Friday, June 27, 2008

From one vacation to another....

It's been a fun week and tomorrow is the last day.  We've had lots of fun family times as pictured below.
Because of various scheduling conflicts we are leaving this lovely place today and some of us are going to a place in northern Michigan tomorrow.  Fortunately, this house has a washer and dryer so our clothes are all washed and repacked.  We will just add a few things before leaving again on Saturday.

I have loved that the place we are staying at now has wi-fi so I've been able to continue blogging.   Next week I will not have internet access and may not be able to post for the whole week.  (Unless I can sneak away to some place that has it.  Not likely.)

I will try to post one more time tomorrow....

Hope everyone is having fun in the sun, or in the rain, as the case may be...

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Thoughts for the Day
I Believe in Love
by Father Jean C. J. d'Elbee

Love, and do what you will.
Saint Augustine

....the smallest movement of pure love is worth more to the Church than all works put together."
Saint John of the Cross

"It is love alone that counts."
Saint Therese of Lisieux

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Weight Loss Wednesday

I recently discovered a fascinating weight loss fact.

The above Sweet and Salty bar has very healthy ingredients.  It has a lot of fiber.  It has protein.  It is low in fat and has zero transfats.  And it's quite tasty.  It has 170 calories.

I need not describe what the Haagen-Daz Vanilla and Swiss Almond bar has to offer, right?  It's to die for.  It's the yummiest.  I'm sure it's full of fat.  But it's the snack size.  I actually like the size because you don't have to feel quite so guilty about eating.

All right.  Are you ready for the fascinating fact???

The Haagen-Daz bar is 175 calories!!!!!  The granola bar is 170!!!!!!

Now, you might think that this comparison should make me realize that I should be careful about thinking that the granola bar is a healthy food that is fine to eat whenever I'm hungry.
NO.  That is not what I'm thinking.  

I'm thinking, "WHY AM I EATING THE GRANOLA BAR WHEN I CAN EAT THE HAAGEN-DAZ BAR FOR THE SAME NUMBER OF CALORIES?"   (Maybe this is my problem.  I'm always trying to see what I can get away with.....teehee)

Still, I'm so glad Haagen-Daz is making snack size portions.  It IS good to know, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More Vacation Pictures

Fun in the sun.....

One happy guy on the beach...(in fact this guy is happy everywhere.)

Burnt, smoking popcorn that needed to be opened outside.  teehee  This microwave is more powerful than the one at home.

Baking together is always fun.

We're all tired out.....

Nothing like eating together, all at the same table.

Hope everyone is enjoying their own summer fun!!!!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Family Moment Monday-- extended family bonds.

Every year my brother, my sister, and I (and one close family friend) take a one week vacation together.  This makes for usually ten cousins to spend time with each other, as well as the aunts and uncles.

I happen to be on this vacation at this very moment, so it's very convenient that it's Family Moment Monday, sponsored by Motherhood for Dummies

We are at a large home a short hike from Lake Michigan.  It's a lovely, big house, gorgeous setting, and very comfortable.  Well, it's comfortable now.  Last night when we lost power during a thunderstorm in the late afternoon and it was out for 11 hours.....well, let's just say I was ready to come home.  Although the kids had a ball playing hide-and-seek in an unfamiliar house in total darkness.

Today is a different story.   As every year, this week strengthens the ties that bind.  There is unconditional love here.  The cousins LOVE spending this time together.  We aunts and uncles love reconnecting with our nieces and nephews and with each other.  (None of us live in the same town.  We have three states represented here.)

Everyone is relaxed.  Our goal is just to hang out and spend time with each other.  

It's just family members loving each other and having fun together.

Young and old enjoy each other's company.

But these family moments are not just about having a fun vacation together.  It's about loving each other and being loved.  As my brother once said about one of the kids who had just had a meltdown (He was much younger at the time.)  He's our Joseph (not the real name ).  No matter what he does, he's our Joseph.  

And that's the way it is.  These kids consider these cousins some of their best friends.  There is unconditional acceptance.  Family unity is reinforced.  What is lost by distance is knit back together again by a week of 24-7 togetherness.

I believe each child leaves knowing he is part of a family and that he occupies a position no one else could replace.  Self esteem is built up.  But most importantly, each child knows that this is my group.  

These are my people.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dive team

On video this looks like an effortless plop into the water.  So why do I stop breathing when she gets to the end of the board.  (Deb, this is Liz.)

I must have been really stricken when she did her inward. (jump backwards off the board and then turn your body 180 degrees so you end up entering the water head first)  I guess I didn't even hit the record button.  (She did fine.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Alexa, you rock!!!

Alexa, you rock!!!!!!!!

This is the new template Alexa designed for me.  Is she good, or what?

This blog has had an EXTREME MAKEOVER!!!!!!!!!

It will be so quiet...

My son John is leaving today for a 7 week summer piano institute.  He's 18 but he's never been away from home for longer than a week.  I'm going to miss him SOOO much.  The house is going to be SOOOO quiet.  I said someone else might have to start taking piano lessons while he's gone.  My daughter said, "No....we'll just play recordings of John playing."

He plays on this Steinway many hours a day.  I mean it's going to be eerily quiet.  Usually we can't even talk while John is playing.  For the next 7 weeks that piano is just going to sit there.

Unless... I play it a little.  Maybe I will. 

 I have always loved the piano so you can imagine what a thrill it is for me to be raising a child who can play like John can.

So, for a while, I must warn John will be on my mind.  And what's on my mind comes out on my blog.  More to come.....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My New Profile Photo

YES. I changed my profile photo with the help of my one-to-one Apple personal trainer, Steve.

Course, Steve wanted me to learn everything iphoto could do. I wanted to learn it too.

So he showed me how to "edit" my photo. Then he showed me how to "retouch" it. These Apple tutors are the best. I mean I have never felt stupid with a single one of them. I have never felt any impatience from them. They never seem annoyed. And you must remember that I ask the same questions a number of times. Every one of them is as kind and as helpful as the last one. And what does personal training at the apple store cost? Are you ready? $99.00 for an entire year. You schedule 50 minute sessions and you can go as often as once a week. Yup. 52 personal training sessions. You do the math. Looks like less than 50 cents a session to me. And they'll teach you anything you want to learn, even basic computer stuff. You don't know enough to even know what you want to learn? They have little booklets with all the basic topics listed and they'll go through each one and check them off. In my opinion, it's worth buying an Apple just to be able to do this.

Anyway, I digress. I feel a little guilty about all the retouching we did on my photo. It was, after all, an educational experience. But I felt like I had done a major makeover on myself, maybe even plastic surgery. (just kidding) I did NOT, however, do anything to make me look thinner.

But for those of you who know me in real life, if you're wondering how Rose found SUCH a good picture of herself, this is the reason. It's been substantially retouched. And now you all know. I don't really look quite like that photo. It's my e-image-- a little more polished, a little more well-behaved than the real-life me........thanks to Steve. teehee

Weight Loss Wednesday

Is weight loss too sensitive/personal a topic too talk about online?  I'm wondering. (wondering who might be reading it and whether or not I would want just ANYONE to be reading it.....) 

On the other hand.....I'm not telling anyone my actual weight or posting pictures of myself in a swimsuit, thanks be to God.  If I ever start posting pictures of myself in a swimsuit somebody tell me, "Rosemary, get a grip.  You're over the line." LOL

I write about it in order to hold myself somewhat accountable for what I want to do, which is to get to a more healthy weight.  If I'm successful, maybe my journey could be an encouragement to others.

That being said I have lost ONE HALF pound in the last week.  Now this could be a cause for discouragement.  But I'm choosing to look at it as a little tiny baby step in the right direction.  (I'm hoping it's not just a shift in water weight.)  I did have a pretty good week.  I think I did take some small steps in the right direction of paying attention to what I'm eating and resisting my tendency to compulsively eat for comfort or to relieve stress....or just to have the enjoyment of taste.

My goal is to eat only when I'm legitimately hungry and to stop when I honestly feel satisfied.  And by "satisfied" I mean when my stomach feels satisfied, not my head, if you know what I mean.

Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the summer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"I am the vine. You are the branches.....

Mary and her friend Maria (and others) painted this vine on the side!

This was another auction item for my children's school. The seventh graders donated it. I wish I had the patterns for how it was made. One of the parents made it and the students decorated it. They all signed their names on the lattice. I love it. Had to have it, just like the birdbath made by the sixth graders

It was my intention to plant these petunias but to also plant morning glory seeds so something actually would grow up the trellis. Haven't gotten to it yet. Maybe too late?

Anyway, for those whose pictures are too small, one side says, "I am the vine, you are the branches." The other side says, "Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.-- John 15:5" AMEN!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Family Moment Monday-- Kayaking

Motherhood for Dummies hosts Family Moment Monday. Check out her fun post on how to make puppets with your kids. My kids used to love to put on shows like this and M for D has lots of very do-able suggestions for making it happen.

My husband chose for his fathers day family activity-- kayaking on the Huron River. This is a favorite of our family's. We rented three two-person kayaks for the six of us who were able to go. There were thunderstorms predicted so we waited until it looked like we were all clear. It was a beautiful day, very peaceful on the river.

You just can't stay stressed very long while floating over the water. The Dad was pretty pleased. He loves being on the water.

Well....there was one stressful moment for me and my oldest daughter Anne (age 22). I wasn't doing the best job steering and we ended up near the shore under some low hanging branches. Somehow, Anne caught her paddle vertically in the branches. It was really wedged in there tight. We tried to push away but nearly lost the paddle. It was really stuck. We tried to move the branches, but of course that moved the kayak and we nearly capsized. There was water in the bottom and I was scrambling to get the camera and her cell phone in the ziplok bag before they were ruined. We finally got loose and all was well. We just got a little wet. Cell phone and camera survived.

The Kayaks were $22.00 to rent. So the outing cost $66.00. We could spend about that much taking the kids to the movie theatre and getting popcorn. Instead, we enjoyed the outdoors, got some exercise and, most importantly, just had a fun time being together as a family.
I think my arms are going to be sore tomorrow.

If you live in our area you might want to check this idea out.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Fathers Day!!!

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there,
but especially to

My husband Mike whose generosity has blessed me with six wonderful children,
and to

My own father, may he rest in peace, whose love I never doubted, who was always there for me whenever I needed him, and who believed in me more than I believed in myself,
and to

My grandfathers, may they rest in peace.
William Vincent, a hard-working son of Irish immigrants who deeply loved his family, his faith, and his country,

and Gaston, himself an immigrant from France, accomplished violinist and conductor, who loved his family and especially children.

May God richly bless all fathers today!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Suzanne is back!!!! ----SWEET NEW BLOG ALERT!

Suzanne (formerly of Sincerely My thoughts) is back with a new blog. Check it out!! I used to read Suzanne's blog every day. It was a sweet blog because Suzanne is a kind, warm, and transparent person. She's a Catholic mom and a good one. If you never read her blog before be sure to go to this one.

Suzanne, I'm so glad you're back!!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert is gone?

I am so sorry to have just heard that Tim Russert, host of Meet the Press, has died.

Meet the Press was one of my favorite News shows (programmed to record on my DVR). I always thought Mr. Russert was fair, intelligent, did a good job of getting right to the point in his interviews, and never let anyone, of either party, off the hook. He will be missed!!

Mr. Russert was a practicing Catholic. I once heard him interviewed by Al Kresta of Ave Maria Radio on Kresta in the Afternoon.

May Tim Russert rest in the peace of Christ and may his loved ones be comforted.

My teeth, they burn!

Drama princess, Liz, while lying in bed moans, "My teeth, they BURN,


MOM, SAVE ME!!!!!!

(She honestly said this.  Fortunately, it was with giggles, not tears.  Things are not as bad as I was expecting. Mary is not complaining at all.   Jim's teeth were so sensitive he couldn't touch a straw to them for a day.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ouch!! New Braces

Two daughters with new braces but only one (Liz) would allow a picture.  She chose red, white and blue rubber bands and Mary chose teal (to match her outfit.)  I took them to the Dairy Queen afterwards and made chicken noodle soup for dinner.  Tomorrow will hurt more than today, the orthodontist said.

Liz asked her brother if it would hurt when they were put on.  His answer?  "It's excruciating."  Thanks, Jim.  He quickly told them he was kidding, though, and it turned out actually getting them put on really didn't hurt.

So, thank God for Motrin.  I'm sure they'll be taking it tomorrow.  In two years they should have very nice mouths. (smile)  Thanks to Liz for allowing the picture.  If you know her you can probably tell that this smile is not as full as usual.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Liz had a cello recital on Sunday.  I have a couple video clips but they're all turned sideways (the way I had the camera when I filmed it.)  I may post it sideways just so you can hear a few seconds of the nice sound this teahcer gets from her students.  It was a group recital.  No solos.  The music was very lovely.  I love the cello.  (So does Liz.)

Liz started cello two years ago with Kathy Savit, a wonderful Suzuki cello teacher here in Ann Arbor, who was willing to start her that old.  (Lots of Suzuki teachers want to start only very young students.)  It has worked well for her and I really like the Suzuki method.  I think I will post soon about Suzuki music instruction and why I like it.

Also, Liz and Mary are both getting braces TODAY.  If you could send a prayer their way I'd appreciate it.  I know from my two guys who now have perfect teeth that those first few days can be pretty painful. 


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Weight Loss Woes Wednesday or....How fat am I???

Before I even start this post, let me say that I love my mother dearly.  She has been gone for four years now and I still miss her very much.  She suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for over ten years and it was very painful for us all.  My mother, in her right mind, would never intentionally say something hurtful to one of us.  But the following story, while seeming less so at the time, was still so very funny.

I had had a baby maybe a month before, and I was still wearing some baby weight and also still somewhat stretched out.  But I wasn't huge, OK?  At least I didn't think so, until this shopping trip with my mother.  We were looking for a dress for an occasion, maybe the baby's baptism?  I don't remember.

We walked toward the dress department and I said (being only 5 ft tall), "Where are the petite sizes?"  My mother somehow had never quite gotten the idea that petite sizes are for short people.  She always seemed to think they were for "small" people.  (as in thin)

Her response?  "Well, we're looking for a dress for YOU, not for me."  (My mom was always very slim.)  I looked at her.  "There are petite sizes that fit me, Mom."

We found the petites and looking through the dresses she says, "I don't see much with elastic waists."  I look at her again.  "Why.  are you looking for an elastic waist?"  Mom says, "Oh.  I just thought you might find that more comfortable."  Now I'm annoyed.  "I'm not looking for an elastic waist."

Finally, we find a few dresses to try.  I put the first dress on.  I kind of like it.

Mom says:  "Oh, don't worry honey.  You'll lose all that weight."

Me:  I say sarcastically,  "All that weight, Mom??!!  I kind of like this dress."
(with her Alzheimer's Disease she doesn't get it.

Mom:  "Well remember you just had a baby."


I try on another dress.

Mom:  (With her Alzheimer's she doesn't remember what has just been said.
"You'll lose all that weight, honey.  Don't worry."


Mom:  "Well, remember you just had a baby."

Me:  "I haven't forgotten about the baby, OK Mom?"

I try another dress.

Mom:  "Too bad we're not in Virginia.  You could borrow a dress from Cousin Elaine."

The relative she was speaking about, I thought, was at least two or three dress sizes bigger than I was.  I look at her in complete disbelief.

Me: "WHAT??????!!!!"

Mom:  "Well, remember you just had a baby."

I'm staring at her now with an icy stare.  There's a minute or two of silence.

Mom:  "Don't worry, honey, you'll lose all that weight."

Me:  Through clenched teeth I say,  "I'm not worried, Mom.  Let's go home."

As soon as she had left I called my sister Maryanne.

"All right, HOW FAT AM I?"  I practically yelled in the phone.

Maryanne:  "What are you talking about?"

I tell her the whole story.  She is rolling on the floor laughing.

Me:  "Then she tells me maybe I could borrow a dress from Cousin Elaine.  Am I fat enough to wear one of her dresses????????"

Maryanne can't even speak.  She's laughing so hard I don't think she could even breathe.  Finally she says, "NO.  NO, you're NOT!!!"

Me:  "You're lying.  I really am, aren't I.  Because Mom has Alzheimer's she's telling me the truth.  She has no inhibitions."

Maryanne can't talk.  She's gasping for breath.  She's dropped the phone.  Finally she says, trying to get the words out clearly,  "No.  No. You are NOT that fat.  You really are not.  I can't believe she said that."  

More paroxysms of laughter from us both

Me:  "Are you sure?  Are you telling me the truth?" (I still had my doubts)

She's lost it again.  It's several minutes before she can speak again.

Maryanne: "You really are not.  Honestly.  You are not that fat.  You could not wear one of her dresses....... And remember you just had a baby......(I'm gasping)   Just kidding," she says.

While I laughed with her, I still kind of wondered......
 And I did, eventually, lose "all that weight!!!!"

(Course, I've also put most of it back on, but that's another story....

Rainy, rainy day...

When the Michigan sky looks it does above, it is easy to let one's mood be effected.  It's SO grey!!  A rainy day here frequently means thick, grey cloud cover with no defined clouds.  It's like seeing miles of fog above you.

But if I look down, there is still color and beauty, like the huge raindrops on this hosta.

And this lovely hanging planter that I have not yet neglected.  (teehee.  I'm trying to remember to water it.  Living things cannot live without water.  Living things cannot live without water.)  In fact, today I took it down from the porch so it could soak up this rain.

And I love this plant.  Friend Lisa L.  separated it from hers some years ago and it's been thriving ever since by the corner of my garage with, really, no effort on my part at all.  It dies every Fall, nothing left, and grows all the way back every Spring.  I love it.  I think it's called a "baptisia?"

Anyway, my metaphor and advice to myself today is that I can choose what I look at.  I can choose to focus on the good and the beautiful, or I can look at the sky and bemoan the lack of sunshine.  May I choose the beauty!!!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Family Moment Monday---Bowling

Motherhood for Dummies hosts "Family Moment Monday."  Check it out for great suggestions on Family Safety, or if you want to participate.                                                  
A family activity that we enjoy occasionally is bowling.   Mind you, despite the strike on video here, none of us are any good.   I mean.....we're terrible.   I guess my husband must have potential because he had nearly as many strikes as gutterballs but, get the picture.

Because we're all terrible it's a lot of fun.  Luck plays as much a part in the overall scores as any occasional (accidental?) demonstration of skill.  There's no pressure  and no one feels embarrassed about how bad they are.

The lack of skill also allows for a lot of laughs.  We laugh at ourselves.  We laugh at each other.  No one is exempt.

Plus, the shiny, smooth, cool-colored balls are fun to experiment with.  (Is there a size/weight that would work better for me?  Maybe THAT's my problem...teehee)

AND.... it's a GREAT rainy day activity.  You get exercise and stay dry!!!!!  But, most importantly, we're all doing something together as a family.  And these are the ties that bind.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

John's Concert...

The concert went quite well, I thought. Although John was not really satisfied with his performance, everyone else seemed to be. And it was a nice turnout. I was going to take a video clip while he was playing but I was so worried about distracting him that I didn't.

The 30 second video clip below is of him practicing just a segment of one of the pieces, just before he left the house. He doesn't like me to tape him unless the piece is absolutely perfect, but I said can I just take a short segment of you warming up and he agreed. So, here's John playing a little tiny clip of what he played at last night's concert.

Thanks for all your kind words and prayers.....

(I'm sorry. On my PC this is "buffering" for even longer than I'm willing to wait. I'll see what I can do. I posted it using my Apple. If anyone knows how to fix it, please let me know. Sorry.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

John has a concert!

Tonight John is giving a concert.  He's playing some really difficult pieces, six of them I think.  We are serving refreshments in the lobby afterwards so I'm busy baking chocolate chip cookies, cutting fruit, baking brownies, planning the serving pieces, etc.  About to go to the dollar store to see if I can find  a tub or pan sort of thing to put iced water bottles in.  (But I don't dare go until the chocolate chip cookies are safely on the platters and covered with plastic.  Several people are eyeing them and I don't want the temptation to be too know.)   Not sure how many people are coming tonight and I want to be sure we have enough.

Today is the last day of school!!!!  Woohoo!  I love summer vacation.  As I bake and prepare we have on TV the parade in Detroit honoring the winners of the Stanley Cup, our Detroit Redwings.   Busy day......

Please pray for John tonight.  May his music give glory to God!  If you live around here and you want to come, please email me if you need information.  Admission is free and it's open to the public.  Hope to see lots of friends.  

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Woohoooooo!!!!  How 'bout those Redwings!!!!!!!

The Stanley Cup is in Detroit!!!!!!

(We live about a half hour from Detroit.)  I understand there was peaceful celebrating in the streets of Detroit last night.  And tomorrow there will be a parade!!!

So happy that Detroit has something wonderful to celebrate (instead of endlessly hearing about the sad troubles of their mayor.)

John (piano-man) is an avid sports fan and was watching the game with his friends in our family room.   Liz, my youngest, made the above makeshift party decoration to hang on the fireplace.

I have heard from more than one person that the Redwing players are really nice, humble guys who play hockey with intelligence and professionalism.  Yeah Redwings!!!!!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Go Redwings!!!!!!

Everyone around here is very excited about the Redwings and their prospects for winning the Stanley Cup.  I'm watching the game as I'm blogging.

I don't follow professional hockey usually but these final games are very exciting.  I would also like to see something good happen for Detroit.  (And my brother and one of my sons in particular will be so depressed if they don't win.)  All my boys play hockey so of course they have a special interest.

Go Redwings!!!!!

Weight Loss Wednesday....or maybe I should say 'waiting for loss.'

I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers....I made my goal several years ago but the weight has crept back on. Well, some of it....It is not coming off very easily this time.

I went back to Weight Watchers this past Fall and went to meetings for several months. I only lost a couple of pounds. I was telling this to a friend of mine recently. She said, "Did you talk to anybody about why it wasn't working?" I said, "No, Suzanne, I knew why it wasn't working. I was eating TOO MUCH FOOD!" She burst out laughing. "You mean you weren't following the program?"

Well, I followed the program for a few weeks. That's when I lost the couple pounds. I went in after losing one week and said, "Who knew? That if you follow the program you would lose weight!?"

Suzanne said you mean you thought if you just went to meetings that would cause you to lose weight? Well, I was hoping. Seemed like it was worth a try. (It actually worked last time.) Once I realized I really did have to follow the program I stopped going to meetings.

The truth of the matter is that I don't want to lose weight as much as I want to eat.

Part of me wants to lose weight. Another part of me wants to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. The part that wants to eat is REALLY strong willed. I'd say it even bullies the part that wants to lose weight. I'm going to try, one step at a time, to subdue the part of me that wants to taste, and to strengthen that rational part of me that really wants to be at the right weight. That part that wants to lose really needs to stop being such a wimp.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Shoe Shopping for a thirteen year old....

Shopping for shoes for 13 year old Mary's Confirmation was quite an adventure. Mind you, I don't let her wear heels. I really dislike the way young girls are wearing more and more adultlike clothing.

But I did think maybe I'd let her wear a little chunky one, you know, for Confirmation. But nearly all the shoes were like these blue, red, and green pairs. Beautiful shoes, I'll grant you. I wouldn't be able to walk in them, but my oldest would. Not only did I think Mary too young for such a heel but I could just see her tipping her ankle over just before the annointing. Not a pleasant thought.

And then....

A three inch skinny heel for her first pair of heels at age 13??? I don't think so.

Fortunately, big sister Anne spotted these sweet, flat brown ones that really did match the dress perfectly. (Course she also found some skinny, spikey ones for herself. I don't know how she wears those things.)

I don't think I could have talked Mary into the flat brown ones by myself. But when Anne says something is perfect the little girls don't argue. (I'm so glad to have her on my team.)
The two girls with their prized purchases.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Family Moment Monday

Motherhood for Dummies sponsors a Family Moment Monday.  Check it out.

My topic for this Monday is about getting teens to hang out at your house instead of somewhere else.  There are several advantages to having all your teens' friends at your house instead of at someone else's.  First, you know where your kids are.  They're downstairs!  You know what they're doing.  And you get to set the rules.  You also get to know the friends better.  A new person is introduced to you and you're able to look them straight in the eyes to see if they're the transparent kind of kid or an iffy one.  You can ask do I know your mother?  You're from our church, aren't you?  Oh no?  Which grade school did you go to?   You get the picture.  You don't have to worry about what time your child will be home.  He's already home!

OK.  So how do you make your house a teen magnet?  First, let me tell you that I don't know if this will always work.  But I have three teenagers now and two former teens (now in their twenties).  And it's worked pretty well for us.  Here's what we did, not necessarily in order of importance.  We've had lots and lots of teens hang out in our home and I think these are the reasons why.

1.  We bought a NICE TV.  The current one is a high definition flat screen that we have mounted on the wall to maximize seating in what is a rather small room.  The guys really like high definition for sports.

2.  We have a trampoline in our yard which we allow big kids to jump on even in the dark, as long as they're not too loud for the neighbors.  It does have a net around it so no one can fall off.  (I know trampolines can be rather dangerous, but not as risky as driving around with a teen driver, right?) I think a nice volleyball court or room for frisbee would be great too, but our yard is not so big.  Pool table?  Ping pong?

3.  We have a game size table in our family room that I try to keep clear and with chairs.   Sometimes they play cards here.

4.  This might be the most important one.  We allow our teens to invite friends over anytime they know my husband or I am home.  That is the only limitation.   A parent must be home.  (Oh, except that there cannot be just one girl and one boy. Must be a group.)  We do not require any advance warning.  They can just show up at the door.  They love this.   Teens do not like to plan ahead.  Ours is the house they can just show up at.

5.  We say hello to everybody and then make ourselves scarce.  I try to avoid the room they're in although I am occasionally listening.  I think they all feel a little more comfortable if they don't think we're watching them all the time.  They like they're independence.  You know.  They're teens.  Oh, and they may only watch decent movies on TV.  If I ask, I get a whole chorus of who has already seen it, and which parents think it's OK.  Enough information to discern.  But I don't actually think I've ever had to say no.

6.  I don't usually feed them, unless I have something available.  Well, popcorn is always available.  Then I tell my child.  We have popcorn.  There's pop in the garage you can offer your friends.  You can offer your friends the rest of that birthday cake.  They love anything we give them.  But if my child gets it instead of me, they have more of a feel of being on their own.  (an illusion, mind you, but illusions work great for them.  They know they're minors.  They'll take any feeling of independence they can get.)  The other day I did make them smoothies because I had some ripe bananas I wanted to get rid of.  But I think they felt so pampered they didn't even care  that I kept coming into the room.  The point is they don't expect to be fed and I don't feel I need to feed them.  If I did, I wouldn't be comfortable with the drop-in anytime policy. 

7.  I keep reminding my kids.  "Your friends can come over here, you know.  Maybe you could all watch the game here.  I haven't seen_____ in a long time.  Why don't you guys come over here."

8.  I'm genuinely happy to have the teens in my house.  My kids can see I'm happy.  And while it's hard for us parents to believe sometimes, teens really do want to make their parents happy.

So... for what it's worth.  We've had a lot of teens at our house over the years.  And our kids' friends seem to like us a lot.  I think our teens like that.   It helps to keep our family, our house, and our values an important part of their lives.