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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Gift That Keeps On Giving


A special thanks to Therese Nagle for another heartfelt guest-post.  And a Christmas theme, too! Enjoy...

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

 Ah, Christmas. In the midst of all the holiday preparations and busyness, a constant theme for many is trying to find meaning and significance. We all want to create fond memories for our children. We want to find that “perfect gift” that is remembered for years. We want to acknowledge the important people in our lives. Sometimes, we get lucky. A small act or gift can spark many things – memories, kindness, laughter, love. Good stuff that spreads all kinds of good feelings for years. I am so very lucky to have shared a holiday tradition with a wonderful person for the last 29 years – my Mom – Mary Modesta Nagle.

It started innocently enough. In 1983, I sent out Christmas cards for the first time. I had graduated from college the previous spring, and some might remember a big recession and slim job prospects for a newly minted grad with a liberal arts degree. I was living in Iowa City, working at a day care center, without benefits and not much salary – a very hand-to-mouth existence. I needed a “real job” to make enough to meet my student loan obligations. On the card I sent to my parents, I wrote, “a new year too, maybe I'll even find a job.” In the next year, I did find a “real job” and moved to Minneapolis. In 1984, my Mom sent the same card back with “you did!”

Well, that very same card has been traveling between Iowa and Minnesota ever since. The card morphed into two, had paper taped to the back and now travels with a note pad for the current year's sentiments. I have no words to describe how much this card means to me. Twenty nine years represent a lot of life. We each tear up when we read over what we have written to each other over the years. We have had great joy, great sorrow, challenging times, joyful times. We both have admitted to each other that the card is stored in our respective safes during the year we keep it. The card is incredibly important to both of us.
 

 
As some of you may remember from my earlier stints as a stand-in on Sara's blog, I am one of the 10 Nagle children that grew up in Sara and Matt's house. Yep, my parents raised 10. My Mom has done amazing things in her life. Something truly remarkable is that she manages to have a unique relationship with each of us. About 15 years ago, I was telling some friends about the traveling Christmas card. A friend asked me if my Mom has traveling cards with any of my siblings. The question prompted me to ask my Mom. “No” she told me, “only you.”



Something so simple and inexpensive has grown exponentially. An offhand comment about finding a job sparked a decades-long tradition that brings laughter, tears and closeness between my Mom and I in ways that would be next to impossible to duplicate any other way. Some things in life are genuinely amazing. This card is one of them. It is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Therese and her mom

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

30 Years Together

This post isn't about Christmas, but it definitely deserves attention!  On this date (December 4) in 1982, my parents got married.  Thirty years later, they are still in love and going strong.  Now if that isn't "the good", then what is??

Here is a link to my recent post on the Quad City Moms Blog, dedicated to my parents:
                                                      
                                                       Everyone Has A Story

And here is a picture of my parents, enjoying lunch with their three grandchildren, on their 30th anniversary.  It was quite the fancy lunch, considering my son picked the place (Hungry Hobo!).  Thank goodness they settled on his second choice...the first choice was Taco Bell, haha.


Monday, December 3, 2012

To Me, You Are Perfect.

As I said, I am a sucker for anything Christmas. I'm also a sucker for romantic comedies; the sappier the better.  So, you mix the two together, and what do you have?

Love Actually.  One of my all-time favorite movies, without a doubt.  Here's one of my favorite scenes:

click here to watch it:  To Me You Are Perfect
 
 
Now, if that doesn't melt your heart when the wind and snow are blowing outside your window...
 
 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

O Holy Night


The Christmas music on the radio begins earlier and earlier each year….this bothers some people. I am NOT one of those people. I swear it was still October this year when I was walking with my boys through WalMart and I spotted the Christmas decorations and lights at the far end of the store. I’m not sure who yelled “yay!”louder…them or me. And the music started even before Thanksgiving this year; much to my husband’s dismay. I have been blaring it in my mini-van ever since.

By far, my FAVORITE Christmas song is “O Holy Night”. It is a beautiful, beautiful reminder of what Christmas truly is: about that night, so long ago, when a little baby was born in a faraway land and the world changed forever. I have always loved this song, but after becoming a mother, I am even more appreciative of this amazing story of this little tiny, yet world-changing, baby.
No matter what your favorite Christmas song is, do me a favor this year: take the time to sit down and actually listen to the words of the song. Sometimes the lyrics are so familiar that we just sing along with them without a thought…this is great, but it might lend to us forgetting what we are even singing. I know I do that! So, when you are sitting at home (not driving your car!), try to take a minute (or three) and relax, close your eyes, and let the words sink in. No matter if it’s the beautiful lyrics of “O Holy Night” or the silly lyrics of “Frosty the Snowman”,just let it sink in. Enjoy the moment.

**My two favorite versions of this song are by Josh Groban (of course!) and *NSync (they do an amazing acapella version)

O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night
Of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine, oh night, oh night divine

Chains shall He break
For the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy
In grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord, let ever ever praise Thee
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh, oh night, oh night divine

Saturday, December 1, 2012

25 days of Christmas.


I'll admit it...I love Christmas.  I love EVERYTHING about it.  As a Christian, I relish in the story of the baby Jesus and I love singing all of the Christmas hymns in church. But I also love all of the commercialized aspects of Christmas as well...I can't help it! Many people spend "Black Friday" out shopping like crazy people...I spend it at home with my children, drinking hot chocolate, turning on the Christmas music, and decorating our house from top to bottom with Nativity scenes, Santa Clause, snowmen, and twinkling lights.

In the spirit of this blog, looking for the good, let's spend the next 25 days enjoying the Christmas season.  Whether you are spending the holidays in a pew at church singing hymns, or going to the mall for your kids to visit Santa, let's just enjoy this month, these 25 days of excitement, peace, and family.

Come to "The Good" from December 1 to December 25 for your little dose of Christmas...songs, recipes,  videos, stories, traditions, etc.

Happy, happy holidays to all of you who faithfully read my blog. You are MUCH appreciated!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Legacy of Love


 Today I have a love story to share with you.  Today also happens to be my husband Matt and I's 12 year anniversary, but this love story is not about us; it is about the Nagles, who built our house and raised their family here for nearly 50 years.  One of their daughters, Therese, has written for "The Good" before ("Home Again"), and is a faithful reader of this blog.  She has written a beautiful tribute to her parents and their love story.  When she sent it to me, I couldn't wait to share it with all of you, because it includes some of my very favorite things:  Iowa City, a sappy love story, and a house full of kids (which happens to now be my house!)  And so, without further ado, I give to you...

Destie and Jack:  A Wonderful Love Story

I love to read. Love it, love it love it. Mostly fiction, but I am a fanatic about the morning paper. I don't read romance novels. That is not my genre. I sometimes fantasize about writing a great novel, or just writing in general. But, nothing I write would do justice to what I was privileged to experience first hand. My parents – Destie Monnig and Jack Nagle.

They met decades ago in Iowa City. My Mom was an undergrad, and my Dad was in law school. There is some confusion about how it all came about. Newman Center picnic, my Grandma telling my Mom... Jack Nagle wants to go to the picnic, why don't you pick him up? My Mom, driving the family car, picking my Dad up, her younger 12 year old brother needing a ride to boy scouts and asking my Dad (in the passenger seat) for the $.05 dues. All these years later, I like the idea that my Mom was driving and embarrassed by her pesky younger brother.

Nagle wedding
The picnic is legendary! We all talk about the Newman Center picnic. The picnic started it all! At some point, they started dating. And, my Dad moved back to Davenport (his home town) and started being a lawyer. He proposed. My Mom said yes! They had a great wedding and honeymooned in New Orleans.

They settled in an apartment in Davenport. They were a family. And, they starting expanding that family. They had kids, moved a few times, had more kids, bought a bigger house, the family grew, they had more kids, and settled on building a house (which my Dad helped design) as the ultimate home.

Ok, my parents were great parents. But, but, but, they loved each other and they were the best life long partners. That was the best thing they did. They loved each other. They supported each other. My Mom did so much and my Dad supported her career pursuits. He was so proud!


Dancing to their song
My parents loved each other. They were each other's rock. There was romance. There was passion. There was - as my favorite uncle pointed out before my wedding –friendship. Friendship is what its all about.

One of my favorite stories....years ago, my parents were spending the winter in Florida. I flew down for a couple of days to spend time with them. We were out at dinner with an old client of my Dad's – a woman I had just met that evening. A song came on and my parents looked at each other and immediately stood and said “This is our song, we have to dance.” I had not known that before that night. They had a song. But, I always will have a soft spot for Tony Bennent singing about leaving his heart in San Francisco.

My parents set the foundation. There IS such a thing as life-long love stories. They were married 65 years. My Dad died last January. November 23rd would have been their 66th wedding anniversary. I like to think that my Dad is listening to Tony Bennent. And dancing.
 
 
A special thank you to Therese Nagle-Kiser for sharing the wonderful love story that was the foundation of the home in which my growing family now lives. I don't know if we will ever be as big in number (they had TEN kids!), but I pray that we will be as big in love as they were.  Today as we celebrate our twelve years together, Matt and I will be thinking of the example that Destie and Jack set.  Happy Anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Nagle. 


Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Favorite Mommy-to-bee!!!

If you aren't aware that my best friend (Chef Laura) is pregnant, then you probably haven't been reading this blog much! :)  In a few short weeks, Laura will be welcoming her first baby--a girl!  A best friend for my little Nora, and finally a niece in the same town as me! I am SO excited!

My family and I recently threw a baby shower for miss Laura and "baby bee". (Laura's maiden name was Berneking, and in high school I always called her "Laura Bee"; the nickname has stuck!)  I have been waiting for this baby shower for so long; an opportunity to celebrate my best friend and the fact that she will soon be a mommy!

Five years worth of bee gifts :)
I have been warning Laura for a while about the abundance of gifts that I have for her baby.  When I was pregnant with my first son (FIVE years ago!), whenever we went to garage sales I would pick up things for my baby, and also things for Laura's future babies.  Any time there was anything with bees on it, I would pick it up and stash it away for her baby! 



Since that time, we have moved three times.  The box of "Laura's baby stuff" has gotten bigger and bigger, and I have successfully hauled it through all three moves.  When she told me she was pregnant, the first thing I did was have Matt get up in the attic and get the box down!  I've been planning the baby shower ever since.

bees, bees everywhere!
So, on Saturday night, I began the process of taking down Halloween decorations in my house and replacing them with everything black and yellow, bees, and baby. (Just so happens we are all Hawkeye fans, too...so the black and yellow was a nice theme!)  When it was all ready, my aunts and my mom and I just walked around and looked at all the cuteness. So exciting for Laura!





We all dressed in black and yellow and white in honor of Laura Bee and her little bee.  It was a wonderful baby shower...not too big, not too small.  Just a nice, friendly showering of my best friend with gifts for her little bundle.








Can't WAIT to hold that little girl in December! Little Nora Jean is ready to meet her best friend! :)

Bumblebee diaper cake!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Muchas Gracias!

So, for those of you who have been waiting on the edge of your seats...

...I did not forget about that contest I had mentioned in celebration of 5000 pageviews on "The Good".  Just so happened that we reached that 5000 mark around the same time that I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl!

(Drumroll Please..........)



For those of you who have "liked" our Facebook page ( http://www.facebook.com/thegood2012 ), you will be entered for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate to your choice of our two home-based businesses here at The Good:

1) Just Duckie Personalized Blankies (www.justduckieblankies.blogspot.com)
2) Goodies Sweet Eats (www.goodiesbakery.blogspot.com)

If you have not liked our page yet, head on over and do so!  Deadline for the contest will be Sunday, November 11.  Winner will be chosen at random and announced on the blog.  Thank you ALL for your continued support and readership!  I feel so blessed and so happy to play a part in helping you look for the good in your lives!


*Side-note:  As of today, we have almost 8000 pageviews here at The Good. Wow!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Yummy Dinner for a Cold Night

Made this Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup  recipe for my family last night, which was shared on the Quad City Moms Blog last week.  It was absolutely delicious.  Easy to make, didn't take long, and was reasonably inexpensive to feed our family.  I highly recommend it for one of these cold nights!

*I also added one chopped onion for more flavor.
*I cut the entire recipe in half.  It was PLENTY!  Which means the whole recipe would be great for big family get-togethers, or to freeze the extras.

ENJOY! :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Socks: A Love-Hate Relationship.

If you know my kids, you know that my two boys don't look anything like me.  There's still hope for Nora to look like Mommy, but Sam and Cooper have decided to look like Daddy. However, they have inherited some things from me...

....one of them is a love for being barefoot. All spring and summer, and most of fall, me and my boys are barefoot if we are inside (and outside too, if it's warm enough).  My husband hates this.  He always has socks on, and refuses to go outside barefoot. Ever. 

Now that it's getting colder, I have finally given in and started wearing socks to work.  My boys, on the other hand, have been adamantly refusing the idea of socks every morning, and I have chosen to give in and let them wear shoes without socks (another thing my husband hates...because it is so hard to get their shoes on without socks!)

Until today.  As we are getting ready to go trick-or-treating in a couple hours, I tell Sam that he absolutely has to wear socks under his costume, otherwise he will get too cold and will have to go home. As I say the words, I brace myself for the whining that is to come.

But...no whining.  As I go to his room and grab a pair of white socks to put on him, I brace myself yet again for the whining and fit throwing.  But, as I hold his foot and pull the sock over it, not a sound.  He stands up, slides around on the carpet, and smiles.

"Mommy," he exclaims, "you were right! these socks are really comfortable! and warm! i'm going to wear socks every day now!"

I'm still in shock that this happened.  Happy, but in shock.  And I just had  to put it on the blog...one, so that you all could get a good laugh. And two, so that I have proof that my son did, at one time, say the words "Mommy, you were right!"

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Another Good Bargain


It’s been a while since I posted one of our good bargains!  As I’ve mentioned, garage sale season is nearing its end (so sad!), but a couple weeks ago we had a good day of hitting the sales, and as we were rushing to hit “just a couple more sales” (I was literally changing clothes in my van, putting my dress on for church!), we found this:  this adorable, super old, probably antique, little red and black rocking horse.  Perfect for my black and red guest bedroom.  And now I can just picture my little girl riding it when she gets a little bigger…so cute!

When I got home and set it down in the Spanish-inspired bedroom, nearly entirely decorated from garage sales and clearance racks (see the post entitled   ), it just fit right in.  Amazing how that happens!  Not to toot our own horns (well, I guess I am…), but we seriously should win an award for the rooms we have put together for mere fractions of retail cost.  Which reminds me, I need to get working on another post for the house tour! 

For now, enjoy the adorable picture of my adorable rocking horse, and just picture my adorable little Nora with her black hair riding this when she gets big enough.  Just adorable!
 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Is This Really Happening?

Sometimes your college roommate comes to visit.
And you decide to take her and your other best friend to lunch at one of your favorite places.
You pull up to the restaurant, and:  Closed.
No worries, your friend suggests another place.
Closed.
And a third place? Only open for dinner. (Seriously, do people not go out to eat on Sundays?)
So...we settle for a place we have taken her before and enjoyed.
We sit down, enjoy our appetizers, and start eating our entrees...until the waiter comes rushing over.
"I'm sorry to do this, I know you just started eating your food..."
The three of us just stare at each other. Where is he going with this?
"...but there is a fire in the back, and we have to evacuate."
(Now, let me just mention, my friend is almost 8 months pregnant...you do not make a pregnant woman stop eating.)
So, we move to the patio.
Two fire trucks roll up, lights on and sirens blaring, and there we are, sitting on the patio eating.
(Like I said, you don't make a pregnant woman stop eating.)
So...we finish our food, take a little trip to Target, and decide to get some ice cream.
We go to Dairy Queen, and in the course of the half hour or so that we are there, a big car accident occurs outside the Dairy Queen.
As we drive home in disbelief, amidst the two banged up cars, pieces of cars, and policemen walking up and down the street, it really made me think...

...after so many mishaps and crazy things happening, in the end it was still an afternoon with my two best friends. A good time with two of my favorite people. No matter what was going on around us, we were enjoying our time together, because these days that time is not much.  (And I can only say that because no one was hurt in the fire or the car crash)

So, did that really happen?  Yes, it really did.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hawkeye Nation



On Fridays, we talk about community.  Such a comforting word—community.  The warm, fuzzy feeling of belonging somewhere.  I am lucky enough to feel a part of many different communities, many of which I have mentioned on this blog (my family, my friends, etc.).  But there is one community I have not mentioned yet:  the HAWKEYE community.

We are a die-hard, close-knit, fun-loving community.  We wake up on game day and open our closets and dressers to reveal a sea of black, gold, gray, white, yellow...and LOTS of Herky the Hawk.  We “suit up”, we grab our favorite people and our favorite drinks (Cherry Pepsi is my tailgating beverage of choice), and we settle in for the win.  Or sometimes the loss.  But either way, you can hear near and far… “we’re gonna fight, fight, fight for IOWA!”

And last week in particular, the fight song was running through my head.  Why, you ask?  Because my cousin made the ill-informed choice to marry a non-Hawkeye fan…in fact, a Michigan State fan.  And so the day of the Hawkeye-Spartan match up is anxiously awaited by me and Ryan (her husband).  Last year, amidst all of his smack-talk and all of his puke-green Michigan State clothes, I sat on the couch next to him as the Hawkeyes won. Sweet, sweet victory.

This year, last Saturday to be exact, I woke up with a smile on my face, a good feeling inside.  I put on my Hawkeye gear, head to toe, and then one by one I dressed each of my kids in black and gold. (Side note: win or lose, there is nothing as cute as my little baby girl in her Hawkeye tutu). We settled in on the couch at my grandma’s house, sans Ryan (I think last year’s teasing on my part was too much for him..he didn’t even show up this year), and rooted for our beloved Hawks.

It looked like it could go either way…there were a couple nail-biting moments, and jump-off-the-couch moments.  And then it went into overtime.  And then it went into a second overtime.  Seriously, my heart was pounding out of my chest. When we won, I almost didn’t believe it for a second…but we did! We won again! I immediately texted Ryan (among some of my other, Hawkeye-loving friends). He never responded.  In fact, I haven’t heard from him since then…hmm…

Anyhow, like I said, win or lose, we bleed black and gold in this house.  Always have, always will. My boys know all the words to the fight song (ask anyone at Walmart…they have heard it loud and clear in the carts, in the bathroom stall, just about everywhere…) and soon my girl will be singing it along with them.  Last week we won, and for me it was an even better win because of the inner-family rivalry.  But this week we lost, and we lost bad. But we are no fair-weather fans.

GO HAWKS.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The End Of Garage Sale Season...

Well, it's finally here. No more fluorescent-colored signs on wooden sticks on the street corners...no more tents and card tables filling people's yards...no more checking the Quad-City Times Classifieds on Wednesday nights to see how many sales there are in the morning. Garage sale season is coming to an end...
yes, there are a few sales out there today.  But there's also a lot of rain. And it's cold. And my mom is currently in Boston visiting my aunt, which would leave me with all three kids by myself at a garage sale. No thanks. And so, the sales are over for me. Such a sad day! :(

But alas, let us remember the point of this blog: to look for the good.  And let me tell you, after all of the things that have gone wrong this week, I needed some good today. So, as I drove by the dripping-wet garage sale signs on my way home from work, I decided to look at the bright side.  And the bright side is this: it's raining!

Remember a while back when I blogged about all three kids napping when it rains? Well, my theory continues to be true.  As I write this, ALL three of my kids are enjoying a dreary-day slumber.  And I am finally getting to catch on some of my "daily" blog posts that I have been neglecting while I have instead been "daily" getting used to being a mommy of three! :)

It's a good, rainy, sleepy afternoon.  Now, if only I could catch up on my blog posts and take a nap at the same time....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Saying Goodbye.

On Tuesdays we talk about finding the good in our home. Well, this story takes us back a few years...

...Matt and I had found our first home, in a tiny little town called Wilton, Iowa.  About two days after signing the papers and making it ours, I said to Matt, "We need a dog." Growing up, I always had a dog. When I was little, we had a little pekingese named Squirty.  Unfortunately, Squirty was lost in the fire in our house when I was ten.  Soon after, we got our sheltie puppy, Molly, who was with us until my last year of college.  And now, it was time for Matt and I to get our first dog for our first house.

We knew we wanted to buy from a shelter, not a breeder or a pet store. So, we visited nearly every shelter in the Iowa City area, but didn't find "the one".  Then one day at work, I was searching online and found her: a female beagle named "Patsy". And she was just down the road from my office! So, as soon as my work day was done, I ran down the three blocks to the shelter and asked to see her.  Yes, she was the one! Matt met me there, and we told them we wanted to take her home.  They let us take her around the block on the leash, and she was so happy to get out of that cage.  I loved her right away; I knew I wanted a beagle, and although she wasn't full beagle (her short, fat legs were definitely something else!), she was perfect to me.  They told us that she had lived with an old man who got sent to a nursing home, and no one was aware that he had had pets inside his house, so she and some cats were alone in the house for about a week until someone found them.  Poor thing! 
Maggie and Maizee with the new family of three!

And so we brought her home, and I re-named her "Maggie". (We didn't like Patsy, and my mom's name is Patti, so it was just too funny).  The first night, we put her in the $80 kennel that the shelter had sold us (telling us that she loved the kennel and it would be a comfort to her), and she cried the entire night.  The. Entire. Night. From then on, she slept in bed with me.

We lived in our house in Wilton for a year and a half, and since I was pregnant with my first son, I did a lot of laying around and resting. Maggie was in heaven.  She would literally lay on the couch with me all day long when I was sick and exhausted; she would just lay her head on my ever-growing tummy and snore the day away. 
Maggie and Sam snuggling
Then when we sold our house, we temporarily moved in with my parents, who have a little dog named Maizee. The two of them became best friends right away.  Maizee loved having a bigger dog there to protect her from the cats! They would literally snuggle and lay on the couch together all day long...and since they are almost the exact same coloring, they almost looked like a mother and her baby.  About 8 months later, we had found a house, and it was time for Maggie to leave. Although I hate to admit it, I don't think she ever really wanted to leave my mom's house. She had found her home there.

Trying to get in the Christmas card picture
Fast forward...I gave birth to Cooper one week before moving into our new house, and then 18 months later I was pregnant for the third time.  Needless to say, I had a lot less time to lay around on the couch and snuggle with my dog.  Although I wish I had more!  Maggie had gotten older, lazier, full of allergies, and was beginning to forget where to go to the bathroom.  With a three year old, almost-two year old, and a pregnant belly, one night I just broke down crying and called my mom after cleaning up yet another potty-mess of Maggie's.  I didn't know what to do.  My mom calmly says, "Sara, it's ok.  Just bring her to my house.  She likes it here, and Maizee misses her anyway. It's fine."  I am forever grateful for that moment, and I hope my mom knows it. I was so exhausted and didn't want to get rid of my dog, but at the same time didn't know how to keep up!

Looking older :(
Unfortunately Maggie didn't get better at my mom's...instead she got worse.  She was there for about 6 months, and by the end had my mom in the same miserable, helpless boat as I had been in. Maggie's time had come...she was so miserable, and in so much pain from her constant battle with allergies. We knew it was time...but we just didn't want to face it.

And so my mom made the appointment.  As soon as I heard the words, I just broke down and cried to Matt. Even though I knew it was best for Maggie, it didn't make the whole thing any easier.  On Tuesday, I drove home from work with a heavy heart.  I stopped at McDonald's and got my girl her last cheeseburger; she was so happy when she ate it.  And then we got in the car for the last time...my mom and I were already crying.  By the time we got to the vet's office, we had the receptionist crying, too.

On Tuesday we said goodbye to my friend, my snuggle-buddy, my "baby before my babies".  She was not the best behaved dog in the world, but she was good to our kids, and she had to put up with a lot from two toddler boys, believe me!  And she loved me.  She really did.  She loved me, and she loved my mom. 

And now she is resting...no more itching and scratching, no more getting older.  And as I held her little paw (she had the cutest paws) in the vet's office, I remembered with a smile the first time I saw her that day in Iowa City, and I reminded myself that we gave her a good life. A really good life.

Goodbye Maggie. I have spent the last three days crying about losing you, but I will try to remember the happy times we had with you in our lives.  Your loud snoring, your even louder howling at the doorbell, and your un-ending love of food. Any food.  We love you Maggie, and you will be forever missed in our home.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A New Meaning of Vacation (100 words or less)

Our mini-vacation in Wisconsin Dells this weekend:
Five minutes after arriving, Sam slips and falls and breaks open his chin.
We rush to first aid. They butterfly bandage it and send us to Urgent Care.
Can’t have stitches because: A) we are going swimming
B) the numbing medicine has been recalled
They decide to glue it instead.
Cooper, in the waiting room, has explosive diarrhea.
Because we left the hotel in a hurry, I have no diapers in the van (but luckily do have wipes).
I change him, and stuff a stack of napkins in his pants.
....
Back To Vacation!

Getting his chin glued!

 
All fixed up! Brave boy!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Three Down...

...for nap, that is! I have to admit, my mood for the day is usually very much dependent upon whether or not my children have napped.  The last couple days, Cooper has fallen asleep in the car on the way home from my aunt's house and my mom's house after I picked them up from work. This always spells disaster. He is now too big for me to carry in the house without waking him up, and once he wakes up its over. And then it's nearly impossible to get Sam (as the older brother) to lay down if his little brother isn't doing it. And then there's the fact that I have a two month old...

But today! Today, they have all three currently been asleep for one hour and fifteen minutes. All three of them.  I have gotten so much done in this hour and fifteen minutes, I should win an award!  I really think that the cloudy, stormy weather makes them sleep longer and harder.

So, I hate to say this to all of you, but I'm hoping for rain...every single day.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Big Day.

Well, tomorrow is it. My first day back to work since giving birth to my precious baby girl, miss Nora Jean. Of course the emotions are running high...but I think I'm doing pretty good.  She is currently laying on my lap as I write this post, snuggling me and saying (with her eyes, of course!) "no, Mommy, don't go back to work!". Or at least that's what I'm telling myself...

As I put my boys to bed tonight, my mind wandered to my other "first day backs".  With Sam, I was finishing my Master's Degree when he arrived.  He was born in August, and he attended my graduation in December, all decked out in his hawkeye gear.  I got a teaching job for the following fall semester, so I ended up having an entire year at home with him; the school year started one week after his first birthday.  What a long day that was, my first day away from my first baby boy.  I missed him so much, I didn't know what to do without him.

With Cooper, I was teaching until about two weeks before he arrived, in May.  Therefore, I had the entire summer with him, and returned to work at the end of August, when he was three months old.  I remember feeling guilty that I had spent an entire year at home with Sam, and Cooper only got three months...

...and now it's Nora's turn. Her due date was the first day of school this year. Literally.  So, of course, I had to make other plans.  I ended up teaching online for the first four weeks of the semester, and tomorrow marks week five of the school year, so it is my first day on campus. Luckily, Nora decided to arrive three weeks early, so I actually got seven weeks at home with her, instead of the four that we were expecting.

Now that the day has arrived, I can not imagine how I would have gone back when she was only four weeks old. No way! It will be hard enough to leave her at seven weeks tomorrow! When I have left her (for a few hours at most), I have felt like a piece is missing. I know it's cliche, but it's true. And with our other babies we lived with my parents part of the time and had a lot more help with them, so this time I've felt even more attached...it's basically just been me, feeding her and putting her to sleep and taking care of her all the time.  She's attached to me, and that will make it even harder for me to leave tomorrow...

...but, as always, I'm going to look for the good in the situation, and I will end this post on a happy note.  Because, in the end, we have so much to be thankful for as young parents.  Not only do we now have three healthy, wonderful children, but we have a boat load of family right here in our own town, and our babies have never in their lives had to go to someone that we don't know and love very much; in fact, they have only stayed with non-family once!  Crazy!  We know how lucky we are in that respect, we really do.  Matt and I frequently talk about how we don't know what we would do if we lived far away from our parents and family members, because we usually don't go a day without seeing at least one of them and our kids are so lucky to see their grandparents so much. 

So now, as I head to bed tonight, I am choosing to be thankful for the life that my husband and I have...one in which I don't have to work full time, and that I can be home with my babies all summer long.  What a blessing!  And most of all, I am thankful for the fact that when I go to work each morning, my children are in the care of people who love them.  However, that doesn't mean that I won't be shedding a few tears as I drive away tomorrow...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Perfect Card

Last weekend we went out with our friends for our 5th anniversary.  We went to a nice dinner, and then met my cousin Elyse and her husband Ryan at the movies. Elyse handed me an envelope and said "Happy anniversary", and then she and Ryan started laughing.  Of course I wanted to know what the laughing was about...as soon as I opened the card, I understood.

Apparently, Elyse had told Ryan to take a stack of their mail and shred it before throwing it away.  Well, our anniversary card was in the stack...

When they realized it, Ryan said they could just go get a new one.  But no. Elyse said it was the perfect card for me and Matt, and it was the only one left at the store.  I have to admit, I would have done the same thing.  There is nothing like that feeling of finding the perfect card for an ocassion...before I had kids, I would walk up and down the card aisle for a ridiculous amount of time before choosing the right one. (Now that I have three kids under 4, people are lucky if they even get a card from me, lol).

And so...they taped it back together. And in the end, it really was perfect. The card was perfect (just like Elyse said it was), and I will never forget how hard all of us laughed there, in the middle of the movie theater, when she gave it to me.  I guess you just never know how happy a crumpled up, ripped piece of paper can make you.



Friday, September 14, 2012

A Fall Tradition (Community Spotlight: Stone's Apple Barn)

Sam and Daddy on the hayrack
Two years ago, we went to Stone's Apple Farm for the first time.  Sam had just turned 2, and Cooper was a baby.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day and we walked up and down the rows of apple trees for hours...how had we not found this place before??  We took so many pictures of our boys with us and with their grandparents.  It was such a great day.
So, of course, last year we went again.  And yet another beautiful day...a little hot, but still wonderful. The boys were a little older, and enjoyed running around in the open air. Unfortunately, we weren't aware that we were there on the very LAST day of picking!  There were hardly any apples on the trees at all, which was obviously disappointing.  But, we still had fun..we walked to the VERY end of the orchard searching for apples, and I'll admit we had to break the rules a few times and climb the trees to get any good ones.  Oops!

Nora's first time at the orchard! Riding with Mommy


And this weekend we made our third appearance at Stone's. I can't believe this is our third time already! Although I'd better believe it, since we did have another little person with us this year...baby Nora! I don't know how we did it, but we managed to get there on a beautiful day three years in a row.  Perfect weather, and a good time with our family and friends.  We love it so much, we have more people with us each time we go!  This time we had four carloads...next year we may have to rent the hayrack ride all for ourselves!


Sam sampling the apples


It truly is a great place to take the family, and to enjoy a day in the outdoors.  You can literally spend the entire morning walking (or hayrack riding) through the rows of trees, searching for the best apples and sampling along the way...
However, my favorite part about Stone's is that it has become a new family tradition for us.  I love seeing how our kids have grown every time we go, and I love that they will have happy memories of going there with so many people who love them. And, it's always good to have something to look forward to when the long, lazy days of summer come to an end...






Cooper sword fighting the apple tree...
If you'd like to hear more about Stone's, and even enter a chance to win a great giveaway from their Apple Barn, please read my good friend Marie's post today on the Quad City Moms Blog, entitled
Apples, Apples, Apples!.  She also includes some great apple recipes...I better choose a couple to make, since my kitchen is covered in apples!

*Find Stone's Apple Barn at www.stonesapplebarn.com

Monday, September 10, 2012

Your Life's Dream

What is your life's dream?  Do you have one?  Something you have always wanted, always been passionate about, never stopped hoping for?

Mine is to write a book.  Or books, plural.  I've started a few...never given up on them, but never finished them either...

but today, someone who shares my life's dream of writing a book has done it.  She's actually done it...she's written the last page, she's gotten the book deal, and her dream is happening.

Robin Kramer, founder of Pink Dryer Lint (one of my favorite mommy blogs), has finished her book.  What a great achievement, Robin!

Robin's book, Then I Became A Mother, will be released on October 20th.  Please tell your friends, family, everyone...Robin is such a great writer, and I would love to know that when my day comes--when it's my words going to print--that my friends and family would be shouting it from the rooftops.  So let's pay it forward, and do this for her.

Congratulations Robin, can't wait to read it!

*Find more information at www.pinkdryerlint.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Memories...

Today I took a picture of Nora in her carseat, and she made the most hilarious face when I snapped the photo.  All of the sudden, my mind rushed back to a moment four years ago (almost EXACTLY four years ago, actually)...when my oldest son Sam was just two weeks old, and I snapped a similar, funny photo.  In the same carseat, too!  Oh, memories of my babies....

Nora Jean.  September 11, 2012

Samuel Roark.  September 5, 2008

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Perfect Day.

Five years ago today, I walked down the aisle to my happily ever after.  As most of you know, I have been in love with Matt Meehan since we were sixteen-year-old high schoolers. We went to class together, went to all the dances together, graduated together...I went off to college, and Matt spent every weekend in his car driving to visit me.  And then one night, as we drove back to Iowa City after Thanksgiving Break, he turned to me in the car (yes, while driving) and asked me to marry him.  Two months later I left for my semester in Spain (longest five months of our lives!), and when I returned, the planning began...
...on September 8, 2007 (Matt picked the date because it was 09-08-07 and therefore it would be easy to remember), I woke up as a single woman for the last time in my life.  As I put on my make up and did my hair that day, surrounded by my closest friends and family, I could not stop smiling at the thought of marrying my best friend. As the ceremony began at 4:00, I hid behind a door in the back of the sanctuary and watched the entire thing...as it got closer to my walk down the aisle, I could see the excitement growing on Matt's face.  I will never forget how he looked that day, as I peeked through the glass window and watched him wait for me.
Our ceremony did not go by without a hitch (the sound person played the wrong song twice), but if you ask me it was perfect.  ALL of our friends and family were there...all of the special people in our lives.  Our vows were beautiful, and as we said the words "you are my best friend", both of our voices cracked with tears. I get goosebumps just thinking about that moment.
The rest of that day was spent celebrating with our favorite people.  Food, dancing, fun times.  We literally danced the night away...we were still out there on the dance floor as they began sweeping up the floor and tearing down the decorations.  Matt and I got into our stickers-and-balloon covered car and drove downtown to our secret hotel room (you will understand this if you know our friends...or if you knew them at that point in our lives. if they knew where our room was, there would be NO privacy whatsoever! Gotta love them though!)  Matt carried me across the threshold of the hotel room, and as we collapsed from exhaustion onto the bed, we both realized that we had not eaten dinner.  Matt disappeared for about 20 minutes, and came back with the most delicious grilled cheese sandwich I have ever eaten (along with some candy bars and a pop, all of my favorites!). 

The day was absolutely perfect.  It TRULY was.  The weather was perfect, the wedding was perfect, the reception was perfect, and we shared every minute of it with our favorite people in the whole world.  I would not change a SINGLE thing.

Five years later, and I love him more with every year. He is the husband I always knew he would be...in fact, he's more.  He has given me a beautiful life, one that many girls would truly kill for (well..probably not truly kill for, but you know what I mean!), and the three most wonderful children in the entire world.

Happy anniversary, Sparky.  You are my favorite.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Letter to my First-Born

In May, you all read my letter to my second-born son, Cooper, for his second birthday.  Today is all about my first-born, Sam, who is FOUR years old today.  Here's to you, Sammie...

Dear Sam,
Four years ago, I became a mother for the very first time.  Although I had just turned 24 years old a few weeks before that, I felt like I had been waiting for that moment forever.  I always wanted to be a mommy, and considering your daddy and I have been together since we were sixteen years old, I had been thinking about our family for a long time!  When I found out I was pregnant, I can't explain the rush of excitement...it was like I was on a roller coaster.  I loved being pregnant, and couldn't wait to see the face of our firstborn.  We knew your name would be Sam, either boy or girl, because you are named after my Grandpa Sam.  When we found out you were a boy, I was so excited. I always wanted to have a boy first, for some reason.

The last month or so of the pregnancy was a little rough, with some false alarms and trips to the hospital.  But, on the morning of August 22nd, 2008, I just knew that it was the day.  I was going to be a mommy! Your Grandma and Grandpa drove me to the hospital, and they confirmed--I was having a baby that day!  Daddy came from work, and at 5:51pm you arrived...and WHAT an arrival it was! Since you were my first baby, I didn't have anything to compare you to, so I had no concept of how big you were. When they weighed you, the doctor said "weigh him again".  I couldn't see the scale, but I heard her repeat the words "weigh him again".  After the third time weighing you, they confirmed:  10 pounds 1 ounce!  I could NOT believe it! And 22 1/4 inches long! You were HUGE!

Just a short time after you were born, the room was filled with so many family and friends that had been anxiously awaiting your arrival.  It was such a wonderful moment; one I will never forget.  Your four grandparents were the first ones to come in, and when my dad (your grandpa Roark) found out that your name was Samuel Roark, the look on his face was priceless. Priceless.  Such sweet, sweet memories. Those first few days in the hospital were filled with visitors and time for daddy and I to fall completely in love with you.  When we brought you home, we were greeted with another big group of people who love you.  Such a lucky baby!

Turns out you were the only baby we brought home to our first house.  When we sold our house, we moved in with your Grandma and Grandpa, and those were some good times.  We filled their house with stuff (and I mean filled), but the fact that their first and only grandson was living in their house kind of outweighed that issue! You loved living there, having so many people loving on you and spoiling you every day.  You were a good baby, you slept through the night and didn't fuss much at all.  When you turned a year old, it was QUITE the event. Again, you are so lucky!



By the time we found a new house, Mommy was nearly 8 months pregnant with your brother. We were still living with Grandma and Grandpa, and you were still my only baby.  You loved reading books, walking to the bridge, and watching your favorite movie, "Country Bears".  When your brother arrived, you were quite the new man...you were SO rough on him! (granted, you were only 21 months old...it's only natural!)  It took some time to get you used to the idea of baby brother, but after a while you did good and grew to love baby Cooper.  We moved into our home, and you enjoyed showing everyone your new frog room and giving them the tour of your house.

You celebrated your 2nd birthday at the end of our first summer in the house.  I couldn't believe you were 2 years old.  We took your picture by the tree out front, and before I knew it we were taking it again for your 3rd birthday. And now...ANOTHER year has passed! You've grown up so much since we moved in here.  You still love reading books and walking to the bridge or the park, but Country Bears has been replaced by Batman, Cars, and Shrek.  You are still too rough on your brother, but at the same time the two of you are the best of friends.  I hope you never forget how much you two loved each other...how he follows you around and says and does everything that you say and do.  How you play Batman and Robin, running around chasing the bad guys. 

You are my big boy now, Sam.  You sleep all night, you get yourself dressed in the morning, you get yourself a drink and you go to the bathroom all by yourself.  You help me pick up the toys, you watch out for your brother, and you take care of your brand-new baby sister.  All year you have told people that you wanted your sister to come for your birthday.  Well, she arrived 3 weeks early, so she will be here for your birthday! In these days since I brought Nora home, I have thought so much about those days after I brought my first baby home.  A LOT has happened in the past four years, but a mother never forgets those moments with her first baby...when we don't know what to expect, when we worry about every little thing, when we don't have anything else to do all day besides sit and stare at your beautiful little face.

Today you are four years old, Samuel Roark, but a part of me will always look at you and see that little (well, not THAT little, I guess!) baby boy laying there on my chest looking at me in the eyes for the very first time.  There is nothing in this world like meeting your children, and there's just something about the first...






...and until you have a firstborn of your own (which I hope I'm around to meet, too!), you will never know how much your Mommy and Daddy love you.  I hope and pray that you have a life filled with laughter, happy memories, and as little sadness or hurting as possible.  That is my job as your mommy, and I hope to do it well.  As for now, please stop growing so fast (you are already the size of a six year old!), and remember that to us, you are everything.  We are proud of the little man you have become, and we look forward to seeing the boy you grow up to be.  Happy birthday, my little man. I love you to the moon and back.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Give Me A Break


Project “clean up the house” has been underway at our house for about a week now.  I’m still not sure if the other four people who live in my house are aware of this fact, but anyway…

…in the last two months, I have given birth to my third child, gone back to two of my teaching jobs, and started a bakery with some family members…just to mention a few things.  Throw in writing for two blogs, making baby blankies, and packing us all up for a weekend away from home for a wedding (I’m still un-packing, and we’ve been home 10 days), and it’s safe to say that my house needs some attention.  Especially considering these next two months include hosting a baby shower, two different weekends with out-of-town guests, and an open house for the bakery. Whew!

So, as I’m knee deep in toys, laundry, Halloween decorations, and half-packed bags (did I mention we are going on a mini-vacation two days from now? Yeah…), my son comes downstairs to find me and says “Mommy, can we go for a walk?”  I had just gotten into the “organizing” groove, I had piles and piles of things to do…and yet, the thought of a walk seemed heavenly.

To be honest, it was.  Walking outside with my family, my three boys and my precious baby girl, was exactly what I needed.  The Fall air was crisp, perfect.  My sons laughed, my daughter looked around at the trees towering over her stroller, and my husband and I shared some much-needed adult conversation.

As I tackled Project Clean Up later that night, I did it with a smile on my face.  I pray that God always reminds me to take a break.  Especially when the break includes spending quality time with my four favorite people in the whole world.

The house can wait.  (That’s pretty obvious!)
 

 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sam Said What?

In continuing with the post "Cooper said what?", I am sharing with you today another one-liner from my hilarious boys...this time it's Sam, my four-year-old. Although he became a big brother to Cooper at 21 months old, he has recently become a big brother yet again, this time to his baby sister Nora. With Cooper, he was...well, let's say...we had to watch him EVERY minute.  He pushed, hit, bit, kicked...all before Cooper was even six months old!  With Nora, it's a totally different story. He LOVES her.  He brings her toys, sings to her, tells her stories, and protects her from Cooper at all times.  However, I know that he is still dealing with the idea of having another baby in the house, another person to steal Mommy and Daddy's attention.  I can see this in the way that he acts sometimes, even though (thankfully) he is not taking it out on Nora.  One of the things he has been doing is baby-talking, which honestly grates my nerves. We tell him to talk like a big boy, and usually he does it right away, but the other day the baby-talking would NOT stop.  I finally just looked at him and said "Sam, do NOT talk like a baby!". He looked at me, then he got his "I'm thinking of a response" look on his face...finally, he smiles and says "Mommy, babies don't talk."









Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cooper Said What?

A new series for the blog...sharing with you the HILARIOUS things that my children say.  It's guaranteed to make you smile!

The other day, we were sitting at the breakfast table and baby Nora sneezed.  I said, "Salud" ("Bless you" in Spanish) to her, and then her big brother Cooper (2 years old) chimed in.

"Salud," he repeated.  Then he switched to English and said, "Bless you, Nora".

I just smiled; he's so cute. But it only got cuter...the next thing, he is singing the "Happy Birthday" song to his baby sister.

And, as if that weren't enough cuteness for one morning, as soon as he finishes singing happy birthday, he looks at me, smiles, and says "Amen".

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Year of the Couch.


Another garage-sale tale...

...a couple years ago, my mom and her friend dubbed it "the year of the furniture" from the garage sales.  It seemed like every week we were buying pieces of furniture at the sales.  We laughed so hard; our cars were so full that we would have to unload and head back out 2 or 3 times in a single day!
...fast forward to 2012, which we have deemed not the year of the furniture, but more specifically, "the year of the couch".  I'm not sure exactly how many couches we've gotten, but I know we got two in the past week, and this last one was the ULTIMATE couch bargain. 
My Aunt Becky has been looking for another couch for her house, and this weekend she and my mom were at a sale, and my mom saw a rather new-looking couch in the back of the garage. She asked if it was for sale, and the woman said "sure, it's for sale. We bought it and it wouldn't fit down our hallway, so we've never even used it".  My mom asked how much she wanted for it, and the woman said "How about $75?"
$75 for a brand new couch.  Ashley Furniture. Never even been sat on!  Now, you may think this is the end of the story...but remember who we are talking about here.  My mom, the ultimate bargain-hunter.  "I'll give you $50," she says.

And so, there is a brand new couch in my garage, waiting for Becky to take it to her house.  And it cost her $50.  It really is the year of the couch, no questions asked.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Guest Blogger: "Home Again"

I am so excited to finally have this post put together.  The author is Therese, who grew up in the house where my husband and I are raising our children. I am SO glad to have her as a guest blooger for "The Good"!  Take it away, Therese...

You can go home again --- at least to Sara and Matt's house.
 
I know it is cliché.  You can't go home again.  Like up there with “things will get better”.  I did have the fantastic experience and discovered that I could go home again; even if the home belongs to strangers. 

Nagle family in front of the fireplace, 1967
Let's back up.  I was one of the family of ten children that grew up in where Sara and Matt live.  My parents picked the lot to build a house on based on the proximity of the new Catholic high school as it was going up a couple blocks west.  When they moved in, they had 5 kids (well, my brother was born two weeks later) and then proceeded to have five more.  My parents also made a home for Gloria, a Ukrainian orphaned by WWII.  Gloria lived with my family for seven years.  Gloria  moved with my family from their house on Denison Ave. to the new house.  She left in the late 50's when she became a nun.  Needless to say, the house was bursting in many wonderful ways.

the Nagles, 1979
My parents lived in the house for almost 35 years.  They sold the house to one of my brothers who lived there with his family for ten years.  The house was in the Nagle family for almost 45 years.  It was sold again and the rumors were not good.  At one point, it went into foreclosure. 

Several times when I was back to visit, I knocked on the door, but never found anyone home.  About 18 months ago, I was down visiting my parents and my Mom and I were running errands.  “I want to drive by the old house”  I told her.  It was on a weekday afternoon, and finding someone home was not likely.  We pulled up and I told my Mom I was going to see if anyone is home.  Matt greeted me and I explained who I was and asked if I could come in.  A few steps in and I was pleased and shocked at all the changes.  The house looked gorgeous and very different.  I told Matt that my Mom was in the car and would really enjoy seeing it.  Matt was gracious and very generous that January afternoon.

My Mom and I spent a delightful 45 minutes (thank you Matt) going through each room, exclaiming over the wonderful and beautiful renovations.  We walked through each room and told stories, reminiced  and throughly enjoyed ourselves.  The renovations were amazing.  The kitchen has an island! (Not in fashion when I lived in the house).  The kids' bathroom upstairs has become a laundry room and my old bedroom is now a bathroom!  Wait a minute, I did not agree to this!  I am not serious, the house looks beautiful and the changes make a lot of sense.



the Meehans in front of the SAME fireplace, 2012
Matt humored us.  He didn't even complain when I opened up a cabinet in the laundry room f/k/a kids' bathroom because it was the only thing left of the bathroom I used for almost two decades.  I think Matt enjoyed hearing our stories as well. 

While we were getting ready to leave, I wrote my name down and suggested that he “friend” me on Facebook as there were photos on my FB page taken in the house when I was a kid.  Sara friended me and we have become FB friends that most likely will never meet.  It has been wonderful fun to see photos of her family living in the house, photos of her kids playing in the same rooms I did. 

I told Matt that day in January, all those months ago, I will take liberty and speak for all of my siblings. We are thrilled to see another family laughing, growing, living in our (their) house. 


You can go home again.....even if it is someone else's house.   

Therese Nagle Kiser