Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Liesl's 4th Birthday


...and Now.
My sweet little baby is getting so big!

Liesl's 4th birthday was on December 22nd. We celebrated with a very small party at Chuck E. Cheese--just Liesl's godmother Amy and hubby Drew, as well as friends Emma and Jack and their mom Kelly. Had a great, really, we did. Even the adults got to play and be silly for a while.

It is very hard for me to fathom how quickly Liesl is growing, and how fast she learns (and from the most amusing sources!) I can barely remember what she was like as a baby, my memory is crowded with occasions closer to the present. And yet, I can still recall those very first few moments as a mother when I was finally alone with my newborn baby, just hours old, looking into her sweet, perfect, sleeping face and dreaming of what was to come. My preconceived notions of motherhood flew out the window within 48 hours of her birth and continue to do so--she has far exceeded my expectations of what it is like to have a daughter. These last 4 years have been exhilarating, exhausting, blessed, heartbreaking, eye-opening, and often difficult...but always indescribably wonderful. Happy 4th Birthday, darling Liesl. I am so lucky to be your Mom. Daddy and I thank God for you every chance that we get, and we are so happy with the blessing that He entrusted us with.

A blast from the past--and the furnace.
Yup. This is definitely my kid.
My parents discovered a similar scenario hundreds of times when I was her age.

We began Liesl's birthday with a (real) tea party for 3 in my bedroom. I hadn't been feeling well, so I figured tea was in order. Later, the party widened to 5-7, as various baby dolls and teddy bears crashed the party.

The cake I made...can you see the hippo? Note to self: use darker icing to outline.

Dinner with Jack (3) and Emma (5)

If you look closely, you'll see Ava cuddling up with Tom in the center of this picture.
This was the nearest proximity to Chuckie that she could tolerate.

Liesl loved him. She humored him, really.

Opening presents!

One of the rides with Jack

Daddy rocked out the basketball game with his little ballast

Liesl getting her portrait "drawn" with godmother Amy
One of the "portraits." Classic.

A friend of mine made a rainbow cake her daughter. She said it was a big hit, so I Googled it and found Omnomicon's directions. It was fun to make, but if you're the organic-anti-food-additive type, look in the other direction. (Or lighten's only one day.)
Liesl loved it. Psychedelic, Baby!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Celebrating 1 Year of Violin Recitals

I am so behind in blogging it's not even funny. I am so behind with life it's not even funny. I had expected that once the holidays were over and Tom went back to work on January 4th, I'd just slip right back into my old routine that we had been taking for granted all the way until September 23rd. Nope. Rome wasn't built in a day, and the mess that is our household took a good 2-1/2 months (and drastic changes in lifestyle, budget and priorities) to fall into the disarray that it is currently in. Thus, I am behind in everything, so I'll be adding posts from mid-December all the way until New Year's. They'll just be a little late.

December 14th marked Liesl's 12th violin recital, and an entire year of performances. It was a momentous occasion for her, as she was playing "Lightly Row" for the last time at a very respectable tempo--without her Bow Right. This is like a little kid loosing training wheels on her bike. She is now able to concentrate enough on keeping her bowing arm straight enough not to need the guide anymore. We haven't consistently used the thing in practice for well over a month, so now it's been packed away for when Ava is ready to begin using Liesl's first 1/16 violin. Since this was right before her 4th birthday, she closed out her third year with quite a bang. :-) We are immensely proud of her and how much she enjoys performances (and, to be honest, the cookies she gets at the reception afterwards.)

I also played in the fall chamber music group: a Mozart piece, a Haydn piece, a Broadway showtune....and Coldplay. (I mean, c'mon, when you think of Mozart and Haydn, you automatically put Coldplay in the same category, right???) Seriously, halfway through the fall term, Sharon announced to us that we were adding an encore piece to our chamber repertoire and would play an instrumental version of "Viva la Vida" for the recital. After resisting the urge to hire an exorcist for her, it took me about a solid day to realize she wasn't kidding. (This woman is PURE classical, and don't try to convince her otherwise!) It turned out to be a very enjoyable piece, and very challenging. There were revised lyrics sung by a brother of one of the violinists, lyrics that reflected things that were happening in our teacher's life. It was a very moving experience. I daresay even Mozart would have been proud (if not mildly horrified.)

The other significant part of this recital for me was that it was the first time I performed publicly while doing shifts and vibrato. Not perfectly, mind...but I overcame my nervousness and managed to get those shifts and vibrato out. :-)

My violin teacher's former Interlochen classmate and very good friend, Mr. John Haskell Gilbert, came and played with her professional quartet at our recital as well. We were very lucky to get a chance to come and watch one of the rehearsals with the girls (I gave them lollipops to keep them quiet.) Much to the dismay of the 3 violinists in our household, Ava is showing a very marked interest in the cello....every time we visit a quartet rehearsal, she is extremely concerned that Sharon's cellist, Karen, has her instrument on the floor. There are usually a few comments: " on fwor! Vi-in on fwor!" (I'm assuming you can come up with a reasonably accurate translation, even if you are not entirely familiar with Ava-speak.) In our house, it's a huge taboo to leave instruments on the floor where they can get stepped on and broken. Even Ava is not allowed to leave her beat-up V.S.O. violin or horsehairless bow on the floor (although stepping on the thing would probably improve it, but this is not the point.) Thus, the endless commentary on why a cello is allowed to rest on the floor--have you ever seen a 2 year-old try to lift a full-size cello under her chin?

Because of this marked interest in the vi-in on the fwor, I have been making veiled threats comments to Miss Sharon that we'll have to get at least ONE of the four musicians in our household to play a cello--we would have the makings of a family string quartet. Upon hearing that, Mr. Gilbert matter-of-factly informed us, "Violin is better." Hey, if a world-class musician says so...I guess we better listen to him. (Sharon...please forgive me for the jokes. You know I cannot resist.)

All kidding is great fun to watch and listen to a string quartet play and really get a live feel for the sounds of the viola and cello. Even if it's on the fwor.

Thus ends a terrific first year of violin study for our entire household. We look forward to more musical fun and adventures for 2010.