Sunday, February 28, 2010

Another Month...Another Violin Recital

The girls' monthly violin recital was Valentine's Day this year. Instead of working on a new piece, Liesl played all of the Suzuki pieces she's played since beginning this adventure: "Twinkle, Twinkle" Theme and Variations A, B, C, and D; "Lightly Row;" and "Go Tell Aunt Rhody." A total of 7 songs...this made the practicing and preparation for this recital a bit harried, even though these were all pieces she's played before. To stand up and play for a solid 10 minutes at the tender new age of 4...Liesl did great. She shared the "Twinkle" stage with two other students, so this was her chamber music debut. :-)

And our violin teacher had a practice contest--over a specified 14-day period, each child was to practice as much as possible and send in the average minutes of practice for the best 10 days of this period. I am so proud that Liesl won this contest for the little kids, with a daily average of 41 minutes per day. (Ava had a daily practice average of 18 minutes, which isn't bad at all for a 2 year-old.) The fact that this practice contest coincided with Tom's 2-week business trip/my 2-week temporary experience with single motherhood...all the more amazing. Her prize was a book and CD set about the orchestra, which was a huge hit for Liesl, as her reading skills are so far advanced for her age and books are one of her closest friends.

And last but certainly not least, this was Ava's 2nd time on stage. She participated in last January's recital (which I never posted about...) with an impromptu trip to the stage with Miss Sharon to name the parts of the violin, showing here:
For the February recital, Ava joined a group of beginning students on the stage to again demonstrate parts of the violin and bow.

These monthly recitals are so good for our kids--socially, musically, psychologically. They provide a safe and caring environment to practice performing, and motivate the kids to practice harder (and smarter) in order to prepare a new piece for the following month. And last but certainly not least...the cookies and socializing afterwards are special times to relax, chat, and run around with friends, new and old.

Ava participating with Owen, Alex, Addie, and Spenser in the beginner's class

Owen, Alex, and Liesl playing "Twinkle" Theme and Variations

After their performances, Liesl and Alex sat right up front to watch the older, advanced students. I am loving that Liesl has such a good friend in the violin studio...she and Alex and two peas in a pod.

Miss Sharon and Liesl with her prize for winning the practice contest

My serious little mini-musicians!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy New Year (2009-2010)

Still catching up, but we had so much fun (and so much good food!) for our New Year's celebrations that I had to post our pictures, even though they're very late.

THIS is the way French toast was meant to be made, in our opinion. Homemade challah bread, made from the same refrigerated challah dough that I used for our Christmas morning pecan walnut sticky buns. This pre-risen, stored wet dough method is one I've been learning over the last year through the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (we have and use both books, and love them!) Having done traditional bread baking for many years--by hand, Kitchen Aid mixer, and bread machine--this method is by far the best thing that's happened to us in the carbohydrate category. I no longer seem to have the time to babysit traditional yeast bread in it's many picky stages, so this book has kept our family from having to eat Kroger's 10 for $10 loaves (most of the time.)
And THIS is the way French toast is meant to be enjoyed, in our opinion: On a relaxed, unrushed New Year's Eve morning with coffee and lattes, seed catalogs, coloring, and family.

Everybody here loves to swing, regardless of the weather.
See if you can find a couple of additional bodies.

See 'em now?

One of Tom's and my New Year's Eve traditions...a baked brie en croute with Granny Smith apples and Townhouse crackers.
Naughty. Fattening. Decadent, and well worth the effort and extra zillion calories once a year.

Another New Year's Eve tradition: Champagne in our crystal wedding flutes, which were a surprise gift from my Mom for our wedding toasts.

Too much champagne for Daddy snowman.
(The baby snowman in the swing lasted until late January, it was hilarious. The girls missed him when he finally melted.)

Homemade rye bread, again, made from dough that I used from the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day cookbook. Since we use rye flour so slowly in our house, I buy rye berries from my co-op and mill them every few months, keeping the fresh flour in the freezer. Eat your heart out, delicatessens.

Enjoying a hot chocolate treat after being out in the cold.

(Liesl's shirt had a taste, too.)

Daddy frying up the standard New Year's Day reubens.
Lord, but it does make a mess of our stove.

Tom's reuben. He's German, so he's gotta have sauerkraut on New Year's Day. (Thankfully he prefers to skip the pickled herring tradition. Yuck!)
I prefer Georgia-style reubens--turkey and coleslaw instead of corned beef and sauerkraut.

Last New Year's tradition in our household: Warm homemade chocolate pudding.
No wonder everybody (including us!) needs to go on a diet after January 1st.
Happy (belated )New Year, everyone!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Merry Christmas (2009)

Ok, so I'm a little late.

Opening presents at Grammie and Papa's house December 23: TRAINS! :-)

Classic Ava and Alex.

Christmas morning. Jammies. Cuddling. Perfect.

Opening gifts from stockings (there were only 2 apiece)

Classic Christmas-morning-in-front-of-the-tree shot

One of my gifts to Tom.
How else are you supposed to wrap a 15-inch cast-iron skillet?!?!?

One of the gifts from us to the girls...purses that I knitted. My first knitting projects.
I enjoyed the process so much that there are matching tiny ones for their teddy bears.

Homemade carmel-pecan sticky buns. From scratch. 'Cept we were out of pecans. Whoops.
Ahem: Homemade carmel-WALNUT sticky buns. (They were still great.)

The girls' joint gift: An easel. And paints. Ho boy.

Frosting birthday cupcakes for Jesus.

Wilton's "class icing" for decorating students is very easy for the kids to manipulate. They did a great job.

After our quiet family Christmas dinner, we all sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.
We left Him a cupcake in the center of the table.
(He didn't eat it.)

Visiting Oma and Opa in Cincinnati. We took ALL the wooden trains with us, and made a continuous track all through the family room. I daresay Daddy, Mommy, and Opa had even more fun with it than the girls.

Naturally we take all of our violins everywhere, so Uncle Robert and Daddy played together.

Ava thought it was C*O*O*L that Uncle Robert plays violin too.

Back home after a long drive. Finally time to wind down. We love home!
Happy (belated) Birthday, dear Jesus!