Monday, April 27, 2009

Meet Our New Family Member

Aunt Karen!

Congratulations to the two of you. It was an amazing wedding, and a truly beautiful ceremony.
Enjoy your honeymoon!
(More pictures to follow...their flower girl was pretty darned cute as well. Not that I'm biased or anything.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Goin' to the Chapel... see Robert and Karen get married!


Monday, April 20, 2009

Look out, Carnegie Hall

Liesl's 4th violin recital was yesterday. She played "Twinkle Twinkle, Variation A" and "Twinkle Theme" (after a little reminding!) She did pretty well. I have been working all week on getting her to concentrate on her fingerboard instead of everything else around her while she plays, but with so many people staring at her, smiling, taking pictures, and saying, "AWW!", she had a hard time remembering that. What 3 year-old wouldn't?

Next month she *may* be up to playing with the piano accompanist, which is a big milestone.

There will be another surprise at next month's recital as well, which will be Sunday, May 17th. Stay tuned!

Liesl with Claire, Miss Sharon's other 3 year-old student

I'll show you mine if you show me yours

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Training Buddy

Second-hand jogging stroller, passed down from sister: $0
Hand-me-down lion costume/bunting from nephew: $0
Plain 'ole hooded sweatshirt, found at a garage sale: $1
Training for Ava's first race: priceless freakin' hilarious

Friday, April 17, 2009

Smile! Climb! Swing! (Snore!)

Since our little girls are extremely active, energetic climbers, Tom and I desperately wanted a play structure/swing set for them to play on. But we don't have thousands to invest in one of the commercial sets, and we didn't feel like taking out a second mortgage on our home. We were fearing that we were out of luck.

Papa C. stepped in and saved the day. He built a play structure that he designed himself, and it was up in under a week. The girls absolutely love it, and so do we...especially when they wear themselves out so much that they are practically comatose while getting ready for bed.

Thanks, Dad!

Peek-a-boo! (Or, "Bah-booooo!", as Ava says.)

It is, after all, a "tree" house...

Smile! Ava loves the baby car swing.

Smile again! Liesl learned to accelerate the swing herself very quickly.
(De-acceleration is catching on, ironically, a bit more slowly

Going up...

Monkey girl

Swing set

Pausing for an on-board sisterly hug

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Irony, oh, Ironieeeeeeeeeeee.......

I just have to laugh.

A few weeks ago, a group of ladies treated me to high tea at the Sweet Afton Tea Room in Plymouth, Michigan. I have never really liked tea. I usually choke down some Lipton decaff when I am sick, and that's about it. Well, there's a reason I haven't liked tea very much to this day: I've been drinking--according to the tea snobs of this world--swill.

I found myself a little bit hooked on the orange spice tea that the Sweet Afton Tea Room offers (not to mention their cucumber sandwiches with curried mayonnaise, quiche, scones, and tarts. It was, to say the least, a very fun and elegant treat--not just the food and tea, but the atmosphere as well.) Having been introduced to what "good" tea can taste like, I did a little research, found a moderately affordable brand, brought it home, tried it, loved it.

So now I'm in the habit of taking "afternoon tea" most days. (Ok, it's lunch, really, but it's lunch eaten after the girls are in bed for afternoon naps, and I am enjoying a small measure of peace and quiet before tackling the rest of my day.) I made my own curried mayonnaise, which turned out quite good, and did a little experimenting with tea sandwiches. Now, for lunch/tea, I slice some bread super-thin, make a few cucumber sandwiches with curried mayonnaise, and brew a cup of slightly-better-than-average orange spice tea. Occasionally I turn on the TV to catch a few minutes of news, but usually I sit and enjoy the quiet, or turn on some nice chamber or piano music. I read somewhere that the ritual of bringing out the tea things and going through the motions of brewing the tea is soothing, relaxing, and calming, and I find that to be true.

Today, however, is tax day, and I wanted to watch a few minutes of the news. So what's on the news today? Thousands Rally at Metro Area "Tea Parties"

Nothing short of ironic. Really. I'd laugh some more, if I wasn't so fearful for the freedom of our country.

Crumpet, anyone?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dear (ha!) Mother Nature:

I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that you are officially pissing me off.

Look, we expect the weather to be somewhat variable in the early spring, but SNOW in APRIL? Snow that lasts for two days, as well? C'mon, don't you think we've suffered enough? It's bad enough that I've already gotten used to throwing the kids in the car with little more than their tennis shoes and sweatshirts on. Now you make me drag the boots, mittens, and hats back out of hiding; force me to let the car seat belts out once again to accommodate for those puffy winter coats; turn those nice spring puddles into icy slush that is guaranteed to make my kids sick. (Again.) Don't you see how much we all appreciated the warmer temperatures, sunny skies, and dryer ground? Don't you see how, the minute you re-create these wet winds and grey skies, my kids got crabbier, the house got smaller, and poor little Ava has that awful rash again, breaking out around her nose and mouth due to her rubbing, runny nose, and your stiff winds? Didn't you see how hopeful we were when our children ran themselves silly in circles on the dry lawn, happily rode their bicycles up and down the clean roads, and admired and exclaimed over the spring flowers that were poking their heads up hopefully through our gardens?

I'm starting to feel like this relationship is unbalanced, Mother Nature. After all, we are committed to making things as easy on you as possible, too. We've been avid recyclers for years and have made "greener" living choices long before it became fashionable to do so. We try to teach our children the wonders you have to offer, and to respect the gifts you have given us. Don't you think that, in return, you could cut us a little slack? We're not asking for miracles, Mother Nature. We don't necessarily need weather in the 70's with perfect sunny skies. (Not that we'd complain about those, though!) All we're asking for is the 50's back, Mother Nature. Just 20 little 'ole degrees, and a break in the grey clouds for more than an hour a week (and if you could manage this by tomorrow morning so we don't have to cancel our outdoor Easter egg hunt, we'd be truly grateful for that consideration.)

We really aren't ready to deal with winter again, Mother Nature, so could you please stop teasing us and do what you know you HAVE to do eventually? Give us our spring back?


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Quiet (not really) on the Set

Last week, I was on stage with Wild Swan again--this time as the ASL performer for "Jack and the Beanstalk." I have been working for Wild Swan for about 9 years now, occasionally taking time out to have a baby (though I did do a show for them while I was 7 months pregnant with Liesl. Hey, it's children's theatre.) They are an amazing group of actors, and incredibly compassionate human beings.

Wild Swan Theater is legendary for their commitment for making theater accessible to children of all ages and abilities. Besides providing ASL interpreters/performers in every public production, they also offer backstage touch-tours and audio-description during the performance for the visually impaired. A few years back, one show was even modified to accommodate a deaf-blind patron. Because of their commitment, Wild Swan is fairly popular with the Deaf community. So I can usually count on having Deaf patrons in the audience for at least one performance in each production. But I was incredibly lucky this week: I had Deaf patrons in 4 out of the 5 performances. I know that the hearing kids can get a lot out of having the ASL performers woven into the shows, but it is so much fun to have Deaf kids come up to me after a show and talk to me about what happened during the show, laugh at the jokes, touch the props, give me hugs. I always feel very welcome in Wild Swan shows, and I love interacting with all of the kids (hearing, Deaf, sighted, blind); but when I get these kinds of hugs, and chats flowing from those tiny, pudgy little hands, I feel like I am where I *belong.*

My parents are huge supporters of Wild Swan--my Dad brought his school to their performances every year before he retired--so they were willing and able to watch the girls while I was performing. And they even brought Liesl and Ava to one of the shows, which was geared towards the very young set anyway, so it was perfect for my kids.

I only wish I had a picture of all of our costumes from head to toe--that also included our rainbow-striped knee socks and Converse high-tops in varing colors (mine are turquoise). That Wild Swan costumer...she really has a sense of humor.

With some of the students from Michigan School for the Deaf, having traveled all the way from Flint to see the show.

The MSD kids were much more interested in Milky White, the cow, than me...I guess that's as it should be.