Hudi Turns 19

It can be argued that his birth seemed like yesterday. And at the risk of sounding boring, that statement cannot be dismissed. But interestingly, it feels as if we’ve been together forever. I cannot fathom life without our kiddos — Hudson and Zebulon and CJ. What joy and inspiration they bring!

Many parents worry about the teen years, but Hudi took them in stride. When he was in tenth grade he insisted on being in charge of his own virtual homeschool education, pacing himself in his coursework. At 16 he decided to go to college, and now, at 19, has his degree, his own apartment and a great job and a wonderful young woman in his life. It’s enough to make any parent proud.

It does take me a bit aback to realize this will be the last year I will have with a child in their teens. Remember the excitement of hitting double digits? Then teen years? Good times. Good times, indeed.

Still, it’s fun to look back to the past. Here’s a video I found of his 9th birthday party. And another of his college graduation. He’s changed a bit over the years 😉

Hudi’s 9th Birthday
Hudi’s College Graduation

I’m not saddened by the path of continual growth. And no parent could be more proud of their progeny.

Hudi, you are rockin’ life. Being real with it and taking on its edges with determination and class. Your dad and I are so proud of you!

It’s kind of fun having you live so close to where you were born now. Who would have thought that 19 years ago?

I asked Mollie for some current pics of the birthday boy, and I love this celebration of life I received in return:

I see he is still somewhat of a goofball. This is good.

We love you, Hudi, and wish all the blessings of the world on you and your future. God did an amazing thing creating you! You are a true gift to the world.

Proms, Grads, and Life – Our Week

I am sooooo behind on my blog reading and writing, and I miss you all! But it’s temporary and for a good cause. We have some really fun stuff going on in life. I’ll do a brief summary  of our past week here, then will post lots of pics in the future when I get more time. Consider these teasers…

In the past week we:

Enjoyed watching Hudi and his buddies get ready for the prom. They had a great time.

We enjoyed having Zeb’s girlfriend’s family stay with us for graduation weekend.


We got to see the girls in our lives graduate (so proud of them)!

We met Lauren’s extended family. I didn’t take any pics during that fabulous meal, but it was really fun.

We took a load of stuff to our new-to-us home with Mom (no pic of that, either).

We went to Connecticut, where we saw some great friends and family, I got to see Kurt’s horse, and Chris sold a few mobiles.

We came home and finished filling out paperwork for college stuff for Zeb and Hudi.

We ran our local WordPress meetup, and got to hear a great talk on Search Engine Optimization from CJ. Although he lives in Utah, he’s home visiting for a few weeks.


Also, I’m on a work rotation so I’m learning lots of great stuff about Jetpack and Akismet.

Here’s one of my favorite moments from the week. Love to see my boys together again and goofing around. You can’t see it well, but they were posing to show off their geek-belts. Zeb highlighted Pokemon while Hudi sported Legend of Zelda, and CJ had his piano keys:


That’s why I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog-world. All great stuff, though, eh? What have you been up to? I guess I can find that out for myself, and hope to be catching up on my blogs soon, but feel free to tell me, anyway, in the comments 🙂

Happy Birthday to my Man

IMG_20160207_132555302This is quite possibly one of the most temperate birthdays this February baby has ever had in his 53 (gasp!) years. And while we still have a few hours left to go, so far it’s pretty close to perfection.

The plan was for him to have a Mario Kart marathon with Hudi, Zeb, Bri and Lauren, but that plan changed very quickly when we woke up to gloriously sunny skies and warm air. It was 45 degrees when he and I hit the slopes after a few cups of coffee (and a wee bit of work)!

Swain today was a complete gift. We are so fortunate to have a place to play during this depressingly snowless winter. The slopes were powdery, there were lots of IMG_20160207_171335167people around, but it wasn’t obnoxiously crowded, and smiles were abundant. Happy sigh.

After a few hours we went home to a house where the Grateful Dead was playing, and the dog had already been walked. We ordered a Highlander pizza and a Veggie pizza then Chris and the kiddos took up the controllers. I happily listen to them as they play.

We sure miss CJ, but we know he’s super happy out on the slopes in Utah.

Want to know something crazy about this year? In a few months, I will have been part of Chris’ world for half of his life. That’s pretty pivotal, and I’m really happy he has let me be part of his journey.

Happy Birthday, Chris. I love you!

A Digital Mini Time Capsule

Last week my friend and co-worker, Pam, posted a cute blog post in which she asked her kids questions, and they answered. She opened by saying it was a meme going around Facebook. Remembering the past, I dredged up a link to the trend from 2009 and pulled up my own kids’ answers (different questions, though). Then I realized it would be fun to see their answers now, many years later. I asked them the same questions, and they hadn’t known I had the original answers so it was pretty much a blank slate. It’s interesting to see how we all have grown. And they pretty much nailed me. Thanks for humoring me, CJ, Zeb and Hudi! Love you guys!

1. What is something mom always says to you?

CJ (15): Don’t eat in your room.
CJ (22): I love you.

Zeb (12): get your grades up
Zeb (19): I love you

Hudi (9): take a shower
Hudi (16): Don’t eat my chocolate!

2. What makes mom happy?

CJ (15): chocolate
CJ (22): Simple, stress-free things.

Zeb (12): chocolate
Zeb (19): Chocolate and family time

Hudi (9) chocolate
Hudi (16): Chocolate

3. What makes mom sad?

CJ (15): when chocolate’s gone
CJ (22): When the rum/wine is gone.

Zeb (12): broccoli (I have an intolerance and it makes me sick, but I love the taste of it!)
Zeb (19): Death and drugs

Hudi (9) when people die
Hudi (16): When I do eat her chocolate

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

CJ (15): when she laughs when people get hurt (disclaimer from Chrissie: it’s an involuntary reaction I can’t seem to control, and I think it’s horrible! Definite character flaw)
CJ (22): When she gets excited over small things that I don’t think she should be excited over.

Zeb (12): being random
Zeb (19): Funny jokes and stories

Hudi (9): jokes
Hudi (16): By trying to make puns.

5. What was your mom like as a child?

CJ (15): a boy in pink overalls (explanation from Chrissie–I looked like a boy and was forever mistaken as one even when I wore pink overalls one time).
CJ (22): Driven and goal-oriented.

Zeb (12): active
Zeb (19): energetic and curious

Hudi (9) nice
Hudi (16): preppy

6. How old is your mom?

CJ (15): 18 (Does anyone else detect sarcasm here)?
CJ (22): 26

Zeb (12): 37 (he got it right)
Zeb (19): like 20

Hudi (9) 36
Hudi (16): still 29… right? 😉

7. How tall is your mom? True answer (5 ft 2 in)

CJ (15): SHORT
CJ (22): Short.

Zeb (12): 5.9 ft
Zeb (19): 5’2″

Hudi (9) 6 foot 1
Hudi (16): 5 ft 2 in

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

CJ (15): Be absorbed into either screens or the sun.
CJ (22): Do things with family; like snowboarding and camping trips.

Zeb (12): eat chocolate
Zeb (19): read, work or play

Hudi (9) play Rock Band
Hudi (16): spend time with her boys

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?

CJ (15): go online
CJ (22): Works, watches movies and talks about traveling.

Zeb (12): work
Zeb (19): work and hang out. Snowboarding in the winter.

Hudi (9) exercise
Hudi (16): watch movies

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

CJ (15): writing
CJ (22): Helping somebody.

Zeb (12): writing
Zeb (19): Helping a bunch of people on the internet.

Hudi (9) writing
Hudi (16): cooking…… XD no no I kid. she would be a famous writer

11. What is your mom really good at?

CJ (15): not being on the same page as everyone else (note from Chrissie – not sure if this is a compliment or not)
CJ (22): Putting thoughts into written word.

Zeb (12): writing
Zeb (19): Happiness Engineering and mothering

Hudi (9) Rock Band
Hudi (16): writing

12. What is your mom not very good at?

CJ (15): Skiing
CJ (22): Being observant.

Zeb (12): guitar
Zeb (19): Some cooking

Hudi (9) video games
Hudi (16): cooking

13. What does your mom do for her job?

CJ (15): write
CJ (22): Helps people.

Zeb (12): write
Zeb (19): Helps people with website problems

Hudi (9) write
Hudi (16): she is a happiness engineer

14. What is your mom’s favorite food?

CJ (15): chocolate
CJ (22): Cold strawberries coated in dark chocolate with whipped cream.

Zeb (12): chocolate
Zeb (19): chocolate

Hudi (9) chocolate
Hudi (16): strawberry rhubarb pie or lamb

15. What makes you proud of your mom?

CJ (15): When she lets me eat in my room and keep the laptop in it.
CJ (22): Sticking with snowboarding even though it’s tough for her.

Zeb (12): being there when I need her
Zeb (19): she puts up with all my crap

Hudi (9) her new dresses
Hudi (16): her love for everyone and everything. she’s not negative about most things

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

CJ (15): Takeshi Saehara… but that’s a guy. (Note from Chrissie – I just asked him about this now in 2016, and he said it was because he wrote and always stuck to his deadlines).
CJ (22): –

Zeb (12): Elmer Fudd
Zeb (19): Smurfette

Hudi (9) Bugs Bunny — (Note from Chrissie in 2009 – He said I make him laugh, and I’m sneaky like when I go into his room at night and he doesn’t know it)
Hudi (16): Wanda from the Fairly Odd Parents

17. What do you and your mom do together?

CJ (15): Facebook
CJ (22): Troubleshoot technology and snowboard.

Zeb (12): Rock Band
Zeb (19): Snowboard and talk

Hudi (9) play games
Hudi (16): watch movies especially Les Miserables and Across the Universe

18. How are you and your mom the same?

CJ (15): Same hair color.
CJ (22): We’re both able to talk to anyone about anything, and can make something happen out of nothing.

Zeb (12): we like Rock Band and cooking
Zeb (19): we like extreme sports like snowboarding

Hudi (9) we are both in the same family
Hudi (16): we’re both usually happy about everything we do

19. How are you and your mom different?

CJ (15): Everything else.
CJ (22): She likes getting up early.

Zeb (12): she’s a girl
Zeb (19): Different opinions in lifestyles

Hudi (9) she is a girl i am a boy
Hudi (16): well she’s a lot more wise then I am

20. How do you know your mom loves you?

CJ (15): When… she tapes my concerts and puts them on Facebook.
CJ (22): Somewhere between raising me, helping me through early adulthood, giving me countless opportunities, and telling me that she loves me.

Zeb (12): she says so and is always there for me
Zeb (19): she puts up with me and my brothers and always cares

Hudi (9) she told me
Hudi (16): she tells me constantly

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?

CJ (15): I don’t know
CJ (22): His hair. In all seriousness, probably his rational thinking, abstract thoughts, and ability to accomplish anything.

Zeb (12): He protects her
Zeb (19): His ability to do whatever he puts his mind to

Hudi (9) You like everything about him.
Hudi (16): his humor

22. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?

CJ (15): Places with sun, chocolate and a massage.
CJ (22): She just likes to travel. She tends to like beaches and mountains, but I don’t think she’d be content staying in any one place. If I did have to pick one though, I’d say Southwick Beach.

Zeb (12): Disney (or the bath tub)
Zeb (19): Disney World

Hudi (9) Disney
Hudi (16): Disney World

What’s in a Game?

Monopoly Cards

I’m not a gamer. That’s kind of embarrassing to admit, especially when all my kids are gamers, and my eldest son is a video game designer. I’m cool with Rock Band, Words With Friends, and Word Crack. But this holiday season I found myself branching out a bit more, and it was really fun.

Monopoly Cards
Chris showing Lise the card she drew.

It began on Christmas day with a game of Pokemon Monopoly that was the cherished Christmas gift my upper-teenaged sons had asked for, and Charlotte, a great family friend, got for them. We set up the board in our NY home and pinged my cousin Lise, who lives in Denmark. She is recovering from surgery and was stuck in bed for the holiday. Poor thing.

At first we didn’t connect well. It seems like lots of people were online for the holiday, and normal venues of communication were not working well. Skype, Facetime and Google Hangouts all froze throughout the day, but we finally got a clear connection with Zoom. And we played for two days :). It was very fun, and Lise and Chris were particularly good at throwing taunts and bargains at each other across the Atlantic. Here’s a short clip of their bargaining.

Lise got these great screenshots of my husband’s money grubbing “gimme” hands.


And yes. Chris won. Rich Uncle Pennybags. Not only did he get all our property and cash, he also managed to get every $500 in the bank!!


We all agreed that we will have to do it more often.

It was an odd Christmas for us. The first in which all three of our boys were in different states. We noticed Hudi staying up later and later and realized he was connecting with his brothers online, playing games into the wee hours of the morning. As a mom, I happen to love the fact that they can be so far apart, yet still enjoy hanging out together online.

Zeb came home, and his girlfriend came to visit. We all took a trip to hang out with my mother-in-law. While Chris and I worked, the kids played games with her, and when our work was done, we joined them in playing Chaos (another game from Charlotte), Scrabble, and Pinochle. A family favorite we haven’t played since Dad died three years ago. It brought back a lot of happy memories. Here’s a pic of the kids taking a break and enjoying the silly straws they purchased at a local dollar store:


It was so fun, we decided to dedicate a room in our house to gaming once we got home. Maybe they’ll make a gamer out of me yet.

We Helped Make History

Wide Awake Club Library

There are many things I love about this rural area I have come to call my home. One of our greatest treasures is our library. Run almost entirely by volunteers, it’s the one in which we hold our WordPress meetups. Yesterday it moved. Not by itself, of course.  And not the building, really. To be more precise – the contents of the library were moved by community members on Nov 17, 2015.

CJ, Hudi and I showed up at the requested noon hour to find a room filled with adult volunteers. We were given a game plan regarding how we would help move approximately 46,000 items from the old library to the new building.

Then the real heroes showed up. As I glanced up the street on the blessedly warm, sunny day (a true gift because it could have been snowing and/or raining at this time of year) I saw a stream of kids heading toward the library. That’s right. Kids. About 120 middle school students walked down the hill from the school, along with their teachers, ready to help.

Muscles, energy and cheerful attitudes melded together to create super moving machines as we worked as a unit to schlep the books from one building to another. That’s .17 miles each way.

Kids entered the library one-by-one and were told where to go by an adult volunteer. When they were sent to nonfiction, they made their way to me, and I piled books in their arms, being careful not to overload them.

Now I don’t want to ever hear anyone tell me that kids are lazy and don’t know the value of work. Kid after kid came to me, requesting that I add more books to their pile, echoing a line I became familiar with as the hour progressed: “Load me up. I help haul firewood at home. I’m used to this.”

And that was not a mis-type. I meant hour. Maybe an hour and a half, but certainly not two hours. Those amazing kids and adult volunteers moved all the items. All 46,000-ish items. Just wow.

It was inspirational.

My favorite parts of the day?

  • Seeing all the volunteers who showed up during a busy work day.
  • Watching the crossing guard and two police (who were there to make sure the kids crossed the street safely) interact with the kids who were begging to see their tasers 🙂
  • Listening to a student aide who was sitting in a quiet corner with a special needs child, reassuring him and saying that she was really proud of him for the two trips he took.
  • Checking out the titles of the books I was passing off. Making lists of new ones to read and falling in love again with books I have read and appreciated. Then getting to tell the kids about them.
  • Seeing how the process opened the kids’ eyes to the treasure of the library as they learned about all the library had to offer. I heard an adult volunteer explain what sci-fi (science fiction) was, and I heard kids comment on special moments they had in areas in the library in the past. “Will they have nice little nooks in the new library?” was one of the best questions I was asked during the day.

There was one girl who summed up the day as I thanked her while she was walking out with her 7th or 8th stack of books. She shrugged and said, “Hey, we’re Fillmore. We do whatever it takes.”

Well said.

After donuts and cider, the kiddos headed back to an assembly at school, excited over the prospect of seeing their principal get slimed.

Who knew being part of history could be so inspiring and so much fun?