Merry Christmas 2017

2017 was a year of crazy stress nutso insanity growth in our home.  Life as a Pieper is always a whirlwind of change and this year was no different.

James has really spread his wings.  Oh wait, no.  He lives in our basement.  For real.  He is a sophomore at NDSU, majoring in Crop and Weed (not the Colorado kind).  He is very involved in Chi Alpha on campus, building great friendships, which means our home is their home (translate: no longer able to walk around the house without pants on.)   Many of our best moments are late night laughs with all the college guys who frequent our living room.  His passion for farming grows stronger the older he gets.  His summer was spent again working in barley pathology at NDSU and this fall, he spent many months helping with the harvest on local farms.  This summer, he will complete his first internship near the farm, and be Grandma’s roomie. (Pretty sure she is a little excited about that!)



Alli has spent 2017 learning a lot about who she is.  Together, we toured many colleges searching for her collegiate home.  Exploring her options was mostly an exercise in elimination, but when she finally decided to pursue a degree in music education right here at NDSU, peace settled in.  She decided to be done with year-round theater (sorta) and instead spent as much of her summer as possible enjoying time with friends and family, mostly at the lake where the most important decision made is gummy worms or monster bars?  She is finishing her senior year focused on her passion for band and is looking forward to saying “Goodbye, Felisha” to high school and “hello” to all the opportunities ahead of her in the Bison music department.


And Karalyn makes three!!  We will send three Pieper kids to NDSU in the fall.  She has only looked at NDSU – toured others just for grad school purposes and direction, but has been all green and gold from day one.  Her declared major is exercise science, which sets her up for either med school or an OT/PT route.   Karalyn has added song lyrics to her ever-expanding Jeopardy category “Perfectly-timed Sass”.  Her repertoire of one-liners available at any moment is impressive.   This newly-perfected skill set would also make her an awesome Karaoke singer except for the fact that she hates listening to other people sing so you will never find her anywhere near Karaoke.  She still serves meals at the half-way house assisted living home and will soon get her CNA and start her move up the corporate ladder until she runs the place.  Her passions include napping, Netflix bingeing, and then more napping.



Andy, always the family rebel, will be breaking the mold by heading to Minnesota State Technical College, which is out of state and a long 20-minute drive from home.  You read that right people.  Somehow, we Pieper parents have managed to be so awesome that none of our kids want to move away!!   BOOOOYA!!   Andy plans to pursue Electrical Technology, so basically, he can perfect my Christmas lights for years and years to come.  He has a serious case of senior-itis and is just coasting into home.  Andy spent much of his summer, fall, and winter so far exploring, looking for new places to adventure, adding mountain biking to the list of crazy things he does for fun.  Some day he will tell me all the senseless things he does to fill his time, but for now, I like to pretend he has found a quiet hammock and is spending time reading a book.


Bill works somewhere.  Seriously, I think it is a daycare.  Or maybe the daycare shares their building?  I will go with that.  The place is called Professional Advantage and I think he does computer stuff there.  I assume so anyway since he knows a little about that kind of stuff.  And he gets paid, and carries insurance so I am sure he has a job.  He ran a couple half marathons and a 10-miler this year, still loving running the ability to eat junk food and still button his jeans.


I just finished my second round of college!!!!!!!!  After taking on 100+ credits (including 16 weeks of student teaching) in 15 months, I have decided to fill a couple long-term sub jobs while catching my breath.  Or maybe I wont ever catch my breath as I walk the three kiddos through the spring of their senior year.  I am not sure how much, if any, sanity I will have left on June 3rd when we watch them walk across the stage and Bill and I look at each other and wonder how in the world our years of this home being Grand Central Station have blurred by.  I will be bawling, he may be pumping his fists, or maybe we will both be numb.  Who knows.  I just hope I have a good hair day.


Walter is about the most spoiled rotten dog in the history of the world.  He runs the place.  Because we love his fuzzy self so much.  Stop in sometime and give him a good belly rub!


Growth can sometimes be very hard.  It is during these seasons that we realize the beautiful friends God has surrounded us with, and we have been blessed.  Love envelopes our family at every turn.  2018 is a year that has been circled on our family calendar since 2000 when we knew at some point, we would have to watch our kids fly from home.  All.  At.  Once.  As we cross things off our lists, we see new opportunities for our children around each corner.  There will be moments of weeping and gnashing and there will be moments of dancing and rejoicing, and through all of it, we feel the peace and joy that comes from knowing God guides us through.

Thank you for being one of our tribe, for loving us, for helping us, and for listening and supporting us through it all!

Merry Christmas from the Pieper family.




Proverbs 31:25

She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.


Merry Christmas Again!

Merry Christmas 2016 from the Pieper family!!  It has been another year of the craze we call normal around here, bringing much change and many memories made (I think, but I can’t remember anything before last Thursday, the brain can only hold so much – but you know, it sounds good.)

At the beginning of 2016, Bill was starting to feel the 20+ year itch and began to prepare our family for the fact that his career was about to make a change.  We didn’t know what that would mean but slowly God worked on my need for financial security and helped our family adjust to life beyond Microsoft.  He is now employed at Intelligent Insites, doing more of that tech stuff I don’t understand and sleeping at night again, so that’s good.  His daily commute brings him to downtown Fargo, which in this part of the world, is quite a drive, like 25 minutes.  Whoa.  I had to adjust suppertime to 5:45 now.  Big big changes after decades of 5:30 supper.

Spring brought us our first family graduation! What a great season of life to reflect on what an awesome job we did at parenting.  High fives to us as we sent a readied 18-year-old way down the road to NDSU.  (A new list appeared on my wunderlist app that day called “Things James forgot to pack” and we sent siblings back up to his dorm later that afternoon with things like bedding – really??  The next day, we got this call “Mom, I forgot to grab my towels and shampoo” so up we went again with that stuff.  What did he pack??)  James snuck in all the farm-related work he could this fall, even driving sugar beet truck – which in my mind means a Tonka truck in a sand box but in reality was a semi-truck cruising down the interstate hauling tons of beets at very high speeds – nothing a mom wants to think about.  He loves college life and continues his path to attaining a crop and weed degree.  This kid is consistent with his love of farm life.  And I feel like I am adjusting to life without him home pretty successfully now although the first few weeks pretty much wrecked me.   And because of James, we have Emily.  I am just going to leave that here.


Alli – oh sweet Alli – so much sincere love and kindness radiates from this girl.  She sings and dances, her heart full of music.  Theater filled her year – Fiddler on the Roof, The Little Mermaid, Charlette’s Web (in which she played Wilbur and for those of us who have loved her for 16+ years knows that Wilbur was pretty much her dream role) and now preparation for Phantom of the Opera.  She loves people as much as she loves her music.  Her tender heart amazes me.  She works in the church nursery and watches kiddos for MOPS groups (talk about life coming full circle).  She is looking at colleges and is unsure of what direction she wants to go, but honestly, her passion is elementary education.  When she was tiny (that’s a joke, she still is shorter than I am and always will be) she wanted to be a ballerina teacher so not much has changed: when God puts a calling on a life, you step aside and watch everything fall into place.  And, elementary kids are smaller than she is so that’s good.  Alli will be our caretakers when we get old, so we are extra kind to her…what goes around comes around and we are hoping for an awesome party atmosphere when someone chooses our nursing home.


Karalyn, still the jokester of the family, continues to amaze us with her growth.  When I look back at the kindergarten mom that I was, I remember worrying about her because she didn’t talk to people she didn’t know and you know, that is pretty much everyone at kindergarten, and I wasn’t sure how she would function without Alli by her side.  Now, she has the tightest-knit group of friends I have ever witnessed and her social calendar is packed.  Not surprisingly, all these friends came from her XC team and I am so thankful for this group of Mustang girls who have pulled my Curly out of her shell.  She is training to run her first half marathon this spring and we all know that when she sets her mind to something, she is going to get it done!  Karalyn works at a nursing home which I blame for her change in direction concerning college and career.  A couple months ago, my veterinarian suddenly decided she wants to instead be a doctor, so we have started looking at med schools with her.  She is going to pay off for us big time.


Andy, the crazy one, is still the crazy one.  Building, fixing, climbing, creating, drumming, messifying (yes, it’s a word), this kid knows no boundaries.  His mind always running, his body always moving, he just needs to get himself through chemistry and history so he can get on with his real life.  He loves a job, except a real job that requires a time clock and self-control, and prefers getting grease on his hands over pretty much anything else.  Back when he was a preschooler, he asked for duct tape, nails, and zip ties for Christmas.  This year, he wants tools, work boots, and a Carhart jacket.  Our little Bob the Builder has grown into Tim the Tool Man and we just try to keep one step ahead of him, or at least keep up with him as he moves so quickly.  He loves hunting and fishing, being with people, and misses his big brother a lot.  For obvious reasons, Andy is looking at tech schools: Diesel Mechanics or Electrician or a Diesel Mechanic who builds houses for fun, or an electrician who fixes small engines in his spare time or some other combination like that.


Are we busy? Yes, so why not also go back to college myself?  I enrolled in online classes to get my teaching license.  This is a little bit different from my original agriculture degree, but this is the direction my life headed and when doors open you walk through them.  I am not sure the timing of it all, but one of these days I will bring home a different sized paycheck doing about the same thing I am doing now, minus recess duty so booya for that!  Winter recess duty – three words of torture.   And, when I am a real teacher, I will get to use the color printer at school.  So when you ask, “What on God’s green earth is she doing that for?”  remind yourself: the three main reasons she is doing this: $$, recess duty, and color printer.

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So we sent one off (fly, little birdie, fly) and prepare to send three more.  Good thing Lucy and Walter are here to maintain some sort of normal.  Lucy has the life every busy mom dreams of.  Eats, sleeps, and poops.  That’s about it.  At 11 years old, she has earned that right.  Here when we get home and ready to drop everything for a good belly rub, Walter is pretty amazeballs.  He loves to eat Alli’s socks.  In conclusion, Walter loves belly rubs and socks.  And Cheetos puffs.  We don’t raise no fools round here.

So in true form, today I realized Christmas is in a week.  That means I must get a month’s worth of stuff done in a week.  That is how I roll.  Let the week of nutso begin.  Merry Christmas to our family and friends.  We are surrounded by a fantastic team of people who cover us in times of need, love on our kids, and bring much joy and laughter to our lives.  We love each of you.  Have a blessed, relaxing time celebrating Jesus!!  Our family is planning a snowed-in-palooza.


Merry Christmas!!

I don’t send Christmas letters and pictures anymore.  Someone in this house, who shall remain nameless, hated having to print them, stuff envelopes, lick them shut, and pay for stamps when we have technology that keeps us over-informed of what each of us is up to on a minute-to-minute basis.  And also, I am sorta busy chasing teenagers and napping.

Yep, it has been another crazy awesome year of Piep-ing and my Christmas letter would have read like this:

Happy Holidays from the Pieper Clan!  We look forward to celebrating the birth of our Savior, and really look forward to sleeping in for a week because:

10649959_10152645307336112_7273458675697740798_nJP is 18!  18, I say!!  How in tarnation did that happen?  He is quite involved at school still, running XC, swimming, and adding trap shooting to the list this coming spring.  He is prepped and ready to graduate and leave me bawling in the driveway this fall when he heads to NDSU to start studies in the agriculture field.  Yep, another Bison generation!  I catch moments of my little boy but mostly of a man now.  A very weird thing has happened – my raising him part is nearing an end – and I am left wondering if I squeezed every moment in with him that I could have.  (Probably not because I love napping.)


Princess lights up the stage every time she is given a chance – in fact, we have been scheduling life around her this year.  Not just our life, but our whole family schedule – As in we sold our camper when she decided to spend her summer (and thus our summer) theater-ing it up at Trollwood this year.  Will she do it again next summer??  She hasn’t decided, but I have already started looking at Little Mermaid merchandise.  She is looking forward to her first “bigger” role in Fiddler on the Roof this winter.  Her main role, even after all the stage personalities, is that of #1 fan – she loves to cheer on her siblings in all areas of life – a mom in training she is.  A tender heart she has.


Curly Fry is a ball of crazy fun sarcasm.  She puts my abilities of snark and ridicule to shame with her dead-on take on life.  She also ran XC (rehabbing her tiny little hip injury), is playing clarinet in the pit for the musical this winter, and is hoping to run track this spring if that previously mentioned hip thing doesn’t continue to mess with her.  She really got all wild and made her own group of friends this year, which is strange and awesome at the same time.  Having our homebody go out with friends left us home alone once in a while staring at each other wondering what this will feel like in 2.5 years when they all leave us for good.


Crazy still is found in the dictionary next to the word “fearless” and also gets an entry next to “insatiable”.  His ability to eat earned him the last word, as did his never ending quest to build something, catch something, do something, wire something, plan something, climb something, buy something, and now drive something. Although we have four children, this guy is a rare sighting in our home – his social schedule keeps him hopping.  Therefore, Bill is graying and I am balding at quicker rates than previous years.  Squirrel.


Lucy has entered the “golden years” of doghood.  (Read, every morning we check to be sure she is still breathing.)  Knowing she was aging, we decided to add a little action to the house and added to our family Walter, our 7-month goldendoodle, who we love immensely.  We absorbed him into our family like snot in a Kleenex (Quote from JP).


As for the grown ups in this house, we are XC parents, band parents, theater parents, drumline parents, swim parents, post-prom chairpersons, Mustang boosters, Scout parents, track parents, trap shooting parents, curling parents, and quite frankly, tired parents.  We love this life and enjoy every moment of watching and encouraging the kids to develop their given talents and passions.  What a precious thing it is to have the ability to watch them jump through the teenage years of life.  We catch all the family time we can, grabbing small moments of laughter and sometimes tears as the years fly by leaving us spinning.  Most often, I catch lumps in my throat and tears burning in the back of my eyes and I see in the near future a whole different life so for now, we chase them everywhere they go.

So here we are, Christmas shopping, decorating, wrapping, and baking almost complete, eagerly waiting next Tuesday night, when we shut off our alarms for a few days and spend some quality time with family.  Oh wait, we have swim practice, scratch that.

The Way We do a Hot Valentine’s Date

Very very romantic – that is how we do Valentine’s Day around our house.  From the early morning when we get up, to the minute we shut the lights off, it is all romance, all the time.  True love is like that.

We went about our regular days until about 4 PM when we noticed something strange going on with Lucy the superdog.  Apparently, she had decided to try ice fishing, because we found fishing line dangling from her mouth, and by “we” I mean Curly found it while I was lounging on my bed in fleece, hoping to grab a cat nap before my hot Valentine’s Date.  Ya know, I need more and more of that beauty sleep the older I get.  I have always been a fan of napping.  So anyways, I guess a good pet owner can’t ignore dangling fishing line, so I tried to get her to chill enough for me to tug on it.  She is a spaz.  And I have an injured wrist (more on that later) so it was a no go.  I locked her in her kennel, and did what every good wife does – called Bill.

Me, “Ah, Bill, I think maybe you have to come home.  NOW.  And take a look at your super dog.  Seems she wanted to end her week on a high note again.”

Bill, “Are you flipping kidding me?  Where did she get fishing line?”   No, wait, that is not what he said.  He did not ask that.  Because really, fishing line comes from one place in this house:  Crazy’s room.  He is the fishing line, duct tape, PVC pipe guy.  A man’s man.  I ran down there to see if I could find evidence and low and behold, I found NOTHING.  Not one piece of fishing stuff anywhere.

“Fine, after Xrays, we will be able to pin this one on Crazy,” We thought.

Curly and I busied ourselves folding 17 loads of laundry while we waited for Bill to get home.  We couldn’t think of what a swallowed fish hook might mean.  At 8 1/2 going on about 15, Lucy has run out of heroic efforts.  After the TPLO, we agreed we wouldn’t do anything like that again to her.  Lucy, on the other hand, was sawing logs, happy as can be to grab her cat nap.

Bill got home, and between the two of us, we were able to pin her down, open her mouth, and locate the issue.  Again, not true at all.  Labs are strong!!!!!!!!  So I made a call to the vet, Bill loaded her kennel in the Denali, and Lucy got herself a last minute drink, which must have helped her finish swallowing the whole fishing line, because it had disappeared.  We think she had planned this in advance, because 4:30 on a Friday????  Who does that?  She was so excited to go for a ride, stealing Bill away from our big hot date night plans.

So I went solo to our hot date – a swim meet.  And waited, literally shaking, for news.  They sedated her, they morphine her, they X-rayed her, the excreted her anal glands (can I get a “whoop!” from the stinky dog owners!) and they found…drum roll please…of course, nothing.  Well, nothing that showed up on X-ray.  So we wait to see if fishing line ruins her guts – watching for red eyes, unable to bathroom correctly (although really, dogs don’t “bathroom” so maybe backyard correctly is the better term.)  I guess the Pieper kids get to go follow her poop trail, watching for signs of badness or for fishing line.

They did find, in this X-raying that they did, that she has severe arthritis in her neck, so they asked if she had been chained up a lot or if she pulls when leashed, and we had to tell the truth – the truth is, she has hardly been leashed since the TPLO surgery because she spends most of her day propped on her bed with pillows and blankets and more of her nights on the queen bed with her main man, JP.  She also eats a lot of toast crusts, that is her job around here.   I guess that is why she had also gained a bunch of weight.  Don’t we all gain a little in the winter???

So she is eating 4 meals a day now, smaller amounts – trying to get back into bikini form.  Or, maybe it is because we have to take it easy on her digestive system, watching for the worst thing.

We are not ready to lose our dog, so this fishing line eating better just be another funny story – like the bread dough eating last month was.  Boy, for a dog who has severe arthritis and a fake knee, she still is pretty naughty.

So I sat alone at the swim meet, and Bill stayed home with a drugged dog, who pooped on the floor at the vet’s for the first time and was pretty proud of it.  Clarifying – Lucy pooped on the floor, not Bill – I know some of you will wonder.  And that is our romantic date story.  Brought to you by this dog, who seems to just be suffering from Afluenza today.

ImageIn all the craziness, I forgot to bring my camera.  I still don’t have pictures of JP’s first swim season.  Any kid who will parade around wearing pretty much nothing, trying a sport that he knows nothing about, just because of a deal he made with a buddy deserves to have pictures and maybe trophies.   I will write all about this some day soon, because I am so proud of him.  Doing what I could, I whipped out my cell phone to get a picture of him on the blocks (is that what they are called in swimming?) and instead, took this awesome Valentine’s date selfie:

ImageWhat was that???  Keeping it real, Pieper Style.  We have one more swim meet to get the perfect picture of him…I will do better next time.   Do you feel the romance around here?

What are you going to be when you grow up?

Back when I was either in high school or maybe WAY back in junior high, I took one of those perfectly accurate tests that tells a person what he/she should be when he/she grows up.  I very much remember what that test told me.  It was not a biologist, it was not a special-ed para, it was not a stay-at-home-mom.  (Although my dream job is still stay-at-home-mom, it is hard to convince Bill that it is my calling in life when all the kids are gone all day.)  That test told me I should consider being a plumber.  So I dropped all my future goals and took up the study of copper and PVC pipe fittings.  Except only not at all.  Plumbing is about the last thing God made me to do, right up there with accounting and folding laundry.

Our eldest, who I could picture being a farmer, or a pastor, or a history teacher, has no clue what he wants to be.  We toured the NDSU Ag department this summer and I think he is interested in looking into those options, but oh no! According to one of those accurate tests, he should be looking into becoming an airplane painter.  Oh yes, someone has to paint those things.  But not him.

Recently, the triplets took that test.  Crazy tested and came up with the obvious – he is to be a mechanic.  Princess is to be a teacher of some sort, just like she plans.  Curly really avoided the conversation and didn’t want to answer when we asked her what her results were. 

She shirked.  She tried to shrink under the table.  She told us she didn’t want to tell us.   And then the truth came out, “I would make a perfect computer nerd.”   The house erupted.  Nope, take that back.  Bill erupted in high fives and congratulatory shouts of joy.  Seems he has found his mini-Bill in the least expected of all places.  Problem is, she doesn’t want to be a computer programmer.  She wants to be a vet.  Yet, she loves to go to work with Bill and pull hard drives in the server room.  She pretends it is all about the free chocolate milk, but maybe, just maybe, she is gaining future life skills with her daddy!  He just couldn’t be more proud.


What Else Should We do on a Friday Night?

Today brought about disappointment to the nth degree for one Pieper daughter.  And her mom.  And then in true fashion, a whole lot of anger as well.  Tears were shed, ninja skills were brushed up.  I wanted to be that angry mom who sent a poignant e-mail to a couple people, but I know better.  Instead, our family rallied around the dinner table.  We even had “Rally” cheers.  All the time, I was making my mom hit-list.  No one was safe.  Don’t mess with a mom.

Air 1 played in the background and we heard the same 10 songs they play over and over again – funny how one chunk of words sticks out at certain times.  Tonight it was something about how good comes from bad, and today, that good was knowing that two brothers love her deeply and also can make her laugh and laugh and forget for just a little while.  And oh did we laugh.  Six of us busting so much I had to get up and go to the bathroom before I peed my pants.  Aging sucks.  Today sucked. 

And then, because this is what we do when we can, we locked the outside world out, baked, and put up Christmas decorations.  We cried more and planned more ninja-ing, and hung garland and balls.  Dangling balls make me smile.  Even when we are breaking my rule that Christmas doesn’t belong in our home until after Thanksgiving. 

Tonight was Thanksgiving cheesecake baking night.

We made two new ones:

Carrot Cheesecake


Death by Chocolate Cheesecake

Tomorrow,  we finish up shopping and wrapping some things,  but tonight belonged to the beautiful girl who’s heart has been crushed but is still concentrating on decorating our banister.

And this has nothing to do with boys…yuck, who would want that kind of drama around here?  God, please help me get these kids through their teenage years with some sort of self-esteem left.  I still want to send that mean e-mail.

You know what else I have learned lately?  I have learned that I can admit how angry I am, and then wisely also state that I am not going to talk because nothing good will come out.  Except tonight – we made a family deal that everything we said tonight would be forgotten in the morning, so we let it fly.

Check One Off His Bucket List

Crazy has always drummed.  Since he developed any sort of his own identity and personality, he was pounding out rhythms.  It is cute when a little preschool boy asks for a drum set, so for Christmas ‘04, we went off to Toys R Us and got him this high end model for $50 and thought we had done our fair share.  He shredded it by beating on the drum heads with JP’s wrestling trophies.  He wasn’t easy on things.  


If thine enemy wrong thee, buy each of his children a drum. – Ancient Proverb 

Once upon a time, this Crazy Man decided to stick his middle finger through the hole of his cymbal.  Yup, warranted a trip to the ER where a staff of wonderful doctors, nurses, and maintenance men cut the cymbal off for us.  They had never seen such a thing.  He was pretty impressed with himself. 



I guess 8 year olds don’t drum on broken baby drums, so a few years later, we got Crazy his bigger set.



(He decks it all out for Christmas.)

Over the years, we have added a few new pieces.  But now he wants a whole new set.  Guess the tweener set isn’t going to cut it now that he is going pro.  He wants this one but in white:

White, yes, that makes perfect sense for a pig.  “Black shows dust,” he says.  My answer, “Dust is the least of your stink hole of a bedroom concerns.”  We got him this sign last year.  He hangs it on the music side and JP changes it to the biohazard  side – both are truths.

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We have poured into his drumming passion with all the extra drumming we could sign him up for, knowing that some day, he would be able to use his gift to play at church.

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:"

1 Peter 4:10 ESV

We had no idea that this would happen at the young age of 13.  Today, I played percussion next to my son, who played the trap set.  It was pretty much awesomeness for this mom – worshipping with my kid knowing his heart was also thrilled because one of his goals had been accomplished.  It is really cool how God uses different gifts, personalities, and willing hearts to make His church what we are, and that age doesn’t matter at all.


And that, my listening audience, is how this drumming thing seems to go for Crazy.

Crazy’s favorite drum jokes:

How can you tell when the drum riser is level?
Drool comes out of both sides of the drummer’s mouth.

What do you call a drummer with half a brain?

What’s the best way to confuse a drummer?
Put a sheet of music in front of him.



Drum jokes came from 

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