Dave took the girls to the Daddy-Daughter Dance.
I took Jack to the movies.
Lucy and Phoebe came home from school yesterday with 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
She and Julia have been friends for eight years. They made a cake to celebrate that their last weekend together before the move.
We made Haylee a blanket with this photo collage on it for a going away gift.
And we’re keeping Spooky to give her one more reason to come back and visit us now and then.
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:
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!
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 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.
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.
I love it when they play the piano.
The girls have been on Christmas break from school all week and it has been wonderful. We’ve had plenty of time for making cookies, watching Christmas shows, playing games and just being together. I love the pace of life on break. The kids have been playing together – all of them, even Julia, which is glorious for the younger kids as they have missed her so much lately. As the world opens up to her, she’s spending more time in it. She is growing up. Lucy had told me that even Julia’s bedroom feels far away from the rest of the house and I knew just what she meant.
Julia invited them to have a sleepover in her room the night before last. We blew up the air mattress and they all piled into the Big Kid Room and felt very special. They don’t remember sharing a room with her so much anymore. I sat in there with them to ask our three questions (What do you need help with? What are you thankful for? What made you say “wow” today? An idea inspired by this post at Left Brain Buddha.) and do a Dr. Puff Meditation (Oh, how we love Dr. Puff.). As the giggles faded and their breathing got deep, I realized that the time these kids have under the same roof like this is slipping away fast. Julia is twelve and a half. They have less than six years before the big sister goes off to college. (Oh, please, please let her go to college.) I just feel so grateful for this Christmas break.
I am also thankful for our Mabel and Dipper.
The last thing I thought we needed were more cats.
I was wrong.