The weather was glorious this weekend, so we spent most of it outside.
I did some mowing and they did stuff like make a tent and have a picnic.
And they did some dancing.
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.
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.
Dave showed me this video and I was like, “Huh?” We watched it again with the kids and I laughed. Now, countless views later, we sing and quote it like it’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail or something.
“That log had a child.”
Oh, let’s watch it again.
I rolled up to school drop off with my van looking like this.
We call it our one-eyed, one-horned driving purple poopmobile! It happens each fall that the birds start eating berries and hitting the van with purple bombs. I will wash it today and it will look like that again tomorrow, but people don’t know that and it mostly looks like I just don’t care! This is what happens when you park under a shady tree. I should clean out my garage and park there instead. It’s on my to-do list after clearing the stairway into the attic. I don’t really want to do either of those things. They are things that would make my life easier once I do them, but not so much easier that I’m all that motivated to get on it. There are so many other things I could do!
We have a six year old in the house again.
She’s still young enough to get away with running around in nothing but her underwear. The best thing she got for her a birthday? A hungry kitten she and her sister found. The kitten doesn’t belong to any of the neighbors and it’s beginning to look like she belongs to us.
Phoebe named her Mabel.
She’s adorable and I can’t even try to pretend that I don’t already love her to pieces.
Julia participated in her first marching band competition over the weekend. When we shared with people that Julia was joining the marching band, more than five people said, “Oh, they win everything.” And they do. They did! Someone incredible made an awesome recap video.
Yes, that’s Julia licking the Best Percussion trophy at the 1:04 mark. She said it tasted like victory.
This is what Phoebe looked like yesterday – her last day of preschool.
A few hours later, she graduated.
Jackson won a whoopie cushion and it looks like we’ll be entertained all night.
Julia and Lucy had their year-end piano recital earlier this month. Everyone calls it The Cookie Recital because parents bring cookies to share after the performances which I love because baking cookies is my jam. I long for that feeling when someone chooses my cookie from the tray, takes a bite and exclaims, “Oh! These are delicious! Who made these?” (It has happened before!) Or at least finding that at the end of the event, none of my cookies are leftover? Yeah. I like that. But there was none of it this year because the glass in my (brand new!) oven door was broken by a flying step stool, so I had to take: *hangs head low and whispers* store bought cookies. Now, no one ever really knows who brought which cookies and it truly does not matter to anyone if they are homemade or store bought. As long as they aren’t poisoned or stolen, people are alright. But the shame I felt about those cookies was real. The fact that this is a ridiculous reason to feel shame makes it all the more shameful. These are the things I think about while I eat Little Debbie Salted Caramel Cookie Bars in my closet! I will tell you this, though: all of my store bought cookies were eaten.
The girls have had a great year with Ms. Winn. We love her. She is a wonderful teacher. Our hearts were broken when Mr. Palmer retired. I worried that the transition to a new teacher would be tough, but Ms. Winn made it an exciting opportunity. Julia and Lucy have made a lot of progress this year, thanks to Ms. Winn.
Lucy was the first performer at the recital. She played Long, Long Ago by Bayly and did a lovely job. She started to lose her way in the middle, but pulled it together without having to go back to the beginning or repeat a whole section which is a testament to how much she is growing musically. She has a better grasp of her music and I’m so proud of her.
Julia played Minuet in G Minor by Petzold.
She was disappointed in her performance because it was not her best. She was worried that she’d let me down, too. She wasn’t the only great performer to flub their piece. It happens. I still love hearing her play. I’m not sure she realizes that she cannot ever disappoint me by playing the piano.
Last week, my mom and Jack and I accompanied Phoebe on her preschool field trip to The Farm at Walnut Creek. We had a great time feeding all sorts of animals, many with amazing tongues.
You can see more pictures here. I wish I had gotten one of Jack feeding the giraffes because he was so excited to do it. He told me about it, though.
I took all the photos with my phone. I haven’t carried my big camera in a while, which I feel guilty and sad about because 1) I have a pretty great camera and 2) I haven’t put as much effort into taking pictures, lately. The camera on my phone is so quick and convenient! And life moves so fast! I also need new rechargeable batteries.
Phoebe loves to watch Hailey’s Magical Playhouse on YouTube. I can’t remember how we discovered it, but it has been her favorite thing to watch ever since. She wants to watch it all the time! ALL. THE. TIME. So, when she asked if she could make her own videos, I said YES! YES! I thought it seemed like a lot more fun than just watching videos or hearing me say no when she repeatedly asked to watch more videos. Here’s her first one. She’s very proud of it.
May began with Julia’s Spring Band Concert.
She’s the first drummer on the left, except for the last song in which she is the bass drum player on the right.
She loves band. She’s been practicing with the high school marching band after school, learning the marimba and playing the synthesizer. She’s also been writing music.
Earlier this year, she put together a couple songs and gave them to her school principal along with a letter asking her to consider playing one or both of them at the school Valentine’s dance, which she did.
She told me she wants to be a composer. I told her she already is.