Saturday, April 26, 2014

Respectable Marrieds… Fifteenth Anniversary.

My dear Karl and our oldest son Jamie…both looking particularly respectable Easter morning. 

Fifteen years ago, this guy, totally and completely on purpose married me.
I will forever see this as a true act of courage and strength.
In a heartbeat he went from being a fairly hip single architect, to a husband and a stepfather to Anna and Mary.
But wait, there was more.
As a part of the deal, he also acquired two needy hounds, a couple of not so cute (but well loved) cats and one very well adjusted guinea pig.
  We were one big complicated package.
And also extremely fortunate to have found each other.
Because we had gotten started without each other, it always sounded a little bit lame that we were married for so few years…and then at some point along the way we decided that the magic number was fifteen...a respectable number of years.
So here we are at fifteen years…officially and self declared, respectable.
Happy anniversary to the brave, dear man who married me all those years ago…can't wait to see what adventures the next fifteen years bring.

Monday, April 14, 2014

MYCincinnati Youth Orchestra…a Free Program for Determined Young Musicians.

Music is power.
And that power can be found every day from 4:00-6:00 at MYCincinnati Youth Orchestra on Warsaw Avenue in Price Hill. This is where a formidable and growing group of young musicians meet daily for intense, high quality musical education.
And the best part is is that it all lessons are FREE and AVAILABLE to kids who would otherwise not be taking classical music lessons. The kids are able to choose between violin, viola, cello or bass. They are also taught drumming and musicianship. Group and private lessons are given and the students are asked to perform at community events and sometimes travel to meet with other young musicians to become even better.  
What began with a handful of kids three years ago, has developed more than 50 serious musicians with a growing waiting list. 
How wonderful is that!?
Fifty young serious string musicians where three years ago there were none.
Laura Jekel is the visionary who founded MYCincinnati and it's driving force. 
She is an outstanding cellist who was chosen to receive a fellowship to help develop El Sistema inspired music education programs in the US. 
She has traveled and taught all over the world and although her roots are in Boston, she has chosen to bring her talent to Cincinnati. 
She believes in the power of music… that kids shine brightest when faced with the challenge and discipline of learning an instrument and being a part of an orchestra. Laura is committed to using music to as a tool to help kids become self confident and awesome. 
But she doesn't work alone…
Laura has found and hired a fantastic bunch of musicians who are just as passionate about using their personal gifts to reach out to kids as she is.
Eddy Kwon teaches violin, Josh Fink... bass, Eric Seligam… music theory and bucket drumming and Laura teaches cello.
  Carroll Wallace serves as site coordinator and makes sure that 50 kids are present daily and ready to learn and their instruments are in tune and as ready as they are. 
(I was not surprised when I learned that Carroll served overseas as a Peace Core volunteer) 
All four are committed and passionate and seem to be able to play anything put in their hands… they are great teachers who know how to get the best from their students. 
The kids rise to their expectations because they are eager to please teachers who love them. 
It's the very best type of student teacher relationship.
Here, Eric is helping a young musician find the perfect  note. 
She was trying so hard and so close so many times that when she was able to belt it out, it was hard for me to not to stand up and cheer for them both…the teacher who was so effectively connecting with the student and the student who was working her buns off to do achieve her personal best.
 It was a small moment in the music theory classroom, and I was completely impressed, but it was the type of thing that happens hundreds of times a week at MYCincinnati. 
 During my visits, I quickly learned that there is no such thing as slackers in a strings orchestra.  
I got to observe one of the classes on the final day of practice before Spring Break. 
The kids were dissapointed that they had to take a week off from practice and were figuring out what they needed to work on at home. 
  They understood that there were upcoming concerts and expectations to meet and the kids were coming up with their own plans on how they were going to meet them.  
They formed impromptu little groups during their  snack break to practice some of the more challenging  pieces. 
I love music, but I don't play an instrument… and so I stand in complete awe and admiration for those who play and even more for those who teach the very young. 
Cincinnati has been gifted with this group of energetic young musicians who are working hard to develop and inspire even younger musicians.  
And for the youngest, learning to play an instrument and be a part of a musical community is a very powerful thing. 
MYCincinnati youth orchestra is a truly unique and remarkable program deserving of our support, but unfamiliar to many. 
This is where my big mouth comes in handy. 
While MYCincinnati is recognized and respected by many professional musicians, it remains too much of a secret to the rest of the community. 
I would like to shout from the rooftops that our hometown is host to this most remarkable music education program where dedicated teachers are meeting with determined young people to create gorgeous new musicians.  
Laura Jekel is trained by some of the best music educators in the world and could have taken this program anywhere. 
She chose Cincinnati because she saw a future here. 
She saw Cincinnati as a place where an urban youth orchestra could be nurtured and grow into something wonderful, and it's working. 
The program has proven to be successful and has plans for even more growth. 
The teachers have more to give and the kids are eager to learn…they have big plans for their future including a brass program. Eric can't wait to teach his kids how to play trumpet and the waiting list for new students continues to expand. Kids are not so patiently waiting to become a part of a music program where they are required to practice for at least ten hours a week.
As a mom, I know that this is a very good thing and would like to do what I can to keep MYCincinnati strong. 
If you are interested in helping to build this growing group of young Cincinnati musicians please contact Laura and arrange to visit. 
I can personally guarantee that you will also be inspired by the energy and dynamic of the program and will leave MYCincinnati wondering what you can to help them thrive.  
Can you see Henry peeking through the top window? 
He now has cello aspirations and is excited to begin his own lessons. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bad Intern...

Bad intern at the office.
Please note the Nerf gun target set up behind her and the  bored indifference to her complete lack of productivity.
Rosie was a little bit sick yesterday so she went to the office so that she could cough on only her dad, instead of a class of kindergarteners and their wonderful and still healthy teachers.
(Thankfully, Karl does not share an office so there was no chance of infecting coworkers) 
She was bored by her new position as the youngest architect intern and not afraid to show it. 
Rosie spent most of the morning planning where she would go to lunch and settled on Skyline, for many reasons, one of the primary ones being that Skyline hosts a gum ball machine that dispenses tattoos. 
(I know... pretty cool, right?) 
After their lovely Skyline lunch, the patient and kind architect and his the opinionated little intern walked across the street to the toy store to buy a hula hoop. 
Usually Karl's lunches don't involve tattoos and hula hoops, but taking care of Rosie often involves special features that are hard to predict. 
When I arrived home, I asked her how her day with her dad went and she said…
"I thought going to the office would be more fun, architecting is so boring. I want to go back to school."
Then she teared up and continued... "I love school, I miss my friends, I don't want to go to work anymore." 
Which is very likely, the exact same thing that I imagine a lot of other not quite as young interns are saying right now. 
While Karl was hosting Rosie at work, I was in Charlotte visiting Anna.
I bought her a gardenia for her patio on a whim and then of course made her pose in the farmers market parking lot with her pretty little tree.
In three weeks Anna will be a college graduate.
And yes the crazy fact that I will have a college graduate and a kindergartener is not lost on me, but these two bookends make it worth the insanity. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Brand New Smile :-)

Epic day in the life of my favorite 13 year old.
After two years of braces, Lily was released from her hardware and into a brand new smile.
Here she is on this rainy Thursday before going into our favorite orthodontist…
And here is Lily's big reveal!
She is celebrating at the popcorn store where she bought and inhaled a bag of M&M sprinkled kettle corn without the fear of kernels getting stuck in the brackets and bands.   
It has been years since she could fully enjoy her favorite snack and she has been planning the sequence of events that would happen on this big day.
Her first stop following the orthodontist was to go to Patty's Popcorn Store…home of the most delicious popcorn ever. 
I know that not every neighborhood hosts and then boasts of their their very own popcorn store… we are very lucky that we can, and so we do.

Patty's Popcorn Shop is really a terrific spot, right around the corner from the orthodontist and the very best place for any middle schooler to test out a new cute smile.
So get your choppers straight and then celebrate at Patty's!
(hmmm...perhaps the nice popcorn store owners could use a jingle writer?)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Smoothie Tuesday….its a thing.

I have learned that if you do something twice, and your family likes it… it is destined to become a thing.
I went searching for something fun and breakfasty that might get my tribe up and moving a little easier, and landed on smoothies.
On two Tuesday mornings in a row.
So now Smoothie Tuesday is a thing of vital importance that must happen or the order of the universe might be disrupted.
And because I am more proud of my Tuesday morning smoothies then I should be, I found myself artfully photographing them from several different angles at a few minutes before seven this morning.
And now I find myself writing about them to a point of pride and broadcasting it…
 to some who know me and some who don't. 
It turns out that our breakfast was much better at being artfully photographed then my kids…there was far too much morning grumpiness in the kitchen to allow for a non hostile photograph of my darlings enjoying their fabulous smoothies.
I didn't even try.
However, because Henry had cute stylish hair for the school play, he did consent to a single photo before he caught the bus.
Here is the Tuesday morning version of Henry G.
Warning…there has been some chatter of Waffle Wednesday, so there is a chance that there are more breakfast posts to come.
Have a great week.