Today at lunch, Kate and I chatted about pop star Ke$ha. If you haven’t heard of her, she managed to skip the Disney Mouseketeer stage and went directly to sleezy ,”Say and do what you want ‘It” girl”. Despite how lewd and hopelessly inappropriate her music is, everyone in my family can’t stop singing her songs. I find myself taking a dive into the urban dictionary to find out what words like “crunk” means. In true Ke$ha style, Chris makes the grand entrance into the house in biker’s spandex after his commute home from work singing, “The party don’t start til I walk in”. Pete then sings that he brushes his teeth with a bottle of Jack. I think to myself that at least he is brushing his teeth. While Kate feels the need to pour on the Purell after being exposed to Ke$ha, she can’t help but be fascinated by how the pop star delivers the “ I am who I am attitude”. So in the boredom that summer and tweendom brings, I suggested that she let herself go all Keisha in a photoshoot. Out came the sparkles and thank god not a bottle of Jack. Our summer dull-drums were temporary detoured. Wild Ke$ha was in the house. Soon enough, She eyed the camera with her own version of “I got attitude.” For me, capturing any stage of Kate’s growing up years on film is fun. Glop on lots of eye shadow and the fun doubles. Next time, I promised she could invite friends along to temporarily leave behind normalcy. Growing up in front of the camera must be fun especially if you get to be whoever you want to be, even if just for a few quick moments. For those of you that have the burning question after reading the blog…what is crunk anyway? Crack stoned+drunk=crunk. I dare you to bring that word up in a sentence at the dinner table. The miracle in this is that you just may make your teen’s jaw drop wide open.
The cat above is not the serial killer I am discussing here, he just plays one on TV.
My cat is a natural born killer. Just today, two specimens were dropped on my doorstep for analysis. God only knows why cats bring these "gifts" back home, I am just happy that today, none were regurgitated. Our cat may even have the makings of a serial killer. He lives for the death blow, but his style is distinct. He has been known to leave just the kidney on numerous occasions. Other times, he acts as a taxidermist leaving the dead to look like their taking a nap. Almost always, he preys on things that polite society doesn't need, like mice. Dexter would be proud. However, sometimes little woodland creatures have met an early demise because of bloodthirsty ways. I find it fascinating that within minutes of his kill, he'll jump onto my husband's lap, rub his head against his leg and purr his way to sleep. Does he have no conscience? No remorse? Clearly not. I try to tell him not to do these heinous acts, but we all know that nobody truly owns a cat. Their path is their own. Nonetheless, in some strange way, this killer has assimilated into our family. We accept him despite his indiscretions. The kids have even learned to step far beyond the doormat when leaving for the bus stop in the morning, just in case "Catty Wampus" has been on the prowl. I am just really relieved that the dog is too dumb to have learned this horrible behavior from the cat. Miles would likely kiss his prey to death. Cause of death… drowning in slobber. Does someone else out there have a cat that fits this description? It would make me feel relieved that I am not the only owner of a murderous cat. Perhaps one day, he'll say he's sorry, but I wont hold my breath.
I should have named him Dexter.
Until tonight, it hadn’t sunk in that it was summertime. But after a full day of not knowing what to do with the kids, summer hit me. It seems to be off to the perfect start. In the back yard sits a tent with a little boy staring at the sky waiting for the bats to come out. After working all day, Chris lay in the grass contemplating the enormous height of the ancient maples in our yard. I felt relaxed enough to sit in the grass and do absolutely nothing this evening. I guess if my camera was in hand then I was technically doing something, but it sure felt relaxing. The day lilies, which for some reason I curse every year seemed to glow tonight in a beautiful way. Even the dog is content as witnessed by his tongue hanging out a mile after his thousandth fetch for the day. I finished off the day by heading up to the orchard trying to capture something new in a view that seems as reliable as a torn up old pair of jeans. I never tire of it and the new season makes it feel like a destination once again. The temperature has reached the 70’s and becomes life’s miracle. Really, who could ask for more than this?
I have been married to an endurance athlete for almost 15 years now. This man is no weekend warrior. The first 100 miles is the warm-up. I get it now. The idea of having your heart rate at 145 bpm from sun up to sunset is the equivalent to a party animal finishing a Budweiser suitcase over a long day. But today, I was reminded of the hardest endurance event out there. This endurance event makes an Ironman look like a leisurely Sunday stroll. It makes the Paleozoic era seem kinda short. This knuckle dragging, knee buckling, sleepy eyed endurance event is called parenthood. While at my in-laws home today, I watched Chris’s sister bounce, sway and satisfy all of the needs of her 6 month old while trying to keep in step with her two year old. I like to remember myself being adept at this challenge but it’s been a blurry 10 years since I have been in this situation. It may have been this type of dire situation that led me to do an Ironman myself . I remember when Peter was two, Chris would somehow manage to disappear on his bike for hours on end so he could train for his endurance event while I was brought to my knees in my own never ending story. I came to think that there was no better way to get a day off from child rearing than racing for 13 hours myself. I now know I was delusional. What they don’t tell you in the Ironman training manual for mom’s is that no one really watches your kids for you while you train. You swim after bedtime and before they wake you up in the middle of the night. Your kids get pushed everywhere in the jogger…to the grocery store, the library to preschool. Your kid has a baba (with chocolate milk) shoved in his mouth for much longer than the pediatrician would recommend. Mom’s in SUV’s give you dirty looks and a head shake of disdain for your unorthodox child rearing habits. They would think, “Why can’t she just be normal like me”. Truthfully, we were all experiencing the endurance event of child rearing; I just was killing two birds with one stone. Practicing the bike to run transition for a triathlon was similar to a mom changing the baby’s diaper while making dinner at the same time. Speed and determination made for the best transitions. When someone with kids tells you that doing an endurance event is impossible, remind them that they are living one. No endurance event is as hard as raising a kid well. It doesn't take a miracle to get the job done, just hard work. So now that my kids are around the decade mark, it’s like I have just finished the warm-up. There may be a long way to go, but at least I am enjoying the ride.
I feel like a wet noodle today. The endless two-week marathon of good-byes has finally taken it's toll on an old dog like me. My friend affectionately called me “cry baby” as she saw me bleary eyed for the hundredth time this week. There must be some reason I am like this? Maybe it is because I have finally found a home in this town where life is what you make of it. Kate started Lyman School only two days after we moved to Middlefield. I remember feeling like the new kid in the same way that my children did. Peter was anxiety ridden in pre-school and Kate was a sweet and quiet first grader. I was in mid-life no mans land. It took just days and we all started making connections. Like a newly sprouted seedling, we put down roots. Over the years, we all grew in so many ways. I had never have expected my kid’s school to become a place where I too would grow. We would become like perennial plants adding new blooms every year. In saying goodbye today to Lyman, I felt like a plant that had found a nice sunny spot to grow in, only to be pulled from its perfect soil. Needless to say, my son was ready to be transplanted into a bigger pot so his roots could spread and he could grow even bigger. Leaving Memorial School today left Kate clinging for dear life as the hurricane pulled her roots away from a soil that has nurtured her so well. I guess all plants take being moved from one spot to another differently. What is most important to realize here is that while we have been transplanted, there is still much growing to do. We still have more blossoms to bloom and seasons to weather. In this little hamlet, a garden of wonderful people dwell. I am happy that my perennial self is still in this garden even if it was just shifted around. I am thankful for this, because there is nowhere I would rather be.
The memories from my middle school years are all a blur now, except for 2 particular days that I’ll never forget. The first was when a girl from the wrong side of the tracks beat me up in 8th grade. I held my own but it wasn’t pretty. Then came the second most traumatic day…the talent show. I was not one who wanted to share any of my “talents”, especially among my peers, the toughest audience out there. Two days before the big show, my mom caught wind about the show and was emphatic about my participation. I had thought I had kept the flyer well hidden at the bottom of the backpack. I knew a few songs that I could play on the guitar, a bit of John Denver and Simon and Garfunkle. I had nothing cool in my repertoire like anything from The Police. So out came the grand-daddy of all horrific songs. In front of me was the sheet music for “Feeling Groovy” as well as three hundred kids who were ready for a good laugh. My friend, Michael Wohltmann, held the mic trying not cringe as I belted out “looking for fun and feeling groovy", to the best of my ability. To this day, he still ask me if I am feeling groovy and my face turns beet red. So when Kate came home 6 months ago and announced that she wanted do the talent show, I could feel my hands begin to sweat almost instantaneously. All I could remember was my own demise. We had just seen Wicked and for weeks, all I had heard coming from her room was the song "Popular". So with one day left of 6th grade, Kate would take the stage. For a girl that had never sang beyond the confines of the bathroom or her bedroom, this was monumental leap. Shyness would have to take a step aside and let a newcomer, Confidence take center stage. Her close friend and her "rock" Brit would be her partner in song. Together they took the stage and she shimmered in a pink gown. My good little “witch” sang her heart out and I felt none of the dread that I remember from my own experience. They were beautiful witches and based on the claps they received, they were in fact… popular. There is nothing better than having seen my reserved and shy girl show the strength and grace I have always known she has, but has often kept hidden. I hope she takes this experience with her and realizes that the star ahead of her shines brightly.
I guess I did this to myself. After two insanely busy weeks, I find myself with a knock out punch of a cold. I feel so crappy that I hope no one catches this cold from reading this blog. It doesn’t help that emotions have run high seeing my kids move on from their current schools. Being sick makes you appreciate being healthy. It gets me thinking. Is feeling ill the only way appreciate the good health that we take for granted every day? We all can try to imagine other people’s long-term illnesses by a quick look in the mirror during a flu bug, but do we really get it? Most us enjoy the luxury of sickness being short term. I wonder what it feels like to feel sickness every day as some of us do. This picture shows Peter looking and wondering what’s below the surface of the water trying to see through the muck. I can imagine that debilitating sickness is like being caught in a different type of world, one that we don’t truly get; one that’s dark, murky and uncharted. In days, I’ll most likely turn the corner and feel re-energized. I wish with all my heart that there were a miracle cure for those that need it. I have thoughts of having my healthy Go Far kids run for those that can’t next year. Maybe those with strength can hold up those that need support. As I blow my nose for the umpteenth time, as my teeth ache and my chest feels caved in, I realize that compassion is a lesson learned through experience. To whoever is in charge up there, I cry uncle. I'm ready to get better. When I do, I'll remember the words I wrote here and try to be a pillar for one that needs it.
I went to catholic school. Needless to say, field day didn’t exist. The nuns in my school weren’t willing to set up cones, fill up kiddie pools with water or even set up bucket ball. They just didn't seem to get into the spirit of good old fashioned fun. Perhaps a game of Lord of the Rings would have helped them lighten up. So I missed out on the day of hotdogs, tug o wars and spash in the face fun. I think I lingered in the same building from the age of three until I turned 13 in 8th grade. I remember what a thrill it was when I went upstairs for 6th through 8th grades. The upstairs was forbidden as a younger classman unless you needed to return a library book. So Perhaps Peter takes for granted field day, something I never had the opportunity to experience. As he exits his elementary school, he got to seal the deal with a fun day of memories that hopefully will not soon be forgotten. Today’s miracle would come from the gym teachers that dragged a U-haul amount of gear from the closet of the school down the road for a few hours, just to be returned later in the day. Because of their efforts, there would be no holding back this crowd of rowdy kids. They could splash, slide, jump, run, tug, throw and smile their way through the day. Through them, I would experience my very own field day and smile along with them. The nuns in my school never realized the little miracle they were missing. Luckily for my son, it was realized today .
As I looked out on the great hill of the fairgrounds yesterday, I felt like I was looking into a Norman Rockwell painting. Kids in droves rolled down the big hill as parents sat relaxing on the grass. This followed an energy infused morning of racing from children ages two all the way to 18. Seeing a community come together was heartwarming. It wasn’t for the simple cause of burning calories, but for something far greater. I hope it is safe to say that each child went home feeling proud and accomplished. I learned that this program is working its own special kind of miracle, the type that will hopefully grip these kids into adulthood. Good health and personal accomplishment will see these kids to the best possible future. This year, a bunch of mentors kept these kids motivated no matter what the cost to their personal time and commitments. Just the fact that so many kids raced proved that these children are truly invested in our every day program. They needed to see things come full circle for themselves. They had lived the mantra of Go Far, and now they could test themselves by going fast. Where the program thrives on children being publicly recognized, yesterday was the ultimate party of who’s who. Among town dignitaries, their teachers and their parents, they were seen in a big way. We witnesses the greatest runner in the school district do what he does best. The younger kids cheered him on, some slack-jawed envisioning themselves in the same position. Watching the little tots had everyone smiling as we saw this town’s future coming forward, one tiny step at a time. We saw a young girl and boy duke it out for 1st place in the 1 mile race of 168 kids…inspiring to say the least. My son put it best saying, “Wow mom, all of these Go Far kids are getting crazy fast.” No matter what your celebrity in our little fish bowl, they all felt pride in themselves and went home better off than before. So what’s next? While my life as a photographer still needs to be nurtured, I realize that this program has immense value to the kids that participate. In many ways, these kids are like my own and I want to see them through. My goal next year is to break the middle school barrier. Doing this is a challenge on par with climbing Mount Everest. Nothing is impossible though; I truly believe that. For now, I need to regroup and get some rest. After a summer recharge, this bunny will be ready. Anybody else in?
My favorite thing to do is to drive up to a farm, knock on the door and ask permission to photograph the good things I see. You just never know what to expect. On the day this photo was taken, I could have never expected in my wildest dreams to come across two such fascinating characters. I still smile every time I see this photo because to me, it represents pure happiness, or as the expression goes…a pig in &*%$. I wish happiness was that simple for everyone…the world would be a much better place.