Archive for June, 2011

• Graduation day

Well, the big day finally arrived! Graduation ceremonies for the class of 2011 took place at 4pm on Tuesday June 14! After a brief morning practice, caps and gowns were donned and then, there we all were, sitting in the bright sweltering sun at the high school football field, as we watched our middle son Michael and our Italian daughter Francesca along with their Irvington classmates, walk across the stage at Tak Stadium and accept their high school diplomas. We cheered and applauded as they moved the tassels on their mortar boards from left to right, in recognition of their newly graduated status, just moments before they were tossed them into the blue limitless California sky.

Four years of high school for Michael seems to have rushed by, to say nothing of how the past year with Francesca seems to have evaporated. Both kids now exude a profound sense accomplishment and happiness. Michael is ready to move on to new beginnings and looks forward to his freshman year at UC Riverside, and Francesca, I think, is ready to return to Italy.

These last few weeks with Francesca have been especially special for me. She seems more at home with us and very comfortable in her own skin. There is a new found maturity about her. It is quite an accomplishment to spend a year with an American family, attend high school in an unfamiliar environment, participate in school dramas & finish off a year long Senior Quest project which culminated in an oral presentation made before a board of teachers and parents. She has done all this in a language, that just a few years ago was still unknown to her; a language that frustrated her and brought tears to her eyes when she couldn’t understand the lyrics to an American pop song. But now, after spending a year in a foreign country that before she had only seen depicted in films and tv, she is completely fluent in the English language and the American lifestyle. Yes, I’d say she has a lot to feel good about. She has accomplished what she set out to do and she has done it with great aplomb and the reality of it is just now sinking in. She returns to Italy in one piece, nurtured and loved by our family, but she I can’t guarantee that she is the same person she was when she arrived on our door step. Sorry Vittorio and Tonia! This experience of living in another country changes you. It settles under your skin and alters the fabric of your being. To know that you have accomplished this seemingly daunting task and done it well, gives you the confidence to tackle the slings and arrows life inevitably puts in your path. It also gives you the confidence to design new challenges for yourself and pushes you to do the next great thing.

So graduation day came and went. The remainder of the week we enjoyed catching up on sleep and the fact that we don’t have to get up to do car pool. Hallalujah! The graduates have been writing in their year books and spending precious moments with friends they won’t be seeing for quite some time. Francesca disappeared for an entire day at the Mall with her friend Emily and Michael has been hanging with his friends at the pool. Friday a big group of us spent a day at the Beach and despite the relentless fog and mist of Santa Cruz we jumped into the rolling waves and played in the sand at Manresa Beach. Hey, it may not be Maui, but its the only beach we’ve got!

Saturday we threw a big joint graduation party for seven Irvington Seniors. It gave us a moment to sit back and finally relish and cherish this moment of great accomplishment. Another milestone. Hats have been all tossed into the air. Horizons are limitless. New challenges to be determined!


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7 friends all graduating Irvington High School: Class of 2011

We have a full house again. Ryan is home from college and our home is bursting with new energy. Francesca and Michael are done with high school. Their official last day was last Thursday, but they continue to return to the high school to turn in books and attend practices for the commencement ceremony which will occur tomorrow, Tuesday, June 14th. It is a truly bittersweet moment for me as we wind down the school year. For me it is always sad to see that another year has come to an end and to realize that the kids have grown up a little bit more. It is sad also to know that our well established routines will be evolving yet again as we head into the summer months.

Kyle is not the little boy he was a year ago when he started 7th grade. Some how during the past year he let his hair grow long like Justin Bieber and his ipod is now permanently attached to his ear and he has developed friendships with girls – not girl friends mind you, just friends that are girls! And Michael! I swear it was just yesterday morning, that he was signing up for Freshman waterpolo… and now he is college bound and ready to start making his way in the world. As if that weren’t enough, three years at Chico have somehow melted away and Ryan is now a SENIOR in college! He is gainfully employed this summer, which required the purchase of new shoes and pants and the discarding of his flip flops in order to operate a cash register and punch a time card to help pay for law school. Even more bittersweet for me is the fact that we are facing the looming departure date of Francesca. She returns to Italy and Locorotondo on the 26th of June. Kyle, bless his heart just the other day said “mom, it is going to be so weird when Francesca’s room is empty and she isn’t here to make brownies for me...I’m going to miss her!

Our family has had an eventful year filled with ups and downs and meaningful moments. There have been moments of change and self awareness; moments of confusion; moments of clarity, as well as moments of bonding. We are an opinionated family, so yes, at times there have been a few tears, fireworks and escalated voices, but always tempered with deeply caring calmer moments of insightful discussions and comprehension. I am so glad that we have had this time with Francesca, because it has made our family better and in many ways closer.

It is funny how life can move  along at a safe and comfortable pace and then all of a sudden you are confronted with big changes that are painfully hard to swallow. I would prefer instead to bottle these precious fleeting moments and squeeze my kids tight enough to keep them from growing up and changing. But, unfortunately you just can’t do that. Life keeps happening. Things keep evolving & people move on and away to pursue new dreams. All my kids are making their way in the world. Some are returning to Italy, some are going to college, some are entering their teen age years and others are preparing to go to grad school. They are all growing up to be interesting individuals, and with out getting too maudlin, I just wanted to say how proud I am of my kids. Things are changing for us, but I know that new experiences are right around the corner and I can’t wait to find out what will happen next!

Francesca's Grad Night Poster : a slice of her life!

Michael's Grad Night Poster : a slice of his life!

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