Monday, June 30, 2014

A post about berries - and musicals!

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This weekend was full and happy. In addition to the usual events (Sound of Music rehearsal, gymnastics, Costco, etc), we went blueberry picking. The weather was perfect and the berries are delicious.

We came home with a whopping six pounds of them:

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First up we are going to make some crepes stuffed with blueberries and mascarpone. Mmmmm...

Donald and I also bought a ton of strawberries at Costco and made some jam - since we were flat out. (And jam is a must around here.)

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 Jam, anyone?

In other news:

Alexandra has been rehearsing like crazy for her upcoming performances of The Sound of Music. Opening night is this Friday!

Tonight begins rehearsals with the live orchestra. I had been on the fence about whether to play or not - part of me wanting to (because you know me and The Sound of Music) and the other part of me knowing that I wanted to be able to sit in the audience and watch Lex. 

In the end I found the perfect compromise: I would play violin opening weekend only - filling in for another violinist who would be out of town. It was the best of both worlds! Play some, watch some.


The music director approached me and said one of the violists had to drop out. 
So now I'm performing all six shows, violin opening weekend, viola the next. 

I hope you'll be able to come! For ticket information, click here.
(Alexandra's cast is performing July 4, 10, 12)

And finally:

Alexandra auditioned a few weeks back for The Academy of Children's Theatre's fall production of Annie. Over 100 girls auditioned and Lex was cast as one of the orphans! I am so proud of her!

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Desire to Succeed

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When Alexandra and Lorelai were young, I remember wondering how to instill a desire to succeed within them. I didn't want them to succeed because I pushed them or set high expectations, I wanted them to push themselves; I wanted them to want it. My biggest fear was that they would not realize their own potential - or worse yet - realize it, but not care.

Lately, as I watch them in their respective activities, I feel overwhelmingly proud. Because they are developing their talents, they are striving for excellence, they do see the potential within. And as a parent, that was my number one goal.

Lorelai just moved up to level four in the world of competitive gymnastics. This means she spends 13 hours a week at the gym. That's practically a part time job! A friend recently asked me if I was concerned that it was depriving Lorelai of her childhood. In response, I told her it's what Lorelai wants - that she craves being at the gym. I discussed it with Lorelai later that night and she replied,
  "Gymnastics is my fun!"

And fun it is. I showed up at the gym last night just as Lorelai was mastering a back walkover on the beam. Oh, you should have seen her smile! She was simply glowing! She is learning that one of the greatest joys in life comes from working hard and seeing the results of that work. Her recent triumph has fueled her to set other goals. She is aiming to have a double back walkover on the beam in the next week and then start working on her back handspring on the beam. 

It's happening, she see's her own potential and she wants to reach it.

Lorelai Leigh, mastering a back walkover on the beam. (Sorry it's so small!)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why, Hello, Mr. Alligator.

Excuse me, Elsa, but did you know there's an Alligator on your head???

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I took my children to our local library for a presentation by the reptile man - who, as you can guess, has a passion for reptiles. The big girls had seen him and his collection of snakes, tortoises, and alligators before (refer to this July 2, 2010 post), but to Elsa it was new. 

I chuckled to myself several times as he said, "Now if you ever go to Africa, watch out for this snake..." 

I'm sure Elsa was thinking, "Yeah, tell me about it."

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As for Elisabeth, she doesn't find interest in things like snakes and alligators. Rather, she chose to spend time meditating like an old yogiHa!

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Her flexibility will always and forever amaze me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

An Afternoon Seranade

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Yesterday, Elisabeth was laying on the rug with her sock doll, Helga. I watched as Alexandra carried the kitchen step stool into the family room and set it next to her sister. "I'm going to play for Elisabeth," she announced as she fetched her guitar from the parlor.

I've often been grateful that Elisabeth came to us last in line. Having big sisters means there is constant action and activity happening around her. It also means there are more people to tend to her needs and wants. Sometimes, Lorelai likes to surprise me and get Elisabeth all diapered and dressed in the morning. She even combs her hair and gets her snuggled into her beanbag. And Elsa - oh, how she adores her little sister! She is so tender with her and immediately starts whispering reassuring sentiments like, "It's okay, Sissy is here," when she see's Elisabeth having a seizure.

I constantly try to find ways to enrich Elisabeth's life, but the truth is, nothing could be more enriching than the love and attention she gets from her big sisters.

They are a blessing in her life . . . and she in theirs.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Weekend Jaunt

I'm back after jetting out of town - solo - for the weekend. It was my mom's birthday and so my siblings and I decided to congregate at the ol' homestead to celebrate with her.

It's always a strange thing to be out on my own. In my normal day-to-day life I am always responsible for other people: preparing food, changing diapers, driving kids here, there, and everywhere, etc. But this past weekend, I was solely responsible for myself (and I'm pretty low maintenance.)

Before I left I snapped pictures with the children so I'd have them to look at:

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I did this before I left for Ethiopia, too. I always miss them like crazy and so it's nice to have these on my phone.

Then I set off on an airplane (or two) to the land where I was raised:

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Naturally, we went to Disneyland. I mean, where else would we go to celebrate my mom's birthday? Not only is it the happiest place on earth, but it is such a significant part of our family history.

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I had to stop and visit our brick - our own little piece of Disneyland. It was a Christmas gift from my brother in 2010:

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And naturally, I had to pay homage to my Grandpa Coats' window on Main Street. He was an integral part of the Disney company and helped bring to life so many beloved rides - as well as animated classics. It is such a treat to see him honored in this way.

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[Refer to this August 10, 2009 post for more details.]

Now, before we arrived I was a little concerned about how large the crowds might be. Summer break usually equates to a solid mass of people and lines miles long. But somehow - miraculously - there were minimal crowds. I still can't make sense of it, but I'm not complaining! Take a look and see for yourself:

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Open space, low crowds, in June = a Disneyland miracle.
I think it was because it was my mom's birthday.

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The Haunted Mansion - one of my Grandpa's creations.

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 Big Thunder Mountain.

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And, of course, I had to take in this Mary Poppins performance, because - you know - Mary Poppins is sort of my thing.

The whole time I kept thinking, "Elsa is going to love this!"
(taking her later this summer)

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My sister, Kristin, and my mom, the birthday honoree! 

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And no trip to Disneyland is complete without a ride on It's a Small World. It is my absolute favorite piece of Disneyland. It makes me happy, in every way possible. Simply put, it represents an ideal that I believe in.

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Setting off on a trip around the world.

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Watching as my nephew, sister, and brother come off the ride. 
We are taking pictures of each other. 

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See you soon, Disneyland! 

(And do me a favor and keep those crowds minimal for my return trip, okay?)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Brady 'Brunch'

Summertime means eating strawberry shortcake for breakfast
while watching The Brady Bunch.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Elsa's First Piano Lesson

Ever since Elsa joined our family, people have been asking what extra curricular activity we were going to have her do: 'Lorelai is the gymnast, Alexandra is the musician, what will Elsa be?'

My answer has been that we wanted to give her time to settle in first. Then we would start exploring her interests.

Well, yesterday was that day. Elsa and I went into the parlor and I gave her her first ever piano lesson. She was over-the-moon excited! After seven months of watching her sisters developing their own talents, she was ready to do the same.

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The best part about me being her teacher is that we can have daily lessons rather than once a week. So we will spend half an hour together at the piano each morning and then she can practice on her own periodically throughout the day. Expect frequent recitals right here, at The Far Side of Complexity!

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Monday, June 16, 2014

A Father's Day Review

Father's Day

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We were at the kitchen table, enjoying some Father's Day festivities.

Suddenly, we heard Elisabeth struggling and looked back to see her rolling out of her beanbag chair.

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In a flash, Donald was out of his seat and off to rescue his daughter.

Because that's what dads do.

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 [Donald with 3/4 of his daughters. 
As you know, the other one is safely snuggled into that beanbag in the background.]

In other news...

Elisabeth has had a cold. 

Yesterday, though, I sensed something more was wrong. As you know, Elisabeth has no way to tell me these things, but having a child that can't communicate has given me extra strong mom instincts (I think). I took her in to the urgent care and sure enough, ear infection + sinus infection.
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Poor baby.

Friday, June 13, 2014

School's Out!


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To thank their teachers for a wonderful year (and a wonderful education!) the girls gave them pineapples. We figure you can't go wrong with a pineapple.

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[Delivering pineapples to beloved teachers.]

At the end-of-year assembly, Alexandra was called up over and over and over again to receive awards, be recognized, and to perform. She did solos on her guitar and violin, and performed in several group ensembles as well. Alexandra was very involved this year - working in the library, serving on the crossing guard, and playing with the orchestra and marimba band. Let me just say, it was her day to shine! Words cannot express how I felt yesterday, watching Alexandra. She is an outstanding student and always strives for excellence. I am so excited to see what the future holds for her!

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[Alexandra, performing violin, with me accompanying her at the piano. Thank you to whoever texted this to me - I didn't recognize the number.]

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 [Lex, with her dual language class. This group has been together since kindergarten!]

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Now off to middle school!
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