Saturday, January 23, 2016

Girl Squad takes Broadway!

Lucky me!  
                         I got to spend the weekend in the big apple with some of my favorite girls!
And this is what happens when you ask a bunch of theater peeps to pose for a pic... "lets pretend like we are in the poster...everyone pick a person and be them!"
As a bonus to our girls on Broadway weekend, my favorite group Naytronix was in town to kick off their tour. Here goes the incredibly talented Josh Fink on synthesizer kicking off the tour at Winter Jazziest.  Josh learned quickly that maybe he can run three states away, but not hide from his super fan club.
Mary took this photo of myself with Josh and Nate Brenner after the show... she pointed out that it  looks more like I'm dropping my sons off at college than hanging out with the band which is very true....once a mom, always a mom- even while chillin' with very coolio musicians. 
Tess, Lilly, Lilli, Mary and Kia  before seeing Hamilton

On Saturday morning we made our way to the Richards Rogers Theater to see the play that Mary and Lilly are quite obsessed with... Hamilton.
It's a musical based on the life and times of our Alexander Hamilton, yes that Alexander Hamilton, founder of our financial system and the very first United States Secretary of the Treasury. Which doesn't really sound like inspiration for a hit rap musical... but it was AWESOME!
Lilly and Mary have been listening to the soundtrack on repeat pretty much since October, have memorized every lyric, and both have developed huge crushes on Alexander Hamilton who most definitely is the "Foxiest of the Federalists" 
And they have also declared Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created the musical, some kind of intense genius...and I completely agree.   
Lilly, and her pals, Lilli and Tess waiting for the show to begin... I have never seen three girls more excited to see a show... their excitement was infectious and we all had to hold hands and take deep calming breaths so we wouldn't faint.
 It was really the most fun I have ever had getting ready to watch anything.
And post show... happily exhausted from the emotional roller coaster that was their beloved A. Hamilton's life...and super angry at Aaron Burr for killing him in that fateful 1804 duel....  
"dueling is the dumbest way to die!"
Here is Mary after the show with the immensely talented actor Daveed Diggs who played Marquis de Lafayette in the first part of the show and Thomas Jefferson in the second. 
You meet the most amazing people when you patiently wait by the stage door post show.  
Christopher Jackson aka the very tall and handsome president George Washington came out and visited his fans too... he signed autographs and posed with these two very happy girls. 
To my theater girls, meeting Christopher and some of the the cast of Hamilton was like meeting a Beatle and they were a bit beside themselves. 
I loved it.
Mary also had her chance to get all wound up and star struck when she got to meet Anthony Ramos... her very most favorite broadway actor who happens to have a very most gorgeous smile.
I think they make an adorable couple in this photo and she thought I was absolutely right.   
To calm down after all of that celebrity excitement we took a little walk to Rockefeller center and I got a photo with my two girlies in front of Radio City Music Hall. 
I was thrilled to get to meet the fabulous daughter of one of my very first friends from way back when. Emma lives close by and very graciously agreed for her and her sweetie to join us for a delicious Italian meal... I am still in happy disbelief that I got to spend a Saturday night in New York having dinner with super cool 20 somethings. 
I have Tess's mom Maureen to thank for such a great restaurant recommendation...Forlinis on Baxter Street was the perfect place for my girls squad. 
And as an aside, I enjoyed calling my girls my squad again and again...they probably didn't think it was as cool of a nickname as I did,   
The next morning we climbed to the top of the Empire State Building...well, took an elevator up- but still it was exhilarating. The view! And because we were still all jazzed up from our patriotic Hamilton afternoon... we couldn't help but channel the Schuyler sisters (the women in Alexanders life) and sing our praises to New York City... the Greatest City in the World!

Then I calmed down a bit and had to reminisce about the last time I was at the top of the Empire State Building when we were visiting my bro Charlie and sis in law Christine... Mary was five years old  and loved the wind of being up so high. Mary has no memory of her windy early visit, this but did indulge me in a selfie. 
Lilly, who was only a twinkle in my eye the last time I was atop the building, also indulged her mom with a quick pic.
Just when I thought that my weekend couldn't get any more dear friend since our Buckeye days, Terry, and her gorgeous daughter Christa, came down from Philadelphia and met us at our lunch spot.
(The Cowgirl Hall of Fame- thanks Christine!) 
Then it was time for our even bigger and better girl squad to go to another show... here are the youngers waiting to see Finding Neverland. 
Which was beautiful and incredibly moving and made all of the mothers in the audience weep and some of the kids too. Matthew Morrison played the part of J.M. Barrie, a playwright and author of Peter Pan- he was excellent in the part, but I could help but remember his years as Mr. Schuester in Glee. 
And afterwards we waited by the stage door and Mr Schuster/J.M Barrie/ Matthew Morrison came out to sign playbills and was very gracious and kind in meeting his fans. 
The older daughters of the girl squad... Kiah, Mary and Christa on Times Square in the snow. 

The younger daughters... Lilly, Tess and Lilli channeling their own Peter Pan after Finding Neverland. 
Thanks to a fantastic hotel recommendation, (thanks again Christine!), 
this was our evening view, by telescope from our hotel.
Lady Liberty is indeed glorious.
To keep things classy, I had them pose with with a far more peculiar, and a lot less glorious Lady Liberty in Times Square.
The entire trip was a blast... we had no problems and a really fantastic experience. The only hiccup in the trip happened during the very last hours of the trip when I learned that our flight La Guardia flight  to Cincinnati was cancelled and the next one out was in 8 hours... which ended up being delayed. So while Mary and Kiah happily boarded their on time flight to Chicago, we waited and waited some more. Which gave the girls plenty of time to study for their midterms and giggle and study some more. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Turkey the Dog the Band... Christmas Morning.

So I realize that I might three weeks behind in posting Christmas pics of the family... but I will anyway, because our Christmas pjs this year are my total favorites. 
Every year we do our best to sport matching jammies at Christmas, which is getting more difficult to do without force and angst as the kids get older. Believe it or not, teenage guys are not super excited about wearing the same pjs as mom. But this year everyone in the whole family was very happy with the 2015 version of Christmas Jammies of 2015...the amazing shirts created by Cincinnati artist Lizzy DuQuette for the band that Lilly is s part of.
So here we are on Christmas morning...the whole team sporting our very stylish and original Turkey the Dog the Band t shirts.
 Jamie flanked by a couple of smiley big sisters...
And Turkey the dog the original inspiration for the band that bears his name.
And he is the original inspiration Turkey himself catching a Christmas snooze.
It's super hard work being so inspirational on Christmas.
Wishing you all the very merriest of times together.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Who-dey Heart.

At about midnight last night one AJ threw a pass and another AJ caught it in the end zone and the Bengals had tied up their playoff game against the Steelers.
Then with an extra point from dear Nugent we were winning. 
Beating the Steelers in a PLAY OFF GAME!
There was a minute and a half left on the game clock and we were all shaky and screamy and deliriously happy and in a state of shock and disbelief.
And I even got a bit injured by an earring when, in all of the excitement, my head got hugged a little too hard by a worked up friend. I think a face injury from being overhugged was by far the best and most fun injury ever.
It was awesome. 
But then some stuff happened... a fumble, a penalty.... and our big win didn't happen after all. 
I have been going to Bengal games for about 40 years- Erika has gone to many of those games with's been awhile since we won a playoff game and we were ready.
And while I am saddened that their season is over, I am more bummed that my parents who make my fanship look like small potatoes in comparison, won't be able to cheer for their favorite team in the Super Bowl this season.
But I'm not worried, because the great thing about being a football fan is that there is always a next season.
The Bengals played their guts out last night in the most exciting and emotional game ever and I thank them for that from the bottom of my orange and black Who-dey heart.

Friday, January 8, 2016

My Happy Birthday Angry Speech.

Karl and his kids, "demonstrating kindness" at his birthday dinner. 

Karl is a really great father...he has a ton of solid parenting instincts that I am forever impressed by. When it comes to raising kids, he seems to know exactly when to hold em, when to fold em, when to walk away and and when to run.
(thank you Kenny Rogers)
Yesterday was his birthday and his gift from me was to divert some of the more unpleasant and emotional tasks generated by a bunch of kids with big feelings who all seemed to want immediate answers on the same day.
Which was of course, far more challenging than I anticipated.
But I was pleased to learn that I had crafted a sort of one size fits all angry speech to most of their unreasonable and extremely melodramatic neediness.
As follows...
YOU can just go ahead and be really MAD at me for whatever lame reason you feel like coming up with but you have a really GREAT DAD who does a lot of really great stuff for you and LOVES you like crazy. And today is his BIRTHDAY! So be mad at me if you want but you need to demonstrate some kindness to you father now and today....MAN!
I put the "man" at the end so that I say what I really wanted to.. which would have been super uncool and inappropriate.

I delivered this speech more than a couple times throughout the course of the day to almost all of my kids and got pretty good at it. And weirdly, my angry speech worked...turns out yelling at my kids to be nice to their dad and mean to me was an acceptable kid compromise... effective too-  at least for a day.
This morning, when I shared the behind the scenes view of our kids bad behavior on his birthday Karl  was thrilled that I spared him of some of the more intense kid drama on his day. And also appreciative of my reenactment of the hostile, but effective, birthday speech that I had loudly shared and perfected without him knowing it.
So yeah... Happy Birthday, Man.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year's Revolutions

Karl and I happily spent the first 20 mins of 2016 at a friends house a half a block from the rest of our posse, but hurried home quickly afterwards to make sure that our kids behaved themselves and went to bed. Instead what we discovered that they had stood in the kitchen with raised glasses of eggnog and counted down the final 10 seconds of 2015. 
The knowledge that our 4 youngest kids were able to stand together for 10 seconds and toast a new year year without arguing about it made Karl and I deliriously happy it seems that all of the family holiday togetherness has intensified the sibling bickering to a whole new level... and we saw this act of egg nog solidarity as a miraculous event. 
And while they had all scattered to their rooms when we arrived home, we managed to pull them together again for a few photos... here are our guys at on January 1st, at 12:27.
And the girls with their ancient sleepy mascot Turkey... a few minutes later.  
Please note that we were careful to photograph Turkey's "good side" in his happy new year photo. 

As far as new year's resolutions...while I tried to suggest some means of low key self improvement to my beloved family, mostly in terms of homework and general tidiness, I was told that it was not my place to do so. 
In fact...Rosie was quick to fill me in with her personal feelings on new years resolutions...
"new years revolutions can only be decided on by the person who is doing the revolution-ing and if I'm going to start a revolution, it won't be with my mom's ideas"
Ok...fair point, and I really do respect the notion of starting out the new year with a few more interesting personal revolutions instead of some boring, clean your room kind of mom imposed resolutions. 

Wishing you all a very happy shiny new 2016 full of 
 faith in the future 
and maybe, if so desired, your own personal revolution or two. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

All Kinds of Thanks.

So this is what my Thanksgiving looked like on Thursday morning... just me and my naked bird... thankfully a back up turkey for the real meal that was being prepared a mile away. My sister in law Christine is a seriously amazing cook and she and Charlie graciously signed up to host a fabulous  Thanksgiving dinner.  
Not only was the food completely fantastic, but so were all of the details that make a dinner a celebration. This is the kids table... with centerpiece candles and sparkling cider. My rowdies were a little perplexed by the cloth napkins and their Grandma came to their rescue with a quick lesson in the bizarre tradition of putting your napkin in your lap.
Christine took a brief break from preparing the most delicious dinner ever to pose with Anna and Mary, who came to dinner from the north and south. 
Karl took this photo of me and three out or four daughters... he liked the assorted stemware in the foreground... but I think it makes us all look a bit boozy.
The dudes of the evening.. my two hipster bros and nephew. The two older hipsters apparently couldn't help themselves from doing silly things which their hands for the photo.
The weird hand thing then got passed on to Lilly...posing here with her Grandma and Grandpa. 
Music theater... Hamilton
It was a gorgeous day, and the guys took advantage of it by playing football outside in their  shirtsleeves.
Anna did not get the memo to do serious face...she is less familiar with the music and poses of Hamilton.
Lily and Mary are completely obsessed with the music from the Broadway musical Hamilton... a historical musical featuring the life and times of one of America's founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. Most of the music from the play is cooly rapped by Alexander Hamilton and Lilly and Mary know every lyric. So oddly enough, a rap battle based on the Federal Reserve became the soundtrack for Thanksgiving 2015. 
Now that not all eight of us live in the same city, I am happy for any photo when we are all together in the same kitchen.
I am grateful for the health and welfare of each one of these goofballs...and also to my brother and sister in law for hosting our families seriously amazing Thanksgiving celebration.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

Ralph Waldo Emerson  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Giving thanks for 70 New Americans.

It celebration of my favorite holiday... I would like to welcome and give thanks for 70 new Americans who took their oath of citizenship at their naturalization ceremony hosted by the middle school division at The Summit Country Day School. 
Henry at the podium.                                                photo by Rick Norton.
Henry was born in Guatemala and immigrated to the U.S. through his adoption and so was honored to be one of four students asked to read a poem from the Ellis Island Oral History project. 
He was nervous about speaking in front of so many and practiced for weeks ahead of time, scheduling independent time with the school's speech teacher to work on his delivery. All of this extra preparation time and energy showed at the ceremony. All of the students did an outstanding job... their teachers went above and beyond to impress the students on the importance of the occasion.  Henry read his poem with measured reverence and I was moved to tears as I watched those who were becoming citizens listen carefully and then become emotional as Henry and his classmates spoke. 
Head of School Rich Wilson gave the welcoming remarks.... photo by Rick Norton
It was remarkable and lovely to see our school gym turned into a Southern District of Ohio United States Court.  This is the third year that we have hosted a naturalization ceremony at the school and The Summit really does a wonderful job of it. 
New American citizens pledge allegiance for the first by Rick Norton
So I was pretty much a train wreck for most of the ceremony. I did what I could not to cry while watching my son read the heartfelt and moving poetry of early American immigrants, and then listening to their sweet voices sing America the Beautiful, which makes me teary under almost any circumstance, but I wasn't as emotionally prepared as I should have been as I watched our newest Americans take the Oath of Allegiance. 
Each one of the new Americans carried with them a complicated story of how they got to that moment... the place in time where they raise their right hand and swear " support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America. against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law..." 
Seventy outstanding men and women from 32 different countries were making an honorable oath to renounce allegiance to the county of their birth to become Americans...this was a momentous occasion in the truest sense of the word and I was humbled and grateful to be a witness to the occasion. 
And while I tried to stay cool and not embarrass my kids by becoming overly emotional, I also recognize that my three kids unimaginably wouldn't be a part of my family if the United States didn't have faith and belief in welcoming those born outside our borders.

Rosie was a bit amused and entertained by my weepiness, and Jamie did what all teenage boys do when embarrassed by their mother and completely ignored me.  
                                                                                       photo by Rick Norton
  The Honorable Stephanie K. Bowman presided over the proceedings and posed for photos afterwards.
As each candidate became a citizen, they stood and announced their name and birth country. Rosie was happy and excited when a woman stood and introduced herself as being from Ethiopia and looked for her in the crowd after the ceremony.
"Do you remember what she looks like" I asked...
Rosie said emphatically, "I do, she is tall and pretty, with a business suit and glasses" which was very true.
We found her and I introduced myself and then Rosie and we both congratulated her... she was very kind and pleased to meet Rosie and asked her if she could give her a hug.
And so it was that these two amazing Ethiopian born American ladies were able to happily celebrate their U.S. citizenship together in a Southern Ohio District Court gym.  

  Countries Represented at the Naturalization Ceremony
Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Cambodia, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Jordan, Kuwait, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, The Philippines, Poland, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Western Sahara