Sunday, March 3, 2019

A hairy Matter

Image may contain: LeeJohnson Erikson, smiling, sitting and food

So this is my KC.  He is 14, well, nearly 15 now.  A sweeter, kinder and more hardworking kid you would be hard pressed to find. Yes, I am his mom, but it is truly not blind parental love here.  He has been working at a local grocery store since the fall.  The store is the only employer in the area who will employ 14 year olds.  Everything else is pretty much 16 or older, or only seasonal.  At the store, he has consistantly worked 9 to 10 hours weekly. 

See the hair?   KC loves his hair.  It is part of who he is.  It is also against the dress code of the store.  The handbook states that males can not have dyed hair.  It is hard to see in the picture but KC's hair is tipped blond.  Because of  his "non traditional" hair color he has to wear a store ball cap when he works.  He despises the ball cap.

Last week he decided to have the blond trimmed out of his hair.  I was happy as it was  kind of damaged from the bleaching and it is healthier for the hair to trim it out.  But his impetus was so that he did not have to wear the ball cap when at work. Off he went to work, sans cap.

When I picked him up after his shift I could tell something was wrong.  He said that his manager told him his hair was "too wild" and he still had to wear the ball cap.  Let's be clear, there is no definition of "wild" or "tame" hair in the employee handbook.   Let us also be clear that although I have seen a number of black employees in the store, they are typically  female cashiers, not 14 year old male baggers.

I have worked since I was 14 too.  I know companies have the right to decide how their brand is represented by their employees. My employer  only allows female employees to have one ear piercing.  I also believe that there is a significant level of inherant racial bias in the matter in question.  However at present, the law appears to side with the employer.  Witness this recent court ruling regarding dread locks.  KC's hair is tall but was clean and neatly picked and shaped. 

We talked all the way home about the situation.  I was clear that I do believe it is unfair and that it may have inherant racial bias in the policy>  He is justifiably hurt and angry, but also sees that in other aspects the company has been good to him and to other co-workers.(he gets hours consistantly, he is in other aspects treated politely, a co-worker friend who had an incident of sexual harrassment had it immediately and appropriately handled.)  We spoke of how he basically had two options, he could keep his hair style and continue to wear the ball cap, or he could look on line for some more traditional styles that he might like and show them to a supervisor for approval before he committed to a change.  He is deciding what course of action he wants to take.  He gave me a big hug when we got home and said "I just hope my kids don't have to go through this too someday."  Me too, son

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Fiona's yearly meeting

Tuesday I attended Fiona's annual ISP meeting at her group home.  It has been harder for she and i to visit the past few months. She works on Saturdays now and Sundays we are typically at church till noon and then KC is back there for youth group about 5ish.  So we have been talking a lot on the phone and keeping in touch that way.  But nothing beats face to face so I got her a coffee and got there early enough that we had time to just chat.  Her cousin had said she was going to attend the meeting as well but did not come after all.  I worried that this disappointment would impact Fiona's ability to participate in her meeting but she carried on with aplomb.

And the meeting went so well.  Fiona struggles often to stay regulated and to express herself in ways that do not involve physical outbursts.  But over the past year she has made steady and consistant progress in this regard. She has also been able to save for several big ticket items--the first saving up over $700 to go and do a wardrobe re-do. The second paying for a new bedroom set on layaway which involved 6 months of steady saving--and also forgoing the more immediate and transient pleasures that she would otherwise use her money for.

She has a job, two shifts a week at a local college doing food service work in the cafeteria.  Best of all, she is more open about sharing what her dreams and goals are, what she does or does not want to do, and does not show a lot of the body signs that  previously signalled severe anxiety.

I know there are likely to be inevitable setbacks but overall, my girl is rocking it!!  I am so very very proud of her.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Vacation Plans

We are trying to plan a two week vacation in Florida this year.  We will share a house with friends so there will be 8 kids between us.  It is an exciting possibility.  Vacationing with friends allows my wife time to go have quiet reflective time without me feeling lonely or at 6s and 7s.  I am an extrovert who loves to spend time with people.  She is a friendly introvert and her idea of fun is a day of utter silence.  That has always felt like torture to me!

So this gives those of us who want to socialize the opportunity to and those who do not wish to a chance to hang out by a pool on the lanai.  It is less expensive to rent a house together and the houses for rent are ginormous! 

The kids are excited because they are all good friends--we have camped together for years now--and they just flow in a nice easy group.  If we pull this off it also means that my company should be quiet proud of me as I will use more vacation time than I have in the last three or four years.  It was brought to my attention that I lose rather a lot of vacation time each year.  I knew that, but have a hard time figuring out how to logistically take time off.  And I get enough time off to recharge so I have never worried about it.

Being there two weeks means we will have time for Disney but also time to have fun at the house and to see other sights.  There is the possibility the new Star Wars will not be open.  I was afraid that KC would then not want to go but he thought about it and decided that there was still so much that would be fun that he could totally still be excited about going.  It may also be the last vacation that Rob is around to come on with us.  He hopes to move to California in about a year .  Whether he actually gets across the country or not I know that the times that he will want to come on a family vacation are fleeting.  KC can see that as well and wants to make sure Rob is with us if possible.

So here is to planning and possibilities, dreaming of warm places on these still chilly nights!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Dancing Along

Dance has resumed from winter break and not a moment too soon for my two impatient young dancers.  Most especially, KC misses the classes during any hiatus.  After a couple days of rest (literally) I hear "I miss dance so much."

Last night he came out of his ballet class literally on cloud 9. He felt he had made great strides on his tour jete, and chatted about it all the way home.  He also assists with teaching a class on Wednesdays and was telling me all about how well his students were doing and how they were nearly ready for the winter show.  He was glowing with pride as he told me and I am so filled with gratitude that he has this opportunity.  Not just the opportunity to grow in his dancing skills but the chance to learn how to share that passion with others and inspire them.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Finding Me

Or perhaps I should say, finding more of me.  I got a little lost there for a few years.  Lots of kids, lots of stuff going on.  It was and is, all GOOD.  This is not a whine post.  I have enjoyed the parenting journey more than I have words for.  Sure there have been and will continue to be hard times. But my kids and my wife?  They are the best of my life.  Hands down.  That said, I have realized that along the way, kid needs, family needs, tended to supplant any time for myself.  I certainly enjoyed taking the kids to the park every night. And I got some level of fitness from it.  But was it a work out?  Not really.  I grew to treasure summers not just because it is my favorite season, but because with no taxi responsibilities for the kids activities I could take zumba once a week. (and the year she offered it twice a week, I was there for both of them.)

I discovered hot yoga purely because it was the only thing that fit my schedule year round.  Most Saturdays I can devote 9 to 10 a.m. to my yoga practice.  Not every Saturday, but most.  And when I started doing that, I started realizing that really, an hour a week for myself was maybe not quite enough.

I started carving out more time to read in the evenings before i fell asleep.  I refuse to let myself go to sleep  after just doing piece work and planning the next homeschool class.  I told myself I could stay awake for at least 20 minutes each night to read and found that most nights I exceed that. (perhaps even a bit more than i should, but oh, the joy of a good book!)  Because I am on Goodreads I learned the other day that last year I read 53 books!  I think the year before I read something like 12 so that is really a big improvement.  I was always a big reader, somehow evening exhaustion, the challenges of reading in bed when you had two littles that coslept. well it had just drifted away for a bit.

Likewise I have been making time for more fitness in my life. I am weird in that I like to work out.  It relieves stress and helps me feel warmer for at least the 30 minutes or so that I am doing the routine.  I joined an on line fitness group with unlimited videos to follow so that i can keep changing up what I do and do it in the comfort of my home.  It seems doable even when the taxi duties resume next week.  Thus far I have exercised regularly this week and I love that I can change what I do.  Tonight it was Barre and yoga, last night I did a step class. 

It is important to keep this body moving.  This carcass is nearly 60 now and though I have always been flexible and am not a person prone to aches and pains, flexibility and tone just doesn't hang around if you don't work to make it so.  I want to be able to do hikes that interest me, to walk on beaches comfortably long into the future.  Making that a reality means not forgetting to move now.

All of that also I hope helps me to be a better parent and a better spouse.  When I am more relaxed I am more attentive, more receptive to others.  I am a "fixer" by nature, but if i have worked out I am more likely to just listen which tends to be what people really want, instead of charging off trying to save the day!

So though I will likely never again be able to spend 3 and 4 hours a week in a dojo, I have found a reasonable way to enjoy myself and meet this need. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Ready,Set, Go!

It is early morning and my vacation is over.  Soon i will get into my freezing car and head to work.  I have enjoyed my vacation greatly but I am also (I think) ready to return to work. Too much down time leaves me feeling restless.  I am better about lazing around (what my friends call relaxing but what to me feel like lazing!) in the winter.  I did some workouts, took some walks, got the things done around the house that needed doing post holidays.

But by yesterday I had wrapped that all up.  And today I would have been seriously bored.  So today I am grateful to return to a job that has sustained our family for many years.  And for continuing opportunities to prove to my superiors that I am ready for the managerial position  I have been lobbying for.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019


Happy New Year Everyone!  We had fun last night with the kids.  It was low key, movie and chatting, snacking and watching the ball drop.  It is still so exciting to them to stay up till midnight that little else is required for a full night of fun! 

Today I spent the day cleaning and cooking, readying our house, our lives and my mental mindset for the new year and the return to normal schedules.  Well, semi normal.  I go back to work tomorrow but dance and scouts do  not resume till next week.  Still, the lazing around time is done.  I have enjoyed it. 

I am not good at lazing.  It always takes me till almost the end of vacation to actually sleep in, but I did manage that for two days!  Today was beautifully warm for our part of the country in January so I took advantage and removed all the exterior decorations.  We dismantled the tree and put those things away as well. The attic is organized with the return of the holiday decorations to their corner.

I made red lentils for good luck and had that for supper. I actually love to cook black eyed peas for good luck but nary a black eyed pea could be found in my north east supermarkets!  So my next go to is always red lentils.

My wife and I spent time brain storming the logistics of a couple of house things we need to do in 2019.  The biggest of these is sanding and urethaning two high traffic floors.  I learned how to sand and urethane this summer on our upstairs halls.  These floors really need love.  The hard part is actually the emptying of the rooms, and creating the plastic barriers to minimize the dust going everywhere.  Our dining room has a lot of furniture--a table and chairs for 12, two antique china cabinets and a side board.  Our work room has a goodly amount to relocate as well.  This can't happen till the spring but it actually was super helpful to work out a time line--how long to empty the large china cabinets for instance and where all that glassware will be temporarily relocated.  I am equal parts dreading and looking forward to this project.  I know how amazing it will look when it is done, it is just living through the doing.

Though that is true for many things in life, isn't it?