Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Is It Funky, Eclectic or Just Plain Kitsch?

This morning as I walked onto my front porch, after dropping Gemma at preschool and taking my morning walk, all ready to start my work day, I got a good look at our front yard and just had to take some pictures. With the assortment of things, I wondered what passers-by on the bus, in their cars, on bikes and on foot think as tthey go past. Or perhaps that is just terribly egocentric of me to assume that anyone even notices (-:

So here are some pictures from our front yard. You decide, is it
*fun and funky, a reflection of our love of diversity?
*terribly eclectic?
*totally kitsch? In case you don't know what that means, its German, meaning weird trash.
*some bizarre collision of holidays?

First, there is the playhouse, which stays up year-round , because the girls like to refer to it as Little House in the Prarie and like to have adventures in it throughout the year. As some of you know, our front yard has been converted into natural prairie, thus the girls love to imagine that it is Little House on the Prairie. Rowan plays Laura and Gemma plays Mary, to correlate with their hair colors, not their ages. Since Rowan understands from the books that winters on the prairie were harsh and dangerous, she loves to go out to the little house when it snows and imagine that she is a child of the prairie in the 1800's.

Those of you who know me well may be surprised to know (or perhaps not surprised) that I'm the one who initiated having the inflatable Valentine Bear in the fornt yard. Yes, its embarrassing to admit, I love those darn inflatables. I rather liked the big inflatable heart with the huge smiey face on it (yes, quite tacky), but was over-ruled by the rest of the family who liked the bear. I really like the bear too, so it wasn't a big deal to let go of the Happy Heart.

Then there's the "few-silly" which hangs off the cast irno archway, which is adorned with rainbow colored star lights. The "few-silly" is an acquistion from Door County and it spins like a corkscrew in the breeze.

Our kitty cat Santa flag, ahhh yes, I know we're well past Solstice and Christmas. Gemma loves this flag and has bawked at taking it down. I think a Valentine's Day flag "might" be in order.

Now, this lovely artifact is completely Gemma's doing. She even spent her own allowance money to purchase this chicky of melted plastic pieces. So our front yard even has a hint of spring.

Spanning the holidays from Winter Solstice through Spring Equinox.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Why Do They Skip 15?

When both girls were learning rote counting, they both skipped "15." Why? This is one of those parental mysteries, probably not easily explained by child development or perhaps very easily explained by child development. (-:

Gemma still leaves out "15" if she's tired or in a hurry. Poor "15" hopefully doesn't suffer from too many self-worth issues for being neglected. (-:

"...10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19..."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Quote of the Week - Audre Lorde

The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.

-Audre Lorde, self-described "Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet"

When I thought about what I needed in my life this week, the notion of joy came into my mind right away..the power of joy to fill up those spaces of exhaustion or frumpiness, to remind me of what really matters. And joy has a contageous effect when shared lovingly, of building connections between people who know they are connected and between people who never imagined they could be connected.

Audre Lorde is one of my most treasured teachers. While I was never lucky enough to see her in person before she died, her words have touched me on a personal level and through my work in many, many ways. If you would like to learn more about Audre Lorde, you can check out this link which has a short biography and samples of her work. http:///maximum.lambda.net/lorde.html

What brings you joy today?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

Hooray!! Hooray!! Blogspot is cooperating and I can get pictures to load!!

This is the picture we chose for our "holiday" cards, aka "New Years" cards, aka "you'll get a card from us soon" cards! I just love this picture, taken on Washington Island at our favorite tree (a yearly tradition for us to visit this ancient tree and take family pictures there). I don't know why we had such a hard time selecting the picture this year. This one just melts my heart. Now that the cards are printed and I have a new printer to print the letters, we "should" have them out soon.

I have a cousin who often sent hers out around Valentine's Day. I like that tradition. I think we might adopt it ourselves.

What a Diva in Training!! On my birthday, Rowan and Gemma treated Jani and I to a breakfast of muffins and a show. They hung a clothesline from their bunkbeds to their shelves and slung a sheet across it. Rowan was the backstage crew, running the boombox and the lights and Gemma did the song and dance routine in her gymnastics leotard.

Next, they were off to decorate the cake they'd baked earlier that monring under the careful supervision of Mama J. It's angel food (which I LOVE!). Can you tell they like to use sprinkles??!!!!

Later that evening, we had a dinner party of "small dishes" with everyone bringing a favorite appetizer. We sang and played the new piano, drank good wine and ate, and ate and ate. We topped off the evening with a swiss chocolate cake. Believe me, both cakes were fantastic, though I'd had my fill of cake by the end of the day.

Rowan, playing Musette at her concert. I wondered about this choice, as it wasn't introduced in class until mid-December, leaving just a bit more than a month (plus the mayhem of the holidays) to work on the piece. But Rowan knew the first time she heard it, that this was the piece she wanted to play. And she did great!! There is that strange feeling when you kid is doing something big, pride, a bit of nervousness, feeling yourself in their shoes, but knowing its their own shoes and not yours to stand in. Big stuff.

The heart melter moment of the concert was when they sang a song about mothers and gave each of us a flower in recognition of all the support and work we as parents have put into helping our kids along this musical journey.

January Happenings

(pictures to come when Blogspot lets me upload them).

Well, so much for the ease of December, when my client load is lighter and I have time to actually attend to my blog on a more regular basis and even time to read the blogs of friends. HA! Now, its January, my client load is huge, I've got end of the year bookkeeping to do, we're in the midst of a big house project, I'm the chair person for Rowan's Girl Scout troop's cookie sales, so my blog sits neglected for weeks at a time. I thought I'd start out the week with an update and a couple of pictures at least.January rolled in with unusually warm temperatures and we lost all of our beautiful snow. So gone were the days of ice skating and sledding. We got a couple of inches of snow on Friday, but nothing compared to what we had in December. While the warmer weather sure is nice on our heating bill, it leaves me wondering if this is just a fluke of nature, a bigger climate shift or global warming. It's just not typical.
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January also brought about the celebration of my 43rd Birthday. The girls had a ball planning their surprises for my special day, complete with making breakfast and a cake. Rowan gave me a box of "wishing stones" so that I could pull a wish from the box anytime I wanted. I decided to share my wishing stones with our dinner guests later in the evening, figuring why it would be fun to share the wishing wealth on my birthday. I think we've started a new family tradition with the wishing stones thanks to Rowan's creative mind and generous spirit.

Turning 43 hasn't had any major implications..doesn't feel terribly different than turning 42, or 41 or 40 for that matter. It's all relative at this point. I seem to have walked my way, in the past year or so, into perimenopause. I recall commenting awhile back that I hoped to embrace this time with lots of good spiritual energy. HA! I'm not liking the "symptoms" of perimenopause much at all and am fairly p*ssy about it..Hm, I guess therein lies the spiritual challenge, doesn't it.

A new piano has graced our home. We've been talking "piano" for a long while now and finally made the leap this month. It is really fun to hear the house filled with the sounds of a real piano! Rowan was resistant at first, in tears at the showroom, not wanting to give up her old friend of the keyboard. We left the keyboard up for her during the transition phase, but she hasn't touched it since the arrival of the piano. Gemma's feeling out of the loop, being the one family member who doesn't play and has asked to start Yamaha lessons.Rowan's "graduation" from Yamaha was yesterday, celebrated with a concert and party to follow. It was a very bittersweet day for Rowan, her teacher, Jani and I and the other parents/kids and their teacher. These kids have been together for three years!! The program began with four classes of ten kids in each and over the years 10 kids have stuck with it and made outstanding progress in their musicianship, their friendships with each other and their connection to Ms Susan. I felt so proud of Rowan, who confidently sang out on all the vocal pieces, played her solo at the big grand piano, played an original composition and played the co-lead on an ensemble piece, as well as did an improv jazz piece with four other kids. This is huge, compared to the rehearsal for the first concert where she was a puddle of tears, totally intimidated by the performance atmosphere and the grandeur of the stage. I also felt sad as this part of her musical life draws to a close and she says good-bye to kids she's seen once a week for the past three years. My hats off a zillion times to their teacher, who through her love of music, her compassion with young children and her skill of teaching, allowed each child to blossom in her or his own way. Now we're on to to private piano lessons, sad to leave behind all of that great ear training, voice training and cooperative ensemble playing and excited to find out what the next chapter is like.

Rowan's also been busy with musical stuff at school. The company, Opera for the Young, came to her school to do a performance of The Barber of Seville. Rowan and several other second-graders were in the on-stage chorus. It was a very funny rendition of the opera, with Figaro portrayed as a 1950's motorcycle-riding barber and Rosalina as a poodle-skirt wearing teeny-bopper. The chorus members were each dressed as fellow teeny-boppers, Rosalina's friends, complete with letter jackets. Rowan's been singing the songs for weeks!! I really enjoyed watching how much she was enjoying herself while on stage.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Quote of the Week - Rowan, age 7.5

2006 Resolutions

At school:
  • I will raise my hand when I have an answer and not be scared.
  • I will make new friends.
  • I will hold my pencil correctly.
  • I will be safe and respectful to all.

At home:

  • I will not complain when I practice piano.
  • I will help moms set up my playroom.
  • I will not yell at Gemma.

The End!

-Rowan, age 7.5 (school writing assignment)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Post-Vacation Blahs

We are on day 2 of returning to work and school after the winter holidays and I think everyone here is feeling like they are moving through sludge. Yesterday, we all coasted back into routine with what seemed like ease. Everyone was awake and out of bed on time. Clothes had been chosen the night before by the youngest member of this family, so no clothing crisis in the morning. Rowan was even ready to head out the door nearly 15 minutes before her bus was due to arrive. Things went swimmingly!!

Today, I think the reality hit..."oh yeah, we're back to the day-to-day routine." Getting the girls out of bed was like waking the dead. We had forgotten to pick out clothes last night, so a potential clothing crisis loomed on the horizon with Gemma, thankfully averted with a quick grab on my part of her new princess sweatshirt and sweatpants.

One thing remained constant though, Rowan was still ready to catch her bus 15 minutes early.

Oh and did I mention, we haven't seen sunshine here since pre-Solstice, a good two weeks. We have lots and lots of grey-shine. Also, the temperatures wamed up, unseasonably, we got tons of rain and the snow is all gone. We are looking at brown ground. Looking outside if like looking at an old cepia photograph..very romantic on photographic paper, very dull in real-life.

Am I trapped in an old episode of Northern Exposure?