Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Saturday, April 13, 2013
I'm not sure how to celebrate a birthday when you aren't here to actually turn another year older.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Today, you turn 17. It's a magical age. You are so close to being an adult, but yet you still get to claim childhood. For one more year, that is.
Of course, you have been such a grown up already. By sheer comparison, being the child who could do her own laundry and not poop in her pants made you seem incredibly mature. Aside from those accomplishments, there is also the fact that you really are incredibly mature.
You have the uncanny ability of someone far older than yourself to be able to tell us what you want or need and why. You can discuss how you feel about something, explaining your emotions in conversation many people three times your age wouldn't be able to replicate. It's not your favorite thing in the world to do, but you can do it, which is amazing.
This is the year you have to decide what comes next. You have to balance your last year of high school with figuring out your plans for your adult life. No pressure, right? It's a daunting task, I know. Don't worry though. It's not like you can't change your mind down the road, but you have to admit, there are some big decisions to be made this coming year.
I'm not worried about you. You are the most grounded teenager I've ever met. Lord knows how that happened. You have certainly endured your share of the crazy. And the diapers. And being woken up way before you should be on the weekends. And having to sit next to tiny people with sticky fingers at the dinner table. And parents who quote song lyrics as though they are part of the actual conversation. And potty talk. So much potty talk.
However, there is something important about 17 that I want you to remember. You will be expected to make grown up decisions and start acting more and more like an adult. We will expect more from you. Your teachers will expect more from you. This is normal and important. You have to grow up, and there is no time like 17 to do it. But here is the important part:
You are still a child.
No matter how grounded and how mature you are, you still get to be a child. Yes, that means you are still allowed some tantrums and silliness if you need it. What it really means is that you can still come to us with anything that you need.
A lot of people will start treating you like an adult now that you are 17. But you have a safe place here. A place where you can still be a child. A place where you can ask for help or support or just someone to listen to you.
I guess that is true for the rest of your life. We will always be there for you when you need us. Just remember that as you become an adult, that doesn't mean that you have to quit relying on your dad and I for support.
Growing up doesn't mean out growing your family.
Happy birthday, Mal Mal. In case you didn't know it, and because you can never hear it too many times, I love you bunches.
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
Something spectacular happened today.
LympheDIVAs released a new line of sleeves in memory of Susan. They are sleeves designed using images from the Hubble Telescope - The Hubble Collection.
Not only are they a perfect tribute to her, they are beautiful. Really gorgeous.
For every sleeve and gauntlet purchased from this collection, LympheDIVAs will make a donation to Crickett's Answer for Cancer, a cause very dear to Susan's heart.
Here's what Josh from LympheDIVAs had to say about it:
"In 2010, Susan Niebur of ToddlerPlanet arranged a discussion between LympheDIVAs, manufacturers of medically correct and fashionable compression garments for lymphedema, and the 501(c)3 charity Crickett’s Answer for Cancer. These two organizations with similar geneses quickly realized the potential of a partnership and established a working relationship to help provide lymphedema sleeves and gauntlets to those who could not afford them. LympheDIVAs has donated thousands of dollars worth of garments to Crickett’s Answer for Cancer, but that is not enough. When Susan Niebur passed away last year, LympheDIVAs wanted to honor both her memory, her fight and her legacy and design a sleeve in her honor that would give back to Crickett’s Answer for Cancer."
I know that a LympheDIVA sleeve isn't something that all of us need, but it's something that if you DO need it, then it's very important. So, I hope that you will help me spread the word about these new sleeves. Every woman who needs one deserves for it to be this beautiful.
More than anything, it's a beautiful way to honor Susan's memory, and nothing makes me happier than when people remember and honor this woman I love so much.
Thank you, LympheDIVAs.
Aren't they stunning?
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Here it is. The last hoorah of my 30's. I told Kevin tonight that I was feeling introspective about it, and he thought I meant I was regretting it.
Not in the least.
I was just thinking about where I was in my life 10 years ago as I was living out the last of my 20's. It was a far different place. A far different space in my head.
The past decade changed a lot of things for me. Lost love. Found love. Parenthood. Lost Daddy. Lost Susan. Still have my momma, which is awesome.
I've learned to sew. I've learned to make pirogi. Heck, I even learned to make milk and birth babies. Not in that order.
No. I'm not upset about turning 40. I'm excited. Life just started getting good in my mid 30's and it's only getting better. I'm quite sure of it.
Now, I'm tired. Being 39 has been exhausting.
Peace out, 30's. You were a righteous decade.
Labels: The Big Four-O
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Almost a year ago, I stopped coloring my hair. It was partly an "I-don't-give-a-shit" decision, and partly an "I'm-lucky-I-get-to-be-here-and-go-grey" decision.
I was angry. Bitter. We had just said good bye to Susan, and I was about to turn 39 years old. On that day, my 39th birthday, I decided to never complain about anything having to do with aging.
And I stopped coloring my hair.
I also wore nothing but pajamas for several months, but that's not really relevant to this story.
Here's the thing. I stopped coloring my hair as a kind of "fuck you" to the youth loving universe. I wanted to see my grey hair. I wanted to look at it and be reminded that some people would give anything to be here long enough to go grey.
Funny thing about the universe. The universe said to me, "Fuck you back. You're not really going grey."
Meh. I have a few sparkly grey hairs here and there. For the most part though, my hair, my real hair color is the color of the Carter family. My grandmother, who died at the ever so young age of 97, had maybe a dozen grey hairs at the time of her death. The rest of her hair was a light chestnut brown color with a hint of auburn highlights. She never colored it.
My great aunt and her daughters - same beautiful hair. The Carter hair.
Last week, I turned my back towards the mirror in my bathroom and held a hand mirror up to see the back of my hair. I was checking to see how close I was to achieving some Connie Britton style (not close enough ever).
It surprised me. The highlights and the auburn in my hair. The natural color that I had covered for so many many years. I didn't even know what my natural color was until now.
I stood there, staring at my hair, realizing that my hair is nothing but a completely cliche metaphor for life. A ridiculous motivational poster for being yourself.
Stop trying to be something you aren't. You might actually like what you really are.
It will never be Connie Britton, but I'm liking my hair. All curly and confused. Brown and auburn.
Bring it on, 40. Me and my Carter hair can totally take you.
Labels: The Big Four-O
Saturday, February 09, 2013
We got the best news yesterday.
For months now, I've been trying to ready myself and my attitude for sending Christopher to our base school. I've been chanting the mantra of, "It is what you make of it," and reminding myself that he will have a good education no matter what. I was promising to be involved and present. I was sending the worry down the river on a leaf every day.
His base school is a tenth of a mile further from another elementary school where the rest of our neighborhood gets to go. Douglas Elementary is in our neighborhood, not across a busy street, and is exactly what I believe an school should be.
Arts and science. That is their magnet program. Not just STEM. But ARTS and science.
I've had so many conversations with other parents who reassure me that my children will get the arts because Kevin and I are artists. True. Kevin is also a scientist, but we wouldn't take science out of Christopher's education just because Kevin could cover that at home.
I've also been told that it's normal to just have music class once a week. Or art. Or drama. Just a "special" within the constructs of the core curriculum.
I'm actually alright with that.
What I believe arts in education should look like is not about a 30 minute music class. It's about using the arts in teaching everything else. Integrated.
I don't need Christopher's school to teach him to play an instrument, but they should be teaching him music as the ultimate example of math and language working in complete symbiosis.
I don't need Christopher's school to teach him modern dance, but they should be teaching him how to use movement to express himself, to exercise, and to have fun.
I don't need Christopher's school to teach him how to be a sculptor, but they should be using visual arts to teach spacial relations, geometry, color spectrum - you get my point.
When I talk about integrating the arts into the classroom, I'm talking about using creative learning. There are so many different ways that children learn. If you can harness the individual learning styles of children through creative learning styles, why wouldn't you?
I'm so grateful that Christopher will be at Douglas. It's one of two a+ elementary schools in Wake County. A model that I wish would be adopted by every school. From the a+ schools website,
"The A+ Schools Program is a whole-school reform model that views the arts as fundamental to teaching and learning in all subjects. A+ Schools combine interdisciplinary teaching and daily arts instruction, offering children opportunities to develop creative, innovative ways of thinking, learning and showing what they know. In A+ Schools, teaching the state’s mandated curriculum involves a collaborative, many-disciplined approach, with the arts continuously woven into every aspect of a child’s learning."
That's the difference. We don't teach children science because we expect them all to grow up and become professional scientists. We don't teach them Language Arts because we expect them all to grow up and become novelists. I don't even teach piano privately because I expect my students to grow up and become concert pianists.
We teach them these things because they are part of a whole education that they need to become productive citizens. Just like creative thinking and the arts are part of that education, like this Washington Post article points out, giving them skills that are never even touched in the traditional curriculum.
So I'm extremely excited about Christopher's placement at Douglas via the magnet program. Now. If we could get every school to adopt the a+ model and give every child the best chance, I would be over the moon.