ing is not a word but I think it’s more fun than “preparing for Christmas” or something like that.

FIrst Family Tree

First Family Tree

The star goes up!  Thanks Meecie for helping :)

The star goes up! Thanks Meecie for helping 🙂

Calvin has only broken one ornament and has for the most part avoided the tree.  We still have a few weeks left with the tree so I’ll knock on wood with the previous statement.  Along with the tree came the house decorations.  Garland and lights were strung and the Christmas table was set for the first of many Holiday meals.


After Calvin went to sleep the other night Nick and I made sugar cookies.



Can you tell which one your Dad made Cal?

Can you tell which one your Dad made Cal?

We paid a visit to Great Grammy and Al Pal’s and looked at their beautiful tree with over 10,000 lights (fact check anyone?)


We’ve had a constant rotation of classic Christmas movies on including Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Love Actually, Home Alone, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town and Frosty the Snowman.


We celebrated Calvin’s wonderful teachers at the J with goodies and gifts.  They are such a part of our family!

We LOVE these ladies!

We LOVE these ladies!


And last but not least, since we are at the Sabes Jewish Community Center for daycare, we’ve been doing a little Hanukkah’ing too!


We’ve got lots more Christmas’ing to fit in over the next week and a half so I better get to it!  A very Merry Christmas to you and to yours and maybe Hanukkah too!

Overdue Thanksgiving Post

This post is pretty overdue-my apologies!  A few weeks ago we were lucky to spend a long Thanksgiving weekend at my parents.  We don’t get out for real vacations often so heading out to Excelsior is like a mini “staycation.”  It’s always pretty relaxing and we certainly appreciate the extra set of hands to help with Calvin.

Calvin and I headed out to my parents on Wednesday morning to help my Mom get ready and get an early start to the vacation.  When looking back through the photos from Thanksgiving I realize I have very little to share other than the photos leading up the big feast!  I must have been focused on the food…..

While my Dad was running errands I asked him to pickup some fingerpaint from Target so Cal and I could make turkey handprints.  Along with the fingerpaint came toys….lots of them.  Calvin has it good as the first Grandchild!  I’m hoping to convince my Dad to re-wrap these gifts as Christmas presents.


Partially completed turkey hands.

Partially completed turkey hands.


The weather on Thursday morning was delightful and we took full advantage of it!  Cal took walks with the pups:


The boys played football:


Nick learned how to prepare a turkey:


and we even managed to get some nice family photos:


Unfortunately I have no pictures of Calvin stuffing his face with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, red cabbage, pumpkin muffins, etc…. but that’s just what he did!  The day was very low-key and was filled with family, food, games and laughs.  We are so grateful for all of our blessings this year.  My Mama heart just bursts when I think of how lucky I am to have a healthy happy boy and such a supportive and loving husband among many other gifts.

One more thing before I checkout here…

Mom- I don’t know how many photos of the table settings you have asked me to take over the years.  Many, many requests and many, many photos that take up space on my hard drive.  So here it is- a photo of the table-soon to be deleted from my hard drive now that it’s been presented on a public forum.