Friday, April 24, 2020

A Letter to my Graduating Senior

My dear girl, 

By now, it is abundantly clear that this year will not end the way anyone anticipated. The first day you walked into kindergarten, we started along a path that was supposed to lead to you walking across a stage in a cap and gown, receiving your diploma, celebrating all you have accomplished over the past (almost) 18 years. 

We know now that the journey will not end that way. 

It breaks my heart that, despite the mama bear in me who is willing to fight to the death for you, this is a battle I cannot win and an ending I cannot change. There are, however, a few things I still want you to know. 

  1. THIS DOES NOT DIMINISH WHAT YOU HAVE ACHIEVED! You have worked tirelessly for thirteen years. You have overcome hard things - academically, socially, and emotionally. You have faced challenges head on and overcome them all. Those victories are YOURS and no virus or cancelled ceremony can take them from you. They have strengthened you, taught you, and made you who you are today. Stand tall and hold your head high. You have MUCH to be proud of.
  2. IT IS OKAY TO BE UPSET! The rug has been ripped out from underneath your feet and you have every right to feel sad, disappointed, angry, and overwhelmed. You need to grieve what you have lost. Whatever emotions you are experiencing, let them flow! Ugly cry, yell, curse if you need to. I'll ugly cry with you, yell with you, curse with you. I'll give you my shoulder, wrap you in a hug, and just sit with the feelings for a while if that's what you need. Your feelings are real and completely justified. Don't be afraid to feel them deeply.
  3. YOU WILL BE CELEBRATED! There may be no "Pomp and Circumstance" played, but we will celebrate you in our own way. As we are able, we will celebrate your friends as well. My hope and prayer is that, in some way, our celebrations will be even more meaningful than an auditorium full of faces and a few stiff handshakes on the stage. Our celebrations may be small, but they will be filled with joy, love, and laughter.  
  4. THIS TOO SHALL PASS! I said that a lot when you were little and even as you grew. That phrase got me through sleepless nights, toddler temper tantrums, middle school angst, and teaching you to drive. I know right now it feels like an enormous roadblock, but, in time, we will look back and see it only as a bump in the road - albeit it a painful one. It will not stop you from moving on and achieving even more. It will be a piece of your puzzle, but it will not define your future. 
Right now, these words may seem hollow to you- a poor substitute for the celebrations you truly deserve and the memories you never got to make. That's okay. I'm writing them down for you, but also for me. I've been on the journey with you and I wanted to celebrate, too. Despite our heartache over what will not happen, I will forever be grateful for what HAS happened - the gift of time and precious moments spent with you, walking, talking, laughing, lamenting. They are in a different category of "special moments," and I will treasure them even more fiercely than the ones that should have been. I hope you will treasure them, too. 

I'll end by repeating my #1 - this does not diminish what you have achieved. Never doubt how proud we are. Never doubt how much you are loved. Never doubt your own strength and resilience. Walk tall with sure steps and abundant grace. Rest assured that, while one journey is ending abruptly, another grander one is just beginning! 

With love beyond measure,

Friday, January 10, 2020


Hi! It's been a while, right? The last time I posted any words in this space was November, 2018. For a while, I really didn't miss it, but lately I've had the tech to write again - not the time, but the itch!

So, when I was asked to choose a "star" word for the year at work AND saw that was the prompt for Finish the Sentence Friday, I thought maybe this was the time to drift back to this distant, but familiar spot. 

I've never been very big on resolutions. I've made them half-heartedly and, like most, they fall by the wayside within a few weeks or months. It's the same with the word of the year trend that has erupted the past few years. It never hurts to give it some thought, though. 

Have you ever heard of Star Words or Star Gifts? It is a spiritual twist on the idea of a word of the year. It is a tradition that coincides with the Christian celebration of Epiphany which focuses on the journey of the Wise Men or Magi who followed the tar to find and offer gifts to  Jesus. Often, the star words are simply given out and people are asked to focus throughout the year on the word they have been given. We did it a little differently, though. We were offered a variety of words written on stars and had the opportunity to choose one that "spoke" to us. So what word did I choose?

My word is IMAGINE and this here are the reasons why. 

I chose this word at work because I want to imagine new ways to do things. I work at a church that is pretty traditional, but we are preparing for change because we will have a new pastor soon. Tradition is great, but, in my opinion, we need some new energy, some new ideas, some new . . . something! 

At home, I have started a new diet plan. Yes - you have permission to roll your eyes! I mean, how cliche, right? New year, new diet! It deserves and eye roll. However, I'm not doing it because it's a new year. I'm doing it because a few minor but significant things have happened lately that have pushed me "over the edge" and propelled me to attempt yet another weight loss plan. (The timing just happens to coincide with the new year.) I'm trying to imagine personal place where I don't hate my reflection anymore and I'm working to get myself there.

I'm actually trying NOT to imagine what life will look like in the fall. My oldest daughter is a senior in high school this year and we are in the midst of the college application process. Actually, the applications are done, so we are really in the midst of waiting - waiting for acceptances and scholarship notifications (hopefully!) so we can make a final decision. It is nerve-wracking & gut-wrenching. In the end, I'll be sending her off somewhere and we will all be entering a whole new phase of life. 

Lastly, I am imagining what it might be like to write again. It's one of those things that is just in my soul. I frequently compose blog posts in my head. Blogging had become a burden, though, and I lost that for a while. I'm in a very different stage of life compared to when I started. I have teenagers, not toddlers. With a different focus and no pressure put on myself to write on a particular schedule, I think I might find myself back here a little more often and I'm looking forward to that. 

Speaking of writing again, I wrote something about my 20 books to read in 2020. At the time, I wasn't sure I'd be coming back to write here, so I submitted it another, NC local website. You can read it HERE

What are you imagining in this new year and new decade?

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post. FTSF is hosted by Kristi at Finding Ninee. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Holiday Gift Ideas for Tweens & Teens

What seems like many moons ago, I used to post a "Hottest Toys of Christmas {Insert Year}" post annually here on the blog. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Then, as my own kids got older and less "toy focused," I stopped doing that post because it just didn't fit my parenting stage anymore. 

Last year, for the first time, I did a "Creative Holiday Gift Ideas for Tween and Teens" post instead and it was so much fun! Through the research, I actually got some great ideas for my own daughters, too, so I decided to do that post again this year! Maybe this one will become the new holiday tradition here on the blog. 

Be sure to check out last year's list again - all the ideas listed there could be used this year, too! However, if you're looking for some new suggestions, here you go! 

**Note: I have three daughters, so I openly confess that this list has a feminine slant, but I think it can be useful for the teen guys in your life too! 

1.  LED Light Box -Your teen can brighten up his/her room by putting this light box on a wall, shelf, or desk. The messages are changeable and can be used to add fun to parties, photos, or even as a table centerpiece. This particular one is available on Amazon for $24.95, but there are lots of others available at various retailers and ranging in price from around $15-$50. 
Available at
2. GlamGlow #Mulitmasking Mask Treatment  - My teen girls love a good face mask! This set from Sephora offers six different, travel-size face mask favorites for $39.00.
Available at Sephora 
3.  Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer - I'm no makeup expert, but apparently this make up line is hugely popular and this particular shade works well on everyone! It's available for $18 from Spehora or directly from Fenty Beauty online. 
Available at Sephora
4.  Cool Sunglasses - When my oldest daughter started driving, I realized that a pair of sunglasses was not only a fashion accessory, but somewhat of a necessity for teens. Aviator glasses seem to be a popular style, but, of course the are tons of options that range in price from ten dollars to hundreds of dollars!
These aviators from YuFalling come with different lens color options and are  $15.99 on Amazon
5.  Caboodles - Do you remember these from the 90's? I had one I used to store make up and a smaller one I used for hair accessories. Well, guess what? They are back! And, they're still great for storing make up, hair accessories, jewelry, or art supplies. Available at Target , the large size runs $16-20 with smaller ones available for around $7-10. 
This one is listed at for $16.99
6. 3-D Monogram necklace - Available at, this is a unique version of a popular jewelry item. I love the round, three dimensional design of this necklace that is available in silver, gold, or rose gold. With a sale price of $89.95 on the sterling silver version, it's a bit more expensive than most of the things on my list, but might be worth the investment if you have a jewelry loving teen! (The site also has flat, disc, and acrylic monograms necklaces available at slightly lower prices.)
Available at
7.  Teen Cookbook - Tweens and teens certainly can eat some food, right? So, why not help them learn how to cook it?!? This book, titled Teens Cook: How to Cook What you Want to Eat is a best seller on Amazon for $13.99. There are other cook book options as well including some that focus on baking and some from your teen's favorite You Tubers. 
Available via Amazon
8. Umbra FishHotel Mini Aquarium - I like to think of this as a modern, contemporary fish bowl! It was once featured on Oprah's Favorite things and what teen doesn't need to practice a little responsibility?!?! 😜It's just under $40 on Amazon (fish not included!).
Available via Amazon

9. #Hastag it! Board Game - This game sounds a lot like "Apples to Apples" with hashtags!  #fun #lotsoflaughter #stopwiththehashtags Each round starts with a silly picture and players try to choose the best hashtag from the cards in their hands. It's available on Amazon for under $20. **It is recommended for ages 18 and up. If you have younger teens or tweens, check out the family version, also available on Amazon
Available via Amazon
10. The Night Sky - These star maps are a super unique idea! You enter a special date and location (such as the day and place someone was born or a graduation date), and they will create an 18" x 24" print of the stars in the night sky at that specific time. You can include a message, such as "On the Day You Were Born" and it's available in four different colors. The print is $60 and, for an additional $60, you can add a frame. Check it out at
This is one I created just for fun! You can create without purchasing 
11. Fun Rain Boots - My daughters all have to walk outside between buildings during the school day, so they are not happy campers when it rains. Why not add some sunshine to rainy days with a pair of bright rain boots?!? You can purchase inexpensive ones from somewhere like Target or Kohls for less than $50  or pricier ones like Sperry or Hunter boots that cost upwards of $100. It just depends on your budget and the fashion sense of your teen! 

(L to R: women's Hale boots from, Sperry boots via, and floral boots via

12.  Classic Crocs - Speaking of shoes, it seems that old school, classic Crocs are coming back into style (worn with socks, of course!). No, I'm not kidding. Keep your teens at the peak of fashion by wrapping up a pair and putting them under the tree this year! They will cost about $40 via and come in a wide variety of colors.
Available at
13.  Coffee Mug - I'm so old that, when I was a teenager, Starbucks wasn't a thing yet (except maybe in Seattle), so I didn't start drinking coffee until motherhood necessitated it several years later. Today's teens, however, are coffee fanatics (at least some of them). So how about a fun mug like this heat-sensitive, color changing unicorn mug? Yes, it seems a little silly, but if it changes your teen's morning scowl to a smile, it's definitely worth the $11.99 you'll pay Amazon! (If unicorns don't float your teen's boat, there are plenty of other coffee mug options including sports teams, funny sayings, and travel mugs!)
Available via Amazon
14.  Bubble Pop iPhone Case - This case, available from Urban Outfitters, works for an iPhone 6, 6s, 7, or 8 and costs $24.00. It will surely provide hours of fun for your teen's fidgety fingers! 
Available through Urban Outfitters
15. Pup socks - Does your teen love his/her pup? or cat? Take a pup pic, upload it, and receive some fun, custom socks that he/she can wear everywhere! Check out to create pair!that will run you about $30. They also have mugs, blankets, shoes, and bags! 
Available at
16. SoundSoul Bluetooth Water Dancing Speakers - These speakers, available through Amazon, put on a great light and water show while playing your teen's favorite tunes! Great for parties or just to add pizazz to their bedroom.
Available via Amazon

A couple other suggestions:
  • Don't rule out gift cards! Many people feel like giving gift cards is taking the easy way out, but I can assure you that there is nothing a teen would love more than to have some "free money" to spend at his/her favorite store. If it makes you feel better, tie the gift card to a giant candy bar or stuff it in a fun pair of socks, but don't worry that teens won't be happy with a gift card (or two!). 
  • Enough with the stuff! Despite the list I just shared, there is not a single teen I know who needs more stuff. So, I encourage you to think about giving the teens in your life some experiences instead! Movie tickets, concert tickets, escape room tickets, and sporting event tickets would all be great gifts that would allow your teens to have some fun and make some memories without putting more things on their shelves or in their closets. 
  • Back to basics! I am guilty, myself, of trying so hard to be creative that I often overlook the "run of the mill" basics. Clothes, shoes, winter gear (like hats and gloves), and personal care items (such as bath sets or hair styling products) are always welcome AND useful! 
  • What matters most to YOUR teen? I've got one who loves make up, one who loves horses, and one who is a budding architect! Maybe you have a sports fanatic, a music connoisseur, or an artist. Think about what tickles your teen's fancy and, then, go down that road. 
Hopefully, this list has helped to ignite your holiday spirit and you have found at least a couple ideas that might help answer "What in the world am I going to get my tween/teen this Christmas?" If you've got any other great ideas, please share them in a comment below - I need all the help I can get, too! πŸ˜‰

**Disclaimer: I have not purchased, used, or reviewed all the items on this list and inclusion on this list is not an endorsement of these products. Please take time to read reviews and research on your own before purchasing. 

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