Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Unicorn, Fancy Tea, Birthday Luncheon Party for GIRL

She is 5 now. My GIRL. We are both surprised at the speed at which it has come. Somehow 5 seems bigger, older, just ...more. Sometimes she forgets, and still says she is 4. Then she laughs, and corrects herself. She is pleased. With this. The being of 5.

I am struck by her growth in self-confidence, and her comfort level. She is more comfortable in her skin. She loves her preschool, and it is a definite advantage to be at the same school again. There is the familiarity of the place, yet she is in the Pre-K group this time, and loves being one of the oldest in the class. For the last two years in preschool, she was one of the youngest. This year it is "her school." Hers alone. BOY has his own school. And, she has something for herself.

She has made a best friend at school. And, they are inseparable. Last year, she had friends, but was perfectly content to play alone much of the time. It is lovely to see her blossoming socially.

A couple of Sundays ago, in the midst of E's intense rehearsal schedule, and BOY's change of schools, we had a birthday party for GIRL. After much consultation, she and I decided on a fancy tea party. But, GIRL also wanted a Unicorn theme. And her special request? She wanted a drop off birthday party. So, we had a Unicorn, Fancy Tea, Birthday Luncheon Party. 7 little dressed up girls, (one mom who stayed to help), and BOY came to tea.

The table was set with fine china. A combination of my great-grandmother's china, and some added china cups I found at a local thrift store. GIRL helped me pick out the floral table cloth and napkins at the party store. A large toy unicorn, with a sparkly blue mane, was centered on the table with pink and lavender streamers leading up to the light fixture. GIRL folded the napkins, and helped set the table. Together we arranged the seating, making sure that everyone would feel comfortable.

When the girls had all arrived, we sat down to luncheon. GIRL was a wonderful hostess, introducing the girls to each other. Another mom and I helped guide the platters around the table. I served Teddy Bear Tea and apple juice. Our Teddy Bear Tea is simply chamomile tea with a liberal amount of honey and milk. The girls loved eating off of china plates, and drinking out of china cups. BOY enjoyed hamming it up and making the girls laugh.

We had PB & J fancy tea sandwiches, with crusts cut off. Platters of fresh strawberries, little pigs in a blanket, meatballs, cheese cubes, dried blueberries, and warm cheese and ham puffed pastries. Almost everything had frilly toothpicks. Because...why not?

After lunch, each girl had a unicorn to color. Then the girls played for a bit outside and in the playroom. Right before cake time, I gathered everyone for a story. I read "The Midnight Unicorn" by Neil Reed. It is a lovely story about a young girl who goes to the park each week with her father to visit a unicorn statue. On this visit, the unicorn comes alive under her hands, and flies through the sky, taking her to snowy mountains, a warm desert, and to frolic with other unicorns in the ocean's surf.

And, of course, no party is without drama...and humor. Well, humor in retrospect. After successfully gathering everyone outside in the front yard for a group photo, as I was leaning over to take the shot...a rather LARGE praying mantis landed on my bare back! (My fancy halter dress picked out of my closet by GIRL.) So, while I tried not to SCREAM, my friend picked up a small stick and tried to flip the praying mantis off my back. She didn't want to touch it either! The poor praying mantis hopped around on my back a few times, before taking the hint to hop OFF. I believe I aged several more years...

Then it was time for cake! I made a chocolate cake with white icing, sprinkled with lavender sugar, silver candles, and pink lettering. I found a beautiful cream colored toy unicorn with a glittery mane and tail to front the cake.

I wanted to keep things simple, and not have the requisite bag of party favors. Yet, the quest for getting each guest a unicorn, took me to 4 different TarJAY stores...a brief dip into an insanity of my own making. But, it was all worth it! Each girl left with a small stuffed animal unicorn.

GIRL was thrilled with her party, and I had at least as much fun. The highlight for BOY may have been the praying mantis. As for the girls? I think they liked the frilly toothpicks best...

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Friday, September 25, 2009

It is a good and healthy thing to see your husband doing what he does best

I sat and watched him on stage tonight. The man with the longish hair and mustache. I noticed every little nuance of his performance. The different beats he took within the lines. Made it seem so effortless. And, it isn't. I smiled, seeing him having so much fun up there. Bringing to life a character from the south who no longer exists.

I am in awe of his direction. Of tackling this theater piece. And, of how well it delivered. He is so very talented. My husband.

It is a good and healthy thing to see your husband doing what he does best. The fire in his belly came out and touched us all tonight. And I sit here basking in the afterglow...

Congratulations, E!

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blues & Bar-B-Q Stage Company Presents... Hottest theater ticket in Pasadena

My very talented husband has a show opening tonight. "The Andersonville Trial", a play by Saul Levitt. It is the first show produced under E's theater company, The Blues & Bar-B-Q Stage Company. Man of many hats, he's also directing and...has a rather large role. A gargantuan feat, and he pulls it off. The cast is all professional actors who have a passion for the theatre. It is the hottest theater ticket in Pasadena!

Run, do not walk, to...

All Saints Pasadena
132 N. Euclid Avenue.
Pasadena, CA
Venue: The Forum.
Tonight through Saturday night 8pm.
Sunday 2pm & 7:30pm.
$10 donation suggested.

The best donation you've ever spent.

Those who TWITTER. Please TWEET AWAY!!


JCK will return to her blog very soon. She's busy cheering her husband on, and ...doing a pretty good impression of a ping pong ball. Whoops...there she goes rolling down the hill, NO...she slammed against the wall, but NO she's back AGAIN, here she comes...NO, down the hill again, SLAM... Damn, that JCK is resilient.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

This parenting stuff is a crap shoot...

Last Friday, after BOY had been in Kindergarten two days, we received a phone call from a Charter school that they had an opening for BOY in Kindergarten. And...we had to let them know by Monday. Yep. So, after consulting with friends and a special education consultant who did express some cautions, and...after spending an hour or so at the school on Monday, we decided to move him. Again.

Unfortunately, we had been greatly disappointed in his Kindergarten class so far. True, it had only been two days, but some red flags had been raised. On the first day, I watched a little boy sob while his mom tried to say good-bye. A very normal sight during the transition to Kindergarten. However, what bothered me was that the teacher did not go over to help the mother. And...when the mother finally bit the bullet and left herself, the teacher continued to let him sob by himself at a table alone. It killed me. She finally did approach him when she was ready to talk to the class as a group.

Kindergarten appears to be a big adjustment for most children. For those children who had a few years of play based preschool, it is quite a surprise to have to "go to work." However, I believe that a good Kindergarten class can still have fun, and incorporate a bit of play time and creativity within the structure of the day. There was none of that in this class. BOY, who has always loved school, appeared subdued and sad when I picked him up. It was incredibly disappointing to look into the other Kindergarten classrooms and see that they did have a set of blocks, small toys, a cozy corner, etc. BOY's classroom looked like a...class room.

The school introduced a dual-immersion language program in Kindergarten & First Grade this year. There is a wonderful excitement and infusion of committed parents and teachers. It looks to be a fabulous program. The classrooms are bright and colorful, and the teachers are excited about teaching.

Unfortunately, it feels like the regular Kindergarten classes are being overlooked, which is unfortunate. I know it must be extremely challenging for the Principal to have the new language program and manage the other classrooms. However, the other classrooms are also full of darling little children, eager to learn.

I think it is very important that BOY have room to run and play during recess. However, because of scheduling and dealing with added enrollment in Kindergarten, BOY's class had to use the preschool playground. The preschool playground that is not big enough for preschoolers. Not exactly a place where children can run and stretch. And by BOY's last day there, Tuesday, he had spent quite a few minutes benched during recess, for misbehavior.

So, what was the difficulty in the decision to move him? The new school does not have aides in the classroom. He will have one teacher at a time, except for an occasional parent volunteer. It is a big risk.

He can still get his Occupational Therapy services both at this school, and at the clinic after school. We wouldn't have moved him if he didn't continue to get these services. I plan to work closely with the new Special Education team. We will have an IEP in 30 days to create a plan to help make his transition and learning successful.

Yet...the new school is on a large campus up in the hills, where BOY will get to move his body. The teachers are young and enthusiastic and passionate about teaching. There are chickens in a large pen, in the play area outside his classroom. Along with large sandboxes made by parent volunteers, a water table, and easels for painting. The classrooms all have a whole wall of windows looking outside. Inside they are bright and cheery, with wide open space. The regular recess playground is a huge, wide open space. They have a morning recess there with the other Kindergarten class, and the lunch recess is shared with the 1st and 2nd graders.

The school is different in their approach. Instead of staying in one room all day, the kids move to two other classrooms. They have a math class and a literacy class. So, BOY has 3 teachers. He starts out with his main teacher, then moves to Reading class, and later the Math class.With recesses and lunch thrown in between, and he finishes up with his main teacher.

Some children with sensory integration issues are overwhelmed by all the moving about to different places. I am hopeful that this will not be an issue for BOY, but that it will help him not having to stay in one classroom all day. We shall see...

It is yet another change for BOY, and he is handling it so well. He appears to like it, and has a close friend in the other Kindergarten class who he gets to play with during the recess times. But, it is new for him. And a little scary. He cried yesterday when I dropped him off. It was so hard to hand him off to the Kindergarten teacher and walk away. So hard. I need to let him make his way a bit. Yet, he is my little boy...

On Monday I got to sit in and observe his three teachers. I really liked what I saw. The teachers have different teaching styles, but all have a firm hand. Since BOY is starting to read, I have high hopes that his passion for reading will flourish there.

One of the biggest challenges, this year, will be his writing. It is difficult for BOY, but he will get there. He is reluctant to do it, because he thinks he cannot do it. But, like so many things in BOY's young life so far, he is unable to do something...and suddenly we realize that he is just doing it. He had to get there in his own time.

The journey continues. I hope and pray it is the right decision. This parenting stuff is a crap shoot...

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I am so exhausted, it is like slogging through thick water. It is all I can do not to crawl into bed with my children when I tuck them in at night. But, I can't. Much as the image delights. I have too much left on the plate. It is these big parenting decisions that drain me. I sail valiantly, managing to navigate through during the day, but come evening my energy is long gone.

So, here I sit to write and I am just too bloody tired to do it. Those lovely little phrases that fly through my brain during the day...those fleeting gems? Go to sleep at night.

Much as I can be the Drama Queen, sometimes I yearn for just an ordinary time. What is that like? A time where some crisis isn't occuring. When life is just...humming along, rather than the shriek of tires on asphalt signifying another jolting change. That must be made. I know I bought a ticket on this Parenting Train, but I didn't quite understand the extent of what a one way ticket really means.

My berth is calling. And...to save my sanity...so shall I retire to the sleeping car...

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Friday, September 11, 2009

It was a bit like trying to move forward with someone going sideways

I have a Kindergartner. My small, ever growing BOY. The one with the hair of golden wheat and blueberry eyes. Yesterday was his first day, and he was so nervous. I don't know if I played up Kindergarten too much, or whether that is just where he went in his head. I was surprised. He didn't want to get out of bed, and poked around endlessly. Suddenly a cookie box must be made into a rocket...on the way to getting in the car. Finally, once we were on the way, he started to relax.

When we got to school, he wanted to wear his backpack. Then...NO. Maybe...his backpack was too heavy. It was a bit like trying to move forward with someone going sideways. Yet, once we reached the entrance he was ready to go to the classroom and see his friends from last year. In the classroom he immediately sat down with his buddy. I watched him for a bit, took a few pictures, and then GIRL and I hugged him good-bye and ...left. We surprised BOY with brownies topped with star candles last night. The marking of a new beginning.

Today was better, but the eagerness to be at school is overshadowed by the newness of Kindergarten. And the growing knowledge that "Kinder" is different from preschool.

BOY: In Kindergarten there is no playing inside, just outside.

My heart ached a little when he said that. Perhaps because his perception has truth. He is past preschool now. And more will be expected of him each year. He has begun the journey through school. Sometimes a hazardous path. Hopefully matched with lots of unexpected excitement for him along the way.

The teacher, according to BOY, talks too much. Ahem... This from a BOY who rarely stops talking.

My favorite moment in the last two days was watching BOY grab a new boy's hand and then join hands with another buddy. BOY, central, between them. The bridge between friends old and new...

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Midriff Malaise

The skin is different now
softer, lacking youthful carelessness
more hillocks, less firm flesh
yet it is hers, she owns it.

There are the dark days,
when she feels betrayed
her stomach, lying there
as if a flaccid wound.

But then, it shifts
and the soft skin
feels comforting and full,
a pillow for a lover's head.

Metallic pants that thrust
her lushness upward
like a muffin top
do not tempt her.

She is not young
or old, quite yet
hers, not a life bound
nor wasted on midriff malaise.

Poem by JCK

Photo Credit: Woman in waves painting courtesy of Google Images

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

I'm not sure I remember arriving here, at this place in time

It's been a wonderful week of hours at the pool, trips down the water slide, good meals, and a nourishing visit with Ma'Mai and Pops. BOY & GIRL have tumbled into bed exhausted every night. Falling asleep within minutes. Later than they usually go to bed, but the descent into slumber is effortless.

GIRL fell in love with horseback riding. Her smile bigger than the horse. BOY made friends wherever he went, his curiousity and zest for life always taking us to new places.

We visited tide pools at Point Lobos, where craggy cliffs and cypress trees

overlook exquisite kelp gardens.

Then there was the Aquarium in Monterey, truly state of the art.

The sea horses were my favorite. BOY loved the simulated wave, and GIRL the sea otters.

Summer is ending, and part of me wants to hold on to it. My little GIRL will be 5 in two weeks. And my BOY starts Kindergarten on Thursday. I'm not sure I remember arriving here, at this place in time. Yet, I am here. And, blessed for it...

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Putting Pen to Paper: the Right Brain vs. the Left Brain

CREEEAAKK... It is like opening up a rusty treasure box. This delicate balance of writing here and there. Here the words trip over themselves when the box is, at last, opened. As if they can no longer be contained...

There, in the other world of starting a business, an enterprise where the writing is from the left brain, I must think cleanly and clearly. Precise and concise in my business prose.

Here, when I can quiet the many self-admonishes of things left undone, is the box now grown rusted and life worn. Yet, once the lock and hinges are oiled, there is always an abundance inside.

Putting Pen to Paper: the Right Brain vs. the Left Brain. Writing for my massage business web site. Leftt brain. Writing here, when the writing is juicy, is right brain exuberance. The infusion of both, perhaps ...crazy making.

And where is the woman with the fishnets? The sassy one. Yes, that one. She beckons me. I see her, yet I can't quite hear her. Her mouth opens and shuts, the silence unnerving.

The right brain dictates today. A trail hard to follow in its meandering path. Yet, I long for the freedom of letting the words flow, with me sailing on its back...

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