Prom is almost, but not quite, a bad word in homeschool communities. Like it's okay to say gosh and darn but don't get mothers started on the P-word. Dancing that isn't 18th century style? Music other than Chris Tomlin? Lemonade...on the rocks?

You can imagine why I use the term "Prom" very loosely here.

It was such a fun dance! I danced a lot. And thankfully there are no videos so I can safely say I'm a great dancer and there is no evidence to prove otherwise. By the end of the night, my strapless bra had failed me 3 times, I learned 3 new dances and basically became friends with everyone there. Success for this social butterfly!

If your mom says it's okay, click the jump to see more (conservative, modest, homeschooled) prom photos. I promise, I was home in bed by 11.

Summer Drizzle

Time has been trickling by, but thank goodness it's summer now! Though I'm not sure it was be a summer that reaches High School Musical 2 standards (basically the epitome of sun-filled, summer bliss) but that's okay too. I've got a lot of growing to do this summer; mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And while in the short term, those don't feel as rewarding as poolside Popsicle's, it'll be worth it in the end.

(Or at least, it better be. If not, I'm demanding a second summer.)

It looks like a nice beach day but LOL. If you've never believed in the magic of the camera, this should convince you cause it was actually so dark and anything but sunny out, a great start to summer because we had plantain chips and I was 5th wheeling.

HAPPY HIGH SCHOOL PEEPS! Saying Sionara to dumb drama forever.


HOLY CANOLI! I graduated High School in the most homeschooled way possible!

How? I'm sure you're curious. No I didn't walk down the aisle in a denim skirt and you're right, I'm not one out of 10 siblings who all happen to be proficient in greek, latin and violin. But we homeschool kids have this joke that we never know what grade we are in. Someone may look like a simple tenth grader, but don't be fooled. They're actually still finishing up last years algebra and they're three years ahead in don't judge a book by it's cover or by a homeschooler and what grade they're in.

So anyway, I graduated from high school, threw my cap into the air and got emotional about school ending...a week before finals.

This picture makes me so happy. Our mothers are best friends, we've grown up five minutes away from one another, we've been on field trips and actual trips and my first sleepover was at their house! He literally drove me everywhere for like 10 years when I refused to get my license, and even let me choose what we listened too once or twice. I cried a little when he gave his speech. Even though I'm three days older, my little brother isn't so little at all!
I just have to say that if my experience with saying yes to the graduation dress is any indication of how it will be when I go shopping for my wedding dress...I'm never getting married. Because wow! First of all, i placed a ridiculous amount of significance on one dress but on the other hand, I love dresses! And at that, I have a lot. So this one needed to be special. 

(And for once, need is not a relative term.) 

After buying 3 and trying on at least 20 others, I settled for this one. And I use settled very loosely because I love it a whole lot. It was comfortable and classy and I looked like a senators wife. Speaking of senators, check out my best friend! My best friend who I literally tell EVERYTHING but we've only hung out twice lol. Life is funny, so is Jonathan and I didn't even trip on stage in those $20 shoes that happened to go well with my ridiculously overpriced dress.

It isn't every day your boss speaks at your graduation. It isn't every day that you pick which tie goes better with the grey pants for your best friends dad. It isn't every day that you get to feel this loved and this special.

Many thanks to the incredible people in my life who have helped me reach this point. My opening prayer, well it still rings true. I'm incredibly grateful God gave my parents the heart to homeschool me and sacrificed so, so much for me to walk across that stage...a week before finals.

So you can continue to pray for me and deliver chocolate at my doorstep, because I've got one final date with High school and you can bet it's gonna be a darn good one. 

PHOTOS: 90% by @imsarahchristine who is the best human ever
DRESS: Lilly Pulitzer
SHOES: Target haha
GOOD FRIENDS: All mine. 


“A garden to walk in and immensity 
to dream in--what more could he ask? 
A few flowers at his feet 
and above him the stars.” 
-Victor Hugo

 I told a friend about my blog, which is something I rarely (read: ever) do. He was super complimentary and kind and it was a good experience! But he made a comment in passing out the name of my blog and it stuck with me.

"Garden of Happiness? What does that even mean?"

Granted, his comment wasn't much more than a "haha" and everyone's favorite emoji, but it still made me do a double take and wonder why the heck I chose that name for this blog and if there was any deeper meaning or if it was just as spur of the moment as everything else I do.

We were driving home through Ocala three weeks ago, all eight of us crammed in one suburban with every nook and cranny stuffed with bags, blankets and extra stashes of jelly beans (cause you know, sitting in the car for thirteen hours requires a lot of energy slash motivation slash food. duh.) Have you ever driven through Ocala though? Because it's a serious place for contemplation and reflection. The sun was ridiculously bright that day and the clouds were so perfectly shaped they looked nearly fake and I got to thinking about things...which is also something I rarely do.

Having spend the past week in the mountains, celebrating our senior status by no curfews and annoying freshman, the prospects of the future and the pain and positive memories from the past were  on everyone's mind and a popular topic of discussion.

When I think about my four fateful years of High School a lot of unfortunate outfit choices and awkward moments come to mind. But when you look at who I was, a scared and insecure tiny freshman...I've come a darn long way. I have grown, not always graciously or gracefully, into the person, the ADULT, that God created me to be.

I realized that I have begun to bloom.
And then I thought of Jonathan's question.
And then, it all made sense.

The word "Bloom" is grossly overused in hipster circles. And while I hate to be cliche (except where starbucks is involved), it seems to really fit in this particular case. When I mindlessly named my blog "Garden of Happiness" so many eons ago, I didn't realize that this truly would be a place for me to blossom. From a creative standpoint, I have this blog and my mother to thank (also jesus!) for any decent photo I can take now. I've taken thousands of awful photos, posted hundreds of equal or lesser quality and written a whole slew of typo infested words to go along with.

Not only do I have the depths of the archives to look back on for memories sake, but my creative journey is clearly documented (albeit some of it cringeworthy, but documented non the less) and it's encouraging and refreshing and embarrassing, all in one!

I remember sitting in the student lounge one day my freshman year. I was awkward and pimple prone and all that teenage jazz. As I was chowing down on my pizza, two of the senior girls breezed through. Instantly, my friends and I were soaking in their every movement; They way the walked was impeccable! I specifically remember being quite entranced with the brown braided belt Rebecca was wearing.

(Because I'm not creepy at all)

Now as a senior (and a blonde!) I've realized that it isn't as magical as it seemed back then. Sure you have free reign, but you also have like, responsibility and stuff. And a future to think about. And car payments to make (thanks mom!) but still.

Growing up isn't always easy. But it can be fun and at the end of the day, it must be done. I'm thankful the Lord has carried me through these past 4 years. To revert back to my flower analogy (my whole life is a flower analogy, tbh), there have been a heck of a lot of thorns and droughts and weeds to grow through. But somehow, I managed. To grow and blossom and bloom and flourish and all that flowery, florid jazz.

(Rainer Maria Rilke)
(whoever that is)

Unless you live in a commercial, being a kid isn't always sunshine and roses. There are skinned knees and broken hearts, myriads of hurt feelings and a handful of humiliating moments. (okay, make that a couple handfuls.) But in the end, I'm still in vivid bloom.

And I'm grateful. And I'm thankful. And in case you were wondering...I really love flowers.

All in all, my life is pretty good right now. And very different from my life 4 years ago. I'm graduating, dating, driving to starbucks at least 3x a day for peach tea, working and going to like 10 different churches (oh and I'm gluten free. live gfree man.) I'm thankful the Lord allowed me to bloom into the person He created me to be. I'm not scared of people anymore! I can make phone calls without breaking into a nervous sweat! Forget not failing high school, 
that might be the biggest accomplishment of all of them. 

I started this blog six freaking summers ago, having no idea that the name of it would foreshadow my future and inspire many poor life metaphors along the way.

here's to blooming and growing, forever.

Happy TwentySixteeniors.

Here's to all the kids I've had the pleasure of photographing! Thanks for putting up with my awkward photographer stance. Also, Thanks to the police for not arresting me for trespassing because I'm actually better at that than photography!

But really, I love doing this. I don't know where it will lead or how it looks for the future but I'm glad I stole my brothers camera seven years ago. I've taken thousands of photos; some good, some not, some very very terrible but all in all, it's my favorite thing in the world. I'm thankful for the growth and progress and also terribly grateful that I've still got a long way to go. 

Moral of the story? Breaking the law isn't always a bad thing. 

Throwback three (cringe)


"We are a generation of young women 
who were told we could do anything 
and instead heard that 
we had to be everything."

This month I admit: I can't be everything. This month I acknowledge my weakness, my shortcomings and this month I'm making choices that will make me whole again.

You should too.