2015 was good to Novalie. She blossomed into a beautiful young woman with a kind heart full of laughter, an artistic mind and soul, a growing testimony and a few inches in height.
Here are some highlights from 2015 (not in order):
~Her elementary school had a contest for the cover of their yearbook. Novalie entered and WON! I will never forget her running through the field towards me with joy radiating out of every fiber of her being. She was jumping up and down screaming she won. I teared up because I was bursting with joy and pride myself. Her winning was a tender mercy. Kids do not get recognized in school for artistic abilities (except in art which her artwork got shown as examples many times). They are drilled with test scores, test scores, test scores for math and reading so I was really excited that she got rewarded for one of her true talents. Man alive, that was a good moment.
~She participated in two plays. She had small speaking parts in both plays and she shines on stage. She loves it and I have to say her facial expressions are the best. It is such a joy to watch her perform.
~Every student in 6th grade had to write a graduation speech and the three teachers picked one from each class to give their speech at their graduation ceremony. We watched some examples online to give her an idea what a speech was and she wrote a great speech. She got chosen to give her speech from her class. She was both nervous and excited to be given such an honor. Another moment where I was just overflowing with how proud of her I was.
~Speaking of graduation, she graduated from elementary school. That hurt my tender heart because a door was closing in her childhood and it was all just going by too stinkin’ fast. She was blessed with amazing teachers (except 5th grade….not a fan of that teacher) and amazing counselors who played a key part in her social success during those years. She picked a beautiful new dress to wear, let me actually curl her hair and it was a beautiful day of celebrating that spunky, energetic elementary school graduate.
~Had an amazing 12th birthday party with 2 of her best friends. The theme was Jurassic World Cupcake Wars. It was a great, fun fun birthday.
~Started Young Women’s. She worked really hard on memorizing the last of the Articles of Faith she needed to get her Faith in God award from Primary. Then it was on to Young Women’s which she was so ready for. Novalie’s first day of Young Women’s all those sweet girls came to her primary room to escort her to the young women’s room and I witnessed that with tears streaming down my face. I sobbed. Novalie was over the moon ecstatic to start Young Women’s but again my tender heart could barely stand it. Of course I was so excited for her because some of her best memories of her life will be made in Young Women’s and her testimony will grow by leaps and bounds. Watching her walk away with those girls surrounding her made me want to run after her and rock her to sleep because there was no way she was that grown up. Be still my beating heart.
~Spring Break 2015. It was so fun. Novalie and I had a little staycation and did all sorts of fun things together. The car rides were my favorite as we talked about a wide range of topics. Some serious, some funny, some just nonsense. She has strong opinions about topics and she is fun to have a deep conversation with. Another highlight from that week was Novalie and her best friend riding Trax for the first time. They were standing up holding onto the little circle handles that hang down. They were laughing uncontrollably and loudly because they loved it so much. Everyone on Trax were laughing at them (or with them). Pure child happiness. I just soaked that girl up that week while we had good bonding time together.
~Girl’s Camp. This was such a big deal for us. Seriously. I don’t need to go into the whole psychology behind it, but I will just say I waited 7 years for Novalie and 12 years later she is my only child. We are close and being separated does mental things to both of us. However, this is girl’s camp we are talking about. So fun. She went. She loved it. She said is was so hard to be away from home, but she was so proud for making it the whole time. She bonded with the girls and the leaders, she grew up a little having to be independent and her testimony grew. I am so happy she went and she is too. However, that call that she was back had me shaking. I rushed to the church and held on to her for a long time.
~Going to Dancing With the Stars live tour. Novalie has watched Dancing With the Stars with me for two years now, so it was incredible to see the pros in person dancing. Such a fun night together.
~Her cousins returned from living in France for a year. Novalie was so so so excited to see them again! We met them at In-n-Out for a little reunion party since that is the first thing they wanted to eat after returning to America. Novalie adores her cousins and wishes she could spend more time with them, so she was over the moon with their return.
~Novalie went through something extremely hard, heartbreaking, just devastating at the end of summer. It is not a highlight, it is a lowlight, however it has been a big part of 2015 and it took months…months for her to recover from. And since this is a recap, I am including it because I want her to remember she can do hard things. Novalie has had the same best friend for 4 years. Inseparable, at our house 3-5 times a week all day/all night kind of best friend. I dropped her off on a Thursday August night after a night of laughter and playing America’s Got Talent with Novalie. That is the last time we have seen/heard from her. Her mother would not respond to my pleas of any sort of explanation to help Novalie understand. Who does that? I begged her to give me some idea as to why her daughter was no longer allowed to be friends with Novalie. Silence. Never got a single response. Who does that? After 4 years of being together all.the.time. So Novalie was left absolutely heartbroken with no information as to how to fix it or get closure on the friendship. She cried many many tears over it. It kept her up at night. I cried for her as I couldn’t take away her heartbreak and pain. I was so sad for her. That sick type of sad only a parent knows when their child is hurting. We talked about it and talked about it and talked about it and talked about it. I told her time was the only thing that was going to heal this situation because we knew and still know nothing. And it has taken a looooong time. We can now talk about the situation and look at the positives that came out of it. Novalie can and has done hard things.
~She started Junior High! We had such an exciting/nervous energy in our home leading up to the first day. So many conversations about how she was going to do great, all the 7th graders were in the same situation, if she got lost there would be teachers to help point her in the right direction, about how there was plenty of time between classes (her main worry was getting a tardy), building up her confidence because she was ready and could do it. And she did do it! After that first day finally happened after all the anticipation, it was a hard transition. Ten classes was a lot for Novalie to keep track of, keep organized and stay on top of the assignments, remembering to turn them in, bringing home the right homework and getting used to ten different teachers. She did NOT like the crowded halls one bit and it stressed her out. We helped her with ways to stay organized and I left her little post-it note reminders those first few weeks to help her. The crowded halls? Well, we couldn’t change that so she just had to get used to it. With time the hard transition period was over and junior high just felt normal to her.
~My sister Danielle and her boys came to visit. The boys that lived with us the summer of 2014. It was the first time we saw them since they lived with us. Novalie was so excited and happy to see her cousins! It was a joyful reunion and we had a fun filled weekend with them.
~Her first two band concerts. Novalie chose to play the flute in 7th grade and loves, loves, loves it. She was excited to play in the concerts and did excellent in both. I loved watching her up there in the band playing her flute. It makes me really happy and teary. She has gotten quite good in a short amount of time. She has an hour of band everyday which is cool because they are able to learn at a fast rate. Playing the flute was one of the top three things she was looking forward to about junior high. Watching her play in concerts was my top thing. It makes me so proud!
~Her Halloween costume. It was my favorite one so far. Novalie wanted to be Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6. It took some e-bay searching to find all the components and some creativity for the other parts, but we pulled it off. She was happy with the results and loved her costume. Her blond wig freaked her out and she said she never wanted to be a blond! This is the first year she went with friends trick-or-treating. She had a blast while we sulked at home about how our hearts hurt again from the growing pains.
~Our only family vacation during 2015 was to Richland to visit Grandma and Grandpa Jolley. It was such a good trip that our little family really needed. We had a fun drive down with Novalie and Olive being perfect travelling companions while Kevin and I had fun, good conversations. We love going to Richland and doing all our favorite things there, but visiting with Kevin’s parents is our most favorite.
~She starting taking archery lessons. Novalie is good at archery. The archery coach said Novalie will go far in archery if she wants to because to succeed you have to listen, follow instructions and have a passion for it. He has been impressed by her and after only two lessons invited her to join a group that compete and some that are training for the junior Olympics. We have not committed to it yet, but I think her future will have some archery in it one way or another.
~She made the honor roll her first two semesters of junior high. The second semester she worked really hard to get two of her grades up. She ended up both semesters with all A’s and one B+. After the rough start she had, I am so proud of her for working hard to get it all figured out and doing well in her classes. Her first semester of math, her final grade was 104%! Yes, I said math! Her math teacher is so nice and patient and the extra help math class has made all the difference. I am so proud of her for how well she did the first half of 7th grade!
~Ashley, Novalie’s cousin left on her mission to San Diego. This was a highlight for Novalie because she got to be a part of Ashley getting set apart which was such a neat/spiritual experience. Ashley is a great example to Novalie and it made Novalie more excited to go on a mission of her own.
~She has made new friends. Good friends. Great friends. Amazing friends. She has a group of three friends and her at school that have become best friends. Four girls, even number….phew. There is a girl that moved into our ward a few months ago that is one of those three friends and her and Novalie sure hit it off. I have met the other two girls through get together’s out of school and they are nice, good girls. Four months in their 4 person best friends group and not a single ounce of drama. Which is well deserved for Novalie. I prayed and prayed and prayed that she would find a good group of friends when she started junior high. Tender mercies and blessings from Heavenly Father that she found these friends. She loves her friends deeply and is fiercely loyal to them so it is a happy thing to see her laughter return with these new friends. She has several other close friends that she spends time with out of school as well as her little friend group, so she is socially busy as always. Good friends are such a blessing and I am beyond happy that she has found some.
~That leaves us with the last big event of 2015 which was Christmas. During 2015, Novalie’s love for sharks grew huge. She talks about swimming with them all the time and is pretty much obsessed with them. I knew I wanted to give her a shark themed Christmas and it was awesome. Everything came together beautifully and her Christmas morning shark spread was very well received as she adored it all! It was my favorite Christmas morning spread from Santa ever.
I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for my Sunshine T-Rex! Whatever it is, I am sure it will be done with high energy, loud laughter and confidence. Because that is who she is. I am so proud of the year Novalie had in 2015. So many changes happened, but we grew and changed with them even when it was painful at times. I really want to stop time because dang each year it goes faster and faster. I adore Novalie and she is now and forever my shining star.