The End of an Era

I've been struggling to find words to capture this day. Jonathan is graduating from high school tomorrow. And as you may or may not know, he's been homeschooled all these years. 

Jon Darby 5 yrs

Starting from first grade, he's been home with me and Eric and truthfully, we did a whole lot of un-schooling. That is, we let the kids find the things they were interested in and encouraged them to pursue those. 

Jon Darby 1st grade

Jon was always more interested in dressing up (every day!) and playing games that relied heavily on his imagination.

Would it surprise you to know that he's going to be pursuing an acting career? Specifically in comedy. I'm proud of him for having the courage to go after what he wants, but I'm scared for him, too.

Because Jon is the youngest of my four kids, this is obviously not my first rodeo graduation. 

When Amy walked in her bright red robes in 2001 twirling her gold Honor Thespian tassel, I clapped and cheered. I think I openly wept. There was no more proud mom at that moment.

Then Adam was asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at his graduation in 2004. I know I clapped and cheered. Louder than anyone. There might have been tears of relief mingled with joy.

Lucy did her thing in 2011. Of course, I clapped and cheered and shed my tears. I was blogging by then. Here's what I wrote about her graduation speech: Exact Change.

Now it's Jonathan's turn. He walks tomorrow and will be giving a speech, and I'll be honest, I'm much more tender about this moment than all the others. The other ones joke that it's because Jon is my favorite, but every other mom who has more than one child will understand that when "the baby" reaches a milestone it signals the end of an era for the parents. 


The only word to describe it is that I feel extremely "tender." As the mom who has homeschooled him for his entire school career, I'm the one who worried as he struggled to read. Who hoped he'd learn how to learn. Who made sure he ate and slept and did his chores and finished his work and said please and thank you. 

I woke up one day and in place of my sweet little guy was a man. Of course I went through this with each of my other kids, but this is the last one. The quiet and painfully shy one. The one who could barely speak up at our dinner table. I wrote about that here: The Biggest Insult.

Every time he takes the stage I'm blown away that my introverted Jon can command such a presence. That he is such a natural leader and gatherer of people. And that he's so darn funny.

Jon is the beneficiary of my blogging years and so I've managed to capture all of his best moments of growth on stage. 

This year he was Lazar Wolf in his high school production of Fiddler on the Roof.


Here's my favorite scene that he's in with his best friend, Nathan.  "To Life." 

And then, there came that bittersweet moment when he took his final bows.


And thanked our friend and the only director he's ever known. (I can't even look at this photo without weeping.)


So here he goes. Off to find his way in the world. And Eric and I are left shaking our heads in amazement and wonder. 


To steal a line from Fiddler (Sunrise, Sunset), "When did he grow to be so tall? Wasn't it yesterday when they were small?" 

We are thrilled. We are delighted. We are left scratching our heads and wondering, "How did that happen so quickly?"

Tomorrow I'll cry and pray and hug my graduate. And I'll thank God that I was privileged to have a daily front row seat to The Jonathan Show. 


I'm taking a week off to plan and prepare (amidst my tears and joy) the biggest blow-out of a graduation celebration we've ever had around here. 

Congratulations, Jonathan and all the Class of 2014. Mazel tov, my friend. Better yet, here's TO LIFE.


We're Off To See the Wizard

I'm glad I have a forced rest right now. (See the post about the whole stupid foot-in-an-inflatable-cast thing.)

I'm happy to be able to catch up on some photo organization and scrapbooking. In going over my stuff I realized I had never printed the photos from the Spring Musical that my son, Jonathan was in. (Working on the scrapbook now.)

King of the forest

Jon played the Cowardly Lion in his high school production of The Wizard of Oz.

Captured by witch

I was in charge of designing and costuming the show (as usual). And, if you recall, I dolled up a pair of Ruby Slippers that looked pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. Click here for my step-by-step tutorial on How to Make the Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Also, "Dorothy," who just happens to be our next-door neighbor and friend, Tessia, wore the Ruby Slippers at graduation. Made me so proud.

Ruby slippers

This kind of "work" is such a delight for me. It reminds me of the hours I spent as a child dressing Barbie (don't judge). I spent most of the semester frantically searching, begging, borrowing, and stealing every green article of clothing I could get my hands on for the Oz Citizens.


Oz citizens costumes

Of course there were also Munchkins to dress.

Munchkins totally know how to celebrate. "Ding-dong, the witch is dead!"

And witches, bad and good.


And the Wicked Witch of the West's enslaved Winkies. (I didn't know they were called Winkies either, until I started working on this show, but that's not important right now.)


In the stage version of the Wizard of Oz, there are also Talking Crows and Singing Trees (they were actually my favorites, but I'll deny it if you tell the rest of the cast).

Wizard of oz trees

The fantastic makeup was done by some of the talented students, themselves.

Oz friends

And there were Flying Monkeys. Of course.

Flying monkey

My job was basically to "style" the show and make everything and everyone look pretty. It's a lot of hard work and I invested a ton of hours along with an incredible group of parent volunteers.  It was a bit of stress getting the kids to rehearsals and shopping thrift stores and brow-beating my seamstresses.

Why do I do it?

Off to see the wizard

1) Because I think the kids deserve for everything to look amazing if they're going to give their best performances. (Which they totally did.)

2) Because it's usually a family affair with Lucy doing the stage lighting design and cheering on her little brother from up in the sound booth. So, it's a lot of fun for us as a family.

3) Because I get to appreciate Lucy's lighting artistry. The yellow brick road was done with a light. It's called a "gobo" in stage speak. You're impressed now, right?

Yellow brick road gobo

4) But I do all this mostly because of this guy...


Here's Jonathan, as the Cowardly Lion, singing his, "If I Were King of the Forest" song. (Get popcorn.)


5) And because I'm always amazed at just how much courage it takes for him to do this. (See what I did there?)

Lucy & jon

How to Make Ruby Slippers from the Wizard of Oz

I've been up to my eyeballs in costumes, props, and set painting for my son, Jonathan's high school production of The Wizard of Oz.

Unlike some of the other shows he's been in, this one has a lot of moving parts to it. (Which, I'd like to just say right here that the original creators of the old-school 1939 Wizard of Oz were genius. *bows down*)

And like every single other time my kids have been in stuff and especially when I vow I'm just going to sit it out, I've done nothing of the sort. In fact, I'm not only designing and gathering costumes, I'm building and painting sets and making (technically begging, borrowing, and stealing) props. (And chewing on Tylenol like it was candy, but that's not important right now...)

Jonathan plays the Cowardly Lion (one day he'll forgive me for putting him in that uber-furry suit under the hot lights. I don't think today's that day) and our sweet next-door-neighbor and good friend, Tessia is the beautiful Dorothy.

Wizard of oz cowardly lion

So again, I've been collecting/creating costumes and props and all that and the most famous prop of all was a little disappointing. The Ruby Slippers.

I looked. In costume and party stores and online and all the Ruby Slippers I found left me wanting. Besides the shoe itself, my Dorothy has tiny feet. 5 1/2.  So, I was a bit discouraged, but then I remembered that, "Hey! I can make stuff!" And so the quest began for the perfect Ruby Slippers to fit our very own Dorothy With the Tiny Feet.

As it turned out, Tessia had a pair of old character shoes (those are the Mary Janes with the slight heel used for stage people) that she was willing to let me mess with. Plus, they fit her uber-tiny feet perfectly.

Here's the instructions:

DIY - How to Make Dorothy's Ruby Slippers in the Wizard of Oz

You will need:

  • A pair of shoes to be sparkled.
  • Sandpaper.
  • White fabric glue. (Very important that you choose fabric glue. It works 100% better than just regular white glue and adheres beautifully to the leather. Trust me.)
  • Super fine glitter. In this case, Red. (Don't choose Kindergarten craft type glitter. You will not be happy with the result. Again, you really must trust me on this.)
  • Clear Spray sealer.

1) Start with a pair of shoes you want glittered up. Once you commit, there's no going back.

Ruby slippers before

2) Make sure the surfaces are all clean and sand the shoes very lightly, just to rough up the surface. This was kind of painful. They were really nice leather shoes.

3) Generously paint the white fabric glue on one side of the shoe.

Ruby slippers glue

4) And add glitter immediately. You're going to do a few coats so don't make yourself crazy worrying about getting perfect coverage on the first pass.

Ruby slippers glitter

5) Take your time with the glue and glitter and do one side at a time. Be very patient with the spots you may have missed and just wait until the first pass is dry before you go filling in. (I found this out the hard way because I got so excited I tried to do more and ended up with bald spots in the shoe from where my fingers had accidentally touched some spots.

So, again. Just wait between coats until everything is dry.

6) Paint the other side and sprinkle with glitter. You will already be thrilled at this point with how beautiful it's turning out. Go ahead and celebrate. Just be patient and wait for the coat to be dry before applying the next one.

Ruby slippers half done

7) You're halfway there and they look fantastic. This is the point where you start looking around the house for other things to glitter. You're so good! You're a Glittering Goddess! Resist the temptation and just get the shoes finished, please.

8) In this case, the shoes had a strap which I waited patiently (!) to paint until the rest of the shoe was dry. It was at that point that I also addressed the bald spot issue. The glue goes on easily over the dry glitter and that second coat just makes it sing,

Ruby slipper with strap

9) Spray the finished dried shoes with a Clear Sealant in a well ventilated area. And wait for it to dry.

10) You've spent about three good days on these shoes. It's best to wait until they're completely sealed and looking fabulous.

Ruby slippers on dorothy

11) Dorothy was thrilled with her new shoes. The glitter held up beautifully under the lights and because we had sealed them she wasn't constantly leaving a trail of glitter. WIN!

12) I love the added special effect, too. Kudos to our photographer, Dan Shalaby for that.

Ruby slipper with special effects

I'm sure you're anxious to try this yourself.

However, if you're in the South Orange County area next weekend, I'd like to personally invite you to see the Ruby Slippers live and in person and the cast of  Pacific Coast High School Drama perform The Wizard of Oz. You can see my props, too. And of course, my son, the lion.

Performances are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. May 30th, May 31st, and June 1st at 7:00 pm. The tickets are reasonably priced at $10 apiece and there are also 2 matinees on Friday, May 31st and Saturday, June 1st at 2:30 pm.

The shows will be performed at: the Attic Community Theater • 2834 S Fairview Street •  Santa Ana, CA •  92704

"Oh, Auntie Em! There's no place like home!"