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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Portrait of a Marriage…16 Years In

16 years in to this thing called marriage… We know that wedding day was much, much more than a dress and a tux, a bouquet and boutonniere. 16 years in… Puppy love has all but disappeared. In it’s place, a richer, deeper, grounded definition of love that’s committed to the test of time. 16 years in… We know that…

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  • Monica Anderson PalmerJune 28, 2014 - 9:00 pm

    Happy Anniversary! So sorry it’s beyond late in coming! Loved this post and can’t agree more! ReplyCancel

  • Cyndy JohnsonJune 28, 2014 - 2:02 am

    And you were just a year old at my wedding! Now that’s a long time ago!! ReplyCancel

  • Cyndy JohnsonJune 27, 2014 - 4:14 pm

    It was a wonderful day–I remember so much about it!! Congrats!!ReplyCancel

  • Tom BaunsgardJune 27, 2014 - 4:01 pm

    Amy, Yes!, Cheers to the legacy of “I Do” Thank you for sharing your Wedding album with us! It is wonderful! Happy Anniversary!ReplyCancel

  • Tara DornJune 27, 2014 - 2:47 pm

    Beautiful! So well said!ReplyCancel

  • Stacey Deutsch-ThorntonJune 27, 2014 - 2:36 pm


  • Nicole Marie NewfieldJune 27, 2014 - 2:08 pm


  • SethJune 27, 2014 - 9:40 am

    Happy anniversary to my beautiful wife!ReplyCancel

Tiny Princess

Mama was washing breakfast dishes. Tiny princess came down the stairs with a Princess Tiana dress in hand. She’d pulled it down, off the hanger in her closet. “Put it on mom. Put it on!” said tiny princess. So mama put the dress on her tiny, tiny princess. White silk fell off her shoulders. It was too…

What I Learned From My Dad’s Retirement Party Post

The fact that my dad’s lifelong career as band director was never celebrated properly bothered me for eight years straight. So one week ago, I took a leap of faith and wrote a post I hoped would rectify that wrong. When I hit publish, I had no idea what the outcome would be, but I did it anyway. Today, I’m happy to…

In Which I’m Throwing A Belated Retirement Party for My Dad, Mr. Femling!

On June 12, 2013, I spent 1 hour 45 minutes drafting a blog post I wanted to publish for Father’s Day in honor of my dad, known to many of you as Mr. Femling. I had a plan in mind, a vision of what I wanted to do for my dad. But there came a time, even after all…

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  • Brenda (Latvala) PfahnlJune 18, 2014 - 11:59 pm

    Band was such a big part of my high school experience, and one of the most positive experiences I had as a kid. Mr. Femling, the love of music and the discipline learned during those years were things that stay with a student for a lifetime. Thanks for being such a positive influence.

    Brenda (Latvala) Pfahnl
    AHS clarinet
    Class of 1983ReplyCancel

  • Christine MidthunJune 18, 2014 - 10:04 pm

    Love this idea Amy. I couldn’t agree more that your dad deserves a tribute/retirement for all he inspired with youth and music in Aitkin and beyond. I know I was a fellow Trumpet players…I can’t say music came naturally but Bruce always pushed me to be better and for that I’m thankful. I always appreciated his words of encouragement, passion and enthusiasm for what he loved and was good at…he inspired and created love for music in so many people and created a legacy and pushed us all to be better. I specifically remember wanting to switch to French horn and then being sent home with a Baritone…I didn’t know how I was going to get it home and had to have my mom come pick me up…The baritone only was tried for a day or two but he pushed me outside my comfort zone to be better and not settle. Beyond his love for music he seized the moments to teach us life lessons along the way. Thank you Mr. Femling for all you have done with your passion and talent for music and your love for teaching. Christine (Janzen)MidthunReplyCancel

  • Bruce FemlingJune 18, 2014 - 8:07 pm

    Your comments have raised my spirits immeasurably! It’s easy to get down when you have pulmonary fibrosis and can’t play the trumpet like you used to. I wear oxygen tanks all of the time now so I can still get around and play golf. I always wanted to die directing the band when everything was clicking, as it did many times with you guys, or playing golf. I almost got my wish when I had a heart attack on hole # 3 at the Eagles Landing about 6 weeks ago. As depression started to set in your comments lifted me up and made me want to fight on! The “wall of sound” you created gave me the “chills” many times as do the memories of those times do now.Thanks to my daughter Amy for this great retirement party and to all of my fantastic band students.ReplyCancel

  • Tony BakerJune 17, 2014 - 10:56 pm

    Way to go Amy on a very worthwhile blog! I was a mediocre coronet player in the mid-80’s, and actually quit band in 10th grade because as a varsity football player, I wanted to ride on the fire truck with the team in the Homecoming parade, while Bruce was insistent that I march in the band. So ended my band career, but I did respect Bruce even back then for standing firm and not allowing band to take a back seat to other (less important) things.

    Thirty years later and I still have vivid memories of perhaps his favorite sermon – “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem…” where he recalled being present at a fight between two other kids as a teenager and then being punished by his father because he did not get involved to stop it. Classic message, and I share it with my own kids. I think you are being part of the solution Amy by having the courage to get this going! Best wishes to all the Femlings!ReplyCancel

    • AmyJune 18, 2014 - 1:15 pm

      Tony, thank you very much for your kind words, for me AND my dad. I appreciate the specificity with which you recall his favorite sermon. Most definitely applicable to so much of life. And your story about football vs. band…well, that does not surprise me as he still thinks band should be valued as much as sports, even these days. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing these words.ReplyCancel

  • Deanna Northburg JonesJune 17, 2014 - 2:23 am

    Amy, kudos to you for doing this for your dad. I remember Mr. Femling quite well…. one of the first things that comes to mind are his Friday “sermons”. Which, thinking back, had GREAT messages. Another thing I remember about your dad (& I am teasing him now, but what is a retirement party without a bit of a “roast” as well, right??) was how he wore his dress shoes with his jeans! Now, well into our 40’s, I’ve called my husband “Bruce” when he’s attempted to walk out the door in his dress shoes with jeans!! He obeys and puts his tennis shoes on 🙂 But in a serious note, he was a very positive influence in my life and I am blessed to have been under his leadership. He inspired us to be the best. Pep band was a blast! Fighting for first chair was encouraged. Ah, the memories. Blessings to you and your family.ReplyCancel

  • Joel KosmanJune 16, 2014 - 11:47 pm

    Congratulations on your retirement! Knowing the kind of person you are Bruce, you’ve done a great job and deserve anything you want! May I add, I have not realized how much you have influenced me. You have helped me become a better saxophone player and a person early in my life. This helped me decide to audition and enlist into the Army Band field. I would’nt have made it as far as I am today if you hadn’t pushed me enough to pass the Army’s audition. Let’s not forget the good times and the not so good times in your rehearsals. Life lessons that some understood and some may not have. I will also cherish the times I visited to share my Army experiences. I hope to visit and share again with my impending retirement.ReplyCancel

  • Kayla hinkemeyerJune 16, 2014 - 9:08 pm

    I don’t know your father as I am new to Aitkin and have taught her 4 years but I do know your. Other and LOvE her!!!!!! She is the best teacher!ReplyCancel

  • Karen NotthburgJune 16, 2014 - 6:20 pm

    All 4 of our girls had Bruce in band & they all loved him. He was the best band teacher ever. This is so awesome Amy. Jeff was former 5th grade teacher & we chaperoned Florida band/choir trip. It was a wonderful trip. Blessings to you & your family.ReplyCancel

  • Autumn Main HunterJune 16, 2014 - 2:43 am

    This is (Jamie) James Hunter. I think back many years as I grew up with your daughters and family. You were and are an extraordinary person a nd Band instructor. You did everything to the max. I have many memories of Pep Band and many times I would just stop to see you play your heart out. Band was very good for all of us. We were like an extended family in Band. You are part of the Aitkin High School Band forever. May you and your family have a wonderful Fathers Day. With the best Band Teacher Ever. Thanks again Amy this is a great retirement party idea. ReplyCancel

  • Shelley NovotnyJune 15, 2014 - 12:37 pm

    I was so blessed to have been taught by Mr. Femling and have had the opportunity to walk down memory lane with him a few times within the last year!

    What a dedicated teacher! He was so “instrumental” in teaching professionalism and the importance of quality of performance! Not once did I ever feel like he didn’t want to be there even though his srtudents weren’t always of the same mind.

    I also recall our significant current events discussions like “Who shot JR?” We had a lot of fun in band!

    All my best to you Mr. Femling! Thank you for teaching this drummer and contributing to the well-roundedness of so many.ReplyCancel

  • Naomi BackstromJune 15, 2014 - 12:28 pm

    Mr femling, I had one year under your guidance and it was amazing! You wanted us to achieve even in 7th grade. We never wanted to let you down. Band wasn’t the same without you. God Bless You. ReplyCancel

  • Mary MapesJune 15, 2014 - 6:14 am

    So many years ago I started playing a saxophone with Mrs. Bonnie Johnson teaching me the basics in elementary school. My twin sister started on the flute. She had the same natural abilities for music as my Dad did. It was our Dad’s love for music that started us on the trail that brought us to Mr Femling’s class. Marie was and still is much better at the flute than I am on my saxophone but I still play, much to the chagrin of my neighbors. But I find peace in playing still! For that I am thankful that Mr Femling was my band teacher as I went through high school. When he left the Aitkin School, the band department died! There hasn’t been another teacher to step into his shoes as they are much to big to be filled by anyone else. We had an awesome band back then. We had marching band, pep band, and concert band. We would have mass band concerts. He was a huge part that program. And while I was usually the one getting into trouble for chewing gum or talking to others and getting them in trouble for talking back to me. I loved band and I still love playing my saxophone! Thanks you so much Mr Femling and Mrs Johnson for that everlasting gift your gave so many years ago! I will play until I get dentures and am unable to keep my teeth in! Please know, Mr Femling that you have touch so many with your love for music. It truly is an universal language. You were and I imagine are still a most excellent teacher. You could see that in the passion you showed each day in class!
    Amy, thank you for giving us the opportunity to tell him and you how great we all think your Dad is!
    Mary Mapes class of 1986!ReplyCancel

  • Tom BaunsgardJune 15, 2014 - 5:44 am

    Dear Mr. Femling, I was never in Band or Orchestra but I was in Choir and Men’s Glee. I had a wonderful teacher who gave so much to us and taught us how to make beautiful music. Thank you for touching so many lives and giving to them the gift of being able to make music. Belated Congratulations on your retirement!ReplyCancel

  • sharon reeseJune 15, 2014 - 3:39 am

    My kids werent in band but…..as part of this community it is hard not to recognize one of the greatest music/band directors. Mr Femling you have brought honor responsibility and respect to your students through the years that you taught..and in reading these posts it is a natural to see that love and devotion for you as well……Happy Fathers Day, Happy belated Retirement….ReplyCancel

  • Pam Bruss KramerJune 14, 2014 - 10:55 pm

    Thank you Mr. Femling for the being part of my high school years. You produced the best bands Aitkin has ever had. You were a great director! ReplyCancel

  • Pam LandgrenJune 14, 2014 - 9:40 pm

    How nice is this ! I am truly very proud that you took the time and sincere thought to do this for your dad. He deserves it and I’ m sure it will make him very happy. Good for you! Happy retirement Bruce. Hope you are feeling better!ReplyCancel

  • Kathie (Northburg) SmithJune 14, 2014 - 9:34 pm

    Mr. Femling, Some of my best memories were playing trumpet in concert band, Jazz and Pep! You come in conversation quite often during my work due to the reality that Aitkin’s AHS band has never been the same since you left. I was fortunate enough to still have you my Sr yr. Thank you for the fun memories! I learned a lot from your directing but also life lessons from your stories of how to treat people. God truly blessed you with amazing musical tallent as well as your connection with your students. You had patience and lots of positive energy. You had faith in us and inspired us to do our best. God bless you with peace and good health!ReplyCancel

  • Shawn DotsethJune 14, 2014 - 4:54 pm

    Mr. Femling was without a doubt the most influential teacher in my life, but he was so much more than that. He was a mentor, a true educator, a fantastic influence in everyway possible, a truly SPECTACULAR musician and band director, and great friend, but mostly a great man and an exceptionally rare man and human being. I have so many stories about him and how he influenced my life that I hardly know where to start, or which ones to pick. The list of great moments is truly staggering. I’ll think about a few and repost. The sermonettes were fantastic, him giving me a chance to shine and having the confidence in me when I didn’t always have it in myself, are priceless memories and life lessons that I’ve carried throughout my life and pass along to my kids and others to this day. I was PROUD to play in the Aitkin High School band, cause lets face it, we were awesome 🙂 I’ll post more later. Thank you Mr. Femling, you are truly the best. Shawn Dotseth, Drummer, class of ’88.ReplyCancel

  • Cindi Jo MonroeJune 14, 2014 - 2:22 pm

    Mr. Femling; Your passion for music was inspiring! I learned a lot about music and have great memories of band….concerts, games, and parades. I also enjoyed Easter services where you and others played the opening hymn. You touched many students lives and taught us the language of music.
    Cindi Monroe
    Class of ’86ReplyCancel

  • Gregory O'HansenJune 14, 2014 - 6:31 am


    Thank you for helping me understand and realize the thrill that comes from being a music lover! You made quite an impression on all of us! My best to you and your family!

    Greg Hansen, Alto Sax
    Aitkin High School Class of 1982ReplyCancel

  • Sharon JohnsonJune 14, 2014 - 3:35 am

    My son Todd had Bruce as a band director during his high school years in Aitkin. He enjoyed being in Bruce’s band and had a very good experience with him as a band teacher and director. Happy belated retirement, Bruce.
    Sharon Swedberg Johnson

  • Christopher SchlagelJune 14, 2014 - 2:54 am

    There are so many good memories and stories that it’s actually hard to single out any one thing to say. Thank you, so much for your time, your attention, your instruction, for being more than a teacher, a true educator. Your passion for what we were trying to, and did accomplish I believe was a priceless addition to our character and futures. That being said, there is the rare day when my four children are rambunctious, rowdy, … loud .. and I finally, red faced, yell “QUIET!” … and I laugh, they laugh too, but don’t know why I am (not our proudest moment in class). I don’t know how he did it, but I’m very thankful he did. I’ve been lucky enough to run into both Mr. and Mrs. Femling from time to time and chat with them. I wish them the best. ReplyCancel

  • Greg HansenJune 14, 2014 - 1:30 am


    Thank you for helping me understand and realize the thrill that comes from being a music lover! You made quite an impression on all of us! My best to you and your family!

    Greg Hansen, Alto Sax
    Aitkin High School Class of 1982ReplyCancel

  • Greta RoseJune 14, 2014 - 1:00 am

    This blog is inspiring in so many ways. Your dad inspired me in so many ways. I wanted to play Trumpet as well as him. Some of my favorite memories were the days we received “new” music to site read. I’ll never forget the time we were reading Christmas music and started in with a song from Charlie Brown Christmas (don’t recall the name), but it wasn’t the most peppy piece. His face said it all… “what the heck is this? It’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard… Pass it to the right…” To this day, every time I hear that song during Christmas it brings me back to that moment.

    I made the decision to quit basketball in order to be able to play more in Pep Band and Jazz Band… he just made it that fun. Our band trip to Florida was a blast and something I’ll never forget. Actually, he inspired me to learn several instruments (sax, trombone, and piano).

    I played trumpet throughout college and was part of the UMD Wind Ensemble. In my senior year we actually performed at the school where he taught… I remember being so eager to perform for him… it was the highlight of my tour that year.

    Today I have two boys (Connor is 10 and Noah is 6). Because your dad instilled in me the love of music, I made it very clear to my husband that when we have kids they will be forced to do two things with no exception… learn to swim and learn to love music! Connor has played the piano for nearly 3 years and I’m hoping to get Noah started next year. Unfortunately, my kids go to a very small school, and there isn’t really a band program in place… so, piano is an option that they have embraced.

    And all this music in our house started with your dad instilling in this kid (me) the love of music. I loved band… it was my favorite part of the day. I loved practicing and am very thankful to your dad for making music fun!

    I’ll look for some photos and send them your way. Prayers are with your entire family, but please let your dad know that he made a huge difference in my life!

    Thanks for sharing,
    Greta (Hasskamp) Rose (class of 1989)ReplyCancel

  • Matina Mindrum-BoockJune 13, 2014 - 11:47 pm

    Mr. Femling- You were one of the most amazing teachers I have ever had as you treated us with respect and knew what we could do long before we knew. I loved band and pep band provided an opportunity for me to be a part of something that I was proud of and enjoyed. Even now when I hear Gimme Some Lovin’ or Louie Louie I can picture playing at games and loading the buses to go to tournaments. Watching you play the trumpet in the pep band with us was inspiring and enjoyable-you became one of us when you played and your enthusiasm showed. Thank you for being such an inspiration. I find myself comparing every band director my kids have had to you and appreciating your dedication and sense of humor you needed to deal with us. Enjoy retirement-you have earned it! MatinaReplyCancel

    • AmyJune 14, 2014 - 8:30 am

      Matina, I especially love these words you shared…”you treated us with respect and knew what we could do long before we knew.” That’s fantastic. Thanks for leaving this message for my dad.ReplyCancel

  • Tate AbersollJune 13, 2014 - 10:30 pm

    I love that man. He is a great music teacher, but so much more. My very first dealing with him was when I was in 5th grade. I stole the siren whistle out of the band room while there for some kind of field trip. A few weeks later my parents found it and made me bring it back to him. He dealt with awesomely. He made sure I knew how disappointed he was in me, but at the same time made me feel how much he actually cared for this kid he didn’t even know.
    Then a couple years later there I was in his band room, and we had MANY more private conversations after that.
    But I do have to say that of all the AHS teachers I had there are only 2 that I can say had a ginormous impact on my life, and Mr. Femling is one of those.
    I must also say my favorite days in the band room were the days we would walk in and hear ” you don’t need your instruments today” because that meant we got to hear the annual telling of the water balloon story.
    Love you Mr. Femling.ReplyCancel

    • AmyJune 13, 2014 - 10:47 pm

      This. is. AWESOME Tate!!! Thank you for sharing. I love this, and am SURE my dad will too!! So glad you stopped by to share the love.ReplyCancel

  • KariLee Babin PietzJune 13, 2014 - 9:34 pm

    Thanks Amy! Love the idea and actually have thought about your dad often lately. Kassidy is a music lover and her school bamd director and private lesson teacher are very important to her. I had the honor of chaperoning her eighth-grade band trip this spring, and it helped me to remember all kinds of amazing and fun times in the AHS band. Missing both of your parents; it was always so nice to see them at school in the community or even at Tanners. I am honored to partake in celebrating Mr. Femling’s retirement!ReplyCancel

  • Terry MehrJune 13, 2014 - 8:24 pm

    Amy, what a lovely tribute to your dad! Passion, dedication,and character often go unnoticed or unacknowledged in the world of education. I do NOT understand why..but it is. Your dad possessed all…he impacted many..and for that they will be forever grateful! Mark and I wish him the best! Mark & Terry MehrReplyCancel

    • AmyJune 14, 2014 - 8:27 am

      Terry, thanks for your kind words. Not sure why “passion, dedication and character often go unnoticed or unacknowledged in the world of education,” but so grateful to see otherwise with the outpouring of love and encouragement for my dad in this space. So glad you stopped by.ReplyCancel

  • Connie Hunter HutchinsJune 13, 2014 - 7:48 pm

    This was truly a wonderful idea Amy and your dad certainly does deserve the recognition. Being in band with your dad as our leader is the thing I remember most about High School. He did a fabulous job and was so so “into” it! He made his students enjoy band and enjoy pep band. I would have to say he was and is my favorite teacher of my high school career !ReplyCancel

  • Amy WilliamsJune 13, 2014 - 5:20 pm

    Oh my gosh, Mr. Femling. I loved him as a teacher. AHS Pep Band was amazing – we had the best songs and the most fun. I think of him often. Happy Father’s Day and happy retirement!!ReplyCancel

  • Joy GruhlkeJune 13, 2014 - 4:31 pm

    Your dad was my reason for loving playing the flute. He was an encourager and made music fun. He is my reason for the love of instrumental pieces.

    I want to thank Mr. Femling for sharing this gift with me.ReplyCancel

  • Tara Abersoll HallbergJune 13, 2014 - 3:47 pm

    Amy, thank you for doing this. Band was such a big part of my school career. Your Dad knew when to push us and when to pull back. He put up with a lot from our class and I am so appreciative of this. I went on to play Percussion in college and without him that would never have been possible. Thank you Mr. Femling for instilling the love of music in me that I am hoping to instill in my children. ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia BensonJune 13, 2014 - 2:31 pm

    What a great posting Amy! Some of my best high school memories came from band class! You’re dad was an amazing teacher and instilled in me a love for music – which I passed on to my own kids! They all played an instrument – at least for a little while! Wishing Mr. Femling nothing but the best!ReplyCancel

  • Chris gerberJune 13, 2014 - 2:06 pm

    your dad was the best thing that probably occurred as far as a band director and instructor at Aiken high school was phenomenal they have him through high school and it certainly was great for the class of 92ReplyCancel

    • AmyJune 13, 2014 - 9:48 pm

      Wow. Thanks for your kind words, Chris.ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany FemlingJune 13, 2014 - 1:39 pm

    I learned how to play trumpet at a very young age. Sitting in the stands and hanging around the band room. Watching every single fingering and listening to each sound. The truth is, I rarely looked at music directly because I already knew the sound I was trying to achieve. I got to know a lot of your band students and hanging around music just felt/feels so natural. You taught us/forced us to stick with band. Even though it wasn’t considered cool to all, we did. You’re the best and if I could, I’d listen to you play all day. I feel some of your most cherished memories were playing with your band, the marvelous mirage. My favorite story is that you played with Paul revere and the raiders and the Four Tops. Then, who wanted to come get you on a jet plane and bring you to LA? Dad, I could’ve been a beach boys babe. ; ) You gave that up for your family. Anyways, may you be jamin with the best! And someday, I’ll be jamin right beside you. Until then, I need to practice. Hey, thanks for one of the greatest loves I have found … Music. ReplyCancel

  • Ann EspesethJune 13, 2014 - 12:38 pm

    Mr. Femling will always have a legacy at AHS. Every time we are at a sporting event memories of the pep band being there always pop in my head. The excitement and enthusiasm that the band brought to the crowd was awesome. It was his passion and love for music that he passed on to several people. And I am proud to say he was my band director.ReplyCancel

    • AmyJune 13, 2014 - 2:01 pm

      Ann, thank you so much for sharing these words for my dad. I couldn’t have said it any better.ReplyCancel

  • Paula (Math) BraunJune 13, 2014 - 10:54 am

    I’ve always been proud to say I was in AHS band. And I’ve always thought the years of 87-90 was the best concert and pep band AHS ever heard. I’m certainly biased, but we rocked. I remember playing pep band at the Brainerd High School for boys basketball playoffs. We were amazing. The music Mr. Femling got out of us crazy kids was astounding.

    Now both of my daughters are in band. My 7th grader lettered in Varsity band this year on trumpet. She can also play flute and clarinet. My fifth grader plays flute like her mommy and has already played three solos at concerts. I can’t help but compare their band instructors to your father. 🙂

    My love of music, the intricacies of tone, volume, feeling, all was brought about through Mr. Femling’s teaching. Always working to get the best out of a bunch of restless, unruly high schoolers. His commitment to excellence and pushing us all to the top of our musical game is something I will always appreciate.

    I wish your father all the best. Happy Father’s Day Mr. Femling!!!ReplyCancel

    • AmyJune 13, 2014 - 2:05 pm

      Thank you so much, Paula! What an amazing testament to my dad’s work as band director. I never got to be in a pep band directed by him, but I greatly admired those of you older than me and remember the pep bands vividly! Glad to hear you’ve passed this to your daughters!! What talent you have emerging…the legacy goes on.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole NewfieldJune 13, 2014 - 9:56 am

    Wonderful idea! Great pictures and beautiful words! Happy Father’s Day to your dad!ReplyCancel

In Which I Fight For My Lifelines

Yesterday was a little ridiculous. I woke up at 6:00 a.m. Left the house for work at 6:55 a.m. Conducted FIVE therapy home visits back to back, and returned home by 2:15 p.m. For the next 2 hours 45 minutes, I did laundry, cleaned up kids’ messes, unloaded a grocery bag full of one kid’s school stuff, did…