Summer Applause

It is officially summer.

No matter what the calendar or the thermometer say, in my book, summer has officially begun.

This is the fourth summer I have kicked off in the same way.  Sitting watching girls in leotards and boys in shorts and t-shirts show their gymnastic skills.

And then there’s the drive home at dusk.  With the lightning bugs and the smell of everything summer in the air that envelops me like a warm bath.

Yes. It’s definitely summer.

Tonight’s gymnastic recital brought back memories of the others–the first and only one my Mama attended, the one she enjoyed so much.  The one when my little guy and his buddies did a “Mission Impossible” routine.  The one that I left the kitten I was bottle feeding to attend.  So many memories, and tonight was memory-making all by itself.

Cooter doing synchronized, paired cartwheels with his best bud.  His smile as he worked his way around the horse.  Watching him PLANK.  (He never mentioned he could do any of these things!) Sitting with his friends watching the others perform, singing along to the different songs. Our Princess doing the floor routine with a little dance to it.  Watching her mouth the words to the song playing while she was walking the balance beam, dipping her toes “in chocolate.”  Looking over to see her fanning herself, her sign language that she was nervous–always with the super big smile and that sweet wave.  The moment she went over and told her brother what a great job he did after his performance.  Seeing the joyful and anxious faces in the room, and hoping that each one of them felt good about what they did and happy when the night was over.

There was one little girl, maybe five, who was in a class of girls who took turns doing their stunts on the mini-trampoline.  Each time she came up and finished, she threw her arms up as they had all been instructed.  And she waited.

For the applause.

Sooooo cute.

And of course the applause came.  It came for each one who took the time to stop for a minute. And for those who just finished and ran back to their spot.  But this little girl.  She stood and soaked it in with her big ol’ smile and sweet spirit.

That right there.

What a precious thing to see, this little one who was loving every minute of her life and KNEW she’d just done something fabulous and let all the rest of us celebrate that with her.

Because that’s what it seemed like.  Our applause was a part of her celebration, her victory, her accomplishing something really, really BIG.

And she had done just that.

The applause tonight did other things too–it encouraged each child.  Each turn the gymnasts came back more ready and excited than the last–encouraged by the applause from the previous round.  And it served as a balm to the souls of the ones who hadn’t made the perfect landing. Or done the best cartwheel.  It celebrated showing up.  And that’s always worth honoring.

Tonight I’m thankful for another year of growth and learning and good health with great gymnastics teachers who make it fun and safe for my children.  I am thankful for the ones who came out and made my littles feel celebrated and loved tonight–for them showing up.   I give thanks for the friends my children and I have made over the course of their years in this fabulous program.  I am grateful for the memories I have and the memories we made tonight of this special culmination of hard work, dedication, and fun.  And finally, my heart is filled with appreciation for the frog music, lightning bugs, and summer night sky that serenaded us home tonight.

May we all find someone to applaud and celebrate with–and when we do something absolutely fabulous, may there be someone there to celebrate us.  Most of all, may we all make the effort to show up…..and celebrate those who do.

Happy Summer, y’all!  Merry memory making!

Love to all.

Ecclesiastes and the Season I’m In Right Now

Ecclesiastes.

That’s what Mama would say about now.

And I’d nod my head and say, “Yes ma’am.  I know.  You’re right.”

It was her way of saying, “There’s a time and a place for everything.”

Referring to the verses from Ecclesiastes 3.  Mama loved that passage.  She even wrote it down on one of her recycled Mary Engelbreit calendar pages as a reminder to remember where I am–what season, what place.

Mama wrote this on the back of her Mary Engelbreit Page a Day calendar pages she used for note paper.  She handed it to me to remind me to read it.  I carry it with me in my wallet always.  I am finally starting to get what she was trying to tell me.  Thank you, Mama. <3

Mama wrote this on the back of her Mary Engelbreit Page a Day calendar pages she used for note paper. She handed it to me to remind me to read it. I carry it with me in my wallet always. I am finally starting to get what she was trying to tell me. Thank you, Mama. ❤

The season I have been in this week has been a busy one.  Saying goodbye to another family of neighborfriends.  This is the life in a military community.  Folks move into your neighborhoods, into your hearts, and then they must move on.

It’s been a week of endings.  The end of our year of dance and gymnastics for our Princess and Cooter.  And for me, who has usually been the one making the trek twice a week in my “taxi-mobile” to and from.  And for our family who has suffered through eating takeout on Tuesday nights (ha, who am I kidding–I can name at least four of the five who look forward to that night).  Yes, it’s been a good year.

Rocking the Ninja moves to the theme from Mission Impossible.

Rocking the Ninja moves to the theme from Mission Impossible.

Thursday evening, we attended their gymnastics program.  It was fabulous.  From listening to children singing along with the song that Princess’ class did their routine to–“The Best Day of My Life”–to watching Cooter and his male counterparts do a ninja-like routine to the theme from Mission Impossible–it was AWESOME.  Top it off with folks who know my children and love them anyway showing up to sit on the bleachers and clap and give hugs and high fives after. We giggled watching Princess walk across the gym on her tiptoes (it’s what she does) and nodded together that the song she performed to suits her well.  We watched in awe as Cooter did cartwheel after cartwheel. Well.  Just full to bustin’, y’all.  I can’t even put all that good stuff into words.  Except to say.  It was good.

The costume for my girl's dance recital.  Snazzy, right?  Even more so with the bowtie!

The costume for my girl’s dance recital. Snazzy, right? Even more so with the bowtie!

Last night was dress rehearsal for the dance recital.  As we got our Princess together–hair, makeup (oh my stars–only light stuff for our girl, I just can’t), and costume, we realized she did not have a bowtie.  Her costume was adorable.  All tux with bowtie look on top with red sparkly fabric–sharp and cute all at the same time.  But no bowtie?  Sigh.  Yeah.  Sounds about right.  I was convinced it had fallen into the abyss that is our laundry room–where I’d had it hanging waiting for the big day.  I spent a lot of time searching and digging to no avail.  Finally it was time to leave.  Well, it’s dress rehearsal for a reason.  I’d figure out something by recital time.

Which brings me to the season for today.  Today was the season for travelling across town to the craft store to search for black velvet ribbon so I could figure out how to make a bowtie. (I’m sure there’s an instructional video somewhere, right?) When that was a fail, I went to the party store, where “if we had them, they’d be right here.” *points* Well thanks.  I’ve enjoyed staring at this spot in your store where you have no bowties.  But it’s good to know where they would be, for, you know, the next time we misplace a bowtie.  Yes.

Thankful for my Fella's resourcefulness.  This bowtie looks great I think.

Thankful for my Fella’s resourcefulness. This bowtie looks great I think.

After a major shopping trip to the grocery store (on a Saturday morning, good gravy, why do I do this to myself?), I headed home to do what came next.  Figure out how to “make do.”  My Fella came to the rescue, with a black clip-on bowtie from his mess dress uniform.  Excellent.  It was black and from a distance, it looked no different from the others.  Three safety pins and voila!  Win.  Yes.  Hair.  Makeup.  Check.  And we were off.

I've been up and down the staircase in Porter Auditorium at my alma mater several times the past two days.  For those of you who KNOW, I was glad that this one I was only in once.

I’ve been up and down the staircase in Porter Auditorium at my alma mater several times the past two days. For those of you who KNOW, I was glad that this one I was only in once.

Today was also a season for revisiting my past.   Back home to Wesleyan.  The recital was on the stage that I walked across so many times, and now my oldest has too.   Such a precious thing to me.  I helped downstairs and backstage, something I have enjoyed doing each year.  I love the excitement in the air, the girls’ stomachs full of butterflies and hair full of hairspray.  They giggle and help each other straighten out skirts.  They share things forgotten and whisper encouraging words.  They talk a bit too loud in the stairwell and tap their shoes when they are supposed to be quiet, but I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.  Because I got at least four extra hugs from my Princess today–one from excitement, one just because, one when she heard who was in the audience, and one–“Thank you for being my Mama.”  Ahem.  Nothing to see here folks–keep on moving.  Just a Mama bawling her eyes out.  No big.

Tonight I am thankful for Team Zoo Crew–who pulled it together and got our littles where they were supposed to be this week, dressed and ready. Well mostly.  I am thankful for loving family who step outside their comfort zones and show up, which is one of the most precious things we can ever do for someone.  Ever.  I give thanks for dance teachers who brush off lost costume pieces, and say, “Don’t stress, if need be, get some black ribbon and tie in a bow and pin it on.  No one’s going to notice.”  Love that grace-filled woman.  I am thankful that she loves the hugs from my girl just about as much as I do.  And accepts them every time they are offered, which is often. I love that I have a ninja boy who rocked his performance and, with his one-toothed grin, told me he wants to do gymnastics again next year.  Thankful for his teacher who puts up with all those boys every week and says she enjoys it.  I’ll take it.

Our sweet dance school director encourages her students to let their true colors shine through always.  What a powerful song.

Our sweet dance school director encourages her students to let their true colors shine through always. What a powerful song.

It’s the big moments like these that I miss my Mama and Daddy even more than usual.  I remember with a warm heart the dance recital two years ago.  It was the first time I’d seen my Mama light up since my Daddy had died six months before.  She was beaming and couldn’t stop talking about all of the performances, but especially those of her grands.  And during both the gymnastics program and recital today, our dance studio director incorporated Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” It was played for the last dance today.  I’ve never heard this song before the way I did today.  Daddy really liked it.  I know because he asked me if Cyndi Lauper had gotten an award for it.  He only did that with songs he thought were really good.  So of course I thought of him.  But as I watched the final performance today from backstage, and I noticed the director/teacher guiding her students from off-stage, I saw she was mouthing the words.  Her face was lit up with something that had nothing to do with the stage lights.  I thought of Daddy and realized whatever she was hearing was what he heard too.  And then I heard the words differently myself.

So today was also a season of change.  Which I don’t do well.  But I’m trying.  Goodbyes, scheduled big events, heading up and down the massive staircases in Porter Auditorium several times with excited seven- to nine-year olds two days in a row, and missing my parents more than usual–it’s been a whirlwind.  But mostly a good one.  Yes, this season is a busy one.  But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world.

Love and a wishes for a good season to all.

 

Tumbling, Tap, and Tears

It has been a busy week.

The littles had their last dance and gymnastics classes on Tuesday evening.  I will miss the little community we have built the past ten months among ourselves–us dance parents.  I will miss catching up on the week and visiting and just being with these good people whom I’ve grown to love as friends.  Some I will likely see in August, but some I will not.  More goodbyes.  Despite the practice, I’m not real good at those.

Thursday evening both of my littles were a part of their gymnastics program.  That afternoon we ran errands and then went over to Mama’s to eat a snack supper before it was time to go.  I picked up some food, and we sat down at her table to eat.  As we held hands, bowed our heads, and said the blessing around the table, just as we’ve done so many times with her, I had the oddest and most precious sense of her presence.  Like I haven’t felt before.  With tears in my eyes, I said Amen, and felt a peace set in as well.  She always liked the idea of and sought that–a peace that passes all understanding.

The gymnastics performance was delightful.  Such talented young people.  It was awesome to see my little guy’s eyes focused on the tween-aged boys who were phenomenal in their routine.   Our princess was excited–as she is about so many things in her world. It was her first gymnastics performance.  She loved her leotard, loved being there, loved the routine.  It was a good night, but I missed Mama.  A year ago she was with us there.  We didn’t get to have supper with her that night because there was a bad storm coming up.  The clouds and rain of this past Thursday night reminded me of the weather a year ago.  Mama had enjoyed watching the children, especially our little guy.

Last night was dress rehearsal for our Princess’ recital.  She was in her element–dressup, dance, being with friends–all things she loves.  And she loves her teacher.  So do I.   She is a dear, sweet, gracious lady who loves and dotes on each of her students.  She has especially been a blessing in the rocky journey we’ve been on the past few months. Her love and patience, her laughter and gentle ways–they’ve helped so much.

I had the privilege of helping with my girl’s class in the downstairs/backstage experience.  I was thinking about it, and I actually prefer seeing her perform from backstage.  I get to see her excited face just before she goes on, eyes huge in her face, her eager yet nervous smile, and her little hip hop step she takes as she goes on stage.  Because she does that–little hip hop steps–when she is most excited.

Dress rehearsal went smoothly.  Today was the actual performance.  I’ve thought about Mama a lot today.  We picked her up last year, and she went with us.  She, Aub, and our little guy sat together in the audience while I was backstage, and Mama was enchanted by all of the performances, but most especially by those of her little Princess.  Mama loved all children and believed that every one of them should be loved and wanted.  That’s what she did when she watched those performances last year.  Loved every one of those children.  And boy, on the way home, she smiled and laughed and said over and over how much she enjoyed going, talking about the different performances.  It was the first time since Daddy had gotten really sick that I thought we might actually make it.  Daddy had been gone just over six months by the time of the recital last year, but it felt like it had been no time.  To see her smile and hear her laugh, I was filled with hope and…..well, Hope.

So this afternoon, after our second time up the stairs for their last performance, as all of the children were gathered behind the closed curtains for the final curtain call, I thought about the past year, and how much I miss my Mama.  I miss her when I’m sad and hurting, but I also miss sharing my joys with her.  She would have been there today, no doubt.  To think about the years of her not being at things that are yet to come was almost too much to bear, and then the tears started flowing.  I guess I really should carry around my own bandana.  I couldn’t stop them.  Thank goodness for the darkness backstage.

I write this tonight for my children.  I want them to remember how much Maemae and Cap loved them, and how they loved being a part of their lives, of their stories.  They were there for the events they could get to, and they wanted to hear about the ones they couldn’t.  I want them to know that it’s okay to be sad and to cry when they are missing them.  But it’s also okay to laugh and tell funny stories about Maemae and Cap and to talk to them when they want to.   I believe they are listening.

Tonight I give thanks for the time we did have.  For the memory of Mama’s laughter and joy over little ones, especially her little ones, as she watched them do flips and tap their hearts out a year ago.  She found hope in those days too, I think.  I give thanks for the wonderful dance and gymnastics teachers and friends who have walked this journey with us as well, who have given an extra hug, sent a card, patted me on the shoulder, said a kind word, but mostly, who have loved on my babies.   That right there.  I love you all, and I cannot say thank you enough for that.  I also give thanks that my children will never have to doubt how much they were loved by Maemae and Cap, because they told them often with their words, but even more often with their actions. Mama said that a lot, “Actions speak louder than words.” And my three precious gifts, as you face your future, remember that, do what you can to let both your words and your actions show love and light in the world.  Just as your grandparents did.  You were and are loved and always will be.

My precious ones, who were so loved by their Maemae and Cap

My precious ones, who were so loved by their Maemae and Cap