Monday, January 26, 2009

Liesl's Recital Videos

These videos were shot with my little point-and-shoot camera, so the quality isn't great...but the performer still shines. :-)

Bowing on all 4 Strings
She still, at this point, needed a little help

Pizzicato (and taking a bow)
The quality of this video is not great, so you can't hear her plucking the D and G strings at the end...but she did indeed pluck them perfectly, and with good rhythm.
And she just dearly LOVES to take a bow at the end of a performance. :-)
(She takes a bow after performing every--and I mean EVERY--song during our practices. Makes for veeeeeery interesting practices!) :-)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Twinkle, Twinkle; My Little Star!

Liesl's 2nd violin recital was Sunday, January 18. This one was much less formal than December's masterclass recital weekend, but it was just as fun. For her first violin recital, Liesl went up on stage with Miss Sharon and myself and identified all of the parts of both the violin and bow. December's recital was also an experiment--it was her first true stage experience. How would she react when asked to walk on stage in front of one hundred people? She did so well, and projected her voice wonderfully for the entire crowd.

The Suzuki Method encourages monthly recital classes to give students regular opportunities to perform in a safe environment. The recital classes also provide opportunities to perform with other children in the teacher's studio, and to socialize with them afterwards. So this will be a monthly event for our family. For her second recital, Liesl actually got to play her violin. She performed quarter notes on all 4 strings, both with bowing and with pizzicato, or plucking the strings with her fingers. She did fairly well with this task, and once again was very confident walking on the stage and performing. "Stage fright" is not in our family's vocabulary!

Her pizzicato quarter notes were wonderful. With the bowing, she was still having a little trouble differentiating between the D string and the A string. So, in an email to me shortly after the recital, Miss Sharon gave me the idea to do the "Blast Off Game" in order to demonstrate the difference between the two middle strings. Liesl counts down alternately on the D and A strings, then when she completes the exercise she gets to thrust her bow up towards the ceiling (without throwing it) and exclaim, "BLAST OFF!" This game, invented on the spot by Miss Sharon, turned out to be incredibly effective. After a few days of practicing the "Blast Off Game," Liesl's bowing of her quarter notes improved significantly--she is more precise when playing the D and A strings.

Liesl had an incredibly good lesson this morning and was introduced to a new song, "The Flower Song," as well as two new techniques: Actually placing fingers on the strings to produce new notes, and playing sixteenth and eighth notes. I think she's getting awfully close to playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (which is the traditional beginning song of most violin students.)

We are very blessed to have found the right violin teacher on our first try. I have heard many stories of children (and parents) quitting an instrument because the chemistry between teacher, student and parent was off; it is truly a personal relationship. Miss Sharon is a very warm teacher with very high expectations (read: strict. That's the way we like 'em.) And Liesl adores her. It is really nice to see Liesl enjoying herself with her violin; it is also very rewarding to see our daily hard work paying off so well. We are sure there will be bumps in the road--or broken strings--in the future, but with such a strong, positive start, I am confident we will persevere.

(And, oh my...I am going to be starting this process all over again in a year and a half with Ava. Let us not think of that yet!!!!!)
Patiently waiting her turn at the rehearsal at Miss Sharon's house. The rehearsals are typically held the day before the recital, where they give the students a chance to practice their pieces with the pianist.
Liesl unpacking her violin before the recital.
She does most of the unpacking herself.
Playing quarter notes with her bow with Miss Sharon
Taking a bow

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Struggle with Faith

Releasing terrorists and using our tax dollars to murder innocent babies.

Change has come to America.

Pray Obama Fails

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Booger-freezin' cold

I wish I could take credit for the title of this post, but I can't. My dear soon-to-be sister-in-law,* Karen, coined the term on Facebook the other day, and I have been laughing about it ever since. Which is good, because we need something to laugh at in our home. Ava and Mommy have just started to feel human again after a week of being sick with fever, chills, and tons of congestion. By the Grace of God, Liesl escaped the sickness and Tom seems to be ok as well.

Anyway, here are some pictures of an activity we did a few weeks ago at the wonderful Nature Center in Kensington Metropark. It was a cute, hands-on presentation on "Where Animals Go in the Winter." Fitting, huh? It's these kinds of activities that keep the kids and I (relatively) sane during these ridiculously cold and dry winter months.

* Hurry up and get married already, would you guys, so I don't have to type this phrase out all the time????
Mr. Andy showing the kids a felt board of a winter scene.

Discussing bird calls in the winter.

Don't look, Grammie and Papa....

Liesl was fearless when it came to touching the snake.

My parents were surprised--and horrified--to learn that Liesl didn't have the slightest hesitation about touching the snake. But honestly...aren't some of these "fears" and phobias learned? Tom and I actually like snakes (though I admit I like to know when I'm going to encounter one--I would prefer that they not surprise me.) We hope that our girls will respect and love nature as much as we do.

Ava decided to check out Mr. Andy's turtle puppet up-close.

Discussing winter habitats of native woodland creatures

"What, Mom? Can't you see I'm trying to learn here?"

The kids also got to meet and touch a box turtle. The turtle was "wearing" an impromptu diaper (a paper towel held in place by Mr. Andy) and all of the kids thought this was hilarious. Liesl really dug the turtle. I guess it's genetic--I had 15 pet turtles when I was a child.
(Yes, 15 turtles--all at the same time. No joke!)

Moms and kids enjoying lunch and companionship after the presentation. I just love the Farmington Area Mom's Club...I have made so many neat friends through their many activities and fundraisers. (Oh, yeah...and it's good for the kids, too.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Slow Monday

I am sick, and Moms don't get sick days. So we have been having an easy day--very little work, a lot of playing, a lot of Mommy lying on the floor while the kids use her as a prop/climbing structure/fence. I thought I would post a few pics of the last week or so, while my 1 year-old runs circles around me and plays with my can of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke (which, fortunately, she hasn't figured out how to open. Yet.)

It was very cold that day, but since there was very little snow on the ground, no wind, and the ground was frozen, we could play outside without getting wet. I've learned that the kids can stay outside longer in very cold weather, rather than when the temp is in the low 30's. There's no mess and mushy snow, so they don't get wet and stay warmer, longer.

"Mommy...where did our corn go?"

Free at last, free at last...Thank God in heaven, they're free at last....

Some of our gardens, frozen and dormant. How I miss them....

Yogurt. Preschoolers find comedic value in everything.

She has to copy everything Sissy does, so she now refuses to be spoon-fed.

So cute. So innocent.
(Who does she think she's kidding?)
Nursing Dolly.

Nursing on the go...she's seen that done quite a few times.

If only I'd had the camera set to "video" when she as burping Dolly. Since Dolly can't burp on her own, Liesl adds her own sound effects. Sugar 'n spice an' everything nice....

Friday, January 9, 2009

Oh WILL affect YOU

GM slashes support of the arts

This is only the beginning. Soon, they're going to cut pledges and donations to other things that affect everyone, like universities, hospitals, museums.

If I hear anyone who drives a Toyota, Honda, or Nissan complain about the rising costs of things like medical care and college tuition, I'm going to scream.

I can't imagine why, in this day and age, anyone would even consider buying a foreign vehicle. The money you invest in a car is also invested in the country where it was developed, engineered, and manufactured. Think about it: Which country do you really want to invest in?

I want... stay in my jammies and curl up in bed all day with a good book. However, these pesky children of ours will require ridiculous things like clean clothes, dinner, and intellectual stimulation. Honestly--they are so needy.

Happy Friday everyone. Hope my fellow Michigan friends stay warm.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Snow Day Pictures

Snow Day, December 19
Daddy had to stay home from work that day. It was a neat way to start our winter break.

Man, those were some big piles of snow that Daddy had to shovel.
Do you like Ava's "boots?" We put two pairs of Daddy's old socks on over her warmest shoes. Worked great.

Watching little kids in the snow reminds me of how much fun it is

After 10 minutes, Ava was not so amused anymore.
It was too cold and windy for her to stay out long, so Mommy and Ava went inside soon after.

Daddy and Liesl hung out for about an hour. There was actually TOO MUCH snow to enjoy sledding that day--the old sled we have wouldn't break through the huge drifts. What a bummer!

A special treat--Liesl's first hot cocoa. Well, more like tepid cocoa.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Best wishes to all of our friends and family for a prosperous 2009!

We will probably celebrate today by being thankful that our power is (finally!) back on; for our generator that can handle our two sump pumps and dry our basement out when it floods; and for my wonderful husband, who was smart enough to make sure the basement was ready to handle a flood this weekend. Not one of our belongings was ruined in the flood, even though we had about 3 inches of water in the basement. I LOVE my husband, he does have his difficult moments, but he is so smart and resourceful!

It's the last of the holidays for a while...thank goodness! We are about celebrated out right now, with all of the birthdays, holidays, traveling, decorations, gifts, etc. that needed to be attended to. I worked so hard to scale everything way, way back this holiday season, and even though I did manage to do so, we still had quite a lot of hustle and bustle. Holidays are tough when you travel with two tiny children, even without a major power outage and flood.

Now for a quiet (sort of) day at home. I have milled some rye berries to make a light rye bread. We will be making Reuben sandwiches for dinner because Tom, of course, will require some sauerkraut for the traditional German New Year's feast. (It is said that Germans eat carrots and cabbage on New Year's to bring in financial stability. In that case, I should be making Reubens for every single person who works for the Big Three today. Better get to work, huh?) I would love to get the kids out of the house today without freezing our buns off, but the library is closed, the museums are closed, everywhere worth visiting (read: everything that is free) is closed. I can't wait for the world--and our lives--to get back to what we laughingly call "normal."

I hope everyone has an enjoyable New Year's Day!