Saturday, May 20, 2017

All the Feels

Dance recital day one was today.  The kids are doing The Lion King. The school does it as theater so there is a story line, dialogue and lots of dancing.  This year with KC in 5 classes and Lissa in 4 and them BOTH wanting to do the production dance, it was crazy trying to keep costumes straight--make sure everyone got changed in time (twice they only had 1 number to get off stage and change) .  It was my day to work back stage and I wasn't just focussed on my kids.  There were several others with multiple changes that needed help as well.  Plus I filled in for the security desk for part of the event. So it was busy to say the least.

It was however, magical, exciting and emotional. KC has danced since he was 5.  Actually he has studied dance since he was 5. But he always danced.  Once he decided to get around to walking he was really all about dancing. I have so many pictures of him dancing around the house waving silk scarves when he was about 2.  When he was 3 he did these crazy skits every night after supper and a dance was always part of it.  By the time he was 4 he was asking for dance classes and trying to teach himself tap in our front hall. At age 5 we found Miss Heidi's school and he has been there ever since.

Lissa is a gifted dancer but in some ways I see myself in her. I had ability but not a drive.  KC is consumed with a passion for dance.  Lissa enjoys it. The costumes are cool. Her friends are great.   But it isn't this burning thing within her like it is for KC.  Nonetheless, I also love to watch her dance. She is fluid and graceful and has an amazing ability to interpret the emotion of a piece with her body.

The kids godparents came out to see the performance, as did my FIL and my wife.  Tomorrow will be my turn to enjoy the performance with Rob, my wife and my mom.

There was more today though.  Unknown to any of us, KC was awarded a $500 dance scholarship to the school.  We did not know that KC was nominated for this--actually I did not even know about the scholarship which is a memorial to Miss Heidi's beloved father.  He passed away last year and she mentioned as she awarded it to KC how much her dad enjoyed watching him dance. It was a huge and very unexpected honor.

I am grateful that this is another circle of loving support for my kids.  A place where they are challenged, yet respected and where friendships run deep and strong.




Friday, May 12, 2017

Coming of Age

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I'm feeling like this is a pretty emotional weekend.  You could start with right now.  The fact that I am in a house with no kids in it.  At all.  Like zero.  For the first time in about 13 years.  The picture above is part of the reason why.  KC is away on the final part of his Coming of Age year at church. It is an overnight retreat in a state near us.  Before they left for their retreat we gathered in the space above for a short ceremony to send our "kids" off. They will return as more than kids.  Not adults, but having symbolically left childhood behind.  On the sanctuary space you can see in the back ground the masks that they made as part of this experience.  KC's is the one on the left with the blue hair.  It was a very empowering experience for him to make a mask and think about what he shares with the world and what he chooses to keep hidden behind an invisible mask.

This weekend too, will be transforming for him.  KC has never wanted to stray far from home.  Or far from us, for that matter. As an infant he craved skin to skin contact more than any of my children.  As a toddler he loved to play but wanted to have me close, and involved.  As a young elementary aged child he never ever wanted to stay the night away from home.  He loved having friends over but was very anxious at the thought of being away from home.  Tonight, he will sleep with 14 other friends from church and trusted mentors.  He is ready.  I am excited for him and I was pretty dry eyed through the ceremony.  Then I came home and a sweet note was pinned to our dry erase board.  Written in green marker--green is always the KC color at our house--it read

Dear Ooma and Mom,
Right now I'm probably having an awesome time.  But I love you and really miss you.  Keep Maui happy. (his cat) Drink a small bit of wine and please send me WARM HUGS love you lots, KC

My darling, brave funny and talented son--so many warm hugs are headed your way.

While he is off, Lissa is at a sleep over at a friends house.  Tomorrow  I will meet her there as Karen is having a pot luck Mothers Day brunch and Lissa and Karen's two girls are helping to organize the crafts that the kids will do while we ladies chat.

Tomorrow night Rob is taking his girl friend to her prom.  I can't wait for pictures!  But so much. So soon.  Truly one day they can't tie their shoe and the next, they fledge. They fly, they make you think they are going to crash.  And then, they catch an updraft, and soar.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Shea Moisture Products

While I am not a POC, I have 5 kids who are.  Thus, in order to be an informed parent and to help them learn to take care of their hair, I am pretty versed in hair products.  I loved the Shea Moisture products though they were not our only products of choice.  Shout out to Talijah Wajaad hair oil, plain old Suave coconut conditionar, AsIAm products, Proclaim products and the Cantu natural hair moisturizer. So clearly, in our "bathroom salon" Shea Moisturizer was not the only game in town.  But the reason there are a variety of things is because all my kids have different hair textures.  Their hair needs different care in the winter than in the summer.  When KC dyes his frohawk the colored parts need a different kind of love.

I also confess that I rarely watch ads. The SuperBowl might be the exception to that.  But in general, I am pretty legendary for not seeing "the" ad everyone is talking about.  My wife and I do piece work at night.  Ads are either muted so we can chat, or I am running to the kitchen to put the tea pot on or change a load of wash.  So I never saw the ad that Shea Moisture produced until I was on social media and a few family (some of whom are stylists) posted it.

I watched it dumbfounded.  First of all, to me, knowing what I know about my hair (straight thin white people hair) and my kids hair we have totally different hair needs.  In that list of products I mentioned earlier?  There is 1, exactly 1 product we can all use and it is NOT Shea Moisture products.  Nope, it is the old Suave coconut conditioner.  I can use about a dime sized amount of it on my hair twice a week.  Where they might use a ton to detangle or co-wash, I use literally a dime sized amount.  If I used any of the oil rich products that their hair loves and needs, I would look like a slimey headed person.  My hair is not as oily as in my youth but it is not dry by any stretch of the imagination.  I can't go more than a day without washing it or you can totally tell.

So with that information in mind, you would assume that people who actually MAKE hair products would understand that different hair needs different products. The blonde and the redhead in their ad?  They don't need the same product as a POC.  There is a single token POC in that ad.  If their products have expanded to include white folks, then in my opinion there should have been 3 POC and one white person, going "wow! they even have products for my hair!!"

See, even though I don't watch ads, I know my kids do.  I want my kids to be proud of how they look, the hair and skin and beautiful long eyelashes that they have been gifted with in this life.  I found out not all that long ago that the reason KC used to draw himself in cartoon form with spikey hair was because he hated his curls.  Hated them?  The curls I loved to detangle and scritch with my fingers when we did hair?

Lissa for years wanted straight hair and we had so many talks about loving the hair she has and why straightening it would damage her hair.  She too had times of "hating" her hair, though eventually most of her dislike centered around the time involved in hair care rather than her hair itself.  She investigated locks and decided to grow those.

I want my children to see people like them using products designed for them.  There should be handsome young black men like my sons or smart pretty black girls like my daughters in those Shea Moisture ads. It wasn't just a marketing mistake. It was a slap in the face to black people.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Another Teen Ager

The day after Easter was KC's birthday.  My once tiny preemie guy is now a teen that is nearly taller than I. With his own quirky sense of humor and artistic style, he is taking on the world.  So much has changed for him.  Part of that is his participation in our church Coming of Age program.  Through out the year he and the other participants have delved deeply into themselves, exploring their beliefs, what they see themselves doing in the world, how they share themselves with the larger world and what they keep within.  His mentor has been amazing and I know the friendship that was all ready there was strengthened during this time.

KC has come into his own in many areas this year. At the  dance studio he got bumped up to a more advanced class. Far from being intimidated by the fact that he is one of the youngest dancers in the group (most being in high school) he worked hard and has found his niche.  It certainly helps that this is a really nice group of kids who seem to really empower each other.  It also helps that he loves dance passionately and works hard at it.  Still, he rose to the challenge and did not even consider stepping away from it.

He has aged out of the boys book club at the library but has begun doing extra volunteering there. Part of that time is helping the librarian with the book club. She has tasked him with thinking up some new games to go with the books that they read and he has been thinking about this ever since they spoke.  Book bingo and pictionary, figuring out if he could make Wheel of Fortune. . . It appeals to his natural creativity and allows him to have a role in something that has been a fixture in his life for about 3 years.

Monday we drove to Maine to see my mom and her companion G.  We celebrated KC's birthday with them and it was so much fun.  My mom is starting to feel her age these days.  There is not anything hugely wrong but she moves more slowly and has more aches and pains.  It is enough discomfort that the idea of attending both Rob's graduation and the kids recital was too much for her to contemplate physically.  It is hard for me to grasp her aging, very much so for KC.  I write to my mom twice a day by email and he always asks how Nana is.

But aches and pains did NOT stop the celebrating. There was food and cake and laughter. Gifts and joking and lots of love.  I am grateful that we had this day as we all know nothing is promised and that time together is for treasuring.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Eve

I've become a rather infrequent blogger, haven't I?   Many times it is because I mull things around in my head so long that by the time I have a chance to sit and actually tap out my thoughts---they feel redundant and like other bloggers have spoken with more clarity.

But today, I am taking a bit of time to write.  It is Easter weekend and Fiona is home for the weekend.  We have colored eggs, had her favorite supper and she and Lissa are presently cuddled on the couch watching a movie. It has been good.

Tomorrow morning my goal is to get everyone out of the house for 7:30 and take them to breakfast. This gives my wife time to hide the Easter clues that she writes for the kids so that they can do their basket hunt when we return from our UU church and she returns from a different UU church that she works for.

This is a very busy weekend and I am glad that I went to yoga this morning.  That hour, just for me, helped me feel relaxed and ready for the demands of the weekend. Well, demands is probably the wrong word. But juggling the emotional needs and mental health issues of my two eldest at a holiday time can be challenging. It can be stressful.  It is also paradoxically, a great joy.  I love when our family is together, building memories and sharing love.  So the vigelance and over planning is worth it, but a quiet reflective time before it, also did not come amiss.

At the closing meditation our instructor always gives us a word of the day. Previous words have been things like "inspire" "wisdom" "kindness."  Todays was family. How apt.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wash Day Grins!

I am officially an adult!  How do I know this?  Because I about did the dance of joy when the washer repair guy came today!  We have only been washer-less since Friday at noon.  That meant two of the 4 regular Friday loads had been completed before the door hinge decided to break on our front loading machine.  Since we could not ensure it was tightly shut OR that it would open if we tried to jimmy it somehow, we left it until today when the repair man could come.

On Saturday I spent several fun filled hours at the laundramat doing the 6 loads that accumulated between Friday at noon and Saturday at about 2 p.m.  What can I say?  We are apparently a very sloppy family of 6 with a LOT of wash.  It did not help that Friday we also change the beds and one of those loads did not make the cut before the door catastrophe.

But today, today is blissfully wonderful and right.  There is no mountain of wash in my teeny bathroom.  This was seriously giving me anxiety which is somewhat stupid.  In my defense it is a VERY teeny bathroom and the pile, er mountain that developed was large enough to hide a Yeti.

So now, I will drink tea and fold wash, and smile!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Of Cobras, Planks and Downward Dog

Life is busy, and truthfully I would not have it any other way.   Days are filled with work, train schedules for Rob, commencement details for Rob, work for Rob.  There are dance classes for the youngers, Scouts and sewing classes for Lissa and book club nights for KC.  I love that everyone has a lot of interests. These experiences are their choices. None of it is me deciding to fill up the hours of our days and nights.

My work is fast paced and stressful.  I typically (shhhhh!) work through my lunch. I always have plans of walking the site at lunch.  It almost never happens.

At home at night, there is a little Facebook noodling, but it is mostly house chores and then doing piece work as we work toward our dream of traveling in July of 2018.  Bottom line, is that when I get to bed I have maybe 20 minutes to read and call that "my time."  Don't get me wrong. I love to read.  I love that our life is full and rich.  But greedy little soul that I am, I craved a bit more time for myself.  Maybe--gasp--60 whole minutes for myself!

I found myself longing for last summer when I could take Zumba classes.  I love working out in a group setting, but flat out can not get up at the crack of dawn to go to a gym.  When train runs are over, I can walk in the mornings. As much as I want time for myself, I know I need 6 hours of sleep a night to be a healthy happy woman!

Enter, Hot Yoga.  I have not ever really been a yoga person.   I have dabbled in it long ago in my teen years.  Then I tried it a little at our church camping weekend.  It was fun but I think mostly because I was on the beach.  I was really super focussed on the sand under my feet and the feel of the breeze.  It made it less annoying to me that we seemed to flow soooooooooooo slowly from one pose to another.

See, I am a bit of a hyper person.  Not distractedly hyper (usually.)  But someone who doesn't do meditation well.  Someone who likes to beat book times on hikes.  Someone who loves to move.  So the slow peaceful yoga?  My wife loves it but it just isn't my thing.

One of my friends from the kids dance school told me about this new yoga class.  Ironically the studio is so near the train station that it is crazy easy for me to get to. The hot yoga class is Saturday mornings at 9 a.m.  The time is perfect for me. I have all ready been up for 2 hours and gotten the grocery shopping done by then.  The kids are old enough now to stay home for an hour when I go.

And I have discovered that hot yoga (at least at this studio) is a lot different from my other yoga experiences.  There is a lot more movement, a lot less of the tedious holding of poses until you die of boredom  until you are one with the universe or something.  The hot part is a super bonus for me.  I am almost always cold.  For about 90 minutes on Saturdays now, I am warm.  Not hot and sweaty mind you, but warm.  The heat in itself is such a joy.  OK I know that sounds weird but 95 is my temperature of choice on a summers day.

It is challenging my body, keeping me fit and limber, which is good for me physically. I have always been pretty limber and it is coming back quickly. But more importantly is the benefit of that hour to myself, with friends.  Just time for me.  Namaste!