Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas Day.

To capture the magic of Christmas 2011, I will begin with the canine members of our family... they were the easiest and most happy to be photographed.
Turkey relished in a sunbath nap with his girl...
and Penny happily stood guard over her boys while they tested out their new games.
Every Christmas eve, our family wears new pajamas so the we look stylish and fun on Christmas morning. This year our friend Carly suggested we all wear kimonos and since Carly is extremely hip, we took her advice. Here are the dudes of the family posing. Karl is being as macho as possible while wearing a kimono and a parakeet.
 Here are the women of the house... Rosie said that she was going to make a sad face in the picture and there wasn't anything I could do to cajole her into not looking glum. She had a very fun Christmas, but you could never tell from the photos of the day.

Here is the whole Christmas kimono team on Christmas morning. Jamie is showing off his favorite gift, a Harry Potter wand and Henry got his new favorite game..."SORRY!"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Jesus Christ.

Rosie has been doing her best to wrap her mind around Christmas but it's been a challenge for her to piece it all together. The one thing she is certain of is that Jesus Christ is someone who is important and that he is having a birthday party very soon and she is invited to it. So quite conversationally she has been asking people... "were you invited to Jesus Christ's birthday party?"Henry got especially frustrated with Rosie acting as though she was invited to an exclusive "A" list party and I overheard him trying to set her straight.
"It's Christmas! Jesus' birthday is called Christmas and it's not just for you and your friends, everyone can come to Christmas, Rose... stop acting like you're the only one in our family invited somewhere... The whole world could celebrate Christmas if they felt like it, not just you!
Lily explaining the first Christmas to Rosie.
While the whole world (if they felt like it) celebrating one birthday is too big for Rosie to imagine, choosing the perfect birthday gift for Jesus is a task she feels she is up for.
She would like to buy Jesus a Princess Barbie doll... in Rosie's world Jesus is an almost 4 year old girl. Lily has explained to her that we celebrate Christmas by being really nice to each other and we give each other gifts because Jesus wanted us to be really nice on his birthday, but Rosie prefers the enormous birthday party concept instead.
Lily tried to explain again when we went to visit the nativity at the conservatory... "we celebrate Christmas because that little baby named Jesus was born."
Rosie was alarmed that there was a real donkey and a cow so close to the faux Holy Family... "Jesus Christ looks nervous because that cow might bite him."
Which Lily thought was the funniest comment ever.
And then we bumped into Santa who gave her a candy cane and asked what she wanted for Christmas,
"Jesus Christ wants a princess Barbie doll," is what she told the big guy.
Fortunately this Santa was the nod and smile kind of Santa who seemed to be a bit hard of hearing and didn't ask her to explain. Lily told her that Santa Claus is the guy who brings presents on Christmas eve to celebrate Jesus's birthday, which Rosie thought was the funniest, goofiest, thing she ever heard.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Counting Down.

4 days
12 hours 
22 mins
21 seconds.
You can see how excited Santa is about this on Lily's countdown to Christmas clock.
He's fairly bursting from his snowy chimney.
Santa is completely and totally ready for Christmas.

There have been times during the past few weeks when I felt a smidge like the deliriously happy Santa-
but mostly I feel more like "Elfy" our kinda creepy little Elf on a Shelf.
Here he is posing on our kitchen clock.
Elfy spent his first couple of weeks in December lamely shuffling between a couple high ledges around the kitchen. Now that Anna is home he has turned into adventure elf and doesn't mind taking a few scotch tape risks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bee-ing Brave.

 Immediately following the middle school spelling bee today, our school principal thanked all of the  spellers for participating and reminded them of their bravery.
He told them all that it took a lot of courage to stand up and take a risk of being wrong, especially in front of your class, and he thanked them for their courage in taking that risk.

 Lily was one of the students who represented her 5th grade class in the bee. She maintained a calm exterior, but afterwards she told me that she was really nervous and had "like, a whole flock of butterflies" in her belly.

She was fortunate in that she had a ton of telepathic support. When it was Lily's turn to spell, I noticed that a few of her friends in the audience had closed their eyes and crossed their fingers in order to send her some good spelling vibes. It was a nice display of 5th grade solidarity and Lily was quite touched by this... me too. 

She did really well and hung on until the 4th round... the tough word that stumped her was damagable, oops... I mean... "damageable."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holy Cow...and sheep.

Jamie and Henry got to play the very holy livestock who witnessed the birth of Christ in our church Christmas pageant. They both did a convincing job... Jamie was a poised and serene spotted cow and Henry a wooly sheep. 
They stayed in character and posed attentively as the story of the first Christmas unfolded around them. They was a bit of excitement when the sudden great host of many angels appeared all around and things got pretty intense. A few of the more expressive little angels needed more space to flap their wings and weren't too shy about it. They were boisterous and quite determined, and to be fair, the livestock really did need to scootch over a bit so they could make their most important point. One kind mom apologized to me afterwards for her little angel daughter throwing a roller derby style elbow at my sheep. My little sheep didn't really seem to notice and afterwards the sheep and roller derby angel remained friends and enjoyed post show cookies together. 
It's all good.    
Because the pageant actors did double duty as the choir, the holy cow and sheep stood up to sing after little lord Jesus was born. This might be my favorite photo ever of a singing sheep.  
There was some down time too... show business isn't always glamorous and glitzy.
Lily played Silent Night post pageant and I didn't realize that her soft and fuzzy red holiday scarf looks exactly like a red feather boa until just now. 
Holy cow post pageant, noshing on cocoa and cookies.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tiny Sneaky Toothbrusher

Rosie the Riveter looking every bit the tiny +  maniacal dental hygienist.

Rosie got a brand new mermaid tooth brush that she loves very much.
She loves it so much, in fact that she wants to share it.
But she doesn't really want anyone else to touch it because she really doesn't trust anyone with her "new beautiful tooth brusher."
Her solution is to sneak up on unsuspecting family members and brush their teeth while they aren't looking.
Which isn't cool and only served in annoying her siblings.

The other night, I awoke from deep sleep with my dear girl trying to brush my teeth.
As you can imagine, this is intrusive and weird, but I really wasn't surprised.

What I find most interesting is her process of thought.
She must have woke up at 3:00 in very early morning (late night?) and thought to herself
"hmmm... right now seems like a really good time to brush my mom's teeth?"
And then, what fascinates me the most, is that she had the follow through to get up and go find her new "beautiful tooth brusher" in the bathroom and try to sneak in some parental dental hygiene in the wee hours.
So I guess that how her mind works...
She has a new cool toothbrush and wants to brush someones teeth, but doesn't really want to share it.
Mom is sound asleep in the next room.
Connect the dots and... BINGO!
Rosie's best 3:00 am idea ever.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And the Band Played On...

Lily and about 29 of her fellow 5th graders had their very first band concert last night.

It was the most impressive concert I have ever attended.

The band played 11 songs all together... all at the same time.

To be clear... as a group, these 30 began playing their trumpets, clarinets, flutes, trombones and one baritone, all on the same note... and then, remarkably, they all stopped at the exact same time.
It was amazing.

Everyone in the band is new to their instrument. In September, during her first few weeks of band, Lily could only play her flute for a few minutes before she would get dizzy and come close to fainting. This seemed like a problem to me, but Ms. Nowlin took it as a matter of course and taught her some different breathing techniques.
And offered a ton of encouragement.
And then, 12 weeks later, this one intrepid band teacher gave a concert where 30 ten year olds played eleven different songs on five different instruments.
I really can't wrap my mind around how a mere mortal does something like this. 
I am pretty sure that Ms. Nowlin is some sort of a band teaching genius.
With the patience of a saint.
And a sense of humor like no other.
From breathy squeaks to Jingle Bells in just 3 months.

Bravo, Ms. standing ovation to you.
As the mom of a fifth grade flutist,
I very much appreciate your optimism, talent and kindly perseverance.
Lily post show, playing a solo encore for an audience of one mom.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Young Patriot

Henry was asked to carry the American flag in the procession for his school's Thanksgiving mass. 
He was honored.
In fact that's just what he told me when he first told me his big news.
He said "I am honored to carry the big American flag in church."
I asked him why his teacher asked him, he told me it was because she trusted him and thought he would do a good job...the ultimate compliment for Henry. 
He was very excited to do his part but also very serious. 
And a little bit solemn.
Just as a proud flag bearer should be.
He was asked to wear his boy scout uniform, and was thrilled that he got "special permission"from the higher ups (school principal) to be out of school uniform for the day.
This was a really big deal for our little guy and he dutifully led the procession while the congregation sang "God Bless America."  There is something really adorable about a very serious 7 year old bearing the flag.
I learned that part of the responsibility of carrying the flag is that you need to be mindful of the  candles. Catching the flag on fire in front of his classmates and teachers was a scenario that I didn't consider until Henry's teacher gave him a last minute reminder to watch out for the candles.
As a mom, worst case scenario (in church, public flag burning) flashed through my mind as I advised Henry to keep the flag high and his eyes on it when he passed the candles.
He followed through and thankfully, there were no accidental fires in mass.

Henry defines himself as an American who was born in Guatemala.
It seems fitting then that he should help honor Thanksgiving, the only holiday that is distinctly American.  
This is a photo of the day (six years almost exactly) of our little guy in court. The day he officially became a proud citizen of the United States of America.
Well done Henry.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Shiny Stones of Strength.

Jamie, Lily and Henry with their strength stones
Not long ago, the pastor of our very fine Presbyterian church gave each of the children a stone inscribed with the word strength on it. He told the kids that they could use the stone as a reminder to thankful for all those people in their life who gave them strength. Reverend York very recently lost his dear wife Barb to Lou Gehrig disease and told the children how grateful he was to all of those who offered he and Barb strength during her illness. He recounted how he and Barb would squeeze their own stone and give thanks to the people that they would see that day who would bring them strength and support.  He shared that whenever he was feeling scared and alone, he would remind himself of the many people who were there to help him and Barb, and thinking of those folks would make him feel better.

Along with the other children, my kids were invited to squeeze their own stones and think of those who give them strength when they are frightened or unsure.  They really like their shiny stones of strength  and I like that they have a tangible reminder of the many people in their lives who surround them with love and support.

 My family and I would like to offer a heartfelt thank you to Rev. Tom York as well as the many other people in our lives who offer us strength and remind us that we are never, ever alone.
Thank you all very much for helping us to be strong. 
Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Creepy Joker Turkey

The third graders in Jamie's school were asked to decorate turkeys for a Thanksgiving display.  Jamie dressed his bird as though it was the creepy Joker in the Batman movies. This makes perfect sense, because really, nothing says Happy Thanksgiving more then the creepy joker. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ninja Bats.

Jamie and Henry spent about two hours on a rainy Sunday afternoon energetically jumping off our staircase landing.
Quite obviously, they were Ninja Bats.
And after the first few minutes of leaping, they were very sweaty Ninja Bats.
Jamie has enjoyed many hours of good times from his very own set of vulture wings... a fortuitous impulse buy from out summertime visit to the National Aviary.
Henry's wings were borrowed from Turkey, our near blind and much beloved Boston terrier.
Henry didn't mind the tiny terrier sized wings and happily called himself
Thankfully, Turkey is a very good sharer and was happy to loan out his bat costume to one of his favorite kids.

If you happen to find yourself in our messy foyer-
please beware of the leaping Ninja Bats.
They can be a little bit dangerous.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pink Suit.

Rosie is in love with this outfit.

She calls it her Pink Suit and is sure that she looks fabulous in it.
She says..."it's pink and sparkly and very beautiful."
What's not to love?
She is so sure of just how damn good she looks, that shortly after she put it on that she decided that she should never ever again wear anything else. 
 Her feelings for her fabulous pink suit are so strong that I think I might need to be on the lookout for larger sizes of her beloved pink leotard.
Will she wear it to college?
I don't know for sure, but I thought it would be a good idea to photo document her favorite fashion piece while it lasted, so for fun, I took a daily photo of my- caught in a fashion rut- daughter last week.







Sunday, November 13, 2011

I Stole Your Heart and Put it in My Light Saber.

Henry- Thief of Hearts

Henry's more violent and disturbing version of "gotchyer nose"

Henry is 7 years old, Rosie is 3.

Henry- "I stole your heart and I put it in the handle of my light saber."
Rosie- "How did you steal it? I want it back!"
 Henry- "No! It's mine now, you can't have it back.
"R. "I need my heart!"
H. "You can't have it!"

Rosie (in anguish)..."My blood needs my heart- my brain needs my heart- GIVE IT BACK!"

Henry "Nope."


Henry to his little sister..."Ring the doorbell three times and give me your M&M's then I will give you back your heart."
Rosie- "Fine then."
Rosie proceeds to ring the doorbell 3 times and fork over her Halloween M&M's, only when the M&M's were in Henry's hand was she able to retrieve her heart from the light saber.
Tough afternoon.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Joshua Bell Superstar

Joshua B., violin superstar
While I am not musically inclined,  I very much enjoy listening to music and feel good that all of our kids have learned to play an instrument at some point in their lives.
Well, maybe not Rosie just yet, but she can already pound out a mean vibraslap...
(just in case you are unfamiliar with little R's instrument of choice)

Lily began playing the violin in kindergarten and I am so glad that she has stayed with it.
There is something about the violin that I really love but find hard to put into words.
I think its all of that sound and spirit coming out of that little spot just over the heart that I find so moving.

 Superstar violinist Joshua Bell came to town last night and Lily and I were fortunate enough to see him play in concert.

"I didn't think that you could get so sweaty playing the violin..." Lily whispered to me during the show.
Joshua Bell plays with pure sweaty passion that startled Miss Lily at first.
If I didn't see it for myself, I would have a hard time believing the amazing voice that came from Mr. Bell's violin. He played without a microphone and was accompanied only by a pianist, but sounded like a full symphony... absolutely beautiful.
A few years ago Joshua Bell participated in a social experiment where he donned a baseball hat, went incognito and played Bach in a Washington DC subway station. Thousands of people filed past him as he played an intricate piece on his Stradivarius violin worth millions of dollars. Only a handful of folks stopped to listen. A few tipped...he made about $32.

I imagine that this was a humbling experience for Mr. Bell, but I am glad that he agreed to participate.
This is from the Post news article that was written after Joshua played...

"The experiment that was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty?

Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?"

Joshua B. being ignored in the subway.

Lily G. violin student.
She was practicing here, hence the annoyed "go away" look.

After the concert, Joshua Bell kindly stayed for a bit and signed programs and cd's.
Here are my two favorite (and also both very cute) violinists together.