Tuesday, August 18, 2015

College Bound

We're sending this girl off to college this week, and I'm still in a state of disbelief.  (For those of you not familiar with Jessica, she is my BFF Eileen's daughter, and since Eileen is like my sister, Jessica is like my niece--in every sense of the word.) It's not that there hasn't been plenty of time to prepare.  Jess graduated from Hinkley High School (with high honors, natch!) in 2014, but she chose to take advantage of the ASCENT program our district offers high school students.  (read all about this amazing opportunity here)  By taking some concurrent enrollment classes in high school and staying in Aurora for an additional year to attend the Community College of Aurora, Jess was able to complete an Associate of Arts degree in one year, without having to spend a dime.  Now she is off to UNC in Greeley, enrolling as a junior!

So yes, Jess got to stay around an extra  year, and that should have given all of us time to get used to the idea that she would be heading out.  She's capable and more than ready, but it's hard to see that when you've known her since birth.  Because when I see her, I see

this girl
always dancing, always smiling, always beautiful.

and this girl
spending Sundays in the Springs with my family and crushing on my nephew Andy!

and this one
celebrating holidays and birthdays and weddings and always having the time of her life!

and this one

rock star fundraiser, especially for the Arthritis Foundation, and superstar member of Team Thompson and Friends for all ten years that we have walked in the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis.  Jess, your generous heart and beautiful spirit made the sun shine on those snowy days and thawed even the coldest mornings--minus one awesome degrees--on those 2nd Sundays in December.  Wash Park glistened because of you.  Thank you for putting your heart and soul into this event.

and this one
loved and supported so much by her family, including her cousins, her aunts and uncles, her grandparents who cherish her presence when they visit or when she goes home to Nebraska, and her father and step father.
And most importantly, Jessica's mom, my BFF, who has raised Jess to be honest, caring, hard working, a believer, a dreamer, a risk taker, and a giver.  Thank you, Eileen, for sharing Jessica with me and for bringing this beautiful girl into our lives!

and this one
always invited, always included, and always, always loved by the entire Thompson family.   We all adore you, Jess, and are so grateful you are part of our lives!

and  of course this girl
Jewel's babysitter, protector, the only one who can get her to eat when she's being picky, and the only person (besides my mom) whom I truly feel 100% okay leaving her with.  Thank you, Jess, for loving JuJu as much as I do!

but mostly
this girl
Watching this tiny little pumpkin with this high, squeaky voice grow into a stunning young woman with so much talent and soul has been amazing.  So many memories will forever be in my heart 


  reading books together, with three-year-old Jess inserting her own names into the story (Cheryl Thompson, into the woods!) 

and the way you pronounced my name (Shale) all the way into your teens and even now hearing it occasionally come out in your voice 

and playing tons of board games like Wizard of Oz Trivia or Yahtzee while we drank Cokes together

 and our countless sleepovers which always included food and movies like Aquamarine and those Twilight movie marathons where I would only make it through one but you and Jewel would stay up all night watching all five

 and our pool therapy summers, always making a Sonic stop afterwards for a breakfast burrito and a Coke that always tasted like the best Coke EVER!

and all our shopping and lunch and theatre dates

and your talent for entertaining so many with your dance and your voice and your drama

and touching all our hearts.

Now it's time for you to go out and touch some more.  Just don't forget to

call your mom every day
message and FaceTime me and Jewel and Lee OFTEN
come home on weekends every now and then
study hard
be yourself
know that you are so loved.



Thursday, August 6, 2015


Meet the newest member of our Royal Family!
Quinn Audrey
Quinn Audrey Fries was born on May 5, 2015, to my niece Micki and her husband Tyler.  

Anxiously awaiting Quinn's arrival were her two big brothers, Ethan (herehereand here) and Drake (here.)  They stayed with GG while Micki and Tyler were in the hospital, and of course they were the first to be notified of Quinn's birth.  Both of them could hardly wait to meet their new baby sister and see their mom and dad!
Going to visit, bearing gifts!
Ethan is an amazing big brother.  He knew how to spell Quinn before anyone told him--I was teasing him and pretending Quinn's name was Lynne.  He vehemently said "No.  QUINN.  with a Q"!  Micki asked him how he knew it was a Q and he said 'because it sounds like kwa--q.u.a"!
Ethan and Quinn
From the beginning, Drake has been enchanted with Quinn (Kin as he says)--especially her tiny hands.  He often asked to hold her and still does three months later,  They are going to be such good friends, I know!
Drake and Quinn
Not only does Quinn have two big brothers to love and protect her, but she also has the most incredible grandparents.  GG and Jimpa Coover were there to welcome their third grandchild and first granddaughter.
GG, Jimpa, and Quinn

Grandma and Grandpa Fries also live nearby, and they were there to welcome Quinn to the ever-growing Fries family.
Grandma and Grandpa Fries with Quinn and E

Grams got to meet Quinn when she was three weeks old!  She immediately nestled into Grams' safe, loving arms.  Two months later, she was nestled in again <3
Grams and Quinn
Quinn is surrounded by so much love.  Indeed, she got to meet the entire Thompson family, all 31 of us, at Kyle and Ashlie's May wedding.  Everyone wanted to hold three-week old Quinn, and hold her we did.  She got passed around more than a Nebraska football!  It was beautiful.
Quinn with Great Aunt Kerri, Cousin Aunts Ana and Amy, and Great Great Aunt Donna!

Of course, a girl must have her BFFs. Quinn is off to a great start with two of the most ah-dorable little pumpkins, Hailey and Lucy.  Hailey is Micki's friend Brooke's baby girl, and they are just one month apart in age.  They're already going through the handholding phase!  Lucy is Quinn's 2nd cousin.  They are going to be best of friends, just like Micki and Jill, despite what this picture might suggest!
Hailey and Lucy with Quinn
I'm still smiling cheek-to-cheek smiles from my two visits with Quinn (Quinnerina as I call her, much to Ethan's horror).  I met her for the first time when she was three weeks old at the same spot I met her brother Drake two years earlier--Old Chicago in Kearney, Nebraska.    I absolutely could not wait until the next day when everyone would arrive in Lincoln, and so I made a small pit stop in Kearney on my way.  I'm so glad I did.  Because three-week-old Quinn was so  . . .
alert--looking around at everyone!
but also
sleepy--such a good baby!
delicate--little baby hands and slim fingers!
but also
strong--she was already holding her head up!
tiny--nothing like a newborn!
but also
big--a nine-pound baby!
girlie--around all those boys!
but mostly
beautiful--melt-your-heart beautiful with dark hair and dark blue eyes!
When I saw her two months later, she hadn't changed.  Oh sure, she had grown.  And she was smiling--lots of smiles!  But Quinn was still strong and girlie and so

It's fun to imagine what lies ahead for Quinn.  Will she be . . .
a gymnast like her mom?
a brainiac like her GG?
a jock like her dad and uncle and brothers?
a teacher like so many of her family members?

Wherever her path leads her, I'll be watching and cheering her on, along with 30 other Thompsons!

(here are some of my favorite pictures of Quinn so far)
Quinn photographed by her Aunt Sarah
click here for Sarah Hadenfeldt Photography webpage

Newborn Quinn with her mermaid and other photos by her mama 
All smiles!
3 months!