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

Category Archives: Family

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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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

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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:

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

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Your first 4th of July parade:

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Your first trip to the Great Minnesota Get-Together:

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Fall walks with Mom & Dad:

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Visiting pumpkin patches:

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Starting Christmas Eve traditions:

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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!

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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!


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!

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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!

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Jetland/Murphy elves hard at work.

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Beautiful!

Beautiful and delicious. 

We can’t wait for candy making night 2013!


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.

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Partially completed turkey hands.

Partially completed turkey hands.

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

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The boys played football:

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Nick learned how to prepare a turkey:

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and we even managed to get some nice family photos:

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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.

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It’s Sunday night already?!?!  Shoot.  I’m always a little sad on Sunday night as I think about how much fun we had as a family over the weekend.  The weekdays bring so much hustle and bustle and it’s always a little daunting to think about on Sunday night.  Lately I feel as if Calvin is dropped off at daycare and when I go to pick him up he has mastered something new.  His confidence is growing as he pulls himself up to stand on anything and everything- coffee tables, bookcases, my legs, the bathtub, the chairs.  Cal is close to the REAL crawl though the army crawl is suiting him just fine for now.  He is catching on to the games we play and imitating us from time to time.  Cal is babbling non-stop and I have loved the addition of “MAMA” into his vocabulary after hearing “DADA” for the last two months!  When daycare showed me a picture of Calvin eating at the big boy table it really hit me how fast he is growing up.  Each day I am amazed at what a smart, happy, engaged boy is growing right before my eyes.  The weekends give me more time to watch him grow and change but most of all to snuggle him, hold him, kiss him and breathe in that sweet little scent of his.  More time to LOVE HIM.

Before I lose myself in tears…again…. I will share some of our fun weekend activities with you.

Friday Night:

We got home from work, made Cal dinner, read some books got him in his ‘jams (as we like to say) and Nick and I headed out on the town for a date night.  It’s always hard to leave Cal but I knew he was in good hands with Meecie and Papa J.

Playing after work and daycare. Glad it’s the weekend!

Nick and I enjoyed two delicious and totally unhealthy burgers with tots and drenched our thirst with few flights of beer at The Bulldog in NE Minneapolis.  Considering the smiling face below woke us up at 5:20 a.m. that morning we were pretty impressed we made it out until 10:00 p.m.  We know we are so lame……..

So happy to be up with you so early Mom!

Saturday:

We were so excited on Saturday to welcome Nick’s Dad back to MN and to our house for the weekend.  Dan recently started a new job in Duluth, MN which means he’s only 2 1/2 hours away!  We look forward to many weekend visits from Dan and hope to go visit him in Duluth and check out the big ships on Lake Superior (among other things).

Cal had so much fun helping Grandpa Dan work on a little carpentry project at the house.  While we certainly appreciated the effort Grandpa Dan put forth it turned out that neither Cal nor Grandpa Dan really know that much about carpentry.

Are you sure that’s right Grandpa Dan?

It was important for us to be together this weekend as we remembered the anniversary of the passing of Nick’s Mom, Patti.  In honor of Patti we wanted to make one of her favorite meals, Pasties.  Pasties originated in Cornwall, England and are prevalent in mining towns over here in the good ‘ol US of A as well.  Pasties are a hearty fall/winter meal utilizing the most delicious root vegetables.  Best of all they are super easy to make!  Here is a rough recipe, be forewarned,  I rarely measure:

In a medium bowl, mix the following ingredients:

1 lb. beef stew meat

2 carrots

1/2 rutabaga

1 turnip

1 parsnip

1 small onion

1 potato

1 tablespoon of fresh parsley

1 tsp. thyme (fresh or dried)

1 tsp. ground mustard

1 tablespoon water

salt and pepper to season

Make sure all the veggies/potatoes and the meat are in about 1/4 inch cubes so they cook quickly and all the way through.

I cheated and used Pilsbury’s premade double pie crust which made this recipe super easy.  Let the pie crust sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes and unroll onto a clean, flat surface.  Place about 1 1/2- 2 cups of the filling onto half the pie crust.  In order to seal the pasty, I brush an egg wash over 1/2 the crust.

Fold over the top half of the pie crust and pinch the edges to make a nice little pocket for the pasties.  I cut a few slots into the top of the crust and coat with the egg wash for that golden brown effect.

Base at 350 degrees for an hour or a little less and enjoy!

Mmmm…delicious after a hard day of mining or playing with a baby.

While the pasties were cooking Nick, Cal and I ran up to our “local pumpkin patch” aka the Cub Foods parking lot.  We got out to the apple orchard this year but didn’t make it back for the pumpkins….maybe next year.  Parking lot pumpkin patch or not, we had a good time and I got a few fun pictures of the boys:

On our way to pick out our pumpkins!

Papa J, in case you were wondering, Nick was RIGHT THERE in case Cal lost his balance!

Cal among the mums.

Too many things for Cal to look at. Good smile from Dad though!

Sunday:

We started off Sunday morning with, well what else, more food.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the final product but I was too busy savoring every last bite of the amazing french toast we had for Sunday breakfast.  Challah bread was soaked overnight  in melted vanilla ice cream, oranze zest, orange juice, vanilla, triple sec (just a little) and eggs.  A-mazing.

Served this with simple berries with some fresh mint and we were set!  Nick, Cal and I were able to head outside and enjoy the GORGEOUS fall day taking a big walk.  Probably didn’t come close to burning this off.

Rounding out our weekend full of family and food was a celebration of my Grandfather’s 81st Birthday!  We headed to Buca and believe it or not somehow found room for more food.

Celebrating with Al-Pal.

Cal Pal & Al Pal- 80 years apart!  Happy Birthday Al Pal, we love you so much!

Cheers to our family for a great weekend!  Here’s to the next one!


He loves this little guy…. a lot!

It was my Dad’s Birthday on Saturday so in honor of him I thought I would share this story from last week.  Happy Birthday Papa J, don’t be too angry with me for sharing!

Calvin is a horrible sleeper.   I mean getting up three times after 10:00 p.m. is a common occurrence, two times is a “really good night!”  Not sleeping for nine months really takes a toll on my mental stability.  A few weeks ago I lost my keys at work and after 20 minutes I finally found them in the break room refrigerator.  That pretty much sums it up.  Add Cal’s immunizations, a flu shot and teething to the mix and it’s a whole new ugly ball-game of sleep deprivation.

On Tuesday night I had been up with Cal too many times to count and was becoming a bit out of sorts.    I decided to shoot my Mother a text as a white flag/need to vent/what to do with this teething baby text at 5:45 a.m.  The text read, “I’m having another rough morning with Cal, can you call me when you get up?” As soon as I sent the text Cal fell asleep and I followed shortly thereafter.  I was abruptly awoken at 6:40 a.m. to the sound of someone trying to open my front door.  “Oh no, he didn’t come out all this way, it can’t be him….” I thought to myself.  I looked down at my phone to see the text that confirmed my suspicion:

Dad- 6:16 a.m. – “I’m on my way to help.”

I later I came to find out he was already in front of the house at that time.  After giving him a quick call and shooting a few texts with no response I assumed he just got an early start to his day and went on to his office.  I fell asleep again and woke up at 8:15 a.m.  CRAP!  We’ve all overslept and now we’re scrambling.  I look at my phone again and see a text from my Dad:

Dad- 8:17 a.m. – “Do you still need help this morning?”

I gave him a call to apologize for that morning when I came to the realization THAT HE WAS STILL OUTSIDE IN HIS CAR. …TWO HOURS LATER.  When I asked why he didn’t call or knock or send another text he said he didn’t want to bother us but just wanted to be there in case we needed help.

That’s my Dad, a man who loves his family more than any other person I know.  I am eternally grateful for his patience and his selflessness.  His heart is as big as any and his pure adoration for his Grandson is not lost on me or anyone he has a conversation with for that matter.  Thanks for loving us with all your heart Dad and always being there for us….right outside our door!  J


The weekend of September 29th was finally here!  We had been waiting for nearly a year to celebrate the wedding of Katy Mulvehill and Colin Mulcahy and boy was it worth the wait!  We were blessed with a beautiful fall weekend to start the festivities on Thursday night-those Mulvehills sure like to party!  By the time Saturday came around we were all anxious to celebrate the actual Irish themed wedding!  I was personally extra excited to have a date night with Nick and have a chance to see many good friends from high school who were coming to town for the wedding.

Date Night at the Mulvehill/Mulcahy Wedding

The gorgeous Mr. and Mrs. Mulcahy- photo courtesy of Kathleen Waddell

My cousin Kelly was kind enough to lend us her entire day and evening to babysit Cal.  When I called in to check on Calvin, Kelly told me how she was getting lots of slobbery kisses from Cal- a sure sign Cal was loving her up!  Kelly snapped a few photos of the fun they were having while we were out and about and his smiley faces assured me that he was having a heck of a time with without Mom and Dad.

Cal making his way down the slide.

Nice product placement Kelly!

Good times with Cousin Kelly.

Thanks again Kelly!