Parent of a Graduate

IMG_0019[1]Once again my husband and I are wearing the title “Parents of a Graduate”.

We are not alone. You can spot a “Parent of a Graduate” anywhere – if you know the signs.

We are the ones with the shopping carts full of large quantities of single items holding three page lists doing mental math in the baking aisle.

The fifteen boxes of rice krispies and cart full of marshmallows tipped off the checker at our local grocery store. She gave me a questioning look and I said just, “She wants rice krispie treats for graduation.”

She then gave me a look of pity that said simply, “Ah, a graduation. I feel your pain.”

We parents of graduates understand the stress and joy of a spring with a commencement and Open House. We don’t even even need words.

As we pushed our cart full of purple Hawaiian punch and even more marshmallows through Wal-Mart, we caught the attention of another couple with a cart full of large quantities of a single item and a three page list.

Again, the questioning look.

My quick answer, “Rice krispie treats for graduation.”

She responds, “Twins.”

I sympathize, “Twice the good bye – but only one party.”

Our eyes meet as we wish each other good luck and we leave them in the chip aisle doing mental math with glazed looks as we went in search of large bags of M & M’s and an industrial size bottle of barbecue sauce.

My graduation table is full now of plates and cups and napkins. Soon the smoked turkey will all be roasted and in crock pots, the buns will be made and the rice krispie treats ready to serve.

The house will be clean and the lawn will be mowed and there will be no more busy work to distract us from the reality that is coming.

That it’s our child in that cap and gown.

It’s our baby that’s graduating.

And then the tears will fall.

Yes, I’m a parent of a graduate.

 

 

Staff Photographer

When Angel Girl graduates next month, I will not only lose my baby girl (not gonna think about that – sniff, sniff), I will also lose my photographer.

Since she got her first point and shoot on her 11th birthday, she has been taking pictures.

Her first Nikon made her my official staff photographer.

253954_104202246340174_8270041_nIt seems like yesterday.

But actually it was 5 years and a new camera ago.

I knew this was coming, but it’s getting more real every day as school and work take more of her time.

She gifted me her first Nikon in an effort to make me face the facts – I have to learn to take my own pictures.

The first two weeks I just looked at it.

We don’t want to rush things you know!

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Finally the third week I picked it up – and didn’t break out in hives. This is a good thing.

It took at least another week to get up the courage to ask Angel Girl to show me what to do.

Once I released my death grip on the camera, my first lesson went well.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks; I’m just hoping they’re wrong.

Or that Angel Girl never leaves.

Or maybe both.

 

The Black Shirt

DSC_0007Teen Pact is just a few days away and Buddy and I have working on packing him up.

As we went through his dress clothes for the days at the Capitol, we noticed something.

His black dress shirt was missing.

He looked in his closet.

No shirt.

I looked in his closet.

No shirt.

This is the shirt he wears with his cool green plaid bow tie.

This leaves him one shirt short for the week. He would have to wear one shirt twice. Oh dear. If you have a 15 year old son – you know this is a crisis.

He asks if it might gotten in with dad’s clothes. I didn’t think so – but checked through them thoroughly to be sure.

No shirt.

I even went through the seasonal clothes in the attic.

No shirt.

I report my findings at lunch.

“Maybe it’s stuffed between my bass drum and the bed.”

Okkkayyyy…

A search there revealed many interesting items – but no black shirt.

I found it this morning.

You’ll never guess where.

It was in his closet.

It had fallen off the hanger and was on the floor, buried under his Chewbacca suit, a ripped backpack, a wrench set, a bucket of legos, computer parts and a sleeping bag.

No wonder we missed it the first time – we were looking for a black shirt in a black hole.

I guess we’ll be doing a deep cleaning soon….

 

 

 

 

Love and Laughter

 

It’s been an incredibly fun month. Jan and I have been helping the youth group at church plan and prepare a special Valentine’s Banquet for the entire congregation.

And it happened last night.

(Even though we missed Valentine’s Day by a few weeks – we still hit the month of February – and that’s close enough for this year!)

These kids amazed me.

Absolutely amazed me.

Together we planned a sit down meal for 100 that they cooked and served and cleaned up.

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You haven’t lived until you help a group of teenagers make Oreo Ice Cream dessert and cheesy potato casserole in a tiny church kitchen!

Then they created an evening of entertainment full of laughter, inside jokes, and old-fashioned fun.

Every rehearsal left me gasping for air because I was laughing so hard.

At our last dress rehearsal I was laying down on the chairs crying from laughter, unable to speak.

All month I watched these kids take on responsibility and carry through – finding costumes and props, working out the skits, planning and buying decorations, learning lines.

And yesterday I was privileged to watch those kids serve.

 

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They moved chairs, set up tables, decorated, practiced – all with great attitudes and a lot of humor.

When the guests arrived, those kids hustled to get them their food and drinks.

When the last guest had finished eating – they moved tables, set up chairs and prepared for the entertainment.

And then they performed like never before.

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I sat in the back of the darkened church, holding Jan’s hand and laughing as if I had never seen these crazy skits before.

And crying tears of joy.

It was good we called it a Valentine Banquet because my heart was incredibly full.

I love those kids.

 

 

Daddy Mechanic

IMG_3282Once our kiddos started leaving the nest in their own vehicles, we thought there would be fewer cars for us to keep running.

Silly us.

Now, my husband not only keeps them running – he does it from a distance.

In the last few months he has fielded a bevy of interesting phone calls and texts.

“Hey Dad – my truck is making funny noises.”

“Should there be a puddle of pink stuff under my car?”

“My tailgate is falling off!”

“Why don’t I have heat?”

“My brakes went out on the way home.”

“The car died.”

And every time he has patiently listened to symptoms, asked critical questions, and given advice.

He has replaced water pumps,  fixed tailgates, changed numerous tires, driven a truck with no brakes to the mechanic and calmed a panicked daughter – more than once.

His bedside reading shelf now holds the manuals for each of their vehicles.

As he was studying one of those manuals the other night, I commented, “It’s almost a full time job keeping those cars running.”

He just smiled and said, “But at least they need me.”

Smart man.

 

The Force was with Them

What could be more exciting than watching the much anticipated new Star Wars movie over Christmas break?

Unless it was watching it with cousins.

 

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Especially cousins in costumes.

A whole slew of cousins in epic costumes!
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Everything from Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker to R2-D2.

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Chewbacca and some Ewoks.

886368_10205378770646287_509271128307715090_oAnd Porkins and Biggs – two X-wing fighter pilots, just to name a few!

 

This wasn’t just a movie viewing – it was an epic event!

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And yes – the force was with them!

Fifteen

Turning fifteen on the fifteenth in 2015 calls for a special celebration.

How about a Golden Celebration that lasts all weekend!

A celebration that begins on Friday night with a surprise visit from his sister.

And continues on Saturday with his good friend spending the night.

After hiking, exploring and riding the minibike, they turned an old couch into a trebuchet and shot hedge balls into the cow pasture until dark.

12272995_929885637105160_569763478_nIt was a good day.

But the celebration wasn’t over.

Oh no – it was just beginning.

The next day he was surprised speechless by several cousins who drove down from the city to help him celebrate.

12243739_929885570438500_8757045_nAnd celebrate we did.

Laughter, cupcakes, and a full-size Chewbacca costume.

I kid you not.

It was an epic party.

And as I popped more popcorn and replenished the crescent rolls, Grandma did a quick headcount.

Would you believe he had exactly 15 guests on his 15th birthday on the 15th in 2015?!

BOOM! Nailed that one!

Happy birthday, Buddy!

Sometimes There are No Words

Some days just leave you speechless.

Sunday was one of those days.

We went to church in two cars and immediately after our potluck lunch, Jan and I took Buddy to Omaha to see Andrew Peterson in concert.

It was an early birthday gift for him – and a real treat for Jan and I!

We had front row seats – literally 10 feet away from the musicians.

IMG_3041We could see every emotion in their face as we heard it in their voice.

The pain, the laughter, the hope.

IMG_3037The joy as he brought his daughter on stage to sing with him.

The pride as he introduced his son on the drum set.

It was so incredible, the emotions so real, the songs so meaningful.

There are no words to describe it.

No words.

It was most definitely a highlight of the year.

But meanwhile – back at home – things weren’t going as well.

Remember the two cars we took to church? Angel Girl took the second one home after the potluck.

And this happened.

12181921_409306075929370_178079365_nShe hit some loose gravel and went in the ditch – flipping the vehicle.

Thankfully she was able to get out of her seat belt, open the passenger door, climb out  and walk three miles home.

She was unhurt. Not a scratch.

There are no words.

Absolutely no words for how a parent feels when they see their child’s car upside in the ditch like that.

Knowing that she was inside.

We’ve spent the last 24 hours dealing with the sheriff’s office, the tow truck, and the salvage yard.

All the while so very, very thankful.

Sometimes there are no words.

Boys and Their Toys

Jan borrowed the neighbor’s trencher on Saturday.

There’s nothing like a new toy to brighten up a weekend and get teenage boys excited, especially one that has an engine and digs cool holes!

My boys were grinning from ear to ear in anticipation as they unloaded the trencher from the trailer and studied it carefully.

Imagine the excitement the first time the engine turned over and started!

IMG_2968They were having such a great time digging the trenches for the wiring in the two outbuildings that I was afraid they might get carried away and I would have trenches all over the yard.

Not to worry.

It seems that every trench they dug had to be filled in by hand.

As in manual labor.

Party over.

Time to find a tractor or a riding mower….

Fall Adventures

Our suitcases have gotten a work-out the past month.

With my niece’s wedding and our annual family reunion almost back to back – I didn’t even get the suitcases back in the attic before we needed them again.

As soon as we got back from the reunion – Angel Girl had just enough time to wash her clothes and repack them before leaving on an epic adventure with three cousins.

11999053_903684599725264_6864385375566096415_nTo Disney World.

Yes. My baby girl flew on an airplane and is spending a week exploring the Magic Kingdom far, far away.

And she’s having a wonderful time.

I do get a daily text.

“Magic Kingdom, lots of rides!”

“We’re in line to meet Anna and Elsa!”

“Epcot!”

Meanwhile – back at the farm – we were busy getting Buddy packed up for his week in South Dakota at Teen Pact Survival.

While his sister is hobnobbing with Mickey and Goofy, he will be in the Black Hills dressed in camo, sleeping in a sleeping bag and learning survival skills.

And loving it.

IMG_2931He obviously didn’t pack lightly.

But I’m just thankful he had something to pack!

Would you believe that he outgrew almost all of his jeans over the summer? Talk about a growth spurt!

So yes, I am that mother who ran to town the day before he left frantically buying her son new socks, undies, and jeans. 🙂

And now, with my children in different parts of the country – I am that mother with a very quiet house – temporarily, at least.

Am I feeling left out on this adventure thing? Oh no.

I didn’t put my suitcase away yet either.

Jan and I have a 25th anniversary trip in the works.

Our turn is coming – soon! And my suitcase is ready and waiting!

But for you – I’m enjoying the quiet – because I know it won’t last long!