Sunday, June 30, 2013

Five Going on Sixteen


Our youngest girl recently turned five.  A few days before her birthday, I asked her what she wanted.  "How come everyone else gets clothes for their birthdays?  I'm the one who likes clothes!"  
Geesh.  
She asked for, and received, make-up from her Grandparents as well.  
How many five year old's ask for clothes?!  All of my other children gave a well-trained "Thank You" and then tossed them aside when they opened a present of clothes.
Not her.  She squealed at each package, then spread them out on the floor to get the full effect.


So, she did.  She got clothes for her birthday.  She also wanted her ears pierced, but after the make-up and clothes, I didn't want to encourage her growing up too much.  She also got some regular five-year-old gifts.


Her sisters each made her a card and gave a small gift like the grody gum tape that all of my kids beg for each and every time we go to the store.


Also, a bit of cash.  Money, make-up and clothes.  This is getting serious.


She even told me exactly how she wanted her cake.  Chocolate with strawberries.  "Cut the strawberries and put them all around the cake."  She didn't know about the sparkler candle, but was pretty excited about it.  Bling!



This little girl is a most delightful character.  She is always busy and, as crazy as she can make us, she also makes us so happy.  I love, love my daughter and am so grateful she is a part of our family!

With her fairy house she made while at Grandma's house during my trip to Florida.
Excuse me while I go get myself a good cuddle while she is still small.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Piano Recital


Last weekend was Eliza's end of year piano recital.  She played Bohemian Rhapsody by Freddy Mercury (Queen).  It is an incredibly difficult song, filled with accidentals and she has only been playing for about 1 1/2 years.  She had to work very hard to learn it, but she did!  

As soon as she began, the entire audience, from the little kids squirming on the front row to the older grandpas trying not to fall asleep, perked up.  Several people hummed along, a few quietly directed with their hands or feet.  Everyone was alert and enjoying her fantastic performance.

Enter Uncle Daniel.


He sat like this through most of the recital, totally disinterested.  He loves Bohemian Rhapsody, though, so I expected him to react to her.  As Eliza played, there was no reaction.  For two whole bombastic pages, there was no reaction.  Then, as if from a fog, he lifted his head, smiled and pointed at Eliza.  "HEY!" he declared.  When she was done, Daniel stood up and gave her a standing ovation.  Slow to catch on, but such a great audience!

Funny girl after her resounding success.
Roses from thoughtful Aunt Mollie.
It was a great night for her.  She is a quiet and even-tempered girl, but when she sits at the piano, she is a different person altogether.  I love to watch her play because she uses her entire body to perform.  

Now to find another song to inspire her in the same way . . .

Making Way

We are still a few (A couple?  A?) months away from starting a house.  
Our plans are done, we are now waiting on the bank to give us a thumbs up or to tell us too bad.
If they say the latter, I will crawl in my bed and cry for days.

Before we can build, however, we had to take out a tree.  It is so sad because it was one of the prettiest trees on our land.  
But it was in the way.
And I want a house.

Before
My wonderful and generous father had some time yesterday, so he came over and cut it down.  
It was kind of exciting when the very tall tree toppled, but I felt terrible.
I still do.
I feel like a murderer.
But I want a house. (Repeat repeatedly.)

After
42 Years Old.
Older than my husband.
Older than cassette tapes.
The seedling began the year man walked on the moon.
So sad!

But, we are one step closer to a house.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June Meadow

It is June, the prettiest time of year in our meadow.


I'm not sure how or why, but I never learned how to make a daisy crown.  This year, to make sure another year didn't zoom by without me learning, we put it on our summer To Do list.  When the daisies began blooming, we finally learned how.


It was so easy and the girls and I had so much fun doing it!


The wildflowers have been so beautiful that I made the girls participate in a photo shoot.
I didn't tell them what to wear, to fix their hair or even what I was doing.  I just grabbed the camera and said, "Outside!"


Do you see why?  It is fairy tale pretty out there.


They began posing.


Oh, my.
I did get a few individual shots that worked out better.



Baby Boy didn't care, but the girls insisted he get a picture in the flowers, too.


But he was wearing camo so you can't even see him.
Darn.  


We are hoping to begin building our house soon and I'm sure that will disturb our meadow.  
Until then, I'm going to enjoy it!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

World Ballet Competition

We were very impressed with the World Ballet Competition, but one moment stood out for me.

It truly was a world competition with jury and competitors from all over the globe.
At one point, one of the winners, a Brazilian, did not speak English.  The announcer, who was Romanian and spoke English as a second language, asked, "Who speaks Portuguese?"  Another dancer quickly stepped up to the plate and helped interpret the conversation.  Later, the same thing happened with a dancer from Cuba.  Right away, a dancer from Argentina ran to his side and began translating.

The ballet world is a small one.  These kids standing on the stage in Orlando, Florida, USA, will work together during their careers--in Germany or Japan, Brazil or California.  They will become friends and colleagues.  When we come to know people, that is when we become unified.  This kind of event, like the Russian exchange program Isaac is involved with this summer, is what can help bring peace to our troubled world.
Learn to love a person and you will find a way to work out the problems.

Is that too Kumbaya?  I do wear Birkenstocks nearly every day.  ;)


Despite the fact that Isaac didn't make it to the final round, he was one of only a few dancers who were awarded two scholarships for next summer.  We were all pleased with the way he danced and with the recognition he received.  
He is still only 14; he has many years of training and competitions ahead of him.  
I hope he is invited back next year.

Florida: The Crazy and the Peaceful

Waiting for Jurassic Park in the Child Swap area.
Yes, he slept most of the day away.
We did go to the rest of Universal's Adventure Island while we were there.  Universal has this nifty thing called child swap.  All of us would wait in line together, then, when we got to the front of the line, I would wait in a room or off to the side while the kids rode.  After exiting the ride, one of the kids would hold the baby so I could ride with the other.  They took turns so every other ride they got to go twice in a row.  


Some of the rides were better than others.  Suessland was cute, but still couldn't hold a candle to Disney.  Everything needed dusting or a new coat of paint.  Nothing was as imaginative or elaborate and there were lots of broken parts.  I mean, it was fine, but if it weren't for the Harry Potter section, I would have been rather disappointed.  If I want to ride fun rides, I can go to a theme park near me and not have to be so blinkin' hot!  As to that, however, we did get a good drenching on the several "wet" rides.  Overall, it was a fun day, but I'll probably never go back.


Each day we were all relieved to get back to the hotel.  I heard several people say that you need a vacation after vacationing in Florida.  That was certainly true after our day in the amusement park!


This little sweetheart was held so much that he was always glad when he could lay on the blanket to kick his legs and punch his fists.  At barely two months old, he delighted us with his smiles and gentle cooing.

Fuzzy picture again.  I don't know what is wrong with my camera, dang it!
On our last day in Florida, we went on an air boat ride.  We saw a lot of flora and fauna that was foreign to us, including alligators.  


It was an interesting, peaceful, loud experience.  After the sometimes hectic week and stressful competition, we were all glad for this different activity.


And, as usual, our baby slept right through it.  :)


Monday, June 24, 2013

Surprise! An Owl DID Come!

We didn't plan it because we didn't think we would have the time, but when Isaac did not end up advancing to the final round, we had an extra day.  
A day to spend anywhere in Orlando.  
It had to be Hogwarts.


Both of my big kids love Harry Potter, but my daughter LOVES Harry Potter.  Her obsession has tempered over the last few months, but will probably never go away entirely.  She was being a great sport about not being able to go, but was beside herself when it was suddenly back on the docket.  

Her face, looking up at the castle for the first time, says it all:


Seriously happy!


There was one day last year when I discovered her sitting out in our meadow.  She had a bag packed and was wearing her Hogwarts robes.  Her sister informed me that she was waiting for her owl.
For a minute, I was concerned.  
I went to her and asked, quite seriously, "Eliza, do I need to be worried about you?  You do know that Harry Potter is fictional, right?"  She smiled knowingly at me.  Of course she knew, she just wished.  

Wish Granted, my darling dear.


We were near the front of the gates when Universal opened and we ran straight for Hogwarts.  We really didn't wait in line because the line is a tour of the castle and it was constantly moving.  Here we are in the greenhouse.  
(I have to say, it was cool.  Very cool.  But Disney would have done it so much better.  Oh, well.)


Hogsmeade was marvelous.  


Honeydukes was darling.  The shops were all cute, but tiny, tiny.  They could have tripled the size of the shops and they still would have been small.  Universal could be making a lot more money on souvenirs, but we all just wanted to get out of there!


It was a mega hot day.  Sweat dripped down my back and having my baby heat pack on the front of me didn't help much either. 
This did improve the situation:


Butterbeer at the Hog's Head.

It was worth the price of admission just to have this treat.


My mom had found some recipes online and did her best to duplicate it, but it was no where near the real deal.  This was delicious. 
And it came with a cute little mustache.


Passed the test!


We went to Hogwarts first thing in the morning and hung around Hogsmeade until it began to get crowded.  We toured some of the rest of the park then hiked back to Hogsmeade for Lunch at the Three Broomsticks.


It was a very cool building.  This is looking straight up from our table.  It wasn't open to visitors, but it did make me want to explore!  Enticing.


"I can't believe I'm actually having lunch at the Three Broomsticks!"


We went to the castle again about an hour before closing and cruised right to the front.  No waiting for us in Harry Potter land.  Lucky, I s'pose.  I thought the ride was fun, but the architecture and the picking out beloved items from the story (the pensive, the Fat Lady, Hagrid's Cabin, etc.) were more of a highlight for me.


The best, of course, was being with my kids--especially the daughter who had waited years to visit this magical place.  What a fun time.


This was on our way to the Dragon's something-or-other.  It is a scary roller-coaster where your feet hang down.  I almost died.  No, really.  When I got to the top of the clickity, clickity part and looked down at the ant people standing on the solid concrete miles below, I nearly died.  

Not a great picture, but there we were.  
Together.