Monday, May 23, 2016

May-hem of graduations

I've already mentioned how May is traditionally a crazy hectic month with the end-of-the-school-year everything and Carrie's birthday. I can only imagine what it'll become once we add in Proms, graduation parties, and all that jazz. Yoi.

This particular May we already had two graduations. 

Yes, you read that right. Two.

May is the second of four karate graduations spread throughout the year. They're usually February, which we missed because I had the flu and Damon wasn't progressing anyway), May, August, and November. 

Two of those graduation dates are black belt graduations, which are extra special as you get performances by the black belt students who have been working for at least 3 years on becoming a black belt. This particular weekend, our amazing friends Nina and Jonathan received their black belts, and the kids' instructor, Mr. Stanford, was receiving his fourth degree black belt. Well, we couldn't miss that!

Parents normally are the ones who tie on a student's new belt to finish the graduation. However, black belts are different in that the instructors get to tie them on. Then there's flowers and pictures and all of that, often followed by ice cream (if you're related to the same people that we are related to, anyway). 

Here are some snippets of the gazillions of photos taken:

Check out that ankle pivoting, above (which is a good thing) and how quick he is- that kid is a blur! Hehe.

I promise, they didn't kick that innocent brown belt off the stage. Just trying to give you a sense of the kicks...

Once you're a high enough belt, you need to create your own katta/routine. Our favorite student performance was cleverly done to "Flight of the Bumblebee", and she used flyswatters. It brought the house down:

Not the best picture, but a hilarious reminder if you were there. 

And Mr. Stanford wowed us all with his Wushu skills:

It was really special for the kids (and the parents!) to get to cheer on Mr. Stanford. He is a super instructor and it was so much fun to see just him doing his thing instead of teaching. 

Don't ever be offended if someone tells you that you kick like a girl. I sure wouldn't want to mess with this one:

Not that kicking like a boy is a bad thing either!

And I keep hearing Goliath from "David and the Giant Pickle" of VeggieTales fame when I see these; am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?

I know that it's not all sunshine and roses. There are plenty of days that the kids do not want to go to karate, and I'd be painting an inaccurate picture if I implied that they're always 100% behind all this. But when we see the intensity and accuracy they're developing, along with the focus that some of us need more desperately than others, I am convinced that it is building incredible skills in our children. It makes it worth the 45-50 minutes of being in the car several times a week on top of the time it takes for the lessons knowing their instructors are top quality and that they're learning not only self-defense that we hope they won't need, but focus, determination, steadfastness, and how to push their minds and bodies in a safe place. While they're getting kicked. Just kidding! These kids work hard, and that all happens after they've spent an entire day in school already.

I should mention that this graduation kicked off a new facet. The instructors thought it would be fun if the students' friends and families wore the colors of the belts their students were progressing to. Damon was becoming a blue belt and the big kids were becoming red belts, so Dada and I decked out in red and blue. There were raffle tickets to be awarded according to how much "school spirit" you showed. Well, as Nina and Jonathan were becoming black belts, you can see that one of the ninjas below is actually Rita. 

Safe to say, Dada got more than one raffle ticket and made the instructors' day a little brighter. 

An amazing job displaying months of hard work was shown by all. We're really, really proud of these kiddos. 

And thank goodness for freer summer schedules!


You thought this post would be over now, didn't you? Ahh, but I'd mentioned graduations, plural, earlier. No, Carrie isn't that old, yet. I'm talking Kindergarten graduation!

Aren't their caps a total hoot!?

PaPa will be super pleased to know that someone did all the motions and sang all the songs required of him. There was the obligatory adorable slide-show of the year, from the pumpkins and leaves of last fall through all the winter activities to the field trips and butterflies of spring. These kids are busy doing way more than stringing beads and playing with blocks. Damon's class had a hard cover book published about their coveted future careers, complete with art work and a write up from every student. In Kindergarten, I remember boys kicking and throwing those cardboard building bricks. It's so interesting to me how much more capable kids are than we tend to think.  

Anyway, it was a rehearsed-to-perfection graduation followed by cookies and punch.     

And then the Kindergarteners were dismissed to go home with their families. That'd be Damon, getting outta Dodge. They still have four more days of school, but it was one super sweet graduation that I'm glad we could attend!