57 Days Until the Next Chapter Begins

Graduation Caps in the Air

In some ways I think it’s a bigger milestone for parents than it is for kids when they graduate from High School, especially when it’s your youngest child. On June 19th we celebrated Christian’s graduation in Yardely, PA with family and friends.

For whatever reason, the tradition for Pennsbury High School is to hold graduation on a Wednesday evening which makes it a little tricky when it comes to inviting guests and making party plans. My guess is that we were one of few, if not the only family who had guests coming in from Nebraska and Missouri.

My parents arrived the Sunday before graduation and immediately started helping me prepare. They spoiled me rotten while they were here. I didn’t cook a  single meal outside of my famous enchiladas for the night of graduation.

Monday they tore into my outside porch and cleaned it from top to bottom. My dad had to improvise work clothes (which was a tad bit entertaining) and my mom even ironed the freshly washed window coverings.

Tuesday my mom made several trips to grocery store in between the torrential rainstorms while I prepared the enchiladas. She spent the rest of the afternoon preparing food for the party. I still can’t figure out how she managed to fit everything into the fridge and when the time came we still managed to squeeze in a few more bottles of wine.

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I scheduled myself to teach a workshop the morning of graduation, but for some reason it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was wired by the time I got home, too much caffeine, not enough food, a late co-presenter, and technical difficulties did not make a good combination.

Thankfully the jitters passed and I was able to decorate the house and iron the graduation gown. Ironing a graduation gown is truly a labor of love. Why do they have to get so wrinkled and be made of a fabric that seems to hold onto those wrinkles like none other?

We posed for pictures in front of the house and then Christian’s girlfriend took him to school. The plan was for her to come back to the house and we would all drive over together.

Family Picture on Graduation day

It’s about a ten minute drive and they left the house around 4:30, which in theory should have been plenty of time for her to drop Christian off and get back to the house by 5:00.

4:56 pm
Christian: Traffic is crazy. We’re not even at school yet

Me: Ok – just have Katie meet us there

Christian: You need to leave soon

Me: We’re leaving now, we’ll be there as soon as we can

5:15 pm
Me: This is insane. Are you there yet?

Christian: I know. I’m still in the car outside school

My stomach was turning and panic was rising because we were still a few miles from school and the ceremony was scheduled to start at 5:45 sharp. It could have been worse, at least he wasn’t the poor kid who abandoned his car and whose robe was flying behind him while he ran along the sidewalk.

5:32 pm
Christian: We’re lining up now. I have to put away my phone

We were still over a mile away from school and the minutes were ticking away much faster than the lines of cars inching their way toward the school from competing directions.

5:45 came and went while we were made our way through the parking lot.  Three phone calls later we found Katie, Christian’s girlfriend, and made it to the football stadium just as they started calling out last names starting with the letter “B.”

I didn’t get to see him walk, but we did hear them announce, “Christian Paul Browning,” so I didn’t miss it completely. Phew! Normally having a last name that starts with the second letter of the alphabet is a good thing, not so much on graduation day.

When I saw the concession stand was open and they were selling everything from hot dogs to pretzels I thought we might be there until midnight, especially since the line of kids waiting their turn wrapped around the entire track and overflowed outside of the stadium.

Students lining up for Graduation

I’m not 100% certain, but I think Christian was in fourth or fifth row of black robes.It was quite a different experience than Jeff and Katie’s High School graduation where we knew all of the kids by name.

Pennsbury High School Graduation

It took nearly an hour to announce all of the names and my concern that we’d be there until midnight seemed more than legitimate.

Pennsbury High School 2013 Graduation

As it turned out, we were home by 8:00 pm. The enchiladas were in the oven, the food was all set up (thanks to my wonderful family and friends), and by 8:30 the rooms were filled with laughter and celebration.

It was strange to celebrate the occasion without the big kids, but it didn’t make sense for them to use up vacation time to fly in for an event that lasted a few hours. After nearly missing graduation completely, I was really glad that they came out over Memorial day weekend instead.

In 57 days Christian will be starting his life as a college student and I’ll experience my first day as an empty nester.

Here’s to the “Next Chapter,” and new adventures!

Senior Pictures in a ‘Tux’

On my never ending list of things to do this summer was the task of finding a photographer and getting organized for Christian’s senior picture.  The days were slipping by dangerously fast and this very important task remained undone.  I didn’t know where to start and so I hadn’t.

My older two were sent home from school with packets of information that contained key dates, participating photography studios, and guidelines for the official yearbook portrait.

Last Tuesday afternoon Christian stopped at my desk, “I know you’re working, but have you gotten anything in the mail about senior pictures? I saw on Facebook that today they are starting on the B’s.”

“I haven’t gotten anything. They’re starting on the B’s?  What does that mean?”

“Well I guess they take the pictures at school, but I don’t know for sure if you have to,” he said.

A few phone calls later I was still baffled by the notion that senior pictures were to be taken by photographers in the auditorium and not in a private studio but I was able to schedule a time for him.  Thank goodness for Facebook or I wouldn’t have found out that he missed his original appointment.  I never would have lived that down.

Unlike his siblings’ photo sessions, all of his pictures would be taken from the waist up and wouldn’t include elaborate poses and sets.  They would all be indoors and there would be no props other than a tuxedo and a cap and gown.

The sitting fee was easy to decide on, it was five dollars for an extra few poses in his shirt and tie.

There were four temporary studios set up, three on the stage and one on the main floor.  Each studio had a screen with multiple backdrops, a camera, lights, and a photographer.  I tried unsuccessfully not to giggle about the tuxedo shirt that goes on like a strait jacket and has Velcro closures in back. I laughed out loud about the tuxedo jacket with sleeves that were too short paired with shorts and sneakers.

The photographer pinned a rose to Christian’s lapel, handed him a sheet of paper which he held in front of his chest for the first picture.  I knew it was to help identify the owner of the pictures later but it reminded me of someone posing for a mug shot.

In between the tuxedo and the shirt and tie pictures Christian re-tied his tie.

“Is it straight?”

“The knot is straight, but the tie part is a little off.  Do you want me to try and fix it?” I asked.

“No, just hand me your iPad please and reverse the camera direction,” he said.

Who knew that an iPad could double for a mirror?

We were done in under an hour, the proofs will arrive in two or three weeks, and I have a feeling the pictures will be much less expensive than Jeff and Katie’s were.  I think the strangest thing about it was the image of him in a cap and gown and how real it made his 2013 graduation feel real.

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Where Does Time Go? aka Congrats to the College Grad!

It seems like it was yesterday when Katie leaned as far toward the front seat as she could and without hesitation asked, “Do you suppose I could drive today?”

“Hmmm…well you don’t have a driver’s license yet, so not today,” I replied.

“How old do you have to be to get one?” she asked.

“You have to be sixteen, but you can get a permit when you are 15 and start driving then.”

She flopped backward and rolled her eyes, “But that’s….forever….I’m only five.”

It doesn’t seem possible that she’s is a college graduate and will be starting her first “real” job in less than a week.

She will receive her degree from DePaul which is in Chicago but she decided to bypass the commencement ceremony and we celebrated her graduation a week early in St. Louis.  She made the suggestion to have her party at my parent’s home and make it a family gathering for a variety of reasons.  It’s an easier trip for everyone involved, we didn’t have to worry about finding a place to have the party, and there wouldn’t be the additional expenses for hotels and restaurants.

After we decided when and where the party would be she was faced with a dilemma, to “walk” or not to “walk.”  The date of graduation fell on the same day as the wedding of one of her good friends.  We had more than a few conversations about the pros and cons.  In the end, I think the opportunity to spend time with close friends and family versus sitting for hours with thousands of people and no close friends nearby made the decision an easy one.  She would still receive her diploma and celebrate the event with two parties, but there was one missing ingredient.  She wouldn’t have a picture of her wearing a cap and gown.

I searched and searched trying to find the colors for DePaul and a place to rent a cap and gown on short notice.  I’m famous for my mad Googling skills and have been known to find more than a few obscure but valuable pieces of information.  Evidently I overcomplicated the search in this case.  My mom replied to my email with the colors and website links in under a minute.

I carried the FedEx envelope from the laundry room to the guest room where Katie was waiting for me and hoped I wasn’t holding a paper mache cap and a crepe paper gown.

“Katie, I know the one thing you said you’d miss about walking was that you wouldn’t have a picture in a cap and gown.  Sooo….this might be goofy, but I ordered one for you.  I have no idea what kind of quality it is, so remember it’s the thought that counts.”

“Oh Mommy….of course I will.”

I was pleasantly surprised when I felt a silky fabric underneath the plastic wrapping, “Wow, it’s not bad.  It’s real material.”

She giggled, “Mommy this could be one of the dorkiest things ever, but I also have to say I really love it.”

I think it took her less than three seconds to put it on and the smile didn’t leave her face for the rest of the day.

 

Congratulations Honey!  I am very proud of you.

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