Wednesday, June 28, 2023

A Letter To My Fifteen Year Old


Dear Max,

As I write your annual birthday letter, you're off and working. It's a new one that accurately depicts the stage of life you're in. Your life is growing, no longer revolving around family and our activities. Instead, you're developing your own life complete with friends, a job, and soon enough a car to drive around in. 

You absolutely rocked your first year of high school, coming in with all A's and B's and a few classes with Honors. Due to your awesome grades and hard work, you qualified for AP courses next school year. I couldn't be more proud of the hard work you put in, not only doing well in school, but also continuing to be an important person that helps our household run smoothly. You rarely complain (although there are a few more eye rolls involved these days) about your daily chores and happily make dinner for us one or more nights per week. 

You're still rolling with the same group of friends you've held onto for years. It brings a smile to my face to see the same group of guys enter my home as they did ten years ago as kindergarteners. I say this with love, but you are an old man in a fifteen year old's body. Several times throughout the school year, friends would ask you to do something that involved staying out past 7:30 p.m. You responded to them with a, "I can't, I have to go to bed." I laughed so hard when I saw that in your texts, but I do hope you won't be a twenty year old yelling at people to get off your lawn!

While you love adventure, going to festivals, exploring and traveling, hiking, arcades, axe throwing, and trying new things, you are absolutely a homebody. You have no issues staying home, gaming, trying new recipes, and drawing. Your art has really come along this year. Last week, I snapped at you, "put the freaking phone away and actually DO something!" You presented me a gorgeous painted picture thirty minutes later, leaving me speechless at your natural talent.

Unlike your siblings, you don't enjoy drama and stay out of it. You're happy spending time alone or with your family. More than anything, I love that you're unapologetically YOU and don't give a damn what anyone else thinks. You're still working on knowing when you're wrong, backing down, and offering an apology. It's an important lesson to learn, one that will suit you well throughout life. 

As you gear up for your sophomore year of high school, there's more and more talk of the future: classes, college, jobs, what your vision is for your life. I do a fair amount of listening and supporting any dream you throw out (although they're not quite as crazy as your brother's), talking logistics, and giving opinions when needed, but it's more important for you to remember that above all else I want you to be happy. I want you to do what makes you happy, to follow your passions, and continue being true to yourself. Those are things to always remember, but I hope they are at the forefront of your mind in this next important year.

Some parents are sad their kids age and grow up, but I can honestly say I am not. It has been the coolest thing in my life. My role in your life changes year after year. We're at the point where you ask me to coffee, talk politics and world news, find the local places we must try, and attempt to keep me in the know. I often hope that no matter where you land in the world, that's the kind of relationship we can have in the future. 

Year fifteen will be a big one. Full of changes and new adventures. I'm so proud of the direction you steer your life and can't wait to see what you do with this next year. I love you so much! I hit the jackpot with you. When I casually bring up how you cook, clean, take care of your siblings and pets, and do what you do daily, I'm often met with stares and comments about how they wish their teens did what you do. It's such a natural thing for me to witness that I often don't take the time to fully appreciate how wonderful you are! I've said it before, but I often feel like you raised me just as much as I have you. Thank you for everything you do for our family, for sticking with me even through the thick eyerolls. I couldn't imagine a life without you in it. You have always made my life better.

Love always and forever,


The foodie in you asked me for coffee flights from Blue Bean, birria tacos and gyro fries, and $90 worth of birthday cookies from Iowa Cookie Co. I can easily say you have expensive tastes!

This picture is two years old, but it's still one of my favorite of you (courtesy of Aunt Jenny).

Thursday, June 22, 2023

SB Part 3: St. Louis And One Car Accident Later


This is exactly how it sounds: went to St. Louis with the kids for a quick, two day trip and got into a car accident that totaled our Highlander. What a spring break, since we weren't even supposed to be there! But after the stomach flu took a couple of kids out for a few days, we chose from our list of Must Go's and picked St. Louis. The kid's cousin and my sister and brother in law met us. We surprised their cousin at the Zoo. The rest of the evening was a blur since we got into the accident leaving the zoo, but the next day was filled with fun at City Museum.

We LOVE the St. Louis Zoo. It's one of our favorites. It's a big bonus that it's free to get into. Somehow, we had never been the the City Museum. I would love to make a return trip to crawl around all of the spaces. I hurt my hand in the accident and was reluctant to do much of the climbing and slides, so I definitely think we'll have a re-do at some point.

Hubs had to drive down, in his brother's car since rentals were nonexistent due to spring break, to bring us home. But since I choose to live a life of no regrets, we finally crossed the City Museum off of our list and I got a new minivan out of the deal. The accident wasn't fun, but we're very lucky because our insurance company has made this one a breeze and we all walked away unharmed (minus some bruises and my sore hand).