Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blue and Gold (Part 2)

Today was the boy's last Blue and Gold field day at Matthews Elementary.  It was a bittersweet day.  We started in their classroom.  As soon as their teacher started crying, all of the moms, who until that moment had barely been holding it together, started crying as well.  The kids all rolled their eyes and we laughed at ourselves as we passed tissues around the room.

 These kids have grown so much in the past year. They're our babies, and yet so far from being babies.  Most of them are as tall or taller than some of their parents.  My boy is one of those tall kids.  Their bodies have filled out this year.  Where last year at field day they were a mess of gangly limbs, today we noticed that their bodies have caught up.  They were more athletic and sure of themselves.  The baby-face cheeks have all but disappeared.  There was confidence in their stride.  They are ready for middle school.  Ready to shed their elementary skin.

But for one more week we get to keep them in the safe community that they have spent the last several years in.  For one more week they will sit in a classroom with classmates they have spent a straight two years with.  For one more week they will have a teacher who has spent the year molding them for middle school.  A teacher who truly wants to see them at their best.  For one more week they will be 5th graders.

As mom's we cried because we know that week will be over quickly.  We cried because they're growing up.  We cried because we want to keep them in a safe bubble as long as we can.  But most of all, we cried because we're proud of them.  Proud of all that they have achieved.  Proud of the little men and women they are becoming.

Today was a milestone of sorts.  The last elementary school field day.  It was a good day.

Blue and Gold Week (Part 1)

Field day.  It must mean it's the end of the school year.  End of Grade testing is done.  Grades are almost in.  Time to blow off the steam and celebrate a good year.   It's one of our favorite days of the year.  Really, who doesn't love field day?  A day for running around in the sun with friends.  Laughing, playing, and school spirit driven competition.  It's just pure fun.

Chris got picked to be a 5th grade field marshal this year.  That means that he got to run one of the games for the younger grades.  It was fun watching him lead.  And it was a bit of a bonus for his sisters because he made sure they had a ball when they needed one.  He carries calm, cool, and confident well.

Tough girl wounds.  Who says busting your elbow on pavement means the fun is over?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Little Gymnast

And the finishing continues.  On to gymnastics.

Sicily had her last gymnastics class last week.  My little athlete pushed herself hard this year.  She finally got to put that tough girl spirit to good use.  At one point this year she was running around with a bruised heel from the gym and bloody, peeling toenails from ballet.  And I do mean "running".  Because those kind of injuries don't stop tough girls.  They push through.  Sure they may shed a few tears but they get back up again.  That's Sicily. She can rock athlete in a prom dress pretty well.  Some people say ballet and gymnastics are girly sport.  That is, if they think of them as sports at all.  To those people, the girls of the world say thank you.  Because those "girly" sports require stamina, strength, and perseverance.  And you know a man would have been on the sidelines with an ice pack if he had gotten a bruised heel or ripped a toenail off.  Sisters, can I get an Amen!

If you doubt the power of the tough girl spirit just walk into a gym or a dance studio sometime.  You'll see girls wrapped up in various bandages pushing though routines.  Because that's what tough girls do.  I witnessed one girl work through an entire floor routine with a cast on her broken arm.  That's commitment!

Now, I'm not knocking boys here.  I have a tough boy.  I know boys get hard core too.  But there's just something inspiring about a hard core girl.  Maybe it's the life preparation in it.  Women have to be strong.  We endure.  We carry life and give birth.  We are born to be warriors of a different sort than men.  A sort that carries families and holds crumbling worlds together.

So you see, I'm incredibly proud of my tough girl.  I see in her an endurance that I know will carry her though life.  Her spunk and her spirit make her a force.  My crazy, wild sprite.  She makes me smile.  I just can't help myself.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Drama Queen

So on to more finishing.  Analiese was part of a drama program this year at our local community theater.  She got to be in two productions throughout the school year, Babes in Toyland and Children of Eden.  A few weeks ago they had their last performance.  It was just a small play put together by their class.  A sort of fractured fairy tale involving Hansel and Gretel, the seven dwarfs, and two peculiar godmothers.  Analiese was one of those godmothers.  She was the fairy dog-mother.  And her best friend Campbell was the fairy frog-mother.  They make my laugh regularly.  And this performance was no exception.  They were adorable and funny and perfectly quirky.

This class has been wonderful.  We will definitely be signing up again next fall.  Not only was it fun and a good experience, but it grew my girl in big ways.  Analiese had a rough year last school year.  It was a confidence shaking year.  A year that left her questioning herself in deep ways.  Am I smart enough?  Am I pretty enough? Am I good at anything?  Those are big questions for seven year old to ask.  And really, questions a seven year old shouldn't be asking.  But she was put in a position in school that left her asking these hard questions.  (It still gets my mama blood boiling to think about.)  So I knew this year we had to do something to rebuild what had been broken.  This is my creative girl.  My slightly (no, let's be honest, overly) dramatic girl.  So I thought of the stage.  She started off shy and reserved.  During the first production she felt silly and questioned everything she did.  I saw some of that disappear with the second performance.  But I really saw how far she had come during the Studio recital.  She was all confidence.  Don't get me wrong.  She's still her mother's daughter.  She picked at her work and listed ways she could improve it.  But she did this with an air of knowing she really could make it better.  And that's the key.  It's one thing to want to improve yourself.  It's another thing to not feel like you can improve yourself.  She moved ever so slightly past the latter.  And for that I thank this drama class.  There is just nothing quite like putting yourself on stage in front of lights.  The adrenaline flowing through you and the butterflies working their way out.  It's a pride making moment.  A moment my girl needed. I love my lovely little hippie drama queen so very much.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Masterpiece Recital and Gallery Show

Oh my. I've neglected my writing.  Again.  But you see, it's May.  And, as all mothers of school-aged children know, May is "the finishing season".  The finishing of school.  The finishing of activities.  Finishing it all so that we can all crash hard in June.  June, which I will hereby refer to as "the crashing season".  And this year, with mama in school as well, we've all been finishing.   So there has been much hard crashing earned this school year.

But that means there is also so much to reflect on from this school year.  And so much to be proud of.  Too much, in fact, to share in one post.  So I'm going to spend the next few days sharing the May highlights. By the time I'm done we will have melted into June and popsicles and playing in the water hose.  And watermelon and laziness and, oh yes, I'm so looking forward to June....

We'll start with the most recent event.  Last weekend was the end of the year Recital and Gallery Show for Masterpiece Studios.  The Studio is, as you know, where I teach art.  It's also where my girls learn to be beautiful ballerinas and jazzy tappers.  It's where they grow as artists.  And it's a bit of a home away from home, considering the time we spend there.  So finishing the school year at the studio is a really big deal around here.   This year it was an even bigger deal.  I poured myself into the show this year and so did the kids.  Our studio does some unique things for our visual artists.  They not only have their artwork displayed in a gallery but they also get to practice performance art, something I can't teach in the regular studio setting.  This year I wanted to go big with the performance art aspect.  So we built sets and cut out crazy amounts of cardboard props.  I put a lot of thought into each piece and we rehearsed many times.  And I have to say, I'm so incredibly proud of my artists.  They were amazing!  And the gallery art looked fantastic!  I'm really thrilled with the work my students did this year.

I'm particularly fond of three little artists I know.  Sicily was in two dance pieces and two art pieces.  She was beautiful in all of them.  Analiese was in a fun dance number and she was in two art pieces.  I've seen her confidence grow this year.  I've loved watching that happen.  And Chris was part of a "living art" piece.  He was awesome.  Cool, calm, and subtly funny in perfect Chris form.

This was Sicily's jazz piece.  She loved this one!  I learned that she can move her feet very fast from  watching this!  You can also see one of the sets in the background.  These two students are performing as Rockwell's after the prom.  They had to hold perfectly still for the length of the song as if they are part of the painting.  They were awesome.  And the set itself is me putting my own art work out there.  I'm not great at painting faces, but I'm rather pleased with this one.

This is Analiese's art piece.  It's a single-line drawing that she did with  another student.  This piece is where I saw her confidence come out.  She strolled out on stage and just drew it.  No big deal.  And I think they did a great job.  This was our 5th recital and gallery show, thus the 5.

This was one of my favorite pieces from the entire show.  Our Degas piece.   So many beautiful ballerinas.  Three were dancing.  The three sets were stationary.  They were performing as two of Degas' paintings and Sicily is "The Little Dancer".  She held that position for nearly three minutes without blinking.  She's the perfect performance artist!  The whole piece was incredibly moving.  I was crying by the end of it. The pictures cannot convey how absolutely beautiful it was.  

Chris performed as part of "New American Gothic" based on Grant Wood's  "American Gothic".  We played with  this piece a bit.  They had funny little sketches they did once they were on stage.  For example, on one she was supposed to blow a bubble and he would cast her an annoyed look because they're supposed to be a "painting".  In dress rehearsal it didn't work.  We were all a little worried.  But on the day of the show she blew a bubble as big as her head and his look was perfect.  It was subtly funny just like planned.  One of their other bits was a Hunger Games tribute.  He's Finnick and she's Annie, but all of you real fans already knew that.

This is my hippie girl's collage.  "Just Add Flowers"

Gallery Show.  The Van Gogh inspired trees are Chris'

More Gallery Show. The Whimsical Tree is Sicily's

Analiese's tap number.  I loved these costumes.  And I love that smile.  This year was the first year she was confident enough on stage to really enjoy it.  More on that in the next post.

This was all of the pictures that I was able to take as I was running around crazy backstage.  (Can I just say that my feet still hurt and it's been almost a week!) I really wish I had gotten a picture of my younger student's performance art piece, especially since the girls were part of it.  It was absolutely adorable.  One "artist" made a "picture" out of the other students who were holding cardboard painted flowers, butterflies, and trees.  They performed to my "Own Two Hands" by Jack Johnson.  Also one of my favorite pieces of the show.  They were just so cute!  

All in all,  it was an amazing show.  I'm truly so very proud of not only my own lovely children but of all of my students.  My head is already spinning with ideas for next year!