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June 16, 2014

That's a wrap


Just like that, graduation season is over.

We had our party over the weekend and despite bouts of torrential rain, thunder and lightning, it was probably my favorite party to date.

Dan worked his tushka off to get the yard looking delightful and the garage people-ready. I am so grateful for my partner in crime. All you single parents who pull these things off, you have my crazy admiration. 

I took only 10 photos and most of them are duplicates of the one you see above. I just wanted to enjoy the people who came to celebrate Aidan. 

I had her scrapbooks out. I had her photo boards mounted on a series of old doors (Dan's awesome idea).


We borrowed tables from his brother's church. We cobbled together as many different chairs as we could get our hands on. We hired Minnesota-based Famous Dave's to provide the main course (best decision I could have made, saving a lot of time and stress, if not money.) We had breaks in the weather so people could be outside.

It was a really lovely day. It was my kind of Zielske Pinterest party.

Oh, and I started drinking at 2 p.m. But of course, in moderation.

Nothing like an early glass of wine to remind you the day is going to be awesome.

I have more thoughts on this girl and a cool project to show you later in the week, but for now I leave you with the slide show we ran every 45 minutes or so for the revolving crowd. I made it in iPhoto, recorded it using ScreenFlow and posted it to Vimeo. I don't have the rights to use the song, so it may get pulled down at some point, but it's Conor Oberst's newest, "You are your mother's child." If you know Bright Eyes, it's the same guy. And while the perspective and gender references in the song are a bit off, the sentiment? It'll hit you right in the feels.

Thank you for following along on this remarkable young woman's life. It's been my extreme privilege to share her story with you.

Grad Party Clip from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.



Dang, Cathy... That was one HELLUVA edit...,

YOU have raised a beautiful, beautiful young woman.

I'm not sure who I should be more proud of.

Wow. Just. Wow.

Crying now. Beautiful.

Oh my. Powerful. Perfect.

This was wonderful! Brought tears to my eyes. I met Aidan at CKU- Chicago. I remember even back then I was so impressed what a neat kid she seemed to be. What a blessing for you to get to be her mom!

I have to say that watching this video made me also think "way to go" to you and Dan for working on your marriage. She is very lucky to have parents that are married to each other AND still like each other.

Congratulations Aidan!!!

Words escape me...but my heart is still shimmering.

amazing slideshow. my oldest is only 7, but i can already imagine how your heart must be feeling. thank you for sharing that.

Wow Cathy. That is THE most awesome video. Love the song and Aidan is stunning. Really good job mama. My three birds are about 5-7 years ahead of Aidan and believe me - you have awesomeness ahead for you. Take joy in that thought. Thank you SO much for sharing.

oh the tears. the many many sentimental tears that are flooding my keyboard right now! I'm off to download that song. :)

Couple thoughts:

1) she is lucky you are a scrapper. Those were AWESOME PHOTOS.
2) she has some fun memories to carry into adulthood.
3) you seriously made me tear up this morning.
4) she had AMAZING hair through the years :-)

Congrats to all of you. I really hope she has a blast at college.

Absolutely beautiful !

Tears. Rolling. Down. My. Face. Beautiful video! Congrats to you all!

So beautiful, I cried all the way through it. One question. Does she have two nose rings? Sometimes it's on the right, sometimes it's on the left!! Maybe it's a "faker." Any which way, she is a gorgeous girl. You done good!

Wow. The music and the photos. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing and thanks to Aidan for sharing herself with all of us through the years.

Beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

So. Totally. Awesome. And you were right, it did hit me right in the feels. Thank you Aidan for letting your mom share your life with all of us.

You and Dan have done well raising your kids. Most enjoyable memory video! How are you going to top this for her college graduation?! No matter, this is so special for your family.

Definitely going to swipe some ideas for my girl's graduation next year!

Aidan is a beautiful young lady like her mom!

What a beautiful video!! Thanks for sharing... Our oldest daughter is starting Grade 11 in the fall. My stomach is already in knots!!

Beautiful girl, beautiful mama!

What a beautiful video to have forever! I am expecting my first child and to hear that song for the first time was awesome and brought a little tear to my eye. Your daughter is beautiful and her smile is the best!

Ack! FANTASTIC video, Cathy. I'm all choked up and don't even know what to say, but I had to leave a comment and tell you that it has been such a pleasure to follow along on your girl's journey. Thanks so much for sharing it with all of us. Have yourself a great summer!

All sorts of awesome- thanks for sharing her with us.

Wow Cathy, that was amazing. It has been a pleasure watching Aidan grow up. Thank you for sharing her journey with us!

That is a BEAUTIFUL video for Aidan. Thanks so much for sharing! I love that song, and I actually love the singer. We used to babysit Connor when his folks were our neighbors. That is probably my favorite song of his to date, and I love the way you put it to beautiful use. And, I might add, I am always blown away by how gorgeous your photography is. Great job, Cathy and Dan!

Congrats to Aidan AND to Mom and Dad!
I don't know any of you personally, but that video and song combo just brought tears to my eyes!
(First thing Monday morning, new makeup, at work - THANKS a LOT! LOL!)

Wow. I generally don't comment, but wanted to say that I love the video and it made me cry. I am just starting to put together the photos to make a slide show for my daughter's Bat Mitzvah in November. I would love to hear any hints/tips about putting together the slide show. I have watched quite a few recently (trying to figure out what I want to do) and generally find them a little boring. But, this one was amazing. And I hope you are going to post about the photo boards. I've been waiting for months to see the finished project.

That video was beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

Enjoyed that video of your gorgeous daughter. Aidan is so blessed to have her family behind her supporting her and she is going to do big things, I'm sure.

I cried real hard And then I went and tracked down my rising Junior and gave him one of those crazy, "don't leave me hugs". He played along. He knew what was usual.

She really has had amazing hair. I need to focus on light stuff like that! : )

Ha! No. I accidentally flipped the image in the slide show. Only one! : )

Okay, THAT makes this a small world. So cool. : )

Started crying at the first frame OF COURSE. Thank you for sharing her with us, my friend. Love to you all, and major hugs.

Very moving video. And awesome idea, to mount the posters on salvage doors. I L-O-V-E the garage transformation! Nothing like a good garage party!!!

: ) Yep. I feel that.

I will. Thanks for that insight. I know it will just be cool to see her life and be a part of it in any way. : )

Good job!

If it makes you feel any better, I keep watching it, and crying, too. But I have zero makeup on. You have my sympathy!

Yeah, me too. Every freaking time.

I have only "known" her through your blog Cathy, but I can say I am so excited for her future. This video completely made me cry!!!

I don't know any of you, but I am sobbing over here. What a beautiful tribute! I have playlists for each of my boys, and I just put this song on them this past weekend. It chokes me up every time.

So beautiful. Cried the whole way through it. Of course, I have never had the privilege of meeting your daughter but 4 years ago I was right where you are today -- daughter graduating and off to college far, far away. It's hard to let go of everything that is certain and look forward to something completely unknown. But you have so much fun ahead of you, watching Aidan continue to grow into the young woman she is destined to be. Congrats to you all!

I so right on your heels lady (soon to be 13) that I couldn’t finish the video. I got to “you are your mama’s child” and had to stop because I haven’t even had coffee yet.

I am watching you during this time very see how you do. You and I have a few of the same traits as women and mothers. I can clearly see that after all these years of reading this blog.

I literally can’t even have the thought of my oldest being “grown” without having the worst anxiety, dread, fear and sadness start to gurgle in my head and gut. I keep thinking my best years are soon to be behind me once my kids are grown.

So, I want to see someone else do this...get through it...intact. No pressure, lol.

You’ve done great so far. Now just to see how things go in the fall and following months.

Good gawd, even typing that...for your child...made this mama’s heart start to seize up. : (

Ah I'm so glad I got to see it. What a beautiful tribute to your beautiful girl. And doesn't it feel time has gone just as quickly as the video?

Oh my goodness--tears running down my face! What a beautiful girl you have there! My baby will be a senior next year. I don't know if my heart can take it. Thank you for sharing your lives with us. You are an inspiration!

I just think thats a universal thread. This whole parenthood trip.

It is good to hear from mamas who have been through this. Definitely.

Well, I will say Im no pioneer, right? This is what we do. This is what life does. I will say that having a lot of personal help via therapy has helped me to understand more, do what is needed more and make this NOT about me. This is her life. So my sadness exists but its in a place that is more for me to connect to, while at the same time, I get to cheer this kid on like crazy. Its a mixed bag for sure.

Thanks for sharing the video and pics. I imagine there are times when it's odd for you or your family to share so personally, but as much as you can like people you've never met, I like your family and appreciate the opportunity to be one of those you share with. I remember so many younger photos of Aidan and it's a joy to see this young woman becoming more her own every day. Blessings to you and your girlie on this new chapter of life. :-)

Absolutely beautiful, Cathy :)

Just beautiful. That's all.

Beautiful video of a beautiful girl! Well done! It's been fun checking out all of your scrapbook pages through the years. You are gifted at what you do, and your love for your amazing family shows on each and every page. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

So beautiful. Crying big tears over here. A great reminder of why I will not put my camera down. Congrats to Aidan, and hugs to you.

Take a and Dan have raised a beautuful daughter. Thanks for sharing.:)

Beautiful video Cathy and that song was perfect. Congratulations to Aiden!

Absolutely amazingly incredibly beautiful. And boy was that song perfect!! Loved how you timed the images with the lyrics. So awesome!!!

Amazing! She is absolutely beautiful!! I remember when some of those photos were originally shared, years ago. It goes by so fast. Congratulations and best of luck to Aidan in college!

Awesome! Go, Aidan!

Oh man, it's hard to let go. I'm three years away ftom my first one leaving for college. Tearing up watching the video and just thinking about it. (((HUGS)))

What a beautiful video and what a truly beautiful daughter you have, Cathy! I remember seeing scrapbook layouts of her back in the day and she was so little! Now I feel old, ha, but love how you've captured her beautiful life. I can see the joy you have and how proud you are of her! Beautiful! Thank you for sharing that with us! My daughter is 8, but sometimes I catch glimpses of her and it's like life has just flown by and I can't for the life of me figure out how she got so grown up looking SO fast. Sigh. Anyway, sending you big hugs! ;) It's so not nice what time does to us Mamas. ;)

I never comment, but felt I needed to here – for years, and years, and years I’ve marveled at the parallels we’ve shared (from afar) in scrapbooking, moving from paper to digital, I also work in Graphic Design, less-than-perfect marital bliss, to working towards making it what we both deserve and even better than we’ve ever had, your battles with moving-more-eating-right, to realizing and then changing some gawd-awful neuroticisms about myself, and then the girl….. I also have a graduate who I’m insanely proud of, who is also heading to Madison. She makes my heart burst with pride and love. Reading about your intense pride, awe of the person she is, her individually, and more – It’s been a pleasure knowing that someone else is feeling (and articulating) many of my same feelings. It makes me feel good, knowing there are more of ‘us’ out there that share a lot of the same craziness in life. It doesn’t hurt that we are both call Minnesota home (Duluth). Thank you for allowing me to take my own personal journey with you. It’s been a real pleasure.

Huge. HUGE crocodile tears here. That was as perfect of a graduation tribute as I've ever seen. Just pitch perfect, and clearly crafted with love. It's so hard to close a chapter, even though I'm really excited to catch glimpses of her life ahead

Also, really excited to see the way your storytelling evolves as you become the only chick in the house. And hoping we get a chance to know Cole as much as we've gotten to know Aidan. But...boys and their mommas are quite different than girls and their mommas.

I was the youngest of two, though. And my older brother is 4 years older than me. And I remember the hole I felt with him gone. But I also remember loving the chance to get to be the only child for a while and to be seen without his somewhat oppressive shadow. So perhaps there's a similar story lurking there, yet to be uncovered over the next few years.

I loved this, thanks so much for sharing. Congrats to Aidan and to you and Dan. I won't lie, it was an adjustment when my two went off to college, but amazing in a whole new way. I looking forward to reading about your adventures as the mom of a college girl!

Beautiful video Cathy. Thank you for sharing her life with us. My own "baby" graduated 2 years ago and there are so many conflicting emotions for a mom. You want them to go out and have a great life, but they are never out of your mind and heart.

I hope that story evolves. Because there might be some truth there. Unfortunately, I wont be able to share as much of his life... I have always said if the kids didnt want stories shared, then that would be the final word. Looks like Ill be blogging a lot about menopause. ; )

Damn you Cathy! Sobbing at work here! My baby girl is 4 months old and I swear, when you have kids, someone cranks the knob on the speed of time passing. Watching this was like seeing the next 18 years of our lives. I can't imagine how you're feeling now. Good luck to her, and to you and Dan. She has got some amazing things coming her way, I'm sure of it.

I recently started following your blog and am currently taking your clean & simple class. I felt an immediate connection to your memory keeping style and your life. Your video to Aidan was so powerful and full of love. It brought back memories of my own daughter (34) and son (29) and the amazement & gratitude I feel being a part of their lives. Thank you for sharing and keep enjoying life! PS - Be aware when she leaves for college, it's a killer!

Parallel journey, right down to Famous Daves. Out oldest graduated. It happened so quickly. Family came in to town to witness and celebrate. I am clinging to these few short weeks before we take him to college. A new chapter begins. Thank you for sharing.

Hey Kathy, always nice to hear from newer readers and I hope you are enjoying the class!

Yes, I know. Its going to be a time of adjustment and sadness, but Im prepared for it as much as I can be.

I've had two children graduate in the last 3 years (with one left to go) and those graudation videos make me cry every time. Well done! She's a lovely young lady who sounds like will do lovely things in this world.

So beautiful! tears in my eyes....I have six years to go and I am already a mess...Aidan is a wonderful young woman and her mother rocks! thanks for sharing. You are amazing.

Hey Keri, I put mine together in iPhoto. I think Ill do a post later in the week about the boards and the process of making this video, because I was super frustrated trying to do it at first, then figured out a way to work it out using a combination of programs!


One of the very best things two loving people can do together is to create a child. Loved the video, it brings back memories of our son's graduation last year. Such a great celebration in our lives, seeing our kids growing into the people they want to be. :)

I add my comments to the previous 60 or so at this typing. What a wonderful, heartfelt video. My babies are grown and out of high school but I may have to go back and do a "graduation video" for each of them using this song. :-) Haha! Good job, Mom! I'm excited for her future - she seems like she will be happy and do good in the world and that is really what all mothers want for their children.


Great big, cheesy grin ~ and sobs.

And I don't even HAVE kids! *LOL*


Congrats to her, and you & Dan both. Awesome tribute.

The one thing I always remember when you share Aidan's story is when she told you that there better be color film in your camera!

I wish her all the best as her new future unfolds.

As so many others have shared, I got all teary just seeing that there was a video to watch! And then I hit 'play.' So many tears. Some of them came because I will be dealing with this major change next year with my daughter. But mostly, I am touched by the honesty in your posts. Your absolute love and admiration for your daughter just shine through.

And don't think it went unnoticed that the softball picture showed up at the perfect moment in the song :)

Thank you for sharing!

Beautiful tribute to your beautiful daughter! Loved that you used your garage - it looked so cool!!!

Ok you made me cry Aidan IS her mother's child, she is beautiful and looks just like her mom. Love this video Cathy.

In September we begin the journey of our first son's senior year. And, WOW, this video and song will be near and dear to my heart as we march through his year. Beautiful just might be an understatement. Congrats Aidan!

first frame - eye swell! love, love, love - thank you Cathy for sharing her with us. Love the doors! you are an inspiration in so many ways!

So, so beautiful Cathy! Thanks for sharing!

WOW! Okay so now I know why we take so many photos. You did such a fabulous job. I'm sure it was tough picking out photos for this. Thanks for sharing your life and being such a down to earth person online.

I appreciate every comment. : )

: )

Thanks, Tena. It always looks like youve handled it very well! I hope to do a good job as that era of a mama.

Well Krista, it sounds like we really DO have some parallels for sure. You know, I read every comment. I dont always respond to each one, but I appreciate that people read what I put out there. I really do. So, heres to your graduate and your experience as well! Maybe our offspring will cross paths on that giant campus! : )

I remember that like it was yesterday. For real.

Yeah, that was kind of a fluke. An awesome fluke.

Famous Daves rocks. Guess what I had for lunch today? Hello leftovers.

It was hard to pick. I didnt want to overdo it, but just wanted to get the gist. Sigh. Having all those digital photos from 2004 on sure helped!

Thanks, Madeline!

Awesome. Simply awesome. A measure of the mother as well as the child....


Wow, not even my kid and I cried! Seriously, you did a great job - with your beautiful daughter and the slide show!

Could you tell us how many photos you used - and the settings for the timing? I haven't done any slideshows to music, but have a need arising soon.


well I waited to watch this cause I knew it would be tough cause I've enjoyed watching her grow so much thru your eyes ever since you started this blog. Whata a beautiful video cathy to sum up ALL those years...and I will continue to enjoy the next milestones in her life as long as you allow me to, thank you

Sobbing through all the feels. She is one amazing girl, and so are you.

(I just saw Anna ... )


I used 58 photos in iPhoto, set to a song that was about 3-1/2 minutes long or so. iPhoto automatically makes it fit to the music.

Just. Wow. {sniff, sniff}

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