Category Archives: Family

Happy birthday to a banged up Molly B

“Taring” up the Midwest

Empty nest, full belly

Don’t trifle with this little chef

Our “Mexit” Party

The Biskupic family “Mexit” celebration mirrored Molly’s entrance into this old world.

Both happened on a steamy summer day, both involved the sweet support of family and friends, and both concluded with Molly’s relieved parents high-fiving and saying, “Well, thank God that went well.”

As they have through every important stage of her life, Molly’s siblings rallied for her high school graduation party. Charlie flew in from New York and spent the morning of the party lugging corn on the cob, configuring makeshift air conditioning units, and setting up tables and chairs.

Katherine and Cousin Lizzy drove up from Chicago with homemade baked goods and impressive kale salad making chops.

Vinnie and his girlfriend Danni drove in from Minneapolis, ran errands and headed up the take down crew.

Our friend Keith spent the whole day with us, designing the grilled corn station and manning our shared La Caja China, a grill box that deserves its own post some day.

Unsolicited, our next-door neighbors brought over really comfortable tables and chairs.

From George Arthur, our 11-week old neighbor, to Nai Chang, our 94-year old friend who still plays golf twice a week, the party turned out to be a celebration of gratitude for all the cool people we’ve all been lucky enough to know.

There was beloved family, who set aside busy lives and drove north for the celebration.

And neighbors.

And the elegant Wilmots, who first met Molly when she was a pre-school tag-a-long to Franklin Grade School.

And our theatre parent friends, some of the best people we know.

And my college roommate and her family.

And Connie the Cookie Lady.

And our octogenarian, ballroom dancing friend Janet.

And my grade school friend Carol, who lives down the street.

And Molly’s friends.

And their parents.

If I had a vote, of course I’d have voted against a Mexit…and a Vexit…and a Kexit…and a Chexit.

But, life moves on and, when it does, aren’t we all thrilled to sit back on a summer afternoon and recognize the cool support our fleeing chicks draft behind as they take those first tender steps?

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Connie the Cookie Lady joined us.

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And our 11-week neighbor George Arthur.

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We celebrated Croatia’s independence and Molly’s independence with cookies.

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Molly made a sheet pie.

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Lizzy brought a delicious blackberry butter cake.

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Molly whipped up a giant batch of watermelon lemonade.

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La Caja China deserves its own post.

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Photo credit to Catherine McKenzie for this next series of us jumping off the porch…

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Vinnie got air…

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But it also took him a little longer to land.

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Croatia!

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Representatives of the Biskupic family!

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Connie the Cookie Lady exits into the sunset.

My sister’s brain

I told my sister Kathy her brain should have its own Instagram account. It’s been photographed more often than the Kardashians, and it’s far more interesting.

Six times, Kathy has had surgery on it, and six times that beautiful, complicated, challenging organ has survived.

If you look inside my sister’s brain, you’ll see a working shunt system on one side, and a broken catheter stuck in the middle. You’ll see a ventriculostomy, which allows fluid to move from one ventricle to the next. You’ll see a resection scar from a recent tumor removal.

And here’s what else you’ll see:

You’ll see fierce love for friends and family, especially her stepson, the charismatic Traveain. Woe to any facility ill-equipped to handle Traveain’s electric wheel chair. Kathy has fired off many a stern letter, including one to her alma mater, to rectify that situation ASAP.

You’ll see devotion to her students (which nearly gave us all a heart attack).  As promised, Kathy texted us updates when she and her husband Keith made their way to Mayo Clinic for a critical consultation following her most recent brain surgery. “Disaster!” she wrote and we all clutched our phones. “The pizza delivery guy arrived right when the high school was having a fire drill.” The message left us all understandably confused. “I ordered pizza for my Geek Squad students and that delivery guy better find them. His tip depends on it.” I mean, really, who orders pizza for their students while enroute to Mayo Clinic with 34 staples in her head? As I may have mentioned, in 2007 Kathy was named Wisconsin’s Teacher of the Year, not only for her tech program but also for her mentoring of at risk students.

You’ll see peace from a daughter and a sister who has been since birth the family touchstone. She calls herself Switzerland (one of the few countries she and my mother have not been to among their many global travels) because she rarely takes sides in family squabbles. She is the mellowest among us, quick to remember birthdays and anniversaries and faithful in her attendance at important family functions. She has seen every play her goddaughter Katherine has ever been in, and that’s saying something.

You’ll see a little disdain for undereducated Packer fans. I’ve gone to games with Kathy for more than three decades. She knows her stuff. One game, we sat next to a local celebrity who prattled on to his companions. He was loud and he was wrong. Eventually, a squirming Kathy couldn’t take it anymore. She looked at me and said, “Good God,” then leaned across and spoke directly to the gentleman. “That’s not Dorsey Levens. He hasn’t even been on the team since 2001,” she said. Though momentarily stunned, the gentleman recovered admirably and he and Kathy chatted easily for the remainder of the game.

You’ll see strength. You’ll see it oozing from every pore. I was with Kathy in her hospital room not long after she’d learned the tumor they’d just removed was malignant, metastasized breast cancer. We were alone for a little while and I, channeling all of the medical knowledge I’d acquired through years of faithful George Clooney watching, ran her through some tests. “Ok, squeeze my hand.”  She did. “Follow my finger.” Her eyes followed my hand. “Lift your right leg. Good. Good. Now your left.” I was just goofing around a little and testing whether her little sister obedience was still intact (it was). I also had a serious question. “What are you thinking about your diagnosis?” I asked. “It is what it is,” Kathy said, and paused a minute. “And we’re going to fight the hell out of it.”

Of course, we’re grossly offended that any cancer cells at all would have the nerve to invade that beautiful brain, but we also know Kathy and our money’s on her.

Next week, she’ll be back at Mayo for Gamma Knife Radiation after which, she and her husband Keith are looking forward to resuming their regular summer activities. She and my mom plan a July trip to Cuba.

Today, we’re walking with Kathy and her team, Holy Walkamoley, in the Menomonee Falls Relay for Life. She’ll take that remarkable brain of hers around that survivor lap and, once again, we’ll all stand and applaud.

Kathy and I at Dave Robinson

Kathy and I have been loyal Packer fans through all kinds of weather. She’s pretty good natured, until you start talking smack about her Packers, especially if you don’t have your facts straight.

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Here is Kathy on her wedding day in 2012, six months before her breast cancer diagnosis.

Kathy and Molly at Molly's orchestra concert

A very loyal aunt, Kathy goes to great lengths to come to just about everything. Here she is at Molly’s most recent orchestra concert.

twinsies

My mom and Kathy went to Door County last week and twinsied themselves. 

Kathy, Molly and Mom

Kathy, Molly and my mom at the Appleton North graduation last night.

Kathy post-op

Would you be smiling just after brain surgery? Kathy did. She winked a little too.

Kathy the survivor

These are some members of Team Kathy at her first Relay for Life two years ago. We’ll all be there tonight too, cheering her on as she takes her survivor lap.

 

 

 

 

 

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo

A perfect pepper pick six

Last dance with Mary Jane

A lovely spring tramp

The summer before he died, my dad spent all of his free time chopping a walking path along the Oconto River.

He’d emerge after spending hours in the woods, dirty, sweaty, all scratched up from tree branches and wild blackberry bushes, and grinning like an eight-year old on the first day of summer vacation.

The project began with a simple sickle and an axe, but became more sophisticated with every chop. Eventually, he enlisted friends and family to ferry wood pieces via a small river boat to designated drop off points. He’d emerge from the woods to the river’s edge, gather the two-by-fours, and disappear again into the depths.

That summer he built nine bridges along the mile-long path and, sweetly, marked the end of the route by carving two wood chairs out of fallen trees for his grandchildren, five-year old Charlie and three-year old Katherine.

On Friday, we took a lovely spring tramp along the route my dad carved more than 23 years ago. We had our doubts, but the bridges held our weight, though they’d languished untended all this time.

We marveled as we crunched through the knee-deep snow — at the freshness of the air, the stillness of the woods, the promise of new life under all that frozen ground, and, mostly, at my dad’s profound legacy.

We intend to resurrect “Peggy’s Bridle Path,” which is what my dad called his summer project, and we’re deeply grateful for the opportunity to do so. We’re not particularly handy, but we know that’s okay.

We’ll make our way slowly, gratefully accept advice from our talented friends, and follow the generous path my dad carved for us so enthusiastically during the hot summer of 1992.

The bench

My dad built this deck too and we’ve made good use of it through the years. We enter the bridle path just to the left of it.

Snow covered bridge

I thought this bridge looked beautiful though, I must confess, I was not the first in our little tramping party to brave crossing it.

Reflectin in the river

The river was uncharacteristically still on Friday, owing to deep waters and very little wind.

The first bridge

This poor bridge looked a little less sturdy, but it held up under all of us. Whew!

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I just like this picture of Molly, her shadow and her reflection in the pond next to another bridge my dad built.

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And I liked the pattern of snow on this tall evergreen.

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We paused every now and then in our tramping to enjoy the day’s beauty.

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The little chair I’m sitting on and the giant blaze orange snow suit I’m wearing are both legacies from my dad. Molly refused to wear the blaze orange but, I’m telling you, I stayed warm and dry on that two hour tramp. This is one of the chairs my dad carved for his grandchildren.

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I also love this picture of Molly dancing through the woods. We never take for granted the unique ability to make our own tracks through these beautiful woods.

 

 

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