Graduation announcement…

Tomorrow is the big day. She’s turned in her last assignment and taken her last test. It’s been a week long party and tomorrow she tosses her cap up in the air and bids farewell to a high school that has been so good to her.

Its been an emotional week all around – on her part and ours. There’s so much excitement and anticipation and with that comes the sadness of a beautiful book coming to an end. I can’t even begin to describe the roller coaster of emotions. I saw a meme, “Check on your friends with seniors, they are not okay.” Agreed. They are struggling.

Just the other day someone asked how we were hanging in there with our oldest graduating. Just earlier that same day Steve had walked in my office and said, “I feel like we’re just going through the motions, are we really taking this all in?”

The best way I could describe it was, “We are having a Father-of-the-Bride moment.” In the movie “Father-of-the-Bride” a father is helping his daughter pull off a beautiful wedding – and he spares no expense both time and money. The wedding arrives and it turns out just as beautiful as they had hoped despite some inevitable hiccups. But through the wedding, dinner and reception, the dad was so busy trying to make sure every thing was perfect and fixing problems, he wasn’t really present. And as the daughter is preparing to drive away with her new husband she was looking for her dad to say goodbye but she couldn’t find him – he missed the moment. He was too late to say goodbye.

I have thought about this so many times. We’re doing all the things – celebrating her in all the ways, but there’s a part of me wondering if we’re missing the moment. There’s just so much going on. The end of school is crazy even without a graduation. Throw a graduation in the mix and it’s a lot to take in. But this is such a special time. This is her moment.

I want to remember how this feels – the good and the bad.

For 18 years we’ve carefully and deliberately raised a family under one roof. And we’re moving to a stage of life where we’ll be raising kids under multiple roofs and that hurts my heart to think about. When I say we’re experiencing all the emotions…I mean ALL the emotions.

But tomorrow we are in celebration mode – happy day!

Senior pictures…Hallie Edition…

I have taken plenty of senior pictures over the years. Call me biased but none of them were nearly this cute. 🙂

I’ve taken so many pictures of this girl over the years, I think the “senior picture” experience may have been slightly anti-climatic. I even asked her if we should hire someone else so it could be a new experience for her. But in the end, she just wanted me to take them. While my mom was in town a couple weeks ago we spent a Sunday evening in a local rose garden with the most beautiful blooms.

She is beautiful. She is confident. She is kind. She radiates light. And she graduates in two days…

Baccalaureate 2024…

Our school participates in a traditional baccalaureate – a faith based graduation ceremony – typically held the Sunday before graduation. As luck would have it one of Hallie’s best friends was asked to speak at it. Even better, the student council president in charge also asked Steve to be the main speaker.

I was looking forward to this ceremony and it did not disappoint. Steve shared a beautiful talk he prepared and related a scary scuba diving experience he had and the need to be still in waters of commotion. Totally relatable for these graduates as they enter the decade of decisions.

Its fun to think 24 years ago Steve sat in this same auditorium as a senior himself. Full circle.

In addition to the ceremony, graduates use this evening to shoot their graduation pictures with friends since we graduate at 8pm to avoid the heat and it’s too dark for any good photos.

We sat in that courtyard for a while shooting everybody and anybody who wanted a photo. This group and that group and add three people here and these two by themselves…they’re all just hanging on to this moment.

Butterfly wonderland…

In the midst of all the attention on Hallie – I was able to spend the morning with Briggs on a school field trip to the butterfly museum. History has shown his class has more parents willing to chaperone than spots available and every field trip ends up with a “chaperone lottery” to see who gets to go. As luck would have it I won the lottery on quite possibly one of the busiest weeks of the year!

Honestly, it was probably what I needed most. Aside from the bus ride, where my legs were physically too long to fit in between the seats, it was really enjoyable experience. I feel like I’ve been running a marathon (says every parent in May with multiple children!) and Hallie’s upcoming graduation has obviously added a lot of that. So to go to a butterfly conservatory with second graders was a much needed change of pace.

I sat and watched kids try and catch butterflies. It was a very “stop to smell the roses” kind of moment. It was funny to watch some kids attract butterfly, after butterfly to land on them or to crawl on to their hand. And other kids didn’t seem to have the same magic touch. We stayed in the conservatory for over an hour and the kids were so content chasing butterflies – I was actually impressed with how long this kept their attention. It really was such a peaceful environment even with a bunch of rambunctious 2 graders running around.

There was so much simple excitement.

The worst project to date…

Welcome to the most labor intensive and physically demanding project I’ve ever tackled.

We’ve been working in our backyard for the last couple months and it seems like the project that will never end. For years, I have envisioned a pergola/ramada to provide shade by the pool. I went back and forth as to what material we should use to build it – and we eventually settled on steel (We have family connected to a steel structure company). Because this is not a material I’m familiar with, I drug my feet on finalizing and ordering. But like most unknown situations, I jumped.

The day before the steel arrived, the company let me know I would need to have a forklift on site. Hurdle #1. In my naive mind, I envisioned carrying them off the truck. I seriously underestimated the size and weight of this structure. And after all of the pieces were sitting on my driveway and forklift drove away I was wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into. This was already turning into a much larger project than I imagined.

Luckily, my parents were coming into town for Briggs’ baptism so I knew my dad could help me problem solve and create a plan to get this built and he did not disappoint.

It took my dad and I almost an entire day getting the templates on the concrete footings level. More difficult than it should have been. And then the four of us were able to work together to get each of the pillars in place and bolted.

The original plan was to rent a telehandler to lift the beams and get them in place so we could bolt them but there were several holes in that plan. A friend suggested we hire the crane service they recently used and it seemed like the most feasible plan. I became more excited when I booked the crane and confirmed they could lift our entire roof/beam support assembled.

We spent a nice cool evening assembling it on our driveway. Because pictures don’t do it justice, this this was heavy. 8,000 pounds according to the crane – we could barely move them to get them in place on our driveway!

And the crane worked like a charm. We moved it from our driveway, to our backyard. And then reset the crane and moved it from the backyard to its final resting place on the poles. I had a panic moment before the crane showed up. This is put together using bolted construction. If everything was not perfect – we were going to have some major issues. Every pillar had to be in just the right place, at just the right height. I was holding my breath as we started bolting it together. And by some miracle, it came together flawlessly. We were so proud of our work! Little did we know, the hardest part of this project had yet presented itself!

After Briggs’ baptism, my parents went home for a week and then turned around and came back for Hallie’s state tournament. I extended my dad’s ticket for a few days longer than my mom so he could help me add the wood to the ceiling. This is obviously the project of underestimating because neither one us anticipated how hard it would be to screw the 2×6 tongue and groove into the steel.

This is my hopeful face – before we had tried screwing a single board down!

It was at this point, 7 boards in and several hours later, I feared we would not be able to get this done with the additional days I had with my dad. We had to drill two holes per beam, per board. We tried everything. We borrowed more powerful drills. We sharpened bits. We had special screws and drilled pilot holes.

I wasn’t physically strong enough to be of much help drilling or screwing. It was a beast. Bless my husband and my dad who didn’t give up. Work for two hours. Take a break. Work another hour. Take a break. Work into the evening. Take a break. Hunter got home from school and he took a turn.

We even hired Hallie’s friend and he came over for hours and helped drill and screw on boards – he was a lifesaver because we were running short on time and both my dad and Steve were spent. It was just the boost we needed at the end of a long week to wrap this project up.

We still need to get a roof on it – but it’s beautiful. I really love it and functionally it provides a lot of shade.

But I have to give my dad the majority of the credit because he was the workhorse on this project. His hands ached. It was hot and the sun was relentless. And he didn’t stop. I would’ve given up. I would have formulated a new plan. I probably would have removed the wood all together and just put a roof on it. (It was recommended we use wood as a heat barrier since we’re attaching a metal roof – without the wood it would have been a nice solar oven sitting underneath the pergola).

But he kept waking up early and heading back out to work. I’m sure he’s never been so excited to hop on a plane and head back home.

I never intended him to work that hard but I’m sure grateful for his help!