Graduation 2K17

It’s been a true Season of Change for our little family this year.  People often don’t welcome and celebrate change, but I have found a peace in it all that almost scares me!

{I totally used to stress over EVERYTHING.}

This week we marked a huge milestone in the life of our Madeline as she graduated high school.

Madeline is such an amazing child young woman and to tell you the truth I am looking forward to watching her soar off into the world.

starbucks

Yes, my child wanted her senior pictures made at Starbucks…

starbucks4

Madeline is my baby girl; entering the world completely on her own terms which led to her daddy delivering her while her doctor sat in the lounge drinking her coffee!

threestarbucks2

She has continued to live her life on her own terms as Madeline is full of faith, passion, determination, wonder, compassion, hope, charity, love and fun.

Snow-Day | Oh-Fiddle-Dee-Dee

Sometimes these characteristics have gotten her in trouble, but I sincerely hope she carries them throughout her entire life!

Graduation | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

What is next for this youngest daughter of mine?

Cap-And-Gown | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

She is headed off to a Christian college in the fall on academic and Lacrosse scholarships where she will major in Biblical Studies and English; planning to go into ministry.  She has a desire to save the world and feels that this path is best for her.

Signing-Day | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

Signing Day at Point University

Proverbs 3:6 says

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

Madeline has taken this to heart, and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes!

Peace-Out | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

Peace Out High School!

signature

The of Class of 2015

I’ve alluded to it many times the last couple of weeks, especially if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, but our daughter MacKenzie Grace graduated high school last week.

Complete with honors and accolades, this girl of ours walked the stage and received her diploma, ending a chapter in her life.

IMG_7531

Graduation was met with mixed emotions.  MacKenzie was thrilled to end this part of her life, and I was a wee bit sentimental over it all.  Some how I managed to hold it all together while she walked the stage and now we are ready fort he next chapter to begin as she prepares to go off to college in August.  She was one of only 32 Honor’s grads in her class of 500, so to say that Audley and I are proud of her does not begin to describe how we feel.

Here is a glimpse of our graduation celebrations that brought in friends and family from six hours away to celebrate this special moment.

This is where I thought I was going to loose it .... She put on her cap for the final time.

This is where I thought I was going to lose it …. She put on her cap for the final time.

I loved having all of my children together for this special occasion; my step-daughter Samantha and her huband Justin drove in to stay with us!

I loved having all of my children together for this special occasion; my step-daughter Samantha and her husband Justin drove in to stay with us!

MacKenzie's best friend from back "home" surprised her by coming in for graduation!  We've been planning this treat since November and loved having Sara be a part of our special day!

MacKenzie’s best friend from back “home” surprised her by coming in for graduation! We’ve been planning this treat since November and loved having Sara be a part of our special day!

My three girls celebrating the day

My three girls celebrating the day

You have to love the bond between a brother and sister!

You have to love the bond between a brother and sister!

Of course Audley and I were super proud of this girl, just as we are proud of all our children!

parents

 

No momentous occasion is complete without generation pictures ….. I loved having both sets of grandparents in from Alabama and Tennessee for this big day!

jonesgenerations

The Jones grandparents

watkinsgenerations

Watkins Grandparents

For MacKenzie there was nothing but joy.

thegrad

graduate

DSC_0066

And the excitement at getting to be the center of attention for the evening.

Class of 2015

Class of 2015

What’s next for MacKenzie?

IMG_5961

She applied to several colleges and universities and was accepted to every one of them.  After several road trips talking to admissions and recruiters, MacKenzie Grace will be attending the University of South Carolina in Columbia in the fall, majoring in Athletic Training.

IMG_5981

carolinabound

We tried our best not to influence her in any way, but allow her to make the decision that fit her best, and it seems USC has exactly what she wants with the clearest plan to make her dreams happen.

And based on her text message I received just days ago when her rooming assignment arrived, we will be doing a lot of planning and decorating this summer.

text

And of course I will share it all with you!

9BC920CC6823471E78F010232F661C22

Gifts for the Graduate

Tis the season for graduation announcements to arrive in your mailbox as young men and women begin a huge change in life!  You have the high school graduate who is leaving childhood behind and the college graduate ready to take on the world.

IMG_7729

Besides receiving several announcements, this was a year in which we sent out a few for our own high school graduate.

IMG_7063

We’ve been asked no less than 30 times what would be a good gift idea for MacKenzie as she is leaving high school behind and moving off to college in August.  So I thought it would be fun to put together a few ideas that you can use for celebrating and gifting your own graduates.

1.  Money.  I know, not very personal, but if your graduate is going to college in any form, money is needed.  They can use this for books, supplies, or even put it towards decorating a dorm room should they be going away.

2.  Gift Cards.  Yes, once again, not very personal but very useful.

Gift Cards

For example gas gift cards are perfect for a graduate whether they are commuting to school or living away from home on campus.

Department store gift cards.  These are awesome for high school and college graduates alike as kids will be looking to make a wardrobe change leaving behind the clothes of their teenage years or looking forward to a business wardrobe.

Restaurant or movie theater gift cards.  I went away to college 25 years ago, and while a lot has changed, being broke in college has not!   I appreciated the treat of leaving campus for supper or a movie upon occasion and I’m sure that has not changed at all for any student.

Bed, Bath & Beyond, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, etc…. gift cards.  These are perfect for the student decorating their dorm room or their own apartment for the first time.  From bedding to wall art these are invaluable.

Barnes & Noble gift card.  So many college campuses have a B&N on them or use them as an option for students to purchase their textbooks.  This would definitely be appreciated!

3.  A bicycle.  Oh yeah.  This is the perfect gift for a high school grad who will be living on campus when they go to college in the fall.  Not only will they save gas, it’s a means of getting to class on time and exercise.

Well, maybe something a bit more mature ....

Well, maybe something a bit more mature ….

And don’t forget the lock!

4.  Anything monogrammed.  Of course this is more fitting for a young lady, but it would be something that would definitely make her smile.  From a duffel bag to an infinity scarf in school colors to a throw pillow or bath towels, options are limitless for ideas to make a girl smile.

Love this duffel!

Love this duffel!

5.  AAA Membership.  Just for a year, but if your graduate will be on the road a lot this would be perfect in helping them (as well as Dad & Mom) feel a wee bit more secure on the road.  They don’t teach kids how to change a tire in school, so if you haven’t done that yourself, this would be a real plus.

10494553_10152546167241857_967972762262074131_n

6.  Picture Frames.  Simple, yes and practical as well.  What better way for a young person to keep their memories close than to display them.

gradframe

  And speaking of memories, a Shutterfly gift card is an awesome way for the graduate to make a book highlighting their senior year or print off pictures for those frames.

shutterfly-logo1

7.  Looking for sentimental?  How about a quilt made from T-shirts representing all those memorable events from high school or college?  Check out this one my mom made for MacKenzie.

IMG_7420

Needless to say she now has a list of teenagers wanting their own.

Another sentimental gift idea.... This is one of my favorite gifts to give!

Another sentimental gift idea…. This is one of my favorite gifts to give!

8.  A high quality backpack, computer bag or briefcase.  Perfect for the grad heading off to college or the college grad stepping into the corporate world.

9.  Treat the recent grad to a trip to the salon.  A new “do” to leave your teen or fraternity days behind is a great gift to give.

10.  Gift baskets.  You can’t go wrong with a reusable basket full of bathroom/grooming supplies (shampoo, soap, razors, shaving cream, etc…), a laundry basket ( or monogrammed laundry bag) with detergent, dryer sheets & a book on how to do laundry, a bread basket with useful kitchen gadgets and towels, or a school supply basket filled with Post-it notes, Sharpies, highlights, a day planner, lead pencils, pens, college ruled notebooks, etc….

All of these are fabulous and useful for just about any recent graduate.

Hopefully a few of these ideas will inspire you as you try to come up with gift ideas for the graduate in your life.

I would love to hear your suggestions for gift ideas!

9BC920CC6823471E78F010232F661C22

Monday Morning Reality

  It’s funny how often you see where a “mommy” post has gone viral.  It may be something dealing with the silliness of toddlers, the craziness of childbirth or the exhaustion of a momma.  It may be a letter to a daughter or the value of raising a good teen boy…..

But in all of those posts, I never seem to read the reality of raising three teenagers.

So, I’m going all “Mommy Blogger” for you today and sharing a wee bit of the craziness, frustration, emotion, and pride that is my life.

Never once in a “mommy blog” have I read where someone’s son got ISS (In School Suspension) for singing “If your Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands” in Algebra class.

DSC_0050

Nor have I read where that same boy found himself in ISS three weeks later for making mischief on a school bus while on his way to the tech school.  And to say that same boy spent another day in ISS for eating a sandwich stolen by another boy (it’s on video that he was guilty only by association) from the table where food for underprivileged kids is kept would be unheard of…..

But having your 15-year-old come out of his bookworm shell and assume the role of class clown & mischief maker does happen whether you like it or not.

Birthday date with Bradley ... we went to lunch and the movies

Birthday date with Bradley … we went to lunch and the movies

But it’s amazing how that same boy, finds a passion for cooking and creating food in the kitchen making this Momma wonder if she has a budding chef on her hands.

And that same boy might also take on the role of jock and decide to trade in his baseball bat & gloves and soccer ball he played for 8 years to roll around on a mat with stinky, sweaty boys while his Momma screams like a mad woman from the stands to “TAKE HIM DOWN!!”

DSC_0019

That’s my reality.

My reality is also a lump in my throat & chills down my spine every time I see him dressed in his Air Force JROTC uniform.

AF JROTC

AF JROTC

So is this bedroom he deemed clean before he left for several weeks to work hard, building houses in Tennessee with his uncle.

Lookie what Im going to clean while the boy is out of town!!!

Lookie what Im going to clean while the boy is out of town!!!

No post I have ever read prepared me for the day when my 16-year-old daughter made a 180 degree turn from tomboy to princess; and from living in the shadow of an older sister (who is an overachiever) to becoming Miss “Let me see what else I can do” in a matter of months.

Madeline's 16th birthday just after Varsity lacrosse tryouts

Madeline’s 16th birthday just after Varsity lacrosse tryouts

Nothing remotely prepared me to have this same former tomboy chosen as a spokesmodel for a local photographer and stylist.

Photography by Jennifer Rae Grimes

Photography by Jennifer Rae Grimes

 I was in no way prepared when she tapped into her creative gene discovering an outlet for her frustrations in the form of art which lead to many trips to Michael’s and Hobby Lobby as well as an invitation to take ART II HONORS for her upcoming Junior year.

IMG_7685

Madeline’s version of “Lily” artwork for her bedroom.

IMG_7687

Pink flamingos

And when this same girl threw away the track cleats and soccer ball for Lacrosse sticks, making the Varsity squad her first year out, we prayed for the safety of ever player she came into contact with.

Number 6 is a beast!

Number 6 is a beast!

The penalty box was like a second home while this Momma screamed from the stands, offering the referees her glasses and questioning their ability to officiate at least two three four times a game.

In the penalty box......

In the penalty box……

In the penalty box again....

In the penalty box again….

But the pride that comes from having a 16 year volunteer to spend two weeks at a youth camp for handicap children asking absolutely nothing for herself “because they need her”….

And the fact this girl can rock can rock the 80’s better than I did?

1980's day for spirit week .... channeling Oliva Newton John

1980’s day for spirit week …. channeling Oliva Newton John

That’s my reality.

So is celebrating that “C” she managed to pull in Algebra II.

And no post I’ve read ever prepared me for the emotion of having your firstborn complete her senior year of high school.

IMG_7065

No where was I warned that she might turn in her basketball shoes and color guard costumes to pursue Figure (bodybuilding) Competing.

IMG_4351

IMG_3620

Nor did I ever read anywhere that senior year could quite possibly send a Momma to the insane asylum as the idea of taking THREE AP classes seemed like a good one in theory despite Momma’s misgivings.

The ulcer received by that same senior gave Momma a brief “I told you so” victory.

No where have I ever read about an already over-commited child stepping up (without being asked) into the Momma role to take care of her Mom by changing bandages, emptying drain tubes, and even shaving her legs after she had major surgery.

I never found a post that fully prepared me emotionally for the time I let this girl of mine board a bus at 5:00 AM with 25 other kids bound for New York without me chaperoning for the first time in her life….

11069229_10203997497244837_4626800481092699928_n

Or my heartbreak because she chose NOT to go to the senior prom because it was a waste of money she would rather spend on workout clothes.

I did want to see her all dressed up…..

But then there is that moment when you get an invitation to the French National Honor Society induction ceremony and the notice that your girl is one of only 32 Honor’s graduates in a class of 500 kids and she earned the Health Sciences scholarship…..

IMG_7117 copy

And as she walks that stage this Momma yells with all her might, “THAT’S MY GIRL!”

IMG_7531

Yeah, that’s my reality.

From our cruise in November 2014

From our cruise in November 2014

And I adore every minute of it.

9BC920CC6823471E78F010232F661C22