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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.

Mark Twain said, “No man is a failure who has friends.”

Today is National Siblings Day. I don’t have any sisters by blood, but I’m grateful to have two by heart.

BobbieJo <3

Kim <3

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"

It’s Tuesday.

Jackson cannot be trusted with scissors. Do you see why?

And there's Jackson...cutting his hair again.

He cut his hair. This is not the first or second or third or even fourth time. He does this a lot. And it isn’t as if his bangs were long and he cut them to get them out of his face. This is just random snipping. For what purpose, son? He has no answer.

Haylee’s cat Spooky is finally warming up to us.

Haylee's cat Spooky is finally warming up to us.

He’s moved from Julia’s room to mine, though he is venturing out of it now and then. He likes to sit next to me while I sew. He enjoys being near me and rubbing up against me. He does not enjoy being picked up or held or petted too much. He likes me best when I’m standoffish. He’s teaching me to be cool.

There was a nice article in the paper about the piano competition. Julia is still flying high from it all. (Me, too.)

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!

Croup

Guess where we were last night?

Jack at the ER

Jack woke up coughing and just couldn’t seem to get enough air. He couldn’t talk or swallow and within minutes, he was struggling to breathe at all. I scooped him up and headed to the emergency room. I took Julia along to sit with Jack to make sure he was staying upright and conscious during the ride there. Thankfully, my dad was up and able to stay with Lucy and Phoebe. Dave was on his way to work when I called. He turned around and met us at the hospital. By the time we got there, Jack seemed a little better. The doctor said it was the cool, moist air outside that helped it start to clear up as he obviously has croup. My fourth child is four years and old and this is the first time I’ve experienced croup! I think we’ve been pretty lucky, because this stuff is terrible.

There had been no warning signs. He hadn’t been coughing before this. He’d had strep throat in early February and a stomach virus last week, but never a stuffy or runny nose. And he’d been fever-free and feeling fine the past few days. Since no one else in our family had ever had croup, it wasn’t on my radar at all. I was worried he had something caught in his throat or maybe was having some kind of asthma attack. It was terrifying.

At the ER, they did a chest x-ray, gave him some steroids and ibuprofen and sent us home. By the time we left, he was laughing and talking about video games and I realized I was out in public in my pajamas, Jack wasn’t even wearing shoes, and I was so very tired. He slept the rest of the night between Dave and me in our bed. I’ve never been more thankful to be kicked all 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.

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.

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