This was the least stressful part of our New York trip.

Here is a look at our year, just ending. It is filled with travel, travails, pretty girls, graduations and young love — kind of like an episode of The O.C. This year we are presenting the highlights chronologically instead of in a random, stream-of-consciousness flood of anecdotes, photos and bad jokes. That’s because Laurie took the time to make me a detailed outline, rather than simply relying on me to just sit down at the computer and James Joyce out a bunch of seemingly unrelated paragraphs. I have no idea why she thought we needed that sort of structure and discipline. Perhaps my answer is hidden somewhere in this rambling preamble. I don’t know.

Anyways, here is our 2010 exactly as it happened, without embellishment. Mostly.

Bowling with the Minnesota Swarm


Katie started the second semester of her senior year and made her final decision on which college she’d attend (Bemidji State University in Northern Minnesota. Interesting fact: Bemidji means “frozen for 10 months a year” in Ojibwe. I think.)  Jesse prepared to bust out of middle school and jump into high school with both feet. The girls and Art participated in the American Indian Education program in our school district and started to learn the Ojibwe language. Art and the girls enjoyed all things Swarm (professional lacrosse), including going bowling with members of the team (that’s defensive player Josh Funk in the photo above). The weather was cold and snowy, which probably goes without saying. Didn’t you see the movie Fargo? That’s how it is here. Cold, white. desolate, wind-swept.



Art working hard in Vegas

Ojibwe classes continued and so did the cold and snowy weather. February, after all, is traditionally Minnesota’s snowiest month (at least we thought so until we hit December). We hunkered down and prayed for spring. Art got a little break from the weather when he went to Las Vegas for the Reservation Economic Summit to staff a booth and network with other American Indian business owners. It was hot in Vegas.


Katie enjoyed getting together with her Girl Scout troop and Jesse started playing lacrosse, for the boys team. Jesse is the only girl playing for a boys team in the Minnesota State High School League. She plays defense and turned out to be much tougher than she looks. Quote of the year, from Eastview’s game against South Minneapolis:

Boy offensive player squaring off against Jesse: Hey, kid, cut your hair. You look like a girl.

Jesse: I am a girl.

Jesse (in black) plays defense like a girl: fast and tough

We made our annual trip to north Florida for Spring Break and rented a beach house on Bald Point with our neighbors and friends, the Terzichs. It was Katie and Sam’s last spring break trip with the families (their college schedules are different from the local school schedule). We had a blast visiting with Grandma and Grandpa Wyant, Aunt Shirley and Uncle Dave, Laurie’s friend Lori and with Art’s former executive assistant, Janet and her boyfriend, Jimmy.

On St. George's Island, Florida. No dragons in sight.


In April, we attended freshman orientation at Bemidji State University with Katie. She got a chance to tour the campus, meet with her academic advisor and check out her dorm, Oak Hall. It was a great trip, making Katie’s journey to college student much more real. They split the parents off in a separate group and worked us through our anxieties. It was like a massive cult indoctrination. I kept waiting for Rev. Moon or Jim Jones to walk out on stage. In the end, Laurie and I drank the Kool-Aid (and ate the deli sandwiches and ice cream bars they provided).

At the Honor Society concert

We also got a chance to attend a concert of our nephew’s band, The Honor Society, at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. Andrew invited us to meet the band before the show and was very gracious. The fans in line for the show weren’t too happy when we were ushered in for our visit with the band. Finally, Katie got to take care of a computer-programmed baby for a weekend. It was great watching her get up for feedings at all hours. “I fed her. What does she want? Why won’t she stop crying? I am SO tired.” Heh.

Katie's honoring ceremony


Mother's Day

May was a month of transitions for Katie. She “bridged” to adult Girl Scout with members of her troop who had been scouts together for nine years. Later that month, Katie was among four American Indian students honored by the Native American Education Program and the Parent Committee at a graduation honoring ceremony. Each of the students was presented with a quilled medicine wheel and eagle feather pin and a star quilt. Katie chose to have her honoring gifts presented to her by Linda Brunsvold, her Scout leader and good friend. It was a very emotional evening. A drum from Minneapolis played honor songs; we gave gifts to teachers and leaders of the American Indian program; then we ate cake. Also in May, Jesse attended the 8th Grade Dance. Art was the chauffeur, but Jesse would not allow him to chaperone. After the dance, Art drove about 150 teens to Buffalo Wild Wings. It was a noisy, sauce-covered end to a great evening. As is our tradition, we honored Laurie for Mother’s Day with a trip to the nearby Minnesota Zoo. Katie also attended senior prom (in a limo, no less!) and began to attend the first of 600 separate graduation parties hosted by her classmates.

Katie and her Girl Scout troop


Katie was very busy spending as much time as possible with high school friends  — dinners, parties, bonfires and just hanging out. Katie walked across the stage and accepted her diploma as a member of the Class of 2010, in front of an audience that included her mom, sister, Papa and Grandma Ellen Coulson.

Proud family at Katie's graduation

Once again, rain forced the ceremony inside at Eastview High School. Art, clerk of the District 196 School Board not only got to sign Katie’s diploma, he got to hand it to her at the ceremony. Katie also requested a hug and a fist bump from her dad, to the audience’s delight. Art was never prouder in his life. He held it together pretty well during his short speech.

Katie and Sam at their grad party

After the ceremony, Katie and her classmates attended an all-night party at the school, “Transcend 2010,” with a space theme. Laurie helped with the decorations (see a slide show of her work here). We also cohosted a grad party with our neighbors, the Terzichs, whose son, Sam, also graduated from Eastview.

Jesse's 8th-grade band concert

Jesse wrapped up a successful middle school career and prepared for high school. She became even closer friends with Allie Simser, who is now our third daughter. She travels all over with us and takes Jesse to her family’s cabin up north.

At the outlet mall in Albertville, MN. Which ones are the real girls?


Jesse, Katie and Laurie enjoyed an outing to the outlet mall with Linda and Sarah Brunsvold, followed by lunch at Jesse’s new favorite restaurant, Aliens. No, the food does not pop out of your abdomen after you leave the table.

At Lilith Fair.

Katie, Jesse and Laurie went to the Lilith Fair Concert in Minneapolis, one of Laurie’s Mother’s Day gifts. They saw Sarah McLachlan, Heart and two women with matching mullets. All in all, a successful concert. Jesse and Laurie took several walks and worked on their photography skills, sometimes taking Allie along. We enjoyed looking at their photos and were impressed with their talent. The big news of July, though, was Katie’s 18th birthday. Our little girl is now an adult. It’s hard to believe how quickly time has passed. Also in July, Jesse and Art went to the Fond du Lac Reservation for a Swarm lacrosse camp for native youth. Jesse brought her equipment to play with the youth from across Minnesota and Wisconsin. Art was there working for the Swarm, writing a story about the camp and taking photos.

The group at Robert Treman State Park

We also took a family trip to New York at the end of July and into August for Laurie’s 30th high school reunion. While we were there, we visited family and friends, went to Robert Treman State Park to photograph the gorges and waterfalls, toured Cornell University with Jesse, shopped in Ithaca, and spent a couple of days in Niagara Falls. We capped off the trip with a free outdoor concert by Jesse’s favorite band, Thriving Ivory. Jesse even got to meet the band and hang out with them before the show. Allie traveled with us. We remembered to bring her passport, but we didn’t have a note from her parents allowing us to cross the U.S.-Canada border. At one point, a border guard asked Allie if she was being kidnapped. When we all busted out laughing, he waved us through the checkpoint.

Laurie and friends at a pre-reunion lunch in Dansville


Katie moving in at Bemidji State.

Katie's 'I Voted' sticker

Katie got to vote for the first time, in the Minnesota primary. We all went with her to the polls at a nearby church. It was a proud day for us, even though she canceled out my vote for governor.

Toward the end of the month, we made the four-hour trip to Bemidji with an SUV full of stuff to drop our Katie off at college. It was a very emotional time, but we survived. Katie is thriving at BSU and loving life at college.

At the end of August, we made our first family trip to the Minnesota State Fair without Katie.

Jesse at Cherokee Nation tribal complex


First day of high school

Art and Jesse made a father-daughter trip by car to Oklahoma for the Cherokee National Holiday in Tahlequah. Jesse enjoyed meeting tribal officials, including Principal Chief Chad Smith, eating tons of frybread, watching a traditional stickball game, and walking around Tahlequah looking at all the vendor booths. She did not enjoy the Cherokee opera singer or the tent revival conducted in Cherokee.

Right after our trip, Jesse started high school at Eastview, where she is taking all honors classes. She is doing really well, participating in Best Buddies and the environmental club, and looking forward to playing lacrosse for Eastview in the spring.

Toward the end of September, we went to Bemidji for Family Weekend. Laurie and Art were the star parents, playing kickball and dodgeball with the students. We also went to see Toy Story 3 for a family movie night.

Allie and Jesse as a couple of Italian plumbers


Jesse and Joey before the Homecoming Dance

If it’s October, that can only mean one thing: Halloween. Yes, Jesse is still coming up with great costume ideas for her mom to execute. This year, she and Allie went as Mario and Luigi (appropriate, given the number of hours the girls play Mario Karts on the Wii. And, yes, Jesse still insists on trick-or-treating. She is a candy-holic.

Another sign that our Jesse is growing up: She started dating her first real boyfriend, Joey. They went to the Eastview Homecoming dance together, getting together with a big group of friends for pictures and dinner beforehand. Joey, who hurt his wrist in football, dyed his cast purple to match Jesse’s dress. Ahhhh. The group was running late after photos and couldn’t get in to their first choice of restaurants (Olive Garden) and ended up at the Applebees in Apple Valley, where we just happened to be dining. Heh. Even funnier, the hostess sat their party right behind us, allowing us to photo bomb Jesse’s pictures and make faces at her while she ate.

The Girls' Weekend Gang


Iron Chef Minnesota

Jesse turned 15 in early November. She had a large group of friends over for pizza, movies and a sleepover. Laurie traveled to Houston for her annual girls’ weekend with her mom and sisters (and Dad and Dave). While she was gone, we got the first snow of the year. And it wasn’t just a dusting. We got 12 inches of wet, heavy snow that snapped trees and downed powerlines. Art almost died shoveling snow 4 or 5 times in 24 hours. The snow has not let up since, leading to the snowiest December on record in Minnesota. We have more than three feet of snow in our yard, with drifts of over four feet. And we haven’t hit our snowy period yet. This is going to be a miserable winter. We were happy that Katie came home for Thanksgiving, riding with friends from school. It was great to have the whole family together for the holiday. Art smoked a turkey on the grill, after shoveling out to it. He also baked sweet potato pies for the whole neighborhood.


Art, after snowblowing out all the neighbors' driveways during the Blizzard of the Century

It has been a very snowy and cold winter so far. We weren’t able to get the Christmas lights up outside because the snow came so early this year. We normally put the lights up at Thanksgiving. That wasn’t an option this year. I believe Santa will find the house without ’em. Laurie spent the month shopping, going to high school musicals and plays, making cookies and shoveling. Oh yeah, and playing Mario Kart with the girls. Art spent most of the month working to wrap up a communications contract with a group of local nonprofits and writing a strategic communications plan and legislative report for the state Department of Transportation. Business is definitely picking up again. Both girls wrapped up the fall semester in high style, making great grades and making Mom and Dad very proud.

Katie and Jesse making Christmas cookies during blizzard

Carol-oke at Bemidji State

2 Responses to “2010: Our Year in Review”

  • Aunt Pat says:

    What a great annual report! Enjoyed catching up with all the goings-on. Admire all the talent the whole family quite apparently has. I’m lucky to know how to advance down the page when it comes to computers. Thanks for sharing! Oh, Florida also had its coldest December in 100 years (which is probably when they started keeping records). We had one night with a hard frost…but several when the temp dipped down to the mid-high 30s. That’s here near the coast, inland gets more severe weather. And, yes, we gripe about it…but also recognize we’re in a better place than most. I don’t envy the folks from here that visit kinfolk in the north this time of year and there are a lot of them that do that. I give them credit that’s due but have no desire to follow their fine example. Have a wonderful 2011. I’ll check in every once in a while.

  • Mom & Dad Wyant says:

    Great job !! Mom hasn’t had time to see all of this yet, but she will.

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