Category Archives: Memories

Happy July 6th!

Happy July 6th!

If you are like me, all the celebration and 4th of July excitement is over.  At our house, we are still cleaning up, taking down decorations and storing them away for another year.  Summer just seems to be zipping by in a blur.

Independence Day Picnic

Did you have a picnic or celebration this past weekend?   We hosted a picnic for about 32 people.  This is an annual event at our house and one we look forward to.   I have written about our Independence Day Celebrations in the past.

Extra Special Additions

This year was extra special and a bit bittersweet.   It was extra special because my son’s girlfriend, Alexis joined us and she added two amazing items to our menu  The first item was a  Patriotic Dessert Pizza that her and my son created.

Neal and Alexis with Pizza

The second item was a Patriotic Punch that was so refreshing and looked fantastic.


Everyone was guessing how she was able to make the layers red, white, and blue without mixing.   Any guesses?

The fun part was figuring out how to transport it to the picnic area without mixing it!

Moving It

Our Guests

Another thing that was extra special was our guests….every year the guests are what make our celebration so memorable.  Just sharing happy times and memories.  And of course making new memories.


Guests 2


Farewell Pinchot Thunder

It was bittersweet because it was the first July 4th my Dad was not with us.   I missed him.   But also because it was the last year for Pinchot Thunder.    Our neighbor has put on an amazing fireworks show for the past several years.  This year was the farewell show and it was sad to know it was the final year for the tradition.

Pinchot Thunder

Watching Pinchot Thunder

We will still get together and celebrate Independence Day in the future….just won’t be the same without Pinchot Thunder to look forward to.   The important thing is to get together and make memories!  Here is hoping you made lots of wonderful memories too!

Just one more memory of a great evening!  My son and his girlfriend before the party!

Neal and Alexis

 What kind of celebration did your family enjoy?

A Few Tears!

Yesterday we took our 18 year old son to college.  It is sort of a rite of passage that all parents eventually go through.   Some miss the college opportunity due to death, illness, troubled children, or those who go directly to the job market or continue to live at home.   I know I am not the first to experience this or the last, we all have to deal with separation at some point.

Those of you who have older children and have been through the college drop-off know what it is like.   I have written two very emotional posts about this in the past few days.  A First! and College Drop-offs-Not For Sissies!  I thought  a more lighthearted post about the experience was in order.

We had the car packed.  The trunk and the back seat were full.  Only about 10 inches of area available to squeeze my butt into the car.  I usually get the back seat since I don’t get car sick riding there.

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 College Freshman

We arrived on Campus and Neal picked up his keys to his dorm and got his ID badge.  It was official….he was a college freshman.

Neal - Juniata College Freshman
Neal – Juniata College Freshman

Then off to his dorm room to move him in.    I must say this was much more pleasant than I anticipated.   They had lots of older Juniata students available to help carry crates, bags, boxes, etc. to his room.   So we each only had to make one trip.

Then the whilrwind if setting up his side of the room.  His favorite color is blue, so he went with a blue plaid sheet set with a blue comforter.   It was too hot and humid to even consider the comforter so in the closet it went.  Neal and I made up the bed, Neal and Michael moved some of the furniture around and set up his TV.  I unpacked clothes and put them in drawers and closet.  Neal decided to relax and read how to connect to the internet.

Moved in and Comfy!
Moved in and Comfy!

Within 45 minutes he was moved in, unpacked and ready for an awesome semester.

Welcome Class of 2018

Then we set off for the picnic area.   They had tents set up and served a picnic lunch to all parents and freshman, hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans, pasta salad, fresh fruit salad, cookies, ice cream, soda, and water.   Then there was some time to look around, go to the book store to pick up a few things and then go to the welcome ceremony.

Welcome sign at the Picnic
Welcome sign at the Picnic
Saying Good-bye

I have to say I loved the way Juniata College handles parent goodbyes!  If I had to leave with him in a dorm room alone, I would have been a sobbing fool.   Neal would have had to push me out the door and Mike would have had to drag me away.   But Juniata College has it orchestrated to take the sting away!

Parents and students are in this welcome ceremony together talking about things and then they tell parents, “It is now time to say goodbye.  You can go out in the hallway, porch, yard, etc. and say goodbye.   Students, you need to be back here for the remainder of the meeting in 15 minutes.”   So you have a short time interval to file out of the auditorium, get to a place where you can talk a bit, say your goodbyes, and then watch your child go back to where he needs to be.   We had time to hug, say goodbye, give a few words of advice, hug again, say goodbye again and he was gone.   I shed a few tears, but no big sobs!   They were kept inside.    Had we been in private, I’m sure they would have turned me into a blubbering fool, but we were standing on the steps, surrounded by others doing the same thing.    Our kids were anxious to go back in and kick off a four-day adventure to start their freshman year.   It made it much easier to leave.

So kudos again to Juniata College for making the process as easy as possible.     We walked to the car.  We had decided in advance we were not going straight home to a quiet, empty house.   We planned to do some shopping and eat dinner out.   It was a quiet ride to Altoona.   I felt exhausted, emotionally drained I guess.    Felt better as the day progressed.   About two hours after leaving Neal we got a text saying his roommate was cool, they had the internet all working and everything was good.   Then another saying his hiking group was great and he was having fun.   So I felt better knowing things were going well for him.  We haven’t heard from him since.  So I’m sure he is enjoying the experience.

While him not being home is NOT fun!  I know it is what is best for him and it needs to be this way.   We spend 18 years raising our children to be independent and able to make good decisions and then we feel sad when they do just that.  What a crazy world we humans have created.  How can we be happy and sad at the same time?    I never thought it was possible, but it is.

Have you gone through this?  Any advice?   How did you handle the separation?




College Dropoff – Not For Sissies!

This taking your kid to college thing is not for sissies!   I mean it is difficult, gut wrenching and emotional.  Today is the day!  I wanted this summer to go so slow…instead it went very, very fast.   The entire past year has just been one whirlwind.74 pinnable coverWhile I am thrilled Neal has turned out to be such a bright, talented, academically gifted young man that I know will do fantastic at college, (I’m pretty sure he will thrive there!)  It is tough to drop him off and say goodbye.

Yes, I know he is only 40 miles from home and I can easily get in a car and go see him if I need to, it is still not the same.  He will be living under a different roof.  Making all of his own decisions, being responsible for himself on a day to day basis.

We have done our job and he knows how to wash clothes, cook food, and clean a bathroom, run the sweeper, etc.  I have no doubt he can survive.  So that is not a worry.  I know he has a great head on his shoulders and he has always made good decisions,  especially in regard to selecting friends,  peer pressure, drinking and drugs.  I have no reason to think that will change, so I feel blessed not to have a lot of worries in that area.

I guess just knowing it is going to be a change, a big change for all of us is unsettling and emotional.

EPSON MFP imageI’m happy he is an independent kid and wants to pursue new opportunities.  I want him to do that and more!  I’m even happy to have a bit more time to myself.

It is the saying goodbye to his childhood, and to the boy that stole my heart before he was born that is difficult!

When he is not home, the house just feels so empty.

Maybe there is a fear that not only the house will be empty, but I will be empty without him around.

I know that is not the case but I just have to say…Taking Your Child to College is NOT for “Sissies”!

A First!

I have written a lot about last times!  Now I get to write about a First!  A new beginning.  My son starts college this week.

MealWe deliver him to Juniata College on Saturday for Inbound”, a 4-day freshman workshop.

I’m excited for him.  I know he will do well in college and each  time he comes home I will see a new level of maturity and confidence.

He is majoring in International Studies and will be studying abroad during his junior year.  So even a bigger separation on the horizon.

Things will be different for all of us!   Our nice little family will be forever changed.  Seems like it has been the three of us forever (and we loved it that way!)  and now it will be just the two of us on most days.


Our Family
Our Family

So it will be a new beginning for all of us!  A chance to reframe all of our relationships and our family dynamics.

More time for doing personal things and maybe just relaxing, but an adjustment none the less. Especially when I was happy with the way things were.

I have so many mixed emotions.  Happiness for him, sad things have to change, excitement for the new challenges ahead for him, sadness that I won’t see him every day, thrill he has the opportunity to attend a top notch school and earned a scholarship, but sad it means the end to life as we have known it for 18 years.

I wish my son continued academic success and a steady thirst for knowledge.  Can’t wait to see what all he accomplishes and does with his life.   But I will miss him terribly!

****Note to Neal……Just in case you read my blog….As we celebrate this new beginning, always remember our history together as a family and know you are and always will be an important part of our family.  You make us smile, laugh, and feel so proud.  We love you always to the moon and back!

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We can all have “new beginnings,” actually every day is a  new beginning.  How do you celebrate new beginnings?


Evening in Paris on the “Love-Lock” Bridges

2014-08-10 19.45.37 TitleOn the day we visited the Louvre, we spent the evening walking from the Louvre through the Tuileries (sort of like an open park) to the Concorde and fountains.  

Then we went  across the pedestrian bridge over the Seine River and walked back along the river to take pictures of the various “Love-Lock” bridges.  

“Love-Lock” Bridges

Lovers take a padlock and write their names, initials, date or message on the locks and then they lock the padlock to the bridge and throw away the key in the Seine River.  It is an act that symbolizes undying love.

This is the primary “Love-lock Bridge.”     It has so many locks on it, there is no room for additional, so they started a second bridge.      Earlier in June, one of the railings of this bridge fell due to the weight of all the locks.    It has since been repaired. The government is discouraging using padlocks but it has stopped the romantic tourists from continuing the tradition.

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Below is the secondary “Love-lock Bridge”  Not quite as many locks yet!  

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You and your sweetie can always visit and add a lock!   That is what is on my list to do the next time we visit.

Yes I said next time.  Hoping to return in two or three years.   Neal plans to study abroad a year, and while he is there we are hoping to visit several countries.

This is the view from one of the bridges.

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These bridges are considered to be some of the most romantic places to stroll with your loved one in Paris.

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Didn’t realize it at the time, but while we were in Paris at these bridges, they were also being featured on the “Bold and the Beautiful” in America.    Liam  was remembering times with Hope as he was on the “Love-Lock” Bridge and Liam and Ivy were seen talking on the bridge.  As a side-note, you can’t even watch the promo’s in Europe.  I’m told they are several months behind the states in viewing soap operas therefore you can’t see any advertisements or spoilers.

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I can tell you it is more fun to be seeing it in person than watching it on TV.  The sites are every bit as beautiful as the shows make them appear.

Lots of walking  that day and we were exhausted. A quick subway ride returned us to our apartment.   It was a great day!

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If you had the opportunity to go to Paris, would you put a lock on the bridge?