The couple days leading into school had some pretty exciting events.
First of all, Grace arrived home from China.
Oh boy, were we ever excited to get her home!

 It was a pretty JOYFUL reunion I tell you that!

 Let’s get a closer look at that welcome home sign because that, my friends, is a masterpiece right there, don’t you think?

HA!  But hey, at least we had something.
Woo Hoo!
The next day, bright and early, came the moment this girl had been waiting for since she turned sixteen the day before she left:

It was kind of a fiasco because I accidentally signed us up for the wrong DMV…the one where we had gone the night before to practice three-point turns with her friend and she felt READY for.  They told us no big deal, we could just head to the other place where we had the appointment.  But when we got there Grace was stressed like nobody’s business because she hadn’t practiced her parallel parking like she would have liked and she was so worried that was what they were testing her on there.  (Which, btw, she is really great at, and would have passed with flying colors.)

But it was still the three-point-turn after all and this girl came out with a huge smile after that little test.

 Does that look like a happy girl or what?

But I’ll tell you what: her mother was more happy than she was.  And still is.

I cannot tell you how that little piece of plastic added to her wallet does to my life as a mother.  We’ve missed having a driver around here!  She is the BEST to run errands for me and pick up or drop off whatever, and I’m telling you, we are both loving the freedom like nobody’s business.   
Meanwhile, the day before that girl of ours got home, the long-awaited class lists were posted at the elementary school.  Oh man this Lucy girl had been counting down the days.  And I had been sick to my stomach with worry.  Really, who she gets for a teacher is a pretty big deal.  I don’t want to sound dramatic, but I really think it could make or break her year in a lot of ways.  She needs structure but kindness.  She needs understanding but expectations.  She needs to have someone who “gets” her and it makes such a huge impact, so much more than my other kids.  I had had some meetings the end of the last school year with a few teachers at the school because of some things that happened at the end of 4th grade that made me even more worried about the upcoming situation.  Really not big deal things to anyone else, but I just know how Lucy works, and I know having good kids in her class and having a great teacher can make such a difference in the life of this girl.  Sure, you always want great teachers for your kids.  But that desire is sure stepped up a notch with a child with special needs.  Really, all the fifth grade teachers are supposed to be great, but a lot was riding on this for Lucy and I was pretty nervous.
We kind of have a little tradition to go check out the class lists with this cute friend with the glasses shirt below in the middle, so we went and met up with this other cute friend too and found out they are all in the same class with the best teacher ever!  

This girl got SO LUCKY!  And she knew it.

 (Do you like how she has the list of what she can and cannot eat with braces clutched in her hand?  Just in case, you know, there could be some questionable food there at the school in the 110 degree weather.  Ha!  She seriously carried that thing around for almost a week after she got those new adornments on her teeth.)  All about those braces back HERE.

A couple nights later we went to meet-the-teacher night at the school.

Her teacher used to be the librarian so she knows Lucy really quite well and is darling with her.  It’s going to be a great year.  This is how we felt coming out of our little date to the meet-the-teacher night:

The next day was “the-first-day-of-school-eve” and we did some last-minute errands and Grace handed out the gifts she got for her sisters in China.


And she brought me my own set of beauty chopsticks too:


She also took the girls to Bahama Bucks with her fancy new driver’s license…

…which promptly turned everyone’s lips blue…had to scrub those puppies pretty good before the first day!

And see that lady behind her up there?  That night before school I had scheduled her to come do haircuts.  We kind of have a tradition of that and missed it last year (she was having a baby).  So we were excited to have her come and fix us all up.

(Love that Aubrie!  She’s cut our hair for years.)

She came at 2:00 and didn’t leave until ELEVEN O’CLOCK at night, because we had a family of neighbors join in and my sis-in-law’s family who was getting ready for a wedding.

The most entertaining part of the night was watching this nephew get shorn:

 (He had sported that hair for a long time but was chopping it off for his brother’s wedding.)

We were all quite entertained:

 Let’s get a closer look at all those faces:

There we go.

Finished product:

(The mustache was going later:)

Claire had to try on her outfit with her new pretty hair:

 She was pretty excited with those braces blinging out her teeth.

And this rainbow was somehow mixed into that last day of summer.

Then school started (more about that back HERE), and schedules started to rule our lives once more filled with lessons and appointments and sports and all that hoopla.
But to wrap up what still goes with this post, we need to talk about Grace’s “report” on China.  That first week of school we invited the kids that went to China with her and their families over to spill out all the details of their trip.

 Loved it so much.

They had so much to say about those adventures over on the other side of the world, and were all glowing with happiness about it all.

The other two girls who went with them were in Idaho, but we were to glad to get these four and see all kinds of pictures and videos of all they did.

 Hopefully it helped cement it all into their brains…and hearts too.

Grace and her sweetest-ever roommate:

 Who also happened to be one of Elle’s great friends from high school.

 (and who also happened to have the exact same shirt as Elle that Grace had been wearing the day before:)

Oh, and one more important thing:  Grace got her Young Women medallion right when she got home as well.  (all about that over HERE).

It was a pre-requisite to getting that driver’s license, and it was pretty cool because she learned so much from that and finished off the last stuff the last day in China.

What a summer that was!


    1. Yes, anyone can go, it just so happens that the first people who went last year were Mormon and they told friends who went this year. Not sure if they will be doing it again this next summer, so we were pretty happy Grace got to jump in for such a great learning experience.

  1. Good grief, Shawni, could you possibly be any more disorganized?? Something this important to Grace like the drivers license test, and you signed her up at the wrong DMV? SMH.

    1. Dear Tabby, perhaps it will make you feel better that the lady at the DMV told us this happens all the time because of how the DMV addresses are listed online. In fact, there was a lady and her son who were right behind us in line who had the same problem. We went through the whole adventure together and both kids passed and it made for a pretty funny memory. That being said, I am certainly not the most organized person and that is something I'm always trying to work on. We're all trying to work on things in life, right? I hope that you can give me (and other readers too) the benefit of the doubt and try to keep comments kind. Kindness matters!

  2. Claire seems so much younger than my daughter who is also going into grade 8 ( she's turning 14 in November ) but how cute are all those 8th graders!
    My grace is also getting her learners in November and I wonder if it's normal to be crazy anxious ( me, not her, she's thrilled) I can't imagine her driving with anyone lol

  3. Since Shawni is human like the rest of us (read: imperfect – gasp!), perhaps a little slack could be given? From what I've read in this post, things seemed more than a little busy surrounding the whole driver's license dealio. Mistakes happen, and you know, their family seemed to do just fine! (Reminds me of my first day of college where I went to the right classroom on the wrong day – life happens! Keep calm, and carry on.)

  4. I am a regular reader of your blog but have never commented before (I'm an introvert:). Anyway, I want you to know that your life, your family and your family life all are very inspiring to me. I love reading about your adventures, your lovely, close-knit family and all the ways you work towards raising your children in the Lord. I am very impressed by the way you raise your children, the way your parents raised you and your siblings (and your husband's parents) and I am wondering if this is the norm for Mormons or if you all are the exception? If this is the norm, then I think Mormons have a lot to teach the rest of us about raising children! Thanks and God Bless!

    1. Hi Lea! Thank you for the kind words. They mean a lot. There are so many wonderful, strong families out there, Mormon and not Mormon. I think the key ingredient is LOVE. The unconditional kind. I do love that as Mormons we are encouraged to build family time into every day life in so many ways. Family is a constant focus in everything we do. And all that attention on the family is bound to make a difference, right?

  5. I love that picture of those cute girls together after seeing their class lists! And I love our tradition of going to see those class lists together even more!!!!

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