Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:10-11

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy 3rd Birthday, Liesl!

Liesl, just 7 days old

Everything's been different
All the day long
Lovely things have happened
Nothing has gone wrong.

Nobody has scolded me
Everyone has smiled
Isn't it delicious
To be a birthday child?
- Rose Fyleman

And now she's 3! My big girl.

Julie and Tyler were the only non-family "guests" at the party
Cousin Zach reading to Liesl, Tyler, and Papa Culver

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!

Playing rough-and-tumble with her cousins
(Cousin Alex, 11, is the owner of the hand coming out of the blanket....)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Liesl's 1st Violin Recital

Liesl's first recital was Sunday, December 14th. Oh, my. It was an event to remember. Everything was fun, exciting, encouraging, uplifting.

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.

What made this 1st recital even more special was that it happened during a master class. Our teacher's friend and musical colleague, John Haspel Gilbert, visited the studio and gave us a private performance of Bach's Partita #3 in E Major. (It was my first time seeing a violin soloist perform in person--it was amazing. I had tears in my eyes at the end of the 2nd movement.) Liesl was not old enough to participate in the master class rehearsal this year, but there are rumblings that he will be back next year. At that point, both Liesl and Mommy will be performing!

Tom took a video of Liesl performing, but since it was done with our video camera and not my point-and-shoot, it will take some time before I can figure out how to post it online. I will post it as soon as I have time to figure it out. (That could take years.) We have viewed it often. It is tremendously cute.

Liesl's next performance will be on January 18, where she will play pizzicato and quarter notes on all 4 strings. (As a new violin student myself, I can tell you: This is not as simple as it sounds! The violin is a tough instrument to learn, there's a huge amount of control involved.)

Soccer mom? Not me. I'm a violin mom!

Liesl with our teacher, Miss Sharon, and Maria, another student

Liesl with Mr. Gilbert. See how she's proudly displaying her violin pin?

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.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Not Me" Monday

Oh, what a week we've had! I could not believe the sheer amount of activity I was trying to cram into one week. Liesl had her first violin recital yesterday--Sunday--and it was the most amazing event. I will post more about that in a few days. The recital weekend also happened to be a master class weekend, where a special guest was performing with many of the students and co-teaching with our violin teacher. In addition to preparing for Liesl's recital, I wound up coordinating refreshment donations for a huge funeral on Saturday. And throughout the week of violin practices, baking, and phone calls/emailing about this funeral, there were 3 nice Ukrainian guys pounding the living daylights (literally) out of our roof. Yup, this was the week that the roof HAD to be replaced, to the tune of $7100. EEEK! And while I might usually impose upon the good nature of my loving parents to come and help out with this kind of chaos, they had the good sense to disappear to Hawaii for 11 days. Smart parents! Genius! Why didn't I think of that???

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!

'Night night.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"Not Me", Tuesday

A little late, here.

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.)

I did not make these vodka jokes in front of a guest who is (was?) considering joining our Mom's club, but who now may avoid us because she fears we are a band of screaming alcoholics.* I did not realize about 43 seconds too late that Ava was eating glue out of a plastic container with a Popsicle stick, like it was a spoon or something. (Hey, at least she's practicing her eating and fine motor skills....)

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.

Have a good (and honest) week, everyone.

* 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.