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'.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life Goes On

In spite of challenges we've been facing, there have been many good things happening in our household and lives these last few weeks.

Liesl's 10th Violin Recital: Although our family is dealing with the pressure and uncertainty of Tom's unexpected layoff--not to mention a broken bone--Liesl actually did quite well at her violin recital last Sunday. She played the next Suzuki piece, "Lightly Row," and at this point, only played half of it, without piano accompaniment. Not bad, considering the stress that has gone on in our household. I considered not having her in this recital due to lots of stress and uncertainty in our lives, but we quickly dismissed that idea for two reasons--Life has to continue with some semblance of normalcy for the sake of everyone's sanity, and Liesl performs so well at recitals--I think the pressure of an audience brings out the best in her playing. (She gets that from me--my performances in theatre are always kicked up a few major notches when opening day arrives and there is a real, honest-to-goodness audience in those seats.)

Oktoberfest at our church: Once a year, we Germans gather to celebrate our nuttiness heritage with food, music, games, and dancing. (And beer.) This year's event was the 2nd annual Oktoberfest. The food was amazing, the company terrific. Nothin' like hanging out with your pastor and his family while forcing our poor, unsuspecting children to partake in the ultimate humiliation that IS the Chicken Dance.

Games and activities

Ava was the duck pond's best customer. You could get prizes for selecting a duck with a black spot on the bottom...but she didn't know, or care. Seriously, a puddle of water indoors with brightly-colored plastic water fowl floating in it? That's a prize in itself for a toddler.

The game attendant knew her by name. Told us that MSU has a pretty good ornithology department. We told him thanks, but we're opting for marine biology.

Sausage, authentic German dumplings, and apple strudel = baby bait.

(See how she's trying to sucker Daddy out of his dumplings with that cute little face? She was wildly successful.)

Liesl and Sarah, who is also my Mother's Helper on occasion. Sarah's family and our family are good church/homeschooling buddies.

Coloring: If Sissy does it, Ava has to do it.

The Chicken Dance: Humiliating ourselves is half the fun.

One of our pastors (right) and his 2 year-old son agree
There's other dances to humiliate yourselves with

See? (We love this German Oompah band. They did our gig last year as well.)

Too much beer German food.

Schooling Continues: Our homeschooling adventures were momentarily halted, but have restarted with gusto, this time with Daddy playing a much more major role. Last week we hosted a verimcomposting workshop at our homeschool co-op, with help from my friend Kelly—who is not a homeschooler, but is a master composter and vermicomposter. She is the one who got me started with worm bins (all of my worms are decadents of hers, so I guess you can say we’re in-laws in some weird sick circles.) She is always willing to share her expertise and experience.

Our homeschool co-op learning about worms...
...and then making their own small worm bins.

(Isn't it too bad that homeschooled kids don't socialize?)

FAMC Halloween Party: Again, I have to fawn over the amazingness (is that a word?) of the Farmington Area Mom's Club. We are a really diverse, fun, resourceful group of ladies. We had our Halloween party yesterday--in the freezing cold, no less--and had such an amazing time.

The girls do have costumes planned, but it was too cold yesterday to wear them to the outdoor party. So we improvised. Here, we see Ava portraying a very convincing grape.
The Blessing of Friends. :-)

My friend Stacie's 6 month-old daughter, R. I could eat her up with a spoon. Stacie might frown on that.

Kim and little Charlie. Charlie was going to dress as a vampire, but again, too cold for his costume. I called him Edward anyway.

One Down, One Still Going: Liesl is 100% potty-trained. She hasn’t worn a diaper in over a week. We just decided to cut them out cold-turkey. After just ONE nap accident, she has woken up dry from every single nap. Nighttimes are a different story…we’ve had about a 66% success rate, but the wettings are becoming less frequent as time passes. It’s exhausting—and a lotta laundry—but it is worth it. Only one kid in diapers! Haven’t had that for two years. Easy peasy.

Work, work, work, work: I have been so blessed to have been given so many job assignments in the last 3 weeks. I've had to turn many down due to Tom's outplacement seminars, job interviews, and other things, but my first paycheck from my referral agency arrived yesterday, and it was a whopper. I keep pretty meticulous records, so the number on the check wasn't a surprise to me...but still, to feel like I can help out the family in our time of

Interviews, already? Tom had a job interview yesterday. It was a good experience for him. It will not result in full-time employment, but he definitely learned a lot about what is out there for him, and he also has the possibility of part-time contract work with this company. Hey...extra cash and experience are nothing to be sneezed at. He has a phone interview scheduled for tomorrow.

All in all, we are doing ok. We will survive. Our budget has suddenly become a very focal point in our lives, but I am confident that we will make it work. We have each other, we have a decent backup career (mine) that is able to be--and was--picked up at a moment's notice, we have our health, we have the support and love of many friends and family, and we have our faith. We have a lot more than most people in our situation.