Jack’s 16th Birthday

Do you remember your 16th birthday?

I do. I remember it because it was a big birthday. Or should I say Big Bird birthday? We will get to that later.

Sixteen is the year you get your license. In the suburbs, turning 16 and getting a car creates a whole new level of freedom. And oh how I remember the difference. B.C. and A.D. Before Car and After Driving. Life was never the same again.

My parents thought it was a big deal too. Which is why, even though they were long seperated, they schemed together. Dad took me on a driving lesson while Mom arranged a surprise party for me. She invited everyone she thought I was friends with. Or maybe she invited everyone she thought I SHOULD be friends with? Noticeably absent was my good friend Laura Vertolli (pictured in previous blog). This might have been the most upsetting thing at the party. Except it wasn’t, because she also decided she needed to hire entertainment….

Mom Hired Big Bird to Entertain at my 16th Birthday Party

Hoping not to embarrass Jack as much as my parents embarrassed me, but also acknowledging the significance of this milestone birthday, Adam suggested a ski trip for Jack and his friends.

We planned it for Presidents Day, February 17-20, the weekend before his birthday. Shortly after we planned it, Jack broke his foot.

Jack’s Emergency Room Cast on February 4th

Jack refused to cancel the weekend. He told us his friends were excited about the trip and he didn’t want to ruin their fun. So, we went ahead as planned.

12 Seater Mercedes Sprinter Van with Xbox

We rented a huge van to take us all up to the Upper Peninsula to ski at a place my friend Tami recommended, Ski Brule.

We rented a place that sleeps 23 people. It had a pool table, shuffle board table, sauna, PS4, and arcade games.

Pool Table
Old Style Arcade Games

Besides all the entertainment, the boys also created their own fun. They competed to see who could stay in the sauna the longest. They played many card games. And they did who knows what else late at night while everyone else was asleep!

Playing Spoons

The house was on a lake in Eagle River, Wisconsin. Most days we had deer visit us, which we could see from the panoramic windows.

Visiting Deer

Saturday we woke the boys early to get to the ski resort. Even though Jack couldn’t ski, he stayed and helped out his friends and took lots of pictures.

Jack and his Buddies all Geared up to Ski/Snowboard

Adam insisted all of Jack’s friends get lessons, then he took the twins up the mountain. Those two little daredevils would be skiing black diamond by the end of the day.

Rare Meetup at the Base of the Mountain

The following day we woke early again and got into the van for another day of skiing. Unfortunately our van got stuck after sliding in the icy driveway. We ended up having to call for a tow truck, which took all day. We missed the second day of skiing.

Jack’s friends were great about it. Not a single complaint. They busied themselves with playing in the snow and more card games.

Playing in the Snow
Ice Surfing Video

It was so nice to see them all together. Jack has such a great group of friends, it makes my heart sing.

The day after we got back was Jack’s actual birthday. We had the normal donut and egg sandwich breakfast from Dunkin’ Donuts. For dinner that night, we went to our regular birthday spot for dinner.

Sushi Birthday Dinner

Afterwards, we ate cake COVID style, without blowing out candles on top.

Sweet Mandy B’s Oreo Cake

After we sung to Jack he had one last request, to take everyone to see the new Ant Man Quantumania film. We booked it for this weekend.

When I look back at that girl next to Big Bird and compare her to Jack, I can’t help but be pleased. When I was 16 years old my parents didn’t know who my friends were or what I would have liked for a 16th birthday party, if any. It was sweet of them to try, but there was a huge disconnect that I don’t think is there with Jack. He still comes and talks to us most nights after all the other kids have gone to bed. I definitely feel a lot closer to him than I did to my parents at that age.

I’m also really proud of where he in life. He cares about his grades and as a result has a high GPA. He plays high school soccer as well as travel soccer, which keeps him active and fit. He consistently makes good decisions, which makes him someone I look to if I need to bounce ideas off of. He fixes computer problems for the house. He looks after his brothers. Given one of his brother’s special needs, this is no small statement. And he’s a real mensch, just look at his decision not to cancel the weekend, even though he couldn’t ski.

Happy birthday to you, Jack! And many more…

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