Confessions of a Non-Stage Mom

There are four words that can strike fear or love in a mom’s heart. Elementary school talent show. Ahhh, I have such fond memories of mine. I did a tap dance routine with my younger sister every year. I believe in our very first show we wore raincoats and twirled umbrellas to “I Love a Rainy Night” by Eddy Rabbitt. Oh, yes, that was a 45 rpm record that we played over and over again until it was so scratched it wouldn’t play anymore. As we got older, we stepped it up with some clogging to “Mountain Music” by Alabama. Yes, that’s how we rolled in Virginia 30 years ago.

Last year, my 8yo son performed in his talent show for the first time. You can read all about it here. This year with both kiddos at the same school, we thought they should both perform. It was a no-brainer for my older son (he’s 9yo) who pretty much has one awesome talent – Kung Fu. Figuring out a talent for my athletic kindergartner was more of a challenge. He couldn’t dribble a soccer ball or throw baseballs on stage. Hmmmm.

One day Pharrell’s “Happy” came on in the car and my youngest son shocked me by singing all of the lyrics and singing with some attitude. Yes! He would sing in the talent show. He wasn’t very into the idea at first, so we got him a few singing lessons to test it out. After the first lesson, he was hooked. I was so excited for him to branch out and do something he had never done before. He was six! Everything is a big accomplishment when you’re six, right?

As the show got closer, we started practicing everyday. And then a few days before the show, my nerves caught up with me. No, not his. Mine! I suddenly felt like I had unintentionally pushed him into something that would blow up in my face. What if he forgot the words? What if he froze? What if he just puked on-stage? What if it was a horrible experience that plagued him for life? I could envision him walking into a therapy session at the age of 25 and saying, “Well, it all started when my mom wanted me to do that stupid talent show when I was in kindergarten…”

That’s when I realized God blessed me with boys for a reason. This mommy is not cut out for stage stress! Dance recitals, solos, gymnastics…balance beam routines? Oh lordy. I don’t know how moms stay calm. I would be popping Xanax like Skittles with wine chasers.

The night of the show, I told both boys I was proud of them no matter what happened during the show. They had impressed me so much with their hard work, nothing could erase that. And it was true. I was 100% proud. Doing well in the show (or just having the guts to try) would be icing on the cake. In my mind, they had already achieved so much.

And without a doubt, they both did great! My older son who just loves being in the spotlight did so well. He was psyched! My youngest NAILED IT. He sang, he did his choreographed moves, he smiled and he had fun. Afterwards he found me in the crowd and we shared a very special “I know exactly how you feel” hug that was priceless. Of course, we’re already discussing next year’s act… 😉 talent show steele3 talent show cruz3    talentshowcruz

 

Kung Fu cropped

How Martial Arts Transformed a Nonverbal Autistic Toddler into a Thriving 9-Year-Old Sensation

Kung Fu StudentWhen he was a happy but nonverbal toddler, our oldest son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Doctors told us they had no idea if or when he’d become verbal or if he’d ever be social enough to have meaningful relationships. The outlook for his future was unknown and grim. Last year, at the age of 8, he performed a kung fu routine onstage in front of a crowd of 300 people, proving any obstacle can be overcome. This year, he will take the stage again Feb. 27 and dazzle the crowd with a martial arts routine consisting of fan-fighting and staff-fighting techniques with his Sifu (instructor), Robert Roy.

Video of 2014 Practice Session: http://youtu.be/XtnRPP66tVE

We had never thought about getting Steele involved in martial arts until Sam Hicks, the principal at Steele’s school, Lakeway Elementary, told us how much he’d seen other children in Steele’ situation thrive from martial arts. It sounded like a good idea to us, so we did our research and found Robert Roy. During Steele’s very first kung fu lesson, we knew we had found something special.

Kung Fu cropped“Martial arts helped Steele develop both sides of his brain because techniques require students to alternate between left brain and right brain skills, which many autistic children struggle with,” explains Sifu, a twice Hall of Fame inductee as kung fu master who trained in China at the Shaolin Temple. “I worked with Steele weekly and after only a few lessons, I saw dramatic improvements. His physical abilities were improving, his ability to focus was getting stronger and his level of confidence in himself was soaring.”

During the course of his kung fu lessons, we saw Steele transform into a focused, confident and skilled martial-arts student who specialized in staff fighting. In February 2013, he decided to share his martial arts achievements with his community by performing in the annual talent show at his school. The first step was making the audition. The staff at Lakeway Elementary School was extremely supportive and let Steele audition with Sifu. Four more weeks of practice flew by as the talent show quickly approached.

On Feb. 26, 2013, the Lakeway Elementary School gymnasium was packed with more than 300 parents, family members, teachers and friends, all eager for the talent show. I was a nervous wreck! He had never done anything like this in his life and we didn’t know how he’d react to such a huge crowd. When it was time for him to perform, he grabbed the microphone (which was unexpected and unscripted!!!) and asked the crowd, “Are you ready to see it?” The crowd clapped and cheered as Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” played and Steele and Sifu performed an exciting martial arts combat routine.

I’ll never forget that moment for as long as I live. I cried from the moment he took the stage, because I was so overwhelmed with joy. Nobody in that crowd understood how every single thing he did was so magical. It was surreal. He didn’t get nervous, he spoke on a microphone from his heart in front of hundreds of people, and his routine was awesome. I still meet people who remember that routine vividly. It’s just amazing. (And they usually say, “Hey, aren’t you that mom who was crying at the talent show?” Yep, that’s me!)

Video of Performance Last Year: http://youtu.be/IIQGf29K5o4

kung fu 2013This year, he’ll be performing again with Sifu and he will be incorporating fan-fighting into the routine. We’re so very proud of him and can’t wait to see him do it again!

Meet Robert Roy (our Sifu!)
Robert Roy, who was trained in China at the Shaolin Temple, has been actively leading the martial arts community in Austin. As owner of Martial Arts Academy, he was active in Crime Stoppers programs, worked with the Austin Police Department’s SWAT Unit, the Department of Public Safety officers and the Parks and Recreation Department in Brazoria County. He is a two-time Hall of Fame inductee as kung fu Master and Living Legend of the Year. He has performed in countless shows and movies featuring martial arts.

He is currently working on a Bully Prevention Certification program designed to supplement anti-bullying campaigns nationwide. He and his wife are also developing an e-book video instructional series for parents and children called “ROOTAGE: Plant the Knowledge.” It will illustrate the hidden techniques and provide a clearer understanding of how ancient martial arts benefits child development.

(Sifu currently teaches throughout the state, but he holds private lessons at World of Tennis in Lakeway.)

Crazy Mom Pic

Top 10 Wishes for Mother’s Day: Gnarly Muffin Tops

 


I just love watching men peruse the card section at Walgreen’s, trying to find the best Mother’s Day card for their mamas. The surly Larry The Cable Guy in a cutoff plaid shirt buys the beautifully illustrated sappy card with the heartfelt sentiments, while the Dell-looking guy in pleated khakis and a Titleist polo buys his mom the slightly raunchy card featuring a monkey wearing sunglasses or an old lady in a bikini.

I could be petty and wish for extravagant things or I could be totally content and wish for nothing or I could be myself and wish for more wishes. Okay, now I’m just confusing myself.

 

1. – I wish I liked glitter. Why? Because it is the most popular decorative element on the crafts my kids bring home from school. And due to my hatred for said glitter, those crafty creations always land in the trash.

2. – I wish I didn’t DVR so many shows, because I have like 39 hours of recorded shows that I NEVER have time to watch. Those shows hang over me like a dark cloud – a dark taunting cloud.

3. – I wish I had never heard the term “muffin top.” It was much easier to have them when I didn’t know what they were called. Naming them makes them real.

4. – I wish I exclaimed cooler phrases when I’m excited about something or mad. I say lame things likes, “Holy Moly” and “Are you kidding me?!’ and “Seriously!?!” I also use the words “dude” and “awesome” regularly.  After visiting my sister in Colorado, I’m thinking of swapping out “awesome” for “gnarly.”

5. – I wish I wasn’t addicted to fabric softener. I know it makes my clothes fall apart faster, it’s another heavy thing to buy at the grocery store (which I detest) and it prolongs an already horrible laundry experience. I can’t help it. Gain smells fantastic.

6. – I wish I didn’t have the uncanny ability to hear silent headlocks. I can hear them from a mile away. If my kids get really quiet while playing together, I know someone’s grumpy face is getting squished in the crook of someone’s tiny arm.

7. –  I wish I could open the pantry and/or the refrigerator and cleverly whip up an amazing meal with whatever I find. Let’s have instant oatmeal topped with spicy mustard, a slice of cheese and a jar of pimentos!

8. – I wish I didn’t think “that’s what she said” was a perfect addition to any statement. Michael Scott was right on the ball. That’s what she said.

9. – I wish kid’s movies were lame. I watch Despicable Me, Megamind and Wall-E with way too much interest. I am genuinely sad when the kids get bored and want to turn the movie off early. Once in a while, I finish watching the movie by myself after they go to bed.

10. – In thinking about wish #9, I’d like to wish for a bunch of my own minions. Cute, little, yellow critters who can help do the laundry, clean up cat puke, find missing socks, break up the silent headlocks, etc. I think every mom deserves at least 25 of them, as long as they’re very self sufficient, I’m assuming I don’t have to feed them. If so, I hope they like my oatmeal surprise (refer to wish #7).

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the fab mommies out there. May you get a box full of minions this year….

Take Chances in 2011: My Bloggy Adventure

 

MommyQ Television Movie

In 2010, I went on my first movie adventure in Portland, OR. Walmart and P&G invited me to experience a real behind-the-scenes experience at the filming of A Walk in My Shoes. It’s part of their initiative for better family entertainment. How could I say no? Here I am talking about my experience. (Yes, I’m doing vids this year – look out!)


From the wonderful folks at P&G and Walmart to the producers to the actors, EVERYONE working on this project is totally aware of the need for better family-friendly television entertainment. Even the youngest actor on the set, 11-year-old Jackson Pace, mentioned how important it is to be able to watch television together as a family. (BTW, what a cute little guy.)

Added bonus? During the trip I got to meet some phenomenal women: @MomStart @mamsphor @eightymphmom @BettyBuzz @OurOrdinaryLife – funny, fantastic, outspoken and talented. In fact, I actively follow these moms on Twitter today and do guest blogging for Betty Confidential.

As we embark on 2011, my advice for you is TAKE CHANCES. In my normal mommy mode, leaving the family for a few days to travel to a movie set was something I’d normally pass up. It required planning and rearranging of schedules and a few other hassles. Instead of being my normal “no thanks” self, I ditched my comfort zone and went. I’m so glad I did! It was an amazing experience for so many reasons. My point? Let’s keep pushing ourselves to take chances, okay? Deal? Deal.

Actress Nancy Travis Dishes about Motherhood & her New Movie, “A Walk in My Shoes” with Blogger, MommyQ

Blogger MommyQ Nancy Travis

I’m so excited to see Nancy Travis visit Wisteria Lane as Keith’s outspoken mother on Desperate Housewives this season. I’ve always thought she was a talented actress and quite funny too!  From movies like “Three Men and a Baby” to sitcoms like “The Bill Engvall Show,” Nancy brings us lovable, memorable characters. This summer, I had a chance to sit down and talk with Nancy in person, while she was filming her new movie, “A Walk in My Shoes” in Portland, Oregon. “A Walk in My Shoes” is part of a combined effort by Walmart and P&G to bring back family movie night entertainment. Both companies treated me and other fabulous mom bloggers to a unique behind-the-scenes movie experience.

Nancy was funny, personable, sincere and totally grounded. For someone who has been acting since high school and even married former President of Savoy Pictures, Robert N. Fried in 1994, she shows no signs of being affected by the Hollywood scene. We discussed why she took the role in this made-for-TV movie, how she balances being a mom and an actress, how being a mom has impacted her acting and she listed some of her favorite actresses.

Why she liked this role: The role Nancy plays in “A Walk in in My Shoes” is a stressed-out high school teacher, Trish. Nancy’s character can’t understand her students’ lack of effort in the classroom and why their parents don’t seem to care. Without giving away the whole movie, let’s just say a little bit of magic happens, giving Trish the chance to take a walk in one of the mom’s shoes and experience a new perspective. Nancy said she wanted to work on this movie because she was happy to work on a project that not only brought family-friendly programming to television, but addressed special life lessons.

Walmart P&G present A Walk in My Shoes movie

Life as an actress and a mommy: Nancy spoke about her life as a mom and working actress. She said of a work/life balance, “You can have it all, but not at the same time. You have to figure out your priorities to make it all work.” She said motherhood has helped her become a better actress because, “every part of acting is drawing on your life experiences.” Nancy said she’s very picky about the roles she accepts because she must always take her family and community into consideration. “Nothing shameful or embarrassing,” she smiled.

Thoughts about the biz: When I asked her how she’d feel if her children wanted to pursue acting she said, “They should if they come by it naturally and decide they want to do it by themselves. Then I’ll support them as best as I can. It’s tricky as a parent, because for a child, there’s a lot happening in the business they aren’t ready to fully understand.”

Which actresses inspire Nancy? She named Helen Mirren, Cate Blanchett, Bonnie Bedelia and Vivien Leigh. In fact, Nancy laughed and said of Leigh, “I wanted to be Scarlett!”

You can see “A Walk in My Shoes’ on Friday, December 3rd at 8/7C on NBC. The movie will also feature a soundtrack produced by music mogul Randy Jackson that will be available at Walmart starting December 4, 2010. For more information visit the website!

Will Jeggings Cause the Extinction of Real Denim?

Celebrity Jeggings Trend

I must weigh in on the jeggings phenomena, because it’s starting to bug me. The other day I was in a boutique when an annoying saleswomen with far too much Botox asked me if I had “experienced” jeggings. “They are ah-maze-ing,” she smiled. Really? Have I experienced them? It’s not like lobster chip ice cream or a trip to see the pyramids in Egypt. Experienced? Hmm.  Aren’t they just fancy leggings pretending to be jeans?

Kymaro Shaper Jeans

Sure, I like leggings and I like some styles of jeggings, but things are happening with the trend that are starting to bother me.  I’m seeing lots of jeans with elastic waistbands that look like maternity jeans, but they aren’t. Are jeans really so incredibly uncomfortable that we have to eliminate the snaps and zippers entirely? Will real denim jeans becomes a thing of the past, replaced by jeggings, stretchy faux denim and those crazy Kymaro jeans on TV that look like an SNL skit?

It makes me wonder if jeggings are for the fashion-forward who like a touch of comfort now and then, or do we all really dislike the feel of real denim on our bodies? Denim can be cumbersome and scratchy and yes, the whole waistband versus ‘muffin top’ issue is annoying. I have certain jeans I can only wear with certain shirts because the waist is either too high or too low or too loose or too tight. Is elastic the magic solution? I’m undecided right now, but if I start seeing men’s jeans with elastic waistbands, I’m going to be extremely worried.

Now I wonder if the saleswomen was excited about the actual jeggings or the idea that her muffin top will be forever vanished. Maybe it is an experience after all? What do you think?

On the Heels of Halloween: Girl’s Fairy Tee

It’s always sad when Halloween ends. The neighbors take down the 12-foot-tall, inflatable, black cat. The pumpkins find their way into a pie or possible just a big trashcan and the candy wrappers pile up. My kids frown when they drive by homes at night and don’t see any orange lights on the porches. Yes, the scary fun is over.

Girls' fairy tee shirt

There’s still some magic in the air as Thanksgiving and Christmas are near. And that’s why I just love this Golden Fairy Tee and Glitter Dragonfly Wings from Chasing Fireflies. It’s festive, but in a subtle kind of way. (It’s far less subtle than my son running around in his Buzz Lightyear pack with wings and flashing lights.)  I think this Fairy Tee is pretty and special. Wouldn’t that be a great outfit for little girls in their holiday cards? I’m all for anything that isn’t green and red. Did I mention I’d like one of these myself? 😉