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

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Monday Night Bengal Striped Fever!

The thing about Monday night football games is that they are on a Monday night... with Tuesday and the whole rest of the week happening far to early after a super late game.
So here I am last night at the game... having a great time with my gal pals in spite of a tough loss by my favorite team. 
I am the Monday night Bengal fan with the biggest striped fever... followed closely by Laura in terms of goofiness, but sitting with Kim and Erin who are completely and normally adorable as they cheer on our beloved Bengals. 
 It seems that I may have gotten a little bit over excited about my Bengals being all 8 and 0 yesterday and asked Jamie is he would paint some tiger stripes on my face to express my love and devotion to the Bengals. 
Jamie agreed it was a great idea and is also a really great artist. 
As he was painting on my tiger stripes, I was all happy and excited thinking I was going to have the coolest Bengal tiger stripes in our section and imagined all of my section friends greeting me with cool compliments like "nice face."
Then Laura came over and somehow we decided that Jamie should paint her face half orange and half black so that she could look all Bengal-ish and also I would look less crazy.
She claimed to have developed Stockholm syndrome and was sympathizing with her Bengal captors (me!) and continued to drop Patty Hearst references throughout the game. 
"I am not being starved, or beaten, or unnecessarily frightened..."
But really she was being a really super and kind friend for making me look a smidgen less wacky....or at least like I had company in my nuttiness. 
I was just happy and excited to have company in my paint your face and cheer for the Bengals fan club... and because Lilly loaned me her giant foam finger. 
While I imagined that I would have the coolest Bengal stripes in our section, I was absolutely correct. I had the best and only tiger stripes in our section. 
My pals and I arrived at the stadium and were a bit dismayed that more fans did not have their children paint stripes on their faces before the big Monday night game. 
We kind of expected a lot of  fellow fans complimenting our handiwork and saying things like "you have a cool face" but instead just about everyone else looked fabulously normal like my friend Robbin.   
It took me about 40 years of going to Bengal games to work up my tiger striped go all in and paint my face in pure Bengal devotion.
 And so it pained me a bit that the Bengals broke their winning streak on the same day that I handed over my bengal heart and kind of a lot of my dignity.
But any and all Tuesday morning quarterbacks should remember that the Bengals remain 8-1 which is beyond awesome.
But the sadness of bearing a tough loss was tempered by the half time show... its hard to be crabby when the cowboy monkeys are in the house. I think that the only way to make them more entertaining would be to add tiny tiger stripes to their little naked faces.

Amazingly wonderful cowboy monkey photo credit to
Cara Owsley...Cincinnati Enquirer Photographer.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cheater Ninja Moms tackle the Urban Trials.

On Friday afternoon I saw an article in the paper about a 5K with built in obstacles and for some unknown reason thought...
Urban Trials obstacle course 5K- sign me up!
And before I knew it I had recruited friend and partner in weird adventures Laura, and her daughter Lucy along with my own family reps Karl and Rosie... and our team was born.
And because Laura and I were feeling a little Ninja-ish and sassy, we named our team the Ninja Moms' Squad.
(good thing Laura is an editor and knew exactly where to stick that apostrophe)
Turns out my weird instincts were good and it was really fun.
I mean how often do you get to climb a school bus covered in a cargo net early on a Sunday morning? 
Here is Rosie and Karl totally owning that school bus. 
Here I am very excited to have not so gracefully climbed to the top of the bus... photo credit to Laura Faherty- deserving of far more than a measly photo credit for bravely agreeing to cargo climb a school bus with me on a Sunday morning.
At this point in the race, Karl and the girls decided that they were faster, stronger and smarter and ran ahead... which was part of our grand ninja mom plan. 
 We ended up enjoying a leisurely Urban Trial obstacle course on a beautiful fall Sunday, while Karl got a big workout hoisting Rosie and Lucy over all sorts of walls and obstacles. 
 Turns out, Laura and I are super scheming Ninja Moms. 
This was not a race for just the super fit and sporty (obviously!) there were mental challenges too... we were told to remember numbers because they would be important to us later. 
So here I am being a 5k obstacle course cheater and taking a photo of the Bengal bus license plate numbers... it's too hard to be sporty and remember stuff at the exact same time!
We also had to carry heavy stuff like this pretend ammo pack down to the river and back. 
We did this without cheating, were quite proud of ourselves and deemed this task to be photo worthy.
So while my biggest achievement was carrying heavy stuff... which I am quite good at, Laura is far more brave, and so she climbed up a couple of stacked shipping containers and jumped onto a big inflatable mattress aiming for a giant red X.
I climbed the shipping containers, took this dramatic photo of my pal leaping with her sunglasses in hand (I should have offered to hold them) and then climbed back down and declared myself a cheater when it comes to jumping from shipping containers. 
To make me feel a little better about being too frightened to leap on the red X, Laura cheated when it came to climbing this wall... it was the end of the race and we were getting a little sore in the shoulders from wall climbing. 
We congratulated ourselves for avoiding rotator cuff injury as we schootched around this wall and took more cheater pics. 
At the end of the race there was a whole line of locked doors and you needed to remember the important numbers to get to the final finish. 
While Laura was trying to ethically enter the magic important numbers into the lock, I saw my final opportunity to cheat when the group of runner women next to us managed to open their door. I stuck my foot out  and hollered "big cheater coming through" burst through the door with them and then opened another door to let my pal Laura through. It was all very giggly and dramatic and thankfully was not captured photographically.
However, this photo of Karl and Rosie finishing captures the joy of a dad finishing the final obstacle on moral high ground. And Rosie looks a little worn out, because she had just run, jumped, rolled, climbed, wiggled, flopped, bopped and did mental math which is a lot for a 7 year old. Even on such a gorgeous Sunday as this. 
Here is the whole Ninja Moms' Squad post race, proving that we will do almost anything at all for a cute t shirt.
This was the inaugural year for the Urban Trials in Cincinnati, I hope they set up course again next year... and if they do hopefully we can expand our Ninja Moms' Squad to be better, faster stronger and a little less cheaty. But then again, no guarantees... Ninja Moms are a sneaky bunch.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Passport to Forever- Cat Ears on the Catwalk.

Rosie spend Saturday night working the runway for International Adoption... she was very excited to be included as a model for the International Adoption Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital benefit... Passport to Forever.
The IAC in Cincinnati has been serving the needs of internationally adopted children and their families for over 15 years. Dr. Mary Staat is an adoptive mom to three fantastic children who were adopted internationally and understands health concerns both as a doctor and as a mom.
She has been there for adoptive families when they need her most offering support and guidance and answering all sorts of complicated questions.
But this big fun Saturday night party wasn't about any of those concerns... it was all about the energy and celebration of childhood. And fortunately Dr. Staat has a lot of dear friends and grateful parents who really know how to throw a good party. Nancy Kayes and Karen Sparling have chaired this event for years, and have assembled a small but mighty force of dedicated volunteers who work their buns off to make awesome.  
And while Rosie still has a thing or two to learn about hosting a party, she is all about enjoying one.  
Rosie T. Swift enjoying her post show signature drink.. a Shirley Temple with a straw. 
She has has some experience as a runway model,  this is her 5th year strutting her stuff... but her first year walking the catwalk with cat ears. We can blame/thank Taylor Swift for this trend but I think Rosie can handle her kitty cat ears with style.
And for those who might be looking for their own gold metallic stretch pants and glittery kitty cat  ears, please visit The Spotted Goose... home of all things groovy and adorable for your young fashionistas.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Out in the Public with Ninja Mom.

A few friends have kindly asked me to explain this photo... as though it's not completely normal for me to be photographed slow jogging through the park alone, with only my ninja purse for company.
Ok... so it goes like this.
Earlier in the week... I was invited by Rosie to be her twin on the day that we celebrate Halloween at the farm. 
Of course I was all over this idea... how often are you asked to participate in something as dangerously exciting as mother daughter ninja riding.  Happily, I found a boys XXL ninja suit that could accommodate my middle aged ninja mom body and rode a pony with my girl. 
I showed this photo to Karl and proudly remarked that the reason my ninja suit works so well is due to my black riding gloves and boots- his reply..."It's kind of like you have been waiting your whole life for just the right moment to become a Japanese assassin" and maybe that's true. 
Sorry girls, Taylor Swift if taking a back seat... Huey Lewis and the News rules this ninja van. 
Anyway, while I embraced my ninja persona more than I should have... for Rosie it was more of a one and done experiment. While I assumed that we were going to be mother daughter ninjas forever and ever. She had moved on... Very hard to believe that she was finished with the joy of being Halloween twins with her mom,  
And so when I went into her room dressed and in twinsie anticipation in my boys XXL ninja suit, and handed her the much more petit matching suit...she basically told me to take a ninja hike... she had a different costume in mind. And that dressing like your mom to go "out into the public" is slightly embarrassing.
Oh, how my ninja heart stung from the rejection of my daughter, my love.
But only for a minute... because we had stuff to do..."out not the public" to get to!
To the symphony!
I am extremely fortunate to have a good friend who thinks I am less weird than my daughter and was happy to photo document our morning. Laura Faherty is a journalist to the max and insists on honest photos made better by fancy chandeliers.  And she doesn't even mind hanging out with this ninja out into the public. 
And here I am honestly pretending to be a fighter ninja, but looking more like a power ranger or maybe some peculiar member of an 80's band.
Laura would like me to note that she flopped  down on the playground and shot up to capture the honest essence of this bizarro, 80's power ranger ninja.
I tried to look more ninja like through karate chop moves at the polite suggestion of a passer by, but somehow I think it works even less.
But Music Hall does make an amazing background for my pitiful ninja moves.
And while Rosie did miss out on being my twinsie ninja sidekick, she managed to have a good morning laying low and carefully avoiding being photographed out in the public with her ninja mom.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Trick or Treat!

I think that my kiddos must be in some sort of golden zone for Halloween, where they still love to get dressed up and go beg for candy, but they really don't need much help from mom with the details. 
They put together their own costumes, invited their pals to join them and set off to trick or treat in their own little gangs. 
I managed to outline some trick or treat good practice guidelines, and take some photos before they left the front porch on their own recognizance. 
This is the girl gang... 4 teenage girls and a very happy to be included 7 year old. 
The guys as killer clowns... and a freaked out Athena the Goddess. 
Killer clowns were a popular guy costume this year...they were indeed terrifying. 
Henry as a SWAT team dude and his buddy as a Star Wars something. 
His SWAT team bullet proof shield has already been repaired with not so bullet proof scotch tape due to over use in pre Halloween nerf wars.
There is a new off Broadway musical out now based on the short and incredible life of Alexander Hamilton as a depicted as a rapper. It has received rave reviews and my musical theater fan daughters  can't wait to see it. 
Alexander Hamilton also inspired Lily to dress and her pal to dress as founding fathers... which they did with true style.
And you better believe our founding fathers can dance like Uma Thurman when the mood hits.
Rosie went through several costume changes before landing on Athena the Greek Goddess thanks to some last minute Halloween shopping. 
I waited until Saturday morning to buy the 8 bags of candy that we hand give out during trick or treat... I make a point of waiting to buy candy until the day of Halloween, because if not, I will eat 8 bags of candy before any tick or treaters arrive at my doorstep. 
This year Rosie went to buy candy with me, and found this gorgeous outfit on the sale rack and wisely insisted on the purchase. I was ok with this impulse buy because it's not often you can dress like a goddess for 4.99 at Krogers. 
Bargain toga shopping at it's best. 
Other than that single Kroger purchase, the kids took care of their own costumes and trick or treat plans which gave me  a whole bunch of extra time to embrace my inner ninja... here I go ninja jogging across the park with my handbag. 
 (ninjas don't have pockets)  
Which was admittedly weird, but fun, as was the entire weirdly fun, Halloweenie day!  
(photo credit Laura Faherty)