Sunday, June 22, 2014

Zack -- Singing at Graduation "You Raise Me Up"

In a previous post, I told you how proud I was of my son, who has absolutely rebelled against doing anything in public or anything that will put him in the public eye (total panic attacks, just NOT his thing), and how he volunteered to be a Madrigal singer at his school's graduation.  I posted the original Josh Grobin video for "Your Raise Me Up" because it's just a stunning song with voices that pull the very heart from you and squeeze it until you can't help but get a lump in your throat.

Remember how I said he didn't want a thing to do with being in the public eye but was in his class play this year?  It was such a clever play, all the kids wrote it together, about Thanksgiving in the Twilight Zone.  Zack got to play Snoopy, and he was complete with a Woodstock to help him along.  He was awesome.  Mom's costume talents, not so awesome.  But he didn't care and smiled the entire time.

I finally was able to get Zack's group onto YouTube so you can listen.  He's the sweet little boy in the gray jacket, one of only two boys, and one of only a small group of kids.  You have to excuse the horrible video quality.  For one, I'm short and was in the very back of the auditorium.  For two, I had a telephoto lens, but I was shaking so hard and had tears streaming down my face so I am lucky I got ANYTHING.  But I'd be honored if you watched.  (Please ignore my sniffles and "Good job, buddy," right in the middle of it all.  SO FREAKING PROUD.)

This is HUGE for Zack.  For a child who has overcome SO many obstacles to come to where he volunteered to put himself in front of the school -- I couldn't be prouder.  Truly, honestly, he amazes me every day and gives me strength to know that no matter what he chooses to do in life, it will be awe-inspiring.

Thanks for being here.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Father and His Sons

Father's Day is bittersweet for me as I am estranged from my own and have been most of my life.  I'm at peace with it, though, and instead watch my son, my stepsons, their father, and his father show the world in their quiet way that love makes a difference.

Rick was the full-time parent to his boys when I came along, and I entered a ready-made family.  The boys were in high school, and I got to experience things that are still coming for Zack -- high school graduations, taking the boys to visit colleges, helping them stock up their first apartments....great stuff.

Ryan, the oldest, got married to his girlfriend of seven years, Jessica, on May 24th, and I promise a longer, beautiful post laden with pictures, but for now, I'm borrowing a few of photographer David Abel's photos of the amazing men in my life.

I love that Ryan asked Rick to come help him get ready, and I adore Ryan's expression.  I wasn't there, but I know my husband, and I'm sure he was a bundle of nerves trying desperately to hold back tears.  I think I've only seen this man cry a handful of times -- at our wedding, and then always about his kids because they are his world.

This is Colin, the middle son, fixing Ryan's tie.  Ryan bought Rick's cool Jerry Garcia tie.  Rick used to collect a lot of ties, and now Zack is very interested (and opinionated!) about them. Zack has a cool sense of style for someone with a degree of color blindness, and both Rick and I take his fashion advice quite seriously.  I swear he got it from watching his brothers, who are both quite dapper and cool and lately take Zack along shopping. 

I love that Ryan and Colin are close, and even though they're eighteen years older than Zack, all three have a special bond.  Immense LEGO kits (one of which was Ryan's groomsman gift to Zack) are one bond.  In fact, both boys showed up at the house after Ryan and Jessica's honeymoon to help work on a monster Technics kit together. Those are some cool brothers whose dad taught them to care about other's feelings.

Our first family photo.  I have to admit I cried when I saw just how bad I looked, and this was the best shot.  However, Rick taught his boys something else ... compassion.  Up until almost the day of the wedding, we weren't sure I'd be able to come, and all the boys have seen me in various states of yuck.  Ryan even consoled me when I was in tears at ruining photos.  All the boys have learned from Rick that love for our family is incredibly important, and while circumstances might change to affect a person's life, that doesn't make them invisible.  When the boys were in college and grad school garnering Ph.Ds, they always made time to spend holidays with us, and those holidays are some of the best memories of my life.  

The Anderson men...
Rusty (Rick's brother), Zack, Rick, Ryan, Dick (Rick's father), and Colin.

These last few photos show some filial love that I believe comes from having a loving father who spent a lot of time with his kids.  Ryan and Colin took Zack out last month to fly a kite (all *I* can do is drag a kite and take it for a recalcitrant walk).  With patience and a sense of adventure (since they just might have hit nearby airport air space they weren't supposed to), they took time out of a busy day to remember what it was like to be eleven. I'm quite sure Zack will remember this when he's the older one to, dare I hope, grandkids.

And then, through watching the men in his family, Zack has learned that love and caring are indeed masculine traits.  Last year in school, Zack's grade's community service program was to read to kids in day care.  He learned you don't have to personally know someone to show kindness and interest, things I know he's learned from the Anderson men.

I'm fortunate to have landed in this group of guys.  I've spent almost fifteen years among them, and I've learned what a father is supposed to be....someone who guides, loves, disciplines, laughs, and above all, we learn from each other.  I pray that as years go by, the bonds between us become stronger and unbreakable.

Love to my family, and the best to yours.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Zack...You Raise Me Up

It's been an emotional few weeks.  The wedding of my oldest stepson, Ryan (blog to follow when I have photos), two illnesses, an endoscopy Thursday that didn't quite give the results we'd hoped for (so more tests), and Friday, watching Zack perform as a Madrigal singer at his school's graduation.

This school is amazing.  Each grade puts on a play, has at least one poem or song during the year for Wednesday Assemblies, a massive on stage Halloween exhibition....basically, they are teaching children from the very beginning to learn to feel comfortable in front of an audience.

I'm really good at extemporaneous speaking (but my singing hurts ears three towns over). Zack , however, hates to be in front of a crowd.  For a couple of years, we skipped the Halloween March, and he finally got the nerve in 3rd grade to speak three lines as the most adorable Benjamin Franklin you've ever seen.  Then it all went wrong in 4th grade and he refused to do anything public.

He performed in the Thanksgiving play this year, though, as Snoopy (pictures later this week), and I was shocked and astounded when he told me he volunteered to be one of the Madrigal singers at Graduation this year.  He wouldn't even GO to the Awards Ceremony or Graduation in  past years because he didn't want people to see him.  We'd always skip it and go shopping and do mommy/kidlet stuff.

I didn't know what he was going to sing....he practiced at school and I didn't want to jinx him by asking too many questions.  So when I sat down with the program and saw first, how small the Madrigal group was, and two, that they'd be singing Josh Grobin's "You Raise Me Up", I knew I was in trouble.  I cry every time I hear that song.

I'm resting up for surgery Monday, so don't have time to edit the Madrigals (shaking hands, mommy audibly sniffling as she cried), but I promise to post it soon.  He was one of only two boys in the small group, and he's gotten cards, hugs, and high fives from both teachers and kids who were shocked at the change in Zack this year.  Having Aspergers Syndrome and panic attacks makes life harder for him, but the triumphs are that much more rewarding.  I couldn't be prouder.

First day of school....where did the time go?

So until I can edit his actual performance, I'll leave you to (please) watch Josh Grobin's video.  I dare you not to get choked up.

More on Zack's phenomenal year as well as the wedding when I'm able.  Until then, watch, listen, and applaud Zack for overcoming the odds to shine and make this his best year ever.

Thursday, June 05, 2014




Crap.  I'm hungry.  Can cats operate blenders and deliver smoothies?

Ah.  THAT is a different poem altogether.

(On another note, I just realized today is my blogoversary.  Who has the pie?)