Category Archives: Senior Year

On the Precipice

There are times in your life when you realize, you are at a junction, a turning point. When life is about to change in big and irreversible ways. There is a certain sense that washes over you and makes you take pause and think deeply.

The first time I remember this happening was when I got engaged. I was so excited, and yet realized life would never be the same. It was a good change and I was most definitely happy. But the truth was, life would change. That in between time of anticipation is rather daunting.

The same thing happened as we neared the end of our first pregnancy. And our second. And our third. Life was about to change drastically. All joyous and happy changes, but yet a touch of mourning for the life that you are leaving behind. The freedom you had before children giving way to the joy of watching all their firsts. Wondering how you could possibly love another child as much as you do the first. (It is possible!) Never regret, but reflection, and a bit of sadness.

Like the time between getting a contract on a house and closing. The in between can be brutal. The anticipation of what’s to come, the hint of second guessing choices, the excitement of the change.

Then there is taking the last kid to college. All the same emotions, the fears, the anticipation, the reminiscing, the hope, the guilt, the confidence. As one of my favorite authors, Jen Hatmaker would say, “we have all the feels here” and then some. I find it interesting that an event can be so contradictory, so emotion filled. But it seems to be a theme in life and growth.

There is much to look forward to – I have started my Empty Nest Year 1 Bucket List. I can’t wait to do all the things on that list. (I might even add -Get back to blogging – to that list!) Things we have put off doing for years or just weren’t an option when the kids were home. We have plans to attend lots of College marching band performances (aka football games). We have a trip planned and are working on a girls weekend, and couples weekend away with friends. It is exciting and freeing and going to be so much fun! We’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here. We did our parenting job and so far it appears we did a decent job. (The proof of good parenting is not immediate- it’s really a bit of a crap shoot. You do what you think is right and years later get glimpses of what worked and what missed the mark or was completely forgotten.) This is our time. Our chance to remember who we were as a couple. Way back in the day. And figure out who we are together today, sans kids. It is good!

And yet there is the hint of melancholy, the tear just about to fall. It has been 22 years since we have lived alone together. By far, most of our adult lives we have had these men in our home. We loved the noise, the chaos, the tension and laughter. We were good as a family, together, every day. I’m going to miss those interactions. I will miss hearing about their day, knowing their schedules and daily activities. Hearing about who they are spending their days with. It is right and good. They are supposed to leave home. I get that. They will be fine. We will be fine. I will be fine. But this is another one of those moments when I stand on the precipice of change. Change I asked for (‘cause who wants their kids to live at home forever?!), but change none the less.

Tomorrow will be a sad day. And a happy day. I will cry. Maybe a lot. And I will laugh, definitely  a lot. I think it is the right thing to do to honor all those feelings. To embrace the sadness and let the tears roll. To laugh together and make our own plans to fill the free time we are about to have. And hey, we have kittens so that’s almost the same, right?

Post Script: After I wrote this, I got to thinking about when Oldest Son left for college. I remember sobbing as I wrote. It was so hard. I went back and read the post. Made me tear up again and laugh too. Second Son’s departure was indeed as painful or more so than Oldest. I just couldn’t write during that time. I can tell you in a couple of days if Youngest Son’s truly was easier or not.
What I hadn’t even contemplated when writing that post, was having Oldest Son get married! A whole other range of emotions! (And, yes, I like her a lot:)!)
Yes, I deserve some kind of grace for having this much change in less than a month! And wine. I deserve wine!


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Filed under Family, Goals, Intention, Legacy, mom, Parenting, Senior Year

Would It Be OK?

Would it be ok if I just take a moment to pause? Would anyone mind if I stopped this crazy spinning life for just a few minutes, or maybe a few hours?
You see this little man is graduating high school very soon and I’m not ready for that. I don’t mean the food or the decorations or the celebration.
My little man
I mean my heart.
I think I just need a moment, just a little more time to talk with that sweet boy. To listen to a few more of his ideas.
It went so very fast!
I was so busy. There was so much to do each day. Diapers to change, laundry to be done, a job to go to, just so much that had to get done. I tried to be present in the moment. But the moments went so fast.
It seems just the other day he was the shy little guy who hid behind me refusing to talk to anyone but his dad and me. The little blond with that infectious smile who could melt my heart at the bat of an eye.
Just that quickly he’s graduating high school and I’m not sure I’m ready.
I want to hold him on my lap and listen to him telling me about his day. Watch him create things out of recycle bin treasures.
Suddenly he’s taller than me. Ready to leave home on a summer adventure. And I’m not ready.
So would it be ok, if we just stopped for a minute or an hour?
Maybe we could all have an extra moment to hold our babies tight. To breathe in their baby scent and squeeze those little boy cheeks. To look deep into those blueberry eyes and tell them we love them soooooooo much!
Just for another minute.

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Filed under Parenting, Senior Year

Another Senior Year Commences

It’s hard to believe. Middle Son is a high school senior. Today he begins his last year of high school.

I thought it would be easier the second time around. Knowing what to expect, what’s in store for me.

I think it’s just like having babies though. I was sure the second delivery would be half the length of the first – that’s what they tell you.

{Don’t believe that! It’s dangerous. When you pass the half way point, labor becomes much harder. Like it’s all added work you weren’t expecting! You were supposed to be done by now. This isn’t fair!}

Senior year round two shouldn’t be like that…should it? I’ve been through this before. I know the ropes, I’ve learned a thing or two. I can anticipate and sidestep some of the mistakes I made the first time around.

But the part of senior year that is so hard is the anticipation. Knowing that at the end of all this celebrating, all the parties, final hurrah’s, and recognition of accomplishments lies a separation. One that I have worked toward, planned for and frankly dreamed about. It really is the whole goal of raising children; that they become thinking, serving, faith filled adults who make a life for themselves outside of Mom and Dad. Parenting is all about working yourself out of a job. Or maybe into a new role. Working toward the time when you are a sounding board, a source of solicited advice, and maybe even a friend.

I guess thinking that can all happen without lots of heart ache, and growing pains is naive. Even if I have been through it once before. This kid is different. He’s unique just like our relationship. This journey will look different from the last senior year. And different from the one yet to come. It will be uniquely Middle Son.

I can’t wait for the journey, and the tears and the celebrations.

Love this kid so much and am so very excited to see where he takes his life!

Carter 16


Filed under Parenting, Senior Year

Graduation Decorating Highlights

Most of the graduation festivities are over (not all!) and I’ve had a little time to decompress. I thought this would be a good time to share some of the creative things we did. I really made a concerted effort to rein in all the ideas I had gathered through the years and spied on Pinterest. There are so many ideas out there – really great ideas! Things I would love to do. But a) I work full-time and have a limited amount of time to create, b) I have boys who aren’t into frills, and c) its high school graduation, not a wedding or coronation of the queen! I’m really happy with the way things went. I think it was successful for several reasons.

  1. I started early.  Of course, I was working off of a spreadsheet shared by a friend. I started looking at this last August thinking about what elements we wanted to include. What was important to me and to Oldest Son. Based on this list, I began tackling pieces right away. I ordered a book of his senior pictures last fall when I had a coupon. I order poster prints months before graduation. Those pieces really helped lessen the stress as graduation got closer.
  2. I picked the most impactful ideas. Like I said, there are so many excellent ideas out there that you really have to pick and choose. If I had a girl, it might have been a different story, but having boys it was easy to eliminate some ideas right away. I tried to focus in on things that would be simple and have a big impact. And of course, things that could be tweaked and used again in a couple of years:).
  3. I let go of needing to have everything and have it be perfect. It became very easy to remember that this was really about Oldest Son and acknowledging this milestone in his life. It wasn’t about me or my home. Keeping that in mind helped a lot. What would help mark this milestone for him?
  4. I asked for help. I asked friends to make food, asked my niece to do the slide show, Mom to help with bunting, etc. I know how much I enjoy helping others with an event like this and I chose to give my friends that opportunity too. (I hope they saw it that way anyway:)!) It lightened my load and let others feel a part of the day.

They seem like simple enough ideas, but for a somewhat controlling, perfectionist who has been known to take on way more than she can accomplish it was a challenge.

Now for some eye candy, here are a few of the ideas we implemented.

Orange snacks – the school colors are orange and black and this is what Oldest Son chose for his reception as well. So we filled containers with orange snacks – circus peanuts, candy corn, cheese popcorn, cheese crackers, etc. It was fun, colorful and easy to do. (Pardon the picture, it doesn’t do justice and makes me realize I really should have ironed that tablecloth, but it’s what I have:).)

Bunting – I’ve seen this all over blogland and love it! To keep it from getting too girly, I went with lots of black. I even found fabric with music on it -which is totally him. It’s super simple to make and I got a lot of satisfaction from tearing the fabric:). And bonus – maybe I can use it to decorate for Halloween too!

Wreath – for the front door. I wanted something to welcome people and have seen fabric wrapped wreathes. I took this idea and translated it to graduation. The letters are wooden letters I painted to give it some punch. The fabrics are left from the bunting. Super easy and a great touch of color.

Collage posters – I created these collages in Picasa then ordered poster prints from Shutterfly. They were super simple to do and made a great impact. Plus, I didn’t have the pressure to finish his scrapbook! (See, I really am letting go!)


Photo guest book – I did this through Shutterfly as well – with a coupon. I pulled together some of our favorite pictures from different aspects of his life – band, scouts, family, youth group, etc. Then we put out colorful sharpies and let people sign the book. An easy, fun way to mark who attended.


Mantle – I was excited to decorate my new mantel for the occasion too! I chose to include some things I plan on keeping up there as well as some things just for graduation. I like the way it turned out.

So there you have it. The highlights of our graduation decorating. It was fun, simple and easy to manage. Just what I needed!

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Filed under Creativity, Decor, Senior Year

We Survived Graduation!

We did it! I mean he did it! Actually, we all survived. We made it through graduation and all the festivities that ensued. And more importantly, or maybe the question you’ve all been thinking, I survived my Oldest Sons graduation without a meltdown. If you are new to my blog, please know, I’m not a crazy lady. I’m just a pretty emotional Mama. I try to live in the moment and savor each milestone, which sometimes leads to tears of joy, sadness, or frustration. But mostly joy!

Oldest Son’s graduation was a week ago yesterday and a few tears were shed. But the entire week was a joy! It was such a pleasure to watch him participate in all the celebrations. Watching him visit with adults wishing him well, planning a party with his friends, and fitting in time to go to all the celebrations made me proud.

We had a beautiful night for graduation! It was held outside in the football stadium- a relief since tickets are limited if weather forces the ceremony inside.

The ceremony was nicely done – kudos to the administration!

His name was even pronounced correctly! Not a small feat with our last name:).

One set of grandparents were able to join our family at the ceremony. My parents came the weekend before and we put them to work! More on that later. Between that and the amount of walking required, they were both exhausted by the end of the evening. But we’re so glad they could be there!

As we sat in the stands waiting for the ceremony to start, I turned to Hubby and asked, “How did we get here?”

It really did go by in the blink of an eye. It seems such a short time ago we moved to Kansas and were trying to figure out where he would go to elementary school. I remember thinking that was a long ways off. And now, here we are. Parents of a high school graduate! Soon to be parents of a college student. I feel like someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and say – excuse me, you are not qualified for this role. And I will have to say, “I KNOW!”

I guess that is how it always is as parents. You do the best you can, with the information you have. And quite often that information feels very inadequate. I think it’s a miracle really that so many kids turn out to be such great young adults! I know we are beyond proud of the man Oldest Son has become. He continues to amaze us with his integrity, his kindness and his generous spirit. I really can’t wait to see where he goes and who he becomes! Great things are ahead for him.

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Filed under School, Senior Year


A very long time ago, when he was probably 8 years old or maybe a little younger, Oldest Son was laying on the floor in the kitchen with his legs up against the cabinets. He was looking out the window and in the most nonchalant voice told me, “When I grow up I’m going to be  a squirrel.”

It made me giggle. I kind of didn’t want to tell him he couldn’t be a squirrel. I mean, why crush a child’s dreams. What could it hurt?

Except if he were to go to school and tell kids he wanted to be  a squirrel…well that could be awkward.

Fast forward to last week. It was Thursday morning and Oldest Son would be graduating from high school that evening. I looked out the kitchen window as I’ve done hundreds of times. But on this morning I saw something that made me grab my camera.

There was the cutest little squirrel. And it stood there so patiently waiting for me to get my camera and capture the shot. It was almost as though it was posing for me.

Maybe it was a reminder for me of who that little boy was. Of the dreams he had of growing up. Maybe that squirrel was there to give me a moment of pause and reflection on how far he has come. Being my first to graduate I was feeling a little sentimental. Could it be a divine message to be present in the moment and enjoy the events of the day?



It was just a squirrel in the backyard.

But that’s not nearly as deep!


Filed under Goals, Senior Year

In the Moment

In the midst of life being so chaotic I received a good reminder yesterday. And of course it came from Facebook. I posted this:

“Can it be June please? I really need it to be…

It came from a place of total overwhelm and a feeling that there is no way I can accomplish all that needs to be done in the next 6 weeks. I made the mistake of looking at the calandar in macro instead of micro and WOW! But I was reminded by a friend (several actually!) that these next 6 weeks are way too important to wish away.

“Joy:  no no no Judy! Remember these lines from a Billy Joel song, “This is the time to remember, ’cause it will not last forever. These are the days to hold onto, ’cause we won’t although we’ll want to. This is the time, but time is gonna change…” SAVOR April and May”

She’s so right! This time is going to be over in a flash and I don’t want to look back with regret. Isn’t it easy to do that? So often big life events come with tremendous amounts of stress. Much of it from our expectations of ourselves. We have a lot of years to think about  these milestone events and build them in our minds. It makes reality a challenge.

But I think there is a way to experience it with our sanity in tact.

  1. Live in the Moment – It’s so cliche, but true. When I look at my calendar for 6 weeks at a time I get overwhelmed. So my goal is to only look long-term once a week. Take a macro look once and then live in the micro. Its easier to enjoy the moments when you keep your focus on today.
  2. Let go of the Ideal – Reality is so different from what we can imagine. Our minds are powerful things. The mind can create in fractions of a second, things that will take every ounce of time and energy you have to implement. It’s great to dream, imagine, brainstorm but you have to bring it home to what’s reasonable.
  3. Keep it Simple – There’s no award for the most elaborate! At least I haven’t seen one and ignorance is bliss. Stick to the basics, be true to your core, and keep it simple. You’ll thank yourself later.
  4. Laugh – Take every opportunity to laugh. It reduces stress, works your stomach muscles and most definitely lifts your spirits. Find something each day to laugh about. Maybe it’s being asked point blank a question you don’t want to answer or being elected to a position you didn’t know you were nominated for, whatever the case just laugh! No one else has to understand why (let them think you’re a little bit insane) or even find it funny. Just let your funny bone get the best of you and laugh like a crazy person.

That’s my plan for the next 6 weeks. I think it’s a good plan, but like any, implementing it will take discipline and persistance.

And a wee bit’o’the crazies! That I can do!

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Filed under Advice, Goals, Senior Year