Thursday, May 18, 2017

Grad Party Decorations

May 2016 was filled with end of the year craziness and graduation parties. It was at that point Emma began thinking about her party this year. I kid you not, parties range from a cake and lemonade to a full "wedding" spread with alcohol and a band. We knew our party would land somewhere in the conservative middle and would require lots of creative thinking to keep costs down. Right away we planned a breakfast themed day and then we jumped on to pinterest which can make a person overly ambitious. My two favorite creations: 1. chalkboard photo booth 2. Giant "E" covered in photos. Both were a labor of love and many people have asked me to make one or both for them. Here's the thing, they can't or don't want to make it themselves but also want to pay me pennies to make them. The photo booth would be $70 to build which doesn't include the artwork and my time. The "E" doesn't cost that much in product but took FOREVER to make.

Below I have attached several pictures of our day, thank you Susan for taking pictures because not only did I forget to take any, I also didn't assign the task to anyone.
my people

Our menu was pancakes (lots and lots of pancakes), 68 lbs of bacon, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, 500 donut holes, cereal bars, cookies, apple juice, coffee and water. I'm so glad we nixed the yogurt bar and egg cups. Keep it Simple!
breakfast goodness


the Grad
Somewhere there are pictures of Emma and Sierra. I will have to dig them up. The trash can really adds something nice to this photo. HA

emma's table
The pallet with pictures strung across was a last minute alteration. We were going to do a cute thing on the wall but I was afraid of losing our deposit so plan B came into play. Here is an example of why Chris should be happy that I kept these pallets in the garage for the last year. Already the pallets have been borrowed and we may never see them again.

my amazing friends who made
pancakes for 3 hours
I can not thank my friends enough for helping us make Emma's grad party a huge success. Tami and Steve drove from Grand Island, which that in itself is huge but they worked from 9am until 3pm, setting up, cooking and cleaning. I love you guys!! Susan and Jill came through like no other. I knew I could say to them, "take this job and if there are problems just do whatever makes sense to you." As far as I know, there were no problems. Truly a stress free day, what a great celebration for Emma and Sierra.

cello cookies
This may sound strange but these were my pride and joy...edible cellos. My cookie artist, Angie lives in Branson, MO. She shipped 5 dozen (plus an extra 2 doz just in case) cookies and only ONE was cracked. Angie Foley, a sister of a dear friend does this for fun. I paid her but no where the amount she could have charged. Thank you Angie for your attention to detail and amazing gift.

hmm, hanging out at the donuts

we had a great turn out
Our party was from 11am-2pm and between the two families we had a constant stream of guests. My estimation is about 325-350 people came through. That's a testament to our sweet girls!

thank you susan

reagan and friends who helped set up
Reagan had 3 friends show up early to help blow up balloons and hang signs in the neighborhood. What great kids! Obviously Reagan had to be there but Katie, Grace and Aaliah were just good friends. Thanks girls!

On a more somber note, almost exactly six years ago my sweet Aunt Delma died. This lady loved her nieces and nephews more than anything else. She told her everyone, even strangers she met on a walk all about me, my brothers and my cousins in Seattle. Once we all had kids, she had more loved ones to brag on. Oh how I miss my aunt! She cared about whatever I cared about. She was interested in my life. She was excited to learn about my husband and girls. Aunt Delma would be so proud of Emma and all she her accomplishments and dreams. I love you and will see you again one day.

So HAPPY GRADUATION PARTY day to you Emma! You are worth all the work. We love you and are so proud of you. Just a few more senior events then off to graduation, Europe and then the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Much love!

Monday, May 15, 2017

CCC Senior Banquet

Do many high schools do a Baccalaureate service any more? 
Our district doesn't and my high school didn't do one when I was graduating back in the day. Our church, Christ Community Church, offers a more personal alternative, the senior banquet. Emma has been involved in children's and youth ministry since the day she began making too much noise in during church. I'm guessing it was about 2-3 months into her little life that we took her in to Nancy's Nursery at CCV (Deer Valley High School) and the child has never asked to skip a Sunday since.

Emma's years in the youth ministry at CCC have been great for her. Not all kids like youth group but Em found her niche there. Have you been in a high school recently? I don't really care if it's public or private, there are lots of hurting kiddos walking those hallways. Even in the suburbs of our Midwestern city, VERY FEW kids attend church, abstain from illegal substances, try to keep their bodies pure and actually like...well mostly like their family. I'm not saying church kids do all that stuff perfectly but they do at least have a slightly better track record. Remember that thing about, "we are all sinners"? Emma has great friends in school but only ONE close friend shares her faith and comes from a family who shares similar values. I'm so tired of people calling out the youth, saying "kids these days are terrible!" It starts at home people! Kids can be great, they do what has been modeled. (Hey, don't yell at me, I know there are always exceptions and my kids are no where near perfect!! It's called free will...I have it too.)

Back to my original thought, Emma has thrived by surrounding herself with great girls. Youth group has been important because it offered her a support network, lots of fun and freedom to grow in her faith not to mention incredible youth leaders. In 6th grade Emma began attending journey groups and has been fortunate enough to keep several girls from the original group together all these years. From the time Emma was born, one of the many things I have prayed over her (all 3 of our girls actually) was that God would put friends of good character in her life. I knew one day my words would not mean as much to her as those of her friends. That day came and she could talk to people like Amy Nelson or her leaders Pam Grabowski, Ellie and Jocelyn Medrano who would speak truth to her, even when it wasn't popular. Praise God! Don't think one minute that my prayers have stopped. Emma is about to meet a whole new campus of fabulous people and I pray that God will bring devoted followers of Christ into her life in college, work and play.

Thirty-two seniors attended the youth banquet. It was a powerful night of funny stories, empowering messages from leaders and peers and great prayer. I am so grateful for Klint Bitter and Brad Mock for leading the youth of our church closer to Christ. Keep it up guys!

Emma's Seniors at Church

Emma, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Matthew 22:37

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Senior Spring Strings

Her Last Orchestra Performance

Senior Recognition
Can I just be honest? I was a little disappointed that the recognition of seniors in orchestra consisted of, "when I call your name please stand." That was it!! OK so they did get, nine years of practicing, four years of a very successful but sometimes overly crabby instructor, more concerts and competitions than I can count, one marching event in the Millard parade carrying a cello (not even kidding about this), two big school trips, early morning rehearsals, music instructors fighting over students and lots of wonderful memories. It's just that band and choir really celebrate their seniors, I would have loved to see the same thing happen for Emma.

Mrs Ritchie

Brianna, Saisha and Emma

The Symphony

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

For Such A Time As This

Esther is one of my favorite people in the bible. I encourage you to read the book of Esther especially if you find yourself in a place that God does not seem to be inhabiting. I promise you whether you see Him or not, He is with you in the good and the bad. 

In no way do I want to say my life is bad. But right now I do have a lot on my emotional plate. Once in while it seems like too much. Consider this, God is good all the time.  He can accomplish more than I can ever imagine, with or without me but maybe I was created for such a time as this. Just like Esther, she could have avoided the risks, stayed safe and God would have still saved the Jews. Instead she chose to obey and be used by God. It was hard. It was dangerous. It was unknown. It was a blessing!

My girls gave me a necklace with Esther 4:14 inscribed on it. LOVE IT! When I don't know what to do next I remember that it is no accident that I have sick friends, lost loved ones, financial uncertainty and the list goes on. God is working in the dark days too. Read below...

God’s sovereignty is best summarized in Mordecai’s exhortation to Esther: “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
When events seemed out of control to Esther and Mordecai, when the king dictated ruin for their people, when evil was poised to triumph . . . God was at work. He worked through their dark days (Esther was taken to the harem [2:1–16]), their faithful obedience (Esther risked her life before the king [5:1–3]), and their victories (Esther revealed Haman’s plot and the Jews’ destruction of their enemies [7–9]). This message is clear: God is sovereign even when life doesn’t make sense.
God is also the great Promise Keeper. Mordecai said to Esther: “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish” (Esther 4:14). Mordecai’s words reflected his faith that God would honor His eternal covenant with Abraham and David.
So even though I have been struggling emotionally with all kinds of issues, big and small, plus trying to be a mom and wife it's important for me to remember to Thank God for the incredible blessings He is pouring out.

 Spending time with my sweet friend Danielle. Just a few months ago we were scrapbooking in Tonya's basement but now we are both praying for a miracle of healing and praising God that if He does not heal her on earth, she will soon be in Glory for all eternity.

My Senior!
Preparing for graduation is a full time job. There are forms to fill out, pictures to send in, parties to plan, financial decisions to be made, banquets to register for and lots of prayers spoken.
serving platters
the front room is a mess

3' letters covered in photos

 So many last concerts for my senior. District contest was an incredible success for Millard West choir, orchestra and small groups. All 1+ scores! Great job Em!

 Olivia is also enjoying concert season. 
She has performed with Minnesingers, R2 and Sing Omaha. This week was her band concert and next week will be school choir and orchestra. This girl has a passion for music!
not a good thing to see first thing in the morning. 
It has been a while since I could get a good picture with dad.
He is recovering from pneumonia and has a super strong heart. Love you dad!

Reagan honored Aunt Lois in Kicks For A Cure game
Soccer season is flying by quickly. Monday night was the first victory of district tournament, Reagan had a hat trick. (3 goals) The team has suffered some devastating injuries, each game I pray for every kid out there to walk of the field at the end of the game. 

This week I am prepping for Sunday's grad party...65 pounds of bacon takes a while to cook. I still have some decorations to finish and oh what about that video montage that everyone shows at their grad parties. Hmm, I may or may not get that done.

We all have a story. Whatever brings you to your knees, remember that God has fully equipped you to take on the day. I know I was created for such a time as this, to love and be loved.

Go make a difference!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Septum Surgery

Here is a photo diary of Emma's journey with Septoplasty/Rhinoplasty surgery as a senior in high school.

To share a little background info for those of you who do not know this story. When Emma was 18 months old she fell through the bleachers at Independence High School in Phoenix, Arizona. The bleachers were not up to OSHA standards and looking back we really should have sued the school district. There were a lot of suggestions

12/22 12:00 pm
Pre Surgery

12/22 2:00 pm
Post Surgery

12/22 3:15 pm
Going home

12/23 1:45 pm
24 hours past surgery

One week Post-Op
April 9th, 2017
Here we are a month and a half later and I just realized this post was stuck in my "drafts". Emma has done very well in recovery and most of all I am so happy that Emma's nose looks very natural and not all that different. I really didn't want people to see her and think, "Oh my goodness, she looks like she had a nose job!"
Here's before (green) and after (white)...there's still a little bit of swelling in the tip so it's not as skinny aka pointy as before. It will take six months for all the swelling to go away but for now Emma is very pleased that the bump is gone and she has a straight nose. All I see is my beautiful child in both pictures.

Monday, March 20, 2017

So Much Happening

"It All Happens So Fast" it's the name of my blog for good reason. Back when I started this blog in 2007, life was much different. Although our girls were younger we still had busyness, it just looked different than it does today. Busy or not, time has flown by! How is it possible that we have two teenagers and a pre-teen?

Embrace whatever stage of life you are in... Babies... Toddlers... Teenagers... Empty-Nesters... Grandkids... No kids...

The last couple of weeks our girls have filled our calendar with lots of fun opportunities. Olivia has had multiple concerts. Last night she was in 2 different groups performing at the Omaha Lancers Hockey Game singing the National Anthem and an intermission special.
can you tell we had amazing seats?
100+ R2 kids Singing the National Anthem

A Small Group of SING OMAHA at Lancers Game
Liv has such a great passion for music. She loves to rehearse, practice at home and of coarse performing is the icing on the cake. In the next couple of months we will have another Minnesinger concert, school choir, band and orchestra concert and various concerts right in our own living room. Babe, your passion brings me great joy!

High School Musical Time! Emma had the great pleasure of being in the orchestra pit this year for the Millard West HS musical, Sound of Music. Fine Arts lovers, you HAVE to go to your local high school musicals and plays. These kids are ridiculously talented! Talent yes, but don't think it comes easy. Rehearsals start months before the performances and run late into the night. Keep in mind, Emma had her nose surgery in the midst of rehearsal season. Way to work hard Em! After the first performance I quickly snapped a picture of the pit. If you look directly below the conductors wand you will see Emma playing her cello.
The Orchestra Pit 

High School Varsity Soccer! Yep, Reagan made the varsity team as a freshman and has even started the first 4 games...great job kiddo, keep working hard! Millard West High School kicked off the season Thursday at home playing Burke HS with a 5-0 win. Friday and Saturday the team traveled to Lincoln to play Lincoln Northeast 10-0 W and Papio LaVista 6-2 W. Reagan's squad has out scored their opponents 21-2 in the first 3 games. Granted, tougher games are coming but what a way to start the season. Even though it is spring break in Millard the team faced a local rival, Millard South HS. What a nail biter, we won 2-1 with a late goal in the second half. What a great win for the wildcats! The high school game is a little different than club, but we are learning.

Club and HS teammate Grace

Luckily R headed the ball and not the knee!
We are excited to have Nana and Papa back from Arizona. I know it's been killing Dean and Linda to miss the girls' activities. Yesterday we decorated their house with "welcome home" signs and left homemade cookies and they brought us freshly picked oranges from Grandma's tree. It was fun to have them at Reagan's game tonight. My girls are so blessed to have such a supportive extended family.

Loving and celebrating Spring this week!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Kansas State Visit

It was fun to go back to Manhattan, Kansas. I haven't been there since my college days. All I had to do was drive by an old apartment, see a couple intersections in Aggieville and so many memories of visiting Shelby and Julie rushed back. Oh those were fun crazy days. Please Lord, help me guide my children in a better direction than the one I traveled in my early years.

Kansas State University Wildcats use to be known as the Aggies back before Texas Tech was the Aggies. Even though KSU is still an agricultural school, there's so much more. A Division I, Big 12 school with fantastic academic, social and athletic opportunities is just the kind of place we hope Reagan will chose to play for and continue her education.

Six Elite Girls Academy 01 teammates are actively being recruited by Coach Dibinni's soccer staff. What an honor it is to have a busy coach spend an entire day with your daughter in hopes to have her chose their program. K-State finished their inaugural soccer season with a 4-3-8 season. Not great but not terrible for a program primarily made up of freshmen playing upper classmen. I went to Manhattan thinking this is NOT the place for Reagan. To my surprise, I was impressed with the coach's vision and plan to execute, the proposed facilities and the campus in general. This would give Reagan the opportunity to help build a program, maybe be part of a historical first ever Big 12 championship. For being a brand new program, it's unbelievable that they will have a $17 million facility built before Reagan's freshman year of 2020. I'm not a fan of purple but I would wear it if my daughter choses K-State. 
Makenzie, Avery and Reags

 This picture does not do the locker room justice. Seriously, K-State has the nicest locker rooms we have seen thus far! We were able to tour basketball and football lounges, locker rooms and media rooms since soccer's won't be built until next year.
 We all thought the football stadium looked small. I guess Nebraska's memorial Stadium is so impressive, there's an unfair comparison. Since she won't be playing on the football field, it doesn't really matter...just an observation.
The coaches

Pam & Roger
 An absolute highlight of my day: running into Roger and Pam Barta at the basketball game. Roger was my HS math teacher, track coach and they both played the role of surrogate parent from time to time. Their middle child has been a dear friend to me since we were 5 years old. One night Shelby and I came home two hours past curfew. When we walked in, there they stood. I don't remember everything they said but it started with, "Melanie, I'm talking to you too, now sit down!" They loved me enough to treat me as one of their own. Pam and Rog want what's best for Reags but I'm pretty sure they are pulling for her to pick K-State. When I say they are die-hard fans I mean their blood may even be purple. 

We had an impressive unofficial college visit, watched an intense men's basketball game, enjoyed exceptional food at the training table and Aggieville and attended an overwhelming individual meeting. There is a certain level of stress that comes with these phenomenal opportunities but above all we know we are greatly blessed to be in this situation. Keep working hard child and as Tim McGraw sings, "Always Stay Humble and Kind"