Saturday was a busy day. In the morning we got up early to prepare for the Girls Center Fashion Show. Both my daughters were in the show. We started hair and makeup at 8am, arrived at the center at 9:30 and it was a frenzy of curling, pressing, hairspray, quick changes and giggling. I have been working with the girls for a few weeks altering dresses, and helping with the other Auxiliary ladies and the Soroptimists in fitting and finding clothes for all the girls. We had 12 girls from the center, and 7 extras, the librarians at the Juvenile hall, my girls, an auxiliary volunteer, and a couple of girls of the other volunteers in the program. Megan was slow to get on board with the idea, but she was really glad she participated. The head of Volunteers in Probation was impressed with Megan and wants her to be a Jr. Volunteer, until she turns 21 in a little over a year. She will be a peer counselor with the girls. Kayleigh was thrilled to be able to participate. She chose all her outfits with such thought and care. I only have these photos because cameras were not allowed for security reasons. The girls are all protected under the juvenile offender privacy act. I wish I could show you the pictures of these young ladies, and what a boost it is for them and their self esteem. It is also good for my girls to see the difference that having active, involved parents in your life can make. They appreciate me more. The girls at the center see my girls as an example of what they could do with their own lives if they made different choices.
Dress rehearsal Wednesday was so cute.. All of them with their hair in various stages of being done... Some with weaves hanging half done in the hair, some with little ponytails all over their heads, and some with do rags and shower caps on... all in formal evening gowns with their high heels... They were so excited, all the primping and preparation was so worth it. These are girls who come from difficult situations. They are wards of the court for various reasons, and sentenced to serve 6, 9 or 12 months. They all have mentors, who coach them on positive life skills, encourage them, and help them with the transitions from life on the street to completing high school, getting jobs, and graduating from the program to be productive members of society. It is amazing to see these young women blossom and grow under this program. I feel so honored to be a part of it.. Here are my girls after the fashion show. It was over 100 degrees and they were roasting in the sun, but humored me enough to snap these two pictures at least. I am so proud of them.
Then in the evening, it was off to a San Juan party at our friend Juan and Neves' house in Sunnyvale. We met them through the Catalan Society here in the Bay Area. Many people from the Catalonia region of Spain and also other parts of Spain all belong to the group. Many Spanish festivals were originally pagan celebrations, that were changed to religious festivals when Spain was christianized. This festival is a summer solstice party. It is in celebration of St. John the Baptist. In Spain, people gather (usually at a beach) and cook a big Paella, and dance and drink and sing all night. They light the bonfire after the food is done, and you write the things you want to be rid of for the year, throw it in the fire, then you make a big wish, and jump the bonfire to make your wish come true. In Spain, the parties usually start at 10 and go until morning, when everyone runs and jumps into the ocean to cleanse themselves (the St. John Part)
Last year, a neighbor wished for two children, and within a few months, they found out they were expecting.... twins!!! We saw the babies, 8 weeks old, at the party, living proof of the power of these rituals. The kids have the most fun, lining up over and over to jump the fire... at first it is all about the wish and throwing the paper in the fire, then two dads will help each child jump the fire... After one little girls 15th trip, one guy asked "Aren't you out of wishes yet?" she just smiled and said, "Yeah, but I like the jumping part best.." After, the guys get out their guitars and play music. We had all kinds of songs played, from I been working on the railroad to You are my Sunshine to Flamenco songs and Boleros and Spanish campfire songs and even Baby Beluga... After each song, you must shout "Ole" really loud... Much Cava and Sangria and Mojito's later... we didn't get home until 3 in the morning... which by Spanish standards is WAY too early... It was fun. I love exposing the kids to other cultures and sharing other customs with them.