Tag Archives: joy

My Mama Final Exam

Another one has come and gone. Graduation of child 4 from high school took place last weekend. It was a full, emotional time and the chance to be filled with nostalgia, as my thirteen-year-old son was sure to articulate at every opportunity.

There were many finals.

Final concerts, final performances, final gatherings, final awards ceremonies.

There was also a Mama Final.

This is what I call the gathering and assembling of a memory board to display at the graduation party. I fantasize that some more organized mamas have it all together and have been working on the project gradually over the years, having only to add finishing touches here and there for the final display.

Remember those science fair projects and research reports that started with the best of intentions and ended with holding a blow dryer over a paper-mache dinosaur to get it to dry faster the night before it was due? Is it just me?

My process has been trial and error, fueled by pragmatic inspiration. Sadly, my firstborn was not the recipient of a properly-executed final exam. Her display took over most of the dining room, as school pictures of her were hung, illustrating her various awkward stages of growing up. I am grateful that she graded me on a curve for that.

I didn’t discover my method and groove until child number two graduated from high school. Because he was a pianist and giving a senior piano recital, I planned out a memory board to be displayed at the reception that followed.

Not wanting to waste my efforts, the thought struck that if I used a display board and attached decorated scrapbook pages to it, I could later remove the pages and insert them into an album. Armed with this inspiration, I chose to use green and gold, his chosen college’s colors as the backdrop colors and set to work planning out pages.

I did the same for the next graduate, a girl who planned to take a gap year. Her album was recently pulled out to remember and reminisce.

Enter the month of May. Busy and full, I felt grateful that my last day of work left me with two full weeks before everyone else was out of school. I began to focus on the task at hand.

Here is how it played out.

  • I pulled out the display board stored in my closet from the last graduate.
I started with a blank display board like the one used for school projects.

I started with a blank display board like the one used for school projects.

  • I collected the boxes of memories that I had saved over the years and began sorting, patchwork quilt style on my bed.
Choosing red and white as school colors and purple as an accent, I tied them together with tie-dye and rainbow pixel paper as a background.

Choosing red, blue, and white as school colors and purple as an accent, I pulled them together with tie-dye and rainbow pixel paper as a background.

  • I began committing by cutting and gluing pictures to the scrapbook paper as page themes emerged.
Here is an up-close look at the marching band page.

Here is an up-close look at the marching band page.

  • I set aside my perfectionistic tendencies and not good enough voices in my head and just did it. I made something.
After attaching the individual pages to the backboard, I stood the finished project on the table to view a new perspective.

After attaching the individual pages to the backboard, I stood the finished project on the table to view a new perspective.

  • The morning of the graduation brunch, it was fun to have this for people to enjoy.
We celebrated at a park under a shelter. I propped the display on a picnic table bench for all to see, using a potted succulent to hold it in place.

We celebrated at a park under a shelter. I propped the display on a picnic table bench for all to see, using a potted succulent to hold it in place. One of the other moms provided a journal for friends to write in, which was a wonderful touch!

  • Afterwards, I organized the pages into a photo album, scrapbook-style.
Afterwards, I removed all pages from the display and slid them into a scrapbook. Here is a sample page from that.

This is where I removed all pages from the display and slid them into a scrapbook. Here is a sample page from that.

There you have the process for a successful mama final exam. If this mother of eight can do it, you can, too! One of the biggest tips I have is to designate a bin for each child to collect their memories. I plan to write more on this topic soon, but that is a good place to start.

Facing Forty-Five

It’s the day after my birthday. I just finished reading and replying to all of the thoughtful facebook messages left on my wall. Yes, I realize that facebook suggests and reminds and encourages, but that is all it does. It invites. It is up to each person to choose to respond or not. There is total freedom.

A friend texts to ask, How is day number 2 of a new number treating you? For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I feel really, really hopeful about entering a new year. I really do. And I say this to those who are 42 or 36 or 29 or 24 and unsure of where they are and how they feel about life right now. I get that. So very much. Don’t give up hope!

There were many slogging along years and disappointing birthdays. There were times I didn’t think I would make it to another birthday. There were years of hard work and dry days where another birthday felt like checking another box off of the list of my life.

This birthday was different. Even my husband noticed that I seemed different. I think I was.

I worked really hard to be present and not borrow stress from the upcoming days and all that we have to do. I really tried to just enjoy the now. Having a little birthday buddy helped somewhat, but it also made for an exhausting day.

I woke early to excitement and pastries and cherries. There were gifts to open for both me and Mae and children to drive to school. My husband snapped a picture of us for facebook. My morning face isn’t getting any younger, for sure!

coffee and pastries

There was an awards ceremony for a fifth-grader, a shopping trip with my little birthday buddy, and a quick nap grabbed before lunch with my mom.

Little Mae

I was so proud of myself for knowing that I needed, and allowing myself to take, a nap!

Lunch was enjoyed at a downtown restaurant all the way to cake before heading back to pick up my girl and gear up for the afternoon car routine.

The fifth-grader and I looked at her yearbook together over a milkshake after dropping the other siblings at home. It was fun one-on-one time. When we got home, later than usual, there were flowers and a box on the porch and cards in the mailbox. My phone rang with a call from my adult son.

birthday booty

Daddy brought home dinner, so I didn’t have to cook. When Little Mae asked, What about the cake? we exchanged glances. There was no cake. There was a cake on the last day of school. There will be cake at her birthday party tomorrow. It’s okay that there was no cake. Facetime popped up on my phone with a beautiful girl on the other side. Child 3.

After we ate, the girls rode bikes outside with their dad watching, and I snuck away to my room for exactly five minutes before another wave of well-wishers arrived. That’s how the day went. Lots of exhausting celebration.

Once the children were all in bed, Steve and I walked the dog and settled onto the porch swing for a bit to catch up. All became quiet, and the day wound down, and I found myself not wanting it to end. But I also found myself eager to wake in the morning to begin another year and to embrace the new season that is coming as I face forty-five.

Thank you all for making my day so special! I felt the love.

coloring

PS Steve and I ended the day by coloring the first page of my new book together with my new pencils. Can you guess who the architect was?

Friendship Friday ~ Siblings and Sticky Nuggs

If there is no picture to document the event, no social media post about it, did it really happen?

This is the question I ask myself while thinking back to last Friday’s fun.

Firstborn and her husband drove from Richmond to take the four youngest to see Zootopia, leaving an open date night for the luvvvah and me. Excitement mounted for all, but maybe for me the most as everyone drove off in the minivan at 4:00 to get to the movie on time.

A quiet, though uneventful, late afternoon resulted in helping with the cleaning and the pizza-making before heading out to meet up with friends for a double date night starting at the new Ruby’s Arcade and ending up at Billy Jack’s.

I intentionally left my phone at home, tired of feeling tethered to it. Steve brought his along for the emergency factor, because aren’t we all living in a low-level constant state of urgent emergency?

I mean, KIDS! Who KNOWS what could happen that we might need to handle INSTANTLY. Oh yeah, and social media.

We walked downtown for a quick wine-tasting before heading over to Ruby’s. Once there, we claimed a table and began the wait for our friends and much-overdue time together. While waiting, we ran into many MORE friends, which is a 23 years in a small town perk. We were not the only ones excited about a new downtown venue.

Our friends arrived, and it was catch-up time over glasses of beer and wine. There was much laughter and good conversation. It was 9:30 when we finally walked over to Billy Jack’s, my first time inside after walking or driving past daily.

It was also my first adventure with sticky nuggs, which is my son’s favorite food group. I admit, they were tasty, and I enjoyed the frenetic dining experience. More laughter and not a few awkward moments later, we realized it was time to be heading home. Steve and I excused ourselves and began what I love about where I live ~ the walk home.

It is great to be able to have an entire date night out on foot!

Returning home, we spent time with our adult daughter catching up on life over a glass of wine before heading to bed. It was such a great time, leaving me eagerly anticipating my friend coffee date the next morning!

Friendship Friday’s are the best!

Even when you don’t have pictures to prove that they happened.

This Cup

She arrives home from school with a sunny face. I accept her offer of tea brought to my room where I have been holed-up sick today. Lemongrass green tea has just enough caffeine to take the edge off of a headache and just enough lemongrass to soothe angry intestines.

She is growing up. Tonight is her first middle school musical, and she is on stage crew. I am proud of her initiative and drive. She grasped this opportunity on her own. Her wings are growing at breakneck speed, and she eagerly strains to try them out at every opportunity.

I’m grateful for big brothers to send to the opening performance for support. I am grateful that Roo got to see the show on Tuesday as part of a school trip. I am grateful that her dad can go tomorrow night, and I can go on Saturday.

I am grateful that her face lit up when I mentioned going along for pizza afterwards with the cast for Saturday’s cast party. Her face doesn’t always light up at the idea of having me close, but sometimes it does.

I am grateful for the cute outfits her dad helped her to find earlier this week. She looks grown-up in the best of ways as she changes into dark patterned leggings and a black shirt and comes to hug me goodbye.

I love her. Today I can actually feel the love. It’s big. I am grateful.

I’m grateful for the words and music of Sara Groves and Ellie Holcomb from the song This Cup on Sara’s latest album, Floodplain.

What if my whole world falls apart?
What if my life could be different?
What if I sat right here and took you in without the fear
and loved you whole
without the flight and didn’t try to pass
this cup?

I often struggle with my cup. Struggle to take it and embrace it and delight in it. Struggle to love and be present in the hard. That’s no secret. But in this moment with tea at the right temperature and a heart full of gratefulness for a girl growing up, I lift this chipped, imperfect, coffee cup filled with tea and love.

tea

Working it Out

The Lord will work out His plans for my life-

For your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.

Do not abandon me, for you made me.

Psalm 138:8

Powerful confidence – The Lord working out His plans for my life. He made me! He gave me a job to do. He will not abandon me.

Can I thank Him for the job He has given me? Quit wrestling, questioningdemanding to know why? Turn what feels like drudgery into thankful acceptance? Even joy?

In this moment I feel hope! It seems possible that, yes, I can learn to be content. I might even feel a hint of joy.

Do I have confidence that Christ through His suffering is able to help me through mine?

Do you?

Jesus, help me to never forget.

Friendship Friday ~ Sister Love

I have been looking forward to this post for weeks. Ever since I knew that I would get a weekend with my sister around the time of the birthday that she shares so close to Grammy, I couldn’t wait to write about our time together.

It was wonderful. We laughed and cried and laughed a lot more. I LOVE being with my sister. Time together is never enough.

We had girls’ night with Mom and Grammy.544918_10152404786648483_8394842046929499919_nWe slept over, sharing secrets and dreaming of the charms to wishlist for our Pandora bracelets.10423267_738567129546657_8644179348919524612_n She was at church for a special time, as her little namesake took membership vows to join. My friend, Kathleen, will appreciate that someone came up to me Sunday and said, Don’t tell me this is one of your children, too?! IMG_2437Um, no, this is my sister.1016931_10152510985273235_7636329918823508929_n Little Roo has a tender heart just like her auntie.IMG_2303I often find her reading her Bible in the morning. So precious. It was her idea to talk to the elders and join the church. It was so special to have Dave and Burress be the elders who came to talk with her. She was a newborn when we came to Covenant.

Back to sister time . . .

It was good for my heart to have someone who hears it so clearly, who understands shopping angst and is willing to enter the dressing room and body image chaos with me, who knows me and all of my shortcomings from wayback and chooses to love me anyway.

I love my sister. I am so grateful for the fleeting moments we had together last weekend.

It’s never enough. Time together is never enough and always a gift. It was an exercise in being able to embrace the moments that we did have.

I love you, D!!!!! Can’t wait until Christmas.