Bats! meow…

creating, living, loving – all in a long black skirt

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Shaking in My Docs

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October 16th, 2013 Posted 9:50 am

I admit to several slightly irrational fears:  clowns;  monkeys;  the smell of toothpaste [don’t ask].  If you’ve been in earshot anytime within the past 18 years [essentially since I found out I was pregnant the very first time], you’re well aware of another – the biggieRAISING DAUGHTERS.

Princesses

Don’t get me wrong. I love these little she-monsters will all my heart. But, having been raised in a house full of women [one mom, one aunt, two sisters, and me] plus my father, I know how difficult we can be.  Yes, we. I won’t pretend I’m not part of that equation.  I did breathe a sigh of relief when the first two children were boys, but I swear my heart stopped for an instant when Eric looked at Ravynn’s [of course she didn’t have a name until she was three days old, but that is another story for another time] ultrasound screen and announced gleefully, “that’s a girl!”  That is was.

Oh my!

I was sure the first decade would go well. But I knew, without a doubt, somewhere not long after that, lurked the crazy.  It happens to all of us, without fail, only in different degrees.  I expected it to hit my house with a vengeance, especially when less than a year later we welcomed another wee princess.

It’s only a minor exaggeration to say I’ve been living in fear of their 11th birthdays.  Ravynn celebrated 12 not long ago Whisper is looking forward to 11 in February. I do see a little crazy waiting for us in the years ahead. Two girls making a path through their teenage years [and high school] at essentially the same time can’t leave anyone entirely unharmed.  Mama included.

Indeed!

Fear of this has kept me from agreeing to the much requested slumber party. Until this past weekend.  I must have been feeling brave when I agreed to let Ravynn invite her friends over.  She is one of a triad of friends.  Three very similar young ladies.  Similar enough that I didn’t notice the addition.  They cleaned up after themselves; they said please and thank you; they were sweet.  I had intended to spend my time doing things that would keep me out of their way – because isn’t that what you want at a slumber party?? – but they kept coming to get me and asking if I was going to watch movies or eat with them.

Very sweet, but quite unexpected.

That first sleepover went so well, that I gave in when she asked to schedule another one tonight.

I suspect I may be the crazy one.

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The Bat Cave – The Home Tour, part 3

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February 15th, 2013 Posted 5:09 am

This installment of the home tour is LONG overdue as I cannot manage to keep my room clean long enough to photograph it.  I set a very bad example for my children. Really.

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, click the links.

The view from the door.  The paint looks much darker without the flash, but without the flash, this really does look like a cave.

Basically the view from the door.

Skull and candle on the dresser at the foot of the bed. Not a real skull, I promise 🙂  And a vanilla-scented candle, inspiring me to work on making my own.

A close-up of the dresser at the foot of the bed. 

The bookshelf that is rarely ever organized.  Sadly it works as a storage unit most of the time. Today,  it’s relatively cleaned out.

Full bookshelf

The top.  Ignore the cobwebs; I can’t reach that corner.

One of the gargoyles that keeps us safe as we sleep.

Mama’s Teddy Scares and part of my collection of Peter Pan items.  Here you see the stack of printer paper that’s found a temporary home…

My Teddy Scares.

Small cabinet that holds most of my mani/pedi stuff.  Eric will set books on the top that he thinks I should read.

Tiny cabinet.

It photographs much more cluttered than it really is.  Jewelry boxes and candles take up most of the space.  There’s also a coaster since I was having tea as I was cleaning and a sticker that has since moved out to my sewing area.

The long dresser.

Big box full of the chunkier jewelry, smaller box holding overflow jewelry, the thinnest box holds treasures from my Mother and Aunt Lois.  The ladybug cup was painted by one of my kids for Mother’s day and holds earrings.

Detail. Jewelry and Buddha.

Closeup of a birthday card I received from one of my good friends a couple years ago and a wax tart melter.

Full moon and wicked wax.

Ravynn made me a ring holder during a ceramics unit in school.  D12 becasue they make me happy. The bottom of a vase holding pretty rocks, hair sticks, and a tiara.

Rings!

More candles, a box full of nail polish and the profile of an origami penguin that Ravynn made.

Tall dresser.

Next… the living room.

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Dance is Not Easy

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February 10th, 2013 Posted 12:30 pm

Joe Modlin

“Dance is hard.

If dance was easy,

everybody would do it.”

~Joe Modlin~

 


Alek’s 2012 headshot

 That’s fitting today. Eric has taken Alek to Columbus, Ohio to audition for a summer intensive in Houston. The same one he attended last year, yet hoping for a higher placement and maybe a scholarship this time around. Preparing for this audition has been a life-long journey.  Most recently, classes five days a week totally almost 20 hours including rehearsal time for pieces he’s been invited to perform in and classes where he acts as an assistant. He’s been dancing, following a much less rigorous schedule, for 11 years. He’s had pain in his feet, legs, back, neck, and arms. He’s injured himself.  We’ve used hot packs, meds, massage, and hugs. He’s celebrated accomplishments.  We’ve talked about his past, present, and future. He has incredible dreams and I look forward to watching him accomplish them.

I’m incredibly proud of him.

Ravynn’s fitting.

A couple weeks ago, I joined Ravynn and her class on a “field trip” to Broadripple, Indiana, where she was sized and fitted for pointe shoes.  She’s had pain previously, but minor compared to what waits around the bend. She’s been warned, but I think she honestly has no clue what her pretty little feet are in for. She wants to dance and this is a necessary next step.

I’m incredibly proud of her.

And if I admit it, I’m incredibly proud of me too. Dance is hard for the dance mom as well.  Financially, it’s a huge commitment and we are so very thankful for every gift we have been given and for every person who has helped us meet those requirements.  The time and energy commitments are huge as well.  There are some nights where I’m at the studio playing chauffeur four times in a three hour period.  Although the schedule can be overwhelming, I do enjoy it.

But looking from a distance at those auditions for Houston, the really hard part rears its ugly head.  This is a SIX WEEK intensive and that means a little over six weeks away from my son. I do not love that, but I’ve done my research and I understand this is the best thing for him. And he’ll be with Joe. That does ease the fear.

So, I pour another cup of tea and thank my children for raising a mother who understands that dance is hard – but so very worth every bit of it.

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We’re All Stalkers

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February 8th, 2013 Posted 4:59 am

Despite my general displeasure with many things about Anderson Community Schools, I do love the Power Parent program they offer.  I can log in to my parent account to see this year’s grades for all my kids.

And I do.

At least three times each week I check in to see whey they are struggling. Or excelling.  I log in over my morning coffee and get a quick peek at who needs to spend a few more minutes double-checking homework, who aced a French test, or who might need to reread the Great Depression chapter of their history book.

At least once each week [two of the kids more often than that], the kids will ask me to check in and make sure grades have been entered or to assure they haven’t missed an assignment. At first, I was worried they wouldn’t appreciate this hands-on approach or my interest in their work, but it’s so much easier to keep things straight.  They see the value too.

Their grades have improved [one of them from a D-average to straight As and being ranked first in the class!] and it’s much easier to be the homework heavy when the numbers are right in front of me.  This is likely easier for the teachers too. They can spend less time each week answering notes about grades and assignments.

I like the accountability I can see growing in them and I hope that continues.  It’s a necessary trait that is slowly fading from many adults I see on a regular basis.

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Spiders and bats and ballerinas, oh my!! – Home Tour pt 2

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July 22nd, 2012 Posted 6:28 am

Welcome back to our home. While last week we showed you the initial entry way to our home, this week we will journey down ‘the hall’ to the kids’ rooms. Next week, Eric’s and my bedroom will be featured.

Follow me down the hall to see where the gothlings dwell.

(more…)

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Welcome – Home Tour pt 1

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July 15th, 2012 Posted 6:20 am

Since our family appeared on the April 30, 2010 episide of Wife Swap, I’ve fielded many questions about our home – most focussing on “What does it REALLY look like?” It seems the perception from the general public is that we gothed it up for the show. Not the case. If anything, it lost some of it’s personality during filming. Much of the art and decorations we have didn’t get media clearance and had to be pulled down and stuck in the den or the garage until the cameras were shut off for the last time. It has been my intent since that time to offer a photo tour of the house, but I just never got around to it.

**Actually I did get around to starting, but never finished 🙁  This is the first of two posts that appeared back in January 2011.  I’m reposting them in order to revive that feature.

Naughty, Sheila.

For the next several weeks, I will invite you to explore a new area of the house. This will give me time to photograph each part adequately, but will also save you from sifting through a million photos in each sitting. That does get old and, depending on your internet connection, could become really tedious.

PART 1: Welcome to the Schroeders

Friends at the front door welcome guests. Come on in.

(more…)

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Posted in Home Tour

Why We Dance

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July 12th, 2012 Posted 3:25 pm

The kids [all four of them] started dancing when they were 3, because we have a love and respect for the arts.  Eric and I both danced with the local dance company when were in college as extras in the Nutcracker ballet and promised way back when that when we had children we would give them the gift of dance.  When the first two kids were boys, that didn’t stop us.  Despite the feedback we’ve gotten from friends and strangers, we encouraged them.  For a while, we restricted the input the kids had in the matter, deciding that it was our decision until they reached a certain age. 

When Jordan was 12, he decided that he was done.  Thankfully, I talked him back into a role as an extra in last year’s Nutcracker ballet.  His Wife Swap mom would have been horrified [that pleases me].  When Alek was 11, he had to do some thinking.  That same Wife Swap mom was encouraging him to walk away.  He may have entertained that idea, but was reminded that at that age he wasn’t free to make that decision.  Sometime within the next year, he decided to kick his study into gear and made some progress – enough that last December the opportunity was presented to audition for a summer intensive in Houston.  He did. He was accepted.  He returned on Saturday – a very exciting day for this mama.  I haven’t had a chance to see him dance, but I’ve heard of the exciting progress he’s made during these classes.

Despite our love of the arts and our kids’ interest in dance, we’ve had to defend this decision more than any parent should. Seriously, we appreciate the arts and we prefer to encourage the kids toward dance, art, and music – just like other parents would encourage their kids toward sports.  Do the same people question them?  Probably not. As if “we’re the parents and we make that decision” isn’t enough, we have also seen several research studies that cite the effect of dance on education and test scores. 

At Suite101, Anna Mayer writes, “Studies show that dance in school leads to high grades and SAT scores. Dance lessons increase mental skill and deepen kids’ understanding of other subjects.”  She notes a documented effect of dance instruction on reading skills, SAT scores, and GPA [in one study, the dancers’ overall Grade Point Average was 3.22, while the non-dancer group averaged a 2.87].

 

 

http://suite101.com/article/dance-in-school–smart-kids-high-grades-and-high-sat-scores-a374077

http://ezinearticles.com/?Dance-Classes-Improve-Test-Scores-and-More&id=6099064

 

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Posted in Family

On Being Alone

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July 9th, 2012 Posted 2:01 pm

…empty…

I grew up in an extended family: mother, father, me, two sisters, my father’s father, and my mother’s sister.  Grandpa lived with my parents before I was born and that didn’t change after we girls came along.  My mother’s sister had always lived with their mother and, when my grandmother died, my father invited my aunt to live with us.  It wasn’t a big house and it was full to the brim with people: four adults, three kids. 

As I grew up there weren’t many opportunities for me to be alone.  I shared a room with my two sisters until my dad built a second floor when I was 16 and we each got our own rooms.  My mother didn’t work after I was born, so I expected her to be home.  Most of the time she was.  When I was very young, obviously I couldn’t stay alone.  When I became older and was old enough to be at home without my mother, my Grandfather was sick and it wasn’t advisable for me to be home without her.  My Grandfather passed when I was 13 and in the 8th grade and I was suddenly able to be home ‘alone’, but alone is hard to come by when you’re part of a family of seven. Most likely someone will always be at home with you or will be coming home shortly.

In college I most always had a roommate, but if they were out, I could be found in the lobby watching TV or talking to whoever was around.

When Eric and I got married and there were only two of us to fill our home, it was much easier to be alone and I resisted it.  I’d go to the grocery with him.  We worked together, so we kept the same hours.  After the kids started coming and our two grew to three, then four, then five, and finally six, it was difficult to find time alone. I like it that way.

I like it a lot.

Unfortunately as the kids get older, they have more opportunities to try new things.  Well, the opportunities are good, but the time away from home is difficult.  Alek spent three weeks at the Houston Ballet in a summer intensive program.  That was hard for me and I only stopped fussing when he was only three days shy of coming back.  During that time, Eric’s mom invited the girls to come up and spend a week with her.  Now, I never had the opportunity to “spend a week with Grandma.”  She lived right across the street, so that would have been silly.  All of my family [mostly] was in town, so we didn’t run off visiting.  I just don’t get it.  But the kids enjoy it, so we send them. 

One of my friends at work asked me, while I was experiencing life as the mother of one, how I was feeling about my empty nest.  I disliked it.  My boss overheard and reminded me that in two years, I’d have one heading off to college.  You can imagine the look he got.  But even I had to admit I can see the nervous breakdown coming.  I suggest I start hoarding litter boxes now for when I become the crazy cat lady.

But, other than the boys making a quick trip to Grandma’s and maybe Jordan heading to Pittsburgh for a stint in manual labor/babysitting, we’re all home for the rest of the season.  I think I’ll be okay.

It reminds me though, that Goths are supposed to be morose and sad and resist human interaction.  Not this one.

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My Path Less Traveled

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June 7th, 2012 Posted 7:55 am

don’t ever change
 
That advice is easier to give than it is to receive.
 
Ask any kid – being different is not an awesome experience. 
Ask any enlightented adult – it should be. 
 
It often takes the distance created by age and maturity to honestly appreciate it.  Every person has at least one distinct feature [physical or otherwise] that makes them different and until they learn to embrase these features, they’re often the things that embarass us.
 
As a child, I was a shortie.  Who am I kidding?  I’m still a munchkin, barely reaching 4’11”.  Inside my family, this is not odd; out in the world, it is.  I’ve never been athletic – prefering to sit inside and read than to head out on a bike or even playing in the yard. My mother used to have to force me outside. 🙂  I also didn’t blend with my schoolmates.  I went to a small private school [on scholarship, I will note] and we didn’t have the available extra cash for ski trips or the ‘right’ clothes and shoes.  I didn’t have the newest electronics.
 
Lucky for me, I developed an “I don’t care what anyone else thinks about me;  What I think about me is the important thing” attitude. This did not impress my parents or my teacher or many other adults, really.  If they could see ahead to the current issues with bullying, their tune may have been different.
 
My own kids, despite Eric’s and my strong encouragement to be their own people and not cater to the boundaries imposed by society [you can’t do that, you’re … a boy… a girl… too young … too old… too short… etc.], have all felt the pressure of being different.  Jordan danced until he was 13.  Alek, at 14, is still in classes and intends to make a career of it.  Both boys, though, felt the sting of unkind comments from other boys in school.  At a couple points it required teacher intervention [and we’re thankful for adults who educate about both the art and the athleticism of dance].  They did make it through.  Ravynn has been picked on for being small and short – but she’s a full year younger than many kids in her class, so of course she’s small and short.  Whisper wore glasses.  Jordan wore glasses.  Ravynn had a medical condition and has a scar on her face…  So many opportunities to be “different.”
 
I’m pleased with how the kids deal with being their own person.  We’ve tried to help.  Of course, some issues are more difficult than others and we do shelter through the tears.
 
I encourage you to shelter and guide anyone who resists being different.  Any road is easier to travel with a friend at your side.
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Muddling

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May 25th, 2012 Posted 12:04 am

I married an actor.  I’ve spent time on stage, but out of no great desire to perform.  I mostly stepped in when a friend needed help.  My kids have all had stage time in ballet performances.  Ravynn and Whipser especially have taken to acting. We’ve been very fortunate with the opportunities they’ve had to be on camera.

Early this spring, I had the unique experience of joining Whisper on a shoot.  I’ve been on set with her, but only when were were both working as extras [Beverly Lane, Lightning in a Bottle].  This was my first opportunity, despite her growing resume of roles, to be “stage mom” and to just enjoy the experience of watching her act. 

Her first role was as an extra, the Cheerleader Zombie, in the film Beverly Lane from Arsonist Productions.  She enjoyed wearing the zombie makeup and especially enjoyed her scene with her dad, Level-Nine Zombie Killer, Rick Ashley. She was patient and upbeat on set and has nothing but praise for the experience.  It didn’t hurt that someone referred to her as a movie star.  🙂  It was also really nice to enjoy the experience with most of the rest of the family.  Eric played a zombie killer while Whisper, Ravynn, Alek, and I were zombies. 

This film definitely infected her with the acting bug.  You don’t see her in the trailer, but that’s her dad in the spiked helmet 🙂

During the filming of Beverly Lane, Whisper and Eric were able to work closely with Ms. Kate Chaplin of Karmic Courage Productions who was working on a short film and needed a little girl. On their website, Kate describes the movie as, “A dark comedy about a baby girl born during the STAR WARS boom in 1977 who shares a similar name to a certain Jedi Princess that wasn’t allowed to wear underwear.”  Eric was in this film as well.  Jordan and Ravynn worked as extras. 

You can see her in this trailer [right around 45 seconds, but you should watch the whole thing]. 

Not long after that project, Eric took on a lead role in the movie Lightning in a Bottle.  When they needed some extras for a ghost scene , Whisper and I stepped in.  Ravynn plays a maenad and Alek worked as a PA.  You can spot Ravynn and Eric in this trailer.

Ravynn had a lot of fun and left us all wishing that we could be maenads – despite their nasty lunchtime preferences.

Not long ago, we were honored to attend the premier of this movie at the Paramount Theatre here in Anderson.  I was incredibly impressed with this film.  I’ve seen a lot of independant film and this ranks near the top in quality.  Treat yourself to a copy of the DVD.

Her most recent project was filming a music video for the artist Thomasina‘s song “Muddle in the Mud”.  She played the singer as a young girl. Yes, she’s in prison, but as the director explained to her, it’s a symbolic prison built by expectations society might have on you and how you don’t quite ‘measure up’. 

I was amazed by her professional attitude and her ability to be ‘on’ when needed. Off camera, she was sweet and charming and made friends with everyone.

Thank you all for making ‘on screen’ a good experience after the trauma of Wife Swap.  I’ll share more of that experience later.

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