Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Piano Recital

I discovered, for the first time, back in February when Madeleine competed in her first piano competition, the nervousness it is possible to feel on behalf of your child.  I remember, pretty vividly, the music competitions and recitals of my own youth. I remember the racing heart, the sweating palms and the anxious, sick-like feeling that grew until the time of my performance arrived.  But as soon as those years were over they were soon forgotten.

Until Madeleine started taking piano lessons last fall.  And now all those feelings-- the racing heart, the sweating palms and the anxious, sick-like feeling-- are back.  I felt them this past February and I felt them, even more, tonight.

Tonight Madeleine had her first piano recital.  In February, at her piano competition, she played in front of a single judge, a stranger.  Tonight she played in front of her peers and all their parents.  It was a friendly group, but for a seven-year-old, intimidating.

It was with no argument that she warmed up and rehearsed one last time before walking down the street to her piano teacher's home, where the recital was held.

And it was with no small amount of anxious nerves that Madeleine dutifully posed for pictures.  First, her true emotion, annoyance with the photo session, is made clear.

And then, almost manically, she begins to laugh.  Wisely I realize this is as good as it will get.  Snap, snap!

Moments after this we arrive at the recital site.  We sit amongst the other proud moms and dads, Madeleine on the other side of the living room with the other students, the two groups divided by the shiny black grand piano.  Madeleine chews on her cheeks.  She squirms in her seat.  She makes weird faces at us and looks more and more nervous every second.  As she squirms and chews and wiggles I feel more and more nervous.  Will she be OK?  Will she remember what she's supposed to play?  These are the thoughts running through my head.

A seventh grade student finishes her Bach piece.  Now Madeleine, with a brief introduction from her teacher, stands up and makes her way to the piano.  She won't look at the audience.  At all.  But she sits, regally, and begins to play. As she plays she grows more and more confident and as she plays the songs as correctly and well as she is able my nervousness abates as, I have to imagine, did hers.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stormy Book Night

Last Friday night we experienced typical Wisconsin spring weather.  It was wet and rainy with various bouts of thunder and lightening, which just happened to coincide with dinner hour.

While reheating our vegetarian lasagna the lights flickered now and again in time with particularly bright bolts of lightening.  Oooooooh! shrieked the older kids.  Maybe the lights will go out! suggested Madeleine.

And then we started to reminisce about the time the lights went out for two (or was it three?) whole days on the entire south side of our village.  It was fall, so heating wasn't really an issue, and it felt like a huge, fun adventure (well, OK, it was an adventure for the first day, then it just became a pain.  But time in a salve, is it not?  All we choose to remember is game playing by candlelight, eating by candlelight, inventing new ways to store and prepare food or, in other words, all the romantic aspects).

We waited awhile, but we never lost our electricity, so we decided to institute a self-imposed ban for the evening.  We gathered all the candles we could find in our house, brought them to the dining room table and ate by candlelight.  This is what it would have been like for Laura, Madeleine declared.  We decided to pretend we were the Ingalls family, of The Little House on the Prairie fame.  That lasted about two minutes, until which time Madeleine started complaining about the spinach in the lasagna.  Now Mary, I said, you eat what's given to you with no complaint.

Mom, replied Madeleine, How about we don't play that anymore.  Let's just be us with no lights.


After we ate, we decided it was a perfect, stormy night for a major book night (explanation provided in the first paragraph of this post).  Shall we read by candlelight or the lamp? I asked.


We broke the no electricity ban to pop popcorn (well, technically, our gas stove doesn't use electricity except to ignite the flame, so we only sort of broke the ban) and then brought what felt like eight thousand blankets downstairs and settled in for The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis.  We read really, really late because with the flickering of the candle, the violent wind, thunder and lightening outside and the warm and cozy blankets inside no one wanted the book night to end.  

We still have about a third of the book to go.  Who knows, maybe we'll be treated to another stormy night soon!

Monday, April 28, 2008


Having a two-year-old is a lot of work.  Not having had one for a few years, I'd forgotten.

But I now remember.

Elisabeth makes a point to remind me.  A lot.  How?  Here's a recent reminder.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ice Skating

The ice skating world is a new one to me. It's one filled with terms I'm not aware of and class placements and advancements I don't yet have mastered.

I do know, this past February, when we started the new activity, Madeleine was placed into Basic I based on her age and prior experience (i.e. none) and Hank was placed into Snowplow Sam I based on his age and experience (i.e. none). Both are part of the U.S. Figure Skating Basic Skills Program. After the first lesson last February Hank was bumped up to Snowplow Sam II and that was where he spent the remainder of that eight-week program. At the end of the session both kids advanced: Madeleine to Basic II and Hank to Basic I, skipping Snowplow Sam III.

Last night was their first lesson in the spring session, both starting in their new, recommended classes.  Once again, Hank was out to impress. After barreling across the ice and showing off his mastery of the skills required in Basic I, his teacher pulled him aside, did a quick test on the ice and bumped him up to Basic II with his sister.

Madeleine, thankfully, seems proud of her baby brother as Joe and I are and, thankfully, is content to work hard this session so that she can pass into the next few levels so she can start learning how to twirl and jump, tricks she desperately wants to learn how to do, but in the meantime is focused on learning her snowplow stops, skating on one foot and skating backwards.

I'm just thrilled for both of them.  Although it's nice to see them do so well, what's even more fun to to see their smiles out on the ice.  It's clear they have both found something they really enjoy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mary Ingalls

Meet my new daughter, Mary Ingalls.

Madeleine was born a little over one hundred years too late.  Lately her love of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House on the Prairie series has transcended simply reading the books and explaining to every person she sees, in great detail, the events therein.


Now she insists the other children on the block play Laura Ingalls Wilder morning, noon and night. Madeleine, unsurprisingly to those who know her particular ideas in regards to fashion and beauty, insists on being Mary, the more beautiful and feminine of the sisters in her opinion.  The other children fight over the Laura position, the less fortunate playmates inheriting the less coveted roles (Carrie, Ma, Pa, etc.).  And poor Hank... well, Hank becomes Jack, the Ingalls' dog, and barks his way throughout the neighborhood.

Their games are then taken directly out of books from the series, putting Madeleine at great advantage since only one other girl on the block has read the series so there is little argument when she explains the rules, gives the directives and instructs the other children in the ways of the Ingalls' family.

I wonder if she'll be having us trade our van in for a covered wagon anytime soon?

Monday, April 21, 2008


Elisabeth kills me most days. In a good way, of course.

Like most kids her age she doesn't want to miss out. On anything. And when she moved out of her crib she suddenly realized she had the ability to express her opinion about naps. Even though they were, and are, clearly still needed, she wants nothing to do with them.

About an hour or so after lunch she begins clutching her ratty purple blanket, sucking two fingers and leaning up against me or lying on the floor. But, if you ask her, "Elisabeth, are you ready for a nap?" she will promptly pull her fingers out of her mouth, sit up straight as an arrow, screw her face into a disgusted pout and say, "No! I don't want to take a nap."

A few weeks ago I grew tired of this. I got tired a crabby, tired Elisabeth getting more tired and more cranky until she became almost unbearable by suppertime. A few weeks ago I carried her upstairs, put her in her bed and when she climbed out, screwed her face into her pouty grimace and yelled that she didn't want to take a nap I suggested, while putting her back in her bed, that of course she didn't need a nap, but perhaps she would maybe like to rest in her bed for a few minutes after which time I would check on her and, if she was still awake, take her back downstairs.

To this she smiled, grabbed her ratty purple blanket, stuck her fingers in her mouth and turned onto her side. Since that day she's been "resting" for a few hours every day. But don't tell her that; she just thinks she's taking a short rest.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pigs from 1 to 10

Hank loves-- and I mean adores-- books in which you need to find things.  If he could find a willing adult, he would read I Spy books and Where's Waldo incessantly.  Sadly, though, I get sick of I Spy and Where's Waldo very quickly.  I lack the patience of my mother who would sit and look at those books for hours with my two older kids.

Today though, I snagged this book at the library.  It's called Pigs from 1 to 10 by Arthur Geisert.  It's the same idea as the above mentioned books, but instead of searching for Waldo and his annoyingly similar looking group of friends, you search for cleverly hidden numerals.  In some pictures the numerals are obvious, some are quite tricky, but all the pictures are interesting and fun and a nice diversion from the sameness of yet another book in the I Spy series. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Quick Post

I apologize for my lack of posting.  The reason?  It isn't even because I've been particularly busy with anything beyond the typical never-ending tower of laundry (I swear the kids change thirteen times a day), reading (The Painted Veil was a notable read of late, though this is a rare case where I think I liked the movie more than the book) and meetings and a couple of nights out with family (Diana and Cloence one night) and neighbor friends.

Surely I could cull something to blog about from my recent experiences, but I just don't quite feel like it right this second.

But I'll be back to regular posting shortly. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Growing Too Fast

Every parent laments how quickly their children grow. They grow too fast is the refrain that escapes mother's lips in conversations with each other almost daily.  The conversation is old.  It's constant.  But it's true.

Little Elisabeth is not so little anymore.  She, like the older two, has turned into a chatterbox but, even more vexing than that, is she is now completely and totally independent. Her favorite phrase is, "No!  I do it 'self!"  In Elisabeth's world there is nothing to be done that she can not do on her own.

An example.

Her car seat, a highly elevated Britax Marathon, sits high above her thirty-six inch frame.  Her life would be much simpler if she allowed an adult to pick her up and put her in the seat.  

But no.  That is not to be.

You see, Elisabeth is physically able to get up in her seat on her own even though it takes a few attempts, extra time and extra patience on my part.  But she can do it and she knows she can do it so she will do it.

Given that Baby Elisabeth is probably our last baby I think I feel her independence and growing up more acutely than I did the others.  I realize that this fiercely independent stage of hers is probably just that: a stage and soon she'll be riding a two-wheeler and reading The Secret Garden.  

So, please, forgive me the cliche, but she's growing up too fast!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Movie Review, XI

I read and liked The Kite Runner so I was pretty excited to see the movie version, even though its reviews weren't terrific.

I actually ended up enjoying the movie much more than I thought I would, based on its reviews.  It wasn't incredibly great, but it was very engaging, visually very pleasing and there were also a couple great acting performances, most notably Ahmed Khan Mahmidzada, who played Hassan, the main character's servant and best friend.

Though the book was better, I liked the movie and appreciated, generally, how true to the book it was.

Monday, April 07, 2008

You know you live in Wisconsin when...

anything above fifty degrees is considered "shorts" weather.

Not by me, mind you, but by the rest of my family and, apparently, the rest of the state who was sporting summer attire during the nice, but spring-like, weather over the weekend. Brrrrr!

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Here it is, our new addition!

I just couldn't wait until Monday, so on our Saturday morning of errands we zipped down to FedEx's distribution center and picked it up.

There is still a lot to learn.  It's just different enough from my Dell to make a few things frustrating, but I can already tell how some things are going to be so much easier.

What made me change loyalties?  I was never unhappy with my Dell, but I was never thrilled with it either.  I've heard so from so many people who clearly love their Macs for various reasons that I thought I'd make the switch and see what I thought.  

Anyway, here I sit with a pretty zippy little MacBook which, I don't end up loving for its performance (which I think I will), I'll sure end up loving how cute and compact it is.

Excuse any errors as I get used to the new machine (which I'm composing this post on-- we'll see how it looks!).

Friday, April 04, 2008

Coming Soon...

The Super family is expecting an exciting new addition! It's being delivered by FedEx though, not the stork, so nobody get too excited.

I was hoping to share pictures of it shortly after its arrival, but this morning I missed the FedEx man while dropping Hank off at school. They will redeliver Monday, but I may drive to the FedEx office tonight to pick it up before then.

What is it?

Some hints: the delivery came from Shanghai, China, it weighs about four kilograms and the contents are MacCool.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Adult Behavior

Can future adult behavior be predicted by choices made for one's pets in Webkinz World?

If so, Madeleine is destined to be a rich, penny pinching interior designer ("See my new wallpaper Mom? It was on sale!"). And, really, her pets' rooms are very well laid out and coordinated-- with accessories even!

Hank? He's going to be broke. Seriously. The boy never has more than $400 at one time, and usually that gets spent within minutes of logging on. He has three Webkinz and, like, fourteen beds in his dock. His pets' rooms? Messy. Disorganized.

If Webkinz are still around when Elisabeth is of computer age, I'll be curious to see what the soothsaying Webkinz have to say about her.