The last blog post I wrote was about my baby boy turning 18. How in the world did that happen so fast!
I wonder if this ever happens to anyone else… time goes by and everything seems normal. Then I get lost for a few moments in my memories and, when I reenter the present, I’m shocked at how big and amazing my kids are. I feel like I time-warped from this…
Hayden’s a really great person who loves his family and isn’t afraid to be himself. Matt says often that he wishes he had at 40-something the confidence that Hayden has at 18.
Hayden has always been athletically gifted and these days he’s using those skills in skateboarding. He’s mastered all sorts of crazy tricks and gets a lot of exercise on his board. He also uses it to get all around our neighborhood.
As far as his senior year is concerned… he graduated on May 11th but still has a bit of school to do. Our year was rearranged a bit by Chemistry, which had its second semester condensed into half the time. As a result we paused some of his other subjects so he could focus on science. That means that he’s got a little German and pre-cal before he’s officially done, but we celebrated his graduation early for good reasons. Two good reasons, in fact. First, our family was here visiting and we really wanted to be able to have family participate in such a momentous occasion. Not every overseas military kid is able to have five family members attend their graduation! The other reason is that our dear friends, the Prescotts, were moving back to the states just a few days later. (In fact, they delayed their move in order to be here for the occasion.)
A year ago I attended a graduation ceremony of some of our new friends. Of the four graduates I really only knew one of them. I cried during the video-part of the ceremony because the pictures of those kids as babies were taken when Hayden was that age… I was emotional knowing that we were about to enter Hayden’s senior year. It wasn’t long after the ceremony that Hayden told me he didn’t want an official graduation ceremony. We talked about what he wanted and honestly, what he described just sounded like him. He wanted a small get-together with friends, no formal portion, no speeches. Basically, just hanging out.
I felt like that was something I could make happen. I wanted to honor him and who he is, and we homeschool so we get to decide what graduation looks like!
I originally planned to have the event catered but had a hard time getting in contact with the restaurants we were interested in using so I decided to do the food myself. I picked his favorite meals out of several different categories, strategically, based on how they are prepared, so I didn’t have too many dishes that had to be made in the oven. The meals:
- Antipasto Squares
- Frikadelle, Rotkohl, and mushroom sauce
- Mexican Lasagna
- Meatballs, celery, and ranch dip (a recipe from a Chaplain Assistant here who has a recipe that knocked our socks off when we tried it last year!!)
- Alfredo noodles
I made sure that we didn’t have only “oven prepared” meals… the Frikadelle was made ahead of time and frozen, then I was able to set it in the crock pot all day and they were perfect by dinner time. The Mexican Lasagna I prepared ahead and froze, then thawed for 24 hours in the fridge. I baked it at the venue and then placed it on an electric warmer. The Antipasto Squares were made on-site and put in the oven for a short baking time, and for the meatballs, I made the sauce at home and used the stove top to cook them. Once hot I put them in an aluminum serving dish and placed them on an electric heater. Somehow (with the help of several friends) I managed to get all the meals hot and served simultaneously.
- Diploma cookies (Michaela put them together!)
- Rice Krispy Treats
- Heath Bar Delight
- Caps filled with M&Ms.
- Flavored Popcorn to view during the 12 minute slide show I prepared.
The day before the party Matt took our family to Rothenberg but I kept Carson and Bailey here to help. Their friends joined in and we had a “graduation party prep” party. Here are the names of those who came by that day to prepare:
Alisa, Amber, Bailey, Harri, Landon, Savannah, and Michaela. The teens also came before the party to help set up at the venue, and everyone stayed to help clean up afterward. Our friends are the best!
I realize I’m sharing about Hayden’s graduation celebration from my perspective (the preparation, the cooking), but I guess that’s in keeping with the rest of this blog… journaling our family’s story from my position as mom. I have few ways expressing just how much I love this kid and how proud of him that I am. So “doing the things” (planning, preparing, cooking, setting-up, cleaning-up) was my may of trying to do so.
Once the food was ready it was time to have fun. The night was relaxing and people chatted and hung out. Because I wanted everyone to watch the slideshow I created we had unlimited popcorn and the entire group indulged me with their attention. I’m going to post the video to Vimeo but with a password. If you want to see the video, send me an email or a Facebook message and I’ll give it to you.
It was not a typical graduation “ceremony” and I think that’s what made Hayden enjoy the night so much. Sheri texted me the next day saying:
Everything was just perfect Jennifer. I could see the joy all over Hayden’s face! Several times! You made such a special celebration for him.
That made me so happy. My intent to honor Hayden and who he is had been achieved.
At the end of this post is a sentimental story about a pen pouch and a folder that are very sentimental to me.
Now: enjoy the few photos we got… we were busy enjoying our time celebrating Hayden so we didn’t get many, and half of those that we did get were from Sheri! Thank you!!
The Middles and Littles
The Display and Take-aways
Our very first day of homeschooling, ever. Notice the blue folder under the stack of books… it traveled with us throughout Hayden’s entire 13-year school career. (Also note “The Well-Trained Mind” and “What Your Kindergartener Should Know” – on the table as if I were going to refer to them during our school day!! Bless my newbie heart!)
The first day of First Grade, still homeschooling, even though we originally intended to only homeschool for Hayden’s Kindergarten year. See the blue notebook and Bailey’s backward shirt? Cutie pie!
Researching for a paper in the Fort Hood Library… 9th or 10th grade.
The zipper pouch is being retired because it’s literally falling apart. I’ve already purchased my replacement (from Cultivate What Matters) and I hope it carries me through Anna’s graduation. I’ll keep using the blue notebook because it’s still going strong (with the help of clear packing tape)!