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.)