Crushing on my daughter for #WCW

Sometimes those Facebook memories just really get me. This week it’s been taking me back to some dramatic and hilarious and sweet times with my second baby – Lydia. It’s her turn for a #WCW post.

Lydia’s got what you call “personality” in spades. She’s always had it – mischievous eyes with long eyelashes to die for, a smirk always moments from appearing on her face. She has always been her own person with her own style pretty much from the get-go. For a period of maybe 3 years, she only wore dresses. She also ran the fastest and climbed the furthest in the tree in our front yard. She entered her school’s talent show and did stand up comedy. As a first grader. And then again at a new school as a second grader. She’s still got the jokes.

She is one of the most athletic kids I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Getting to help out with her team is truly a highlight in my life. Watching her play is really, really fun. I think she could probably play just about anything she decided to, but for now has landed on softball and this softball-playing mom is just thrilled about it!

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Tiny catcher!!!

She’s also incredibly musically talented – her ear is amazing! My husband the other day remarked to her that she was like having Pandora on- she just went from song to song, humming and singing along. She knew every word! I remember when she was little, she’d come home from church or preschool and sing verbatim any little song they had learned. It takes her no time at all to pick things up.

Her independent and confident nature has of course provided us with many, many learning moments as parents. Here’s a tip for any of you with “strong-willed” preschoolers who only throw fits for you but are little angels with their teachers. Leave the room. Grab a camera. Come back to tantrum child. Take video. Calmly explain that the video will be shown to said teacher in the morning. Magically watch as tantrum dissipates into shocked outrage. But along with the more challenging times have come a wealth of experiences I never would have had without her.

One example is her Halloween costumes. She has pushed me outside my box almost every year on this one! I think under the age of 4 she was good with whatever generic princess dress I had on hand, but since then she has had a mind of her own! Here are a couple of the costumes she’s designed/asked for:

Halloween 2014
Smarty Pants, Candy Corn, Tinkerbell
Halloween 2011
Clown, Mandie (from a book series), and Rapunzel

She wanted to be candy corn a few years ago. I think we pulled it off. Another year she was a marshmallow and that one didn’t turn out as well. We’ve also done Piggy from Elephant and Piggy, Batgirl, an Enderman, and a unicorn (for which she wore a unicorn onesie).  She’s the first to want to try something new – surfing, zip-lining, climbing – you name it – she wants to try it.

She is so fun. We have a rule in our house that when there’s tickling or rough-housing (or really anything honestly), you can say “Please stop” and everyone stops. There are no exceptions to this rule. Well her older sister lasts about 1 second and her younger sister lasts about a minute, but not Lydia. It’s her goal generally to tire out everyone else and to outlast everyone in the fight. She doesn’t say “please stop” – you have to just quit while you’re ahead. Tom, of course, loves this challenge and they bait one another throughout the whole thing.

Bike ride “date” exploring the creek beds. This is such a Lydia thing to want to do with her date time.

She brings so much laughter to our home, but also serious insight. One day I’ll never forget – I was asking her about her day and then started chatting about dreams and such. We talked about what things she might want to do when she grew up. I remember her not being really sure and I encouraged her to keep dreaming and to dream big and never stop pursuing her dreams. She kinda nodded and then said to me – “What about you? What dream are you going after?” Oof!

It’s crazy because at that time I was really wrestling with where my life was. I didn’t feel like I was living the dream, but I also didn’t know what the dream was.  I believed vaguely that it was important for children to see their parents pursue dreams and to live an abundant life. But until her question, I didn’t see how deeply true this was. Why should she bother to dream if she saw that once you get to a certain spot, you just quit dreaming?  Quit pursuing the deep down thing that moves you?

I can really point to it as a turning point in my life as a mother – before I had believed that it was better to just be ok with how life was. After that conversation, I pushed more into what felt like dangerous territory of asking questions of myself like, well what do you want to do when you “grow up?” Is this the life you want? If not, what is the life you want? If so, are you living it as fully as possible?

She does this kind of thing all the time. We’ll be having some sort of family discussion that’s important but it’s staying pretty shallow until all of a sudden Lydia pipes up with something deep. We all just go, wow – yeah – that was good – hmm. Either that or she makes a joke none of us saw coming and we all laugh for a long time.

This is her last year before becoming a teenager. It’s crazy how fast it’s going. I want to slow it all down and enjoy every moment of being her mom. She is a treasure and God’s gift to me. Love my sweet Lydia!!!


Carolyn – I crush at you!

Carolyn is now married to a wonderful man, but back in college she attracted some real characters. One of them was from a former Soviet republic and was studying at our university. He hung around the periphery of our friend group, flirting (or trying to) with most of us at one time or another. His English was probably fine in an academic sense – he could read and understand everything just fine. But, as is the case for any learner of another language, the customs of casual spoken language were much harder for him to grasp. This led to some hilarious moments, one of which was when he declared his feelings about her by shouting- “I am crushing at you!” Needless to say, this has become a favorite phrase in our friend group. Today for my #WCW I am totally crushing at you Carolyn!!!!

I went to Wisconsin to visit when our babies were little. While it’s tragic that neither one of us took a picture of our own selves while we were together – having this one is sure special!

Carolyn is one of my hoohah friends who miraculously has become an even closer friend in the years since college. She and Norah were in the room next door to me my freshman year in college. Their shenanigans were infectious and their laughter contagious. The two of them helped educate sheltered me on the joys of 80’s music, scandalizing me with their encyclopedic knowledge of Madonna, Meatloaf, Bonnie Tyler, Heart, etc. lyrics. (The fact that I can even name those artists is truly only due to their tutelage.)

We connected further over worship music, history/political science/econ classes, and deep conversations about relationships and theology. Carolyn made it ok to be smart, to do well in school and to enjoy the process of study.  I’ve not met many people who get as excited about whatever it is she’s learning than Carolyn. She still exudes that enthusiasm today – constantly reading and learning new things and always open to fleshing out whatever new content has come across her path with deep, honest conversation.

Seriously this was the only picture I could find of just the two of us. We’ll need to do better!

We’ve had so many good talks over the years. Most recently we’ve begun talking more over text – most often just shooting out over the cellular waves a cry for help or solidarity in the face of ridiculous kid behavior. But just as frequently we’ve been a lifeline for each other, letting ourselves say the scariest things, the darkest things, the things we’re not sure it’s ok to say out loud. I never would have believed that this kind of conversation could happen over text, but I can’t overstate how life giving and how grounding it has been to know that she’s there on the other side of the phone and even if she can’t respond right away, she will eventually. She’ll hear me, offer sympathy or a kick in the pants, whichever is most needed at the time.

Carolyn has shared much of her story on her own blog, Through the Ardennes, and I won’t go into too many of the details here. I feel privileged to have gotten a behind the scenes look at many of the things she’s written about though – infertility, adoption, trans-racial adoption, special needs, parenting, marriage, and more. She artfully and humorously explores these topics, allowing others a peak inside her journey and pushing us to think outside our expectations.

While she’s always been passionate about racial reconciliation and justice, her heart is becoming ever more attuned to the ways our American culture has set up systems that disadvantage her two black sons. She is one of the first white women I know who challenged me to think differently about what I saw as ‘normal’. She inspires me to speak truth to power and to not comfortably maintain the status quo of white supremacy that too often is masked by ‘normal’.

While she is currently buried deep in the land of toddler and preschool, her schedule dependent upon the whims of the tiny tyrants in her home, she continues to push herself outside of her comfort zone. She has found new ways of supporting her family’s income, has become a student of her children and their diverse needs, has found new hobbies in gardening and making art, stays involved and active in her neighborhood and church, and is a constant source of encouragement and strength to her friends.

You are an amazing friend. Writing this makes me want to hop in the car and brave 95 South to see you. But, since it’s rush hour, I’ll probably just send a text. XOXOXO



If you want to read more of my #WCW posts, hit the tag WCW to the right, or click on this link. Enjoy!

Sister Friend, a Thanksgiving #WCW

Little sisters. The source of much fictional angst – Jo and Amy in Little Women, Beezus and Ramona in all of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, and other pairs in countless movies and tv shows. I’m thankful that my relationship with my sister isn’t nearly as dramatic as the above examples.

big sister little sister easter big shoulders era

Actually, with an 8-year age gap, I barely registered her as a person before she was in high school. Hmm, so maybe SHE felt that it was a bit angst-y….. 🙂 Now, however, I count her as one of my favorite people in the whole world.

the time I got to go visit my sister in college for my birthday

She’s hosting us for Thanksgiving this year and we’ll get to celebrate her birthday while we’re here, so it feels very appropriate to choose her for my #WCW series this week.

Catherine was 9 when I moved away to college and 12 when I got married. We were in such different phases of life that we didn’t really have a relationship while we were growing up.  The year my husband was deployed to Kuwait and my dad got diagnosed with cancer was in many ways the most intense and stressful of my life. But in one major way, it was one of the best and most significant of my adult life. It was in this year that I rediscovered my sister.

When I brought my 14-month-old daughter back home from Germany to live for a few months, I got to know my sister all over again, not as a kid who was grossed out by public displays of affection or who wanted to tag along to everything, but as a person coming in to her own.

spring softball sister trip

I got to go with her to a travel softball tournament, help her study for exams, watch silly tv shows, and watch her dote on her niece. She helped bring me out of my funks when I was missing my husband and she played with my daughter when I just couldn’t muster any more toddler enthusiasm. Those months are the shiniest of silver linings I’ve experienced.

As time has passed, we’ve stayed close again. Lately, I’ve felt that the big sister/little sister dynamics have totally flipped with me calling her in distress and her calming me down, talking me down from the ledge, and offering heartfelt words and wise perspective. She still loves being an aunt to my kids, staying involved in their lives, asking great questions to pull them out of their shells, and just generally giving them space to be who they are.

Most recently, she’s introduced me to the Enneagram and that’s opened up a whole new season of soul searching for me and a deeper understanding of our family dynamics. (I’m a 1. She’s a 9. If you don’t know what that means, check this out for a very broad overview). It’s a little hard to say I’m grateful for her introducing me to this since my “type” feels like the worst thing ever. But basically every type thinks that about themselves, so yay? I will say it’s given me great language to describe characteristics of myself and my family that has been helpful – but be warned if you go on the Enneagram journey – it’s not comfy.

Sisters who Karaoke together stay together.

It’s hard to pinpoint with a person you’ve known their whole life the ONE thing you love or are grateful for about them. But I think the thing I’m currently most grateful for is her ability to let people be who they are and to really celebrate it. She doesn’t expect people to like the same things she does or want to do the same things she does. She actually enjoys watching her family do the things they like to do and feels neither the compulsion to join or the compulsion to convince us to take different path. When you’re with her, there’s no need to pretend or to hide some part of yourself that may be too much or not enough in other environments. You just get to be you. It’s a gift that I treasure.

The great thing about sisters is that they really are forever. I love how our relationship has morphed as we’ve both gotten older. I can only imagine that it will keep getting better. Love you sister.  I’m so thankful for you! Happy Thanksgiving!




Mom K, Grandmommy, Mary Jeane

Did you know there are only 7 Wednesdays left in 2017? I’m committed to getting out a #WCW blog for every one of them! ‘Tis the season for gratitude and I’ve still got so many friends I need to write about!

Today, I’m writing about my mother-in-law, Mary Jeane Kraft. It was her birthday on Monday. Incidentally, I now personally know FOUR people with birthdays on November 13th, all different years. It’s a little crazy! So, while all those others are wonderful as well, we’re just gonna celebrate her for a little while here today.

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I’m trying to remember the first time I met Mary Jeane and I honestly don’t remember! Tom and I began dating in high school and before we officially started dating, we did a lot of hanging out at his house for movie nights. Of course, I had no way of knowing that this “tradition” of movie nights at the Kraft house mysteriously appeared when Tom began showing interest in me. I did seem to notice that while the friend groups shifted from movie to movie, somehow I was always invited. Anyway, I digress…

I mainly remember her during these times as attending to Tom’s younger brothers, trying to keep them from being too underfoot, bringing snacks, wandering through the room with laundry or a school paper she was grading or something else. Now that I’m a parent myself of a teenager, I see what she was doing. Just inconspicuously keeping tabs on what was going on with a bunch of teenagers in her house, noticing the one person who kept showing up, watching out for her son’s heart, and trying to make her domain a place her son could feel comfortable filling with his friends.

Her intentionality towards her family is now something so obvious and so dear to me.  She asks great questions and listens intently.  She never inserts herself where she knows she’s not needed. But, that doesn’t mean she is unwilling to say hard things if she feels that the situation needs a course correction or for another perspective to be pondered. I’ll never forget the conversation Tom and I had with his parents when we told them we were thinking about planning to get married. (If that sounds confusing to you, welcome to my world. When you’re long-distance dating as a freshman/sophomore in college, it feels scary to say out loud that you want to marry someone, but also foolish to not consider the seriousness of the relationship). Anyway, sometime during that conversation, she looked at me and asked if I had ever considered any other man besides Tom as someone worth pursuing. Talk about a deer in the headlights moment. And she wasn’t trying to catch me in some sort of duplicitous moment – she was just making sure she wasn’t talking to two moony-eyed teenagers. She wanted to know if I had been looking at my options objectively. (The answer was yes I had and no one held a candle to her son and yes I do think I handled that very well thankyouverymuch.)

The day she became my mother-in-law


And then we got married. I do not think there is a relationship in modern American society with more baggage than the “mother-in-law”. What in the world are we doing to the next generation with such negative stereotyping?!? It’s terrible! I do have friends that have fraught relationships with the in-laws, ones even that border on the abusive, so I’m not discounting that many have serious issues there. I am saying that I think we could do better as a society to honor this special relationship.

Over the years, I’ve just come to love my mother-in-law more and more. She remains intentionally focused on the well-being of her children and her grandchildren. She proactively seeks out relationship and opportunities to be with us. She notices the things that are important to people and makes an effort to make things happen. She does not offer empty praise, but instead sees positive attributes and the calls them out specifically. I have watched my children beam under her affirmation, not in an entitled, smug way, but in the way that shows they feel truly seen by her.

In the era we find ourselves now with people in power grasping tightly to whatever piece of the pie they can hold on to at whatever price, I notice that my parents and in-laws are going another direction. The only thing they are holding tightly to is their faith and conviction that God is good and that He is worth following. My in-laws have uprooted their family to move across the country, following a call to be part of a ministry they believe in. They left that ministry at personal cost when it became clear they needed to do that to find God’s flourishing in their lives again. They’ve continued in a limbo situation for a couple of years now waiting to see where and to whom God would send them next. Their faith is encouraging and convicting. Watching what they hold dear is a lesson they are teaching to us without having to use a single word.

My mother-in-law is someone I’m proud to know and enjoy hanging out with. She has fostered a strong sense of faith and connection to family in my husband and his siblings that is so evident today. She continues to learn and grow, sharing with us her nuggets of wisdom and passing along favorite books or passages that we may enjoy. She values service and hospitality, making sure everyone who enters her home feels welcomed, seen, and known.

When you fall in love with someone, you really don’t know what you’re getting with that person’s family. I count myself among the most blessed to be a part of the Kraft family now. Mary Jeane, I love your son and I love being part of your family. Happy Birthday week – I hope you get to keep celebrating! XOXOX


Jan, my first bonus sister

This week’s #wcw post is going to focus on my husband’s sister, Jan. It’s her birthday this weekend and I want to celebrate her a bit.

coldness of running
By far one of my favorite pictures of Jan. What happens when you go running in extreme cold. It also tells you pretty much everything you need to know about her.

By the time I got to know Jan, I was already pretty into her brother. Getting to know her was a bonus. I have rarely met another person so simultaneously generous in spirit, strong in conviction, and sure of her own value. She knows what she likes and what is good for her and she will fight for it, even if (and when – because we all know that a strong woman comes up against resistance every now and again….) others are confused or put off by it.

We had the best time together when we were stationed in Germany. She came and stayed with us for 2 months over the summer while she was in college. Some wondered if that arrangement would actually be beneficial for everyone – small apartment and a long stay. But it was a great, great time. Becca was about 8 months old at the time and a truly delightful baby. Jan loved playing with her and making her laugh. Tom was away a bunch of the time on training exercises and such, so we filled our days with little day trips and longer overnights, exploring Germany’s lovely countryside.

From Trip Advisor: This train is how most tourists get up the mountain…

One of the things that happened while she was there was that she and Tom decided to run a race together – the Königstuhl race, which is a one-way run up a mountain in Heidelberg. It is a STEEP mountain. It was something that Tom thought would be fun to do and Jan agreed and wanted to do it with him. (Just a side note here – that last sentence is so incredibly foreign to me, I cannot even begin to understand.) So we went and I happily dropped them off and then drove up to the halfway point to cheer them on and then waited at the top. It was a great race and they were both happy with their times. We stuck around for the awards ceremony and were shocked when they called Jan’s name! She had won her division! (Or maybe it was third place, but really, who’s counting?)

Jan uses that same determination and gumption (that’s what I call it!) to take on other incredible tasks too. After their dear, dear grandmother passed away who had knitted all of their Christmas stockings, Jan took it upon herself to be the one making the stockings. And she didn’t do this just for her own children; my Bethany was actually the first one to get a Jan stocking – it is one of the most precious things she has done.

My other sister-in-law may argue that one with me though, because Jan HAND MADE the flower girl dresses for her little brother’s wedding. She had never sewn anything that complicated before, but knew her own mother-in-law could help fill in the gaps, and she just decided to do it! They were absolutely stunningly beautiful.


Someone with her talent could literally do anything she wanted, but she constantly shares her talents and gifts liberally with her friends and family.  And please don’t take that as anything less than wholehearted generosity – it comes not from a sense of martyrdom or approval-seeking, at least not that I am aware of. She is generous with herself as well, allowing her self the time she needs to recharge, noticing the practices and rhythms that keep her healthy and staying true to them.

Jan, you are only one of the many bonuses I got marrying into your family and I’m so super grateful for it.

Dr. Cait-a-lin

I’m trying to decide where to put these writing assignments I’ve given myself. I still have so many friends I want to tell you all about but keep shoving off the writing as my plate gets ever fuller. When I come up with a plan to do this more regularly, I’ll be sure to let you know!

For today though – It’s Caitlin’s turn. Caitlin is a Hoo-hah friend and if you don’t know what that is yet, read August’s #WCW post here.  We call her Dr. Caitlin because she has her Ph.D. and teaches Anatomy and Physiology. As we approach our forties, it’s both dreadful and enlightening to have an A&P professor at your fingertips.  She would never call herself Dr. Caitlin, by the way, it’s just our term of endearment.

Dr. Caitlin is the one at the top left. We’re hoohah-ing in her living room!

Caitlin is incredibly brilliant, musically gifted, and one of the most driven people I know. In college, she ran track, played in the pep band, sang in one of the most (if not the most) prestigious choirs on campus, and took crushing courseloads.  Today, her driven nature allows her to tackle the special needs of her children, while taking on leadership roles in academia and in her church.

She’s the kind of person who seems like she never cracks under the pressure. But the beauty of being her friend is that she allows herself to be vulnerable with us, letting us see the messy parts – the complications of her life that no amount of doctoral thesis or athletic training could have prepared her for.

Being Caitlin’s friend means your life is enriched by an incredibly advanced vocabulary (somehow she still uses 3 and 4 syllable words while mothering 2 children under the age of 5 – what is that superpower?!) and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the ways our body works.   But intellectual stimulation alone would never sustain a friendship. Caitlin really shows up with all of herself to every conversation. She’s thoughtful and self-critical, always pushing herself to learn new things about her friends, her family, her faith, her beliefs. She finds the best restaurants, is willing to go on any adventure, still loves silliness, and loves beauty of all kinds.

Nothing like the beach to bring out the best smiles in everyone.

As a fellow introvert, I also greatly appreciate how she has come to appreciate and honor that part of herself, never apologizing for needing to detach or for desiring to spend the night in her jammies with hot chocolate on the couch with her dearest friends. She knows how to take care of her own soul and models that so well to us her friends and to her darling children.  I love sitting in her cozy living room surrounded by her favorite books, listening to the chatter of her children and the laughter of dear friends.

Caitlin – you are a treasure. The beltway lies between us and interferes with our getting together as often as we would like. Nevertheless – every time is sweet. Love you!

me and dr. cait-a-lin

A Hoohah for a long overdue #WCW

It’s been forever since I wrote a #WCW post – life’s been full.  But this weekend was my 14th Annual Hoohah – where I gather with 4 of my best friends from college for a weekend.

A hoohah? I know you may be thinking in the words of Inigo Mantoya – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”


Well, yes and no! NOW we know it’s a euphemism for our lady parts, but when we came up with the word for our gathering, we didn’t. Once we realized WHY other people looked at us a little funny when we talked about the hoohah, we decided – what the heck?  The term obviously still applies and so 14 years later – the Hoohah proudly continues.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to my hoohah friends, the women who have enriched my adult life in innumerable ways. Have no fear – they’ll each get their own #WCW – because each woman is a powerhouse in her own right. But for today – the group dynamics  🙂 It’s been 20 years since we all met the fall of our freshman year. It feels insane to think it’s been that long, but I find myself thinking about that time a bunch right now as I have friends sending their babies off to college for the first time.

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Pink Shirts from the First Hoohah

My first memories of Carolyn and Norah was the laughter. After the chaos of moving in and saying goodbye to our parents, my new roommate and I were quietly, shyly getting to know one another, stumbling through conversation – two introverts with intense personalities does not make for a boisterous atmosphere. But next door?! Gales of laughter! Lots of movement around the room, loud chatter – basically fun was being had. Little did I know that these women would eventually become some of my dearest friends.

I don’t remember when I first met Caitlin, but one of my first memories of hanging out with her was when we discovered that we both have the odd talent of being able to speak backwards. It’s a completely useless talent, but strangely entertaining to a limited audience. Hence, our friendship. (Mine’s Lehcar Nirac Tfark in case you were wondering.)

Pink Hats and a baby belly – another common theme at Hoohahs!

I think I met Sam through Caitlin – they were roommates. And we became fast friends, rooming together the rest of our college time. She taught me how to play guitar and introduced me to all the cool music.

The five of us lived together in different pairings all through our college careers, shared classes, pulled all-nighters, experienced young love and broken hearts, pranked each other, cried on shoulders, took road trips, pulled off surprise parties, went to each other’s plays, recitals, and competitions. I have so many memories from college with these women, but it’s really the relationship since then that feels miraculous.

I graduated a year early and got married and part of me wondered if we’d stay close or if we’d drift. But ever since the summer of 2004, we’ve made it a mission to get together and HOOHAH! We’ve been through the highs and lows together – weddings and babies along with depression and anxiety, infertility, chronic illness, travelling spouses, uprooted families, assorted personal and familial crises of all nature. Our gatherings now also generally include a list of all the ways our bodies are beginning to betray us with the added benefit of Dr. Caitlin’s observations of the wonders of the human body.

4th hoohah group 2
The first (and last) time kids (who weren’t breastfeeding) were invited to the hoohah….

(Seriously – having a PhD in Physiology in the group makes for some fascinating convos.) But one of the things I love about us is that we’ve not tried to relive college life once a year. Instead, we’ve just continued “living” with each other even from afar. We talk about whatever most consumes our thoughts that year. I treasure these friends who know all my history, who will ask about that thing that was going on last year – “Is that still going on? Has there been any change? How are you doing with that?” Jumping back in with these women for a weekend every year has been one of the most life-giving things to my heart.

So, I’ll end this with the ingredients for a successful hoohah, just in case you want to do this with your circle of girlfriends. (And you totally should.)

  1. Name it – you don’t HAVE to use a silly name that may or may not be a euphemism, but I can assure you it will never lose its hilarity if you do.
  2. Chocolate – our favorite is York peppermint patties. Just make sure whatever it is, you bring a ridiculous amount of it.

    yeah. sugar plays a role at the hoohah
  3. Matching attire – The first hoohah we had shirts. Bright Pink Shirts. With the words “First Annual Hoohah” emblazoned across the chest. And yes, of course we walked all around DC in them. No, we didn’t realize the double meaning at that time. Yes, I felt slightly ridiculous walking around in it BY MYSELF when I had to duck out of the hoohah to say goodbye to my deploying husband. Now we have pink hats! And we wear them, sometimes in public.
  4. Delicious food – this one has become even more important as we have spawn who have ridiculous food restrictions or who just won’t touch food that isn’t beige or who can’t be trusted to remain civilized in a restaurant for more than 5 minutes. We pick yummy, local favorites and eat family style.
  5. Nicknames and just general goofiness – life is full of #$*%$(@.
    Bring back the silly – then, maybe don’t give the pictures to the blogger?

    Allow yourselves a weekend of nicknames, inside jokes, and not caring if you look foolish. There’s something incredibly empowering about just being yourself with your buddies and allowing that experience to buoy you for weeks afterward.

  6. Keep it simple – usually we just go stay at one of our homes. The husband and kids get to be there too, but usually stay far away from the hoohah zone once the yorks start flowing. We’ve done one where we rented a beach house and we’re looking to do a bigger one when we all hit a milestone birthday – but I think a big reason we’ve been able to keep up the tradition is that we’ve tried to keep it simple (and cheap).

Carolyn, Norah, Caitlin, and Sam – Can’t believe how lucky I am that you’re in my life. I crush at you.