Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Back to normal. Whatever that is.

Tom got a new job!!!!!!!!!!!!

He started last week, a contract position in Chrysler, doing much of what he was doing at GM. He sent in his resume and within an HOUR received an email back asking him for an interview. He has been back for almost a week, and while the transition is tough for any new job, it looks promising. Now, Tom has been telling me for the past 13 years how smart he is, and naturally I believed him; but this solidifies it in my mind. There are many, many automotive engineers with the same level of experience and education as him who have been out of work 12-18 months and not found a job. I couldn't be prouder of him. And I am so very grateful that he is able to work for an American company...more than I could ever explain.

Today marks the first day of our "normal" life (whatever that means.) I finished up some work assignments I had committed to, but took myself off the roster for full-time interpreting work. I will never, ever, ever take my stay-home momdom for granted again. No more full-time working mommy for me! Back to cooking healthy dinners, schooling, getting the chores done on a semi-regular basis, and a bit of relaxation here and there.

Friday Night Knitting with my Mom's club pals at Christine's house in November
I hosted the December gathering, but did not get any photos.

Christine (with Baby #4) and Cheryl
Two of my fellow knitting, natural-birthing, homeschooling buddies

Liesl loves this new hairstyle.

Onion ring on our 10th wedding anniversary
November 13th

Making salsa.
A LOT of salsa.

This is about 1/3 of what we made, in a 24-quart pot

Liesl "wrote" the recipe down for us.

Ava fell asleep on me...this almost never happens anymore.
Oh, and I got my hair chopped.

Decorating the Christmas tree

Not so hot on decorating the Christmas tree

On Dec. 5, we met with a bunch of our friends and their kids to have pizza and go to the Farmington Hill's annual Christmas tree lighting.

The pizzeria, a locally-owned joint, let Mike bring his homebrew in since they don't serve alcohol. Awesome.

My friend Katy stuck a candle in our pizza and led our group in "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" in celebration of Tom's new job.
I have great friends.
I also have weird friends.

With NINE kids (!!!!) in a restaurant, you gotta come prepared with activities.
Pipe cleaners from the dollar store were a hit.

Tom and the girls went to visit a friend's home near Lansing. An old family friend of Tom's family, Chris and Jenny have 4 homeschooled children...and chickens.

Tom is jealous of their chickens.

That is one funky rooster.

They also have cows.
This one was not amused.

When the temperatures turn frigid, craft activities in the kitchen replace running around outdoors.

We've been wanting a Nativity set in our home for years now, but never found one. This one belonged to my mother-in-law's best friend, who passed away this fall. We are honored to have it, and remember her fondly.

Liesl helping me make chocolate pudding for dinner.

Ava's contribution to the pudding-making.

Assembling mousie cookies for Liesl's (and my) violin recital on Dec. 13.

The finished product

Post-baking treat!


Liesl's mousie is the top left; Ava made the other two.
I did not utter the phrase "Elephant Man" in their presence, I swear.

Liesl rehearsing on Dec. 12 for her violin recital the next day.
She played "Lightly Row" for the 3rd month in a row, but this time, she played it without the help of her Bow Right (the wire thing that kept her bow on the correct place on the strings.) It's like losing training wheels. She's developing so well.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On With the Show

Darling little Ava's first "real" violin lesson was conjunction with Liesl's. She is now old enough to handle sitting in on Liesl's lessons with minimal supervision, and can play quietly during the entire time. (Well, most of it.) So now she will be bringing her own little violin to Liesl's lesson and having a regular 15-minute session of her own. Ava is quite at home in Miss Sharon's studio; it doesn't hurt that we've been regular guests in Miss Sharon's house since before Ava could sit up.

Like many younger siblings, Ava takes great interest in doing whatever Liesl does, which is why we bought a very, very cheap violin for her about a year ago. It's what Shar Music likes to refer to as a "V.S.O." (Violin-Shaped Object) and it was almost unplayable when we bought it. (Frugality is a noble trait, but not when purchasing stringed instruments!) However, if the very cheap 1/32 violin we bought for Ava was almost unplayable before, being in at the hands and mercy of a toddler for 9 months rendered it completely worthless now--at least for making actual music. If you look closely you'll see that the bow no longer has any horsehair, the E string peg barely moves, and the bridge was systematically removed so many times that I finally just glued it down. It's completely untunable--not that Ava strives for perfect intonation (yet) anyway. Still...the goal was to have it in Ava's hands and give her something to carry around while Liesl and Daddy and I practice, and to keep the interest "real" for her. She loves to unpack and pack it in it's tiny case (we call this "playing house" with her instrument,) and she takes great pride in copying her sister by carrying the case out to the car, and then into Miss Sharon's house when we arrive for lessons or chamber music rehearsals. As she gets older and is able to take more direction, like Liesl was able to do at about 2-3/4 years, we'll place Liesl's old 1/16 violin in her hands, as this one is actually playable.

Tom and I still play together on an almost daily basis, if only for a few minutes a day. We've managed to get a few very short, simple trios going between Tom, Liesl and I (during which, Ava can be seen toddling around between the 3 of us, carrying her well-beaten loved V.S.O. as she "fiddles" along with us.) If it weren't for having such an amazing, giving violin teacher; I'd be tempted to send one of our girls to a cello instructor and the other to a violist so we could have a real string quartet...we'd rival the Von Trapp Family Singers! (We'll just have to settle for a violin quartet.)

Butting in on Sissy's lesson and playing pizzicato on her V.S.O.
(Sort of. Hey, you gotta give her credit for trying. She's 2.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday, Ava!

Ava Grace
October 27, 2007

Precious little've grown so fast. You've completed our family. Your hugs and smooches, your tiny red curls, your giggles and signs and words all just delight your Mommy, Daddy, and Big Sissy.

Happy 2nd Birthday, dear, sweet Ava...we love you so much.

The cake I made. Ava has been very interested in giraffes lately.

Blueberries: the breakfast of birthday girls.

"Yup: everything's covered. My work here is done."
(Notice that the fork she was previously holding is nowhere to be seen.
I'm pretty sure it's on the floor.)

I can't believe how big they're getting.

Tom's best friend needed us to help care for their baby girl on Ava's birthday. Little did
they know, they were giving Ava the best gift of all. Ava LOVES babies.
Here, both girls are cuddling baby C., much to C.'s chagrin.
What's funny is that this photo looks exactly like a shot I took of Liesl and
Ava close to Liesl's 2nd birthday, as seen in this post from two years ago.
(Except there's an extra kid in this new picture.)

Still not quite clear on the candle concept.

Ava had a little, ahem, "help" opening her gifts.

The giraffes from Grammie and Papa were the hit of the show

Family enjoying gifts and each other

Uncle Tom and Alex, my 12 year-old nephew, welding in the garage at Ava's party.
(Isn't welding a common activity at a 2 year-old's birthday party?)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We hope your Halloween was pleasant and safe! :-) Our little princesses charmed the neighborhood with their costumes--and antics. Liesl's dress was given to me a few years ago by a friend who has scads of little girls' clothes. It was either an Easter dress or a flower girl dress. Either way, it was free! Same with Ava's--a friend of mine gave it to me out of a box of old dance costumes that her kids use for dress-up. The girls really do like girly-girl clothes and dressing up. (I don't know where they got this...certainly not from me.)

As well as the standard trick-or-treating this evening (or, as Tom and I put it, "Go out and collect candy for Mommy and Daddy,") I took the girls to visit a local retirement home on Tuesday for a small Halloween celebration. This facility has a relationship with the Farmington Area Mom's Club--we visit as a group on holidays to give the kids and seniors a chance to interact. It's a nice way for the kids to give back to the community--simply by being cute. (And loud.)
Happy Halloween!

Trick-or-treating at the retirement home on Tuesday

The Princess is PISSED

Hanging out with their goodies

My friend's daughter J., age 6 months.

Princess partaking in post-trick-or-treating pecking

Listening to a Halloween story afterwards


After the retirement home, we dropped by our violin teacher's house to visit and show off the girls' costumes. She was in the middle of a quartet rehearsal, so we sat and listened quietly for 10 minutes. And had lollipops.
The lollipops may have had something to do with the "sitting quietly for 10 minutes" part.

Carving pumpkins

Tom/Liesl's pumpkin on the left
Becky/Ava's pumpkin on the right.
Tom's way more creative than I am.

Trick-or-treating at Mr. and Mrs. L's house

Examining the loot
We also received trick-or-treaters at our house when we were through. Liesl was in charge of answering the door and handing out candy, a task she took very seriously.
The older kids (teenagers) loved this. They adored her, and she basked in the adoration.
I've got a performer on my hands, sure as shootin'.