Wednesday, June 6, 2012

it's okay if you don't understand the hubbub - it's a STL thing.....

in case you've been living under a rock and missed it - nina graduated from 8th grade last week and is officially on her way to high school.  in STL - 8th grade graduation is a big deal.  largely because - unless you go to one of the public schools out in stl county - when you leave 8th grade - you and your friends all go off to different schools - kind of like when you go off to different colleges.  so there is a ceremony and parties and gifts and a dress. 

anyway - since i'm all about tradition - i was pretty excited about nina's graduation.

nina went to a local catholic school for grades k-4.  we had a lot of problems there.  bullying with no discipline.  favoritism.  poor teaching.  old teachers that should have retired long ago.  it wasn't working out.  so one day - after being at my wits end - i placed a call to the local charter school - the first one founded in STL.  it was the best choice i ever made.  because the girl that nina is now - is no longer the girl that was bullied so horribly 5 years ago. she had so many opportunities there that she wouldn't have had elsewhere.  she's far more confident.  that girl wouldn't have been co-captain of the cheer squad or sang a solo at 8th grade graduation.  slcs was more of a home than her old school ever was.  the parents were more accepting of me.  so closing this chapter in her life and watching her go off to my alma mater for high school is bitter sweet.

so i want to take a few moments to share with you some photos and commentary on what made slcs a home.

my three adopted daughters:

 the first really good friend nina made at SLCS was lucy.  lucy and nina are complete total opposites.  lucy is a tomboy while nina is as girly as they come. but somehow it works.  lucy was the first friend to spend the night at our house and quickly became family.  so much so that in 2009 - we took her with us to branson.  slumber parties often involve well thought out menus involving things like "fried chicken and mashed potatoes" instead of pizza and popcorn.  and speaking of popcorn - the first time lucy saw me make popcorn she said "your gonna cook it?  on the stove??"  they fight like sisters - slapping each other one second and hugging the next.

the summer leading into 6th grade - the name ashleigh started popping up a lot.  ashleigh was this cute little perky ball of energy.  i don't think i really adopted her until closer to 7th grade when nina joined cheer leading.  whenever the two would wander off for more than 2 minutes, it usually involved a plot of some sort that ended with sugar and 2 a.m. giggles.  it's not uncommon for me to look at one of her parents and say "the girls are plotting again".  don't let her angel face fool you - she can be a playful little devil too - which usually ends in a giggle and a "love you mom!"
nina, ashleigh, lucy - 8th grade graduation 2012

nina and maddie joined the cheer squad at the same time, maddie as a 6th grader, and nina as a 7th grader.  maddie is this cute little thing that often reminds me of a cute little mouse.  the night before we lost sandy, nina and maddie went to the movies together - and maddie made a special trip into the house when we got home to give me a hug and tell me it would be okay.  her mom and i helped the squad make special spirit sticks for the coaches this year.  i'm sure maddie will lead the cheer squad next year and she'll do an awesome job.

maddie and nina

with these girls, came some awesome moms who helped the journey along.  i've celebrated birthdays with them.  we've entrusted our children to each other without a problem.  i even returned one broken and didn't get blamed!  i never would have felt as comfortable at nina's old school as i was at SLCS.

this video is for all four of my girls.  pay attention the words girls - your journey isn't over.  it's just beginning.

life changers:

i also want to take a moment to give a shout out to two people who inspired nina and helped to build her confidence. 

mrs. dunn - her cheer coach - who believed in her strong natural cheer skills and ability to lead the squad.  the nina from five years ago would have only tried out if it was what her friends were doing.  this year, she was told by mrs. dunn and the athletic director - she's really good and could go on to do this in high school, and maybe college.  they genuinely believe in her natural talent.

ms. dwidar - her first choir teacher.  when nina tried out for choir at the end of 7th grade, ms dwidar looked at her and said "well.  seems you've been hiding a little secret from me."  nina's singing talent was a skill i tried to keep at a distance until she was old enough to learn to use it properly.  i didn't want her to try to sing like brittney spears when she was 8.  i never did a very good job.  she still sang at the top of her lungs all the time anyway.  it's sort of like breathing for her - she doesn't even know she's doing it.  ms. dwidar also recognised her natural talent.  when nina was trying out for the talent show, she was worried about one note and so i told her to ask ms dwidar what she should do and she talked her through it.  she gave her a solo for fine arts night and 8th grade graduation.  and she wants to know when nina is singing in high school.  in just one short year - nina grew so much vocally.  she kinda wants to try out for american idol now.  yikes.  so if nina turns into the next rachel berry - it's this woman's fault - and i'm so grateful.

my favorite people:

finally - these are my two favorite people.  jeff has been a real good sport through all of this.  he didn't get it either.  but he went along with it.  even the part where we had the co-ed pool party.

party like it's 1991:

and just for fun - this is what 8th grade graduation looked like 21 years ago in 1991.  my how the dresses have changed....


  1. Karen this is so so sweet! I am SO glad that Nina (and YOU) had such a good experience at slcs. What sweet friends and wonderful memories. Congratulations to Nina and I know she'll do awesome in high school!

  2. Thanks for the quick recap. Its exciting to see Nina flourish and shine with her abilities. Keep up the great work Karen and Jeff.

  3. You're such a good mom, Karen. This post speaks volumes about you and Nina. I hope I'm like this with my girls too.