Thursday, November 7, 2013

1st lesson

Tonight was Elizabeth's first piano lesson, and it went really, really well.  Even if the piano was in the middle of the dining room and the lesson means pushing back dinner a little.

One of Elizabeth's good friends on the street started piano last year, and initially I was going to contact that piano teacher.  But then a former music teacher at Elizabeth's school started giving private lessons as her main business, so without hesitation I contacted her the very next day after I bought our piano.

Last year, Elizabeth's school offered a free music class for first graders one afternoon a week after school, taught by her new piano teacher.  She seemed to like it a lot, which was great.

At one of the last lessons I asked Ms W how things were going and she said it was all great.  Elizabeth was a lot of fun to have in class.  Then she paused and added, she is going to be something as a teenager.

And of course, my mind immediately went to, omg, she is going to be a handful, she is so stubborn and determined and willful now……..but before I could say anything in response, Ms W continued, "she is a really cool kid, you can just see she's going to be a really fun, unique teenager.  Can't wait to see how great she's going to be."

And I was, simply put, floored.  That may be the single greatest compliment I have ever heard about Elizabeth.  We struggle, often, with our determined and fiercely independent and stubborn daughter.  But those very traits that exasperate us so much can also serve her very well in life.  Ms W gave me a great reminder of that, and I remain grateful for that reminder, something that I've tried to keep front of mind since.  It's not always easy, but it's important to remember.

There's a lot of space between the first lesson and being able to play the piano.  And we have a lot of practice time to get through.  But she's off to a great start.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


And this one did make it to Facebook - there are some benefits to dog walking.

I love our neighborhood and living in the city - most of the time.  There are some negatives - the cost, the crowding, how some things just simply aren't as convenient.  But those are more than balanced by the positives - the walkability, the things that are convenient, the ambiance of our neighborhood, and our community.  

There's just one thing that isn't fixable - I miss seeing the sky.  The entire sky, skyline to skyline.  When we drive to the Eastern Shore, that is still home to me - my heart is lighter because the world is just so much more wide open.  

The way our house is situated, the western sky is mostly blocked, which is really frustrating when there is a tantalizing glimpse of a perfect sunset.  But even a glimpse of this sky was a spirit lifter.  

And maybe, just maybe, there will come a day when we actually get a rooftop deck.  No time soon, sad to say, but eventually.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

parenting fail

One of the reasons I stopped blogging is because I really like Facebook.  It works for me, my whole family is on, and it's a quick and easy way to put things out there.  I meant to post this to Facebook this summer, but forgot, so a quick a easy blog post.

We saw a lot of movies this summer in the theater - it was a fun family outing on a weekend night, and there were some really good movies this past summer I'm glad we saw.

Anyway, standing in line to get popcorn one night, I noticed Elizabeth staring up at this very large promo poster:

Mommy, is that The Beatles?

OMG, Parenting FAIL!

Monday, November 4, 2013


As more and more of Elizabeth's friends got sucked into Harry Potter, I decided we'd hold off a little bit  and revisit another old friend - Laura Ingalls Wilder.  One of my friends said to me that she HATED reading the Little House books, because it was like watching paint dry, there was nothing interesting about smoking deer meat, and there was simply too much detail without enough story.

So I picked up Little House in the Big Woods with some level of trepidation.  The interesting thing to me about reading children's book now is having the capacity to evaluate the writing choices of the author and the ability to step back a little and put the book into a historical context, as well as imagining the adult perspective of the child's view.

I've decided that Beverly Cleary and Laura Ingalls Wilder are essentially the same books.  What both authors do well is to focus on the family as a unit, and the smallest child's place in that family.  They remind the reader of how special it feels to be inside a circle of love - the love a child feels for her parents, the love of a family together.

One night this summer I was reading aloud from Little House in the Big Woods and got to this passage:
[Pa] had curried the horses until they shone.  He had swept the wagon box clean and laid a clean blanket on the wagon seat.  Ma, with Baby Carrie in her arms, sat up on the wagon seat with Pa, and Laura and Mary sat on a board fastened across the wagon box behind the seat.  
They were happy as they drove through the springtime woods.  Carrie laughed and bounced, Ma was smiling, and Pa whistled while he drove the horses.  The sun was bright and warm on the road.  Sweet, cool smells came out of the leafy woods.  

As I read I could picture the little family setting off on their adventure.  In the back of my mind, I was admiring Laura (or Rose's) ability to set a scene so vividly with so few words, while also wishing I was riding along with them.

Suddenly, Elizabeth interrupted me with an outburst:  "Oh, I want to be them!"


Sunday, November 3, 2013


I have intended forever to do a post (and many posts) about our reading.  I was a voracious reader and no lie one of the best parts of parenting is revisiting the the books I loved with Elizabeth.

As she approached age 5, I kept telling her we were going to start reading chapter books, and she would protest loudly that she DID NOT like chapter books and would not listen.  I pulled out a staple I knew she'd love - Ramona!  And soon after her 5th birthday I started - and for the first few sentences she protested over my reading, but then suddenly was enthralled.  We would read at night before bed, and during the day I'd find her carrying the book around, parroting reading it to her toys or to no one at all.  Beverly Cleary uses the word "scowl" a lot, which was a new word to Elizabeth, but one I heard her repeating over and over - she would speak a little jibber jabber when pretending to read aloud, but throw in scowl and Ramon and Beezus and a few other key words.

After the first few books in the Ramona series we read more classics - A Cricket in Times Square, Ralph and the Motorcycle, Charlotte's Web, the Bunnicula books.  For a while I joked that we weren't reading anything published past 1980.  We did dip into the Magic Treehouse books for a while, but mercifully she got bored with them (but I bet we'll have to revisit with Andrew).  Based on a friend's recommendation, we even read The Hobbit last fall and over the winter.  It took a while, and I wasn't sure it was a good choice, but she was immediately in love with it.  Doesn't hurt that it has one of the best opening sentences in all of literature.  I'll have to write more on our adventures with The Hobbit in December (when the next movie comes out).  I tried once to start The Wind in the Willows but she was not at all interested, so maybe we'll try that again later on.

We've spent some time with the Disney Fairy books, which are good enough in their own way.  The one popular series I simply could not read was the Junie B Jones books.  Like fingernails on chalkboard, and I have discovered I share my hatred with all of my book loving friends.  AND, I also discovered everyone I know also corrects Junie B Jones's atrocious grammar while reading - it's like simultaneous translation, reading the crappy writing and correcting as you read aloud.

I'm already off NaBloPoMo pace - Sunday was too beautiful to spend any time blogging, so writing this Monday and backdating.  So I will end here and divide what would have been a long post into two.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


At almost 5, Andrew's mostly speaking like a child, no longer mispronouncing or making up words. But there are a few Andrew-isms that persist and I don't want to forget:

- Dark Vader
- chickmonk
- wuh-lee-gee (Luigi)
- plablo (Pablo, a character on Backyardigans as well as his old soccer coach)

Yesterday I was laughing with him a little bit as he was telling me a story. He always makes one point, then says, an' DEN when moving to the next part. So he asked me why I was laughing and I copied him and he said he was going to say 'then' from now on.  An' DEN I simply replied, I'll miss it when you do.  

Friday, November 1, 2013


Wow.  Two years. There's a lot of living that happens in two years. I don't entirely know why we stopped blogging, but the longer you stop the harder it is to get going again. Do you go back and catch up?  Do you just start fresh?  How do you start again?  

I work now with a group of mostly men, who are mostly roughly 10 years older than I am. I worked on a big project this summer with two men who I genuinely like as people. Both have college age sons, and in the middle of crunch time they both talked a lot about the logistics and planning - and emotion -  of taking their kids to college. 

The day after one came back from the drop off trip, he said to me, it goes so fast. I'm telling you right now, write it all down.  Get a notebook, get something, and just write down all the good stuff. Because before you know it you're pulling up at the dorm.  

And I thought, well, I do - did - that.  I do have my notebook - this blog. This is where I should be writing it all down.  I've got 16k pictures on my computer and I know I'll never print them out and make memory books, but I can document the highs and the lows and everything in between. Or at least some of it. 

So, back for now. It's been so long blogger has totally changed and there's even an app. 2 years is a lifetime in web applications. But we can figure it out again, I think. And it's worth it.