Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

December 10, 2014 0

Happy Holidays 2014!

By in Family

Happy Advent to everyone! Since this post also serves as part of our holiday cards this year, we also wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year as well!

2015 is going to be a wonderful year for us, as we will welcome a baby boy into our family sometime in late March or early April. But until then, we would like to reflect a bit on the excellent year that 2014 was for our family. We were really bad about keeping up with the blog for most of 2014, so we figured this way we can hit the highlights for you and catch you up to speed.

In January, Hallie officially became certified as a postpartum doula by Doulas of North America. This means I am qualified to provide quality non-medical support for mothers and families after the birth of a new baby. I help moms (and dads) with things like breastfeeding, physical healing, emotional adjustment, learning to care for a newborn, sibling adjustment, family transition, and household management. I provide non-judgmental companionship, guidance, and resources to families in the first days, weeks and months after baby arrives. I absolutely love the work I do with clients, and am honored to have had such a successful first year of official doula work serving families.

In March, we had a blast enjoying a “stay-cation” weekend with Hallie’s parents and brothers. We needed a break from the long, harsh winter cold, so we went to the Sea Life aquarium at the Mall of America and The MN Children’s Museum, among other things.

Mike ended his third year as Principal of a Catholic elementary school on a high note by attending the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) annual conference in Pittsburgh in April. At the conference he presented a session about how school leaders can use iOS to be more productive, a talk that he has given several times since.

In June, we were excited to meet our newest family members: identical twin nephews Elias and Jude! They have been so fun to watch grow and see how darling their huge smiles are. We are still learning how to tell them apart, and can’t believe how big they are now compared to when they were born prematurely. We are so glad to see their whole family doing so well in adjusting to life with twin babies.

In late June, Mike and Hallie took a much-needed (and long overdue) true vacation and actually boarded a plane and went far away to Washington, D.C. for five days. It was our first time on a plane together since our honeymoon four years ago, and we had been saving for this little trip for quite a while. It proved to be well worth it. While we had both been to D.C. before (Hallie in high school and Mike many times as a kid and middle school teacher) we both love the city and wanted to rediscover it together. We were able to visit our good friends Sarah and Chris, who both work for the U.S. State Department and live right in D.C. proper. We stayed with them for a few nights and they showed us a good time out on the town. We also met up with Pat, a friend and mentor of Mike’s. While on our trip, we explored old town Alexandria, VA which is full of charm and history. I love being married to a history buff because we can stop at some nondescript brownstone corner building and he tells me all about what happened there hundreds of years ago and why it’s significant. In the nation’s Capitol, we went to a number of the Smithsonian museums and the Library of Congress, toured the Capital, and rented bikes to more quickly and easily get around the National Mall to see the monuments and memorials. Genevieve and Mari seemed to hardly notice we were gone; they were having so much fun with Grandma and Grandpa (Hallie’s parents). We missed them, of course, but knew it was going to be a while before we had another opportunity to travel together. It was definitely a highlight of the year for us.

A few weeks after getting home, Mike flew to Los Angeles for an education conference while Hallie packed up the girls and headed to northern Wisconsin for a week at a cabin with Hallie’s side of the family. Mike was able to join the family after he returned from the West coast and we had a great time swimming, playing in the sand, playing on the playground, exploring nearby small towns, and just relaxing and enjoying nature together.

In late July, we took a road trip down to Haverhill and Marshalltown, IA where much of Mike’s family gathers for almost-yearly reunions. It’s always a fun time catching up with each other, seeing how the kids have grown, meeting the new babies, and visiting the old stomping grounds that are so special to his Mom’s side of the family.

August and September were busy months for our family, as I was busy with clients and Mike was beginning his fourth year as principal. During this time, Genevieve began preschool (at Mike’s school) and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (a religious education program in the Montessori method). These changes marked the first time our girls were regularly separated from each other. It took them a while to adjust and it was clear they really missed each other when they were apart. Of course, that didn’t last forever, but it was so sweet while it did. Also in September, I completed a 40-hour intensive training to become a certified lactation counselor (CLC), which means I am now able to better support mothers who want to breastfeed, are initiating breastfeeding, or are managing lactation. Naturally, this helps me in my work as a postpartum doula, but also allows me to serve women who may not need the full services of a doula but do need some assistance in their breastfeeding goals or challenges.

As Christmas approaches, we find ourselves full of gratitude for all the blessings we’ve been given this past year. At age 3.5, Genevieve is learning every day and sharing her expanding world with us. She’s an observant, caring big sister and has loved meeting new friends in the last few months. We have no doubt she will be a wonderful big sister to Baby Boy when he arrives. Mari turned two in September and has amazed us with her verbal progression. It seems like every day we hear her say new words and complete sentences. She is our mischievous (sometimes stubborn) one. We’ve loved watching her grow into a big girl and she too seems to be preparing for her new role as big sister.

I have been preparing to teach postpartum preparation and breastfeeding classes starting in January, and am enjoying my work on the volunteer Board of Directors for Guiding Star Twin Cities, a new non-profit serving families in the metro area.

Mike has been keeping a well-read blog on technology and education, and has been a speaker at a number of professional education conferences in the Twin Cities. In January, he starts his third and final year in the University of St. Thomas’ Murray Institute. He will graduate next December with an Ed.S. degree and principal licensure.

2014 was a great year for us, and we hope it was for you too! Here’s to 2015 and all the promise the new year always brings. May you and yours be happy and healthy throughout.

Hallie, Mike, Genevieve, Mari, and Baby Boy

December 3, 2014 0

Recent Firsts

By in Announcement, Family, Genevieve

In the past couple of weeks, Mike and I have been witness to a few “firsts” that have felt significant enough to us to be, well, significant. In no particular order:

  1. I just realized we have not posted anything on our blog yet about the fact that we are expecting our third child. Oopsie-daisy. Sorry about that. Yes! We are having another sweet little one, due in early April (April 8th is the official due date, for those of you who like to know). And here is the “first” in this…IT’S A BOY! We had our 20-week sonogram the week before Thanksgiving and saw definitive evidence of the male sex. I mean definitive.  …We are very excited to meet this little guy when he decides to debut, and can’t wait to see how our family dimension changes and expands as this fifth person grows into it. Welcome, little boy! We already love you so much!
  2. Genevieve and Mari had their first “sleepover” experience, as in, they got to party hardy with little people their own age and didn’t see mom and dad again until late the next morning. This adventure was provided by our generous (and somewhat bafflingly courageous) brother and sister-in-law, and the kids in the scene were our sweet nieces and nephews. It’s no small feat to warmly suggest/offer/invite a two year old and a three year old to spend the night at your house when you already have four little ones of your own under age 4.5. I know. Crazy and awesome at the same time, eh? They got to have pizza for dinner, munchy snacks and hot cocoa during their “movie” (Pooh bear–about 30 minutes long, maybe?), a fancy breakfast, and of course plenty of play time that night and the next morning.

    First cousin sleepover: watching Pooh's adventures

    First cousin sleepover: watching Pooh’s adventures

  3. This also brought a new awareness to Mike and I of the love/hate relationship all parents surely must have with sleepovers. We experienced the joy and freedom of having no (outside the womb) children for a good 19 hours or so, but for the first time in what will likely be many times, we also experienced the crash and burn of the rest of the weekend that results after such frivolity and excitement for our kids. Don’t get me wrong; we did not regret it. Our girls had a great time and so did we. We will be hosting our own sleepover for the cousins soon, too. But it was a glimpse into what it will be like for years to come, and I suddenly had a new appreciation (and apologetic understanding?) for my parents’ times in dealing with me in middle school and high school when I was out too late with friends. Uff da.
  4. Genevieve received her first-ever school pictures. And they are SO CUTE. Obviously, I’m biased when it comes to things like this, but man. That little girl is adorable and I’m not afraid to admit it, people. I definitely teared up a bit when I first saw the photos. I had to resist ordering magnets, mugs, calendars, and t-shirts made with them. Just kidding. Kind of.
  5. Genevieve also made her first “I want ___” statements. As in, “I want you to buy ____ for me!” This was an unfortunate byproduct of mistakenly strolling through the toy area of Target with the girls a couple of weekends ago. We were looking for gifts for other people, and whoops. There was the Frozen aisle. “I want a Princess Elsa dress! And a Princess Elsa wand!” ensued multiple times daily for the next few days. Finally, mom had to bust out another first with which to fire back: “Ok, honey. I heard you. We’ll make sure Santa knows that and maybe you’ll get that for Christmas.”
  6. Yup. Santa has also entered our world now, for real, for the first time. We try to not make a big deal out of it, but I’m not going to lie about the fact that sometimes I have to use that good old “Santa’s watching” leverage when the girls are being particularly assertive in their independence. (Read: “not listening to their parents.”) Two and three year olds disregarding parents’ wishes? Astonishing.
  7. Next week, Genevieve will have her very first school Christmas concert. Preschoolers in their finest holiday garb, singing Christmas songs in front of an audience, and our little girl among them. I don’t know if I will be able to handle it.
December 20, 2013 0

Christmas 2013

By in Family

Merry Christmas! With 2013 drawing to a close, we thought you might like to hear what we have been up to over the past twelve months…

Mike started the year by launching a new website where he writes about technology and education. He also began a graduate program at the University of St. Thomas. If all goes as planned, he will graduate in 2015 with an Ed.S. degree. The current school year marks his eleventh year in Catholic education and his third year as a principal. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter project, Mike self-published a book about a train trip around the country that he took in 2004. It’s a travelogue and photo collection which is available as an iBook. Mike is looking forward to speaking (about technology, of course) at the National Catholic Educational Association’s annual conference in Pittsburgh in April.

It has been an exciting year for Hallie. She started a business in March, which provides in-home customized support and services to new mothers and their families after the birth of a baby. In August, she decided to pursue certification as a postpartum doula, which means she is trained and educated to assist with non-medical support and companionship, postpartum adjustment, newborn care, feeding, and development, and the promotion of parent-infant bonding. Postpartum doulas offer evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from childbirth and other issues related to the postpartum period, and can make referrals if necessary. Hallie is currently completing her certification process, which has meant a lot of reading, two classes, paper-writing, and experiences with families. It’s been a busy but fun few months!

Genevieve is now two years and seven months old. She has a rapidly growing vocabulary and amazes us every day with the new words that she is learning. She is a sweet girl who loves babies. She can often be found with her baby doll or, lately, the small wooden baby Jesus from her Nativity scene. She enjoys pretending to cook and clean, and often walks around with a purse telling us that she is either shopping or going to work.

Little Mari Bea isn’t so little anymore. Now 15 months old, she toddles around and gets into everything. She is the smiliest little girl you’ve ever seen, even after taking one of her many falls in which she bonks her head on the floor or a wall. She is a happy girl and enjoys snuggling with mom or dad, as long as we let her go when it’s time to continue exploring. Mari has learned how to push her sister’s buttons (as you may have seen in this video), but they genuinely enjoy being together and can often be heard giggling together in their playroom.

It has been a full and wonderful year for us. We’ve had lots of time with our families and friends, and are enjoying our second year in our “new” house. We are thankful for the blessings of 2013, and are looking forward to 2014 and all the good things sure to come. May God bless you and all you love!

Peace and Joy,
Mike, Hallie, Genevieve, and Mari

PS – We try to stay somewhat anonymous on this blog, but if you want more information about Hallie’s business or Mike’s book and website, please feel free to contact us.

November 1, 2013 0

Happy All Saints Day!

By in Family

We decided that this year we would begin a tradition of making All Saints Day special in our family and home. Halloween is a lot of fun, and we don’t necessarily believe in denying any of its frivolity and kid-centered good times. However, as Christians, is not All Saints Day the true day to celebrate? After all, Halloween is only that because it is the eve of the day we celebrate all the hallowed in heaven–the saints. So, we decided to have a little fun in communion with those in paradise.

Genevieve dressed up as her patron saint, St. Genevieve, and Mari dressed up as her patron, Our Lady, Mary. I know. Crazy, eh? We were joined for the evening by St. Kateri Tekakwitha (Anna), a martyr (Josie), and St. Teresa of Calcutta (“Baby Nora”). We played “Pin the Bird on St. Francis” and “Give the Alms to the Poor” for small prizes (books and stickers), and after supper we all enjoyed hot apple cider and Soul Cakes, made from a very old recipe dating back to before the 1800s, when Halloween was about begging at the door for a cake in exchange for prayers for a soul in purgatory. At the end of the night, all the children received a Holy Card as a favor upon departing. It was a fun celebration of the men and women who we admire and know have gone before us in the love of God. Hopefully the joyous traditions will stick for years to come.

October 27, 2013 0

Five Years Ago

By in Family

Five years ago, Hallie and I had just started dating. I might not get all of the details exactly right in this post, but I know for sure that my brother introduced us on October 8th, 2008. A few days later, Hallie friended me on Facebook and, shortly after that, I asked her to dinner. She wasn’t available right away, due to spending the long MEA weekend up north with her family. When we did go to dinner we went to the Chatterbox in St. Paul where Hallie received a very underdone steak.

A few more days later, Hallie hosted a Halloween party at her apartment on Grand Avenue in St. Paul (which was coincidentally just a few blocks away from my apartment). I persuaded my sister-in-law, Sara, to come with me because I didn’t really known anyone at the party except Hallie, and we had thus far only been on one date. I guess I was a bit nervous. I remember that Hallie’s kitchen sink was plugged up and that many of her friends were there. Someone was even dressed up as a tree which I thought was hilarious.

At some point I think Hallie suggested that we have our photo taken. I can’t tell if it was a selfie or if someone else took the shot. I’m not even sure whose camera it came from. Anyway, the point is that I am 99% certain that the photo below was the very first photo ever taken of the two of us. It boggles the mind to see how much our love has grown since that moment, five years ago.

First Photo

June 21, 2013 0

Church Pic

By in Family

It’s not often we have a photo of all of us together, much less one that turns out relatively well. But, when we recently registered at our new parish, they took a photo of us so the priest and parish staff could get to know our faces and names, and I asked for a copy. I look only a little bit psycho, and everyone else looks content, at least. Hmm. If all else fails, maybe this will be our Christmas 2013 card! (Just kidding. I hope we can get something more current by then!)

Genevieve: 2, and Mari: 8 months

Genevieve: 2, and Mari: 8 months

December 24, 2012 1

Merry Christmas!

By in Family, Genevieve, Mari, Uncategorized


Merry Christmas, from our goofy family to yours.

September 15, 2012 1

Mari Beatrice

By in Announcement, Baby Life, Family, Mari


We are overjoyed to announce the arrival of Mari Beatrice, born on September 14, 2012 at 8:17 pm after 18 hours of labor. She weighs 7 lbs, 10 oz and is 20 inches long. Mom and Dad think she already looks like her big sister, except chubbier! Mari is a Norwegian name and a version of Mary. Beatrice was my paternal grandmother.

August 11, 2012 0

A Week in the Northland

By in Family, Photography, Travel, Video

One week after moving in to our new house we headed up to northern Wisconsin to join Hallie’s parents for a week at a cabin near Hayward. We didn’t take nearly as many photos as we should have, but here are a few notable shots as well as a short, calming video of the sun coming up over Lost Land Lake (located approximately six feet from the cabin we stayed in). Genna, in particular, had a great time swimming, pushing sand around on the beach, taking steps in the cabin, watching grandma and grandpa blow bubbles and demanding some of whatever grandpa was eating or drinking.

July 29, 2012 1

The First Nursery

By in Baby Life, Family, Genevieve, Home

Usually, when I take a photograph, I don’t realize the importance of it until later, when I view it on my computer. I don’t know that I can remember a single instance where I thought to myself before taking the shot, “this is going to be a meaningful photograph.”

The photo above is one of the rare exceptions. In fact, it might be the only exception. This is a photo of Genna’s old room/nursery (in our rented duplex) and it’s the last photo I took in that house. We had moved out the previous day and I had just finished cleaning. The landlord was downstairs waiting for me to turn over the keys but I ran upstairs, on the pretense of making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything, so that I could snap this photo.

The first thing to understand about this room is that it was initially a very pale pink. Before Hallie and I moved into the duplex in late March of 2011, my mom and I painted this room yellow because at that time we didn’t know if our baby would be a girl or a boy. When we moved in it had very little in it. Slowly, we started to fill it with baby stuff. Shower gifts, a dresser, a crib, a chair. Eventually, the room took on a life of its own when Genevieve Dolores arrived on May 7th, 2011.

The new house is far, far better in every conceivable way. It’s nicer, bigger and, most importantly, it’s ours. It also represents what is yet to come. The large upstairs room is Genna’s, but she will share it with her little sister. God only knows how many more children will live under our new roof and that is a very exciting thought. I have absolutely no regrets about leaving the duplex behind.

That being said, I can’t help but feel sad when I look at this photo. It will always represent the first year (or so) of Genna’s life. It brings back the late night feedings when she was days old, the first time she crawled, the times that I laid down on the rug with her on my chest and many other very specific memories. I really miss the yellow nursery, and I guess I also miss that first year of Genna’s life when every little “first” that took place in that room seemed like a miracle. But I don’t think that this sense of loss will last long. Genna will have many other firsts and she will do incredible things in different places. Plus, with Girl #2 just weeks away, we’ll be going through it all again very soon.

The day after I took the photo above, I emailed it to my mom. She completely understood why I found it so meaningful and responded with this:

“I can remember painting another yellow room, actually Dad did most of it. We painted it for a little baby we didn’t know yet either. Yellow was a good choice then, too. Beautiful and sunny and painted with so much anticipation and love. With animal curtains sewn by Grandma. Your room. It seems like it was just yesterday.”

The cliche holds true: it does seem like it was just yesterday.