Sunday, February 28, 2010

Little Maestro

Little Maestro

A couple weeks ago, one evening, Sophia dragged the stepstool down from the upstairs bathroom, pulled out some music and a pencil, and began to conduct Chloe at the piano.

(Yes, Chloe is in this picture...the way the flash cast Sophia's shadow, you can't see her sitting there, but she is there. I promise.)

Sophia has definitely learned the art of conducting--dramatic facial expressions and all.

She is her father's daughter.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Happiness is...

  • Watching a woman in the airport meet her baby granddaughter for the very first time. (Yes, I cried.)
  • Chloe asking to listen to my iPod, and requesting specific opera arias. (I've taught her well.)
  • Bria playing a violin recital beautifully and without bribery. (You have no idea how proud I am.)
  • Having fresh flowers in my dining room. (And I thought I didn't like getting flowers!)
  • A few days of gorgeous, sunny weather. (Take that, winter!)
  • Getting real cards and packages in the mail, instead of just bills and junk. (So what if it's a package I ordered off the internet?)
  • Sophia's spunk and sass. (Even though it's often aggravating, too.)
  • Singing I am a Child of God to my youngest daughter, who actually likes me to sing to her. (Bria and Chloe used to burst into tears if I sang that song to them.)
  • Taking the time to cuddle up with sick Chloe and watch Napoleon Dynamite together. (My kids love that film.)(I have mixed feelings.)
  • Having our taxes finished.  (Finally.)
  • Seeing my eldest daughter grow up into a beautiful and responsible young lady. (Even though I'm mourning the child she's leaving behind.)
  • A big bear hug from my husband.  (Speaks for itself, don't you think?)
What makes you happy today?

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Making of a Valentine....or 62 Valentines.

I know, I know.  Valentine's Day is long gone, right?

Well, it's still February, and so I'm totally within my rights to post this.  (So there.)

It seems that round these parts, people like to make their Valentines.  February always seems to be too crazy of a month for me to pull that off, so I have never done it in the past.  But my kids wanted to do the homemade route this year, Bria especially, and I could not disappoint.  I found an awesome idea online that was totally cute, involved scrapbook paper, the computer, conversation hearts, plastic and my sewing machine.  Already you know that this was way too much for me to attempt in my stressed-out state.  But, as usual, I suffered from delusions of creative grandeur and was absolutely sure I could pull off making 62 of those suckers with grace and speed.


After the first one, I knew I would have a long 30 hours of crafting ahead of me if I chose to continue.  So, naturally,  I didn't choose to continue.

I posted about it on Facebook instead.

And my friend Kirsti came to the rescue by posting this link.

And I said, "I can totally do that!"  And this time I knew it was true, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die.

The next day I took about a half an hour to do a quick photoshoot.  I figured these were photos that would be destroyed fairly quickly so I wasn't going to fuss about photographic perfection.

But, it still wasn't exactly easy.

First, I had to coax Sophia out of her favorite pink blankie.
Then I had to get her into an upright position.
Then I had to show her how to keep her hands out of her mouth and her fist out of her face. Smiling, however, was never a problem. Thankfully.
After something like 25 photos (taken by the window on a day so overcast they were still super noisy), I finally got something usable.

Bria is never a problem. Always the perfect little poser. Maybe a little too perfect. I just don't like the cocked head and the fake-ish smile. Or the ear sticking out of her hair for that matter. (PS--Don't you love her new glasses?)
< So after a quick fixing of the hair, coaxing the head to be more straighter (uhhh...did I really just type more straighter?) and joking with her to get her to laugh and give me a real smile, I easily got a keeper or five.

Then there's Chloe.

First we needed to address her apparent attention deficit disorder.
The camera's over here!
< Then she pulled out her genius fake smile.
Fake Smile
So, I began to joke with her the same exact way I had joked with Bria. I should have known better. Chloe doesn't like to be teased like Bria does. She takes it totally personally. And instead of a real smile, I got this.
If looks could kill...
I quickly came to my senses and remembered who I was dealing with and finally got a picture that was Valentine-worthy.

Then I had to photoshop them a bit, and I came up with these:
Sophia's Valentine Bria's Valentine< Chloe's Valentine
Assembly was the next step. I uploaded the pictures to Wal-Mart's one hour photo, and bought some lollipops and red cardstock and I was good to go. I didn't love the plain photo without something more sturdy on the back of it in the other blog, so I mounted them all on the red cardstock. Then I punched holes with my handy-dandy anywhere punch (which worked much better than the exacto knife idea, trust me on this) and inserted lollipops. Total assembly time: about 2 hours.

Not bad, considering I made 65 of these things and Sophia had one of her epic tantrums sometime in the middle of assembly. But that is a story for another day.

Here is the final product (these are the very first ones I made, using photos I printed off on my computer just to see how it would all turn out, and I used the exacto knife instead of the hole punch. You can see why that didn't really work...but I forgot to take pictures of the good ones.) (And they're long gone by now.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Okay. I'm ready.

I'm ready for spring now.

I am quite impressed that it's taken until the end of February for the winter blahs to set in.  It seems I usually have them by mid-January.  But I haven't been in hibernation yet this year, until maybe today.  (By the way, Chloe made it through the dentist, but it took all she had and she needed to come home and sleep instead of try to go to school like she was hoping.  She did have to go to a faculty meeting with Joel while I taught my lessons, but I was able to postpone my preschool volunteer hours to tomorrow and the branch canceled Visiting Teaching Conference tonight.  Too many sick kids, not enough people coming.  And, if you only have 9 or so sisters coming in the first place, and only 4 or 5 drop out, it's not worth having. So my schedule is much lighter than I thought earlier.  Thank goodness.) 

Wow, that was quite the parenthetical digression.

Anyway, I think my lack of the doldrums (until now) may have something to do with having two major concert preparations back-to-back.  Messiah in December and this last one.  Kept my mind off all the cold and the snow and the lack of daylight.

But I'm ready for spring now.

Unfortunately, spring isn't coming anytime soon.  When I drove past the baseball fields today and saw that the chain link fences were only a foot high, I realized that I have a good while left to enjoy the snow.  Or suffer through the snow.  Or endure the snow.  But I might as well try to enjoy it.

I tell you though, I'd enjoy it all much more if it were only 70 degrees out at the same time!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Silly me! I actually thought my life would calm down

That was a nice fairy tale, wasn't it?

This week

Tomorrow (Thursday) will be go-go-go from dawn till dusk it looks like.

Chloe's got an appointment with the dentist.
Sophia has preschool, and it's our turn to provide the snack.
I've got three lessons at the University.
My visiting teachers are coming.
I have to do my volunteer work for the preschool carnival.
The girls will come home from school and fly through homework and practicing.
Bria has her violin lesson.
And finally, there's a Visiting Teaching conference.


Unless Chloe is still as sick as she's been the last few days. Poor thing. The strep test came back negative, but she is still one sick little girl. I didn't cancel the dentist for tomorrow because I know the reschedule will be in April or later, and I'd like to get this done now.  I'm having faith that she'll be miraculously healed overnight. But, if I have to cancel, perhaps I should be grateful.  One less thing to worry about, right?


Especially since I seem to be getting whatever it is that she's got...

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Winter's Awakening

I was sent this book to review by TLC Book Tours this last month.  Usually I review self-improvement and parenting type books, so this was a little different for me--not that I don't enjoy fiction, because I definitely do!

Winter's Awakening by Shelley Shepard Gray is the first book in the author's new series about the Amish community in Sugarcreek, Ohio.  I have never read an Amish novel before, and I found myself quite fascinated by the way they live.  I was constantly shutting the book and going to the computer to Google for information, like when I noticed they had refrigerators and wondered how was that possible?  In my research, I learned that the Amish are just fine with using gas-powered stoves and refrigerators (yes, there is such a thing) but not electric.  To the author's credit, she did explain this later in the novel when it made sense plot-wise...I just tend to jump the gun when I am curious about something.

Aside from simply learning more about the Amish and their beliefs, the story itself was very good.  It involves Joshua and Gretta, two young Amish people who are courting.  However, Joshua has been hesitant to join the church or commit to marrying Gretta and it causes something of a rift between them as he works out his feelings.  Then, an Englischer (non-Amish, like me) family moves in next-door, and causes Joshua even further reflection on his Amish lifestyle and what is right for him ultimately as he makes friends with their teenage daughter, Lilly.

I related very well with Joshua's plight.  After all, I was raised in a religion that many people find odd, and I too had to question and come to my own knowledge of the things I was taught growing up.  As an adult I am still a member of the LDS church, because I have done my questioning (still do, sometimes) and have found my answers and I know that this is absolutely where I should be.

I felt that the author dealt with these questions of faith and lifestyle realistically and enjoyably.  I won't tell you what Joshua ended up'll have to read it for yourself to find out!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Little Self-Indulgence... the form of MORE PICTURES!  And a concert review! Aren't you so excited?  Someone else sent these new pictures to us, so I'm posting them here for your viewing pleasure.  Or not.  I guess I am just feeling a little bit self-conscious about posting so much of this, that's all.  It feels way too narcissistic for my comfort.

But I'm over it now.  It is my blog, after all, and this is what I have lived and breathed the last several weeks.

So, first the review.  This was done by a self-proclaimed "opera rookie" and is in the University's newspaper/news website.  Here is a link if you are so inclined to read it.  It is a somewhat humorous review, not dry and boring at all, although not very well edited.  (Oh, and it's the second article down.  Can't figure out how to link just the one article, sorry.)

Now for the pictures.

This is from the Verdi...the Ave Maria part at the end.

Joel talking to the audience.  Probably assuring them that he would not be killing me upon arriving at home (I sang both Desdemona and Carmen, women who were both murdered by their jealous lovers/husbands), or telling the story of how he was beaten up by gypsies in Romania.

Joel conducting.

Watching me come out for Habanera.


More Habanera.  "If I love you, beware of me!"

The end.

I promise this is the last of it.

And now back to regularly scheduled blogging.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Breathing a Sigh of Relief

When I was in college, my voice teacher once yelled at me for not having very good rhythm.  He told me that I would one day be on stage and that the conductor would inevitably be frustrated with me because of my lack of rhythmic ability.

It was one of those moments that has been seared into my brain.  I remember exactly which song we were working on, exactly what the rhythmic problem was (partly because it is still written into my book and partly because I was a little traumatized during that lesson), and exactly what I thought about everything that was said.

And here's exactly what I thought:

  • Just because I struggle with the rhythm in one passage does not mean I struggle in general,
  • But maybe he's right.  Maybe I really do have a rhythm deficiency,
  • And if I do, well then, I will just not ever sing on stage,
  • But I really want to,
  • So I guess I will have to work on this issue.
And work on it I did.  But I have always had that sense of feeling like I would never be good enough at rhythm.  It does just go to show how one comment said in a less than loving manner can affect a person.  But that's not why I bring it up.

I never imagined that I would be on stage, working with a conductor to whom I was also married.  That never entered my mind.  Of course, the fact that I am married to a conductor  most certainly gives me more opportunities than I might otherwise have had.  I realize that, and for that I am grateful.  We have certainly butted heads about many things, rhythm included, when we work together, but more than anything else, I have learned that I can do it.  I may get stressed, but I no longer get nervous or feel like I don't have the ability to pull these things off.  So much of that is due to a wonderful husband who supports me in my talents and abilities, encourages me and also teaches me to be a better musician.  I am a really lucky woman.

I wish that my college voice teacher could have seen me last night.  The concert went wonderfully well.  I nailed everything on the Verdi (the 15 minute long beast), and I didn't even cry until after I sang my last note.  I only had a little hiccup on one of the Carmen pieces.  And yes, it was rhythm related.  Oh well.

At the end of the final number, Bria and Chloe came up on stage to give Joel and me flowers.  So adorable, and I really wish somebody had caught that on camera.  And I got a big hug from the conductor, instead of the usual handshake.  Again, I am a lucky woman.

I don't know if I'll ever get a recording of the concert to share here, but here are a few pictures that a violinist's father took. (By the way, the mic I am singing in is only for recording purposes.  It was just me with no amplification really.)

I'm pretty sure both of the pictures of me were taken during the Carmen numbers.  And yes, I got into the dress.  It was tight, but I could breathe just fine, so I wore it.

But I was quite relieved to get out of it, too. Because it's all done.  Finished.  For a really long time.  No more concerts for a while.  I plan on focusing on my children and home for a very long while.

Maybe I'll even paint the dining room or something.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My life, right now

After record low snowfall in January (we have *only* received 140 inches this winter so far), we have finally gotten a couple storms the last few days.  I suppose the DC area stole all of our snow last week, and I never thought I'd welcome a big storm in February, but here I am, all open-armed and welcoming.

There is a two-hour delayed start for school today, and we had to walk to the bus stop to find out about it.  I honestly didn't think that the weather was bad enough to merit closing school, so I didn't even check my email before we left.  At least the kid across the street didn't know, either.

The girls (minus Sophia, who is sick) are now outside in the front yard, happily playing in the very large snow drifts the wind left us last night.  Why let bundling up for the bus stop go to waste?

I'm procrastinating going upstairs and having my daily meeting with Jillian.  She is kicking my trash.  But I will get into that dress.  Yes.  I will.

Otherwise, I'm off to teach lessons this morning, and practice this afternoon with the first orchestra rehearsal tonight.  Tomorrow is another crazy day full of lessons, dentist appointments, girl scouts, orchestra, practice, and a flight bringing my mother to me.  And then we'll hit the ground running.

Have a great week!

I'll see you on the flip side!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sometimes You Just Need Your Mommy
(Even if she's 2,000 miles away)

Because it's all too much for me right now.

I've been having a really, really hard time striking balance in my life this last month.  I have definitely been trying to run faster than I am able, and I am feeling it.  My house is messier than it's been in a long time, because cleaning hasn't been too high on the priority list.  My Google reader is now bursting at the seams with 1,000+ unread blogs, which I'm pretty sure I'll never get to (sorry everyone).  I have been teaching my vocal lessons with so little preparation it's almost scandalous.  I feel guilty about doing anything with friends, my calling is suffering, and I even told Joel we couldn't go out on a Valentine's Day date because it was just too stressful for me this weekend.

Okay, so perhaps I'm being a teensy bit overdramatic here.  I do clean my house (just not very well), and I usually read at least a couple blogs every day, but I haven't been commenting much.  Even if I don't sit down and actually write out lesson plans, I do think about my students a great deal and how to help them best.  I have turned down only a few friend outings, I only have one Young Woman, she'll forgive me, and well...Valentine's Day can be just as easily celebrated at home as it can in some restaurant somewhere, right?  Besides, I made my kids' valentines this year, and they rocked, so that's got to count for something.

But I'm still a stress case, and only two things are on my main priority list right now.

  • Getting ready for Saturday's performance vocally.
  • Getting ready for Saturday's performance physically.
I am spending upwards of 3 hours a day practicing these days.  I've been driving my kids to their various activities with an earphone in my ear, singing along to recordings, just so I can get the practice times in.  I practice in the shower, while doing dishes, and at the piano.  Multi-tasking at its finest.  Did I mention Joel assigned me a 20 page Italian aria to learn, along with two others in French?  I've done the French ones before, so it's mostly just dusting off, but this other aria is a beast.  It takes 15 minutes to sing from beginning to end. The other two are 15 minutes together.  So three hours of practice doesn't even seem like all that much, really.  

As far as the physical part....remember this dress?

Well, I've gained some weight since I wore it last February.  But, I really want to wear it on Saturday.  I've not touched a goodie for a month and a half, and it isn't making a whole lot of difference in my shape.  I've exercised fairly regularly.  The weight is just not coming off.  (Stupid PCOS.)

I finally dared to try on the dress a couple of days ago.  I was thrilled that I could (barely) zip it up, but upon walking around the house in it, I found I couldn't breathe.  In fact, if I had worn it much longer, I would have passed out right there in the living room.

In case you didn't know, breathing is a pretty essential factor in singing.  Perhaps if it were just a fashion show I could get away with it.  But, I'm pretty sure I would faint dead away if I wore it at this point to sing opera arias.


So, I'm on a crash diet.  And I'm doing as much exercise in a day as possible. A la Jillian Michaels and her 30 Day Shred. Plus my exercise bike. Really, all I need is to lose an inch or two off my waist.  That can totally be done in a week's time.  Right?

Anyway, these two things are stressing me out.  I asked Joel for a blessing a couple of weeks ago because I was at the very end of my proverbial rope, and I wasn't sure how I could handle my life without being committed to the psych ward.

I love Priesthood Blessings.  I felt so much peace after this blessing, and was promised many things.  I was also given a lot of advice.  One of those tidbits was to not feel bad about asking my family for help.  I tend to be such an I-Can-Do-It-All-And-I-Don't-Need-Your-Help-Even-Though-I-Really-Do-And-I-Just-Prefer-To-Suffer-In-Silence kind of person, that asking for help rarely occurs to me.  Even of my husband and children.

So, I've given them more chores these last few weeks. Although, Joel was out of town all last week and this week he's trying to play catch up, so that was a big bust.  But I did call my mom and mention that blessing to her, and she gently reminded me that she is family, too.  So, I hesitantly asked if she'd be willing to come out and help me during concert week.

And a few hours later I got an e-mail with her flight itinerary and the message, "Because I love you!" with it.

She gets here on Wednesday.  And I can't wait.

Not only will she help me clean my house and keep my kids happy, but there is nobody better when it comes to motivating for eating right and exercising.

Maybe I'll even lose THREE inches off my waist.

I can only hope.

Monday, February 08, 2010


I am really good at getting caught up in life and forgetting about what's most important.  Sometimes I have the attitude that my children, my scriptures, my prayers, my husband will always be there....I need to worry about all of these other things first.

So many things to worry about.

How to pay the bills.
My weight.
Getting the house clean.
Making valentines for the girls' V-day exchange at school.
My volunteer hours for the preschool carnival.
Memorizing my arias for the concert in 2 weeks.
Singing an A#.
Preparing voice lessons.
Why I haven't received the book I'm supposed to review yet.
Decorating the house.
Getting all the laundry and dishes done.
Finding time to exercise.

And much, much more.

Of course, my children and husband and church duties are on that list, too.  It just seems that all too often they are pushed down to the very end, when they should always be right at the very top.

My mom recently pointed me to a blog of a family her friend knows.  Their youngest son had an accident and is now in Primary Children's Hospital fighting for his life.  I've been reading it and I feel like my eyes have been opened and I am trying to shift my priorities back to the way they should be.

This post especially had me realizing just how important it is.  Sure, the things on my list are "important," but they aren't as important as my babies.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for the day.  I am off to cuddle with Sophia for a while before I face all of my other worries.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Embracing Winter

One of the hotels downtown has "Welcome to Winterland!" written on their marquee. Truer words were never written--if you live here, you just have to learn to love winter, or you're not going to be a happy camper.

And if you want to embrace the winter, there is no shortage of ways to do it. We have downhill skiing and cross-country skiing, we have ice hockey and ice skating, we have snowmobiling and sledding, we have snowshoeing, we have broomball (another post for another day), we have snowman building kits.

And we have Winter Carnival.

I admit, I haven't quite understood all of the hype behind Carnival in the weeks and days leading up to it, but I get it now. Carnival is basically a snow sculpture contest. There is a theme, and several different categories. One of the categories is the all-night contest, where groups make a sculpture from start to finish in one night (that took place last night, not far from my house, and the music was loud). The other categories allow the sculptures to be worked on for several weeks before Carnival, so they are more elaborate. They are then judged, and I honestly have no idea what the winners get besides the glory of winning, but I'm sure they get something cool.

Anyway, today I took the girls to campus to look at all the sculptures. We didn't get to see all of them, especially not some of the more elaborate ones (we have seen a lot of the fraternity houses' entries from the car), but the ones we saw up close and personal were pretty darn amazing.

I definitely get the hype behind Winter Carnival now.

And, I also took lots of pictures. And I do mean lots of pictures. Sorry. I'm just making up for the extreme lack of pictures on my blog lately.

This year's theme was Games.

Some people took that to mean board games.

We had Candyland.


We had Monopoly.


We had Yahtzee and Chess and Jenga.

 Yahtzee Jenga Chess

We had Hungry Hippos (this is just one of about five sculptures using this game, it was a popular one!).

 Hungy Hippo

We had The Game of Life.

The Game of Life

We had a Barrel of Monkeys.

Barrel of Monkeys

And we had Battleship.


And a bunch more that I didn't take pictures of. Most of them were done really well. I only saw a couple really pathetic attempts.

We had a couple that I'm not sure what they were, but they were cool anyway.

This snowman fortress kind of reminds me of Calvin and Hobbes, but I'm not sure what game it's depicting.

Snowman Fortress

And I thought the dumptruck was great, but it's not really a game necessarily. Unless I'm missing something.

Dump Truck

Then we had a few video games (these were both incredibly huge and elaborate sculptures done in front of fraternity houses):

Donkey Kong.

 Donkey Kong

 Donkey kong

 Donkey Kong

And Super Mario Brothers (this is this year's grand prize winner, and you can see why!).

 Super Mario

Super Mario

 Super Mario

 Super Mario

Super Mario

 Super Mario

There were also Zelda and PacMan, but I either didn't get out of the car for them or I didn't bother with pictures.

I still need to walk down and get pictures of the Jumanji game that is in front of a frat house. I really liked that one, but have only seen it from the car. I think it is my favorite of all, even though it's not necessarily the most detailed.

The kids had a lot of fun. We met up with some other friends from our branch and walked around campus with them.

They found remnants of sculpture materials, like these snow tubes and ice blocks. It took a bit of convincing that they wouldn't last in the car or in the house for them to finally leave them outside in the snow where they belong.

Snow finds

Sophia insisted on carrying this hunk of snow around most of the afternoon. She said it was her baby.

Snow Baby

They enjoyed listening to music from this snowpile.

Hanging out at Carnival

Even the music was somehow put into a sculpture. The round things in that mound are the speakers. I had wished I had a video camera right then, because all the kids were walking right in time to the music, almost in slow-motion. It was just like a scene out of a movie.

A very wintery movie.

Here we come...

Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Messages on a White Board

Santa brought Bria a big giant white board for Christmas this year.  He also threw in a few markers, an eraser and some cleaning spray.

She is in love with it.

And so am I, frankly.

I think all mothers wish to have some sort of magical window into their children's brains--to have access to their thoughts and feelings and to really understand better where they are coming from.  This white board that hasn't even been put on the wall yet (it's really big), and is just leaning against the wall near her bed has proven to be just that sort of magical tool.  It has let me into the inner workings of Bria's mind and heart and helped me to understand her better, and to know what is important to her at age 9.

Every morning when I go into their room to do a basic tidy-up, I look forward to seeing what is written on that board.  Sometimes it's a to-do list of homework, or books she'd like to read, or what she needs to get ready for the swimming party she was invited to.  Other times she'll have written a little love note to Chloe or Sophia.  Some days it's a few pictures, and other days it's been erased and left blank.

Today's white board message was a cute little picture of five girls, with their names labeled beneath them:  Bria, Ann, Erica, Sarah, Miriam.  These are her friends.  From this picture I learned that they call themselves "The Beautiful Girls" which I love.  Around the pictures she had written things like, "Look at all the beautiful eyes!" and "Aren't we beautiful?  Yes!" and "We are ESPECIALLY beautiful girls." and "We're BFFs!"

Bria has not always been so lucky as to have great friends like the ones she has found here.  She was bullied in Kindergarten and her only friend was the boy we carpooled with to school, which didn't win her many points with the other girls.  She started first grade the day after we'd moved to Cedar City, and she had a really hard time finding any friends at first.  And then the friends she did find were somewhat questionable in character (I have lots of interesting stories that should not ever come home with your first, second or third grade child).  Once, one of her so-called friends pulled down her pants, underwear and all, on the playground.  She never had an easy time of it, and it was so hard for me to watch, because I knew that being accepted by friends--good friends--is something that is important to every child, and especially important to Bria.

In third grade, a new girl named Olivia moved into our ward and was also in Bria's class.  She was overweight and nobody was very nice to or accepting of her.  Except Bria.  I remember watching her ride her scooter to school one morning (school was about a block and a half from our house) and I saw her stop to talk to Olivia, who was walking alone.  Pretty soon, they were taking turns on Bria's scooter, and even though I was a little worried they'd be late to class, I was very happy to see Bria being so kind to this girl.  They became very good friends, and even when our ward split and they didn't end up in the same one, they remained pretty close.  This was the first good friend Bria has ever had, and she was not excited about moving all the way to Michigan when she had just barely found her.

I have never prayed so hard for my child to find a good friend as I did upon our move here.  When I met Ann's mother on the first day of school and discovered that she had three daughters the same ages as mine, and that Bria and Ann were in the same class, I knew without a doubt that this was the answer to my prayer.

And so it has been.  Bria has never been happier or more confident in herself.  

I haven't been able to stop thinking of that message on her white board today.  To me, it just further confirms that we are supposed to be here.  This is a place where my child(ren) can flourish, and where I have proof that they will.

Remind me to call Santa and thank him.  

Monday, February 01, 2010

On a Sunday Evening

We have just finished eating a hearty beef stew for dinner.  The girls clear the table while Joel retreats into the bedroom with his computer to study scores.

It's too chilly to read in the living room, so I join him on the bed with my book.

Soon, Sophia has cuddled up next to me with her own book, and I open the flaps with her while we practice counting and naming colors.

Then, Bria and Chloe come, too.  They each have a stack of magazines: The Friend.  Bria finds a comfortable spot on the king-sized bed and begins to devour them.  Chloe manages to squeeze in between Joel and me, and begins to search for the hidden CTR rings, letting out a joyful little yelp each time she discovers one.

Slowly, I begin to forget about the undone dishes in the kitchen, the unfolded laundry sitting next to the bed and the mess of art supplies in the living room.  The stresses of life melt away as I giggle with Sophia, who is trying to count the apples: "One, two, firteen, sisteen, five!" she says.  I turn to help Chloe sound out a big word, and Bria has now taken to finding the CTR rings.  She is looking right at one, but cannot see it until I point it out to her.

Haydn is playing softly from Joel's computer, and we all laugh together.