Thursday, December 25, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
THE BIRTHDAY CHILD
Everything's been different
All the day long
Lovely things have happened
Nothing has gone wrong.
Everyone has smiled
Isn't it delicious
To be a birthday child?
Julie and Tyler were the only non-family "guests" at the party
Ava checking out Sissy's loot!
The cake I made and decorated
Watching the ever-important gift opening
Sharing cake with Aunt Tammy
Cousin Zach liked the cake too!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Liesl went up to the stage and, for her performance, gave the audience a tutorial on the parts of the violin and bow. She did splendidly. For two weeks, we have been practicing the process of doing a performance: Carrying her violin safely in rest position, walking onto the stage, projecting her voice so that the entire audience would hear her, taking a bow, walk off. Oh boy, did all that practice pay off! At first she was too quiet ("quiet" is something that Liesl is not generally known for), but after a gentle reminder to speak loud enough for the audience to hear her, Liesl belted out the names of the violin parts with such vim and vigor that the audience could not help but laugh along with her. Her teacher said she is a natural performer. (I wonder if I can take a little credit for that. I was performing in at least 3 plays while I was pregnant with her, and in each of those plays, the musician was, surprise surprise, a violinist. She really had no choice!)
Liesl is, according to our teacher, her youngest student to have ever come up on stage, and, without hesitation, give a spirited and accurate rendition of the parts of the violin and bow. As a token of this milestone, she received her first violin pin, which, after her performance, she insisted that I pin on the lapel of her dress. She is as proud of that pin as anything, and Mommy couldn't be prouder of her if she had brought home the Olympic gold.
During the rest of the recital, she got to color and play in quietly while other students performed, though we did bring her back into the performance hall occasionally to see a few students that she knew--as well as her teacher--performing on stage. Afterwards, there was a wonderful, kid-friendly reception, in which we got to socialize with other students and their parents. Liesl enjoyed running around and playing with new friends, and since she was the littlest kid (with the littlest violin), she had a lot of Miss Sharon's more seasoned students coming up and talking to her.
Soccer mom? Not me. I'm a violin mom!
Running off some energy before her performance...with her violin safely in rest position.
Some of Miss Sharon's other students performing with her and Mr. Gilbert. These young children amazed me with the things they can do with such sophisticated music, and at such young ages.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
So, here I am, another honest (mostly), imperfect mother, fessing up:
Having offered, willingly, to bake for the funeral, violin recital, and private concert, I did not sample my goodies on a regular basis, to be sure several times during the baking process that my food was fit for human consumption. And if I had, it did not taste good at all. It was lousy, I tell you.
My house, as a result of all of these activities, is definitely not a mess. I mean, I had so much time to clean and pick up, right?
We did not eat takeout 3 times last week. Nope, not us!
I did not stick the leftover icing from a cake I baked in my freezer. I mean, that would be stupid. Better to throw it away to avoid temptation, right?
I did not skip my Weight Watchers meeting on Saturday. Why would I? I was only surrounded by vast amounts of DELICIOUS chocolate and sugar all weekend.
I did not feed my children popcorn, cheese, and fruit for lunch today. And before "lunch," I did not plop them down in front of a Signing Time! video, lay on the floor next to them, cover my head with a pillow, and wish they would just go away for an hour. Nope, not me!
I did not allow our Christmas tree to stand naked, undecorated, for 7 days before insisting that Tom and I adorn it with lights.
On my way to my violin lesson last Wednesday--one of the few times in my week that I get to have uninterrupted "me" time, I did not forget all of my music, turn around, run like a madwoman back to the house to get it, and wind up 10 minutes late for my lesson anyway. (That would be idiotic!)
While these nice roofers beat the living daylights out of my roof, for 3 days, one of them did not keep pounding his hammer to the tune of "Shave and a Haircut" for about 1.5 hours. And when my future sister-in-law suggested that he may take requests, I did not stick my head out the door and ask for a little Vivaldi to spice things up. (And he did not look at me like I had three heads. If he had, it might have had something to do with the fact that he spoke absolutely no English...but then again, it might not have. Who knows?)
After three solid days of listening to the pounding on the roof--and in my head--I did not hand the children off to Tom the instant he walked into the door on Thursday and practically run to my car to get away from the house--without uttering a word.
Lastly, I am not sitting here on my freaking computer instead of getting my can into bed and getting some sleep!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I did not go to a Mom's club craft playgroup yesterday with my two kids, turn them loose, completely ignore them, and then sit down on the floor in the midst of the other moms and kids and cry for about 2 minutes. I did not make jokes about spiking the kids' snacks and drinks with vodka (I spelled it out, at least; instead of shouting "VODKA!", I asked for the "V-O-D-K-A" in front of all the other little cherubs. Unfortunately, some of them are homeschooled and rather adept at spelling.)
And when we were warned a day ahead of the playgroup that there would be permanent markers at this craft and to dress our children accordingly, I did not intentionally dress Liesl in her University of Illinois garb, thinking that it just may accidentally get covered with markers and have to be thrown out. (Oh, I am going to be in so much trouble for that one....)
I did not eat three pieces of pie on Thanksgiving Day. And when I went to Weight Watchers on Saturday morning, weighed in, and realized I had gained a pound, I did not act surprised.
When I had about 90 pounds of laundry to do this afternoon, I did not casually step over all of it, ignore it, and build a fort for my kids to play in. And when Liesl asked me to join her in the fort, I did not crawl inside and pretend to go camping and have picnics for 40 minutes. Finally, when my husband arrived home, I did not place the back of my hand my hand dramatically on my forehead, drop to a fake faint on the couch, and exclaim in Southern Belle fashion about what a rough day I had, therefor trying to make an excuse for the 90 pounds of laundry overtaking our family room and my lack of dinner preparations.
* All joking aside, I did have a nice chat with this prospective member after my vodka monologue. I'm about 97.2% sure she knows I was joking, and I am 100% sure that she did or has felt the same way as I did that Monday morning. I know that many of my FAMC friends read this blog, so rest assured: If she's scared of joining the FAMC after our Picasso Playgroup on Monday, it's not (only) my fault.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Liesl had her 2nd official violin lesson today. I simply cannot believe how my 4 months of lessons (and daily practice) have influenced her with the violin. With our teacher's guidance, I did a lot of conscious work with her over those 4 months--I taught her the parts of the violin, we talked about how to take care of the violin and bow, and we talked about the music and exercises I was practicing. She also listened to Suzuki CD's every day for several hours, and together we watched clips of violinists on YouTube several times a week. (She loves videos of small children playing the violin!) But still--in these 4 short months, she has picked up so many things about music that I never thought to tell her about, never had the "time" to talk about, or, frankly, didn't really know myself. I am amazed at how quickly small children learn--both what we teach, and what they observe on their own.
After Liesl's 1st lesson last week (there is one picture below of that, but I was too busy enjoying the lesson and taking notes to take a lot of pictures), I received a very excited email from our teacher, Sharon. She and I have been discussing Liesl's first lesson for a while. We had assumed that Liesl would start with a 15-minute lesson for a few months, but decided that her 1st lesson would be 30 minutes so that Mommy and Miss Sharon had enough time to talk and take notes during the instruction. Liesl pretty much blew both of us away by staying attentive and engaged for the entire 30 minutes--so much so, that Miss Sharon wanted to continue with 30-minute lessons. She also said we should speed up our plans to get a "real" instrument in Liesl's hands ASAP. (The pictures of Liesl "playing" violin that you may have seen on this blog are with a toy violin. Miss Sharon suggested late in the summer that we buy it so Liesl can get a little hands-on training without damaging an expensive instrument.) But after Liesl's amazing 1st lesson last week, Sharon and I moved heaven and earth to get her first "real" violin this week. And we found one--a blemished Hoffman Etude outfit, with a bow and case--all in the 1/16 size. It is the most adorable thing I have ever seen in my life! (Ok, well, next to my kids, of course.) It is tiny, people. Absolutely amazing that this thing can produce the sounds of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
So today was Liesl's 2nd lesson, and again, she blew us both away. She is progressing so quickly through the beginning skills that Miss Sharon wants her to perform in the December recital class. My little girl is so enthusiastic about playing her very own violin. Sharon says that this is largely due to watching me practice daily, and watching her Daddy and I play together--we often do that on the weekends with the girls running around at our feet.
I am so very, very thankful that we found Sharon. She's a very patient, dedicated teacher with high warmth and very high demands on her students (myself included! I don't get away with not practicing just because I'm old and I don't keep a sticker chart!) She has a facinating resume and history with the violin. She has taught many small children and knows how to deal with them better than I do. She has been such a blessing on our lives for the short time we have known her.
Musical education is so important to little kids! I knew this when Liesl was a baby, but I hadn't yet figured out how to put it into practice (if you'll excuse the pun.) It's never too early--or too late--to start.
This was the only picture I took of Liesl's 1st lesson last week. I wish I had taken more, but I was busy taking notes and grinning my fool head off.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
My wonderful husband
My beautiful, healthy daughters
The fact that my husband still has a job
Our home--be it humble and outgrown, it is still ours
Plenty of food to eat
Our good health
Our freedom and our country
Too often I find myself grumbling about the things I don't have, or the things I don't have time to do. Sometimes (not often enough), I get a reminder of how truly blessed I am, and I feel ashamed that I take for granted many of the blessings we have. Sometimes the girls drive me absolutely crazy--when they won't behave, when they are staging a coup (they are incredibly difficult one moment, but sweet and cuddly and adorable the next, but they take turns, so the house is never truly peaceful), when they both throw food all over the floor, when they deliberately get on each other's nerves (yes, Ava has developed that skill as well...fun fun fun), and when I feel like I spend far more time doling out consequences than praise and encouragement. But one day a few weeks ago I finally got the right idea: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. They were being impossible, so I told myself, to heck with the laundry, dishes, and housework: I am going to sit down and play with my kids. And I did, and they loved it, and guess what? So did I. And I am so thankful that my husband is understanding and patient when he occasionally (ok, a little more often than "occasionally") comes home to a messy house, but a happy wife and kids. (I believe we even ate grilled cheese sandwhiches and tomato soup for dinner that night, and he didn't grumble a bit.) So yes, there are many, many blessings amidst the frustrations and exhaustion of my everyday life.
We are having Thanksgiving with my sister, her family, and my parents. It will be the first time that all four cousins are together on a holiday. It will be the first time I have seen my nephews on Thanksgiving for many years, as they just moved back from Texas this year. My sister is cooking most of the meal, but I am taking homemade rolls and pies. It promises to be a fun feast!I hope you all have a wonderful and hearty Thanksgiving Day.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
But...in a few weeks, it will not be so nice to not get a paycheck.
Rats. There's always a trade-off, isn't there?
Hopefully I will get another gig after the New Year so I can keep paying for violin lessons and instruments. Tom's salary covers everything we need (and a fair amount of what we don't), but music lessons are not cheap. I have to admit, too...it is very nice to get out of the house for a few hours, just one day a week, and talk to adults who want to discuss more than just poopie diapers and runny noses. My dressy work clothes get a chance to resurface. And then, when I get back to my kids the next morning...I feel sort of refreshed, like I've touched my adult life just briefly. So now we can get back down to the business of making pine cone turkeys and reading the Belly Button Book. (And, of course, discussing poopie diapers.)
So here's hoping for another good job assignment in a month or two, even if it does wear me out a bit.
(In case you're wondering what the guy up in the corner is doing, he's signing "Complaining" in ASL. What...who, me? Complain? Nah....)
Monday, November 24, 2008
No. Oh, HELL, no. (Sorry, Will Smith, I guess I owe you for stealing your line.)
Which is why I was very happy to find MckMama's blog. She has a hilarious sense of humor and she is HONEST. Unlike a lot of "mommy blogs" I have seen, she tells it like it is. Her children are not portrayed as perfect little geniuses; her life is not portrayed as perfectly productive, fun, and trouble-free; and she is honest about her feelings for her kids (one of which is, of course, a lot of love, but still...a lot of mommies on blogs lie to the dickens about the fact that their kids never seem to drive them nuts. Liars, all of them!) So I have decided to join her. Look for my "Not Me Monday!" posts every Monday. That is, on the Mondays I get my act together to post.
I did not cut myself an extra huge slice of said cake at said birthday boy's party. And I did not make sure that I had part of a frosting clown on my slice, guaranteeing me even more frosting. And when Liesl decided not to finish her cake, I did not scrape the frosting off of her leavings, eat it, and then discard the rest of her cake.
This afternoon, when my two darling
Lastly, I did not wear my fuzzy bedroom slippers all day, I did not eat 2 Weight Watchers ice cream bars in a row, and I did not pretend not to hear Liesl hit her head this evening while I practiced playing violin, just so I could finish Variation D of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
Now it is 9:00 p.m. I will not hit the freezer for another ice cream bar before bed.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Since there was brainwashing going on behind my back with Liesl and her collegiate affiliation, I decided to get into Ava's head before those two family members (who still remain nameless) got to her first.
So, I give you the sequel to the original Inverse Indoctrination.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Towards the end of our outdoor romp, the snow started coming down hard and fast. It was so lovely. Unfortunately it wrecks havoc with the flash on my inexpensive little point-and-shoot camera.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Yesterday, our little family of four went to Red Robin to celebrate the "real" date together (Tom and I chose the most kid-friendly restaurant we could think of without having the sounds of Skee-ball or video games overpowering us.) It was such fun, the food arrived hot and quickly (miracle #1), and the girls were amazingly well-behaved (miracle #2). This morning, Grammie and Papa came to take the girls to their house for an overnight visit. Tonight, we went out to dinner without children for the first time in over a year. As much as we adore our sweet little girls, we both enjoyed a meal in a restaurant without food being thrown on the floor; without earnest but lengthy discussions about the color of the crayons that the restaurant offered; without ear-piercing, spine-decalcifying shrieking; and without a certain preschooler standing on her seat, peering into the booth next to ours, picking cooties out of some unsuspecting stranger's hair. No rushing through a meal to get out of the restaurant before the kids exploded! Conversation about anything we wanted, without mild admonitions about picking noses or saying "poopie" at the dinner table! No retrieving books, toys, or crayons out from under the table! An entire 30 hours without kids! We hardly know what to do with ourselves. (Well, I'm sure we will think of something....) ;-)
Happy Anniversary to my wonderful, kind, supportive, smart, funny, sweet, loving husband. Although we have had many difficulties in the past, and although I am sure we will face many more in the future; I do love the life we have built together. You have been wonderful to me these last 9 years of marriage. I have learned so much from you. I am so proud of how we have grown together, and you are an amazing and loving Daddy to our two little blessings.
I love you very, very much.