Category: Julia (page 1 of 62)

I’m so glad it’s summer break.

how long has it been
since we didn’t have to rush
to get everywhere

how long has it been
since I listened to you talk
and did nothing else

how long has it been
since I held you in my arms
til you fell asleep

We did as little as possible the first few days after school was out. Now, we’re starting to shift into our summer schedule. We’re staying up later and sleeping in a little. Sometimes a lot. Each day, I put a to-do list in a clear pocket folder for each of the kids. It usually includes some school work, piano practice, and a few chores.

Just a little school at home during summer break

It doesn’t take long for them to get it all done. I do my part along with them, so then we’re free for laid-back summer fun until softball or dance class.

Phoebe and Jack playing in the sprinkler

Lucy running through the sprinkler and what is Jack doing?

Sprinkler!

Jumping Bee in the sprinkler

We have some busy weeks ahead, but I’m hoping a lot of the summer is just like this.

And all the years will come and go, take us up, always up!

We may never pass this way again! Seals and Croft sang that in 1973. And if you graduated in ’73, there is no way that wasn’t your class song. I was born in the 70’s and am soothed by that music. It makes me think of a golden-haired girl walking in a meadow at sunset. That may have been in the commercial for Sounds of the 70’s from Time Life. Still, it’s a nice feeling. I’m listening to it today because I am completely aware that a phase in our family life is ending.

Today was Julia’s last day of middle school.

Julia's last day of middle school

It was Lucy’s last day of elementary school.

Lucy's last day of elementary school

It was Phoebe’s last day of Kindergarten.

Phoebe's last day of Kindergarten

And it was Jack’s last school day at home as he’ll be heading to preschool in the fall.

We may never pass this way again!

Welcome to summer vacation!

The great thing about an ending is that something else can now begin. I’m looking forward to what will take us up. Always up.

Mother’s Day Weekend and Also the Day After

Dave gave me two dozen roses for Mother’s Day.

Mother's Day roses

Mother's Day card

The youngest three kids made me breakfast in bed, which they ate themselves, in my bed. And they made me some lovely crafts which they forgot to clean up after doing, but it was alright because they decided they’d leave that to me. You know how moms love doing that stuff! After Julia woke up, they all presented me with a card, some cash, and a sweet poem she’d written telling me to GO SHOPPING! We ordered Chinese for dinner so I wouldn’t have to cook and could instead sit on the couch and cross-stitch while watching Twister with my mom. So I guess you could say it was a pretty great day.

The weather was beautiful all weekend. We spent some time outside and that felt good.

She had her hands behind her back and said she had two things to give me.

We took the guinea pigs out for a while and that somehow magnified their cuteness. I mean, LOOK AT SPOTTY RUN!

The guinea pigs!

Spotty

Phoebe and Waddles

Julia’s team won their first softball game of the season, yesterday.

After their first win!

I missed it because I was watching Prince Charming perform with his dance class for some nursing home residents.

Jack's Tap Routine

Jack's Ballet Routine

This would be the perfect spot for some emojis because there are no words.

Dynamite with a Laser Beam*

Yesterday was Julia’s first game of the softball season and her first ever pitching.

First game of the season and first time pitching

I am so proud of her for trying something new! Pitcher is a high pressure position. She is sharing it with another team member – when one pitches, the other catches. I get so nervous watching her! It actually stresses me out to watch any of the kids play. My stomach churns when they go up to bat and I pray that they’ll hit it. They usually do and I realize my anxiety comes from my own experience with sports. I was never an asset to any team I was on. I know how it feels to see your coach hang his head and hear the crowd groan at your performance. I was an outfielder at best. I did have a kickass volleyball serve that landed me a spot on the varsity team in high school. My coach was never so nervous as those moments between my serve and his first opportunity to take me out of the game. He would give an audible sigh of relief when I’d take my place on the bench. I created such conflict in that man. He hated himself for loving my serve. Any time I played softball, I just wished to be walked because I was scared of striking out. Julia is furious if she’s walked. She wants to crush it! I love that about her.

Here is something I love about Jackson. He sings. For me and to me.

True Colors

I know, his face is dirty. It’s always dirty. Last night, I washed it immediately before we walked out the door for the softball game. By the time I was strapping him into his car seat, it was filthy again. How did this happen? It is the mystery of age 4. He’s living his Filthy Face Years. He also has two warts on his face. And, a broken tooth in the front. Much of what is left of the tooth is yellow because there is enamel missing. People notice these things. But when he sings? Love and joy.

Phoebe has been singing, lately, too. She’s on a real Queen bender. We listen to Queen plenty, but she watched the video for Bohemian Rhapsody recently and was completely awed by it. She’s been working her way though all the songs on Queen’s YouTube channel. She can’t get enough of Freddie Mercury’s theatrics and pays close attention to the way he changed his look from one song to another. And of course, she is blown away by his voice. She has specific moments in each song that she especially loves. She’ll listen to an “oooh” or some phrase again and again and sing it herself. Anyway, now we’re trying to convince Julia to learn this so she can sing along.

*From Killer Queen by Queen because oh my gosh, we love it.

We went on a date.

Dave took the girls to the Daddy-Daughter Dance.

Daddy-Daughter Dance ??

I took Jack to the movies.

Movie date with my guy.

Five Pounds!

Lucy and Phoebe came home from school yesterday with the biggest chocolate bar I have ever seen.

Lucy and Phoebe won the biggest chocolate bar I have ever seen

Their names had been put in a drawing for participating in the latest fundraiser and one of them was picked as the lucky winner of the 11,400 calorie prize. (We’re not sure which name was drawn. This is probably best for peace-keeping purposes.) Everyone posed for a picture with it and before you suggest that’s a weird thing to do or be excited about, consider that there is an entire amusement park dedicated to the love and celebration of this very candy bar.

Julia and the chocolate bar

Jack and the chocolate bar

Phoebe and the chocolate bar

Lucy and the chocolate bar

Once we hauled it inside, the kids unwrapped it and stared in disbelief. Breathlessly Julia asked, “Mom, mom what do we do?” Lucy suggested they each take a corner and start gnawing. We ended up cutting off some pieces with a knife. The remainder is taking up an entire shelf in the refrigerator.

You know that A-Ha song that goes “do-do do do do do do do do-do do-do”

The weather was glorious this weekend, so we spent most of it outside.

They spent the whole day playing outside.

I did some mowing and they did stuff like make a tent and have a picnic.

They made a tent and had a picnic

Look at those faces

And they did some dancing.

You know that A-Ha song that goes "do-do do do do do do do do-do do-do"

Vivace

We put spiral curls in her hair for the piano competition yesterday. It isn’t often that she lets me mess with her hair, so it felt special to me. She looked lovely and she played beautifully.

Julia on Competition Day

The venue was completely full. I sat on the stairs in the aisle to watch her with Lucy, Phoebe, and my mom while my dad, Dave, and a sleepy Jack listened from the lobby. The performances were very impressive. All of the participants were so talented and it was incredible to think about the hours of practice represented on that stage. The competition consisted of a junior division for grades 7-9 and a senior division for grades 9-12. Julia won the junior division and she was so surprised! She was certain the girl who played after her would win.

I wish I’d taken pictures at the event, but it was so crowded and by the time it was over, it was very late – especially for Phoebe and Jack. They fell asleep on the way home in the car. It was a little harder for the rest of us to settle down and go to bed. It was a thrilling night!

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.

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