I Don't Mom Like You

Bats! meow… | creating, living, loving – all in a long black skirt

Posts Tagged ‘alek’

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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14-20/365

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June 4th, 2012 Posted 9:42 pm

Just about caught up with the 365 pictures 🙂  This should do it, then I’ll be back on track to post every Sunday. 

WEEK 3, YEAR 1


Alek’s final paperwork ready to head off for his summer intensive.  He attended his first real audition in Febrary and was accepted into a relatively high level of class. Unfortunately another dance opportunity kept him from attending the 6-week program. 

14/365

  



While Whisper attended a birthday party at a local park, Ravynn and I took a short walk around the walking trail.  How lovely that we have a little covered bridge in the middle of the park.

16/365

 


You’ll see a theme. I just adore the wildflowers [weeds?] that grow in central Indiana.  They don’t compare to the ones I enjoyed as a child, but some of them are moving our way. I’ll do my best to photograph them as I find them. 

17/365


 More weeds.  These tiny little flowers would be welcome all over my property. 

18/365

 


 Cleaning up the art projects the girls brought home from school.  Some are just too big to realistically keep, so we photograph then and keep the pictures. 

19/365


 Walking Man party!!  Jordan’s girlfriend created this 10.5′ masterpiece as part of the Waking Man Project.  Because it was near dusk, the Anderson Indian didn’t photograph well.  One of the goals we have for the summer is to find them all.  Watch for photographic evidence.

20/365

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7-13/365

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June 2nd, 2012 Posted 6:50 pm

Pictures 7-13 of my 365 day project.  I’ll be honest, on a few of these days I was sick sick sick, so the girls helped out with the photo taking.  I do adore my little princesses.

WEEK 2, YEAR 1


Sunday was our annual dance recital.  Ravynn and Whisper both performed, as did Alek. The picture we chose to represent recital was an impromptu surprise performance that Alek did at the end of one of the younger classes jazz routines.  They were dancing to a song from the Grease soundtrack.  Here he is as Danny Zucco.

7/365


While I WANT to be a master gardener, I’m not.  My parents had incredibly green thumbs, but mine are black.  The joke is that if you want to kill a plant, hand it to me; however, last fall one of our neighbors gave us 5 pots of raspberry bushes.  We dug up a row of earth behind our shed and planted 15 raspberry plants.  I understand we shouldn’t expect fruit for several years, but you can see green berries – they’re trying.

8/365


One of our neighbors is a great garderer – or at least he hires people who are. I snapped this picture while waiting at the bus stop with the girls.  I don’t know what these flowers are, but I wouldn’t mind having some.

9/365


Whisper wasn’t really doing homework waiting for the bus, I promise, but she’s a writer.  She’s started working on a short project and wanted the moment documented.

10/365

 


 Whisper took this picture on day 1 of me not feeling so great.  She saw the roses from across the street at the bus stop and thought they were beautiful.

11/365


 Fever of 104.9.  I saw nothing but my feet sticking out from under the covers on the sofa.

12/365


 I relied on Ravynn to take this photo for me.  Again at the bus stop.

13/365

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Posted in Daily Life

1-6/365

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May 25th, 2012 Posted 6:59 am

I had such a hard time writing that last post that I’ve gotten incredibly behind the schedule that I made to keep myself on track.  Here is a valiant attempt to get back on track.

I’ve made a goal to complete the 365 project.  Basically the goal is to take one photograph each day for 365 days.  I’m having fun so far, but worry, as always, that my life is boring and that no one will care.  I started on a Sunday and am supposed to [ahem] post weekly on Sunday, so I present to you photos 1-6 of 365.

WEEK 1 YEAR 1


On Sunday – Mother’s Day Sunday, the final performance of Highland Junior High School’s “Willy Wonka Jr” ran. Alek was the Candy Man.  He was a true highlight of the show.  His love for performing and his absolutely capturing stage presense really created a remarkable and memorable character.

1/365 – Alek is the Candy Man


Ravynn worked really hard on her “Making a Mummy” interest fair project for Northside Middle School.  This is a little peek at the mummies on day 40 – just before they were unearthed to create her display.


 One of my favorite co-workers always comments that she would starve in my house because she “doesn’t eat weird food”.  I thought of her when I snapped this picture. Purple cauliflower, yellow carrots, and plain old boring broccoli 🙂


 When Ravynn completed her Mummy project, she was incredibly proud and felt very special that her dad let her take one of his original paintings to complete her display. 


 This month for the first time,  I participated in the Foodie Pen Pal program.  On Thursday, my first package arrived in the mail.  It was a very exciting experience for all of us. 


 Friday was rehearsal for our annual dance recital.  I love my little bunheads 🙂6/365

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Oh Canada

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May 15th, 2012 Posted 9:07 am

Alek's first headshot, 2012

If you know us, have seen our Wife Swap episode, or have seen any of our Facebook pages, you know that dance [and the arts in general] play a huge role in our lives. All of the kids have studied ballet; most of them added tap; the boys studied modern and jazz. Jordan dropped classes when he turned 13, but was happy to rejoin the cast of the Nutcracker this past year as my partner, “Party Dad – Family One.” Alek, though, has really taken an interest and I’m excited about the opportunities that are opening up for him.

At the barre in Pittsburgh, 2011

Last spring, he spent a week in Pittsburgh with Regional Dance America and had a great time. While he’s been fortunate to study with great teachers, his exposure to other dancers [outside of his company] is limited.  Pittsburh brought new teachers and classes with other male dancers – something I think he can greatly benefit from.

This year, an opportunity for a week-long trip to Montreal, Canada was presented.  Also with RDA, this was a national festival unlike the regional festival in Pittsburgh.  He had a lot of new experiences with this trip: rerouted planes, lost luggage, foreign currency and exchange rates, and choices between tours of the city and a men’s class with a well-respected teacher from France.  He chose the class; I would have chosen the tour, but my absolute love for Montreal is not undocumented.

Alek during a solo in a Latin piece.

His company performed a lovely modern piece [their fist opportunity to perform before an international audience] during one of the sows. I was lucky enough to sit in while this choreography was adjudicated and was incredibly impressed. I’ve watched several of these kids dance since they were tiny, so watching them grow is a gift in itself. 

 
One of the most fun events of the trip to Montreal was a chance to perform in a  huge flash mob.  Guinness was on hold to count participants as there is a chance this was in fact the world’s largest.
A video of the flash mob has been posted to the RDA facebook page.  Alek is in a red shirt with the girls in the AYBT track suits.
 
Dance has given us incredible opportunities.  It may not be for everyone, but I encourage you to find some artistic endeavor to include in your life – it’ll brighten your day 🙂
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A Dark Future

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January 19th, 2011 Posted 11:21 am

Several years ago, I read the article “I have seen the future – and it’s goth,” written by Dave Simpson and published in the Guardian, 21 March 2006. With his impressive Googling skills, Alek helped me find it again a couple days ago. I’d mentionned the findings reported in it to a friend on Facebook and thought it might interest out other readers.

When other adults question us allowing our children to be exposed to a goth lifestyle [and they do], we know we don’t share their worries.

That [parents of goths will probably end up boasting about their son/daughter the doctor, lawyer or bank manager] is the surprising finding of Sussex University’s Dunja Brill, whose doctorate in media and cultural studies looked at people with funny hair and eyeliner in London, Brighton and Cologne, and who is herself a former goth.

“Most youth subcultures encourage people to drop out of school and do illegal things,” she says. “Most goths are well educated, however. They hardly ever drop out and are often the best pupils. The subculture encourages interest in classical education, especially the arts. I’d say goths are more likely to make careers in web design, computer programming … even journalism.”

Actually, having been part of the gothic culture for over 15 years [I was exposed to, but not immersed, before that time], I don’t think these findings should be surprising at all.  Most of the younger goths I’ve encountered have been the intellectuals of their time, discussing classic literature and foreign film the way others their age discuss Family Guy or the latest Angelina Jolie movie – not that we never enjoy these things, of course; we’re all individuals with individual likes and dislikes.  Even I enjoy the latest offerings of reality TV while reading Oscar Wilde or Ernest Hemingway

Jordan, a great student; despite his gothic upbringing or because of it?

Speaking with other Goth parents, I’m reassured that our kids aren’t the only good students sprouting from the dark soil of our culture.  I suspect it has almost as much to do with the philosophy of parenting as with the natural abilities of the kids.

Our friend David commented on our Facebook wall:

We expect [our daughter] to do well in school so that someday she can get into college and have a career. But, as I explained to her, that is so she can support herself and we don’t care what that career may be (although she is leaning toward engineering). We show both by words and actions that character, truthfulness, honor and being true to yourself are the most important things. Some people are obcessed with $ and I wonder how many today are training their daughters to marry a doctor or lawyer.

I hope we can agree that the happiness of an individual should define success more than the pricetag on their home or cars.

~sheila 

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Spiders and bats and ballerinas. Oh my!

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January 18th, 2011 Posted 12:20 am

Welcome back to the tour.  We had company yesterday afternoon, plus two kids needing transportation to and from birthday parties.  I was able to photograph the new areas of our home, but didn’t find the time to guide you through.   

 As Scarlett O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day,” and well, here it is.    

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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Embrace

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January 6th, 2011 Posted 12:08 pm

Our family isn’t typical…

My boys dance.  Eric guest performs. Jordan studied for 7 years. Alek still does. Most recently, he appeared as Harlequin in our local production of the Nutcracker.  He’s very talented and we’re very proud of him. They began dancing when they were 4 and have worked hard at one of the best studios in the Midwest.  When Ravynn turned 4, the boys came to me concerned. She wanted to take ballet, too, but they worried that it was only for boys [never mind that their classes had always been full of girls].  They were incredibly pleased when we bought a tiny pair of pink ballet shoes.  It wasn’t until a minor incident in 4th grade when they felt the bullying effects of being different.  A very kind teacher explained what exactly was the problem with the phrase ‘ballerina boy’ and it mostly ended. There are still comments flung around, but Alek who’s 12 and in 7th grade is strong and ignores them. 

Our family is goth.  Locally, we’re semi-famous for it, but you may have noticed from other comments or photos or even the About page associated with this blog.  Eric and I embrace being different, but each of the kids have at points heard rumors or fielded snotty comments based on how we look or dress.  It’s a great opportunity to talk to them about stereotypes and prejudice and about not having to conform to make other people happy.  For the most part they get it, but I understand [having been a 10 year old girl once upon a time] that there is still a sting involved.  I hate that.  At the same time they love when their friends think we’re cool because of the way we dress or the music we listen to.  I kinda like being famous at the elementary school, but not to the detriment of my kids.

When I read news stories about bullied kids or hear about it from fellow moms, my heart aches.  No child should have an unhappy childhood.  I mean there are some situations that cannot be avoided and the pain of them cannot be minimized, but… if the pain is caused by other kids or adults being hateful and unaccepting.  Well, the simple fact is that should be easy to change.

Several weeks ago, a Facebook post brought my attention to the blog, Portrait of an Adoption. Young Katie was being teased for wanting to carry a Star Wars water bottle to school.  Three cheers for social networking.  Geek Girls came out in force to support Katie. As I understand, Geeks, Nerds, and Dorks all came out to support her and give her strength.  I think this is awesome!  It’s what I’ve tried to teach my own kids.  Differences should be Celebrated. Sometimes they are, as with Katie’s situation.

Checking on Portrait of an Adoption, I read the story of author Cheryl Kilodavis and her book My Princess Boy. Her website explains it as:

My Princess Boy is a nonfiction picture book about acceptance. It tells the tale of a 4-year-old boy who happily expresses his authentic self by enjoying “traditional girl” things like jewelry, sparkles or anything pink. It is designed to start and continue a dialogue about unconditional friendship and teaches children — and adults — how to accept and support children for who they are and how they wish to look.

The response she is getting isn’t near as positive as Katie’s mother found for her.  Now, it isn’t all negative and maybe I”m experiencing emotional reactions to the negative comments that I do see.  I’ve been in the same place. People have, over the years, explained to me that it’s not ‘normal’ for boys to study dance or to have long hair [Eric does and Alek did until he cut and donated it in the summer of 2009]; I’ve been told that it’s not normal for them to do these things because society believes them to be ‘for girls’.  Somehow along the line it became acceptable for girls to want to do ‘boy things’, yet not for boys to want to do ‘girl things’.  I suggest we let kids do kid things and leave it at that.

I’ve fought the good fight for my kids. Cheryl is fighting for hers.

I encourage you to honor acceptance for everyone and embrace diversity in your own life today.

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Unexpected

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January 4th, 2011 Posted 11:13 pm

Alek went on a run today.  Dance is back in session, but he has Tuesdays and Wednesdays off this semester, so he wanted to fit in some additional exercise.  He was gone less time than usual for a run, but longer than I would have been in 26 degree weather when he came into the house alerting us that there was an owl in the neighborhood.  Now, we don’t live in – or even near – a big city, but we’re firmly in a suburban area.  I’ve seen turkey vultures, a deer, a pig, and many many bats, but never an owl.  The other kids and I threw on shoes and hoodies, grabbed the camera, and headed down the street to check it out.

The girls and I had seen an owl demo at the PowWow last October, but we were still excited to see this tiny creature [Alek had called it a baby].  When we arrived at the neighbors yard, Alek pointed and smiled.  It took the rest of us a while to find the wee thing – Bravo to its cloaking skills! 

Wow. 

It’s all I could say.  Jordan asked why I was so amazed and I laughed.  Why wouldn’t I be?? 

So much joy from the unexpected.  Even being someone who loathes surprises of any nature, this was a wonderful bright spot in the day and left us wishing for a new surprise tomorrow. The potential impact was not unnoticed.  Mentally, I wagged a finger at myself.

We could all benefit much from delivering the unexpected. Most of us, I believe, settle into the ‘normal’ and the comfortable in many areas of our life.  Family friends, business… emotional, physical, mental.  The forces around us urge movement and perhaps even chaos, but we resist, wishing to be rocked like infants into a comfortable state. 

We must work towards new ‘unbelievable’ events by surprising our relationships in a new way.    We must. The owl has decreed it.

What unexpected things can you bring to your own life to better yourself, your loved ones, or even strangers you come in contact with?  I’m putting this into practice beginning immediately – focusing on Bats! meow… and on my intimate family relationships.

I urge you to look for your own owls.

~sheila

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Posted in Daily Life

Rainy Days are Made for Reading

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April 7th, 2010 Posted 10:28 pm

And I have a couple rainy days in my future – at least that’s what the weather man tells me.  So while Alek was at dance and Jordan was at a Teen Advisory Board meeting, I scoured the library for interesting books.  I found four with varying levels of promise.  All about the goth community.  I hope to spend some time reading over the next few days and promise to share my thoughts and ideas with you all.

Circumstances in my life indicate I’ll be spending a lot of time in the near future explaining exactly what it does and does not mean to be goth.  I want to know what folks are saying 🙂

For now, enjoy the rainbows 🙂  We ran into these on the drive to the grocery after the Egg Hunt on Saturday.  Luckily Eric was driving and I could aim the camera out  the window!

~ sheila

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