this is the sweet face of great relief

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“I feel like a huge burden that I’ve had since I was a child was just lifted off of me.”  

 

Here are the memories she doesn’t want to forget about learning to drive:

That time when her Dad had her drive around and around and around an empty parking lot at school backwards, this way and that way until she cried, and then he had her do it more.

The time she and I were going to the plant store and I didn’t tell her how long it was going to take to get there and she drove for an hour.

When she first really drove it was with her older brother Jacob and it was raining but she didn’t know how to turn on the wipers and when she did turn them on they went so fast she got nervous and asked Jacob for help.

She went to the H.S. to practice backing into parking spots and no one was there so her Dad got out of the car and walked laps while she practiced parking which was exactly what she needed…to figure it out on her own.

She had two college friends (April and Ryan) and Caleb and Kylee praying for her before her test this morning.

She and Caleb talked on the phone and went over traffic rules the morning of her test.  And he reminded her to turn on her lights and put on the emergency brake which were the two things she did wrong on her practice test last weekend.

To help them with their nerves, they had a movie going in the waiting room for the students about to test, and a box of munchkins for them to snack on, but she didn’t want to eat anything or watch anything …. but she did eat a munchkin because she felt she would be rude if she didn’t.  The movie playing was “Sing” and she was annoyed because she wanted to concentrate on her test but with the movie playing she started getting interested and watched it.

The songs she sang to herself while she waited for her test driver were, “Give me Oil in my Lamp” and “I love You, Lord”.

The man riding along to test was very nice; an elderly grandfather type.

She didn’t think she would do well, she didn’t think she would pass.

She and her dear friend Kylee both took their test on the same day and passed.  And when she walked in to the office to hand her paper sheet to the lady for her paper license the lady said, “Look at you, you little show off,”  because she got nothing marked wrong.

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She walked over to the garden center after her test to find me.

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sarah’s hair

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Everyone knows that one of the many job descriptions of “MOM” is “HAIR STYLIST” whether she wants to be or not, it’s inevitable.

As I look through the recent photos I have taken with my phone I see a theme developing.  It all started on Monday night when my young daughter/hair client came to me with a case of the grumps AND tangles.

“Get a brush, Sarah, and I’ll brush your hair nice and soft,” I said.

I brushed and brushed and she just loved it.  It was very relaxing to sit and have a super wonderful mom hair stylist gently brush her long hair.

I admired how pretty it was, clean and sweet smelling, with little waves and a variety of color, everything from blond to dark brown.

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I took a picture to show her how long it was getting.

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I held up the blondest piece and the brownest piece and took another photo.  I even called Rich over to look, “Rich, look how pretty Sarah’s hair is.”

We remember when she was a toddler and she was practically bald, it took years for her to get any length to speak of.  In fact, her siblings called her “Baldo” now and then.

Sarah went to bed that night feeling much better.

The next evening after school she walked over to me and raved,  “Moooooooom, Ariana came to school today with bluuuuuuuuuue hairrrrrrrrrrr.”  Sarah had been quite impressed by it.  I knew what was coming….sure enough, I found her five minutes later, digging through the crayons looking for her hair chalk that we bought a couple years ago.  “I found it!  Can you put blue and pink in my hair before school tomorrow?”

“Only if you pay me in a five minute hug, a happy smile, and a kiss on the cheek.”

(A good hair stylist ALWAYS prices her services accordingly.)

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Naturally I had to take a photo to show my youngest client her hair and to make sure it was just what she desired.  I only get paid if it’s done right.  “It needs a little more blue, please.”  I colored a few more streaks and off to school she went.

When she came back home, I noticed the pony tail was out and her hair was all over the place again.  She and her brothers grabbed a snack and then ran next door to play with the neighbors.

About 45 minutes later, the Dad next door came to the house with Caleb by his side and Sarah walking a few steps behind looking distressed, with her hand on her head.  They stopped to explain what had happened but Sarah kept going into the bathroom.  I noticed a long piece of hair in Brian’s hand.  “I was in the house when the boys came running to tell me that Sarah needed help. She was on the swing and her hair was caught in the chain.  I got her all untangled but……yeah, she has a little bald spot on the top of her head now.”  

Brian and Caleb left to go back next door and I reminded Caleb to come home in 10 minutes for dinner…………

Then I turned to go check on Sarah’s hair.  I may or may not have been laughing.  I encouraged her that it really wasn’t that bad and I knew just how to fix it so no one would know.   Soon she was happily playing on the kindle with her hair brushed back into a pony tail, with lots and lots of hair spray in front.

(As this was a true need, I didn’t request payment.)

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Here is a photo of Sarah’s bald spot before school this morning, right before her most talented hair stylist worked on it.

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And here is a photo of her happy smile afterwards; priceless.

interesting things for an original girl

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“…use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.  For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence:  

Love others as you love yourself.”  Galations 5

*****

I went and got my nails painted dark bright pink today.  They are soooooo pretty!

House is clean and Caleb should be home soon and then an hour later the little kids will be home and then. . . . .David has his very first soccer game!  So exciting.

I want to post the photos we took when we took Grace to college.  It’s been a few weeks now and yes it is strange to not have her presence in the home. . . .we miss her.  But those feelings of “missing” are balanced nicely with feelings of “so proud of you.”

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We drove the truck as she had lots of stuff.   She arrived before her roommate did and we were greeted by a nice group of people who promptly carried her things inside for us.

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This cozy communal living room is just outside her dorm room.  I imagine lots of fun will be had here all school year long.

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In no time at all, she had her things put just where she wanted them.

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So many times she has stood in the gap for us as big sister/babysitter when necessary, and they have a close bond.  They know she loves them.

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I say this all the time to the kids only I say it in modern English:

“You’re going to be fine.”

I feel that I must try the medieval way next time.

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I told her if she ever feels lonely to just go to the library and….. “all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.”  After all, her mother has been dragging her to libraries her entire life.

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Meet the roommate!

Bless them.

*****

The college is close to where Rich and I grew up, so we have some connections to some of the people.  When I was a little girl, my young parents spent a lot of time with an older couple from church.  Our families at that time became very close and they had an older, teenage son who was such fun, my brother and I adored him.

Well, all of these years later, through our FB connections, we found out that our kids would be attending college together.  Literally, as I was moving in Grace, I went on Facebook and “randomly” discovered that Mike was moving in his son Caleb at the same time.  So of course we had to meet up later!

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*******

Rich spent the entire next morning with Grace continuing to help her out with last minute things like what to do with her iPhone that she dropped and smashed right in the midst of moving in.

And then we had to say goodbye for a little while.  (Although we are always only a text away.)

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One last family photo in the parking lot of the school.  Makes me laugh out loud.  I am being motherly and “helping” Caleb get in the photo.

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“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.  That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse.  We have far more interesting things to do with our lives.  Each of us is an original.

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Grace, you’re an original!  And I love you.

little graduation party

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Grace graduated from HS a few weeks ago and we had a “plan B” celebration for her on Saturday.

We are just thankful things worked out and we even got to HAVE any kind of gathering at all.   Ya know, life.  It’s messy beautiful; surprising, chaotic, and crazy.  A healthy sense of humor is the best thing to have when living life and raising children………

Laughter is carbonated holiness. -Anne Lammott

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My brother Isaac took most of the pictures.

The weather was very nice, we had expected a day of thunder storms (so we set up the food tables in the house) but nothing eventful happened, only some lovely dark clouds at times and a nice downpour in the evening.

Grace had a wonderful time.  In fact, we didn’t see much of her or the rest of the teens.

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My brother Nathan and his wife Melissa were HUGE helpers!!  They stayed here with us for two nights with Makayla and Greg and we very much enjoyed our visit with them.

My bestie Aunt Colleen and her girls also came out from NY —thank you!!   Also Mom and Dad, my sister Amanda with her kids, and Isaac & Cassandra.

This was our third graduate in three years.  David is a freshman this year so it will be a few years until the next graduate.

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They had a long walk in the rain while the rest of us sat on the porch, relaxing and visiting.

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Grace with her cake, 5 cousins, and 4 friends from school.  They’re all so pretty with those bright smiles.

It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh
from the bottom of your heart. 
-Martin Luther King Jr.

grace (graduation)

It was about a week ago now that I met a homeschooling family at one of my son’s baseball games.  The mom and I had a nice visit together as we watched the boys play and at one point Grace came walking by with her friend.  I stopped her and introduced her to my new acquaintance.  “Oh, I used to be homeschooled,” Grace offered excitedly, “I loved it.  I never wanted to go to public school but mom made me.”

Part of me cringed to hear these honest words.  However, after last night, watching Grace with her class and teachers, seeing her bright smile, how mature she was, how capable, her light shining bright, it all became clear to me.

She bloomed where she was planted.

She took a difficult change in her life and made the best of it.

She had ups and downs, more downs, a few more ups, on and on for the six years she was in school, rather like a roller coaster.

She had fun, tears, anxiety, sleepless nights, songs, dance, silence, wide eyed wonder, false friendship, true friendship, romance, responsibility, headaches, dizziness, academics, good grades, good books, teachers who were kindred spirits, teachers who were her second mothers, and through it all…….she had her faith in an unchanging dependable Father God keeping her steady.

She did it.  Rich and I could not be prouder of our daughter.

*******

A month or so ago I was feeling a little desperate about Grace leaving home so soon and mentioned, half teasing, that she might like to take a year off from college and just stay at home with us (me).  After all, she did start school when she was four and was younger than a few of the juniors this year.  “We would have so much fun, Grace!”  to which she replied (and I quote because I wrote it down):

“I know we would but. . . .we have all summer.  And I need to move on with my life.”

I just had to laugh with respect, happy to have a child this steady and focused on her goals.  I know how much she adores her siblings and depends on her parents.  The relationships within the family circle couldn’t be better, which is to say, perhaps this is the very reason why she is confident in moving on; her needs are met so she is not needy or clingy.  Plus it’s just her personality in general.  She’s forward-moving.

She’ll be attending Christian college in the fall about 5 hours from home (not too far), easy enough to get her home for the holidays.  I know she will have the time of her life there.

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For our small town, the class of 2017 was rather large and cars parked all over the the place outside in the parking lots AND out of the parking lots.  I drove up over the curb with my big mama vehicle and parked in the lawn!  Saving seats was a hostile experience!  But we all got squeezed in and you can see my view from the middle of the room. . . . . .thank the Lord once we sat down I found that I could see Grace if I leaned over to the right and then forward in my seat.

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There she is!

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Recognized with the other scholarship and honers students.

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waiting in line for her diploma

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two hours after walking in……the class left the gym to loud & happy music.

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(dear girl; Emily–our neighbor and also Ethan’s girlfriend’s sister…kids rode the bus together for years)

and now for the fun photos:

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With gratitude to the teacher who understands that some families NEED more tickets, Grace’s siblings were able to attend this year’s graduation ceremony.  (all 9)  Her two big brothers visited the old HS stomping grounds and saw some of their teachers and friends.  (I say “old” but Ethan just graduated a year ago, and Jacob the year before that).

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After getting through the crowd and out of the gym, we found our girl.

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Oldest girl with youngest girl; oldest boy with youngest boy.

 

 

friends

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adoring little sister

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One of “our other kids” Zak, also graduated.  He is a close friend of the family.

My husband coached him in wrestling.

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brother Dave

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W E N D Y ! ! ! !

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I had left my purse unguarded in the hall so Jacob collected it for me.  Brittany is another dear friend of the family and graduated with Grace.

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Caleb and Seth got through the night thanks to the kindle and…..cheese.  🙂

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Ethan with his girl.

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My daughter, my friend.

Love you, Grace…

How hard the battle goes, the day, how long;
Faint not, fight on! Tomorrow comes the song. ~Maltbie Babcock

 

 

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grace (class night)

The washer and dryer are going, and outside skies are clearing up after being washed clean from a night of rainfall.

A mason jar of wild flowers, freshly picked, sits on the kitchen island.

A collection of baseballs over there on the end table from a now-ended season of little league.

Parker the dog is sleeping, with his head resting against my leg.

I scrubbed something disgusting off the porch this morning.

Sarah’s stuffed owl on the coffee table.

A stack of stuff emptied from someone’s backpack.

shorts, a tank top, freshly washed hair, and comfy birkenstocks on my feet

*****

Today is the last day of school.

Last days are a tad heart-wrenching, aren’t they?

(I swear they each grew a foot this year.)

Thankfully, “last days”……. are followed by “first days”.

*****

Grace’s HS graduation is tonight.

Rich and I were away for five days, we returned last night just in time to go to the school for a fun “Class Night” put on by the Seniors, for the Seniors.  Grace looked so pretty marching into the auditorium with the rest of the students.  All the moms and dads looked and looked until their eyes rested on their own dear child. . . . . . . .suddenly on the threshold of completing all those years of school.  We couldn’t help but take the time to remember the years leading up to this day, as they grew from little babies all the way up to the 17 and 18 year olds that they are now.  Lots of love was in the room.

After a 30 minute slideshow, the kids put on one last talent show up there on the stage.

I sat between Jacob and Ethan and it was fun, but today, right now, as I watch these videos of the two songs Grace sang with her friends, I’m a big puddle of mama-tears.

 

Grace wore a long white dress with roses on it.