Yesterday was the beginning of a new era.

The twins graduated from eighth grade.

I sat in the stands and watched as the principal called their names and they walked across the stage with smiles that lit up a room…

…and my heart in their hands.

When did this happen?

Wasn’t I just sitting at a tea party with bears and dolls and a pink striped elephant with a giant opinion?

Wasn’t I clutching their hands at the door to their kindergarten room?

Wasn’t I just bandaging scraped knees and telling people not to draw on the walls with sharpies and painting tiny toe nails that giggled?

And then?

I blinked.

I found this picture of the twins from a post when I first started the blog.

Before braces.  Before cheerleading.  Before basketball.  Before boys and middle school.

And I found a story I wrote from that long ago time.

A story that made me cry.

A story that made me wish for all those yesterdays.

A story about a twirly whirly skirt and my hope for their tomorrow.

One of the twins had to have a twirly whirly skirt.  I guess twirly whirly skirts are all the rage if you are nine and Hannah Montana is your fashion icon.

I saw her outside one day.

Arms lifted to the sky.

Blonde hair floating in the wind with a smile on her face.

And her twirly whirly skirt was whirling–whirling like it could whirl until today turned into tomorrow.

My heart skipped a beat and filled with overflowing emotion and awe.


Awe at the joy and the abandon with which she twirled.

I wanted to pause that moment in time.  You see, time is so fleeting and the years rush by faster and faster than a twirly whirly skirt could ever twirl and one day in the not so distant future, that skirt will become a distant memory.

I wanted to imprint that twirly whirly skirt on my heart forever.

For the storms ahead.

For the teenage years.

For the braces and challenging skin and middle school hallways.

For the challenges and difficulties that life sometimes puts in our path.

I want to tell those twirly whirly skirted girls sometimes life can be challenging.  Sometimes what you hope and long for isn’t meant to be.  Sometimes the mountain may seem unclimbable.

But this is my hope and my prayer for you–my precious, precious daughters.

When faced with the mountains and valleys of life…

…. put on your twirly whirly skirt and dance.

I Hope You Dance

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you’ll dance…..I hope you’ll dance

                                   ~Mark D. Sanders & Tia Sillers

PS  After graduation I found one of the twins in the hallway all by herself—barefoot and spinning her swing dress around and around.

My heart smiled because she hasn’t forgotten how to twirl. 🙂

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  1. Image for Nancy @ Slightly Coastal Nancy @ Slightly Coastal

    Oh I love this story. I had a lavender twirly whirly skirt with white polka-dots and bells in the skirts. I still remember it. Every little girl needs a twirly whirly skirt in their life. I just did pre-k graduation on the same night I attended the high school band banquette. I cried at both. I cried reading your story and I cry as I write this. They grow so fast. Almost as fast as the grass grows in Florida this time of year. I think I need to put on my twirly whirly skirt for this mountain, friend. Just remember my motto as we venture through all this change: Crying isn't a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you are alive. N

  2. Image for sydney85 sydney85

    I hate to tell you but high school goes even faster! Not sure whether it is the amount of homework or extra activities that eat up so much time but before I knew it my daughter was getting ready for college.

  3. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    *sob* They grow up fast, don't they? Your girls are beautiful and I know you must be so proud of them. Makes me miss the days of twirly whirly skirts and dinosaurs (for my son). Here's to new adventures and chapters in life! May they be just as capture worthy! hugs, Cecilia

  4. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    It seems like they were just in 4th did this happen? Love the whirly twirly skirt story....may they continue to dance! ;)

  5. Image for Taste of France Taste of France

    Oh dear. This took me back. We bought back-to-school clothes largely at JCP and Kohl's during the summer trips to the U.S. Our daughter was thrilled to have things that were different from all the others, whose choices were limited to the same handful of shops in our nearest small city. Yes, they had adorable French outfits, but they were all the same. We were at Kohl's, my daughter's eyes huge with excitement, and went to a dressing room that was impossibly large compared with European ones. She tested out each dress to see whether it twirled adequately. Sadly, she ended up in third grade with a teacher who disapproved of twirly skirts, even when worn with shorts underneath and tennis shoes. The skirts got nixed and years later she wants nothing to do with them.

  6. Image for Michelle Michelle

    Awww, I love this sweet story! It's true for me that the years went by so quickly and left me wishing I'd taken a lot more pictures. So, if I've learned anything in my sixty-something years, it's that life is still full of happy, wondrous moments and we should always be prepared to take a picture. And put on a twirly whirly skirt once in a while ourselves.

  7. Image for Kris Kris

    Oh KariAnne. This fall I will have a high schooler and a middle schooler ... no more elementary years for me. Seems unfair I get hit with both transitions at once! I was holding my niece's almost-one-year-old the other day and I stopped myself from saying "enjoy every second because it flits by ...". It's hard to understand when you are in the middle of middle-of-the-night calls and whining and illnesses and not being able to go to the bathroom without a little one following you in. Thank goodness I can content myself with spending fun time with her little one--makes up (well, a little bit ...) for the ache at watching my own kids get impossibly older.

  8. Image for Rebecca Turner Rebecca Turner

    I feel ya! My granddaughter will be in high school next year and I am only too aware that she will soon be driving. That means that she won't need me as chauffeur. Being part of her dance carpool has kept me in her inner circle. But she'll soon escape the chrysalis and fly. That's only how it should be but I sure have enjoyed these years with her! And yes, I hope she continues to dream and to dance! I enjoyed the twirly-whirly skirt story, both times, KariAnne, with her heart up to the sky, and yours in your throat! You

  9. Image for Ellen Ellen

    Beautiful daughters, beautiful story and beautiful photos! The Twirly-Whirly skirts once loved by my two daughters are a distant memory from 30 yrs. ago. They only live on in the old photos I keep (much to their dismay). Thank-you for this lovely post. Best Wishes to the Graduates!!

  10. Image for Debbie Debbie

    What a beautiful story. My beautiful boy is graduating from HS Next Friday!!! I can't believe how the years go by so quickly.

  11. Image for Linda Miller Linda Miller

    Hang on! You're about to get on this marvelous, scary, crazy, fun, emotional, and rewarding roller coaster ride called high school...times TWO! Enjoy every fun and scary moment, because it too, will fly by. How can we just slow down this time thingy? Love your post. Your twins are simply adorable. I think I need a twirly skirt. After yesterday, I could sure use one! lol

  12. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Time travels far too fast at times! So glad they can still twirl and have those sweet smiles and giggles through these years. With a sweet Mama to cheer them on!!

  13. Image for Denise Cox Denise Cox

    Gosh darn, Karianne! You should have been an author!! I'm saving this to my Thistlewood Pinterest board. How loving and sweet you are. You are such a fantastic Mom! Congratulations to the twins!! You are raising two very special daughters!!!!

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Denise, LOL! I am an author. :) Here's the book (although it doesn't come out until September 5): Happy day rock star! karianne

  14. Image for Sue Sue

    Oh rats, I am crying again!!! I love your writing and so appreciate how you share with us. I have twin daughters who are grown with junior high, grade school and babies of their own. I can relate to your stories so well. Thank you for sharing and sharing and sharing and I want to keep on sharing and sharing and sharing. I love everything you do and every story you tell. You are a master storyteller! And the girls are just so adorable. You have done a great job as their Mom!

  15. Image for Liz Liz

    Wow, looking at the twins, I bet, is like looking at you in junior high!! How wonderful for them that in their mom, they can see the pretty women they will grow into!!

  16. Image for Anne-Marie Anne-Marie

    The one with the striped shirt looks so much like you !!! (I'm sorry, I don't know her name ...) If your heart pinches now, you can't imagine the pain when they leave home definitely. Soak in every present moment you can !

  17. Image for Lisa Lisa

    You have completely destroyed me this afternoon with this story. I just sent my oldest off on a trip to Disney, without us, and it will be the longest he's ever been away, and he's about to be a senior. Sigh I blinked too.?

  18. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    What a charming story! I didn't have kids, but I can identify as I have 4 nieces and 6 nephews. They are now all grown with children of their own. I recall when the oldest nephew turned 50, my sister- in-law said "how did that happen?" I wondered about that myself. He was 2 years old when my husband and I got married. The years do go by fast! Thanks for sharing your story!

  19. Image for Barbara Moore Barbara Moore

    I wish I could tell you differently, but time will only speed up from here on out. High School will be here and gone in a matter of moments. It's such a privilege watching you wring out every single bit of joy from your children's moments. I know you still twirl every now and again. Your sweet girls have learned from the master. What a blessing!!

  20. Image for Becky Becky

    Yep, I remember when my daughter was little if the dress didn't twirl we didn't buy it. She's all grown up now. I agree, time goes by so quickly. You have beautiful daughters. They have such pretty eyes and smiles. High school is fun too, they'll do great.

  21. Image for Alice Hanson Alice Hanson

    Oh KariAnne! I love your stories! Those girls are so adorable! My daughter was a twirly girl too! I had forgotten about that so very many years ago! Thank you for reminding me! My grandson, the Australia one, will be in year nine. The school dances are more and more! Lots of happy and not so happy times! But they have the most wonderful Mother to twirl with them! Smiles, alice

  22. Image for laura laura

    my three grown up girls ( 32 to 27 years old !!) still test for twirl when shopping! they don't always purchase the twirliest skirt but they always check!!

  23. Image for Milena Milena

    Well said! I gave my son the same words to that song when he graduated from high school last year. Everytime I hear it, I cry. Next year when my other son graduates from high school, I will give him the same song. And cry even harder. Time does go by so fast. Thanks for sharing. Milena

  24. Image for Stephanie Ray Brown Stephanie Ray Brown

    Truly exhausted from the flood of emotions as my baby graduated high school. Exciting time for him.. but oh my mess of a time for me. Cried an entire day and still a bawlbag that night. But then I called the pity party off. Some mother's never get to see their children cross that stage. Some children never get to see their parents beaming with pride and yes being a bawl bag too. Children are truly angels on loan. Not ours but his. Great plans He has made for them even before they are born. But oh my sometimes it is so hard to let those children go so they can start their soar for our Savior. Especially when it is your last angel on loan and that nest you worked so hard to make will now be empty. Hugs friend and yes I blinked too.

  25. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Gorgeous story and I still remember the twirly whirly skirt tale. I'll be willing to bet that the acorns didn't fall too far from the tree and their mommy had a twirly whirly skirt when she was young. I can see bits of you in your Thistles -- yep! They will grow up to be beautiful, warm-hearted, fun-loving women. Have a happy weekend. HUGS! ?

  26. Image for NormaJean NormaJean

    Congratulations on their graduation! Think of all the exciting, touching stories ahead as they enter High School! They are beautiful girls with hearts to match. Good job Mom and Dad!

  27. Image for Rowena Philbeck Rowena Philbeck

    That was so wonderful!! Your girls are really beautiful and look so much like you. Congratulations to them and on to another new adventure !!

  28. Image for Yvonne @ StoneGable Yvonne @ StoneGable

    This made me cry! Your twins are so beautiful! And I have a secret for you dear friend... your whole life will be filled with these moments. God just keeps on bringing them to us through milestones and mates and grandbabies! It gets sweeter and sweeter! And every morning you will wake up with a heart so full it could burst! Treasure every single moment. I know you will! Who do you think taught those darling girls to twirl?

  29. Image for Andrea Irish Andrea Irish

    KariAnne - You are so sweet and so is this post! I can't wait to read your book. I too have a special daughter who LOVED twirly skirts . . . she will make me a Grammy for the third time in just a few short months. This will be her first daughter and you can be certain this Grammy will make her a twirly skirt all her own and enjoy the ride to come. Isn't life awesome?!

  30. Image for Michele @ Thistledown Domestic Creations Michele @ Thistledown Domestic Creations

    ***Sigh*** Those days truly are fleeting and magical! The memories are so sweet. Those little thistles are precious young ladies that will always be your little girls. I can't wait to read your book for more stories like this! Stay strong Mama, your girls will remember how to twirl like nobody is watching because you still twirl like nobody is watching! ;)

  31. Image for Claudine Pender Claudine Pender

    Beautiful post, Karianne ? I remember when my son (now 22) graduated in grade 7 (end of elementary school for us in some aéreas of Canada - some cities have middle school and others don't). They paired the graduates with kindergarten kids to show how much they grew in that period. I remember "not believing" how fast it went. And high school went by even faster. Then University. Then getting a good job, and moving out :( Thank God it happens gradually, so we can bear it. I also tell my son to dance! I was saying that the other day. With so many responsibilities they can get pretty serious! I'm glad your girls keep twirling their skirts :)

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