Parents vs. Trampoline

Posted on

When we moved to Florida a year ago we left some things from our previous life behind as it was just to difficult to move.  One of those things was our trampoline.  Both our girls have summer birthdays and both wanted another trampoline.  Carly’s birthday is first so I organized a surprise party for her birthday with all her friends.  Not only was her friends there to surprise her, but we also went ahead and surprised her with a new trampoline.  While she was inside with her friends hanging out and playing games, Craig and I decided we would try out the trampoline, parent style.  So here is our trampoline fun without the kids.  I’ve decided I’m getting a little too old to be hurled in the air.  But for the record, we both made it off the trampoline in each bounce.  I say success!

Craig’s Birthday 2014

Posted on

imageBirthday season has arrived starting with mine back in May and now to our second of the summer, Craig.  Around here birthdays are celebrated whether you like it or not.  Craig is usually in the “not” category but if anything, it’s always an excuse to get together with family which usually includes food.  This year we decided not to go out to eat but had a family cookout at my mom’s house for burgers.

Craig turned 45 this year.  Where have the years gone?  But then again, I’m not getting any younger myself.  In reflection of another year added onto the count and Craig’s unliking of birthdays anyways, I realized that once you hit a certain age birthdays are not for the person celebrating.  They are for everyone else in their lives.  It’s those who love the birthday person who wish to honor and celebrate another year of life.

So to you Craig, husband, father, brother, son, we celebrate you.  Another year of memories, moments, happiness, and love to be thankful we get to celebrate.  It’s not about the presents or even the food.  It’s about the beginning of another year or chapter in what we call life.

Cheers to year 45!




What's a birthday without Mario cupcakes

What’s a birthday without Mario cupcakes











Claire’s 5th Grade Graduation from Oriole Beach Elementary

Posted on


For months now I have had mixed emotions about this day.  I have experienced it once with my oldest daughter Carly and did not handle it well.  Then, my first born was moving on to the next chapter in her schooling. But I really wasn’t sure how I would handle my baby, Claire, going through the same process. Would it be easier or harder?

Claire’s 5th grade year was not quite what I had thought it would be years ago.  We decided to move the summer before.  Up until then, I kind of knew what it would be like at her previous school Pine Forest Elementary.  I knew the teachers.  I knew there would be 5th grade play in the winter.  Space Camp in May.  And all the other events to spend with the friends you had been classmates since Kindergarten with.  But with the move all of that changed.  And I wasn’t sure what to expect.

There were opportunities for her to find her way.  She joined 5th grade Chorus and Optimist Club.  She began making new friends.  It was a slow process but she was adjusting and finding her way.  Maybe better than me.  Before we knew it, the school year was coming to a close.  Yearbooks were passed out.  For the first time I could care less to look at it.  Except for her 5th grade ad we put in for her.  I knew none of the kids and it felt like looking at a strangers school memories.  Luckily, she enjoyed seeing people she had gotten to know and even found herself in a few pages within.

With the passing out of yearbooks came the upcoming graduation.  At this point it was just formality to be at school.  Very little education was happening within the 5th grade.  They were ready to move on.  The week of graduation approached and it was full of activities.  A skating field trip, 5th grade talent show, graduation rehearsal and finally, the big day.  Claire was excited.  She had been looking forward to this day for weeks now.  I was still unsure about myself.

We found her perfect dress and shoes.  She picked out her hairstyle.  She was ready.  Today was the day.  She woke in the morning.  We all began getting ready, even Carly.  Luck have it, Carly did not have any finals to take this day so she had the day off of school.  Due to rushing around, doing hair, getting ready,  I honestly didn’t think much about what the day was.  I can do this.

We dropped Claire off at school at her normal time.  We went to the local grocery store to get her some flowers to celebrate.  Then we headed to the church next to the school.  The students will be bused over to the church before graduation.  All the other parents and family members were arriving to get their seats.  We were lucky to have Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Suzanne to join us for the big day.

As we were waiting, the administrators and speakers started to arrive.  They were showing a slideshow of pictures from this year for each class.  Because I didn’t know any of the kids I handled the memories just fine.  Then the moment came.  The principal made an announcement that at the very moment as we sit there our students are walking down all the hallways of Oriole Beach Elementary so that each class and teacher can see them and say their goodbyes.  Even though Claire had not had any other teacher in that school nor did she know any other students younger than her, I began to get teary eyed.  It brought back the day 4 years early watching Carly parade down the hall of Pine Forest Elementary for her final goodbye.  I could only imagine how much of a mess I would of been if we were still in Arkansas.  It was getting close and knowing they were walking their final walk in the building on the way to board the buses was hard.  Times like these I wish I was a guy.

I composed myself and luckily there was a long enough break before their arrival to freshen up.  Then I heard them.  In the back of the sanctuary they were lined up by classes.  In just a few minutes they would be walking in as 5th graders but soon will be leaving as middle schoolers.  Yes, this is not high school.  She is not moving out in two months starting her life.  But she is moving on.  She is my baby and this moment will not happen again.  I’m so happy for her.  She is ready.  I am not.

The principal begins her speech talking about how she has watched these kids grow from their first days of kindergarten to today.  And how she has enjoyed getting to know the students that made OBE 5th grade their first year there.  I sat there thinking about Claire’s first day of Kindergarten.  She was ready.  I was not.  Sound familiar.  Then another speaker stood and talked about character.  Who they should be once entering middle school.  Find that person that doesn’t have a friend.  Leave no one out.  I was inspired and I’m an adult.  A video was shown of a track and field race.  An inspirational visual about when you fall down get back up and don’t stop until you finish.  It’s not about winning.  It’s about not giving up.  I kindof felt like I was at a high school graduation.

Awards were then started.  Claire was called up to receive the President’s Award for Education Excellence and all A/B Honor Roll for all of 5th grade.  To my surprise I handled both of those with grace.  The tears had slowed and even stopped.  I guess the speakers leading up to that point put me in another place.  After all awards were given it was time. Each class was called up together.  The teacher read each students name and they walked across receiving a Certificate of Promotion from the Principal and a hand shake from the Vice-Principal and the Superintendent of the District.  Clair’s class was third.  There she was.  Lined up and ready.  Probably because I was trying to video and take photos as the same time or who knows why, but I didn’t cry.  The baby I started off being at the beginning of the day was now all grown up and handling the moment with grace.

She walked up and received her promotion.  She gracefully walked her path that she practiced the day before.  To our luck it was right in front of where we were sitting.  With her head held high she was no longer an elementary school student.  She has officially moved on.  And I think I’m ok with all of it now.

Of course we had to stay around for pictures with family, friends, teacher and administrators.  This moment was only happening once.  I had to document it to remember.  Which is why I write this blog.  To remember these moments that will pass and fade with time.

To all her elementary teachers Ms. Fowlkes, Ms. Davis/Meachum, Ms. Hunt, Ms. Rochelle, Ms. McPeak & Ms. Godfrey – THANK YOU!  From here on out her relationships with her teachers will not be the same.  She will be one of a hundred or so students.  She will not remember all their names nor have that bond she made with each and every one of you.  Thank you for being her teacher and helping her be who she is today.
















































Memorial Weekend 2014

Posted on

(Compilation video at the end)

This was our second Memorial Day weekend since moving to Florida. Last year we were still unpacking in a rental house and had no clue what to do in our new found city.  This year we were happily settled into our new home but still were unsure how we would spend our days off.  The thought crossed our mind to have a cookout with a few of our closest friends but the motivation to prepare for such an event was lacking.  I had taught 4 days prior to the weekend.  I’m not looking for sympathy as most people work full time jobs and get things accomplished.  I guess I’m just not good at it.  My house was a wreck and I was just plain tired.

So we decided to take it one day at a time.  Starting with Friday.  Claire had plans to spend the night at a friends house and practice for the talent show (not a huge production like our previous elementary school – it was grade level only).  Carly came home saying she too had plans to hang out with friends.  No complaints from Craig and I.  Both kids found their way to other peoples houses.  Date night for Craig and I.  Dinner and shopping is what we did.  Carly did not spend the night so we picked her up later on in the night.

Saturday came and it was a beautiful hot day.  I had already made the decision I was going to stay in a swimsuit all weekend long.  Isn’t that one of the traditional things you do for such a weekend?  Ok, so the Memorial weekend is not supposed to be about cookouts and swimming.  I get it.  I did put a flag out by the mailbox and I had many moments thinking about my own family members who have served in our military. Since there was to be no cookout, the swimming part was all I had left of tradition.  Carly and I decided to do a little shopping taking advantage of the holiday sales.  We found her another swimsuit in the process.  For the record, I did go shopping in my swimsuit.  I told you I was on a mission. We ended the day with frosty’s from Wendy’s on the Oriole Beach boat dock.

Sunday came and it was Claire’s turn to go shopping.  She was in need of a graduation dress so off we went.  We spent a few hours in Pensacola and succeeded in finding her a dress.   After two days of shopping I was done.  I was ready to make my fingers wrinkled and work on my tan.  The backyard pool was calling and so was my swimsuit.  The rest of Sunday was spent in the pool.  Claire’s friend Alli came over and joined us.  We even decided to blow up the old water slide we have had for years.  Some of us might of exceeded the weight limit but that didn’t stop us from a day of water fun.  Alli ended up spending the night as did Carly’s friend Isabelle (Izzy).

Monday, Memorial Day, arrived and both girls left in the morning.  How could we end a summertime holiday without a trip to the beach.  Isn’t that one reason we moved here?  So swimsuits back on and to the beach it was.  What a beautiful day it was.  We took the GoPro camera with us.  Carly, in true teenage form, stayed on shore most of the day working on her tan.  Craig, Claire and I made our way out in the ocean there we spent the next few hours.

I have made a video for us to remember our weekend in swimsuits with unplanned activities.  We did grill as a family if that counts as a cookout.  These are moments we will always treasure and the video below will only help us remember.

Memorial Day Weekend 2014

In memory of both my grandfathers who are no longer here to tell their stories of what it meant to serve for our country.  I miss them so.  To honor the living family members who also chose to serve/are serving.  I remember and honor you, from my swimsuit.

Field Day at Oriole Beach Elementary 2014

Posted on

It had been postponed for weeks due to excessive rains and flooding but the day finally arrived for the 5th grade at Oriole Beach Elementary to head outside and participate in track and field day.  This would be Claire’s first time participating in what we called at Pine Forest as “Field Day”.  Even though OBE called it track and field it will always be field day to me.  All I knew was it was scheduled to be held from 9:30-11:30 so I made sure I would be part of it.  I arrived promptly at 9:30 to find all six 5th grade classes lined up and the beginning of class relays starting.

Each class cheered on their fellow classmates as they took turns going down and back performing a task given.  I watched as Claire took her turn race after race.  As much as she is supposed to like each event, I think her gold medal event was socializing.  Her turn in the relay was just a quick distraction from her true goal of enjoying time with newly made friends.

From tug-of-war to ice cream in the face, it was fun to watch her fit in and enjoy her final year in elementary school.  I can’t believe this is an end of an era.  There will be no more field days in my future (or until I get to go as grandma).  I know she could of cared less if I was there and at times probably wished I wasn’t, but these moments go by so quickly and as I think back on all the field days I have attended I can say, with a tear in my eye, I will miss it.