Beautiful Day

Monday, June 23, 2014

Giving Life through Celebrations

We officially enter what I like to call "The Season of Celebration" in May.  I guess that is because the string of family birthdays begins.  We have sort of a pause for a few months, and then a succession of birthdays.  But honestly, celebration is a theme in my life.  I suppose I would call it a "life message" that God uses to speak to others.  So celebration is really a theme all year-round, and there never really is a pause.  It is a primary way I give life to others, especially my own family.

Every year May is a "crazy month."  End of school year activities, birthdays, recitals.....just plenty of activity, and a little more than I prefer all at once.  Yet lots of opportunity for memory-making as well.  This year, we added a graduation to the mix.  That took months of energy, time, and planning, but was a tremendous blessing.

It has become a tradition for the birthday daughters to get to go out to tea with Mommy in honor of their birthday.  This year we found a new and oh, SO lovely spot run by a sweet older woman who loves Jesus!  You can also tell she is fond of the color purple, or rather, lavender.  I wish I had a photo of her darling sparkly purple apron (I want one!).  When I complimented her on it, she remarked, "I tell people it's because I am the daughter of a King!"  Love that!

The tea was perfect, the food was beautiful and scrumptious, and the environment so lovely and peaceful.  My Princess Girl soaked up every minute.  Even the food has a lavender theme--lavender cookies, lavender-almond cake, lavender scones.  But there were strawberry tarts!  Delightful!

Princess Girl took this picture of me with my tea.

On the day of her birthday, one of her gifts was a book on ballet.  She just cannot wait to take ballet lessons!  For the time being she is learning some at home and this book is so lovely and inspiring.  She has spent hours creating her own little ballet studio in the room with a wooden floor and a wardrobe with a mirror.

Parties with friends are a big deal with little girls.  I have done these for years, but have had some seasons with less "party activity" than others, particularly when these ones were younger.  Now I can hardly escape the "I'm planning for my NEXT year's birthday party!"  Yes, some times I wish for a little less activity, but I usually find that even the simplest little gathering is a tremendous blessing to these girls.  And I know my own birthdays are some of my biggest memories (maybe that's because I'm a "celebration girl?"  It did NOT sit well with me the year that, as an older teenager, I felt like my whole family forgot my birthday!  But that's another story...)
So.....even with graduation planning in full swing and on the immediate horizon, we found a way to make a simple party with just a couple of friends.  It was a sewing themed party, though these cute little cupcakes don't have much to do with sewing.  They were something I "pinned" and Princess Girl loved them and thought they were the perfect thing for her birthday!

We also had these button cookies.  Cute and easy! (And wheat-free to accommodate a guest)

The girls made these embroidery hoop art projects with their own initials and embellishments.

All in all, a very successful party without a lot of stress!

Now we move on to the big graduation!  This was our first time through this.  It all came together so well, and I think was a wonderful blessing to Country Girl.  It was a precious time for her Daddy and me too!  After all, it marked not only a new season of life for her, but the fact that we had guided one child all the way through her home education years!
I suppose it could be easy to not mark graduation by any special ceremony or recognition when you home educate.  After all, we teach them that learning is lifelong and doesn't really end.  One season can easily blend into another and sometimes the child may not seem to care too much about all the "pomp and circumstance."  But I believe it is an important marker--for BOTH the parent and the child.  I have had a few moms confirm this.  Ones who have had children commemorate the occasion, and ones that haven't.  The ones that haven't usually wish they had.  Again, it is an opportunity to mark and celebrate life.  And I don't pass those up!

We had a two-part celebration, as is common for many graduation celebrations.  There is the Open House for family and friends, and then the actual ceremony itself.  Our Open House had a bit of a garden theme to it, as it is the primary pursuit and delight of Country Girl.  This rocking chair arrangement greeted our guests upon their arrival.

Just a small part of  the table display that showed some of her accomplishments over the years.  In the place of a regular guest book, we chose to have guests sign a "real" book--a lovely gardening book about methods used at Colonial Williamsburg.  It was one of those perfect provisions, combining both her love of American history and her love of gardening.  The basket was just the right holder for cards and small gifts.

We had a dessert reception, which was so much fun to make even if a bit of work.  You could say this table was a lot about Country Girl's accomplishments too.  For she loves to bake, and she helped me with a significant amount of the work here.  We always like to look our for our wheat-free and gluten-free guests, so we adapted some recipes.  Strawberry lemon cake, fruit bouquets and skewers, strawberry-rhubarb tarts, fruit pizza cookies, graduation cap chocolates (very fun for all children to help make!), oreo chocolate mini cheesecakes, and lavender cookies.  Plus a couple of cookie bar selections contributed by friends!

A lovely and blessed evening to share with family and friends!

Now onto the ceremony.  This was put on by our state Christian home education association and they did a most fabulous job!  I really like how there is room, with a small group, to read a biography on each student and to see each student's life in a few photos.  And that the parents presented their own students with their diploma (and that the students presented Mom with a rose :)  Who can argue with roses?)  Everything was meaningful and beautiful.

Fixing the collar

Class of 2014

The reception.
Table display for all of the graduates

After the flurry of graduation activity, it was time for some relaxation and fun with friends for the girls.  So Country Girl and Adventure Girl invited a couple of friends over for a "Pride and Prejudice" movie marathon.  It was a bit of training for my girls in hospitality, event planning, and caring for guests as well.  They did a lovely job putting together some fun food ideas and making it all beautiful.  And I think they had a wonderful time together.

I encourage you to take a little extra time to bless someone you love with a memorable little outing, gift, or celebration.  Even if you aren't a "Celebration Girl" like me, you will certainly bless someone by a little extra love and attention shown by giving someone life in the simplest way that you choose to celebrate.


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