It’s been a busy several days around here, so I’ll use that as the crutch when I place blame for not writing here for the last couple of days.
I was up at the crack of doom on Saturday morning–4:30, to be precise–in order to make sure the rest of the herd was awake, fed, dressed, cleaned up, and ready to leave home at 6:30 to get the kids to the vans for their servant trip out west.
What’s that? I haven’t mentioned that here before? Let me rectify that. All three of our under-18 set have headed out to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming as part of their servant trip with church. All of this would be perfectly okay, of course, had we not been out that way not 10 months earlier, with somewhat disastrous results–read: the Casper Super 8 Hostage Situation. They’ll do some good works out there, have some time with their fellow youth from our church and several others, and come back sometime late in the afternoon on Saturday.
But back to the story: I was up at 4:30 as part of the plan to get everyone out in time to meet the 2 rented vans taking two churches’ worth of youth and their adult supervision out to the hinterlands of Wyoming.
Then, sometime before 7:30, we headed out from there to go meet up with some of Jenni’s friends for a breakfast in St. Paul at the New Louisiana Cafe–mostly recommended, though their biscuits and gravy had mild sausage and really peppery gravy.
After that, we headed to Rochester to finally inter my grandparents. See, they both left their bodies to Mayo (the clinic, not the condiment), after which their ashes (though not cremated, rather chemically and otherwise dried and dissolved…or something like that) were returned. As expected, we’ve had my grandmother’s ashes for a while now, but grandpa’s finally came back a couple of months ago. Our first attempt at disposal met with a snag in the form of the huge may snowstorm, which blanketed Rochester in a foot or so of the white stuff, so we regrouped and settled on this date for the last scattering and some celebration.
It was a fine family gathering, as we placed some remains along with mementos in a small crypt at their burial plot, and then proceeded to the pasture, which they had bought ages ago and long since had sold to one of my uncles. Once there, after a nice lunch, we flung the last of the ashes, complete with a toast to what was left:
We got home late Saturday afternoon, by which time, I’d already been awake for 12 hours and had driven probably around 200 miles. I was going to relax and maybe fall asleep in front of the TV, until I discovered that the nearly 2-inch rainfall of that late afternoon had decided to find its way into about half of the basement. Shop Vac time…
We slept in on Sunday, but then headed out to brunch with mom and dad at Hell’s Kitchen, then back home for a bit, then out to Joe’s Crab Shack so Jenni could have a Father’s Day dinner with her dad. Having topped up on crab, we headed home for another round of vacuuming and then some baking. Gluten-free cupcake baking…Good stuff.
Monday was busy at work, and not so busy at home, but I just didn’t feel like writing. So I didn’t.
And that catches you up. So lesson learned: when the kids aren’t here, the quiet just gets tiring. That said, it doesn’t mean we won’t send them all away again.
See you tomorrow.
Sorry that this is appearing on Monday night instead of Sunday night as normal. But last night, I just felt like being lazy after dinner, flipped around on the TiVo between recorded shows and baseball and then settled down to watch Mad Men. By the time that was over, it was 10, and I was done for the night.
To the first order of business: I can proudly report that I dropped 3.4 pounds last week, almost doubling the total so far, so I’m up past the 7 pound mark. And, in a more positive note, that’s almost 5% of my goal. Put that way, it’s almost inspiring.
The weekend was great in our little corner of the world. Patrick geeked out with friends on Saturday while the girls and I went at working on clearing out more of the back yard. And we made a great deal of progress, which helps the motivation levels on continuing. So I’m starting to make my short list of projects to tackle when I have the promised family mob over to help work around the house sometime next month.
On Saturday night, we headed out to a family friendly comedy show in Uptown. None of the kids had ever been to an improv show, but Patrick in particular really loved it, so it looks like we’ll be heading back sometime. If you’re interested, go check out ComedySportz. Fun team-type improv games.
The kids have all headed into the last week of school, which means that in just days, we’ll have a high school senior in our midst, plus a pair of 8th graders…Somewhere, young me is just sobbing uncontrollably. And old me is just groaning.
I’m proud to report that the van–which had been experiencing problems–was fixed to the tune of $8, which certainly makes my budgeting happy. See, the power steering had been making noise, and I’d checked the belt, determined the belt was fine, so reasoned it must be the power steering pump going bad. Googled that to find the ballpark on pricing, and cringed at the thought of paying that much for something so close to the top of the engine. So when we were out during Memorial weekend, the steering finally gave up, and I had to muscle it around corners. But yesterday, while Googling the topic some more to see if it might have been something easy and inexpensive enough for me to do, I discovered a thread that had a surprisingly simple thought: check the fluid level, stupid. One $8 bottle of power steering fluid later, some running of the engine, and an overnight to let things settle in, and we seem to be back in business without the bothersome pump squealing. Next time, I’ll try to ask all of the correct questions to the car problem.
In the meantime, I have no more news to report on my big announcement of last week. We’re getting closer, I’m told, but nothing that can be actually announced yet. But I’m pretty sure I can share the news that Jenni was hired as a permanent employee at her job, so a big congrats to her! She’s the happiest I’ve seen her in a job for a long time, so it feels like this long, strange trip we’ve taken over the last few years may have found its purpose.
Finally, I’m trying to do some more work on the back side of the entire website, and trying to sort out a conundrum on Jenni’s site. Nothing on the blog, because I’m actually pretty happy with it for now. But I’m working on making the framework for some of the other parts of this thing that I want to put together. It’s probably a few weeks off yet, but it’s still slow steady progress on my site. The fix for Jenni’s site is proving a little more elusive, but it’s all part of the learning process.
Thanks for sticking around, all.
See you tomorrow.
I’ve debated about even putting up this post, but it’s big and important, and I can’t really talk about it in too many specifics. So with apologies for the vagaries, here’s the deal: it’s all good.
Over the course of just about 24 hours, Jenni and then I received some good news at work. Both are apparently small changes that really mean much more important things, and we’re both thrilled both for ourselves and for each other, because the news has been that good.
Honestly, it’s been a long road to getting back to news that’s this good at work for each of us, so we have reasons to celebrate. For me, it feels great to really feel energized and excited about work again. And I’m pretty sure that Jenni’s excited about her developments too.
But for now, I can’t talk at all about my change because it hasn’t been announced yet. And I’ll let Jenni either publicly announce her news or give me permission to announce it before I’ll put it here. But I’d expect you’ll have the full story here within a few days.
In the meantime, I will accept your hearty, if somewhat confused, praise.
See you tomorrow.
Yes kids, conclusive proof that I’m the talentless hack in the household…
So, for the three of you out there who haven’t seen the videos on Facebook, I’ll bring them to you here, but first the setup, so you know what this was all about.
The kids are heading off to our family’s favorite state–Wyoming–this summer on a servant trip for church. As is normal for these things, we’ve worked in, run, and participated in several fundraisers to help keep our portion of the cost down. And as a parent of three kids going on the trip, I greatly appreciate that.
So, on Saturday, the church held the latest fundraiser: a talent show. The overall talent was from across the whole church, but the proceeds–ticket sales, and tip jars at the tables–went to the trip expenses.
My crew offered up their talents to the show, and I played a behind-the-scenes role, serving as lead geek for the affair (read: running the sound system, videotaping, getting some photos, and the like). So, in chronological order of their performance, I give you the Lathropworld contributions to the show.
Hannah and Zoe performed what perhaps may have been the toughest act of the four you’ll see: Zoe sang, a capella, while Hannah provided the percussion using a plastic cup.
Patrick followed later with some card tricks (don’t worry, you didn’t miss any more than about 5 seconds of the start of his act when the video finally kicks in). Oh, and his first victim…er…volunteer, is our pastor.
Then came one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen anyone in my family do: Patrick and Jenni demonstrate how to give communion. And what may make it even better is that it wasn’t scripted, nor practiced. They worked out a brief framework, but it was all ad lib.
And then, right after that, they came back and did a similar skit about baptism.
I can’t tell you how proud I am of my entire family. They rocked their performances, and, really, all are natural entertainers. Even is some of them don’t think so.
And honestly, I still can’t keep from laughing whenever I watch the communion video.
For those that have seen this already, thanks for playing along. For the rest of you, enjoy.
See you tomorrow.
Eighteen years ago, I put a ring on my wife’s finger and made her my wife. It was the first mistake I’d make as her husband, but certainly not the last. And she’s been there with me for eighteen years since accepting my challenges, loving me, and being my best friend.
A mistake, you ask? Well, yes. We’d gotten to the ring part of the wedding ceremony and with the ring in my hand and the words of the pastor swirling in my head, I reached for Jenni’s hand. Her right hand. As in the wrong hand. And she was pulling her right hand back.
I think–because after eighteen years, some of the specifics of that day are a little hazy–there was a brief moment when I wondered to myself what she was trying to do here. But then, somehow, probably at her urging, I figured it out and finally grabbed the left hand. The right hand. The correct hand.
Eighteen years later, we’ll still laugh about that. I’ll still feel a twinge of embarrassment about it. But that day and that mistake was just the start of a long, wonderful time together as husband and wife.
Sure, there have been good times and bad. But probably, when it’s all said and done, I don’t know that I’d change a thing about our life together because without the bad times, we’d never have learned things about life and our relationship. And without the good times, we probably wouldn’t have our kids or each other or the remarkably happy life that we do have together.
I said it in my vows and it continues to hold true: Jenni is my best friend, my wife, and my lover. She’s the one I look forward to seeing and talking to every day about the good and bad of my day. She’s the one I enjoy telling my awful jokes to. She’s the one who I love to make smile.
And she was the one who brought three other people who I look forward to seeing and talking to every single day. And I love being silly and sharing things with Patrick, Hannah and Zoe just as much as I do with Jenni.
I’ve been told a few times by a few different people over the last eighteen-plus years that marriage and relationships are a constantly changing thing. One of those people jokingly told me to always remember those two little words–Yes, Dear–but then he put it into a completely brilliant context: change and keep up with your life together and what kids and money and all other factors bring into it, but always be true to yourself and your role in your marriage.
I’m always here for Jenni, sometimes not how she wants–I try to want to fix things too much instead of just listening–and she’s always there for me. And the best part about it is that I think both of us just know that and it makes things that much easier.
So to Jenni: Thank you for being a truly amazing, wonderful, loving wife for eighteen years. Thank you for helping me realize that we can accomplish anything we put our minds and efforts to. Thank you for being a great mother to our children. Thank you for going out of your way to show your love for me. And thank you for being the person you are–good and maybe not as good–the person I’ve been in love with this whole time.
And thank you for getting me straightened out on that whole hand thing.
I love you!
To those of you out there reading this today, so many years later, thanks for still being a part of our lives.
See you later.
40! My wonderful, amazing, beautiful wife is 40 today!
Happy birthday, Jenni!
I love you.
My apologies if this gets too far off track. I’m not entirely here this evening.
We all got home around 1:15 or so this morning, to bed then sometime shortly before 2 a.m., I think. I wasn’t with it, so I’m not entirely sure.
But it was well worth it.
Jenni threw herself a 40th birthday party last night, and it lingered into the wee hours of this morning, causing none in the house to wake up before 9 this morning, which is very rare.
She’d commented as we were out buying the paper products and adult beverages for the evening that this was our first real adult party–one not thrown for the kids, with an emphasis on the drinking and socializing, and definite lack of emphasis on the food. And she was right.
Though that isn’t to say there wasn’t food–candy, brownies, cupcakes, chips, pretzels, and the like were available, but people were encouraged to bring their own bottle to the shindig, and several did. Including some who made the bottle and its contents a gift.
As a result, we now have 4 different brands of gin in our bar. A tasting may be required soon.
But back to Jenni. She’s not 40 yet. That comes toward the end of the week, and then the two of us will be over forty–a position that I’ve been in for nearly three years now.
Her party was a big success. Many hours of fine conversation and celebrating Jenni’s pending birthday. People mingled, lingered, talked, and seemed to truly enjoy the company. And, what’s even better is that the guest of honor had a blast, too. So that makes it totally worthwhile.
To those who came, thank you so much. Jenni really appreciated it, and I enjoyed seeing you, even though I was in host mode and trying to make sure that all of the food and drink stations were adequately stocked.
To those unable to join us, know that we missed you but appreciate your well wishes.
But it’s tiring being a grown up, even after such a joyful party. All day today has seemed to have me moving in slow motion, even though between relaxing, I’ve packed up the leftover food and drink, the extra paper products, done dishes, washed the laundry, and even come to write this. I feel as though I’m in a bit of a fog. But I’m sure that will pass after another good night’s sleep.
So I will head off to do just that. Head off to bed.
See you tomorrow.
So, with one last celebration for Jenni and a cousin who just completed her Associate’s program, a bunch of my family gathered at my uncle’s house for really just some together time.
The celebration, honestly (and I hope I’m not belittling it, but I don’t think I am), was just all of us being together.
My grandfather was there, which is always a good thing, especially in light of some of his health issues lately. Two uncles were there, an aunt, a girlfriend, a couple of cousins, my parents, my brother-in-law, and all of the under 16 set who belong to us.
The weather held out pretty well–it wasn’t too warm, nor cold. It was cloudy, but had enough glimpses of sun to at least make my forehead red and slightly painful, so at least I’ve gotten the first sunburn of the summer out of the way early.
We had some great food, cake to celebrate the two grads, drinks, badminton, conversation, and plenty of play time for the cousins and extended cousins.
So, because this has consumed about an hour of my evening, I give to you some edited highlights from the badminton festivities, especially for those of you not on Facebook…
Thanks all for the great time!
See you tomorrow.
A couple of weekends ago, you all will recall that Jenni delivered her thesis defense. Aside from the actual researching, writing, and proofing of her paper, this was one of the last stages of her graduation from her Master’s program at Luther Seminary. For those who don’t see my Facebook or Google Plus pages, here’s a picture of that event:
Last weekend, there was a picnic for seniors. The weather was absolutely perfect, and, miraculously, we found a parking space at Como Park not far from the picnic pavilion where the event was being held. And, all things considered, for an event on the Saturday afternoon before Mother’s Day, it was thoroughly enjoyable.
Yesterday was more celebration: a family lunch for the graduating seniors and their families, the class photo, and a baccalaureate service.
Yesterday was a bit warm, I’ll grant you, but this was a fun event: all of the prospective grads mingling with each other, but also with their families, all of whom were thanked for supporting the students during what really is a much harder program than I think anyone could possibly imagine.
It’s this thanks that I extend to all of you reading this, whether you were there to celebrate with us or not: because all of you out there, simply by reading this and caring about all of us, deserve thanks for supporting the five of us through this process. This is the reason I share my life with you all here.
So then came today–graduation day.
Somehow, this day comes just one day shy of Hannah and Zoe’s twelfth birthday, and it struck me that they were seven when this whole journey began. Which becomes a little more striking when you think of it in terms that their mother has been in school for more than a third of their lives–and this isn’t a good or bad thing, since it’s just how things turned out. But I know that thought won’t even dawn on them or sink in as to the weight of it, but there probably will come a time soon when they realize that things have changed, and I wonder if they’ll be able to put their fingers on it.
But today was the big day, and with plenty of family in attendance, Jenni got to take that final, literal, step.
In a remarkable Lutheran Cathedral, if those two words can indeed be used together, Jenni collected her sheepskin:
It’s almost astounding how five years of hard work, intense learning, papers, projects, and internships can be boiled down to 15 or so seconds spent crossing a stage. But alas, it’s the ceremony of the thing, and that’s all that today was about: ceremony and celebration. And much deserved, I may add.
And at the end, this:
Okay, so I share that merely because it’s a fabulous picture (thanks, Patrick!). It’s this one that I hope conveys my pride in Jenni, along with her pride in her accomplishment:
Something tells me, though, that she’s rightfully proud:
After the ceremony, Jenni handed in her robe and hood, so while the vestments of her achievement are gone, the pride, accomplishment and knowledge will go on.
See you tomorrow, when we celebrate 12 years of Hannah and Zoe.