Month: March 2017

Like The Runaway Bunny, but online.

Julia is on Instagram, so now I’m on Instagram. You have to be where your kids are and that’s where the kids are. They’re also on Snapchat, but Julia isn’t allowed to be there. We went to a workshop called Your Kids and Social Media where we learned that Snapchat is the gateway to debauchery. If you go on Snapchat, you will get chlamydia. And die. So, she’s on Instagram. She’s the only one there without a puppy face picture from Snapchat because she’s not on Snapchat. She better not be on Snapchat. Dammit, do I have to get on Snapchat?

I’d always thought I was pretty hip to technology, but LOL! No! I did not fully understand that until we went to the workshop.

Workshop Leader: Do you what ABC app is?

Terrified Parents: No! What is it?

Workshop Leader: It’s where your kid can go and do the worst thing you can imagine she could do with her phone! Heard of XYZ app?

Terrified Parents: What’s that?

Workshop Leader: It’s where your kid can go and do something so bad you couldn’t imagine it before, but now I’m telling you and you can never not know this horrible thing! And your kid may be doing it right now! You can bet her friends are doing it!

Terrified Parents: *sobbing*

In the end, I came home with a list of every evil app the workshop leader could think of, the assurance that more are being made at a speed so swift I could probably never keep up, a suggestion that spying isn’t really a bad thing and a list of apps for doing that, too. It was a sobering experience. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand that the internet could be used in horrifying ways. It was realizing how disconnected parents and kids can feel from each other, how desperate the situation can become when you aren’t communicating and you feel them slipping away.

I have no intention of spying on Julia. Instead, I am doing my best to maintain a good relationship with her built on love and trust. I care about knowing her, so if she’s posting pictures on Instagram, I want to see them. I’ll post some pictures while I’m there, too, because the truth is, it’s fun. And I think it’ll stay that way as long as we’re connected. That’s my hope. And if she ends up on Snapchat, I’ll be there, too.

“I had a moment.”

This is Julia’s phrase. The first time she used it was after she’d taken a bite of a Dairy Queen hot dog. She’d stopped still, closed her eyes, and raised her hand up to the sky.

“Julia?” I put my hand on her leg. “Are you okay?”

“I’m having a moment,” she’d whispered, without moving her hand or opening her eyes.

She told me it was the most delicious thing she’d ever tasted. She was so overwhelmed with flavor, she had to stop and savor it.

Julia won a writing contest a while back. I didn’t mention it then. Not because I wasn’t proud. I don’t think I could be more proud. I guess that’s the problem sometimes. Excessive pride. People do not like it. Sometimes it hurts your feelings to realize that, especially if you don’t feel like your pride is excessive. Then it just feels like people don’t like you or your kid. And that’s how I was feeling then. I’m trying to learn restraint in my everyday life, but not here. That’s what here is for, right?

Julia is, once again, taking part in a competition. This one is for piano. She had submitted an audition and has been selected as a finalist. On Friday, I took her to practice on the piano she’ll be playing for the competition concert.

Edward Montgomery Jr. Piano

Julia at Edward Montgomery Jr.'s Piano

It is a glorious piano. She ran her hands all over it, admiring it, and cooing “beautiful, beautiful” before she began to play it. She smiled and shimmied her shoulders as if electricity were passing from the piano into her hands and up her arms as she played some scales. “This is perfect!”

She played through her competition piece and we talked about the dynamics. She worked on a few areas, then played it through a few more times. I asked her to play the movement of the sonatina that precedes her piece and then her piece again, and I settled in a chair behind her to enjoy a private concert. She played beautifully and accurately, as she usually does. It was lovely. Then she turned and said, “Can I play something else?”

“Of course,” I nodded. “We still have time.” She turned back and began to play Yellow by Coldplay. (Here’s a version she recorded on her keyboard in her room.) This is the song that’s been in her heart lately and when she opened it up and let it out, her performance was so warm and tender. The song isn’t technically demanding or as impressive as the sonatina, but by the fifth measure, she’d coaxed the sun from behind a cloud and enticed its rays to dance in her hair and on her shoulder.

Practicing on Edward Montomgery Jr.'s Piano

I couldn’t hold my tears. She noticed this after she was finished and I told her, “I’m having a moment.”

Whatever the outcome of the competition, I’ll feel like she’s won so long as she keeps playing music from her heart. I am awed by that beauty.

Another cake or two, another cat.

This is a cake configuration I call Bunny in a Carrot Patch. (Thanks to inspiration from here and here.)

Bunny in a Carrot Patch

You know, for Easter, or rather an Easter party which the cake attended without me because Phoebe and Jack were sick.

And here’s the cat.

Spooky

He is aptly named Spooky. He spent his first days with us in hiding. We were able to lure him out with tuna and now he’s rooming with Julia until he gains the confidence to take on the rest of us. He belongs to Haylee, Julia’s best friend since Kindergarten who moved about 1,000 miles away last weekend. He is the balm for our broken hearts. We all love Haylee. She’s like a member of the family.

The kids in the photo booth at Cosi with Haylee

She and Julia have been friends for eight years. They made a cake to celebrate that their last weekend together before the move.

Julia and Haylee's 8 year Friendiversary

We made Haylee a blanket with this photo collage on it for a going away gift.

Haylee's blanket collage

And we’re keeping Spooky to give her one more reason to come back and visit us now and then.

A Birthday Interview and Two Cakes

My boy is four today! I thought we’d celebrate it here with an interview.

Jack, how old are you? Four.

What is your favorite thing to do? Everything.

Who do you like to spend time with? You.

What is your favorite food? Fruit Snacks.

What are you good at? Racing.

What is your favorite thing to play with? Blaze and Hot Wheels and Dino Trucks.

What makes you laugh? Falling down.

What makes you cry? Slapping and punching.

What is your favorite song? True Colors.

What is your favorite book? The Book with No Pictures (by B.J. Novak)

What is one hard thing you have done? Mario Kart

What is something new you’d like to do? Drive a real car.

What is the best thing about being four? Getting presents.

Jack is four!

I made Jack a cake for this birthday, as I do.

Jack's Blaze Birthday Cake

The first layer is a tasty tire. Fondant flames lick up the second layer toward a toy Blaze on top. Yes, those are supposed to be flames. Okay, I know I didn’t exactly nail the flames, but the kid liked them. And I didn’t have time to fuss because Lucy is running for class president and requested a cake to take to school for her constituents today, too.

Lucy's Vote Cake

She came up with the design. She said she hopes it is good enough to get her elected. I said that I hoped she didn’t really believe a cake could get her elected. And then I imagined her bursting out of school in tears screaming she lost and blaming it on my stupid cake. Dave carried the cake in to her class this morning for her. He reported that there were already three or four giant boxes of doughnuts asking for votes. Maybe her Lucy for President pencils will cut through the white noise of baked goods. At least they’ll last beyond the sugar buzz and until the election on Thursday. She also has stickers. We’ll see what happens.

My mom is my hero, too.

Lucy’s class made a book called “Our Heroes” and she chose me as hers.

Our Heroes Book

I worried about this when she told me. I thought I would look shamefully inferior next to “real heroes” and that sometime she’d come to that pitiful realization. I spent a ridiculous amount of time fretting over the fact that my picture would be going in this book. This was all silly. The book arrived and it’s lovely.

I am Lucy's hero

The kids chose parents or other people not for their job or status in the world, but for how that person makes them feel about themselves. There was a lot of love and honesty in those pages. It’s a very special book. I’m so pleased to be included in it.

Speaking of Segues

I watched The Pirates of Penzance with my parents last weekend. I had forgotten how much we loved that movie! It pervaded our family life for most of my eighth year. (I explained it to Lucy like this: It was my Trolls movie.) I spent much of 1984 in a bonnet in front of my mirror attempting the coloratura in Poor Wandering One and wishing to be Linda Ronstadt who played…Mabel.

Speaking of Mabel, our Mabel and Dipper have been enjoying their new cat tree.

They like to play.

Mabel in her favorite spot

Hang out.

Dipper on the cat tree

Sleep.

Sleeping Mabel
Sleeping Dipper

And do battle on it.

Bring it, Dipper!
Smackdown

It makes me happy to watch them.

Speaking of happy, I discovered Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier and it’s great, as you’d expect.  (She is sponsored by my favorite tea!  And speaking of my favorite tea, I have a new favorite flavor.)  Her regular podcast episodes are around half an hour, which is perfect for the school drop off and pick up commute.  Plus, she has these A Little Happier segments that last just a few minutes.  I am most certainly happier for having found it.

Speaking of podcasts, Missing Richard Simmons is riveting, whether you love Richard Simmons or not.  But who doesn’t?  No one.  That’s the answer.

I hit publish before I wrote a title, so now, this is it. (Because I can’t think of anything else.)

The girls participated in the Ohio Music Teacher’s Association Ribbon Festival –  Julia for the ninth, Lucy for the fifth, and Phoebe for the first time.

You can see Julia and Lucy’s past performances here:

2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016

I love the Ribbon Festival and look forward to it every spring.  It is possible that this isn’t true, but in my memory, every Ribbon Festival Saturday has been sunny.  I’ve been watching many of the same students perform alongside my children for years and it’s inspiring to watch them grow.  It makes me hopeful for our world.  So long as we’re nourishing that part of ourselves that music speaks to, the part where it comes from when we make it, I think we can be okay.

Lucy was the first of my kids to perform, so she was the one to alert me to the fact that my camera was switched to photo not video which is why the beginning of her song is cut off!

Lucy plays Allegretto I at the 2017 Ribbon Festival

I think this is her best performance to date, which I always seem to be saying because she is getting better and better at managing her nerves while playing for people.  This is what the judge wrote:

Good steady playing.  Nice effort to make mp & mf differences – can you make the differences even bigger?  Your posture and hand position are very good, and your stage presence is excellent – beautiful bow!  Keep up the good work!

Phoebe had a rough first performance. Nevertheless, she persisted!

Phoebe plays Cuckoo at the 2017 Ribbon Festival

Phoebe has worked hard on Cuckoo. I was surprised to see her struggle so much.  But she was proud to have done it.  And Jack was proud of her, too.  Did you hear his “Bravo, Phoebe!” at the end of the video?  He’s her biggest fan.

Here’s what the judge shared with her:

Congratulations on your first Ribbon Festival!  I hope you will play in many more.  You did quite well in playing the right notes, and in getting the hands together.  You show good promise as a young pianist.  Be sure to play the piece several times from memory for your family and friends so you strengthen your memory of the music before you play it in public.  I look forward to hearing from you again.

Julia performed last and did just fine.

Julia plays Sonatina Op.55, No. 1 Vivace at the 2017 Ribbon Festival

The judge wrote this:

– Good p to f contrast at m. 8.  At m. 22 – can you give more sound when you start the sixteenth to show us that it’s a sequence of earlier material?

– Nice contrast in mood at m. 53

– Smooth passagework in sixteenths.  Can you bring out the top note of RH chords?

– Can you pull your hair back so we can see your face and make a more direct connection with your beautiful performance?

– Very well done – please keep up the good work!  Solid preparation.

I am so proud of my girls.

Julia, Lucy, and Phoebe at the 2017 Ribbon Festival

I love it when they play the piano.

Things look a little different.

It has been quiet here because I’ve been moving.  My Mommy’s Place had been down since Phoebe lost her first tooth.  Yes, Phoebe lost her first tooth!!!

Phoebe lost her first tooth!

I’d wanted to tell you about it when it happened, but my blog wasn’t functional.  I tried to fix it, but it came down to a server problem only my web host could solve and they were like, “yeah, yeah, yeah, when we have a minute” so, after more than a decade, I finally moved.   I’d had “move to a new web host” on my to-do list for years.  I knew it was something I needed to do, but it seemed like  a daunting task, and it really was since I waited until my blog wasn’t working to do it.   My admin panel was inaccessible and I had to move it using phpMyAdmin and I was so afraid of LOSING IT ALL and the bottom line is, I have a new host for all of my posts, but sadly none of my comments.  They didn’t make it.  A version of them exists in two SQL files on my hard drive, so maybe one day  they will return, but most likely not.  “Restore my comments” is the new “move to a new web host.”

It’s kind of nice here, though, isn’t it?  I still have some work to do, but I like it.

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