Things and Such

This would appear to be my semi-annual check in at MotherMe. So much has happened this last year, some really BIG BIG stuff, but it’s so Big that I haven’t been able to really process it all in my own head, let alone put in writing. I’m going to work on that this summer, though. That (and a decent garden) are my goals over the next four months. Stay tuned for details (and for now just know that it’s great, and does not involve me being pregnant.)

In more recent, less-Big news, we just returned from our annual pilgrimage to Florida. It was a very lovely trip, shorter than usual (one week instead of our typical two) but wonderful nonetheless. We stayed in Summerfield this time, with a one-day jaunt to Orlando. The girls and I hung out at Wonderworks and hit up a Shake Shack (our first time) that day while DH attended a conference. The rest of the trip we stayed close to Nana’s house and her community pool. Weather was lovely, we met my brother’s sweet girlfriend, we played a lot of Tripoley (which is a super-fun game), and the girls binge-watched Pokemon episodes on Netflix. We flew YNG-PIE instead of driving, since it was a shorter trip, and even the flight was nothing-to-complain-about. S11 turned to S12 over the trip, and received a typewriter from Nana, much to her delight. She also received a phone* from her ultra-cool parents.


*Disclaimer: she actually received a photograph of a phone, with the promise that the actual phone would be waiting for her back in Ohio when we returned. This is because her parents are, while ultra-cool, also ultra-disorganized, and couldn’t get it together enough to have the phone activated or even packed in their luggage in time for this trip. However, as of this writing, she does have a real, live, activated, working cell phone, and is over the moon about her new connectivity.




When I was about 12, I briefly studied piano with a creepy, bearded guy (not that the beard made him creepy, but it’s the one thing I remember about him, other than his bizarrely long, nicotine-stained fingers and the fact that he had this absolutely awful pedophile vibe). That did not last long, because we moved to another part of town where cheap piano lessons were not to be found (mostly because I was busy doing other things, like speech team and band, but possibly also because I didn’t want to deal with another weirdo trying to look down my shirt while I poked out a scale on the keyboard). I loved the piano, though, and kept playing throughout the years. But I am mostly self-taught, which is not always a good thing. In some instances – piano perhaps being one of them – it is advisable to have a teacher to critique and guide and encourage you.

S9 started taking lessons from a wonderful, non-creepy teacher last March.  Shortly after she began, I happened to mention my own small experience with piano, and the teacher happened to mention that she had another adult student, and it just became obvious that I should become her student, too.  Aside from a desire to improve my meager skills, it seemed like a good example to set for the kids, who are being forced to endure their own music lessons.  I am such a horrible, mean mom, making them do something so awful as playing music.

So the teacher and I started last June.  We began with some easier classical pieces that, after several months of work, I can say are no longer being absolutely butchered at the keyboard but are now, instead, only slightly maimed at each playing. The first pieces were Bach’s Gavotte from the Third English Suite and Beethoven’s Fuër Elise.  At our teacher’s Christmas party I played a version of Peter, Paul & Mary’s Gone The Rainbow.  In late December, I started working on Mozart’s Fantasy In D Minor.  I even accompanied O8 at her violin recitals the last two weekends.  Nevermind that my hands shake uncontrollably when I play in front of people.  If we are never uncomfortable, we are not learning or growing, right?

I still have my childhood piano.  It is a modest spinet, not a super-high-quality instrument, but she’s served her purpose without complaint over the years, and it’s hard to part with her.

Nancy Hart
My childhood piano, a Nancy Hart spinet by the Grand Piano Co. We just call her Nancy.

But on Christmas Eve, my husband took us out to choose a beautiful, marvelous new piano, which was delivered two days later.  So now we have not one, but two pianos in our living room.

George Steck
Our new piano, a George Steck. We call him… wait for it… George.


I love that, at any given moment of the day, someone is usually playing something on one of the keyboards.   Even O8, who is not interested in piano lessons at all, plays daily.

There’s no moral to this story, other than perhaps you’re never too old to learn something all over again.


And that music is for everyone, even cats.

El Destroyo

I was going through some pictures from my phone and came across these ones I took back in April.

The uninitiated among you might just see an ordinary cardboard box here. But you would be deceived.  Ordinary mortal.

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This is actually S-then-8’s Super Fighter Warship Plane.  The military should really consider a few of these.  They are both Sharkproof AND Bombproof:

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Shock Proof AND High-Turbulence Proof:

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not to mention Dangerous, When Sounding Siren:

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Please note that there is a hefty fine for theft of property:

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As if anyone would steal it though, since it’s:

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Just in case, please:

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Look at all of these features! I mean, really. Wouldn’t you want to just push a button for “Repairments and Maintenance?”

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There are security features galore:

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and defenses if an enemy dares try to get close:

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And when all else fails, there’s always the “El Destroyo” button as a failsafe.

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My Modern Family

S9 (she’s now 9, you know!) just informed me that she can’t relate to certain things I experienced as a child because, as she says:

“Because I’ve spent my whole life in the modern world.”


Found Art

I also posted this on the kids’ school blog, but wanted to share it here as well.

Both of my girls are very prolific artists, S8 particularly so. I often find drawings and other artsy endeavors around the house. Recently, inspired by a book of fairy stickers a friend sent us, S8 made this crayon and sticker drawing/collage.


Another fairy drawing:


I love this one, of rabbit astronauts playing space tag ball:

I love that the ball has “SPACE” written on it.

For a time, they got into making pirate maps. I couldn’t scan one because they make them on huge sheets of paper, but they are really detailed and usually involve some sort of island, a body of shark infested water with a dire-sounding name (like “Shark Bay”), and a dangerous forest. Then they play games using the maps. Recently, I found some notes they had written as part of one of their games. It appears that they were pretending S8 was the president of an island that was sinking, and O7 was a professor who was an expert on sinking islands. S8 had written to O7 to get advice about running her sinking island.

Professor, a professor friend who studies geography (rock study) said i should focus on the economy, ect., instead of the island! Do you think i should listen to him? If i listen to him, the island will never be seen again! I think the island should be seen in its last days above water, by humans. Very deeply. Sincerly, President V. Samantha.
Professor, consequences are piling up for me. I don’t know what to do! Focus on island, or economy! I just got your scrap and you’re right. Hope we find the treasure.
Sincerly, President V. Samantha

At first, O7 (“Professor Molly”), who is not nearly as fond of writing as her big sister, scribbled pretend notes in reply.


But eventually she got into the game enough to write “real” replies. Hers are much more concise. She also uses a lot less paper. (She wrote them all on little torn scraps.)


Such drama.


This one didn’t scan as well, but I love the executive tone.

Professor, I share your concern in the sinking island project. We should send exlorers out there to find the treasure in those two weeks. Phone me your opinion tonight around 8:30 pm. If you think explorers should go there, I strictly advise that well trained explorers only should go. Please. I do not want our explorers to disappear along with the island as well. Sincerly, President V. P.S. Send the explorers with enough to last each and every explorer for 12 days. I want them back in twelve days no matter what.

I have no idea what happened to this island. Or the explorers. Or whether it was reported on Fox News. What a cliffhanger!

And It’s Not Even My Birthday

The other day, we got a surprise in the mail.

I would show you a picture of said surprise as we first found it, cheerfully waiting for us on the porch; but as soon as the girls saw that it was from Australia, they ripped the box open and beyond all recognition.  It just looked like a pile of funny cardboard at that point.  The insides were much more interesting to photograph.

Inside was a treasure trove (pretty sure that is the first time that phrase has been used around here) of fun, adorable, sweet, thoughtful Australian memorabilia.  Like, if I ever went to Australia (which I still hope to someday), these are all the things I would have chosen as souvenirs.  So it’s like we’ve been there, even though we haven’t.  Or something like that.

First, we discovered adorable little patriotic Koalas (Koalae?):


I just heart the boomerangs, too:


Then there was excited gasping (I believe “squee” is the appropriate phrase) when we discovered there were fairies inside:




We heart fairies around here, too.





There was also a tube of Vegemite, which makes me think of an 80s rock tune by one of my favorite bands.  (No, not Midnight Oil; the other famous 80s Australian rock band.


It answered burning questions for all us Yanks in the house.


I think the highlight was the pink flannel fabric used to line the box. It is still a source of endless excitement, even several days later.



So versatile.


There were all sorts of other exciting finds inside, too. Like tattoos:



(O7 has tattooed each forearm and is still sporting them a week later.)

There were lovely Australia pens:


more fairies:


more koalas (I think there were four altogether, but they scattered as soon as they were set free):


chocolate koalas:


and sweet little lip balms:


And there was the nicest little note:


Thank you, SB and boys! You sure know how to make a girl’s day. 🙂

Kalahari Day 2

Today we hung out at Kalahari with my mom.  In the morning, we made breakfast in our lovely kitchen.  I adore having a kitchen in a hotel like this.  Even though we are not really cooking complicated meals (like, nothing more involved than heating up canned soup), it’s great to be able to keep food in a fridge and have real dishes to eat off of.  Even things like drinks are fabulous.  How many times have you gotten settled in a hotel room and realized you (or someone in your group) is thirsty?  And who wants to drink hotel tap water??  What a luxury, to open the fridge and pull out OJ, or apple cider, or my new favorite:


Luxury, indeed.

So, in the AM we made a little breakfast of cereal and toasted bagels with cream cheese, and fruit, and I made coffees for Nana and me. Then we went to the waterpark for a while.

At the waterpark, O6 was grumpy. I don’t think she slept well last night, and for some reason, everything was just wrong today. First she said she really wanted to go on Victoria Falls, so we went on Victoria Falls. When we got to the top of the stairs, she said she was scared and didn’t want to go. I made her go down with us on the raft. She got off of Victoria Falls skipping and happy. But she did the Jekyll and Hyde routine all morning.

We sat in the hot tub outside and caught falling snow on our tongues and hair. That was neat. Then S8 met up with her friend, S6, and they started hanging out in the waves. O7 felt left out and sorry for herself and hung back. I’m sure the girls would have played with her but she just turtled up and became my Velcro baby again. So I took her on the lazy river while Nana kept an eye on S8.

After a few hours, we decided to head back for late lunch and to get ready for the conference. We got cleaned up and ate a little snack in our luxurious kitchen: peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, fruit, soup, and salad with picnic crack.

And then the girls practiced their violins.

Practicing violin

They also practiced Nana’s new iPad.


At 3, we gathered our 18″ Madame Alexander dolls and their wardrobes and headed down to the registration area.  It just took a few minutes to get our registration stuff and schedules.  I picked up our t-shirts and tote bag.  Then we did a few cartwheels while we looked around for a gathering of 18″ dolls.  We found them hanging out under the stairs at the convention center entrance. There were about 15 kids and dolls and it was really cool.



They decided to have a talent show. I’m pretty sure this was S8’s idea.


This little boy had his doll, Rosita, do a little ice skating demonstration.


S8 and her doll, Samantha, decided to sing. They sang a song that S8 wrote minutes before, called “Sing It Out”. She is in the process of writing down the lyrics and is planning to perform again at the talent show on Thursday. I did record it, but haven’t figured out how to post videos here, plus I’m not sure her adult self will appreciate me posting a video of her 8 year old self holding her doll up to her ear and singing a (let’s just face it) improvised song a capella. So I won’t bother. Let’s just say I think she’s awesome and has guts for getting up there and Singing It Out. Rock on, S8.

O7, of course, did not participate. She is in full-on Shy Mode, though she did sit in the audience and watch the other kids. And then she got bored, and started doing cartwheels, and other gymnasticky stuff.


The doll meetup kind of petered out anyway when Paxton organized a game of Zombie Tag. Here is S8 getting some clarification on the rules.


Basically, human kids run. Zombie kids do not run, and they are supposed to hold their arms out in front of themselves as they shuffle.

Every day I’m shufflin’…

O7 did cartwheels while S8 played Zombie Tag.  Nana and I sat on a couch and I worked on weaving in ends on my soon-to-be-born niece’s baby blanket.  It was very relaxing, in spite of the zombies.

Then we went into the ballroom for the family fun night, which was a mini carnival with balloon sculptures and silly games and face painting and lots of loud, fun dance music.  A lot of shufflin and Gangnam-stylin’.

We got in line for balloons.


Here’s O7 watching this girl make her a puppy dog balloon.



S8 wanted to get her face painted. She opted for a butterfly.


She is holding her fairy wand with a heart on the top. Part of the handle came off when she made a particularly vigorous wave of magic. We happened to run into the balloonist on the elevator and she fixed it for us. Sweet!

Before heading up to bed, we stopped at the arcade and played a game of bowling with Nana.



Back at the room, we called DH and told him about our fun day. Then we all played some assorted electronica (iPad, iPod, tablet, laptop) and went to bed.