Let the Commencement Commence!

Milestone at my house last weekend.  Alex graduated from high school on June 12th.  Very likely the last school district on the planet to hold commencement exercises, but that’s ok.  It let me hold on to thoughts of my baby just a couple of weeks longer.  Oh, okay.  I’ll hold on to them forever, but those twelve years went by in a flash. 

Graduation is held at the University of North Texas Mean Green (only they’re just not that mean) stadium because it’s the only place around here that can accommodate the gigantic schools in the district.  The FMHS Class of 2010 had about 635 735 kids (update, Alex corrected me on this).  Add all their brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and some friends, and that’s a house full.  Here the graduates are lining up.  Alex is the guy in the dark gray shirt, black tie. 

We were late getting there, so we made him walk from the service road to the stadium.  All students had to leave their contraband behind.  Alex was looking for us when we finally got there because he couldn’t take in anything except one car key.  Nothing else.  Except underpants.  No extras, though, but I can see where an extra pair of underpants might come in handy on graduation day or any other ceremony where you have to walk in a long dress without tripping in front of thousands of people!  He had taken his wallet also, and so it was a good thing we happened by when we did, ’cause he didn’t have his phone to call us either (phones were definitely on the no-no list).  

We were glad Alex had highlights so we could find him in the dark blue sea of 635 735 graduating seniors.  

Finally, the “N’s”!

…looking happy and a little bit proud of himself!

Receiving his diploma… 

 and hugging a favorite counselor on the way back to his chair…


Alex after the ceremony with Sara and Daniel

with Anna Pam and Uncle Don

with Nanny and Grandaddy

and with us.

…and then the five of us.  The Neal grandparents and Aunt Kelly were also in attendance, but unfortunately we only got pictures of them before the ceremony, on their camera.  They were out in the parking lot bravely fighting traffic as we took these pictures.  I’ll have to post an update at a later date.

Getting back to the basics, playing with bubbles back at home (bubbles, the perfect graduation gift!).  Actually, we did get Alex something else to mark this momentous occasion, but bubbles seemed a nice little extra. 

The next day we held a brunch to honor Alex and his friends and bandmates, Tyler & Jacob.  I took a few pictures just before the party, and didn’t take any more after it actually started (again, unfortunately!), but here’s the cake before it got mutilated.  We talked about carving Nick’s head out since he hasn’t graduated yet, but that seemed a bit harsh.  However, Daniel managed to carve Alex’s head out of the middle of the cake and showed everyone whose head he was about to devour.  Then the other guys mutilated each other’s faces on the cake, so you see, just because a kid turns 18 and graduates, doesn’t mean he’s grown up.  No, not so much. 

A collage poster that Alex and I put together the night before…

Some band memorabilia and the band – Tyler, Alex & Nick (unfortunately, Jacob is missing from this picture).

So, happy graduation guys!  The future is bright!  As of this writing, Alex has already been to his college orientation and registered for his fall classes.  Being the last to graduate also makes for a short summer!  Before you know it, he’ll be moving into the dorm.  Nope, don’t want to think about that just yet…

Update… after reading my friend Char’s blog about her son graduating also, I realized I didn’t even say how  uber proud we are of Alex.  Sorry, Alex!  I know you told me never to use the word “uber” again, so I’ll rephrase… we are ultra proud to be your parents, as proud as we can be, and are absolutely bursting at the seams with pride and love for you!  I’ll stop there because I’m out of kleenex.

There, that’s better!


About That Map …

I’m on a back to nature adventure of late, my bike rides for instance. Ok, ONE bike ride. To be fair, that particular bike ride was actually a “city” bike ride, but seeing that I was on a roll, I asked my daughter if she wanted to go on a hike with me last week. She did want to, yippeeeee!!!

So, on Memorial Day we packed up the hippest fanny-pack ever with a few essentials and set off for the trail at Lake Grapevine. The same tortuous, winding and bone-crunching trail I described last time through the eyes of a sexily clad mountain biker, the voice of a wounded trail-beating warrior, and the instinct of a shameless tree hugger (and if you read my last post, you’ll know that the tree hugging part is absolutely true …). Namely, me. I was bound to do better on foot, but if not, my daughter would be by my side to tend my wounds.

This is Texas and it is hot in Texas (really?). The trail is fairly shady, so it was comfortable in the shade, and hot as hell, er, Texas, out in the open. We saw some pretty flowers …

some beautiful butterflies …

I was so close to this butterfly and he didn’t flinch. Sara said he was showing us his stuff to try to scare us off. Scary little guy! We saw a bright blue butterfly twin but he did not want to show us his stuff. He just teased us for a bit then left us in the dust. Below are a few scenic shots for you. It’s a lovely trail, and doesn’t seem so treacherous now, does it? Ha, try it on a bicycle!

We even went through a bamboo forest. Honestly, I’ve been on this trail a few times, but didn’t know (or at least didn’t remember) that we had a bamboo forest at our very own Lake Grapevine. Amazing!

Taking in the fresh hot air and the awesome scenery, we just couldn’t get enough of hiking, until suddenly we did. Achingly tired tootsies and hunger pains commenced. What we had figured to be a two hour hike had turned into something more.

Johnny (Daddy-man) had drawn us a map before we left, which looked reasonable enough.

… and gave us these instructions… go for a long way, cross a gravel road, see a log, then do a loop back around and you’ll end up back at the trailhead where you started and where your car is parked. Or some such instruction like that. Who knows, it didn’t work and neither did the map. There were many logs, several gravel roads, and trails here and there, so after a while, the map went back in the fanny pack and we just walked in the direction we felt would get us back to my car, more or less. Turned out it was less.

We kept going further and further and figured, what the hell, we’ll just go to Little Pete’s, get a cold drink, a snack, then suck it up and call Johnny to come get us. We peeked over the trees (we were in a hilly spot) and could see Little Pete’s. Seemed a reasonable thing to do, no way in heck were we going to find the car. Yep, Little Pete’s was just over there. We’ll just take this little side trail and we’ll be there in no time. No time at all. Except we passed Little Pete’s and suddenly (no, not suddenly, more like a half-hour later) we were on the other side of the marina looking at Little Pete’s from the opposite direction.

Toes were throbbing and I felt like my feet were giant logs. They no longer seemed like my feet, just plodding hurting things. There were neighborhoods around, surely there was a street, but nope, nada dang street despite what the GPS told us. We were getting nowhere fast except further from our destination, and we ran into a couple on the trail and did the forbidden thing, the thing that a man would NEVER do. We asked for directions.

No, young ladies (well, one young one and one old one) no way to get off the trail for a long time this way, might as well go back from whence you came. It was time to make the dreaded phone call. Yep, we’re sort of lost. Johnny says I can meet you at the MADD hut. We never found the MADD hut, but we did finally find Little Pete’s. Honey, please come pick us up at Little Pete’s in a while? We’re going in to get a cold drink and a snack. Oh, and bring money ’cause we don’t have any. Fanny pack was stuffed with sunscreen, kleenex, lip stuff, bug spray, and we each had a water bottle. It was only supposed to be a two-hour hike, after all. No room for nonsense such as money and IDs.

Four and one-half hours later, aaaahhh, refreshments at last!

and a drink for Johnny, too.

We had fried pickles, and neither one of us is even pregnant. Well, pretty sure of that, but they did taste heavenly.

Johnny arrived to pay the bill and fetch the little women and he gently reminded us of the map, and what about the directions he gave us? Yeah, about that map … Funny thing is, Sara told her boss about our adventure the next day, about the map and the directions, and the first thing her boss said was, “Is he an engineer?” ‘Nuff said. Neither of us really speak that language.

Here we are below, tired, but alive and well, a few insect bites perhaps, but no open wounds!