What God Doesn't Tell You

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" they would ask.

"Oh, a doctor, or a nurse, or a lawyer or a teacher, or maybe a cheerleader," I would respond.

Typical child response, right?  It just goes to show that most of the time, we really aren't sure what God has in mind for us.

Because life happens.  You go through a million jobs (exaggeration) and years of college (and a ton of money) that just aren't the right fit.  Oh yes, there were jobs you loved, like bar tending and serving.  But those are high burn-out jobs, and eventually, you realize that those aren't good career choices in which to start a family.

So you switch paths, and become a secretary or sales/executive assistant.  This works well, because you have a challenging, satisfying job, and enjoy going to work every day.

But then, life happens - again.  Mostly, this time it's the economy.  Three layoffs in eighteen months start to wear on your self esteem, even though those "I'm-gently-letting-you-go-because- we're-eliminating-your-position" type bosses tell you that it has nothing to do with you, it's the damn economy, they say, "but, we'll give you the best references."

And so they do.  And you look around for the next best thing, but you're so discouraged, and frankly, scared to take another leap into the unknown.  After all, you're frustrated.  You don't want to go back to work at a mediocre job that you hate, but your choices are limited because that degree just never worked out. 

So you make your family and friends miserable and confused and wondering about your state of sanity while you sit on the couch eating Cheetos, watching soaps and sleeping too much. 

For two whole years.

But then, you get an inspiration: His name is God.  You wake up one day and decide that enough is enough and decide to volunteer at your son's school.  You find that volunteering is so much fun and you just can't get enough, so you offer more; as much as you can give.

You're finally getting out and about and feeling better.

One day, you walk into your place of volunteerism and discover a job opening.  A dream job, one that you would never have thought of.

So you apply for the job, and you wait.  And you pray.  And you still volunteer, because it really is fun.

You get an interview, and then another.  And still, you wait and you pray.  After all, you really want this for your family, but most of all, for yourself.  Because if you feel better, so will your family.

And then, the call comes.  And you cry happy tears.  And jump for joy, and shout out loud.  And you say, "I'm blessed to accept the position."

Then you don your hair net, gloves, and apron, take a bunch of classes and get certified in food safety.  You don't have to worry about smiling, because you just can't help it when you get to go to work every day. 

And that my friends, is how you find your dream job.  It has everything to do with God.

No day is perfect, but mine come pretty darn close.

One of these days, I'll post a picture.  Hair net and all.

Introducing Easton

Introducing our latest foster, Easton.  Welcome, boy!  This guy is the easiest foster we've had (he's our third); well-mannered, well-trained, and he fit right in from the get go.  Plus, he and Rudy get along famously.
Easton arrived at our home on Saturday, November 24, 2012. It was a painful, tearful surrender, as his owner is going through major life changes. That said, he settled in beautifully and is one silly, loveable hound!
It's clear Easton came from a loving home. When we picked him up, he had toys, treats, grooming tools, and a good quality bag of dog food. We know how much he will be missed, but we know how much he will be loved in a new home.
Easton is a five year old, pure bred male Golden Retriever. He's house trained, crated trained (although we haven't set up the crate - he doesn't need it), and loves people, kids, and dogs. He met Rudy without incident, and the two have been playing happily ever since.
Easton knows basic commands and loves to sleep in the bed, but also does fine curled up on the floor next to you. He's food oriented, but doesn't need much training. We haven't walked him on the leash yet (we want him micro chipped first, just in case), but he did well when we met him in the parking lot - no tugging. He has no destructive behavior, but has mild storm anxiety, from what I've told - tries to hide under a bed (although we haven't witnessed that yet). He's great when I'm at work, and is super happy to see us when we come home.
Easton loves to be brushed and groomed and has this cute head of hair that sticks out on top. He loves to play with toys and tennis balls, but is also happy to snuggle with us while we watch tv or hang out in the living room. His favorite thing is to be petted on his front legs and his behind.
We are so thankful to be able to foster this sweet boy.  Welcome to RAGOM, Easton!

Happy Birthday!

Dear Murray,

Happy fifth birthday, little one!  I wanted to write to tell you all about the things that you've accomplished in the last year.

When you were four, you said your name was "Murray Beckerleg Joseph."  This year, you know that it's Murray Joseph Beckerleg.

Last year, you were still at daycare.  This year, you started  kindergarten readiness (full time), and we had your first parent-teacher conferences.  Your teacher told us that if she could have 1,000 kids like you, she would take them all.  All of your other teachers for phys ed, music, and technology reported the same thing.

You have superb manners and show great respect for your friends and elders. 

You can count to 23 without missing a number, and recognize most of the letters in the alphabet.  You even taught me how to play Angry Birds on my phone.

Last year, you couldn't skate without a folding chair to guide you.  Now, you can skate around cones and do basic hockey drills.

You know your address and what city you live in.  We're working on teaching you our phone numbers.

You love the Gopher's and the Vikings (not that Daddy had an influence on you).

You are constantly reminding me that "hate", "stupid", son of a bi***", and "dammit" are not good words to say.  You're patient when I slip, but very worried that I'll say the wrong words.

You are great at reminding me that Jesus is the best, and humbling us.  We love your Catholic education, and we know that you do, too!

Murray, you a sweet, kind, and gentle boy.  Your Daddy and I are so very proud of you, and so very blessed to be your parents.  We will never forget the day, just five years ago, that we left for the hospital as a family of two, and came home as a family of three.  I have to admit, I cried a little today, thinking about how fast you are growing up. 

But they were happy tears, little one, because you bring so much joy to our lives.

Happy birthday!

Beckerleg Family Update and St. Gianna's

I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted.  I was on such a roll for a while, and then that crazy thing called employment happened.  Not to mention a child involved in school.  Why didn't any of you other parents warn us how busy life would get when the kid started school?  I can't imagine how you function with more than one kiddo at your home!

For instance, just today:

I worked, Craig was an election judge, (left home at 5:30 a.m.), Murray had a playdate at our house, an hour later the babysitter arrived, I went back to work for a meeting, then put in some extra work time, met Craig at school for our first ever parent/teacher conferences, we both went to vote, and finally, Craig and I snuck away for an adult beverage (we were home by seven - who can stay out late with all of this activity?).  Tomorrow is hockey practice, Thursday I have handbell choir practice, Friday is the family birthday party for Murray and his cousin, Saturday is Murray's friend birthday party, Sunday is Mass and the Veteran's Day celebration, and then, we start all over.

Granted, we won't have birthdays every week, but the holidays are right around the corner.  Here we go.


Murray's conferences were awesome.  He's proficient in math, journaling, reading, sciecne, art, phy ed, music, and social skills.


My new job is amazing.  This, in day two of being on my own, I love, love, love working at St. Joseph's School.  My days fly by, and I am slowly making my own way.


Craig and I are again collecting donations for the second annual St. Gianna's Maternity Home fundraiser. Can you help?  We (Criag and myself) pay for all shipping costs and are more than happy to drive to pick up donations or pay you for postage if you would like to mail them.  We keep all of your information private and will provide a tax deductible receipt.  Contact us at marie.beckerleg@gmail.com or beckercr@mnstate.edu.  Following are two links; one, to get you to realize our mission, and second, to view their needs:


This cause is near and dear to our hearts.  We would like to receive donations (including gently used toys and books) by December 15th, so that they'll arrive before Christmas. 


Happy election day!


It's True

I went back to work outside the home today.  I know, I know, don't fall over when you read this; it's true.  I really did it.  And I couldn't be happier.

It all began when Murray started school this fall.  I was ever so tired of sitting here at home, twiddling my thumbs.  So, I decided to volunteer at Murray's school, a Catholic school, which Craig and I believe very deeply in.

I immediately fell in love being there each day.  I had a purpose again, and that purpose suited me perfectly (selfish as it sounds); the hours were perfect and so was the work.  I got to help kids in the lunch room, assist the school's administrative assistant, and give basic first aid to the kids in the nurse's office.

One snowy morning about three weeks ago, while driving Murray to school, I offered up special prayers that a position at St. Joseph's Catholic School would open.  God was quick on answering this particular prayer.  As soon as I walked into the cafeteria for my volunteer shift, the current head cook explained that she was leaving for a different job. 

I immediately applied for the head cook position, and impatiently awaited the interview process, knowing in my heart that this was for me.  After all, I love children, I love to cook, and most importantly, I love that Murray spends each day in an environment that cherishes God.  I wanted to be a part of this great community.

Last week, I was offered the job. I accepted.  Thank you, to my dear friends who offered up prayers on my behalf.  You know who you are.

Anyway, today was my first day.  I knew I would love it when I applied, but now, I love it even more.  Yes, I'm sure there will be days that are trying, but that happens with any job.  That said, my soul truly feels fulfilled.  I have waited for this for a very long time. 

How awesome is it to be able to go to church, work, and your kid's school at the same time, all while providing healthy meals for children? 

It's pretty darn awesome.

My Personal Symphony

I'm not usually awake at this hour, but well, here I am.  Wide awake.  Here's why:

I crawled into bed tonight and snuggled in.  The house was cozy and dark, and locked up tight, but still, I couldn't sleep. It was too noisy!

Murray was breathing heavily from his room across the hall, Craig was gently snoring (in my ear and not so gently), and Rudy, well, he was exhausted and groaning with happiness while lying on my feet.  The wind was howling, competing with the roar of the furnace.

So, I drowned out the noise (or tried to) and said my prayers.  And then, it occurred to me.  It might be noisy, but it's my very own symphony.   These are the sounds that my loved ones make, and I couldn't be more grateful.  It's my lullaby. 

Sweet dreams.

My Friend Zoe

Craig travels quite a bit for work.  It didn't take long to learn that it's much cheaper to rent a car than it is to drive our ancient gas-hog Durango around the state of Minnesota.  So, once or twice a month, he rents a car from Enterprise.  It's a great way to test drive all models of cars, and they're usually brand new.  He's gotten to know the rental agent, Zoe, pretty well over the years.

So this morning, he informed me that he had a reservation at Enterprise for 10:00 a.m., and that I should be ready to take him to pick up the car.  Craig is very prompt, so I was surpised when 10:15 rolled around and he wasn't home.  I called his cell and his office, no answer.  10:30 - still no Craig.  I was starting to get worried that we'd lose our reservation, so I called Enterprise to explain the situation.

Me:  Hi, Zoe, this is Marie Beckerleg, Craig's wife?  We were supposed to pick up our car at 10:00,  but I can't find my husband, and frankly, I'm a little worried about him.  Can we still pick it up when I track him down?

Zoe:  Oh, don't worry, Marie.  He called me this morning and said that he had a meeting at 9:30, and wanted to push back the reservation to 11:00.  He's just fine.

Me (laughing sheepishly):  Well, at least you know where he's at.  I guess he forgot about informing his wife of the time change.  I've been waiting for almost an hour.

Zoe (laughing): Glad I could help.  Would you like me to relay any messages when he comes in?

Me:  Yes, please sit him down and explain about communicating with his wife, and not just our rental agent.

Zoe:  You bet I will; I have the same problem with my husband.  Have a good trip!

She gave us this nice Camry:

And some tips on communication as well.

Raise the Flag For Jesus

Murray singing:  "Raise the flag for Jesus, raise the flag for Jesus.  Yayayayaya!  I yuv you, Jesus.  Bwess us our Yourd (Lord) for these the gifts and bounty through Christ your Yourd, name of FatherSonHoweeSpeertAmen."

This, while running around in the back yard yielding his bike flag, screaming about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. 

I can't complain.  The following conversation ensued:

Murray:  "Mom, did Jesus come down to see us?"

Me:  "Yes, Murray, he sure did.  God sent his only son to save us from our sins; the things that we do that aren't good, and to make us happy."

Murray:  "I know, Mama, Jesus was very hurt, the bad guys were mean, but then God made him better and He come back to us.  God is the best."

Apparently, Catholic school education is paying off.


When I was in kindergarten, birthdays were a big deal.  But if you had a summer birthday, it meant that you didn't get to wear the birthday crown, be the line leader, or bring special treats from home to share.  Thankfully, I had a pretty awesome teacher, who celebrated our "half" birthdays, for those of us turning another year older when school wasn't in session.  My big day came on January 13th that year, and  I remember being over-the-top excited. My mom made her special homemade blueberry muffins, and I proudly led my class to snack time, and then passed out the coveted treats.

Just as I was sitting down, I leaned over and threw up.  Everywhere.  And then I cried.

My mom picked me up, dried my tears, took me home, and snuggled me into the special sick bed that she always made for us.

I can still feel the disappointment.

Fast forward 20 odd years.  At Murray's school, the kids rotate snack days, so the "summer birthday syndrome" isn't a problem.  Even so, when Murray learned that yesterday was his turn to be the snack guy, he was overcome.  He literally skipped to school, unpacked his "pack pack" (back pack), and smiled proudly when he handed over the pudding cups we had purchased (sadly, due to risk of illness, the days of homemade treats are over.  Everything must be store bought and sealed).

It sounds silly, but to an almost five year old, it was huge. And because I remembered how excited I was at his age, I could completely relate.  Thankfully, he didn't throw up.

Later in the day, during free time, he chose to play dress up (his teacher set up a Shutterfly account; I love that she's documenting the kids' days so parents can see what they're doing). 
I think he should go on a calendar as the cutest fireman ever

When he got home, all he could talk about was how much the kids loved snack that day.  I grinned, feeling his excitement and pride.  Things like this might be small to us big people, but to the little people, it's huge.

Welcome to my first ever "back to school" post.  I'm sure there are a million other mommy blogs covering the topic today, but since it's our first of many school years to come, humor me, please.

I feel like summer just started, but sadly, it's "officially" over.  Some highlights of one of the best summers we've ever had:

When we're at the lake (my Grandparents' beautiful home), from sun up until sun down, fishing is Murray's favorite past time.
 Coming in at close second though, is swimming and hot tubbing.

Even Rudy gets in on the action.

So, it was with a few tears yesterday, that we left the lake and prepared for Murray's first year of school.  It's silly, I know, but I've never been good at change.  And, though I'm often made fun of for being over-emotional, I can't help but feel a bit sad. 

 Our first ever back to school picture, on the sidewalk in front of our home.
 And of course, we had to take one at school. Sorry about the glare - I was too nervous to get a different angle.
Standing by his backpack (or pack pack, as he calls it) and his very own hook.

I tried to get a picture of him sitting at his desk, but I couldn't see through my happy/sad tears and pushed delete by accident.  Oops.

It's a bittersweet time in our lives.  Big changes, but good changes.  Yes, there were tears when Craig and I dropped him off this morning (not only mine, but Murray's, too), but we know without a doubt that we left him in good hands.  I'm excited for him, I really am. Our love for this boy is so deep, so profound, so miraculous.

I can't wait until 2:45 today to hear all about his very first day at "schoo-uh."

Really? I Did it Again?

I did it again.  Darn it!

I put the memory chip into the wrong slot in the computer.  Craig is not happy.

He'll take apart the entire computer, retrieve the memory chip, and put everything back together, so that I can continue taking poor quality pictures, and uploading them here.

I think that was a run-on sentence.


For now, I leave you with our little Golden Gopher, who is about to begin his first school year at St. Joseph's. 
Craig and Murray, winter, 2007.

Murrayisms - The Latest

On using the bathroom:
"Mom, potty, potty potty!  I have to go NOW, I just tooted!"

On swearing:
Craig:  "Oh, that's right, I have to fix that damn thing before we leave."
Murray:  "What damn thing, Daddy?"

On sharing:
"Mom, you can share my heethow, okay?"  (A "heethow" is a pillow...we're not sure why he has trouble with that word)

On love:
"Dad, I love you and Mom and Rudy SO much!"

On discipline:
"You are NOT BEING NICE, Mama!"

On naps:
On our school tour two weeks ago, the leader asks if any of the adults had any questions.  Murray raises his hand and asks, "Do I have to take a nap at schoo-uh?"

On the great outdoors:
"Mom, I yuv the yake. When can we go fishing?"

On the 1950's:
"Hey!  You're a beatnik!  Agitate the gravel, you beatnik!"  (Thanks, Uncle Pat, for this one).

On his obsession with my beautiful college-age cousin, Brenna:
"Where's Brenna?  Mom, when can I see Brenna?  Why isn't Brenna here? Mom, I want to sit by Brenna. Brenna, can you take me fishing?"  Repeat.  Repeat again.

On nature:
"Isn't my baby worm SO CUTE? (high pitched voice).  Hi, sweetie!"

On bedtime:
Craig:  "Murray, that's it!  Go to sleep!"
Murray: "But dad, I can't, my mind works too fast and I can't stop thinking."

On 1980's cartoons:
"I am Optimus Prime!  You can call me Optimus, okay?  Go Autobots!"

Murray, you are a bright, funny, sweet, and yes, maddening little boy. We love you more than you could ever know.  Or, as you like to say, "I love you out of this earth!"

Us too, kiddo, us too.


Emma, our latest foster dog, went to her forever home recently.  You can read a bit about her here.

A huge thanks to my Grandpa and Grandma for letting us use their beautiful home as a meeting place for us and Emma's new family.

If you've been following, you'll remember that our family volunteers for Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota (RAGOM), which is a rescue organization for Golden Retrievers and Golden Retriever mixes.  RAGOM serves several states, including Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa.  Emma arrived in March, and she was our second foster.

Here she is:

Emma was rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri.  She was one of 29 Golden Retrievers out of 500 other dogs that were being auctioned off in the liquidation of a commercial breeding facility. 

Emma came to us not socialized, terrified of humans and basically helpless.  Many of the gals rescued were pregnant, and the rest were very young. I should add that every single dog was met in the cities at RAGOM headquarters and was triaged. Meaning, they were assessed for wellness and pregnancy, received rabies vaccinations, and treated for any infections such as fleas, worms, etc..  

Emma's short life (she was six months old when she was rescued) consisted of living in a 4x6 kennel run.  Her food was literally thrown in her cage, and she was never allowed out to play, be free, or even take a simple walk.  Her only purpose in life was to give birth.  Thankfully, she was rescued before she was bred.

When Emma arrived at our home, she was under weight, terrified and sick.  The only way we could get her to come out of her crate was to let our resident Rudy, and our foster Molly, coax her out.  After all, other dogs were all she had ever known.  Humans scared her to death.  To get her in and out of our house to let her "use the facilities", we had to prop our door open, and Craig, myself, and Murray, would have to hide in another room so that she felt comfortable enough to follow our other dogs.  She didn't even know how to use the stairs.  This went on for months. 

At first, Emma didn't drink or eat for days.  For a six month old, malnourished puppy, this was very scary, but we had 24 hour access to top-notch vet care, all at the expense of RAGOM.  We also were connected with a list serve and hotline so that we could connect with other fosters who were dealing with the same issues.

It was baby steps for sweet Emma.

First, we worked to get her to drink water, because she refused to eat.  It took over 30 hours upon her arrival, but she finally took several tentative laps of water.   The first time I heard her little laps, I cried happy tears.  I was so afraid for her; worried that she would need to be vetted and hydrated via IV, which would have sent her into even worse anxiety. 

Next, we were on to food.  I tried each day, several times a day, to get her to eat.  We started with smelly treats like hot dog pieces and peanut butter crackers, which she would not take from our hand - her little nose was buried in the far corner of her crate -  we gently placed them close to the outside of her bed.  We mixed her dry puppy chow with cottage cheese, peanut butter, broth, or green beans. After the first few days, I would sit by her crate and hold my hand out to coax her to eat.   When she mastered taking food and treats from my hand, she began to eat out of a bowl while in her crate, and finally, she got brave enough to eat her meals outside of her crate, with Rudy across the room, and us in the same vicinity.  It doesn't sound like much, but for a girl like her, it was huge progress.  Keep in mind, this took several weeks.

Once she began to eat, we worked on socializing her.  What a task that was!  It took months, but she finally would come to me on her own for pets, and she loved, loved, loved Murray.  Craig?  Not so much.  We think that men were part of her scary upbringing, as every time Craig would open our chain link fence, she would cower and bark.  She got over it, though it took longer for her to get used to Craig than it did Murray and me.  It turned out that she was the most comfortable with Murray, and she began to follow him everywhere.  She was his "velcro" dog.

When she finally decided that she could pretty much trust us, the puppy in her emerged.  It's been over 20 years since a pup has been in my life, and I forgot how much of a challenge they can be.  The chewing, the jumping, the barking, oh the barking, the counter-surfing, the hoarding of objects, and did I mention the chewing?  Oh, and I can't forget the potty training.  Miss Emma was quite the handful.  That said, the fact that she finally was brave enough to be naughty made my heart soar.  She lost her timid nature and was getting confident enough to test us (much to our chagrin).

The experience with Emma has taught us a lot, and we are blessed to have had her, challenging as she was.  It was wonderful to watch her grow and change, even though we had our moments.

Fostering dogs is certainly not for everyone.  Trust us, Emma was our most challenging foster so far, but we'll continue to work with RAGOM.

Even Craig has accepted fostering and has found pleasure in loving these dogs (though, we've agreed to not foster a puppy again). We'll take a break until we find a hound who will be a good fit for Rudy and our family.   I know that a lot of people think we're crazy, but after helping two (to this date) sweet gals find their forever home, we can't help but look forward to helping lead another pup to The Golden Life.  Animals don't have a voice, but as humans, we can speak for them.

Rescue, Re-home, Repeat.



Why the Olympics Are Good For A Marriage

Craig and I don't have a lot in common when it comes to TV shows.  He likes confusing, action-packed dramas (i.e. "24") and I like girly sitcoms (i.e. "Mike and Molly").  Often times, in the winter, you'll find us in separate rooms watching our respective favorite shows.  In the summer though, we are usually outside and rarely do we have the TV on, except for the news.  Oh, and we do like to compete at "Wheel of Fortune".  Even Murray likes it; he calls it "The Price of the Wheel." 

But when the Olympics started last Friday, we found ourselves glued to the TV (in the middle of summer - gasp!).  Craig even hooked up another TV on the deck so we could have the best of both worlds.  Steak on the grill and the Olympics all while enjoying gorgeous weather?  Yes please.

These days, our evenings consist of staying up way too late, anxiously watching to see if Phelps will win the gold, or if Wieber will make the all-around (sadly, she did not - stupid rules).  Long after Murray is in bed, Craig and I are still awake, cheering on the U.S.A..  We have friendly debates about foreign countries and policy, and the merits of beach volleyball.  Sometimes, our chatter turns to serious topics such as "why that U.S. Men's gymnast guy is obsessed with his blankie towel and keeps getting kisses from his coach/father".  Does anyone else think this is strange?

After ten years together, we had no idea that the  2012 Olympics would bring out the best in our marriage.   

Watching the Olympics is a lot cheaper than marriage counseling.

Only two years until the winter games.  I think we can hold out.


A Girl and Her Dog

I lost Rudy for a while tonight.

I was terrified.  This has never, ever, happened with him.

Rudy is what I call a "velcro dog", meaning he never leaves my side. He follows me everywhere, sleeps in our bed (much to Craig's chagrin), and he thinks he's human/kangaroo (you should see his leap).  And if I'm not home?  He's right next to Craig and Murray.  He was my Mom's dog for many years, but when she died, I wouldn't let anyone else take him.   He is still my Mom's dog, but he's mine by proxy.

I digress.  He scared the life out of me today.  Here is what happened:

Rudy and his foster sister, Emma, were in our fenced-in back yard while I was making a late dinner for Craig and myself. The hounds tend to be a bit of a tripping hazard in the kitchen, so I put them outside until I was ready to serve supper to all humans and canines.   When I went to bring both dogs back into the house, Emma pranced in, but Rudy wasn't there. 

Again, this has never, ever happened with our Rudy.  If any of the two dogs were going to bolt, it would have been ten month old Emma (our foster).

I was frantic. I checked both gates, and they were secure.  There were no signs of digging under the the fence, so I could only derive that Rudy had finally gotten brave enough to leap the four foot fence.

Craig wasn't home yet, so I couldn't go looking for Rudy, because Murray was already in bed.  I was sick to my stomach at the thought of losing our gentle giant. 

My neighbors were on vacation, so no help there, either.  I called our local radio station -  who are famous for "pet patrol" -  and listed my information. I was ready to call the local vets and pounds, when I heard the sweet sound of a familar, sharp bark.  My heart soared.

Yep, it was my Rudy, standing outside of the gate, looking at me with a silly grin that told me that he had a had a pretty great romp into unknown territory. I wondered how many squirrels and rabbits he  had "played too hard" with on his adventure.  He may have made me crazy scared, but I just couldn't be mad at him, because after all, he came back.

  He was pretty tired after his adventure:

From now on, I think we need a higher fence.  Old dogs CAN learn new tricks.


Here at the Murray's Momma household, we've been enjoying a pretty awesome summer.  The weather has been wonderful, even if a bit on the way-too-hot side at times, but it's been perfect lake weather.  Sadly, the summer is flying by, and I'm not quite prepared for the changes that the fall will bring.

This will be Murray's first year of school.  Pre-school, yes, but still it's school.  Full time pre-school.

When we enrolled him last winter, I was confident that he was ready.  I thought I was ready, too.   Our parish school has a wonderful pre-school program, and he will attend Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m..  We toured the school, met with teachers, and we were all pumped when he was accepted.

But that was in February, and at that time, his school days seemed so very far way.  Here we are at the end of July, and it suddenly hit me that again, time has gone way too fast.

When we got home from the lake last weekend, I opened my email and found a note from Murray's school.  It was an email similar to those that probably every parent of a school-aged child receives this time of year; listing school supplies, dress code, back-to-school night dates, etc., but it was a first for me. 

That's when I realized: I am so not ready for this.  Murray is, but I'm not.

He went from this:

November 14, 2007

To this:

July 22, 2012

And to get from then to now, it's taken 4.5 very short years.

I know he will be fine, and even thrive.  Excuse the cliche, but he's just growing up so fast.  He has so much to look forward to, and as parents, we do, too.  We did bring him into this world knowing that some day, we'd have sit a bit farther back in the bleachers.   I'm just having a hard time letting go.

Murray is crazy excited.  He loves to talk about "St. Joe's" (his school) and all that he'll learn.  I'm excited for him, too, just a little bit anxious about entering this new whole world.

For now, we'll enjoy the rest of summer, and I'll keep writing on this blog, so that someday, when he graduates from high school and college, he can look back at laugh at what an emotional wimp his Mom was.

And, I suppose I should make a trip to Target for school supplies. 

How I Met Your Father - A Fairy Tale

Dear Murray,

Once upon a time, I fell in love.

When I was twenty-two years old, I met a man.  I was working as a bartender at a local restaurant.   It was 4:35 p.m. on a Thursday (I know the time because we  always turned down the lights in the bar at 4:30 p.m., and I was a little late that day).  He was there for a business meeting, and he ordered a Jim Beam and Coke.  I made his drink and served his colleagues -he bought the round - and we bantered back and forth in typical bartender/customer fashion.   The man and I flirted a bit, and then he went to table fifteen and proceeded with his meeting. From my perch behind the bar, I watched him, hoping we would make eye contact just once more.  We didn't.

I finished my shift at 6:30 p.m., and decided that it was just a silly flirtation with the nice, cute man.  After all, at that time in my life, I had decided to take a break from dating. 

But then.  A magic fairy intervened.  Serendipity, I tell you.

Later that night, I went to a local pub to have a quick beer with two of my best guy friends (one, an ex-boyfriend, but still good friend).  I was just ready to head home, and a man stopped by our table.  He was the same cute guy I that I had served a drink and flirted with at work.  Turns out, he used to coach my two friends at softball, and had known them for a long time.  I didn't look very nice after getting off my shift after a long day of bar tending. It was the middle of winter and I was wearing a huge coat and really warm sweatpants and a t-shirt. I had thought I was just going to head over for a quick after-work beer, then head home. It was pretty obvious that I wasn't on the prowl, looking for a date.  Nope, not this time. 

The man said, "Hey, it's you! 

And I said, "Hey, it's you!

And he said, "Wanna dance?"

And I said, "Sure!"

So we danced.  And we danced.  And we danced some more.

And he said, "Wanna get coffee?"

And I said, "Sure!"

And so, over eggs and coffee, in a booth in a crappy diner at 2 a.m., I fell in love.

I'll never forget the first message he left on my answering machine: "Hi Craig, this is Marie. I just wanted to see if we could still get together. I'm working this morning, but my number is 555-4659." 

Is that not adorable? He was obviously nervous.

I was thrilled to have heard from him so soon, so I called the number.  The number had been disconnected.  It turns out that the number was 555-4569.  Not only had he transposed our names, but the numbers, too.  We didn't reconnect that weekend, and slightly brokenhearted, I moved on.

I wrote the word "number" a lot in that last paragraph.  Anyway.

It took 3 weeks for that man to come back into the bar where I worked, and at that time, I had pretty much given up.  He was with my two best guy friends that I told you about, and they were playing matchmaker.  The problem was, I had been on a few dates with the singer of a local band, and he happened to be there at the same time, visiting me at work.  It was a bit, erhm, awkward.

It worked for the best for me, though.  The man wrote down the correct phone number, and our mutual friend quietly slipped the piece of paper to me.  That evening, I gently told the "band guy" that it wasn't going to work out, and I called the "other guy" the next day.

The "other guy" is your Dad. 

Ten years after falling in love with the "other guy", I couldn't be happier.  He's smart, athletic, strong, handsome, handy, charming, funny, a wonderful father and my best friend. 

Plus, he does the laundry and cooks.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't all roses and hearts, and it's certainly not always a fairy tale.  Marriage is hard work, sacrifice, and compromise.  But, it's worth the hard work, the sacrifice, and the compromise.

We are happily every after.

The End.


It all started with no nap.  Things went worse over a peanut butter sandwich.

Murray might be four, but he's one of those kids that just needs good sleep.  When he doesn't have enough rest, tantrums ensue, and life for all of us is a lot more difficult than necessary.

Craig has been traveling again, so Murray and I were on our own today.  My sister-in-law, nephew (also four), and baby niece spent the day with us.  What a relief it was to have a sane adult on my side.  Four years old just plain stinks.

Worst. Age. Ever.

And yes, before you ask, we do discipline.  As a matter of fact, we don't put up with much.  In my opinion, anyway.

I digress.  The boys did pretty well, despite the fact that they didn't have a nap.  There was the typical arguing and fighting, but when all was said and done, we had a pretty fun day.

It was when Murray's cousin left that started the drama.  First, Murray passed out on the couch.  Yay!  Two hours later, Craig came home from his trip and woke him up.  Nay!

I wanted to send Craig to the North Pole because I was so mad at him for waking the sweet sleeping boy.  I just knew Murray was going to be a bear when he woke up.

I wasn't wrong.  He was a bear on steroids.

What does Craig not understand about the concept of "never wake a sleeping baby"?  Granted, Murray isn't a baby anymore, but still!  Don't wake up the child, unless it's an emergency.

So, Murray wakes up hungry and demands a peanut butter sandwich.  I tell him to say "please"  but he just couldn't handle saying a one-word polite response, so off he goes to his room, in a time out,  yelling at me and crying hysterically.

Really, I only wanted a "please".  How hard is that?

It took an hour, but he finally got his peanut butter sandwich.  Really, kid?  I've said please AND thank you for a chili-cheese burrito from Taco Bell.  Good grief.

The point is, good behavior and manners are a must in this house. 

But so is a nap.  Obviously.

Dear Mom - Happy Birthday

Dear Mom,

Fifty-five years ago, on this day, you were born. Almost five years ago, you went to Heaven.

As a tiny newborn, no one had any idea of exactly what you would accomplish.

You tackled the world.  Independent, strong, and gentle at the same time, you made your own way.  You were an amazing Mother, and I will never forget the lessons that you quietly taught me, in your stern but patient manner.

I have so many amazing memories, and then, I have to admit, I have some that weren't so great (who doesn't in a parent/child relationship?), and I bet you do too!  That said, our mother/daughter relationship was really the best of the best. I have no regrets.

Remember when you would french braid my hair and get frustrated because I wasn't holding the pony-tail holder right where you needed it?

Then, there was the time that you were so sad about the divorce from my dad. You were trying to be cheerful,  when I caught you silently sobbing (you didn't believe in crying out loud or in public), trying to be strong for us girls.  Remember how you were holding a spoonful of whipped cream, and when we went in for a hug, it made a big "splat" on the floor?  We all giggled together through our tears.  Laughter is the best medicine.

Our special times at the lake will remain forever in my heart.  I still sit in the exact same spot that you used to sit on the dock at the lake, and God help the person who sits there instead of me.  Crack a Keystone Light for me!

I remember when you were taking your Minnesota boards, and we stopped at a picnic area on the way to St. Paul.  Then, we proceeded to drive around the same circle for an hour, and though we could see the building you needed to get to, we just couldn't quite figure out the St. Paul traffic.  You got us there, though.  You always got us where we needed to be.  And you know what?  You still do.

Our road trips are by far my favorite, because that's when we could talk without distraction.  We could talk, and talk and talk - for hours, driving to see Maggie, driving to a holiday weekend, driving to the lake.  We may have crashed into a deer or two (which made us all cry - once, you got out and petted one until it was gone), but we always made it safely.

You could take a bad guy out like no one.  You might not have looked intimidating, but by God, you were the last person a criminal wanted to get mixed up with.  Good grief, some of the things that you did would make a person fall over, just thinking about it.  But, I knew you, and I never was afraid for you.  If anyone could protect us, it was you.  And you did.  Always.

I miss our daily phone conversations; I will forever.  Instead of hearing your voice before I crawl into bed at night, I talk to you in my prayers.  You taught me that, too.  "When we can't be together, we'll be together in spirit.  Wrap your arms around yourself, and know that it's me hugging you.  We're under the same moon and stars," you told me...over and over.  I know you are still there, watching out for us.

You made the absolute best sandwiches in the world.  In fact, I loved everything you ever cooked.  No mayo for the Murray gals! Must have lean meat, cheese, and lettuce. I miss your cooking so very much, but I model my methods after yours.  I love following your recipes in your handwriting, and remembering your hands measuring, pouring, and stirring.  Although, I admit, I have to add quite a bit of garlic and spices to please Craig's palate.  But, I know you know that.   

Remember when I was sixteen and bought the duckling?  You were ever so supportive, and let me keep it; Tucker was his name.  We were both surprised when it followed me everywhere - swimming in the lake, following me around our yard, and even sleeping in the house with a diaper.  When it turned out to be a goose, you set up a home for it in the backyard.  That was you, Mom, a tender heart to all animals and humans.

The day that we found out that you were sick, I never once gave up hope, not ever.  While everyone was preparing for the worst, I just couldn't stand to think of life without you.  I know you weren't scared - you were never scared of much - but you were "damn mad", as you told us.

You had hundreds of people in and out of your ICU room to say goodbye, and I'll always remember how you insisted on brushing your teeth and grooming yourself before anyone visited.  You were brilliantly beautiful, even in your last hours.  Even Rudy thought so, when he visited you in the hospital for the last time.

My heart hurts, Mom, and I will never, ever forget who you were or stop loving you.  You were my light, my guide, my wisdom.  When I come to a situation that confuses me, or face a decision that I scares me, I think of you what you would have advised me to do.  You taught me well, and those lessons will remain with me forever.  Still, I will never be as good as you. 

Oh, one more thing.  I just read this to Murray, and he wants to tell you how much he loves you.  We all do.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy, when skies are gray.
You'll never know, Mom, how much I love you,
Please don't take my sunshine away.

The other night dear, while I lay sleeping,
I dreamt I held you in my arms.
But when I woke up,
I was mistaken,
And I hung my head I and I cried.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy, when skies are gray.
You'll never know, Mom, how much I love you,
Please don't take my sunshine away.  -Jimmie Davis

Sleep tight and be at peace, dear Mama,
Marie, Craig, Murray, and Rudy


I love kids.  I really do.  Trust me, I spent about 5 hours in the pool today with children aged 1-8.  It was awesome.

But you know what?  Sometimes, as much as I love my own child, there are times when I really don't like him.  He's four, and four year old boys are impossible. 

Four year old boys break things, make horrible messes, they don't listen, they laugh at you when disciplined,  they say bad words (I think they get that from me - son of a bitch comes out of my mouth frequently), they toot in public and think it's hysterical, and they generally act on the ridiculous side; you know really silly (which is SO annoying).

We can lecture, scold, give time outs, spankings, and take away favorite toys, but at four, they just laugh in your face, no matter how stern mean we parents are. 

It's maddening! Four is the WORST age ever. 

But then, when I'm fed up beyond belief, my four year old will look at me with the sweetest expression and say, "Mama, you are SO pretty!"

I'll take it.  For now. 

While Walking Duncan - A Guest Post, Sort Of

Note:  This post is long overdue.  My host site had problems for over a week, and then we went on vacation.  I'm so excited to share this with you!

I'd like to introduce you to my blogger friend, Curt.  Curt and I met through the power of the Internet.  His Dad, a man I worked with years ago, sometimes posts links to Curt's blog, www.whilewalkingduncan.com. on Facebook.  As soon as I discovered Curt, I knew we were kindred spirits.

Curt and I  both blog, and we both love Golden Retrievers.  Curt writes about his adventures with Duncan, his Golden Retriever, his partner, Ken , and all about life in general.  Curt, like me, suffers from General Anxiety Disorder.  Curt is is honest, he's pragmatic, and he has a heart of gold.  And,  the man can WRITE!  This is a snippet of Curt's thoughts on GAD:

Anyone who suffers from anxiety knows that it's a truly horrific experience that changes your entire perception of the world. Nothing is safe and even when there doesn't appear to be any anxiety the fear of it returning becomes even worse than the anxiety itself. The world becomes your enemy. Tasks that most people take for granted, things I'd done daily, like drive to work, or watch television, go to movies, visit friends, walk Duncan, become impossible. I spent three miserable months holed up, hardly venturing outside, watching as Ken struggled to be brave and patient and comprehend what was happening. - Curt Rogers - www.whilewalkingduncan.com

Isn't he amazing?  When I first read this, I felt as though he had written the words directly out of my head.  This is what I've been trying to put on paper for a very long time, but I just couldn't find the words.

This is not an "I'm feeling sorry for myself post", because self-pity is not something I feel when I go through these phases.  What I do feel is terrified, anxious (obviously), helpless and guilty.  Depression and anxiety go hand in hand for me.  Trust me, I don't want my worst enemy to struggle with this, and it makes me sad that my loved ones have to suffer because of my issues. 

Curt has found a tactic that helps him, and it's pretty neat.  Read more here:  http://whilewalkingduncan.blogspot.com/2012/05/feathers-for-flight.html

Myself, I'm working with essential oils, medication, a gluten-free diet, self-affirmation, and therapy.

My point is, if you suffer from GAD, depression, or any other condition, speak out!  We need to communicate. We can only help one another by talking and sharing ideas.  We're all human.

Special thanks to Curt for letting me share his thoughts.

God Speed.


Test Post.

Teach Your Children Well

By now, you've heard the story of Karen Klein, the school bus monitor from Rochester, NY, who was viciously bullied by her charges.  When I watched the story on The Today Show, and then watched the You Tube video, I cried.  I was sick to my stomach, all the while trying to imagine what these youngsters were thinking when they said the vile things they said.  Then there's the latest incident, involving the 9/11 Memorial :  http://www.newser.com/story/148814/nyc-teens-trash-911-memorial.html

We strive to teach Murray to have respect for all (humans and animals), good manners, and most importantly, compassion and acceptance.  At the tender age of four, we still have some control over how he behaves.  But what happens when he's six?  Or ten?  Or fifteen?  We obviously can't control his behavior when we're not around.

I can only pray that the lessons we teach Murray now will carry forward...and beyond. 

What do you think?  Are the parents to blame?  Or, were they just being typical teens and pre-teens acting out? 


Let's go back in time, just for a bit.

When Craig and I first shared a home, we slept in a small water bed.  Yes, a water bed.  When the heater in the bed quit, we still slept there, with quilts covering the bladder of the water bed.  I didn't mind at all, because the smaller the bed, the closer we were (ahem).   After about six months though, the novelty wore off and I lost my patience with the damn thing (can we say freezing!).  We threw it out and used a previously owned, queen sized mattress that I had kept in storage.

Fast forward two years.  We decided that a new bed was in order, so we went shopping.  Craig fell in love with the queen version of bed heaven - cashmere pillow top - while I was happily testing the king sized version of bed heaven.  Thinking my money conscious husband would agree with the queen version - more room for snuggling - he surprised me, and together, we purchased the enormous king version.  I really thought I had won the lottery.

As it turned out, he's really not a cuddling type of man.  Boy, was I fooled!

After our first fabulous night sleeping in our huge bed, I woke to Craig delightfully declaring, "I need a map to find you!"  I'm still not sure if that's a compliment.

As much room as we have in the great giant bed, there is never enough.  I like to sleep with about twenty-two feather pillows and lots of air conditioning, while Craig likes to heat himself to death and steal half of my pillows.  I like to cuddle while I sleep, while Craig thinks nothing short of shoving me off of my side of the bed.  On early weekend mornings when Murray is finally invited into our bed, we might as well not sleep.  He kicks, he pokes, and he grunts and snores.  Then, at some point, Rudy jumps in with us. 

Despite this?  I wouldn't change a thing.  Plus, Craig still has his own space.  He can always sleep on the couch.

Sleep tight!


It's been much too long since I've posted.  The reason?  Well, I'll get to that in another post.  For now, let's talk happy things.

Today I turned 32 years old.  Considering that two weeks ago I thought I was turning 31, it was quite a surprise.  Ha!  Denial is a force to be reckoned with.

Last night, Craig and Murray brought me a present, and today, I woke up to a special day at the lake with my good friend.  Because the weather wasn't the best, we made due with shopping, a soak in the hot tub and much needed girl talk.  It was such a relief to connect with her again; this is one of those days I'll cherish forever.  To top it off, I had lots of text messages, facebook messages, and a fabulous beach bag from my parents in law.  They completely get me.

I'm so grateful for God, family, and friends.  Stay tuned for updates more often.  I think I'm finally back on track.  Or, at least, I'm getting there.

Blessings to you,

The Four Year Old "Talk"

Oh help.

Murray:        (sigh) I wish I had a girlfriend.
Me:               Oh really?  What would you do with a girlfriend?
Murray:         Play with her.
Me:               (another sigh, this time, of relief)  That's nice.  Why do you want a girlfriend?
Murray:        Well, Mom, she showed me her butt.
Me:               (trying to stay calm)  Really?  Where?  When?
Murray:         I can't tell you where, but it was a few days ago.
Me:                What did you do?
Murray:         Well, I hid by a tree.
Me:               Good choice, Murray.  We shouldn't show our private parts, right?
Murray:         Right, but we can to our moms and dads, but not to our friends.
Me:               Yep, that's right!
Murray:         But, can we talk about a penis, a vagina, and a pink eye?

Oh help.

She's Here!

The newest addition to our family tree arrived on Tuesday, April 10th at 10:26 a.m.  Weighing in at 7lbs. 14 oz., I'm thrilled to introduce our niece and Goddaughter, Brooklyn:

 First picture
 Murray loves his new cousin
 Grandpa Doug is head-over-heels
 Murray is a Brooklyn hog.  He doesn't like to let anyone else hold her.
She has a dimple on each cheek, just like her Mom

The second I met her, I fell in love.  I looked at my sister, who couldn't stop staring at her miracle with a look of wonder. 

Congratulations, sis.  We are extremely happy for you and love you both to pieces!


More on Golden Retrievers - Meet Emma

Emma, the pup on the left, is a rescue puppy from a commercial breeder in Missouri, and our current foster.  Retrieve A Golden of Minnesota (RAGOM) rescued 29 female Golden Retrievers last weekend and brought them to Minnesota. These sweet dogs had one purpose in life:  to be bred and give birth to puppies.  They lived in dog runs, small crates, and had little contact with humans.  They were never socialized, making them terrified of people.  Following is a bit about her experience at our home:

3-25-12:  Six month old Emma arrived today, safe and sound after an exhuasting and terrifying journey. We knew nothing about her, but the volunteers at RAGOM had a team of vets waiting for the entire crew. The gals were triaged upon arrival in the Twin Cities early Sunday morning.  To say that she's frightened is a gross understatement.  The only way to get her to come out of her crate is to leave the room and let our foster Molly, and resident Rudy, work their magic.  Both big dogs are gentle and patient with her.  In fact, since she's only been around other dogs, her comfort lies in the presence of Rudy and Molly. She hides from people with her nose in the back corner of her crate.  Molly sleeps near her and watches her with a look of empathy and concern.  Rudy lords over the two of them from his perch on the couch.

3-26-12:  Emma won't eat, but she did finally take a drink of water this morning.  I was so happy to see her getting at least something in her system. 

3-27-12:  Sweet Emma loves to play chase and wrestle with the big dogs.  She's mastered the stairs and enjoys being outside. She follows Rudy and Molly everywhere.  Craig and I picked her up and sat with her tonight.  She let us pet her, but her little heart was beating a mile a minute and her muscles were very tense.  We will do this for short stints several times a day so that she gets used to us.  We also put our worn t-shirts in her crate so that she can get to know our smell.  At this point, it's extremely important to let her come to us.  Positive reinforcement only.

3-28-12:  Emma is still a flight risk, which is common for gals like her.  She walks around the yard with a trailing leash on, for her own safety.  She's eating and drinking like a champ, and has even decided to explore a bit.

3-29-12:  Big day today!  Craig and I hauled Emma to the vet for a wellness exam.  She checked out beautifully and is in great health.  Since some of her litter mates were diagnosed with ear mites and whip worms, she was treated for both as a precaution, even though all tests came back negative.  Better safe than sorry.  She's currently resting in her safe place (her crate).  I'm sure she's exhausted.

3-30-12:  Emma went to see our fabulous groomer.  She had a bath, trim and brush, and ear cleaning.  We can tell that she feels much better, both physically and emotionally.  She's still scared of people, but she's making progress.

3-31-12:  We had an impromtu backyard BBQ tonight, and Emma did great!  She played with the other dogs until everyone was worn out.  At one point, I picked her up and put her in my lap, gently petting her. Though it took a while, her body finally relaxed.  Baby steps.

4-1-12:  Emma is now taking treats from our hands, and coming in and out of her crate on her own (we leave the door open when we're home).  She has learned her name and knows that only good things come from people.  She's still skittish, but that's better than terrified.

4-2-12:  Wow!  This morning, Emma made leaps and bounds!  She explored the entire house on her own, played in the backyard (complete with a case of the zoomies) and wrestled with Rudy.  She even found her voice today, and we couldn't be happier.  Her barking and howling shows that she's becoming more confident.  She still has a long way to go, but the puppy in Emma is really starting to emerge.  We've discovered that she loves to hoard anything she can find.  Yesterday, while I was sorting socks, she slowly came close, gently took a sock out of the basket, and then proudly pranced away to her crate.  Later, when she was playing with Rudy, I went to retrieve the sock.  Much to my surprise, I discovered a pile of things:  Two more socks, a balled up paper bag, two dish cloths, a match box car, and a dollar bill. Plus, she had several stuffed toys and a ball in there (she's allowed to have the ball and toys, just not our things).  She was obviously counter surfing when I wasn't paying attention.

4-3-12:  I was rewarded with gentle licks and sniffs again today. We wanted Emma to have some play time without us scaring her, so Craig invented the perfect toy.  He drilled a hole in a tennis ball, attached some rubber to the rope, and tied it to the tree at "dog" level.  It was a hit!  She spends lots of time chasing it, batting it, and tugging it.  Murray and I like to sit outside and watch.  She's pure entertainment, this girl! 

 She's still pretty camera shy, so it's hard to get a good picture.

Rudy and Emma.  Emma really felt the need for some comfort, so she linked paws with Rudy.

**I am a volunteer for Retrieve A Golden of Minnesota.  I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.**

Blind Faith

The following conversation took place while tucking Murray in last night.

Murray:  Mama, are there houses in heaven?
Me:         Yes, Murray, God has a place for all of His children, because He loves us all SO much.

Murray:  Grandma Kathy tickled my feet.
Me:         She did?  When?
Murray:  When I was sleeping one day.  I giggled.

Murray:  I just wanted to know if there were blankets in heaven.
Me:        Yep, there sure is!  God has lots of fluffy blankets just for you!
Murray:  Will He have my white blanket?

Murray:  Mama, are there animals in heaven?
Me:         You bet, Mur!  There are lots and lots of animals.
Murray:  How come?
Me:         Because God loves animals and people, just the same.  In God's eyes, we're all perfect.
               He created everything on earth with lots and lots of love.

Murray: What happens when you get to heaven? Are there games? Are there toys? What about
               houses? Will our house be there?  Can we play in heaven?  Do people still love us in
Me:        Yes, Murray.  Heaven is a much better place that anything here on Earth.  And, God has a
               Huge Kingdom for all of us to live together.  Isn't that great?

Murray:   What about songs? Are there songs in heaven?
Me:          Yes, in heaven, everyone sings with joy, because they love God and heaven so much.

I relied on my Catholic upbringing and blind faith to get through this conversation.  More devout Catholics than I may have chosen to answer his questions differently, and honestly, my Catholicism is a work in progress. 

I love that he's curious.  I just wish I had the perfect answers.  Like I said, I'm a work in progress.

Good thing he's going to St. Joseph's in the fall.  I might have to join him.

Crazy Dancer

My husband, Craig, has been attending the WCHA Final Five hockey tournaments in St. Paul, MN, for twelve years.  The group of guys he goes with start planning for the trip around Thanksgiving, and then reminisce about last year's trip from the second they get home until they start the planning process all over again.

It's kind of annoying. 

Nothing, and I mean nothing, will stop them from making the annual trek.

Once, when Murray was just four months old, I came down with a nasty stomach flu. I was in the emergency room being treated for dehydration, and Murray had yet to be away from me overnight.  My crying, screaming, begging, throwing up and passing out didn't even change Craig's mind about going to the tournaments.  That night, I had no choice but to send tiny Murray to his grandparent's home (thank goodness they live in our town).

I really, really wanted to throw a rock at Craig's head that day; I don't think I've ever been so mad at him.

WCHA has never been a negotiable subject in our marriage.  March means WCHA with the boys, and no matter what happens, he's there.  I could be giving birth, and he'd probably leave me in the hands of a stranger just to get to the games.

Now, DH is not a bad guy.  In fact, he's a great guy.  But, when it comes to hockey, he's like a crack addict on a mission.  I'm not exaggerating.

This is what happens:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waU43gypbs4&feature=player_detailpage#t=8s (Sorry, I don't know how to embed this, but trust me, the clip is worth your time).

Yes, that is Craig.  The man I married.

So, I'm thinking, that after eight years of this, it's my turn to start an annual tradition.  Somewhere sunny in mid-January, perhaps.  Cocktails on the beach, anyone?

And surely, I'm a better dancer than he.

Greetings From Molly

Hi everyone, it's me, Molly.

Foster mom and foster dad are so impressed with my progress.  They giggle at me because I act like a puppy.  I might be nine years old, but I'm young at heart.  I love to chew soft toys, and sometimes, I steal my human foster brother's stuffed bear.  Foster mom and dad just gently take it away and replace it with my favorite stuffed duck.

My foster brother, Rudy, thinks I'm pretty great.  He's nine, too, but he doesn't have as much energy as I do.  He plays chase and wrestle with me, but when he's had enough, he barks at me and tells me to stop.  I leave him alone for a rest, and then we're right back at it!

Foster mom said that my doctor called, and the results of my fecal test were negative.  She says that's good news, but I have no idea what she's talking about.  Speaking of poop, yesterday, I was mad at Foster Mom, so I pooped in the house right in front of her.  Foster mom was confused.  She had no idea why I was upset, because we played outside all morning.  But, I've forgiven her, so I'm back to doing my business outside.  She seems to like that.  I just want to make her happy.  I felt pretty bad about going potty inside.  At least she didn't yell at me.  She just looked at me and said, "Oh, Molly, let's go outside."

Foster dad and mom keep squirting stuff in my ears.  I don't really like it, but I put up with it.  They promise that it will make me feel better.  My doctor thinks my ears have been hurting me for a very long time.  I have even stopped scratching my ears!  It feels pretty good.  I'm really trying to be on my best behavior and be a good girl.

Foster mom got me a dog bed and I love it, but what I really love the most is the couch and laps.  Foster brother Rudy gets a bit grouchy when I sit on his spot on the couch, but he just sighs and moves over.  Then we snuggle together.  I love him.

Foster mom said that a very nice lady and man are coming to meet me on Saturday, because they might want to adopt me.  I'm so excited.  They know all about RAGOM and are experienced with lots of RAGOM volunteering, so I bet they can teach my foster mom a few tricks. 

And guess what?  Foster mom and dad are going to welcome Rory 08-547 as soon as they can find a ride for her.  I just know that I'll love to play with her, and my foster brothers will love her, too.  Especially my human foster brother - he is SO nice to us four-legged pals, and he's only four years old.  I'm older than he is, so I show him the ropes by letting him snuggle with me. 

 I'm on the left.  I'm getting a bit gray, but don't let that fool you!
See?  I really, really love to rest on the couch.


Introducing Molly

This is Molly:

Molly is our first foster dog.  Already, we're in love with her. 

She arrived this afternoon, after being transported from the only home she's known for her nine years of existence.  Molly had three volunteers to transport her to our home, so she had a pretty big day.

Molly is an angel.  She has literally had a grin on her face since she arrived, and her tail wags constantly.  She's really matted, and very smelly, but that will be rectified on Monday at our groomer. She's extremely gentle, but again, she really needs a bath.  Pee yew! In the mean time, she's safe and getting LOTS of attention. 

In addition to the much anticipated arrival of Molly, we got to puppy-sit for Baylee.  She was one of the easiest puppies I've ever met.  We fell in love with her, too (so did Rudy).

It's been a busy day in dog land, but I'm guessing everyone will sleep well. 

Except for Craig and I.  We'll be up checking on Molly tonight, to make sure she's comfortable. 

She's On Her Way

 If you've been following for a while, you will know that our sweet Golden Retriever, Nala, passed away right after Thanksgiving.

We miss her still.  She'll always have a special place in our hearts.  It's taken some time for all of us, including Rudy, to adjust to her absence.

And though we can't replace her, we've felt a void.  We really weren't ready to add another permanent dog to our home, and we definitely were not ready for a puppy.  But still, we I felt a calling for another big hound.

I did some research. I found an organization that I felt was a good match - Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota.  I couldn't resist.  I quietly - meaning I didn't tell DH - filled out the foster application.

Slowly, carefully, I planted the idea of fostering a dog in Craig's head.  I've learned that introducing an idea to him a bit at a time and letting him mull it over is usually the best way to get what I want. 

But, SHHHH!  Don't tell him I wrote that. 

He agreed on letting RAGOM conduct a home visit, which I thought was a positive step. When the evening was over, I had a pretty good feeling that he would agree to try fostering.  I was right.  Introducing Molly:  (this is her description from the RAGOM staff)

Molly is a 9 year old PB (purebred) female Golden. She is spayed and weighs 85 pounds which is said to be a good weight for Molly. Molly is good with cats, dogs, chickens, pigs, ducks, and kids of all ages....she has lived with all. Molly lives as an outside dog so it is unknown if she is house trained. She has not been in a crate, stays in the unfenced yard, rides ok in the car but gets excited. She does have storm anxiety and is afraid of gun shots and fireworks. The SO (surrendering owners) have not tried anything to help Molly with her anxieties, she stays outside when it storms. Molly is being surrendered because she does not hunt and now with their sons out of the house she does not get the attention and time she deserves. They had planned to euthanize Molly but talked with a RAGOM volunteer who told them we could help Molly so made the call to ask for our help. Who can help Molly find her new life?

After I read this, I knew that we would be lucky to foster her.

Rudy has storm anxiety, too.  And, he's nine, just like Molly, and loves to play with other dogs.  Plus, she's great around kids, so we're comfortable having her around Murray.  If she's not house trained, well, we'll deal with it.  We have hardwood floors and lots of patience, so no worries there.  I'm home a lot, so she'll have time to get comfortable with us.  Rudy can show her the ropes, and I just know he'll feel a bit less lonely when she arrives.
I just received word that she'll arrive tomorrow.  I'm beside myself with excitement.  I can't wait to love her.
Her vet and grooming appointments are scheduled for next week.  Her brand new bed is here (don't worry, Rudy got a new one, too.  I won't leave him out) and I have her collar, leashes, treats, and tennis balls at the ready.
Now, we just need Molly. 

Stay tuned for pictures.

Date Night With Oysters

Since the day we've been married, Craig and I have carved out time for just the two of us. "Date night" has been a super important aspect of our marriage.

Lately, when we have date night, (we try to have an evening alone at least once a month, more if our schedule allows) we send Murray somewhere overnight, slip into comfy clothes, and cook something fabulous in the comfort of our own kitchen.  Then we spend the evening sharing delicious food, wine, conversation, a movie or mean game of Scrabble or Rummy.

But we do love to treat ourselves to dinner out once in a while.  Ruth's Chris Steakhouse is one of our favorites, as well as Axel's, but since we don't have either restaurant here in Moorhead, we have to get creative.  Thankfully, that's not hard to do.  Little ol' Moorhead, MN has some gems for fine dining.

Sarello's, a tiny, exclusive Italian reservation-only restaurant is where Craig took me on our third date.  Usher's House, which has great food and a fabulous view of the river, is another favorite.  But, hands down, the best restaurant (in our opinion) in Moorhead is John Alexander's

Last night we got dressed up, dropped off little guy, and off we went.  Craig wouldn't tell me what he had in mind, so I was pleasantly surprised when he drove us to John Alexander's, only a few blocks from our house.

We weren't disappointed.  We never are when we eat there.  Soft lighting, quiet conversation, a fabulous menu - we were feeling all swanky and relaxed and giddy.  We ordered an excellent bottle of Pinot Noir.

And oysters on the half shell for an appetizer:

Photo credit

Although I love seafood, this was my first time eating oysters. I found them to be surprisingly delightful.  John Alexander's has their oysters shipped daily, so they couldn't have been more fresh unless we were dining in Nantucket (I think it's true that oysters are an aphrodisiac, ahem, blush).

For the main course, we each ordered the Steak Alexander, which is a beautiful cut of petite tenderloin grilled to perfection (medium rare for us) served with crisp asparagus and choice of creamy mashed potatoes (like no other we've ever eaten) or Tomato Basil Orzo (again, like no other).  Our taste buds were absolutely jumping for joy.  We lingered over the last of our wine and left feeling like newlyweds.

Next we went for a drink and a bit of Gopher Hockey at JC Chumley's - The Cheers Bar of Moorhead.

We were home by eight, snuggled up on the couch talking and watching "X-Men."  Certainly not my choice, but considering Craig always rents us a "chick flick", I decided it was his turn.  Besides, compromise is an important ingredient of any healthy relationship.

Besides providing you with a local restaurant review (you're welcome), my point is this: Don't forget to bring the romance alive again, and often. Sometimes, we get so involved in the daily grind that we forget what's really important in marriage: each other. 

I highly recommend the oysters.