I’ll refrain from the overused platitudes, you know the ones: “Where does the time go?”, “In the blink of an eye”, and “My How Time Flies”.  Instead, Tom the Great and I will  say how utterly delighted and honored we are to have co-parented the bright, always entertaining and fun-loving Annalisa the Beautiful for the past eighteen years. In May, we celebrated a milestone with her, high school graduation.

family grad picture

Like boo-coos (southern interpretation for the French word beaucoup),  of others, we marked the momentous occasion with a big-ol graduation party! She put together beautiful senior boards full of pictures, and a couple of notebooks filled with awards and other notable experiences. Balloons, paper flowers,  personalized banners and pendants were bountiful.



Then there was food! Having not fallen too far from the mom tree, she requested fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and sweet tea! The fried chicken was provided by my friend Tekia Thompson of Life around the Table Catering.


But, as we all know I didn’t spend much time preparing food! I was far to busy adding all the personal touches to the home decor. You know, I love to make it personal! The home was all dressed up with childhood keepsakes and photographs that cajoled family and friends to take a stroll down memory lane.

From the moment she came into our family, she has been a sibling, beloved sister to Tom the Great, Jr. (T.J.)   They have shared a closeness that is beautiful, heart-warming, and assuring to this mom. We honored the special relationship with a favorite picture of one of their early encounters and her birth announcement displayed on the entry table.


Her baby dress, a sweet sailor dress in an even sweeter pink gingham,  hung beside one of my favorite pictures from her senior photo shoot. A moment that represented the eighteen year span with ease.




The coffee table in the parlor (I can call it that if I want to) held a tribute to our short-lived, but fondly remembered ballerina. I suppose her poise and grace were polished up in three years or so, and she was off to give sports a go!


And I ask you, is there anything more angelic than a baby at bath time?



And then, the making of  a Princess! If you were in Annalisa the Beautiful’s life from the age of two to six, it is quite likely you were coaxed into a game or two of Pretty Pretty Princess!


Of course, I take full blame, as on her first birthday the coronation took place!


She honed her royal skills even on Halloween!


Beings her guest couldn’t squeeze a congratulatory card inside her Miss Piggy Bank, we provided a vintage train case, supported by none other than Annalisa Bear! Upon the long-awaited arrival of her only Kansas City granddaughter, my sweet southern mom knew she would be in need of embroidered goods!  So she traveled our way with Annalisa Bear and the cutest embroidered bloomers a smitten mother could dream of for her preciousness!



Here is an excerpt from the video message Tom the Great and I wrote for Senior Night at our place of worship:

On February 3, 1999, God blessed our family of three with a beautiful baby girl, fulfilling a lifelong dream! From her infant months, when she was the easiest, most content baby in the whole world, to toddler years when you’d most likely find her in ruby-red slippers with Dorothy Hair (pronounced: Doowthy haia), to early adolescence when she would spend hours entertaining herself with barbies, warrior barbies we called them, likely captured by one of T.J.’s batman action figures and hanging by a leg from the stairway spindles, she has brought joy and laughter throughout the walls of our home. 

Annalisa has always been very bright (a math/science girl), creative, kind-hearted, and a friend to anyone and everyone. Sprinkle those characteristics with an extra dose of competitiveness and watch the fun! Whether in academics, sports, debate, or just a family game night, Annalisa was always poised and focused on victory.

When she was 10 years old, she played for two basketball teams (a recreational team because she loved her friends and a competitive team for the torture). One summer morning following a particularly grueling workout with Coach Damion, while walking to the car, she bent down on one knee and (sorry) threw-up! I thought to myself, while holding back her hair, I guess that’s the end of basketball. To my surprise and delight, she stood up, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and said, You signed me up for the next session, didn’t you? I had underestimated the physical and mental toughness of my girl!

Our prayer is that you will always yield that strong will to God’s will, and recklessly pursue His perfectly planned calling for you!


The celebration’s in the books now. But, her life story is just moving past the introductory paragraph!

Enjoy Today!

Love y’all,

Lori Nell


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