I never knew what this would evolve into, had I planned better the beginning would have been bigger but then again, maybe the way the posts grow each year just show how much she grows!

Pandy grows in so many ways, over the years I’ve kept up this note adding each first and last day of school. It brings me joy seeing the changes in these photos and knowing all the little things that are different each year about who she is becoming. I couldn’t be a prouder mom.


First Day of KindergarteKindergarten (August 2006 – May 2007): She grew so much during that first year of school.. it amazes me even now how she just caught on to everything, I remember the first time she learned to read her first book (Elmo sneezes), how she just loved school and was so lit up inside.


Last Day of Kindergarten:

Last Day of Kindergarten


First Day of First GradeFirst Grade August 2007 – May 2008: Then came first grade where her appetite for books soared, trips to the public library became routine, and where she was still so excited about learning and school and proclaimed math her favorite subject.


Last Day of First GradeLast Day of First Grade


First Day of Second GradeSecond Grade August 2008 – May 2009: Second grade… Oh my, it came with a quickness I wasn’t ready for. she had grown so much in so many ways. still with an appetite for knowledge, devouring books left and right, and hating whenever she had to miss a day of school.  Everyone knew her name, her teachers loved her, and she started to really become this little person and not just a kid.



Last Day of Second GradeLast of Second Grade: 

Since second grade got out she couldn’t wait to get back. We’ve been counting down the days and every day at least twice (today it was 4 times) she laments how she wishes tomorrow she could go to school. she was so happy to be able to go to school when she got enrolled, just for that brief 15 minutes.I can’t wait to take her picture on the first day and look back at how much she’s changed. with all her changes, each year she changes so profoundly. What an amazing little girl she is








First Day of Third GradeFirst Day of Third Grade August 20, 2009: She loved that dress and couldn’t wait to wear it. She was so proud, always was on first days of school to dress up and shine.  That smile just warms my heart.  This was one of my fave first-day pics.



Last Day of Third GradeLast day of Third grade May 28, 2010:  Now today is the last day of Third Grade. She has become more independent (which sometimes causes her to be extra cheeky), she is still a voracious reader, she loves science – she did a biography presentation this week about Charles Darwin (video to come), and although she’s on her way to being a tweenager already, she’s still little girl enough to crawl onto our laps for snuggles. I cannot believe how she has grown – not just in height but in her soul. I’m in awe of her, even through our struggles and those are normal I just cannot believe that we are blessed with such a bright little thing. She brings us joy with just her smile, she gives love unconditionally, and she is the absolute center of our universe.







First Day of Fourth GradeFourth Grade August 19, 2010 Wow, I cannot believe our girl is starting fourth grade today. I seriously can still recall her first day of Kindergarten, standing there in her cute purple shirt and skirt, those adorable shoes she just had to have, and that sweet sleepy face smiling back up at us.


She’s grown so much since then, grown even more since the end of Third Grade. This summer she spoke up more about her likes, her opinions, she started asserting herself more, and she realized she was growing up. She’s not a fan of growing, she wants to stay small, but that child has so much in her that she could only grow, so much love, so much sparkle, so much joy. She is still reading like crazy, finished three books this week alone. She’s handling friendships better, handling disagreements better, and she’s working through those growing pains of life. We couldn’t be prouder of her and cannot wait to hear how her first day went! And yes, I cried this morning. I never cry on first days but today I did.. as she stood there waiting for the bus, I saw the makings of this young girl. Not a child, not a kid, but a young lady. it just smacked hard how quickly time goes by when you’re wrapped up in her world.


Last Day of Fourth Grade

Last Day of Fourth GradeLast Day of Fourth Grade – May 27, 2011  Cannot believe the school year is over, this one went by even fast than the last one. I guess what ‘they’ say is true when you have kids the days go by in a blur! LOL Fourth Grade was a growing pains kind of year, still good, lots of great memories, but it was different. She ended the year with another set of straight A’s all year, perfect attendance, and lots of friends. Fighting against growing independence, the want to be so much older than her 10 years, and our fight to keep her a little bit restrained, respectful, and on the right path proved a challenge to her parents.


We saw continued good grades, her interest in reading, writing, and art but a divergence in the types of friends and the way she shared. She wants to spread her wings so far, to be so bold and grown, but she has many years left to do that and doesn’t need to rush it. So many of my friends told me how hard this grade would be and they were so right. I don’t remember this being a rough year when I was her age, but children have changed so much since that time. She’s a wonderful girl, smart, inquisitive (for which she won the Terrific Kid award) and awesome sense of humor. She’s soulful, caring, loving to those around her. With all of that she struggles, she’s trying to be her own person so at just about every turn we were faced with this bold attitude that sometimes we just don’t know what to do with and sometimes she doesn’t either. To see the look on her face when she’s realized she’s crossed a line and that whimper in her voice when she apologizes, kisses our cheeks, and tells us she’s sorry – we know we’re doing good. We are working through it as best we can and continue on the path to making this kid the best she could be. We know this is challenging, that’s what being a parent is all about – they don’t come with manuals that tell you everything to do, its a total “feel your way through it” process. I guess for me, I just didn’t expect this rapid change even though I saw it in my nieces, I just thought Pandy wouldn’t go through that whiplash moment where some days I’m just shaking my head in wonderment. Anyway, we continued playing soccer, keeping her involved in things outside of school and had another wonderful two seasons this year. She has started learning how to play guitar and seems to enjoy it and has taken to it. I enjoy seeing her grow into a new interest (that isn’t Justin Bieber) and am so lucky to get to sit and watch as she picks up this new skill. As for what summer holds, she will go to summer camp again this year and is really excited about it! We look forward to the summer, to seeing her continue to grow, to finding time to visit family, take a much-needed family vacation, and to not waste a minute because we are so grateful for our family, so fortunate for what we have, and we three will continue to prosper as we always have!


First Day of 5th Grade – August 18th, 2011  This first-day note is just a little bit different than the others. This one I write to her, not to anyone First Day of Fifth Gradeelse. This year you start a new school, in a new town, with a new life. So many changes happened for you in such a short amount of time but like everything, you’re standing tall and blazing forward. You’ve already made some new friends and are figuring out how to tackle this latest challenge. I hope that you will still love to read and gobble up books by the dozens, faster than we can keep them in your hands. I hope that you will still love to listen to all sorts of music and jam out when you think no one is looking. I hope that you will still pick up paper and pen to write a fantastical story or draw a cute cartoon. I hope that you will still have that sense of adventure you have always had. I hope that you keep your same ideas about how people should treat one another and not bow down to peer pressure. I hope that you still stand up for everything you feel is right, no matter what the cost. I hope that you still see the beauty in everything around you and see things that others just can’t or won’t. I hope that as this year progresses that you keep moving forward, challenge by challenge, and you come out on the other side even more brave, smarter, with an even bigger warm soul that you have now. You are an amazing girl, you have brightened the lives of so many people, you have made many lives worth living. Keep on shining like the bright star you are and you will go far in this life. I am so proud of who you are and I can’t wait to see what comes next for you. What new thing you tackle, what thing you are so proud you’ve done. I just can’t wait. I love you, my chicken. My sweet sweet girl. I love you so much.

Last Day of Fifth Grade:

Last Day of Fifth Grade


First Day of Sixth Grade

First Day of 6th Grade – August 15th, 2012  Every time I start one of these, I reflect on how much you have changed, how grown you are, and just how in awe I am of you. You’ve done an amazing job with the adjustments to a new school, made new friends, and have become quite the little nerd and I love it. Seeing you grow into your own, try new things, discover new music, and really settle into the person that is, Pandy has been an incredible privilege. I want you to read more, you kinda dropped off that a bit over the last year and I know that you love it, so just pick up more books! Remember, I’ll never say no to buying you things to read! Continue being who you are, standing up for yourself and others that are being hurt, and be proud to be you. You’re an amazing kid!!

Right before Sixth Grade year ended


Last Day of 6th Grade – May 22, 2013  I don’t have a picture from that day…but I’ll never forget that time of year because it was when the huge tornados ripped through Moore and surrounding places.  It was hectic around, no power, debris but luckily she was fine, we were fine, and life moved on.  I didn’t write a post and I will always regret it but life got swirled up a lot and it was something that just didn’t happen.  So I don’t have a post, I don’t have a picture, but we had spent a great weekend a few weeks before at the Zoo and having a wonderful Mother’s Day playing mini-golf at Hey Day. A loving kid she always has been and I know she always will be.






First Day of Seventh Grade - the eyes closed version

First Day of 7th Grade – August 15th, 2013  – (Eyes closed version LOL)The change from last year to this year is kinda crazy… I’m overwhelmed with how much you’ve changed… you became this little lady, not a kid – even though I’ll forever call you kiddo (just deal) – you aren’t a kid. The way that you talk, the way that you are, the way you decide what is for you, is admirable. I look at you in awe.. knowing that you’re going to be growing friendships, solidifying the ones that you have, making new ones, and forming bonds within the school that will maybe if you’re lucky, stick with you your whole life is wonderful. I love the style you have, the quirkiness that you have – some might think that’s a negative word to use to describe someone but I love that word. I love that red hair, it embodies the fiery spirit that you have. I freak out that you wear makeup, that one day soon you’ll probably have a boyfriend, but I trust that you will take care of yourself, that you will do the right thing in all areas, and that you know what is important. Your taste in music freaks me out but so reminds me of both of your mother’s – with the swooped hair in the face you definitely remind me at your age (I think Mama was probably the same style, too!). You stand on your own, while you do struggle with your anxiety, you know that there are plenty of people that love and support you through all your struggles. Please keep up your studies this year, I know you struggle with being bored, with losing track of things, but you’ve gotta get that under control kiddo. Remember, this is your job! Good grades are your ticket to a good school in the future to help you with what you want to be, your career, your future. You’re rolling your eyes right now, I’m sure because you’ve heard me say this for years and I’ll keep saying it because I’m your Mom!! =) I love you and I look forward to seeing what the next chapter is for you… You always have all my love and support, always.

Last Day of Seventh Grade


Last Day of 7th Grade – May 21, 2014…Wow, you have indeed changed! All of what I said on the first day of school still holds true AND you did so well that you made Honor Roll this quarter and I could not be prouder. We all are. This summer, enjoy your days off, read some books – many of them – and draw more, write more stories.. You are so talented, you have such a creative soul that I hope you use all of the talents and develop them more. These are the areas where you excel!! As always, keep being you, keep trying hard, and keep fighting the good fight. I love you, darling girl. Always! xoxox






FFirst Day of Eighth Gradeirst Day of Eighth Grade August 13, 2014  Tomorrow, my daughter starts eighth grade. EIGHTH GRADE!! It’s hard to believe. I know we all say that as kids grow, but it is. It’s bittersweet in many ways. I still see this tiny, smiling little girl that wore a size 5T purple corduroy skirt and purple shirt with birds, on her first day of kindergarten. She was so full of smiles that day. It was infectious. She couldn’t wait to get there. To wear her new backpack and carry her lunchbox. Couldn’t wait to see her teacher, Miss Clark and to make new friends, and most of all – to learn.

I was so proud of who she was then and over the years, through the craziness that is parenting and life handing us some unimaginable hands, she continues charging forward! She learns and she cares, she hurts, she struggles, but it is so amazing to watch her as she grows.

I love you, Pandalina. You are magnificent. You make us all so proud. Remember, through it all, especially as teenage days get harder, more annoying, more dramatic (they always do!), I will always be in your corner. I will always cheer you on. I will always, always, always be here for you and love you. I couldn’t be prouder to call you my daughter. To be honored to be Mommy all these years, and to marvel as you grow more into the skin of this incredible creature that you are. It is one of THE greatest gifts I’ve ever been given. I love you, my chicken. You are phenomenal.

In The Little Prince, one of your favorite childhood books that Mama used to read you, is the quote, “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.” Your heart feels so much and sometimes you can’t understand it all, and as you prepare for this new school year with new challenges and adventures waiting, I know that your heart and all it’s “feels” is making you into more of that person you’ve always been, building up more of that little kindergartner that had her own “save the world” club. You are already doing amazing things for others. Keep doing those things but also take care of your own heart. <3 Kick ass, my eighth grader!!  Always, Mommy xoxox

Last Day of Eighth Grade


Last Day of Eighth Grade May 21, 2015  Today is your last day of eighth grade.  I cannot believe this year is already over.  It was one of those years that I didn’t think would end because it just felt full of so many things. Many of them wonderful things, like a new job for me, a new house for us, and a new family as Tony and I got married.  In all the good were many, many challenges of heart and mind.  While you continue to astound me at the level you think and feel, I know that you still need hugs, continued support, and sometimes just your head in my lap while I wipe away the tears.  You are continuing to learn more about yourself, to stand up for yourself, and to tell the rest of the world who you are.  It isn’t easy, it has never been, and there are demons to fight against and many things to defend again.  You feel so much, sometimes more than I can even comprehend but the good thing about all of the challenges you keep coming up against is that you keep fighting. You know it will get better.  You want it to get better.  For that fire in your belly continues to be stoked by those that love you, but mostly by your own determination to grow.  I look back at other things I’ve written and many of the same things are said over and over.  There’s a reason for that, it’s simply because you continue to be amazing.  I have no doubt that you will continue to climb the mountains that come up in front of you. I know that whatever you chose to put your mind to, you will accomplish.  I don’t want you to get sucked into the apathy that many teenagers have, I know its easy to sit and play video games, to tune out into texting, but when I see the spark in you about something you want to do or learn, you are better than many adults I know.  I love you so much, my darling girl.  I will keep being here to support you, your interests, your growth in whatever way I can.  I’ve told you that from the start that I’ll always be here.  I’ll keep saying it, not because I don’t think you believe me or that you need to hear it, but simply because its the truest thing that I can ever say that tells you just how much I love you, care for you, believe in you, and support you.  I love you so much.  I haven’t sent you off on your first day of school in a few years but I’m glad that today, I get to see you on your last day of eighth grade and hug you, squeeze your face, and tell you how proud I am of all that you’ve accomplished this year. xoxo


First Day of Freshman Year! August 12, 2015

My high schooler

My high schooler! OMG OMG!

I still can’t wrap my brain around the fact that today, you started HIGH SCHOOL.  Yes, I’m shouting!  I have a feeling that this year is going to be your year, kid.  You’re so excited for percussion, vocals, art (THANK GOD these things are being brought back to your school district).  You are excited about biology and even algebra.  Your excitement is infectious and I’m just giddy waiting to talk to you after school today to find out how it went (hopefully in more than one-word responses LOL).

Over the last 6 months, I’ve seen you start to come back around to the excited, smiling, more optimistic kid and it’s been such a relief to see you smile more, be more engaged, and be HAPPY!  This summer, you got back into playing soccer. While you aren’t jazzed about the team dynamics, you’re playing hard and giving it your best.  For that, I’m proud of you.  The most awesome thing this summer was the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls where you blossomed into a drummer, into an even bigger supporter of your peers, and where I got to see you shine once again.

You got hooked on drums and now get to do percussion at school (I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’m guessing maybe band drumming) and this THRILLS me.  You finally get to engage that creative side of you at school that you have so very much needed.  Then you add in vocals AND ART!  AND ART!  I cannot wait to see what creations you make from all of these experiences.

I just have a good feeling about this year, my chicken.  As always, I’m cheering from the sidelines watching you make decisions and navigate life as much on your terms as we can allow a 14-year-old.  I’m just in awe of the brass that you have sometimes in how you handle yourself.  You are brave.  You are bold.  You are fierce, feisty, and just amazing.  I love you kid.  My highschooler… not so kid like anymore it seems.  You’ll always be my chicken, my kiddo, and I’ll always be here.  Always.

Last day of Freshman year – May 20, 2016 – Today is your last day of ninth grade. Last day as a freshman. Wow. Another year you’ve conquered. Another year we are all so proud of you. I see so much growth in you these last several months. I see you looking ahead to all that is possible by you. So many dreams. So many desires. So much want to better the world and help people. I marvel at the person you are and who you still will grow to become. You have taught me a lot about life. About trust and honesty, and what’s really important. I am so proud of you, Pandy. Watching you continue to fight through the tough things, to mature, and realize what you are worth. Keep it up, kid. Keep it up. You are already doing great things and I know that is what you will keep on doing. Keep wearing your shades, my darling because your future is just as bright as it’s always been. You make me so proud, kiddo!!








Sophomore Year – August 11, 2016: Growing up so fast and like a flash, she’s a sophomore. She had a pretty good summer, most notably the week she stayed with us to go to Rock and Roll Camp for Girls!  She was again a drummer, and despite some struggles with anxiety, she killed it – she really did.  I was so proud of all that she accomplished.  This year she will begin taking French! I look forward to hearing her speak the phrases that I know will sound just sweet coming from her.  She is changing so much, sometimes so fast.  Still struggling with standing on her own but to see her fight against the things she does makes me have faith that she will conquer everything.  This summer she was baptized, and I was thrilled because the week after (I think it was) I was also baptized!  I hope she grows closer in her relationship with God and maybe that will help her with some of the battles she faces.  I’m getting really bad about writing these each year, as time passes away from when she lived under my roof.  I’m still here watching, still listening, and will always be.  Do us all proud this year, kiddo!




Last day of Sophomore Year – May 19, 2017 – she was celebrating her step-sisters graduation from Cashion High this night wearing a dress I had bought her for a dance. She looks happy and adorable in this. New challenges coming up for her as she’ll be the oldest in the house when Julare goes to college. Shifting dynamics of caretaker of her little sister and juggling school work and responsibilities.

First day of Junior Year – August 16, 2017 – I cannot believe that you started your junior year.  The time has gone by so quickly, it feels like a blur.  I don’t have the ability to write a long “oh how she grows” post these days, simply because time and space have changed our relationship.  I sometimes don’t feel like I know you as well as your other parents but I’m coming to terms with that.

I’ll always be here, always.  I am fortunate that right now you are on FB so I catch glimpses of you through the memes you post (and oh, do you love memes) and pictures.  You are such a beautiful girl, fragile around the edges but with a strong heart.  I hope this year proves to be the year you truly find your footing and take care of yourself.  I love you so much, my chicken.  Always. xoxo

Last day of Junior Year – May 18, 2018, Not her fave picture but it’s what I have to work with. She was headed off to Arkansas with Kim and Mike for a quick weekend visit and then heading to a family vacation with her Dad’s family. I have missed her so much this year. So much I don’t know, so much I can’t write about because of the weird space that is between us for reasons I don’t completely understand. I make my love known to her however I can and I cherish each conversation I have. Starting next year she is going to need help with college prep and I hope she knows that I’m here to help her through the process. I have been in higher education since 1994 – as a student and then as a full-time employee. I teach freshmen so I have somewhat of a clue as to how to guide her through a lot of this. I love her so much and always will. Our relationship may have shifted slightly but I am reminded I need to trust that the seeds I have sown have taken root. When you plant a tree, you don’t see the fruit for years. First, it has to grow and mature.  


First day of SENIOR YEAR – August 16, 2018

To come….