Thursday, June 28, 2018

Piano Recital

I have taught piano on and off for 20 years. 20 years! I started as a young teenager, taught several Romanians on my mission and then taught in Vegas, Tampa and now here. I've taught for service, for needed income, and most recently for fun.

I have been teaching three sisters for the past couple of months, when my friend Kim (who teaches one little girl) approached me about doing a small recital together. We asked a few other kids from church who take piano lessons from different teachers to join in on the fun and had a very casual Saturday morning recital.



My food contribution. A piano keyboard made out of kit kat bars. Of course, the "black keys" vanished in no time at all, and I forced a couple of people to eat some white keys. Dan loves the white chocolate kit kats, and he's the only one I know. I brought him home a bunch, and he was incredulous that everyone else only likes good-tasting things.


All of the participants. I found out just a couple of days ago that the two girls in the middle have dubbed me "The Hawk" in our primary (childrens' organization at church) because I tend to see everything and be everywhere, especially when it comes down to noise control and naughtiness at church on Sundays. I have never been so proud as I was when I learned of that nickname.


And I couldn't help but zoom in on this sweet girl, my Sadie, who had the best "smile" I've seen in a picture in a long time.


I sent it to her parents, and we laughed and laughed. What can I say--being forced to perform in front of a crowd can make you come a little unhinged.

Everyone did a great job. Then Kim and I played a duet together that we had only practiced 1.5 times, and I botched it. And everyone laughed. And then we played it again, and it went better. I probably lost a ton of street cred since I was the person who messed up the most at the recital.

Me and my girls. Love them so much.


Refreshments.


The End.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

We Have Great Neighbors and Friends.

Yes, some more "end of the year" stuff coming your way today.

First though, I just love our neighbors. We have two little girls, and they have two high school girls, and all of our girls just love each other.

They were going through some old clothing awhile back and gave us a ton, and it's been fun to have some "vintage" clothing from clear back in the early 2000's.

On that note, does anyone else remember Y2K? That was weird.

Anyway.

The clear winners from all of the clothing they gave us were these awesome princess pajamas, which get worn every night (and sometimes day).


One of the last days of school was a Superhero Day, and like last year, June wanted to go NOT as Super Woman or Wonder Woman or Cat Woman or any of those. She always likes to go as Super June.


We jazzed up the whole theme a red cape, red star shirt and white and gold star pants.


Of course, Gwen wanted to be included, and each girl decorated her on "J" or "G" emblem for her cape.

And then Gwen decided to one-up everyone with the addition of this amazing hat.


She's like a superhero that can also take you "downtown" to talk to the "big boys". Detective Sleuth Super Gwen. Or whatever.

After school, the superheros took a super break from fighting crime and colored to their hearts' content. Actually, June only made it through an hour or so of school wearing her cape when she decided that the velcro tab on the collar was just TOO itchy and that she wanted a career change.



Also, one of those aforementioned neighbor girls went to her senior prom and was beautiful and I went over and took pictures. And then she wanted a picture with me, but I was an eye infection-y, glasses wearing-y, unwashed mess, so I said no way.


Can you just imagine that picture? Here is the beautiful princess and her loyal handmaiden, recently come back from sewer duty.

One day last week, I decided to wear black shorts. With kids. Which was obviously a big mistake. Not to be confused with the day THIS week when I wore white shorts. With kids. Which was obviously another big mistake.


Lastly, I went up to June's end of the year picnic. I took no pictures of June, but did take a picture of her cute classmate who couldn't get enough of Harris. Can't blame him. Harris is the best.


And that's the end of today's post, whose common theme was "pictures I have taken sometime in my life." Sorry for yet another round of the random.

The End.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Party On.

It always seems like the last month of school, with all of its crazy end of the year activities, is also jam packed with non-school activities. I don't know how that is, but it is.

The two kindergarten classes at June's school (you read that right--two! Our elementary school is teeny, and I LOVE IT.) put on an end-of-the-year extravaganza for the parents, and Dan and I had a great time watching it.

The show was a gripping story called, "The Superkids". It was fresh and risky. The twist in the story really threw me! These kindergartners are not afraid of being edgy.


In other words, I actually have no idea what the show was about.


I do know that June and a few other girls played the part of "Cass" who is a girl that likes to cook. Other kids had other parts. There was some singing and dancing. June scrubbed a cardboard bus clean with some other kids.


I really have no idea. But it was cute.


The sweet girl to the left of June must have been assigned to June because every time June needed to move to a different part of the stage, this girl found her and took her by the hand to that spot.

June did a lot of the singing and dancing but also didn't do a lot of it. Even when she wasn't fully participating though, I could tell she was participating in her mind and thought she was doing the actions. She definitely felt fully engaged.

After the show, we went out for ice cream, (LAST LICKS I LOVE YOU) and another girl from the production was there and was extremely excited to see June. She introduced herself as Kiera, and I could tell that June had no idea who the girl was. Kiera and June talked and talked at the ice cream shop until Kiera had to leave.

Later that night, June turned to me and said, "It was so nice seeing my best friend today, wasn't it?"

To which I replied, "It sure was."

To which she asked, "Mom, what was my best friend's name again?"

I love that girl. She sure is trying.

June was also invited to her first birthday party, and much to the delight of Gwen, the whole family was invited.

Braeden's party had it going on. Small animal petting zoo, big animal petting zoo and pony rides to boot.




There was a ton of delicious food that I enjoyed and also wanted to stuff some in my purse but a voice in my head told me not to. It was a very faint voice, and I figure it must by my classy side, suffocated to the point of quiet faintness after years of wearing stained clothes and teaching my kids about the 5-second rule of eating things off the floor (more like 5 minutes at our house).

Of course, the pony rides were the best part.





I wanted a pony ride too but that same voice piped up and said that this miniature horse was not up to the task. Apparently, my classy side is kind of critical.

The nice kid leading the pony could tell that Gwen wanted a second pony ride, so he helped her go again. We stayed the better part of the day, eating and chatting and playing, and it was quite nice.

The End.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Things Are Coming to an End.

Here on the East Coast, school gets out late. I mean really late. June's last day is next Monday, June 25th. It feels like everyone else wrapped up eons ago. We don't go back until after Labor Day, which is nice. But truthfully, I start thinking about the end of it before I should because everyone else is prepping for it. And then in August, I start thinking about going back earlier than I should, again because all of my favorite bloggers and friends are talking about it. 

But anyway, though school isn't quite done yet, we've still had our fair share of spring endings and summer beginning moments. Here are some of those.

Endings.

The girls participated in a five-week dance program. The program is provided by a non-profit called Pathways, began by a lady who wanted more opportunities for her special needs son. If you've got five minutes and feel like bawling your eyes out, read her story:

https://pathwayskids.org/about-pathways/history/


I love the founder, Melinda Jennis. She attended every class and held Gwen's hand for most of it. It was a great opportunity for June to learn some dance moves in a more chill environment. And it's open to everyone, so it was neat to see kids of all abilities come together and have fun. We will definitely be doing another class in the fall.


See that arm around June? That's a tearjerker for me.

Receiving her dance ribbon:


Gwen moved too fast off the stage for me to capture her ribbon moment, but here she was after:


And more hugs:


Another ending: me standing next to June while she gives a talk. She did this one all by herself and when she needed help with a word/picture, she asked the primary president. I stayed in the back and kept quiet. It was great for everyone.


Also, June brought home her final big art project from school, her own rendition of The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. She has loved listening to the song "Vincent" by Don Mclean for awhile, and now it's all coming together why.


And ending and a beginning: 

Our time outside waiting for the bus is coming to a close, but we are finally wearing summer clothes!!! Sundresses almost every day.



Every summer, there seems to be THE dress, the one that gets worn to death. Here is this summer's winner. It fits both of the girls, so it's a fight to see who gets it that day.



And also, we've started going to the pool again. Here is Gwen after insisting she wanted to put on her new swimsuit "ALL BY MYSELF! GO AWAY, MOM!"


Uh Gwen, we don't live in Vegas anymore.

And that's a wrap--only two half-days left of school!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Memorial Day was Three Weeks Ago.

We have been in New Jersey for two Memorial Days now, and I feel like the fact that we did some things two years in a row means that we have some traditions. Dan and I have talked a lot lately about how we have no hometown. We are a family without really strong roots in any certain place because we've moved so much. So doing something two years in a row feels good. My "fresh start heart", used to lots of change, will probably feel stifled if we do the same thing three years in a row, but two years felt good.

So we again went to our little town's little parade. I love living in a little town next to a bunch of bigger towns. There are a few things I don't like about it. Namely, we always incur 293847 dollars in Red Box fees because the nearest Red Box is 10 minutes away. 10 minutes. I know. We are pathetic. But that seems like quite the distance to us. We're just regular pioneers out here.

But I love that we have a little parade that we walk to every Memorial Day, and it only lasts about 20ish minutes, and everyone in the town seems to know everyone else.


We got dressed in our reds, whites and blues and sat in our usual spot in front of the old post office that is no longer a post office because it flooded several years back, and they never reopened.

We cheered on our neighbors who were marching in the marching band, and as per usual I cried when the veterans came by, as I also did when the firefighters and police walked by. And the scouts. And the local dance studio.

I cry a lot. I love America.

Also, this was the cutest mini-photo shoot of all time.




After the parade and a quick lunch, we headed to West Point Military Academy for a bus tour.


The stars aligned and even though the tours are typically jam packed, especially on holiday weekends, there was only one other family in our tour. So Dan and I asked the tour guide 239847239874 questions. It was dreamy.



Gwen made a friend on the tour, and these darlings held hands the whole time.


The "million dollar view" at West Point. Sigh. It was SO beautiful. Also, they had graduation the weekend before, so there were tons of cadets getting married in the chapel. So we also saw a bunch of wedding parties. Fun!

I think West Point is cool. I love hearing about all of the strict rules the students must follow and how they are required to be mentally and physically sharp at all times. Then I start to think about how I can prepare my own kids to go there. And then I walk into the girls' bedroom where June and Gwen are supposed to be getting dressed for the day, and I find Gwen wearing three skirts and June completely naked except for tennis shoes and socks, and I think maybe we just need to make the goal to survive today.

I love Memorial Day, and I love the men and women who have served our country, often sacrificing their own lives for the freedoms we enjoy every. single. day.

The End.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Dan is 31.

As you can see, I'm terribly behind on blogging. I won't do a catch up posts, but rather have a goal to do several short posts over the next few weeks. And if that doesn't happen, I'm just going to give up on writing things in the past and just start fresh with what's happening right now.

Dan turned the big 3-1 this year, and as I usually do, I planned way way way ahead of time and got 90% of the preparation done and then totally forgot about the last 10% until it was too late, and the whole thing looked like a failure.


We should all worn shirts like June's for Dan's big day. Though I guess mine would say "I Heart Dan" not "I Heart Dad".

As you may recall, we celebrated Dan's birthday early. We Taco Bell-ed, we Avenger-ed, and I felt really good about myself. Wife Numero Uno over here. Meaning the best, not the first of many.

I had great intentions to plan a fantastic dinner and dessert and outing for his actual birthday, but there was one big problem.

I forgot.

Yep, I kind of forgot about Dan's actual birthday. In fact, he had to go out of town for work a few days before his birthday, and I told him that when he got back, I'd really like to attend a neighbor's band concert. He asked which day, and I said, "Wednesday evening at 7." And he said, "Oh okay, no problem. I thought we might do something for my birthday then, but that's fine."

To which I replied, "What birthday?"

How many bad brain moments can I blame on my kids before that gets old? Am I already there? Have I already exceeded my quota?

When I realized it was HIS birthday that Wednesday, I kinda inwardly freaked out while trying to act outwardly calm. I don't think he bought it.

Nevertheless, he came home late on his birthday eve to a sign the girls made for the wall, which was held up with some old velcro I found because we were out of tape. This is not pictured here, both because my phone has been eating my pictures, and because the sign is just another reminder of my many failures and my posterity doesn't need one more failure staring them in the face from this blog.

We did go to breakfast on his birthday at our little town's little local diner.


New Jersey is known for their diners, but I say--Diners are NOT good! Do you agree or disagree?

And then that night, instead of celebrating, he shooed me off to the concert and watched the kids. He's a stud and makes 31 look super young and hip. And not "replacement hip" either.

Feeling quite remorseful, the next day I ran to the store and grabbed the ingredients for his favorite dinner and dessert and also this lobster-stuffed pretzel that was calling my name.


It was delish and may have totally redeemed me from "Forgotten Birthday 2018".

Happy Birthday, Dan! May we celebrate many, many more forgotten birthdays together.