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.


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


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.


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.


  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.


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.


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!


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.


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!!”


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.



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.


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


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.


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



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….


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!”


Yeah, that’s my reality.

From our cruise in November 2014

From our cruise in November 2014

And I adore every minute of it.


College Road Trip (or three)

I would love to say my lack of posting lately has been due to an influx of clients at the gym or that I am off having way too much fun, but the reality of my life right now is I have a high school senior.  Not your average everyday high school senior, but one who is an overachiever,  extremely determined, a wee bit OCD, and making me a little nuts at the moment.


Not really sure where she inherited those traits, but I seem to recall a senior year similar to this one several years back.

And a little throwback here.... Audley and I during our senior years.  His 25th reunion was this year and mine is next.  It's crazy that our oldest is now a senior.... This was just yesterday!!

And a little throwback fun …. Audley & I during our senior years. His 25th reunion was this year and mine is next. It’s crazy that our oldest is now a senior…. Seriously, This was just yesterday!!

While Madeline and Bradley are patiently awaiting their seasons (ROTC, wrestling and track), MacKenzie Grace is keeping me plenty occupied with the season of senior year.

So far we have ventured to an academic dinner in Greenville where a representative from Harding University (a private Christian school) in Arkansas flew out to meet and talk with her about school.

We have also traveled ourselves, taking road trips to Auburn University (who doesn’t offer her major, but is her favorite place on earth),

MacKenzie Grace's happy place

MacKenzie Grace’s happy place

Samford Hall at Auburn University

Samford Hall at Auburn University

Faulkner University (where she was given the opportunity to shadow an Athletic Trainer on the sidelines of a football game)


Helping treat an injured football player at the Faulkner game

Helping treat an injured football player at the Faulkner game

and most recently to the University of South Carolina, where my child walked away saying her last choice of school just became her first.

On the campus of the University of South Carolina in downtown Columbia

On the campus of the University of South Carolina in downtown Columbia

Seriously, A Gamecock?

Seriously, A Gamecock?

{I think the Marble Slab Creamery on campus won her over.}

Always the foodie

Always the foodie

So far she has been offered a $16,000 scholarship to school in Arkansas, and a $3,500 scholarship Faulkner University, but seeing how she is in the top 10% of her graduating class, carrying a 4.6 GPA, in Beta Club, Student Leadership, Mock United Nations & Jr. Civitans, the University of South Carolina has a whole lot more to offer financially, including free Grad school if she completes her undergrad there and passes her national boards to become a certified Athletic Trainer.

So after a whirlwind month of traveling and interviewing and applying, we play the waiting game.

Who will accept her (she has one acceptance already), who will give her the most bang for her buck, and who is willing to win her over with the best academic offerings?

Audley and I made the decision a long time ago that when it came time for college choices that we wouldn’t make the choice for our kids.  We are more than happy to offer advice, but when it comes to where they will excel the most and feel they will be at home, even if it’s 11 hours away in Arkansas, we won’t interfere.  Now that time is actually here for our first, I am a little nervous, but I am confident that the right choice to fit her goals and dreams will be made.

As a proud mom, I’ll share her decision when she makes it!


“It Was A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”

Do you recognize that quote?

It’s from one of my favorite children’s books of all time, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

It’s such a cute story if you’ve never read it!

I know you are wondering what in the world could I possibly have to say about a children’s book that could possibly be relevant to a lifestyle blog.

Let me tell you,Tuesday was a very bad day for me.


Now, when I say bad, I don’t mean catastrophic or that we received horrible news, it was simply a bad day that left me emotionally and mentally exhausted.

Let’s start with 6 AM alarm for the second day of school.  My teenage girls fought and argued from the moment they got up until after they got to school.  I had to turn off my phone to stop the text messages.

Then my dishwasher quit draining which was quite a mess and I had to call the repairman.  He told me that he couldn’t be there until noon.  I had a client at noon, so I called and put her off until later in the afternoon (my own workout/downtime).  Since I had a couple of hours, I decided to go ahead and get groceries taken care of.

I grabbed my purse and reached inside for my keys and change purse  only to find they weren’t there.  

Just the beginning of my bad day...

Just the beginning of my bad day…

I turned the house upside down looking for them and then it hit me…. Monday night Audley & I had gone to supper in his truck.  I carried only my change purse just to have ID and keep things light.  I guessed that I had left them in his truck.

Audley’s truck?

It was at the Greenville/Spartanburg airport.

I texted my oldest daughter and then called the school for her to get permission to check out …. the second day of class.  She arrived home and off to the airport we flew to get into Audley’s truck and find my stuff.

We found his truck and after five unsuccessful tries to enter the keyless entry code, we discovered we were at the wrong truck.


FINALLY we found the right truck, got my keys and headed home.

The dishwasher repairman arrives shortly thereafter and charged $200 to pull the drain and remove two drinking straws that had washed down from our sink & was preventing the dishwasher from draining. 

After my afternoon client I decided to run to the grocery store.  I was shaking because it was three hours past my lunchtime and breakfast had been at 7:00.  As I examined my eggs, I dropped the carton and broke all 12 of them.  Totally embarrassed, I grabbed the last of my groceries and headed to the checkout.  While the cashier was ringing me up, I ran over to the ice machine to grab a 50 pound bag of ice.  As I pulled it from the machine the bag split open and ice went EVERYWHERE!!!

The poor guy who had just cleaned up my eggs was called to the front to now clean my ice.

I grabbed two frozen pizzas, tossed them on the end of my grocery order and ran from Publix after paying.

I decided a home cooked supper for my kids was NOT happening that night.


I know you are wondering why I would share something so random, but it’s my reality.

One thing I have learned in blogging is that we can make our lives look as good and perfect as we want to.  We put on a facade for the world to see all the while hiding our reality from the ones reading.

Monday morning one of my girlfriend’s posted on Facebook how she felt like a failure as a mom because her first day of school with her girls wasn’t a “Pinterest Mom Moment”.

Pinterest Perfection

Pinterest Perfection

Is this the life we really want to portray?  A life where everything is “Stepford Perfect” so that when others look at you while they may find inspiration, they may also cave to their own imperfections?

We’ve become a picture perfect society as we hide behind our computer screens.  Personally I am tired of perfection and would love to see so much more transparency.  I love happy, cheerful, positive and even superficial things that inspire me, but I also want to know that there are other women out there who struggle balancing everything in their lives!

I’ve spent the last nine months trying to balance being a wife, mom, and working, while having a husband who travels a lot for his own job during the week.  I have friends who tease me about being Supermom, how easy I make everything look & how together my life is.

In reality, I am exhausted.

I have a calendar on my phone, in my office and a huge day planner with me at all times.  I get up at 4:00AM two mornings a week and 6:00 AM the other workdays.  I have clients as early as 5:00 AM and as late as 7:00 PM and most nights I’m up until 11 or 12.

Just one of my methods for attempting to keep it all together and this is an easy week!!

Just one of my methods for attempting to keep it all together and this is an easy week!!

My son missed wrestling practice four times in the last three weeks because I simply forgot (twice I fell asleep on the couch when I came home between clients).  I go to bed without doing dishes from time to time and at least once a week I wash the same load of clothes more than once because I forget to swap them out.

Often my reality

Often my reality

My spare room floor is stacked with half-finished projects and my kids eat take-out pizza twice a week sometimes.

Seriously, I'm going to finish these few things THIS weekend!!

Seriously, I’m going to finish these few things THIS weekend!!

Sound Perfect?

But, if you look at my Instagram or Facebook page — Picture Perfect!

I sent my sweet friend who was so upset after her “failed” first day of school moments a scripture message from Proverbs 31.

Proverbs 31:28

Proverbs 31:28

It was a reminder that we don’t have to be “Pinterest Perfect” .  If we have the love and respect of our husband and children no matter how messed up the morning has been, we are still perfect in their eyes.

Being a Proverbs 31 woman is much more awesome than being “Pinterest Perfect”!

After my horrible day on Tuesday, I came in from my last client, turned off the world & dove into scripture.  The verses that gave me the most peace were found in Ecclesiastes 3 —

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Ecclesiastes 3:1

The good, the bad; we all have our season.  It’s not picture perfect, but it’s reality.

My reality?

I’m giving it to God — ALL of it!

The good, the bad, the ugly and it’s OK because HE is perfect and can handle it ALL!

I can laugh over my day now as it seems all surreal, but I’m pretty sure if I had dwelt on it and kept the failures of the day bottled up inside of me so that my life appeared perfect, I wouldn’t feel so at peace right now.

As I end this long post (which I really hope you read), I want to know, WHAT IS YOUR REALITY?

And PS…. If you want to keep up with my crazy life (I’m really going to try to be a little more transparent) be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!