Wednesday, April 15, 2015

MYCincinnati Ambassador Ensemble Project.

"The Ambassador Ensemble is a collective of diaereses and equal voices. When we are together, we feel appreciated, listened to, supported, challenged, smart, intense and powerful. We are musicians - each with unique talents and ideas- we have come together to make the community better." 
Kalla, Kerrie, Keyonte, Rashel, Sebastian and Ziyad. 
The Ambassador Ensemble

Last Sunday I had the good fortune to attend the very first performance of The MYCincinnati Ambassador Ensemble as a part of the Constella Festival.
I knew that these young musicians are talented and I was looking forward to seeing them perform, but I was emotionally unprepared for what this group delivered.
I was awestruck... and after a few minutes of unsuccessfully fighting back the tears, my friend Libby and I gave up and wept for the remainder of the show.
We cried because we are both moms to teenagers who are, or have been 14 years old, which is the average age of these musicians. And we wept because we remember, all too clearly,  feeling the confusion and intensity of being 14... feeling both powerful and powerless and hopeful and defeated, all at once.

The six young musicians are glorious.
They are each insightful, talented, hard working and extremely courageous to do what they could as young musicians to stand up against inequality and work towards social justice.
Eddy Kwon is an extremely talented musician and teacher. He has served as a trusted mentor and friend to these six, making them feel safe and heard...asking questions, listening to their responses and supporting them in all the best ways.
I am proud of my city for wisely naming Eddy Kwon as an Art Ambassador and then helping to support him while he does his good works. He is a true gift to Cincinnati.
Michael Wilson, and his son Henry Wilson, were there too... doing what they do best, documenting the moments then putting it all together in a beautifully edited documentary that should go to Sundance.
Nine incredibly talented people, 6 of them young teenagers, all worked together for a year and created something beautiful. And everyone who has ever been 14 or who loves someone who is a young teenager, should go see this musical performance and documentary film.
The show is about an will wish that it was longer, and you will leave inspired, impressed and hopeful.
But please remember to take your hankies, I can garantee that you will be personally moved by the talent and grace of this group of young musicians.

The MYCincinnati Ambassador Ensemble will be together on stage for only four more free shows.
Do yourself a favor and attend one of these performances.

April 17th 8:00    UC African American Cultural Resource Center
(UC President Santa Ono will be joining them on cello for his first performance in many years!)

April 19th 1:00 Cincinnati Art Museum

April 24th 6:00 LISH Art Gallery Price Hill

April 26th 4:00 Clifton Cultural Arts Center

Monday, April 13, 2015

Love You, Love You, Love You... more.

I am extraordinary fortunate for many reasons and one of them is that I got to be a lucky niece to one of the kindest and most generous women ever. 
My Aunt Donna may have died a week ago, but her love, grace and ferocious optimism remain.
She is ever present and will always be in our hearts and minds, and most definitely remain a huge part of my brilliant cousins... her three remarkable daughters who are so much like their mom. 
It was important to Donna that everyone who loved her understood that she never ever, ever, gave up. More than anything she wanted more time to be with her family... to live longer and to love more. 
She did whatever she could to stay, and kept on getting braver and braver until she made the most courageous choice of all. 
She chose her to change her course and to live her final weeks on her own terms. 
And she did just that. She died as she lived, in her home, where she felt most peaceful, surrounded by her family and the blessings of those she loved the most. 

While she was home, she received pages of notes and emails from those who she touched during her life. The letters were of gratitude and appreciation to Donna for sharing herself in so many ways. 
Many many people reached out to thank her for giving so much of herself and for making a positive difference in their own lives. 
She received messages from those who loved her deeply as well as those who knew her less well, but were touched and moved for the better by something that she said or did. 
True to her humility, Donna was surprised by the number and intensity of these messages, she didn't realize that she had made such a difference in the lives of so many. 
But she did and will continue to do so because she was a teacher in the most honest definition of the word. She taught by example, the power of kindness and encouragement, and all those who followed her example will continue to do so in her honor. 
She believed that everyone had tremendous capability to do wonderful things and with a little bit of encouragement, and a few kind words, everyone was completely capable of great success. 

My Aunt Donna did everything just right and the celebration of her life was indeed, exactly right. 
A beautiful celebration of life and love. 
Donna's fingerprints were on every part of her service. She chose the Celebrant, a warm and lovely woman who listened and understood. And she asked that her favorite James Taylor song be played...You Can Close Your Eyes. She requested that instead of flowers, donations be made to a charity that benefits she strongly believed in the hope and future of the very young. 

She also very kindly suggested that we please not wear black. 
We all listened, and the room was overflowing and more than full of happy spring colors. 
Easter colors of springtime hope and grace and renewal. 
Donna's colors.  
And it was more than fitting that the closing words of the service were her signature message of 
"Love You, Love You, Love You..." 
because for Donna, one "Love You" was good, but three were far better. 
 Donna in color at a family party with her adoring team of sisters. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Actually, Totally, True Fact Cousin Breakfast.

I was thrilled to start my Happy Friday with a fun breakfast with these two cousins this morning.
They were so happy to be together and had a lot to catch up on since they saw each other yesterday and this morning the discussion was based mostly on "gone teeth" and friends who didn't believe that they were "actually, totally cousins- true fact." 
Ella is very proud of her new smile and her "gone tooth" 
and reported that the going rate of a cute tooth is 200 cents!
Rosie did some fast and fancy math and realized that she got the exact same amount only in "dollar format." 
And they're off... post pancakes and ready for another exciting day of first grade. 
Happy Friday friends!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Aunt Donna and the Little Sheep.

I made this photo of my Aunt Donna years ago, and while I can't remember exactly what I said at the time, it was probably something like "hey Aunt Donna, will you please hold this baby sheep and let me take your picture?"
 And then my fabulous Aunt opened up her arms without question and happily hugged that little sheep with love and tenderness... because thats exactly how she rolls. 
My Aunt Donna is in the habit of embracing everyone and everything, little lambs included, with a full heart and open arms. In fact, to know my Aunt Donna is to feel a bit like this dear little lamb... safe and happy in the arms of someone warm and loving. 
She always, always, always holds tightly onto all of the goodness that the world has to offer. With that same might, she joyfully nurtures all of that love and hope into something greater than any of us. 
Her heart is enormous and full and fierce...I love her like crazy and she knows it. 
Aunt Donna personifies all that is great kindness and generosity and love...I am honored be a part of her family and know that we are all better people with her in our world. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

#ArtsWave Post it Challenge.

My pal Laura tagged me in a challenge.
On behalf of Artswave, she asked me to note why the arts are important in our community. And since one of my favorite things about Cincinnati are the many fantastic opportunities for kids to get involved in the arts, I asked a couple of my kids for their thoughts. 
As a part of the challenge, you are to write why the arts are important to you on a Post it, take a photo and then post and tag your Artswave wave... here is Jamie and his Artswave wave.

Jamie is the most dedicated artist our family. He usually has a pencil in his hand and a Sharpie marker in his pocket and draws whenever and wherever he can. 
He loses track of time and everything else and can draw for hours if he isn't interrupted. 
He loves it and I can't imagine him going a single day without art. 
And when I asked him to explain, this was his answer....
"It makes me think about things differently, I look at something once and thats not good enough, to draw something you need to really look closely at the parts and how they work together to make something bigger."
When I spoke to Rosie about making music, she was less thoughtful and more about the party.
"I like playing music because its fun. Playing music is super fun and playing the violin is my jam."

Saturday, January 31, 2015

50 years and 50 friends.

With much birthday fanfare... my dear Karl turned 50. 
And we celebrated his first and next 50 years with gusto and good cheer...
A good rule of thumb while planning a kids party is to match the number of guests to the birthday boys age. This party advice works as well when you are 5 as 50, and Karl celebrated his day with 50 of his nearest and dearest friends. 
Including his very first friend in the world... his father made the journey south to wish him a happy day. 
And so did his next oldest friend and brother... celebrity guest Tom, journeyed the furthest from Rhode Island to be there for his big bro. 
Which made Karl very happy. 
It should be noted that this photo was taken in the wee hours of the party morning when both the icy 50 and my cute husbands party eyes were a little droopy. 
Tom looks like he's about 17... he always has a youthful glow to him.    
Karl again looking bright eyed and celebratory with his former roomies and forever friends 
(do dudes say forever friends? probably not)
Matt and Jon and their amazing wives, Karen and Suzann. 
For the record... Matt also holds the claim to fame of being my Bradley Hall resident advisor way back when in our Buckeye days.  
There was a lot of reminiscing and cracking up in the kitchen as my hubby was roasted by his pals.. of course party girl Ro is in the middle of the action
We are very lucky to have a couple of young friends too.. and even luckier to have wonderfully talented young friends who have mad musical skills and play beautifully while plopped down on our front steps.
Here is the wonderful duo Genevieve and the Giant Peach (aka Gen and Josh) playing their fun and lively party music. 
And then this happened.
Karl's very best birthday gift was a song that Josh and Rosie wrote together. Josh wrote the music and Rosie wrote the lyrics. While Josh was helping Rosie brainstorm on ideas on how great her dad is, he asked what the best thing he ever did for her was. 
So Karl's birthday song is appropriately titled, The Best Most Awesome-est Dad and it opens with "Daddy, thank you for adopting me..."  
And then she sang it... and it really was the best most awesome-set thing that could ever happen to a dad on his birthday.  
    Because it was a weekend of 50's for us.. it also happened to be about 50 degrees outside, which was very nice for January, but also a hardship for the Big 50 ice sculpture which didn't make it to the end of the  weekend.
The following morning, as the big ice 50 was puddling on our front porch, Karl and I spent a lot of time recounting the fun party events of the night and being completely amazed by our good fortune. We have many (50!) truly remarkable friends from different times and places in our lives... having them together at the same time was a true blessing as well as a whole lot of fun.
Happy 50th to you Karl!    

Monday, January 26, 2015

14 years of Lilly!

Our Lilly is now 14!!!
And very happily celebrated this milestone with her best buddies...
who were able to join her in a night of music, movies, and of course, a night time ice cream adventure to Aglamesis. 
Which is our family's choice spot to celebrate happy milestones, or everyday happenings. 
Really, Aglamesis is the perfect all occasion venue for all things good.  
Here is my favorite middle school girl gang enjoying an ice cream birthday toast.
And posing in the parking lot in from of the giant blue manatee.
It might be noted that Lily has chosen to celebrate her birthday in a fez.
I'm not sure why.
But I have leaned not to ask to many fashion questions and the birthday fez seems like one of those questions not to be asked.
Wishing our sweet, kind and funny Lillian the best and brightest year ahead.
Happy 14th Lilly... you are much loved.