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

Category Archives: Holidays

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.



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!

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!

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.