Sunday, March 25, 2012

One Moment in Time: For Ty's Graduation

In life we live moment to moment. A checklist. A lunch break. Where did I put my keys? And those small moments carry us from one thing to the next until before we know it, we’ve driven thousands of miles, eaten countless meals, and smiled a million smiles. Our babies grow up. The moments of Alli’s first steps have ebbed into her first pair of glasses and slowly poured out into the wide world.

Some moments stay with you, like a first day at Kindergarten. Our first school days now stand in line with Alli’s and soon Maddie’s in the grand scheme of things, and yet they’re still powerful moments whether long gone or soon to come. You may peruse an old memory and think, “Wow! I haven’t thought about that in so long.” As Time marches on many moments fade while some few, like a birth or a death remain bright, if only in our memories.

These small and grand moments collect and, without our knowing how or when, slowly begin building our character. They make us, and, when we’re lucky, we make them.

When I’m old and today is just another sand in the glass, certain things will still be as precious to me as they are today: Anne’s smile- I’ll remember it forever and be happy in that moment: Watching Alli stand in the doorway of her new classroom at Renaissance, thinking of all the promise ahead of her: Maddie’s small “I love you, mom” when she cuddles up to me: And today.

I will cherish it always as a moment in time that changed us. When I remember it, I will think of accomplishment certainly, but also of overcoming obstacles and growing up - a bright spot against a background that was so bleak. I’m so proud of you and how hard you have fought for this moment. It hardly seems possible that this carefree day has come after all the struggle
we’ve endured.

So take a minute and register this moment. Separate it from the checklist in your head. Crowd out the things you need to do tomorrow and the moments that led you on from one thing to the next all day today. Stop. Remember this: You are strong. The world is already better
because of you. Think how much more lies ahead? I love you! Congratulations on completing your Masters of Finance.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Police Escort for School Pride

Sept 2011
Once there was a little girl who loved school. She loved the pointy pencils. She loved standing in line and riding the bus. But the little girl developed a problem: school stressed her out. The bright eyed little girl with all the answers was a wreck.

I kept thinking it was a phase. Kids change, and anyway, institutions will do that to you, but we all survived right? I kept saying, "public school was good enough for me..." I was comforted when I visited her school by the happy atmosphere and nice teachers. My comfort was short lived, however, when a surly dark faced Alli came home from school and slammed her door shut. Was this the same girl who used to erupt into uncontrollable giggles at dinner and run screaming through the house?

I decided to apply to a few charter schools. Alli didn't get into a single one, but she was number 9 on the waiting list at a school called Renaissance Academy about twenty minutes across town. The Lottery director said Alli had a chance to get in, but it wasn't likely until the week school started.

Well, the first day of school came and went with no word. Then the director told me there was one slot opening up, but she would have to contact the 8 other candidates and each would have 5 days to decide. I did the math. That would take months.

Then, miracle of miracles, I got an e-mail on Saturday from the school. Alli had been going to her old school for five days at this point. The e-mail said that the following Mon they would award Alli a spot at Renaissance if I came in to sign some papers. I was a little confused, though, because they also sent the e-mail out to 300 other people...

Alli was upset at first but then decided that she would like to try the new school. Think of Maddie and Anne, I told her. Think what this will mean for them. She was scared but brave. Mon morning came. I got up, got Alli off to her old school, and called Renaissance to let them know I was coming over to sign the papers.

This is what the secretary told me: 'The waiting list is now dissolved. It's first come first served and whoever gets here first gets the spots available in all the grades.' And then: 'I think we've already had a couple of second grade moms come in this morning.' (It was 7:30 am by the way.)

This is when something deep inside me started raging for that lost little girl with the bright blue eyes on her first day of Kindergarten now two years past. I heard someone say once that you should try to keep the crazy in the bottle. Um, it got out. I threw Maddie and Anne into the car in their pj's without giving them breakfast. We're talking no shoes, bedhead, crusty faces... Not to mention my scary attire. Well the three of us headed off at top speed Cruella Deville style: you know, when she's got the white knuckles hunched over the steering wheel, teeth bared. That was me. I had to fix my kid and nothing was stopping me.

I got over to Lowe's and started heading up the road with the huge dip when, what do you know, a police car pulls out behind me, lights flashing. 'What the heck' I thought, froth flying from my rabid mouth, 'I'm only going 60 in a 35 zone! Damn speed traps.'

The police officer got calmly out of his car while I rolled my window down and started hanging out of it to shout at him, "I have to get to that school!" I start frantically pointing up the hill. "They're going to give her spot away, and it's her spot. I have to get over there!"

When the officer finally got to my window, I yelled: "You can give me a ticket, just do it at the school. I have to get there right now!"

Well, he laughed a little (can you say, future dinner table conversation?) and let me go. "Just slow down and be safe," he said. Ya, I sped right up again as soon as I was out of sight.

Once I got to the school, I lugged my bedraggled kids out of the car and marched into the school office. Now you have to picture this a minute: Here's a frumpy mom with no makeup and a gaggle of dirty shoeless kids charging up to the front desk asking about the second grade opening. I don't want to give it away, but the frumpy mom is about to start yelling and making a scene.

Okay, so back to the story. The nice secretary says cheerily, "That spot was filled earlier today. Sign here and she'll be number two on the waiting list!" She smiles like this is good news, at which point I had a total out of body experience. That little ball of rage inside exploded. Massively.

"No, no, no NO!" I shouted. "I was told I would be contacted when the spot came open. Then you contacted me. Now you're saying it was anyone's spot? This isn't right!" My fist came down on the desk after every few words to emphasize my point. As if that was necessary.

I guess it's true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I shouldn't know that because I'm ALWAYS polite, even to strangers selling stuff over the phone. The principal came out and quickly ushered us into his office to "talk". I don't think he wanted the homeless people scaring off any students.

He made small talk with me while the director lady pushed some papers around for an eternity. Then he went into her office while I waited. Then he came back. More niceties, and he was off to her office again. I was there with my sticky kids for an hour while Alli's fate was being decided.

Finally, he came back with the verdict. There was another seat. Someone else was offered the spot five days before. If they didn't call by the end of the day, it was Alli's.

Oh, joy! I was so happy. We drove home (very slowly) in triumph, gave a nice wave to the police car waiting for another sucker, I mean enforcing the law, and finally had breakfast. No more crazy. I stuffed it right back in the bottle where it belongs.

Alli did get that spot. She actually started the very next day, and we haven't looked back. The bright eyed girl with the pencil sharpener is back, and every day she tells me about her new adventures. She's made so many friends and learned all about a bunch of cool stuff. Just yesterday they made a model of a plant using candy and the info they'd studied all week about seeds and stamens etc. She ate it before I got to see it, but I guess there was a gumdrop seed that they pushed down into pudding and topped with a twizzler and other candy pieces. I don't know where they come up with this stuff. Another day she got in the car with a Japanese sand garden she was raking with a plastic fork.

All I know is that I made it happen. And probably the Lord. I don't know if he approved of my methods, but I could feel him supporting me. And after all these months at this treasure of a school, we are starting to plan for Maddie to go in the fall. I can't wait to watch her learn and grow like Alli has. Sometimes life is really, really good.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Alli's Baptism

Alli's Baptism went off without any drama, which is possibly a first... She looked beautiful and had lots of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends there to support her on her big day. She looked so grown up in her white dress, and I told her the next time I help her into a white dress it will be for her wedding. I even made a mini wedding-ish video with pictures of her as she's grown up these past 8 years.

When I drove her to preschool over in Saratoga Springs, I used to play the Corinne Bailey Ray song for her Girl Put Your Records On, so that is the first song I put on the video. Alli used to love listening to that song and would sing it loud and proud all the way over to school. It makes me cry just remembering those little moments we experienced together that quickly fade away with time. It goes by so fast. Here's to another eight great years!Ty Baptized Alli and gave her a really sweet confirmation blessing. Afterwards we came back to our house for a little lunch and a lot of dessert. I made an ice cream bar with candy, hot fudge, brownies, and a dozen other toppings. That was so fun to put together that I'm racking my brain for another time when I just really need candy jars... I even put zebra tape on the waters because everything has to match, right? Ty thought this was totally insane, but it only took 10 minutes and gave me immeasurable enjoyment. Alli even got her hair put up (even those little short hairs at the back of her neck) for the first time in her life. Yes, that's right. She is such a stinker that she has never successfully gotten her hair all the way up, ever. My friend Konnie did this great act for me, which was so awesome. I figured if she was going to pitch a fit, at least she wouldn't be mad at me all day. In fact, she was a trooper and wasn't mad at all. She did say later, "it really did hurt, Mom," but I told her that we all make sacrifices in life! I believe the Chinese call it Mother Love. Anyway, it was a great day. I'm so proud of Alli. I'm lucky to have such a little firecracker in my life!