Monday, May 25, 2009

Break a String, Miss Sharon!

Neither Liesl nor I will be having a violin lesson this week...our teacher decided to close up shop so she could attend the Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies at Julliard this week. (As if being a participant in a master class with Itzhak Perlman, among other masters, is a reason to close her studio for week! Honestly, some people will do ANYTHING for a day off.) **

Good luck, Miss Sharon! While normal performers say "break a leg," we theatrical sign language interpreters changed it to "break a finger." So we'll change it again to "break a string." We'll be watching for updates on what you're doing during the Symposium at

We'll miss you, though...come back safely!

** Anyone reading this who doesn't know Miss Sharon personally needs to know that I am totally kidding here...this woman never sleeps. She works tirelessly with and for her students, during and outside of their private lessons and chamber music rehearsals. Tom and I--and Liesl too, I'm sure--are glad that she and her wonderful husband are also taking some time to play in New York City.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Weekend Full of Fun

Sometimes, housework needs to take a backseat to family fun. In addition to our long, leisurely picnic/playground visit with our friends yesterday, I decided to take the full day "off" and just enjoy my kids. So when they woke up from their afternoon naps, I asked, "Who wants to go to the library?" Our library has so many different activities to participate in, so many resources besides books and media. Liesl was all over the idea as soon as she woke up, and Ava loves to go anywhere (really, a trip to Home Depot is a big deal for her, so the library is like Cedar Point.) So off we went. Now that Ava is older and can fend for herself a little more, the library is getting easier for Mommy to do, since I can actually read two or three sentences in a book without having to restrain someone from shoving a drumstick into someone else's facial orifices. I even finished a WHOLE PARAGRAPH yesterday without incident. Amazing. After a full 2 hours at the library, we arrived home to meet Daddy and have a quick family dinner.

This afternoon, as suggested by our violin teacher, Liesl and I attended the spring concert of the Livonia Youth Philharmonic, and got to see a lot of our "studio-mates" on stage, performing pieces that they have been working on for many months. (They were wonderful, and they were excited to see Liesl arrive--surprise!) I had qualms about taking Liesl to something as formal as a concert (read: she'd have to sit still and be quiet for an extended time...and, well, she's 3.) Yet it turned out to be a very family-friendly event. Miss Sharon also came to the concert to see her students play, so we got to sit next to her and share the experience with her. Since Liesl was so well-behaved at the concert, and since Daddy was home taking care of Ava, Liesl and I treated ourselves to lunch (and playtime!) at McDonald's. It's the first time I've had leisurely one-on-one time with Liesl in quite a while, and it was reminded me of how much easier it was to have only one child.

And another something wonderful--the Morning Glories that Liesl and Ava helped (really!) to plant last Tuesday have sprouted, and it's been wonderful to have Liesl see the results of her work. We keep our seedlings--flower and vegetable--in a large, approximately 7'x8'x6' "box" that Tom built in the basement last spring. This creation was to give our many, many garden seedlings an enclosed, heated place to grow, since we had to move our office space and seedling stand out of our spare bedroom to make room for that additional kid. (Totally worth it, by the way.) This box is a small portable room, large enough for Tom to stand up in and move around in. We christened it the "Panic Room." However, our plants have no need to panic and are coming along very nicely, and Liesl gets to see (and provided endless commentary about) the fruits (flowers?) of her labor.

Tomorrow is our May violin recital. We three girls spent the post-nap period making cookies for the dessert reception after the recital. (I had help again. This time it maybe wasn't as "helpful," but it was still a fun experience for all three of us. There may have been some sampling involved. I can't be sure.) This is the first recital class that Grammie and Papa have been in town for, and Liesl is very excited to have them there to watch her play. The recital should round out a busy and enjoyable weekend nicely and end it with a bang (ok, maybe that isn't the best idiom for musical events....) There is also a surprise in store tomorrow, so stay tuned! (Another bad music pun. Sorry. It's late.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

What It's All About

We had plans for today, but they were canceled. Our Farmington Area Mom's Club calender was clear for today, so I sent out an email to the whole group, letting them know we would be at Shiawassee Park today with a picnic lunch, and inviting anyone who wanted to come to join us. Liesl had been begging me to take her to the park all week, and Ava loves an opportunity to climb on anything, so away we went. It turned out that half a dozen other FAMC moms also showed up with their children, as well as picnic lunches. We all relished the chance to relax, hang out, and have some pleasant adult conversation (occasionally punctuated with things like "Has anyone seen my kid?" and "Stop shoving wood chips up your sister's nose!")

Liesl, Ava and I stayed at the park for almost 3 hours, then returned to our home, which had been neglected in our rush to pack a picnic and get to the park. (We eschewed dishes and laundry for violin practice. We may be out of clean undies, but we practiced our B♭major scale, and had sandwiches and cherries for lunch at the park. Hey, we have priorities.)

Even though the sink overfloweth with dishes (and the laundry hampers overfloweth with undies,) we are so grateful we spontaneously took the morning "off" and hung out with our friends. As I sat with my dear friend Colleen, watching our children run, shout and play, she mentioned that this was exactly what she and her family needed today. I told her I agreed, and that this was why I became a mom--to enjoy them as they enjoy themselves. The undies could wait.

I am so very grateful for the FAMC, and for a cool, quiet house to come home to. We are very, very blessed.

(Our washing machine hums along as I type this post. Clean undies on the way--another blessing--not only to us, but to those of you who will be in close proximity to us this weekend.)

Theresa shows a playful side with her son, Noah.
(Go State!!)

Liesl, Elyse (age 3), and Nadim (age 2-1/2)

My friend Tracey's 3-week old baby boy, Mattias.
Oh...those brief, precious newborn moments.

Monday, May 11, 2009 just clicks

I had one of those perfect job assignments tonight. Fantastic clients, delightful team interpreter, and a fun topic, to boot. It was one of those situations that makes you realize you're in the right place, doing the right thing. I am committed to being a full-time mom, and being home with my children is (usually) wonderful, but I do love these opportunities to get out and stretch out my interpreting muscles. (The paycheck is kind of nice, too!) If only all jobs could be this perfect...and yet, if they were, I don't think I'd appreciate the field I'm in as much as I do now. And the people I get to meet, the lives I get to take part's simply amazing. Often, we interpreters find ourselves in frustrating situations, brought on by hearing clients who don't want us around, indifferent or incompetent team interpreters, and topics that are intense, complex, and sometimes unpleasant. And yet, that IS the job. But occasionally, an assignment like the one I had tonight comes along, and everything falls into place. There's no greater feeling to an interpreter than when everything comes together and the job just "clicks."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I had an utterly delightful Mother's Day. First I was greeted with a vase full of hand-picked flowers out of our backyard. (Ok, the flowers were pretty much shoved up my nose at 8:00 a.m. when Liesl arrived to wake me up and excitedly tell me how she had helped Daddy pick them. "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, look what I picked for you!!!!" There is something to be said about being woken gently. A sprig of lilac up your left nostril does not qualify as "gently.") But surprise factor aside, the awakening was very pleasant. And the flowers yielded a bonus gift: a teeny-tiny inchworm in one of the blossoms. Seriously, the thing was less than half a centimeter long. Liesl was fascinated, as were Tom and I.

Given my new-found love of tea, Tom gave me a wonderful cordless electric tea kettle, and I already love it way more than sticking a mug of water in the microwave. It heats the water up FAST.

The rest of the day wound around pretty much doing nothing...which is something we don't get enough of. I really enjoyed puttering around, playing house, while Tom watched the kids and put them down for their naps. In the evening, we had a nice steak dinner, which was, thank the stars, accompanied by minimal screaming. A refreshing change.

I also pulled my vermicomposting bin out onto the patio to get a closer look at what was going on inside. The spot it sits in does not have the best light, so this was the first time we got a good look at what our worms are up to in natural light. Besides loads and loads of very potent castings, they have also been producing more worms. We must be doing something right, because worms will only breed in their ideal conditions. The baby worms are adorable. And my two little girls--oblivious of the common gender stereotype of not liking cold, slimy, dirty things--eagerly clambered around the bin to get a closer look, as well as providing a steady stream of verbal (Liesl) and manual (Ava) commentary.

All in all, it was a very pleasant Mother's Day. I'm very blessed to have my two beautiful, healthy, spirited children, as well as a Daddy who loves me as much as he loves them. Thank you, Tommy, for making this a nice day for me. :-)

What could be more fun than a big tub of worms?

The stow-away in my Mother's Day bouquet. Come to think of many moms would be so thrilled to have a worm-themed Mother's Day?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

A misconception, that is. See, I had it in my head that this spring/summer would be so different and much easier than last summer, in regards to yard work and gardening. Last spring, little Miss Liesl wasn't hard to supervise while Tom and I worked at weeding, prepping, planting, pruning, etc. the flower beds and veggie gardens in our yard. The tough part was sweet little Ava: being a little baby, she was into everything, put everything into her mouth, was crawling and was less aware of boundaries. It pretty much wound up that Tom did everything in the yard and gardens last season while the kids and I watched. So I told myself that it would be easier this year, because Ava would be walking and more aware of boundaries, and Liesl can pretty much be trusted to be safe in the yard as long as she is within shouting distance.

Well, all of those things are true. Ava has been walking steadily for 8 months and has become much more responsive to being told what to do/not do. (Sometimes her response is to collapse in a heap on the lawn and scream like a hyena with a megaphone, but still.) Liesl occationaly takes time out from the standard 3 year-old refrains of "NO!" and "Why?" to mind us, and is relatively easy to keep an eye on while she plays in the sandbox and with other toys.

But I forgot one very important aspect of parenting: The kids want to do everything that you do.

So, upon one of my first attempts at gardening without Tom, while simultaneously supervising the kids, I learned that my bucket of sharp, dirty hand tools is totally irresistible. And what on earth was I doing? Well, according to the clumsy but endearing mimicking of my daughters, I was constantly tugging on plants. And there is no rhyme or reason whatsoever about which plants should be tugged and which should not be tugged--according to my little blond cherubs, all of those offensive green suckers must die.

After it dawned on me that I was not going to be nearly as productive as I thought, I rummaged around in their sandbox and made "copies" of my bucket of tools: A plastic bucket for each of them, each containing a toy trowel and a hand rake of some sort. After endless discussion about who should get the red trowel (Liesl) and who should get the green trowel (Ava), I set back to work on weeding the patio perennial bed:

"Mommy, what are you doing?"
"I'm weeding the garden, honey."
"Because it makes our garden look nicer."
"What's weeding?"
"I'm pulling out plants that we don't want, so they don't choke out the plants that we do want."
"Because that's what we're supposed to do." (My standard response when I have heard 1,000 too many "why's" in a day.)
"Oh, ok. Is this a weed?"
"No, honey, that was a Shasta Daisy. We don't pull the Shasta Daisies."
"Because those are the good plants."
"The 'shaffa' daisies are good plants? They don't get a Naughty Time?"
"No, honey, plants don't get Naughty Times like little girls do."

In the meantime, Ava--who is on the other side of me, naturally; these kids have figured out how to maximise their numerical advantage by causing mischief at the same time in different places, so I can't nail them both at once--has discovered how much fun it is to pull weeds. Trouble is, can you describe to an 18 month-old the difference between a weed and a "shaffa" daisy? (That was a rhetorical question, but the answer is "no." Well, you can, which I did, but it made almost no difference.)

Why do I keep kidding myself about things getting easier as the kids get older? Sure, some things do get easier, but the challenges keep mounting up as well. You'd think it would even out, wouldn't you? But no, for every task that gets easier, there are two more challenges mounting up as well. Whoever told me while I was pregnant with Ava that the work multiplies in a horrifically disproportionate rate with each new child that is born was maddeningly right.

And yet, as much as it was difficult to get anything done in the garden on Sunday morning, it was still more than I was able to get done last year. And in the process, I have watched my pretty children take in lots of sun, fresh air, and a healthy respect for gardening. Learning is fun. Whoever said learning was easy--on the learner or the learnee, as it were? But learning is still very fun.

(In the meantime...there's still a heckova lot more weeds out there, and a few less shaffa daisies.)

Ava now takes most meals at the dinner table with us...

...including dessert--frozen blueberries.

Sharing a book break in Ava's rocking chair. Notice they're both reading to their teddy bears.