Katrina Sings!

My 15-year-old granddaughter, Katrina, steals the show at a recent concert. If you like “Phantom of the Opera” you are going to love how she hits the high notes. Enjoy!

Katrina’s direct link to her awesome performance

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Helen’s 70th Birthday

One of the tributes given to Helen at her “Surprise 70th Birthday Party” on October 28, 2011 was a 24-minute story of her life put to music by one of our dear friends, Don Brown. It begins with her as a child and continues with 70 well-lived years of love and family. It was very special for Helen, me, our children, granddaughters, and the many friends we’ve chosen to be a part of our immediate family.

A Remarkably Good Time at a Class Reunion

I received news of our 50-year class reunion about a year ago. A class of 152 high school students would be asked to reunite in Columbus, NE on Labor Day weekend – and yet I really didn’t know a single one of them. And it was a confession made to me by Margaret Ericksen Egleston in an email—we weren’t part of the popular crowd—that made me think: Why would I want to attend this reunion of once vibrant teenagers whose lives I crossed paths with at a dull, low point in my life? A time where my actions were monitored by a highly controlling mother who believed the world would end (“Armageddon”) before I reached the age of twenty.

Pat, Margaret, Sue, Jani

But after I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of attending. Maybe I would finally get to know people who I should have made friends with during that troubling period in my life. I must confess that I wanted to visit with Donna Ewert Dubsky and Margaret. Both of them had read and enjoyed my book, Growing Up in Mama’s Club, which describes my childhood.

My wife Helen and I organized our summer so that the class reunion would be the frosting on the cake. We left our Tucson home on June 30 and spent fifteen days at a rental home in Estes Park, CO. Then it was off to stay with friends in Long Pine, NE. (If you’re interested, I blogged that visit in July.) We followed that with four days in downtown Chicago and over a month in Grand Rapids, MI where we raised our children and where I spent 33 years of my working life. We arrived in Columbus Thursday evening and enjoyed an excellent meal at Dusters. On Friday morning, I visited with my 90-year-old mother, who still believes Armageddon is imminent. We showed up at the VFW Hall at 5:30 PM, where the reunion commenced.

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Happy Birthday Ingvild

One of my six granddaughters, Ingvild Rishovd, turned thirteen on August 24, 2011. She was born and raised in Norway and has recently taken a real interest in writing in English.Mind you, she has been diagnosed with ADHD, but when Ingvild sets her mind to do something, watch out world.

To help Ingvild celebrate her birthday, plans were made to spend one-on-one time with her mom—our adopted Norwegian daughter, Bente Skalstad—in Venice, Italy. What follows is Ingvild’s story— in her words— of her summer holiday:


This summer I didn’t do much, although I did get my first dog, Vikki. That forced me to at stay home to train and socialize her. Vikki is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She joined our family a few weeks before Summer Holiday. Because of her super cuteness, neighbors would pop up for a quick visit almost every day. One of my neighbors, Lena, was one of those many visitors. Not just because of Vikki, but to watch Ugly Betty with me. I have all the seasons on DVD and we ended up watching two episodes every day.

My mom and I went to Venice two weeks later. We prepared ourselves by watching The Tourist. My mom fell asleep halfway through the movie and the only reason I didn’t join her was because I wanted to see Johnny Depp run on the roof top in his pajamas.

We rented three movies from iTunes for mom’s iPad on our plane trip to Venice. The plane was delayed, so we sat there for a couple of hours, which wasn’t good for me. My playlist had only five songs in it. But we did finally board the plane and Venice was just around the corner. We finished watching the first movie just before we landed, but it was in the middle of the night. The streets were empty and Venice seemed like a quiet place. That is, until we woke up.

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