It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I think our neighbors are wondering where "Mr. and Mrs. Scrooge" (a.k.a. Craig and Marie Beckerleg) moved to. For ten years of living in the same home, Craig has never put Christmas lights on the house. This year, he discovered a great bunch of brand new lights and those clippy-things that help keep the lights stay put. My mom must have purchased them after Christmas one year and never used them. So while I was napping on Saturday, I woke to discover Craig on the roof hanging beautiful white lights. I am thrilled! I had to take a picture from across the street - he did such a great job. There are 4 bulbs that aren't working, but we'll replace those soon. Murray lit up like the Fourth of July (no pun intended) when he first saw them; "WHOA!" was his response.

I'm reading a book by Wally Lamb, "The Hour I First Believed" (I can't find the underline button). This book is beautifully written and captivated me from the very first sentence. There is one thing about Mr. Lamb's writing style that is driving me bonkers, however. At least once per page, he begins the monologue with a question. For example, he'll write: "This one time? I got off the train at Grand Central? I raced to her apartment. . .". I have no idea why this is bothering me. I pose this question to my talented writer-friends: Is this a common writing technique that I'm unaware of? I realize that my writing needs a lot of work, so I hate to criticize a well-known and published author. I've just never come across anything like this.

I hope that everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving. We certainly did. We spent the day at Maggie's and I'm positive that I haven't laughed so hard or so often in a long time. I even helped her put up her Christmas villages, decorations, and lights. Decorating for any holiday is never high on my priority list, but Mag loves it so I acquiesced and ended up having a ball. Helping her upped my Christmas spirit a notch too. Thanks, sister!

The countdown is on: 24 days until Santa visits!

"One cannot have wisdom without living life."
--Dorothy McCall

Happy Thanksgiving

In honor of Thanksgiving, today's post will be a short list of the many things I'm thankful for, in no particular order:
Faith, family, friends, our pets, good books, support groups, good health, hot coffee, kisses, hugs, unexpected phone calls, good dreams, a roof over our heads, no car payment, God, Facebook, surprise visitors, an awesome bed, CDIOP, lazy Saturday mornings, warm weather, water to drink, my "team", Dr. Rondeau, food to eat, my job, Craig's job, our child-care provider, Pfizer, green grass, hot tea, health, Nick at Nite, Barnes and Noble, good credit, Weight Watchers, Earth, a good hair cut, new socks, a new day, breathing.

This was a fun exercise. I could go on and on - I am truly a blessed person! May you have a healthy, safe and very happy Thanksgiving!

May the new week come to us
For health, life and all good;
May it bring us sustenance, good tidings,
Deliverance and consolations.
--Women's Sabbath Prayer


Murray is a textbook two-year old. I often wonder how we were so blessed to have such a child. Recently, I received a gentle reminder as to who ultimately created our boy:

Murray recently learned how to "honk" noses, thanks to one of his aunts. It's hysterical; until he tries to "honk" complete strangers in the grocery store, or the nice old lady sharing our pew at Mass.

Murray also has a great love of music and dancing. Wherever and whenever we are listening to music, he always wants, "one more?". Much to our chagrin on Sunday (after several attempts to keep him quiet), when the choir finished singing the first hymn, Murray clapped and asked quite loudly, "one more?" several times (we were sitting in the third pew from the front). When it was time to sing the "Alleluia", he joined in with a rousing rendition of "la LOOO la" that lasted throughout the reading of the Gospel. Did I mention we were sitting in the front?

Taking a toddler to church is important. They have to learn sooner or later and it's wonderful to pray together as a family. However, taking a toddler to church is also sweaty work: distracting, funny, exasperating, and at times, even painful. Half of the congregation heard the loud thump that accompanied Murray's screams when he fell off the kneeler and banged his head on the seat of the pew.

The aforementioned events are only a few that happened in an hour's time last Sunday. By the time the final strains of "He is Exulted" were sung, I was sweating, shaking and wondering if we would ever be allowed at Mass again. He had a tantrum during the final minutes of Mass, which seemed like hours. Poor Marcia, who was steadfastly attempting to read the announcements, ended up nearly shouting into the mic.

I learned something wonderful that day. During coffee and community after church, Father Raul stopped by to say good morning. When I asked Murray to say sorry for being loud in church, Father let out a hearty laugh. He said to me, "Marie, he is a child of God. He can be as loud as he needs to be when I am preaching, so do not worry. When Jesus was preaching, there were thousands of people, and no microphones! I would be more upset if you were anxious about the noise he makes during Sunday Mass".

The next time Murray causes a ruckus in church, or anywhere for that matter, I will smile and remember that he is a child of God, instead of being embarrassed by his behavior.

Two Two-Year-Olds

Craig and I had a wonderful mini-getaway. Although Craig had meetings on Friday, I took advantage of a "free" day and went shopping. I can't believe that I actually have a head start on my Christmas list. I'm usually running around frantically on Christmas Eve trying to find the "perfect" gifts. I had lunch with one of my girlfriends, Tricia, that I haven't connected with in a while. It was awesome to catch up (even though I sent her to the Mall of America instead of the Rosedale shopping center - oops).

We went out for dinner on Friday evening, and then had brunch with our friends Amy and Jeff on Saturday. (Amy used to live and work in Fargo, but moved to the cities several years ago). I've missed them so much! Jeff cooked a fantastic meal, and I'm pretty sure he makes the best bloody marys in the tri-state area.

As relaxing as it was to get away for a while, we missed Murray so much that by the time he hit Moorhead, Craig and I were both so excited to see him that I'm surprised we didn't get a speeding ticket. I cannot believe what a little parrot he is. He just loves to show off all the new words he's learning.

Yesterday we went to Mass, watched the Vikes, and then attended our nephew's second birthday party. It was a great party; we're so lucky to have such a great family.

Have a fantastic Monday. I'm counting my blessings today, and there are many!

A Little Dirt Doesn't Hurt

I do believe the 2- year- old birthday party was a success. It was so much fun to be surrounded by our families, especially since Murray had a better sense of what was happening this year. I had hoped to post some pictures today, but of course, I left the camera at home.

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is next week. I feel like one day it was August and the next day the holidays are popping up out of no where. Where did the time go? Much as I love the chaos, every now and then I wish time would just stop for a few minutes.

Speaking of time, remember how I used to be a bit obsessive-compulsive about keeping the house clean? Well, I am the perfect example that people really can change. I am to the point that I really have let go (sometimes, I'll admit, too much) of the housework. Don't get me wrong, I still prefer a neat and tidy home but in a not-so-perfect world, a-not-so perfect house is not an achievable goal. We're too cramped, too busy, and when we do have free time, who wants to spend it cleaning? I have a plan though! My Grandma Kate taught me the following, and it's worked for her, so I'm going to try to implement it in our household. She made a list of chores, and then assigned a day to each chore. For example, Mondays are laundry and dusting, Tuesdays are ironing and vacuuming, Wednesdays are cleaning the bathrooms and scrubbing floors; you get the picture. I just think it's genius. She said that a takes a few weeks to get used to (as does any new habit does) but once you do, it's wonderful. She said most days she's finished her housework by 10am. Isn't that neat? So that's the challenge I've assigned us when we get back from our mini-getaway. Murray is pretty good at picking up his toys when we remind him; now if I can just work on the adults in the house. . .

"Birth Day"

Our boy turns "toooooo" on Saturday. I can't help but reminisce about where we were on November 14, 2007, as well as the days prior to. After all, it's our "birth day" too!
It was a tumultuous (to say the least) time for us. As you know, our darling mother passed away on November 3, 2007. I was hugely pregnant (and when I say huge, I mean enormous). As cloudy as those days were before Mom's funeral, I distinctly remember walking into the maternity store at the mall in search of appropriate attire for her funeral. The sales lady was appalled - she actually said that she had never seen anyone as "pregnant" as I was. Good grief, what a thing to say! I found a knit dress which probably looked hideous, but at least it fit.

The days following the funeral are impossible to describe. We were all completely devastated, though we were filled with joy at the anticipation of our child. I was also completely exhausted - emotionally and physically. Craig and I took many walks around the block (he wouldn't let me stray too far from home) hoping my water would break.
My due date was November 16th. On November 13th, I went to see my beloved OB for my weekly appointment. I went in knowing that I was going to ask her to induce. Before I could say a word, she asked me if I was ready - she had been well aware of our situation and was concerned about my stress level. In no more than thirty seconds, she had my induction scheduled for the following morning.

I hardly slept that night. I was completely confused. Of course I was unbelievably excited to meet our child, but I was also so completely lost in the grief process that I felt like I was living in a cloud. Craig and I left for the hospital early the next morning. It was a strange sensation to know that we were leaving our home as two and would be returning as three.

Dr. R. arrived exactly at 7:00am to attend to the business of inducing labor. My best Grandma Kate and my best Mother-in-law Mary arrived around 11:00am to sit with us. They were so supportive and patient. After a full day of labor, it was time. Everyone except for Craig left the room. After two hours of pushing, Dr. R. decided that the baby's head was too big and a C-section was necessary. At 5:56pm, our beautiful Murray was here. What a miracle! Just before Dr. R. delivered him, she said that we had one last chance to guess the sex. I was sure the baby was a girl; I wanted to name her Kathleen. Well, you all know how that turned out. We had a boy, and Craig suggested that we name him Murray, after my mom's last name. How perfect! I've never heard such a beautiful cry as that of Murray's first wail. Craig went with the nurses while Murray was weighed and cleaned and then promptly brought him to me to see. I was terrified that I would drop him, but Craig was fantastic - I've never met a man more supportive and thrilled than he was. The first time I looked at Murray, I knew that he was exactly what he was supposed to look like. He was so beautiful! Craig followed the nurses around with our new babe and showed him off through the nursery windows to our family.

When I was FINALLY done with post-delivery - which felt like hours, I was literally aching to hold my babe. I was wheeled into recovery where we had a fantastic reception. Craig was holding our son, and our family and friends were there to celebrate. Our labor and delivery nurse asked that everyone leave for a while so that I could recover and we could learn about this little tiny life that we had produced. I learned how to nurse a short time after, and everyone returned to hold our little one. I remember thinking that he was ours! Ours! We brought a life into this world and he's ours! I had never felt God's presence so strong, so intense.

Now that little tiny life will turn two. From nine pounds, two ounces, he now weighs thirty pounds and speaks and throws tantrums and dances and loves most everyone. He's a charming boy and I will never, ever forget a moment of the best day of our lives. Happy Birthday, Murray!

Conflict of Interest - Update

As most of you know, I've recently decided to take part in the March of Dimes fundraiser this year. I received a random call at work one afternoon asking if I would be interested in the MOD's "Jail and Bail" program. I immediately said yes, assuming that the organization is vitally important to pre and post-natal care. Thanks to your generosity, I've raised $170.00 for the cause. I'm grateful to the many individuals that have supported my quest.

Recently, a good friend of mine (who is a faithful Catholic, fellow mom, author, and a very wise woman), enlightened me about the March of Dimes organization. Unfortunately, the MOD supports ideals of which I cannot accept. I have struggled with this decision, but after much research, have decided to opt out of the March of Dimes fundraiser. To those of you who donated: Your online donations will still be received by the March of Dimes. For anyone who mailed a donation, I will shred your check (or mail it back to you if you wish). Again, I do thank you for your generosity, and I apologize for this turn of events and any confusion I may have caused.
Click on Resource Center and search for March of Dimes.

I realize that this is a controversial subject. By no means do I intend to offend any of you. We are all entitled to our beliefs, and I respect yours. I just cannot go through with this after what I've learned. Please contact me if you have questions, concerns, or comments. Again, I thank you for your support, generosity, and understanding.

"When the most important things in our life happen we quite often do not know, at the moment, what is going on." - C.S. Lewis

Boys Will Be Boys

Last Saturday, I went to play bingo with the "ladies" of the family, while Craig, Jon and Troy stayed at home with the boys to watch the Gophers play hockey. This is what I came home to:

It was kind of like watching miniature sumo wrestling. The camera is shaking because I was laughing so hard.

After a while, the boys decided that dancing would be a great idea. We adults weren't so sure:

Life has been crazier than usual with Craig traveling so much. I'm going to tag along on his next trip, hopefully to get some Christmas shopping done. Murray will be staying with my sister so Craig and I have a mini-getaway.

We had a lovely Sunday at the lake, celebrating my Grandpa's birthday. Craig's Grandpa's birthday party was the same day, so we had to split up. I hope they both had a wonderful celebration!

Murray is turning 2 on Saturday and he is very excited. If you ask him how old he will be, he shouts, "TWOOOOO" (while holding up his index finger). We're having a small family gathering to celebrate.

I leave you with this:

"When we are no longer children, we are already dead."

. --Konstantin Brancusi

Up and Coming

Hi faithful readers,

I have a bunch to share, but I've been so busy that I only have time for a super quick post. All is well. Stay tuned - tomorrow will be worth the read!

God bless,

As Long as you Remember Me

As long as you remember me,

my love will fill your heart

and help to ease the sorrow that you feel while we're apart.

With thoughts of me,

perhaps you'll see the wonder of each day,

the joy of sunlit afternoons,

and nature's grand display.

As long as you remember me,

I always will be near

to lend you sweet tranquillity

as nighttime stars appear.

The bond that we have shared will link from me to you

to give you hope for brighter days and strength to see you through.

*Author unknown.

God bless, dear Mom. We will always love you and miss you.

The Aftermath

Maggie and Murray
Fredster and Murray

Mari and Murray

Murray's first trick-or-treating experience went much better than we expected. He loved his costume and when we showed him in the mirror, his face lit up like a Christmas tree. We went to close friends and family members and finally got home at about 10pm with one very tired child.
Despite the crazy night before, he was a perfect angel at church yesterday. Usually we have to take him out. I think sitting closer to the front helps so that he can see what's taking place. He even danced in the pew to the children's choir!
Happy All Souls' Day!