Thursday, December 6, 2018

Stepping forward

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This guy here?  The one with the two legs, not the four.  It seems like not long ago that he was so little, so anxious about the wider world.  I remember that despite his love of dance, he would tremble back stage, clutching my hand, nearly breaking the teeny bones in my hand because he squeezed so tightly.  

I've never been one to push my kids. They only squeeze your hands for a moment in time.  And then you turn around and they are a teen.  Going off on mission trips and helping others.  Chatting with friends and planning outings that only occasionally involve me getting him at least part way to the destination. This year he has two part time jobs---one at the dance school and one at the local grocery store.  He's saving up for a cooler phone than what his mom will buy him.   And the little guy who was afraid to go on stage?  That guy decided to try out for one of the acting roles in recital.  This studio does theater as well as dance.  He auditioned and got a part.  He will be the godfather in the dance school version of Shark Tale!  

This spring he will turn 15 and I know the pace of changes and separation and working towards newly defined dreams will only intensify.  So for now I am grateful for the fact that he still gives hugs warmly and willingly.  That he asks each day when I come home how my day was and that he enjoys movie nights with his doddering parents.  I am blessed.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Interim excitement

So I wrote a post back probably in the end of January, or perhaps early February about my boss leaving and how I applied for the job.  I was summarily told I was not particularly qualified for the position and sent back to my office.  Well, not exactly, but it was a very short conversation and the person in chage of hiring was very definate that he felt I was unqualified.

I spent about 24 hours wallowing in self pity and then moved on emotionally.  My plan was to continue building my skill set, taking classes that my company will pay for and then take those skills to another company (I actually have a company that said they would take my resume)  Meanwhile, no new manager was hired.  Many were apparently interviewed but no one fit the bill.  I took this as an opportunity to take on more tasks, learn more "managerial" tasks and reports, and to try to make things easier for the portfolio manager who was overseeing not only our site but at least 9 other properties.

On Friday she called me in to her office and said that she has been advocating on my behalf for the position. She said that she sees leadership potential in me and has been talking with folks at corporate.  She has told them about the tasks I have taken on and the things I have learned and apparently. . . I am to be an interim property manager with the possibility of things being permanent if I continue to show my worth.

I am so excited!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving to all!  We were lucky to have all the kids home this year. Fiona came here first before going on later in the day to her cousin's home where she will spend the night. Rob helped with a lot of the food prep this year, chopping veggies, making mac and cheese, a quiet but oh so helpful presence in the kitchen.  I made 5 pies and most are all ready nigh onto gone.  I try to make sure that there is something for everyone as I think everyone deserves to have a favorite food on a special day.  Hence pecan pie, chocolate mousse pie, lemon merangue pie, apple pie, and pumpkin pie.  A fruit salad for my sister in law who is diabetic.  We have a rather diverse Thanksgiving menu, owing in large part to the blending of our family favorites with the traditional New England menu and sides.  We had turkey with stuffing cooked in the bird and outside the bird (because some of us love stuffing but don't eat meat) I had a vegetarian entree of quinoa stuffed eggplant, we had mac and cheese, a big pot of sauteed spinach, and then all the usual suspects that one sees at a classic Thanksgiving day dinner in New England.  Somehow between an instant pot, two crock pots and all 4 burners and the oven, we got it all cooked, baked and served!

I am thankful that my FIL and SIL could be with us, as well as my BIL and his wife, our dear friends who are godparents to our kids  were also here.  It was freezing outside but inside there was a lot of love and laughter and I am truly blessed.  My FIL recently had a health scare and we are even more mindful of the fact that the times we are together need to be treasured as they are finite.

In many ways this has been a very hard year.  We have had a number of really tough financial issues to deal with. But there is always much to be grateful for.  Our kids are amazing. They are thoughtful, they are fun to be with and they are caring.  KC who now goes by Ken in the work world, has a part time job at a grocery store and helps with a class at the dance school he attends.  He decided he wanted a character part in the dance recital--which is part theater as well as dance.  He auditioned last week and got a role.  It is hard to believe that this is the child who used to clutch my hand so tightly back stage that I could feel my bones protest!

Fiona has a part time job also and is doing so well for herself. She is setting goals and learning money management and slowly becoming more adult in her choices. 

Elisabeth is almost 12 and spunky sassy and personable.  I admire her ability to stand up for herself and others--she is rarely swayed by the opinions of others.

Chet is happy and helpful and always in the thick of things.  Rob is a quietly helpful guy, a respected employee of the restaurant where he is a chef and as beloved a brother as he is a son.

I truly am so very blessed.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Girl Time

Image may contain: one or more people, selfie and indoorAll right folks.  My tech skills are obviously a bit lacking tonight as for the life of me I can't make the picture anything but sideways.  And of course, we were not laying on our sides to take this picture.  Instead, my lovely Elisabeth and I had a girls afternoon at a hair care event in our city.  It was specifically for people of color and I was definately in the minority.  I didn't mind a bit.  It is important for Elisabeth, who is 11 now (and incidently HOW did my baby get to be 11?) to be surrounded by strong brown and black women. These women in addition to many owning their own businesses, know a lot about hair and self care.  People were friendly and easy to engage in conversation--course I am chatty by nature so you generally have to give me the cut direct for me to realize you don't want me hanging around!

They spoke knowledgeably about the dangers hidden in many of the cosmetics and hair products that are used.  They spoke on the importance of healthy diets and having a healthy self love.  There were free samples, free healthy food snacks and a time to talk and build connections.  She had a wonderful time and really enjoyed it.  She told me afterwards that it is usually hard to sit still so long but that this was interesting.  She is of an age where she has much more say (and often her own cash) involved in purchases and I feel that since she is such a fashion forward young woman, I want her to hopefully make smart choices that will enhance her beauty if that is what she wants, but not undermine her health.

We have had this gathering on our calendar for weeks but it was this weekend that a picture came through my Facebook feed of a TRA black child with a photo shoot in a cotton field with her white parents.  Seriously?  I have no words for the anger I feel at the insensitivity.  That lovely young lady could have been in a field of wildflowers if you were going for the nature look.  It did not have to be something associated with slavery and degradation of a people.

Do I think the parents intended it?  Nope, but I sure do think they were insensitive and that they need to do things like what we did today.  There have to be times my kids are not in the minority. Whether it is me being the only white face at a birth family reunion, or a gathering like this,  Adopting my children is not a case of them somehow becoming me with more melatonin.  It also means I have an obligation to honor and celebrate who they are and help them to feel positive about themselves.

Aside from all of that, it was just a "girl time" experience for Lissa and I. At 11 she is becoming a witty, sometimes sarcastic, but pretty clever and enjoyable companion.  It was a super fun experience.  I also came away with a contact for a photographer.  She was at the event and had a really calm demeanor.  We need to think about getting another family portrait done. The kids have changed so much since the last one.  Finding one that is a good fit for Chet can be a challenge but I really liked this woman's vibe.  We shall see.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

First Campout of 2018-- VERY Late post!

We are back from our first camp out of the summer and it was so much fun!  Hikes, theme parks, board games with friends.  We could see stars and the milky way clearly at night and I slept soundly tucked into my sleeping bag in our tent.

This year we brought another girl with us as well.  I don't really know her parents well; I have met them twice actually.  But I know her through our camping friends and my kids knew her as well.  She very much wanted to come on a camping vacation and her parents would not go. So her parents messaged me and wanted to know if I would take their daughter camping.

I was fine with it and she was very easy to bring.  I actually felt bad because everything we did was so new and exciting to her. She is 16 and clearly hasn't had a lot of experiences offered her in life. So making pancakes on the griddle outdoors was amazing.  Making "walking tacos" was thrilling. Going to Storyland had her over the moon taking pictures with characters.  Hiking up some waterfalls?  The absolute bomb.

I felt lucky to be able to offer those experiences to her.  I guess I hadn't really realized that there are lots of kids who don't get exposures in life.  My friends and i have camped together since 2012.  Our kids have grown up together camping and enjoying all that such vacations offer. This young lady's mom doesn't like warm weather and doesn't like to go out of the house and leave her a/c  Her dad thinks that kids don't need to go anywhere.

But they do.  The world is large and wide and in order to learn how to navigate in it, they need to get out in it.  They have to learn to make decisions (trying to decide what to order at a diner was torture for her) They have to learn to help (everyone helps police our site to keep it boring for bears as we camp in bear country) Everyone helps set up and everyone helps break camp but in between there is lots of fun. 

I am also a pretty laid back camper in that I tend to go with the flow--weather often dictates what can happen.  But kids choose a lot of the activities locations and experiences.  It was super super fun.  I can't wait for the next campout!

***Edited to note that I wrote this in July and forgot to post it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Camping 2018

The kids and I are back from a camping trip with friends.  We knew we had been camping together a long time but Facebook memories says we have been at this since 2012!  Sure didn't realize it was that long.  Other families have filtered in and out of our camping group but the two of our families have remained constant.  Watching the kids grow up together has been pretty special.  They range from 8 to 16 now and hang out together really well.  No cliques.  Dynamics ebb and flow acording to interests.  Pool time found the upper aged teens horsing around in the deep end and then gathered on the pool stairs laughing and talking.  The younger ones were doing more swimming than chatting. 

But it was such an easy campout because there was always someone around who had an interest in what the other kid was doing or wanted to do.  So I had nearly 6 days with no whining or arguing--truly a Mom miracle! 

Us parents are good friends too--we feed each others kids, help each other out, and love to play board games by the fire at night. 

My campsite was less than stellar (noisy neighbors) but at the end of the day, I didn't care.  (and eventually the noisy ones packed up and left.)  Life is too short to focus on negative.  I was too busy watching the stars that you can't see in the city, cooking on the camp stove, hiking and swimming and making memories.  There are likely more years behind us now than ahead of us for these type of gatherings.  Those upper aged teens like my KC and my friends E and K are going to be busy with jobs and their own lives really soon. The signs are there now.  Older teens going off together when we are at a venue and stopping back periodically to check with us.  Evening games that don't require adults after dinner is done.

I'm loving where we are now, and how deep our friendships have become. I am loving the people all the kids are evolving into and watching that transformation from kid to young adult is really a privilege.  I enjoy also the fact that the more relaxed venue of camping has always made it easier for kids (mine and who ever else is around) to talk.  This trip it was KC, who shared his thoughts on taking a relationship from best friend to boyfriend/girlfriend status.  His concerns about losing a good friend, of not wanting to rush her were thoughtful and true signs of the young man he is becoming. 
But I am not going to lie.  I also miss this.  When Rob was younger than KC is now and Lissa was a bit of a thing.  Camping was probably a lot more work than it is now--though I don't remember it that way.  But my friends were teasing me this trip about how early my kids used to go to bed so I know a whole lot has changed as they got older. As things change as they grow and mature sometimes I feel like I am the one on the Chimney Drop!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Book Games

Apparently when your kids get to a certain age it is increasingly less cool to take pictures with/of them.  However KC was ok with me taking a picture of a game he worked hard to create.  He assists with our library boys book club every month.  When he started helping he decided that cooler games had to be introduced because the kids were sick of trivia games. 

He did Jeopardy, a board game of his own creation, a matching game, a home made Headbans knock off and a couple others.  However the final game of the season should be, in his words, so amazing that they would all want to return in the fall.  He decided to create Book Opoly. 

KC is creative and really good with the big picture concept stuff. The how to get it done stuff?  That usually still needs a fair amount of my help.  However he had a really clear vision of how to turn Monopoly into a book themed game.  We found blank property cards in a fillable pdf on line and made them the titles of books.  We renamed EVERYTHING on the board. We made cards.  It was a big job.

However he saw it through and it was honestly fun working on it with him.  Best of all, his group LOVED it.  So much so that 10 minutes after they were supposed to be done they were all still playing the game.  As the librarian said when she came out to talk with me--this age group (8 to 12 year old boys) is pretty unforgiving. If they don't like something you will know it.  The fact that they were still playing when they were supposed to be going home spoke volumes.

I could tell KC knew it too because when he finally came out he was positively glowing.  I don't have a picture of the giant grin on his face as he came through the door but I think it is imprinted on my heart forever.