Category Archives: The Teenage Life

My Baby Turns 21

wehere2This week my baby boy turned 21 years old. He’s “legal”.

birthday3It’s hard to wrap my mind around it. He was just doing dishes with his sister after dinner yesterday.

Today he’s pretty much on his own in North Dakota, hopefully doing dishes in his own sink.

blizzard9I dug up some old photos in no particular order – in random memory throughout the years. The laughs – there were many of those.

blizzard91Like when he threw himself off the back porch into about three feet of snow.


blizzard6It was hilariously epic.

boys1He’s always had great taste in friends – some just as goofy as he is and all keep us in stitches.

face5He loves to photo bomb every lens.

face3And never likes to take a serious photo. Life is too short to do that.

hotfood4He’s always laughing – always.

upward3He learned leadership skills on the soccer team as a coach/babysitter. He was great at it.

driversed1The kids loved him.

homecoming3I never know what will come on any day.

annhand4Because he loves life . . . and bears.

driversed3Long photo sessions don’t always thrill him though . . .

madame8But if you ever need anyone to deliver a glass of wine to the next boat – he’s your guy.

boise4Ever since he was five years old, he’s looked to the sky and dreamed of being a pilot.

tom5So he went to school to study aviation. We left him on the plains of North Dakota on his 18th birthday. I broke out in hives on the 1500 mile journey home.

At the time it seemed traumatic – but he made friends. And went to hockey games. And now North Dakota is his second home.

flystock3And he became a pilot.
tom1We are so proud of him. And so was Mr Tom who the boy looked up to as a mentor and father figure and who passed away two years later. So much life happened in so little time. We have to grasp it quickly and with passion. He knows how to do that better than almost anyone I know.

instagram2In the meantime, this type of scene stopped happening here. Boys didn’t come around much anymore.

thanksgiving23And his sister missed him awfully.

ugly4He only comes home on holidays now but when he does come home it’s like he’s never been away. And he rocks the ugly Christmas sweater.

vacation2We do take the occasional vacation once in a while. This was Puerto Rico a year ago. We’re lucky the local federalies didn’t come after us for breaking and entering.

june7His school schedule is such that he misses some milestones, like his sister’s high school graduation and this year, we missed being with him on his 21st birthday.

virtual2He’s a great kid. Truly. And he makes us so proud.

photo-12He is fun loving, sweet, smart, grounded, wise, and sentimental.  We look forward to making many more memories with our boy.

We love you buddy.

Finals – Finals – Finals

hip1Right before the husband went into surgery, the boy texted this to his dad. It could be a statement on the doctor’s surgical skills but the husband, while laying on his hospital gurney, attached to IVs, waiting to get wheeled into surgery, broke out into a guffaw.

That boy! What are we gonna do with him?

The husband is doing very well and recovering nicely. If you were to ask him, he would say that it didn’t hurt at all. The first week after surgery was a case study in aggressive pain management. It paid off because if the patient is painfully uncomfortable, it delays the recovery, so I set the alarm clock every three hours to make sure we stayed ahead of the pain. Now the husband is doing laps around the house, with a cane of course.

Because I’ve been awake every three hours for a week and cooked Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve not had time to be creative and shoot photos – nor to think about Christmas. The husband’s birthday snuck up on me – and we celebrated by sleeping all day. I don’t have much, if any Christmas decorations up. I don’t know if it’s that important this year. Our tree is not up yet, but I still have time don’t I? Christmas is still ten days away, a long way off.

And then there’s the kids. The girl came home last week from college with the declaration that she wants to transfer to Columbia University. You know, the one in New York City with the 5% acceptance rate. We’re not sure how we’re going to handle this – but I’ll keep you informed. The two or three weeks at the end of every semester, the boy goes incommunicado. Every once in a while we hear from him – and he looks mostly scruffy.

hip2He asked about his father and I said I was proud of him. He said he’s studying, and that he was proud too. I must have said something back that irked him because then I got this.

hipe3Geesh . . . sensitive. Finals must be really tough this semester.

hip4I asked him if he was flying or studying for finals – and I get this. I really think he’s been studying too hard.

The weather in Grand Forks has not been good, but that’s no surprise. Since the weather isn’t cooperating, I wonder if the boy is going to make it home for Christmas, I really do. This happened last year too. The good thing is this, we don’t have to worry about moving him in and out of the dorm at a certain time. That was always stressful.

hip5We communicated again the other day and I told him it looked like he hasn’t slept or shaved in days. Both are correct he says.

hip6But . . . at least he’s showering. I told him I liked his sweater to which he said –

hip7Yes it is. This entire ugly Christmas sweater phenomenon is really catching on among the co-ed crowd.

As mundane as this conversation is, I was still happy to hear from him. I know finals are tough, but it’s a rite of passage and I feel that it’s building character. Life is hard.

In the meantime, our neighbors were talking about doing a cultural event this year – like we did last year when we went to see the Book of Morman and ate dinner in the Pope Room of Bucca Di Peppe. It was a very ecumenical night, depending on your view of these religions. Anyways . . . as it turns out, no one wanted to go anywhere or do anything. What – my humbuggity is rubbing off on our neighbors too?

hip8Instead of going out on the town to one of the many great holiday cultural events in Washington DC, we all went to Neighbors Steve & Sue’s house and hung out around their kitchen counter.hip9They continue to be the best hosts I’ve ever known. It was a pot luck and her home remains the best party place. It’s beautiful, warm and so provencale. Neighbor Sue confessed to me that it’s been a tough holiday season for her too. She lost someone close to her recently.

hip10I wanted to show you her beautiful table centerpiece:)

hip11It was a fun night. We ought to hang out at her house more often.

Today I’m thinking about Christmas again, as in how and where we are going to spend it. As always it depends on when the boy gets home from school. And that depends on the weather in Grand Forks and whether or not it will allow any flying to happen between now and then. And I have no control over any of it.

I was on the boy’s photostream last night though, just wanted to see what he was up to.

hip12I saw this photo. I don’t know where he was or who he was with – but he’s shaved!

hip16And I also saw this – I wonder who they were so star struck over.

hip18She must be someone special.

hip14They appear to be very impressed.

hip15And there were a lot of photos – wish I knew who she was.

I’ll ask the boy – after his finals are over . . .

Yikes, She Says

princess1The husband was looking through some photos for the boy and found the above. This was the girl’s five year old birthday party. We had a princess dress up tea party and I invited a bunch of her little friends. We had a dress up session along with a runway show. It’s funny at even at five years old, she was so shy that she refused to walk the runway even when all her little friends were hamming it up.

After the show, she was the guest of honor at a tea party where they tasted different little sandwiches and drank tea of our flowered tea cups. I’m going to have to dig out those photos.

It was my last chance to get her into a princess dress and crown. It was so cute at the time, but I look back now and I think of how different she is now.

transformationtuesdaySee what I mean? Us moms, we’re just crazy aren’t we? Ha!

princess2I sent her the photo and as her dad and I fawned over the pic, she said, “Yikes.”

Not that’s more like her:)

All Creatures Slimy, Crawly & Strange

flip3My girl as never been intimated by any animal. She has always been fascinated – frankly she makes me nervous.

creatures1There were times when I felt her curiosity puts her in danger. Alright – maybe not danger per se, but in situations that would intimate most people.

creatures5Last weekend while on our visit to my hometown, I took all the cousins to the stream where they went exploring.

creatures8The girls started wading into the stream further and further.

creatures6Then I see this – I wondered what she was doing. Look at her hair in the water! It must be something really fascinating –

creatures7“Look Mama!,” she says. It’s a crawfish shell. Absolutely fascinating.

Well – not really.

creatures3So then she waded back into the water and found a live crawfish which caused a lot of squealing of delight.

creatures4Look at this thing! Ugh! After “playing” with it for a while, they let it go. It’s probably traumatized.

creatures2We found another snake skin. I wanted to get out of there!

creatures9Here are a couple more creatures we saw last weekend. Anyone know what kind of spider this is?

creatures91Look at this beautiful dragon fly. I finally caught him with his wings open.

creatures92I spy a fly –

Anyone else itching?


The Flip


The boy came home last Friday for the summer. I know that summer is almost over but that’s how it goes. I spent a lot of years praying for independence and now I’m asking him if he is ever coming home. He spent the week in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, flew in last Friday, switched out his suitcase and then we drove the 7 hours to Pennsylvania to my home town.

This photo was at Uncle Ed’s and before his hair cut. Speaking of hair, check out the flip by the girl. Girls are really funny when they prep for a photo.


Beautiful. Brother & sister together again. They claimed they didn’t dress alike on purpose.

flip3And then there’s this. The girl is totally fascinated by reptiles, snakes, and various gross  creepy crawling creatures. All I know is that she didn’t get it from me.


A Fan Club

ashow94A lot of folks came out to watch the girl compete last weekend. The crowd went wild!

ashow6Well, maybe not wild per se . . .

The prom date’s father came to watch for a bit. I don’t know what he’s saying to her but she’s perhaps smiling too much at the boy to notice.

ashow7The best friend’s father came to watch as well that day. For some reason, the dads were out in full force.

ashow991Sydney-girl was so supportive of the girl. Even when the girl didn’t do so well she was lifting her up with encouraging words. Just like a good friend would.

ashow992And then she walked with her back and forth, back and forth. She went way and beyond – so sweet.

ashow993In the meantime, the crowd was getting restless between events and started climbing the sand pile instead. Little Matt was so cute, he kept saying, “where’s (the girl?) Is she going to come in first?”

We all hope so, but it doesn’t always happen that way unfortunately…

ashow994Sophie-girl used to ride on the team but now is riding at the collegiate level. She continues to support the girl in her riding endeavors though. This girl was a leader to the team and continues to be so still even after graduating. She’s going to be president one day!

ashow99Here’s her biggest fan though. It’s her dad, giving her horseback riding advice, or maybe he’s just telling her not to fall off.

ashow96She was determined to perform well for her fans.

ashow92And I know she was appreciative of all the support even though her performance may not have been all she hoped for.

ashow93To her mamma and all her fans, she was perfect!

June 20, Commuter

The weekend is right around the corner and I’m sure all the commuters in urban areas all over the country are letting out a collective anticipated sigh.


I on the other hand, am gearing up for a long weekend of work. I appreciate what I do, and where I do it even more than ever this week. Why? It’s because the girl, along with her friend Sydney, started an internship this week and they are among the millions who commute to work using public transportation.

june20bSo far it’s going well but I admit, I had a lot of trepidation about this, considering the distance of the commute to her office and her age so we explored a lot of options, including driving, the bus, and the metro.

june20cWe made a test drive last weekend and I realized there is not much more dangerous than an inexperienced driver on the beltway surrounding our nation’s capital at the height of commuter times. We considered the bus but that’s not an option for many reasons. We settled the metro and after a week, I’ve stopped biting my fingernails and have settled into a settled uneasiness. Those two things are a dichotomy but it’s the best description of my feelings of their commute.

june20aI took the trip with them on their first day to help them navigate the system. On our way home, I boarded a train ahead of the girls and they didn’t make it in on time. I turned around and the doors closed, leaving them standing on the platform with nervousness on their faces as my train pulled away. I got off at the next stopped and called them. They insisted they were fine and we eventually made the trip separately but ended up on the same train and at the correct destination, it was a relief.

june20dIt’s a great opportunity and there will be times when the girls will be able catch a hop right to the office, but all other times, they will do it on their own.

I’m sure I’ll get used to this new normal as the summer wears on. For all the commuters out there, TGIF!

FaceTime Photo Shoot

The boy is at school for at least the first part of the summer. His schedule is such that he couldn’t make it home for the girl’s graduation or he would be too far behind in his studies and his flight schedule. We decided that he could still do a photo shoot with the family via FaceTime. It worked really well, like he was right here with us. He saw how we were dressed and he said, “Should I have dressed up?” We thought his Nodak Nation shirt was perfect.


Here are the grandparents with their grandkids –

My parents made the trip down to the girl’s graduation ceremony and I really appreciated it very much. They’ve had a couple of years of difficulty with their health and I know it was an effort. Because they made the trip, I was able to get this photo of them and the kids. It’s priceless.


Here they are with the boy. He’s so funny, he had us laughing the entire time.

The boy wanted to do this Brady Bunch shot, what a goof ball. We passed the iPad around as we shifted people in and out of the shots and while his grandpa was holding it he said, “Is this how you used to hold me when I was a baby?” Crazy boy.


She’s her daddy’s sweetheart. I love this photo.


Here’s the family! I wish I there was another person here to take a photo of all of us but that’s alright. I love this shot anyway.


We couldn’t all get into one photo so we took turns with the camera instead and I was able to jump into a couple of shots. I forgot to put my arm on my hip here –

The girl so sweetly told him that it was alright that he couldn’t make the trip for graduation, that she understood. They get along now the way they did when they were little.

These two are my world –


… No, I Won’t Go


The girl had another show last weekend and it was like many others before – pretty standard and mundane. No one fell off and was hurt – thank you God. Those are always scary moments and I never seem to be able to capture them because I end up chewing on my knuckles until I’m assured that the girl is fine.

The most interesting thing that happened was after the show. The horses were washed, put into the trailers and I was just about to get into the car when I looked over and saw this.

trailer96Someone didn’t want to get into his trailer – C’mon Maverick, it’s pasture bed time.

trailer98I watched for a few minutes and as I do every time, I ran to get my camera.

Olivia-girl was doing her best and one tactic was to bribe Maverick.

trailer94Gently . . . C’mon Maverick . . . follow me . . .

Take the treat . . . and quit horsing around . . .

Almost . . . .

. . . but at the last minute, Maverick says neighhhhh to the treat and pulls away.

Here’s another tactic . . .

I don’t want to be a neighhhhh-sayer, but I was skeptical of this tactic, and even after all these years, I still have no idea the difference between a bridle and a bit.

It didn’t work – apparently Maverick doesn’t like a rope tied around his bum. It was a nightmare . . .

It was then that a hero horse whisperer with a pink horse on his t-shirt showed up. He took command of this situation and of Maverick. It was really amazing to watch. I’ve often times thought about what would happen if an animal as big as a horse decided to do something contrary to what the girls wanted and I witnessed it first hand. Then again, with proper handling these horses become complacent and docile. It’s amazing.

You could say he came to bale the girls out.

The Horse Whisperer took a short piece of rope with a knot at the end and began to gently tape Maverick’s hind legs with it over and over and over again. The situation was beginning to look stable.

He walked Maverick in circles one way, tapping his back end, and then reversed direction. He did this for about 10 minutes, getting Maverick used to the feel of the rope – I guess, I’m not really sure why he was doing it but it appeared to calm Maverick down and make him compliant. He was under the control of the Horse Whisperer. You could say the Horse Whisperer is now the mane man.

The Horse Whisperer moved Maverick closer and closer to the trailer and each time Maverick decided he didn’t want to get in – the Horse Whisperer would back him up and try again – over and over. Oh well, you whinny some and you lose some.

Olivia-girl reassures Maverick and if I was closer, I would probably hear a lot of horse cajoling. I think she was trying to stirrup some emotion in him.

And then, after about 20 minutes, amazingly . . .

Can it be?

He goes into the trailer! That’s the way to harness success!

But then – what? She’s taking him out? After all of that?

In order for the horse to enter the trailer on his own he must be taught to not be afraid to do so. After all, the Horse Whisperer will not always be around when Maverick has to go to a show.

I must say a word or two about how brave is our Olivia-girl. She was being thrown about by Maverick and hung in there.

Finally, after four tries . . .

Amazing . . . Maverick walks to the trailer. We all knew that Maverick couldn’t resist furlough . . .

. . .  and gets in of his own volition. Now that – is how you change a horse’s mind.

I love watching the girl ride but I also love watching her and the other girls work. There’s so much that’s being taught at that horse farm that is helping them develop character and fortitude.

I would apologize for all the lame horse puns but I was just horsing around . . . (slapping my knee)

Happy Wednesday everyone –

June 7, Passages

june7Thank you for all of your wonderful support over the last week. This is a great moment of celebration – a high spot. The boy couldn’t be home for the girl’s graduation so we did a family facetime, and he was able to be a part of the photos. It was so much fun, mostly because the boy made it fun – because that’s how he is. He couldn’t be here, but his sister really loved seeing him on her special day.

Graduation was full of celebration, pomp & ceremony, and just plain silliness. It was wonderful. Can’t wait to tell you all about it!