Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's Summer!!!

Now that graduation is over and we've had Memorial Day weekend, I feel more relaxed and actually feel like summer is here! The fact that it's been in the high 80s and more humid has probably helped that feeling some, too!

I can remember some very fun summers in my childhood and in the years when Daniel was young and I was a stay-at-home mom that rank up there with the best summers ever. For me to pronounce that I think the Summer of 2013 will be up there among those top summers is a pretty big deal. Here are some reasons why I think this will be a summer to remember:

1. It's a "footloose and fancy free" time
Daniel is a in a "footloose and fancy free" time of his life. Except for his job at the Lifeway Store downtown, which he enjoys (and he likes the paycheck he gets even more), Daniel is free from the responsibilities of schoolwork and from being "tied down" by having no transportation. He's an older teen with a car and a job! Need I say more???

2. Impromptu get-togethers with family and friends
We live very close to our family and we like to have "pot luck" dinners together on the spur of the moment. And with Daniel and his friends being more mobile, they can hang out together at our house and Daniel also has lots of plans for band practices with his various bands and combos that he is a part of.

3. Summer Soundtrack
As I mentioned, Daniel is a member of several different bands/combos that he is a part of. Since he is the drummer and has the most gear to haul around, it is highly likely that a lot of music will be played at our house this summer. I don't mind it a bit, especially since these guys sound good!

4. Fun trips
In June, we're going to make a trek over to Knoxville to go to Daniel's freshman orientation! I'm sure we will be getting very familiar with I-40 East in the coming months and years! In July, Daniel will be taking his first international trip when he travels to Honduras with the youth from church to work in an orphanage there. He's very excited and I can't wait to hear all about their adventures when they return (safely). Then in August, Daniel and I will take a trip up to New Jersey/New York to visit with friends. It was Daniel's request to go there, although I never need more than a suggestion to get me ready to go back to my old stomping grounds. After we return from that trip, Daniel and his dad are planning a "baseball trifecta" trip to see games in Cincinnati, St. Louis and Atlanta . . . all in about four days . . . by car!

5. Summer birthdays
This first weekend of June actually starts a pretty steady birthday season in our family. Grandma gets to start things off on Sunday and we look forward to celebrating her together as a family. The cousins all have summer birthdays, too, with Daniel's being on July 2, Mary Lane's on July 7, and Erica's on August 22. Due to our travel plans and the fact that Daniel will already be at college for Erica's birthday, we're planning to have a Summer Cousin Birthday Celebration sometime in July to catch all three at once. Stay tuned for pictures later!

6. Cherishing time together and making memories
I'm still allowed to be sentimental and a little sappy right now, since it's been less than two weeks since my son graduated from high school and in a little over two months he'll be leaving for college. One big reason I think that this summer will be one to remember is that it will be our "last" summer with life being as we know it. Life changes all of the time, but we are getting ready to experience one of the big life changes and I want to just enjoy these summer days and experiences and be able to look back on the Summer of 2013 with no regrets.

So, here we go . . . let's make it the best summer EVER!!!!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sister Saturday: Silly Girls Edition

I took this little video of the girls while their mom was upstairs getting ready to go out. These sisters are so silly and I love them dearly!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Graduation 2013

It's still feeling a little surreal that I actually have a son who has graduated from high school! While I was sitting at Bridgestone Arena watching the processional and hearing the sounds of "Pomp and Circumstance" being played and listening to the speeches, it felt like the other years when I went to watch other graduation ceremonies. But then, in walked my son wearing a cap and gown, and later, they called out "Daniel Ryan, University of Tennessee, Knoxville" as he walked across the stage to receive his diploma! Whoa!

It is a tradition at Hume-Fogg High School for the graduates to take a "senior walk" down Broadway to the Bridgestone Arena where the graduation ceremony is held. Family and friends stand along the sidewalk and cheer for the graduates as they walk by. It's such a fun start to the festivities and as you'll see in the picture, Daniel was enjoying the moment!

Once everyone got inside the arena and found their seats, the graduates and faculty had the processional into the arena and the ceremony began.

This has been such an exciting time for our family, and especially for Daniel's and I am so glad that I've been able to enjoy these moments and feel a peace in my heart that this is what is supposed to be happening at this time. I know that there's still more growing up and parenting to do, but it feels really good to know that Daniel is happy and has succeeded in reaching this milestone in his life. Thanks be to God for his grace and mercy in bringing us this far!

Here are some more pictures taken before heading downtown:

Proud Mom!

Daniel and his parentals

Daniel with his cousins and Grandma
Aunt Jeanette, Daniel, Grandma and Mom

Daniel with "PUD" and "PAL"
(aka Doug and Leanne)

Had to get one more picture in front of the door
(like in all of the first day of school shots)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Daniel's Grad Party

Sunday night we celebrated Daniel's high school graduation and I am so thankful for the outpouring of love that our friends and family showed Daniel (and to me).  have to give a shout out to my mom and sister and friends who helped me pull this party off.

The party was a huge success and exactly what I had envisioned. It was a muggy day with rain in the forecast, but the rain held off, and the front went through and cooled things down right before party time. We had more than enough food. Daniel and his friend, Sean, played live music out back, and friends from different aspects of our lives came to help us celebrate this big milestone.

Some of Daniel's school friends came by (remember they don't live all in the same part of town since they go to a magnet school) and stayed afterward to hang out on the deck talking and enjoying the evening.

Here are some pics of the fun evening.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Flashback Friday: Mom's Indulgence Edition

When you're the mom of a graduating senior, you get to take "liberties" on your own blog the week of graduation. So here's a little walk down memory lane of photos of Daniel through the years.

5th birthday, a month before he started Kindergarten
Baseball became his game early on

One of his later teams, The Diamon Dawgs!
One of my favorite pics of him in the tween years
After his buzz cut done on a dare.

The day he got braces
Eighth grade swagger
First day of high school
Last first day of school

Junior prom

Drummer Dan

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

K-12 Memories: Peanut Butter Sandwiches

One week from today, Daniel will graduate from high school. I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the things that have played a role in his Kindergarten-12th grade experience.

By my calculations, Daniel has had approximately 2340 days of school over the past thirteen years. Of course, there were days that he was absent due to illness, but he usually had a good attendance record, especially after elementary school.

What you may not know is that except for a few weeks during middle school, Daniel brought his lunch to school every day and his sandwich of choice for probably 90 percent of those 2340 days was a peanut butter sandwich. It started out as the traditional PB & J, but somewhere along the way, the J was left out of the equation and he just had peanut butter on bread (with a drizzle of honey sometimes). Oh, sometimes he asked for a turkey sandwich and even requested that I buy some roast beef for a short stint, but let's just say that it's a good thing my son didn't have a peanut allergy!

When Daniel was a little Kindergartner and most of the years in elementary school, there were two motivating factors to why he wanted to bring his lunch. One reason was intimidation factor of the cafeteria. He was afraid to have to go through the line and hand money to these women wearing uniforms and hair nets. And there was the whole dilemma of carrying a tray that can be a challenge for a little kid. The second and possibly the main reason why Daniel brought his lunch for most of his school days was the fact that he is a fairly slow eater and the lunch time is limited. He quickly figured out that if he had to wait in line for his food, he wasn't left with much time to actually eat.

At some point in middle school, Daniel told me that he wanted to start buying his lunch every day. There was still the line to consider, but I think he had seen his friends getting lunch from the cafeteria and decided he'd like to try the pizza or other things they offered. He also had gotten bigger and could handle the tray and had decided that the cafeteria workers were just regular people who didn't always yell at the children. I'm not sure how long that lasted, but at some point, we went back to packing a lunch every school night.

Once Daniel got in high school, he continued to bring peanut butter sandwiches in his lunch. At his high school, the whole student body (do they use that term any more or is that a throw-back from Marcia's campaign speech on The Brady Bunch) has lunch at the same time. Since not everyone can physically fit in the cafeteria, the students are allowed to eat anywhere in the building and there are even microwaves scattered around the hallways for the students to heat things up (not PB & Js). Daniel and his group of "lunch buddies" found their spot each year and I'm not sure Daniel even stepped foot in the cafeteria!

The big privilege for Seniors at Hume-Fogg is that they are allowed to sign themselves out to go walk downtown for lunch. It is a big deal at the beginning of every school year because they have to wait until all of the Seniors have turned in a permission form to be able to leave the school. As the weeks drag by without everyone having turned in a form, they start circulating a list of who needs to be "reminded" to bring the form in. Finally, once everyone gets the form in, the Seniors can leave for lunch. Funny thing is, among Daniel's lunch group, after getting the privilege, they soon decided that it was too expensive to eat out for lunch every day and so Daniel has continued to bring his peanut butter sandwich all through his Senior year!

I've already got peanut butter on my mental list (OK, it's a real list on my phone) of things we need to buy for Daniel to take to college. Of course, with a food plan with unlimited access to all of the places to eat on campus, peanut butter sandwiches might fall down on the list, but I still think Daniel will be glad to have a jar of peanut butter in his dorm room, even if he just scoops out a spoonful for a midnight snack.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cherishing Motherhood

 I experience Mother's Day from two perspectives, as a mother and as a daughter. Both of these roles require a lot of work and intentionality, and both are to be cherished. Both relationships are blessings in my life and I am thankful to have good relationships with my son and my mom.

As I celebrate Mother's Day 2013, I am a little over a week away from watching my only child graduate from high school. I have been making a concerted effort to keep a positive and upbeat attitude as I walk through this season. It is a milestone in Daniel's life and one that I want to celebrate and join him in his excitement about. The challenge is that my "mother heart" sometimes wants to stop the clock or sit and reminisce about what he was like as a baby, a preschooler, a growing boy, a tween and a teen. I have hundreds of photos that remind me of these stages and it sometimes doesn't seem possible that the years have gone by and it's time for him to finish high school and turn eighteen.

I celebrate Mother's Day as a daughter who is blessed to live geographically close to her mother. We spent several years living across the country from each other, so we know to cherish our close proximity now. I am also blessed that my mother is in good health and lives an active and independent life, while sharing lots of experiences together with our family.

I also come into Mother's day very mindful of the fact that many women my age have lost their mothers to death and I know from the experience with my dad's last days how quickly life can change. There are also many moms my age who have difficult relationships with their children and experience a lot of grief and anguish as they try to love their children well. A third group of women long to be mothers and this day is difficult for them as they fight the temptation to look at their circumstances in a negative light. It all makes me want to be thankful for each day's blessings and to cherish the time I have with my mom and son here on earth.

My mom gave me a plaque one time that has the sentiment, "Mothers hold their children's hands for a while, their hearts forever." I am thankful for the blessing of being held and being able to hold.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spring Jazz Band Concert 2013

The Hume-Fogg Jazz Bands had their Spring concert on Friday night. It was Daniel's "last hurrah" and in my humble opinion, it was the best school concert I've attended! Daniel was in one of the jazz combos that performed two songs arranged my members of the combo. One of the songs was primarily a rhythm song and most of the other players were on auxilliary percussion while Daniel was on the drum set. Kind of fun to see since the rhythm section is usually in the background. The Silver Jazz Band played nine songs and received a well-deserved standing ovation. Daniel told me later that the week prior to the concert, everyone had not felt ready to perform and there had been some conflicts. It sure wasn't evident to the audience on the night of the concert, but maybe that's what made the performance so great!

As part of the Spring concert, the band director reads cards that the seniors in the Silver Jazz Band have written and tells what each one's college plans are. I wish I had verbatim what Daniel wrote, but it was in his typical "punny" and humble style, and he and the band director, Dr. Ripani, joked about what an awful decision Daniel is making by planning to major in music in college. Before the concert, I got a chance to say thanks to Dr. R. for all of his work and encouragement to Daniel throughout these past four years. He laughed and told me that he has "ruined" Daniel's life.

Dr. Ripani has been very supportive of Daniel's pursuit of playing the drums and helped him as much as he could in the whole auditioning and application process. I know that he's proud of Daniel and the other seniors who are planning to major in music in college (even though he made sure to let them know that it wouldn't automatically be a lucrative career). When the band president made a presentation to Dr. Ripani at the concert, she made the point that while he has definitely taught them about how to play music and how to strive for excellence in it, he has more importantly made an impact on them in how he cares about their lives and taught them life lessons that they can carry with them as they move on to college and beyond.

The band program at Meigs Magnet Middle School and at Hume-Fogg High School has been a huge part of Daniel's school experience over the past eight years. I could not have paid for the music education Daniel received there, since he had music class almost every school day, especially the past three years. I'm so thankful for the teachers that put in way above and beyond their required hours to make an impact on their students' lives.