Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Beginning of the End

Jon and I were dreading the end-of-year gymnastics banquet and had contemplated not going, but after an insider did some investigating for me, we learned that Alyssa would be receiving an award so we decided to grin and bear it for the sake of our girls. After all, they did deserve to be celebrated even if the termination of my employment has caused us to face feelings of bitterness unlike any we've previously known.

As soon as we sat down at our table we wanted to leave.  Watching my former employer take the mic and brag about the fabulousness of her gym had us wishing for barf bags.

I'd prepared myself for an evening of feeling awkward.  I hated watching my team be presented with certificates I wasn't allowed to sign.  I resented that I didn't get any credit for some of the unprecedented accomplishments my team had achieved.  But I expected it.  What I didn't expect was how my gymnasts were going to react to my name being left off of their certificates.

As soon as the level 4 awards were completed and the level 5 awards started, I heard a young voice behind me say, "Tara, will you sign my certificate since you were my coach most of the season?"  I turned to see a line of my former gymnasts standing behind my chair waiting for my signature that rightfully belonged on their certificates.  I signed each one through tear-filled eyes.

When it was time for the level 7 awards, Alyssa made her way to the front of the room.  Each of her teammates were given a certificate but it quickly became evident that Alyssa had somehow been overlooked.  A very awkward few minutes followed as the gym owner, my former employer for whom I have lost all respect, made painfully lame comments like, "How did this happen?  We checked them all twice."  And, "Didn't we do this to you last year?"  Or the best one, "You'd think this was my first rodeo, wouldn't you?"

Our exaggerated eye rolls were a small outward expression of our immeasurable inward disgust.  But thankfully there were other awards for Alyssa to take the attention away from the certificate oversight.

"Here, we have an award for you, Alyssa.  You're 'Miss Bars.'" (Awarded to the gymnast that was the highest scoring gymnast on bars over the course of the season.)  The trophy was handed to Alyssa while they quickly searched for a blank certificate.

After the other event awards were distributed, Alyssa was given a trophy for "Miss Sunshine."  "Miss Sunshine" is a coach's choice award for the gymnast who "lights up their life."  Have we ever mentioned how much we love Alyssa's coaches, Chen and Tia?  This award shows that they love her too!

Lys' two new trophies

I didn't go up front when the booster club presented the coaches with their end-of-year gifts but they did give me my gift on the side.  It was a $50 Mastercard and giant card signed by the girls.

And after all was said and done, my team and their parents presented me with an enormous bouquet and $100 spa gift card.  Their support has gotten me through these last few difficult months.

My former co-coach, Michelle, and a few of our gymnasts.

My favorite Level 4 gymnast!

The evening had come to an end and one parent said to me, "Now go parade [the flowers] past [the gym owner]!"

So we walked out, me with my head held high and feeling a bit like Miss America with my heavy bouquet.  This was it, our last big hurdle.  The last event we would participate in with this gym.  We knew we had to leave.  Our hearts could not heal if we stayed.

So we didn't.

Here's to new beginnings...

(stayed tuned for more details.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Mother's Day

Mother's Day really started on Friday when I went to have tea with Natty.  Except there was no tea.  But there was punch and treats, handmade gifts and the sweetest tissue paper flowers.

We had such a great time but darn that adorable slide show that makes me cry!  I think I'd be fine if they didn't set those cute pictures to the song, "Let Them Be Little."

 The musical portion of our mother's tea was really fantastic.  I'm amazed at all the complicated lyrics, choreography and creativity involved.

Here's a quick peek though the clips don't do it justice.  You had to be there.

On Saturday Jon came home with these beauties:

And Sunday brought a few more gifts--some new sheets, a novel and some yummy smelling candles were packaged under this paper towel:

That's right, my husband's the type that doesn't know that tissue paper is the appropriate wrapping material here.  Well, he might know, but he'd have to go looking for it and asking me to help point him in the right direction would ruin the surprise, so paper towels will do.

I love him.  Really, really love him.

I also got a new hanging basket.  I actually picked it out myself but we'll just call it a Mother's day gift.

We tried to get before-church pictures by the new basket but those just never go as planned.  Caleb's making a weird, this-plant-is-touching-my-head expression and Alyssa is trying to get a sick Natalie to smile.  Plus I'm crouching down so far that the whole thing just looks weird.

But in my memory will be three beautiful children on a gloriously beautiful day and I couldn't be happier to be their mother.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Oil and Water

It turns out that they do sometimes mix.

Watching Kid History on the iPad.

Natalie, who has never in her life slept in a room by herself, really missed Alyssa while she was away at camp.  Thankfully Caleb was willing to share the half of his bed he never uses.

It's so sweet while it lasts.  But it never lasts long so it's a good thing we took some pictures.  Caleb was soon back to flickering the girls' lights just to be annoying.  Or just to get Natalie to scream.  I wonder if he'll ever forgive her for being a girl.

*Update on Lys: She arrived home from camp yesterday afternoon singing silly songs--and coughing.  But she had a splendid time.  She slept until 11:00 a.m. this morning--that must have been some serious fun to need that kind of recovery!  And yes, I did tear up when I saw her.  I'm so glad she's back.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Camp Auburn and My Heart

My mother called me Hard Hearted Hannah when I was growing up because I never cried. Or something like that. But if tears are indeed a reflection of the substance of our hearts, then the crust of stone once covering mine must have eroded over the years leaving a pile of mush to remain.

 I sometimes think I cry more than is normal.  My emotions are felt deeply and for whatever reason they come spilling out of my eyes.  Especially where my children are involved.

Alyssa left for Camp Auburn yesterday.  A thoughtful friend--whose son was also leaving for camp--who remembered how much I had worried when Caleb went asked, "So is it easier this time around?  Are you less worried?"

"No," I said.  "I'm just as worried this time, but for completely different reasons."

Alyssa battled illness for three days prior to her departure.  She missed church on Sunday, school on Monday and was still running a fever yesterday morning.  A wiser parent probably would've kept her home.  But she was desperate to go, insisting in between coughs that she was fine.  I relented and packed a few medications to ease the discomfort I know she felt but refused to admit.  I then had to go through the hassle of calling her doctor's office to ask them to send a fax granting permission for the camp nurse to give her the medications.  Even cough drops need a doctor's approval!  The nurse was helpful and kind but clearly suspicious of my better judgement.  

"I have to tell you that she's still contagious," she said.

I did realize that.  But Alyssa told me that much of her class had been sick the previous week.  Even her teacher was sick.  I rationalized that most of the kids had already been exposed anyway.  And Alyssa is tough as nails, she won't complain.  Still, I'm worried.

Then there's the issue of her food.  That was even more work than packing her clothes.  We went through the camp menu and tried to substitute gluten-free options whenever possible.  Only two of the meals are entirely different from what the other campers will eat, the others are a pretty close match. Each meal--or select item of the meal--was carefully portioned and labeled. Then we packed it all in a cooler and delivered it to her teacher.  Two different teachers explained two different ways they would handle Alyssa's mealtime.  We were confused but I have to trust they'll figure it out.  I know they won't starve her.  Still it's hard to be different.  That makes me worry.

I crouched down--because it's only way for her arms to be able to reach around my neck--and hugged her tight.  No her-head-next-to-my-belly-button hug would do.  I didn't want to let her go.  But I had to.  It's part of growing up and that's what are kids are supposed to do.

"Good-bye parents.  We'll take good care of your kids," her teacher said as she boarded the bus behind all of the students. Lys and I waved to each other as the bus pulled out of the school parking lot. I was glad my oversized sunglasses could hide my tears.

I'm still worried.  But no news is good news so she must not be too terribly sick.  Or starving.  Still, her absence is felt.  I really miss her.  And Friday feels far away.

Another friend later said, "Well, maybe with Natalie it will be easier."

No.  I'm quite sure it won't.  Even if there is nothing to worry about, I'll still cry.  It's what I do.  No more hard heart here.