It’s nice having Emily back in Minnesota

On graduation day in 1999, Emily received a letter from the University of Virginia saying that she had been accepted from their wait list. It was one of those life-changing moments. UVA had been her top choice and we were all thrilled that she would be going to such a beautiful, prestigious college in a wonderful part of the country. I knew I’d miss having her around for the next four years, but any misgivings about that were entirely blown away by the fact that she was going to be able to have a life experience such as this.

Emily and Peet show me their secret cave in Whitewater State Park

She did come back to Minneapolis for a short time after college and had an apartment in northeast Minneapolis, but then went on to be a teacher in New York for the past five years. Now she’s back, living in Rochester — new husband, great dog, new house, new life. She’s happy — and I’m liking it a lot. Last Friday I drove down to help her do some work around the house. We didn’t get much accomplished, but it turned out to be a great trip. She decided that since they were planning to come up on Sunday anyway and Kyle had to work Saturday, she and Peet would ride back with me and spend the weekend.

Emily and Peet looking down at the swimming beach at Whitewater

We had a nice lunch together on a patio in downtown Rochester. Then we stopped at Whitewater State Park on the way to Minneapolis for a little hike. It was beautiful — the scenery, the conversation, the time together. I’ll never forget that day, because it was at that park that I really realized how nice it’s going to be to have these kinds of opportunities after 11 years. Kyle’s residency is four years and I know there’s a good chance they’ll move away again after that, but I’m going to cherish these times and never forget how lucky I am to have Emily, Kyle and Peet in my life for a while.

Peet and I went for a walk at Lake Harriet on Saturday. He seems to like Minnesota.

It’s Emily’s birthday!

It’s hard to remember life before Emily. As anyone who has children knows, everything changes when you have your first kid. I’ll never forget the feeling of complete joy and exuberance when we found out we were going to have a baby. As the due date of May 19 approached, the weather began to get hot — we didn’t have AC — and Mom was not enjoying the fact that Emily hadn’t arrived yet. After a week and a half of waiting, Emily still couldn’t decide what to do, so the doctor gave her a little prompting. After the quick procedure, the doc said, “Well, you’re going to have a baby sometime today”. And so Emily sort of reluctantly entered the world.

A happy Mom and a beautiful (but probably drooling) daughter

For the first few years, Emily had the nickname, “Billie” because of the bilirubin tests she had to have for her slightly yellow tint during the first couple of weeks.

Emily was a wonderful child — absolutely a joy. Looking back, it’s funny how some of the personality traits that she has now were evident even when she was very young. She was always smart, inquisitive, talkative, funny and generally very happy — but also inwardly a little fearful and worried about things.

I think this was her first reading of a Stephen King book.

She knew how to read by age 4, and didn’t stick with the little kid books for long, becoming interested it adult-level books in elementary school. The amount of reading she did as a kid made her very smart, very with-it, and a great student in high school. Achieving the International Baccalaureate diploma is an amazing feat. I’m so proud of her (as well as sister Lauren) for doing that.

A rare photo with Grandma Fran

Emily was always athletic. She started playing soccer when she was 6 and also did a lot of gymnastics in elementary school, then later on, softball, track and cross-country skiing. She loved being physically active and I loved watching her play. She has a great understanding of strategy — she was always the most aware player on the soccer field and the best passer. She continues to be an all-around athlete, able to pick up and be good at anything she’s interested in. I was so proud of her when she ran a marathon last month, but not shocked that she could do it. When she sets her sights on something, she goes after it with determination.

At the house on Dupont Ave.

She found out that she was accepted from the wait list at the University of Virginia on her last day of high school. It was one of those life-changing moments that you only see the significance of in retrospect. She would have gotten a great education at UW Madison, but life took her to other places. It was hard having her so far away in college, but I was so proud of her for getting into UVA and for going off to such a great place. You hope your kids grow up to have their own lives and follow their own paths, so the being so far away part was a very small negative compared to all the good things she was doing.

Plus, she wouldn’t have met Kyle otherwise.

The sun came out on the day after the muddy mess of graduation day. What a proud day for all of us.

She didn’t set out to be a teacher, but decided to give it a shot a couple of years after college. In typical Emily fashion, she stuck with it through some very hard times and has done it for 5 years. I know it’s been difficult and frustrating — and it might be hard for her to believe this right now — but it’s been worthwhile. I know she’s good at it and I know she’s affected a lot of lives. Emily has given me many, many proud moments over the years, but I’ll never forget when I got to visit her classroom of 4th graders a few years ago. To see her all grown up, making it on her own in New York, and doing such a great job with those kids was really a big thrill for me.

It was a big day for me when I got to see Emily teaching (October 2006)

So here’s to you Emily! Now you’re entering the next phase of life. You got married last fall to Kyle, who is a fantastic guy and you seem perfect for each other. You’re moving back to Minnesota, but it’s unknown territory in many ways again. You’re buying a house. You don’t know what life will bring in the next few years. But as usual, you’re up for the adventure. Just think about how much different things will be by your next birthday.

You’ve made a great life for yourself. The years have flown by and it’s been a joy to watch you grow up. I hope that some day you will have the experience of being a parent. I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed having you as my daughter. You were a wonderful kid and now you’re an amazing woman. No Dad has anything more than I do.

Happy birthday, Emily. You’re the best. Enjoy the next chapter.

Love, Dad