Monday, May 23, 2016

Picnic and Poppies

Last weekend we had our yearly picnic and hayride with church friends. The evening was cool and overcast but it did not rain and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously.
Katherine has always been the oldest kid in this group and sometimes struggles to find her place, interested in the adult conversation, but not quite ready to give up playing.
On this day she found the perfect in-between role. One of the 4 year old girls decided that Kate was her new Best Friend and insisted that Katherine follow her around the entire evening. Katherine was amused and more than willing to be a babysitter, to the relief of both girls' mothers.

Rachel immediately surrounded herself with a pack of girls who ran off to entertain themselves for the evening.
I didn't see much of her until s'mores time, when all the kids crouched around the world's smallest bonfire to burn marshmallows and giggle.
I did happen upon her conspiring with a particularly ornery friend, interrupting whatever shenanigans were being plotted.
I roamed the property chatting with adults, keeping an eye on the kids, and taking pictures of everything. I lost myself for a while in my friend Linda's beautiful flower gardens.

My favorites were a bed full of a flower I had never seen before - peony poppies. Aren't they gorgeous?

Throughout our idyllic evening in the country the cows grazing in the field across the fence watched us with intrigue.

Their frank interest in our goings-on made me laugh. Even the animals thought this evening was perfect!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Concert Season

At some point this spring, as I was schlepping kids to music lessons three times a week, I realized that I have become a Music Mom. I have always liked music in a general sort of way and have had some musical training, but have never been particularly musically talented. To my surprise and delight, my girls are well on their way to being serious music lovers. They sing at home frequently. They listen to music constantly. They know the lyrics to every song on the radio. They dance, They play around on instruments. And they participate and perform in musical groups. This is wonderful, but it means that at the end of the school year I sit through a lot of concerts!

Katherine has been taking private violin lessons since she turned 8. This winter she "graduated" from lessons with her beloved teacher, Ish, to lessons with the strings professor at the college. This seemed an impossibly big step to me, but she handled it all with ease. Her new teacher works her hard and she has practiced conscientiously. She performed in a big recital a few weeks ago and played beautifully.
Katherine had her final 6th grade orchestra concert last week. I must say, her classmates have improved a lot since last year! Kate enjoys orchestra class and never comments on her beginner level classmates. She does sometimes talk about how boring the music is, but she practices it all the same. The lighting at the concert was horrible, both for watching and photographing.

One of the pieces was called Dragonslayer, so their teacher directed with a sword!

This winter Rachel joined a children's choir that is part of our college's community music school. She has loved going to rehearsal each week and getting to know new friends. She's proud to be a part of something that is "hers" and loves all the music they sing. The choir has performed in churches and a local music crawl this spring and had a final concert tonight. I am impressed that Rachel, my constantly moving, easily distracted girl, never wiggled during the performance. She watched the director so intently and sang every word.

They sang some very pretty pieces, including rounds and songs with two part harmony.
My girls always have a song in their hearts and this makes me so happy!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Field Trip-alooza

I went on the 2nd grade field trip with Rachel today. I don't go on my girls' field trips often (this is the first with Rachel) so Rae was delighted. I was even brave enough, or stupid enough, to ride in the back of the school bus with her.
We drove to the city for our first stop - Krispy Kreme. The red light was on so we watched the doughnut assembly line.
Then we got to taste the doughnuts we'd watch cooking. Fresh, hot Krispy Kremes just melt in your mouth. Yummy!
There were 27 second graders, so we took turns watching the doughnut process. The group that wasn't waiting on doughnuts played with dough, which Rachel liked nearly as much as the doughnut.
We loaded back on to the bus and drove to our second stop, a wild life park. There were all sorts of animals, both wild and domesticated, and the kids could get very close to and even touch many of them.

I loved the lorakeets and their gorgeous colors, but Rachel and her partner weren't too impressed.

There were all sorts of unusual smaller wild cats, including cloud leopards.
They were beautiful and we were surprised and excited when they came right up to the glass and interacted with us!

The kangaroos were fun, too. You could pet them and we discovered that they are surprisingly soft.
This mama was very patient. If you look carefully, you can see her joey's feet poking out of her pouch!
The kids' admission tickets allowed them to hand feed one of several kinds of animals - rabbits, guinea pigs, tortoises, giraffes, or lorakeets. Rachel chose the rabbits. The zoo workers gave her a lettuce leaf pinched in a giant clothespin and she climbed in the rabbit enclosure to feed the bunnies.
She loved the rabbits. We went back to pet them several times and I think she would have happily stayed there for hours.
Rachel and her partner were fascinated by the koi swimming in the wildlife park's artificial "rivers" and ponds. I bought them a handful of fish food and they made it last as long as possible, laughing in delight at the feeding frenzy.

After we'd seen all the animals and eaten our picnic lunches and played on the playground equipment, we headed off to our third destination of the day - bowling. It was Rachel's first time to bowl and she was eager to try it out.

She was impressed with the shoes (They're like tap shoes, Mom!) and quickly picked up the rules and strategies. She decided that of all the things we'd done on this day-long trip, bowling was what she wanted to try again. Soon.
It was a fun day and we came home tired and satisfied. It was good to spend a whole day hanging out with Rae and her friends. It is always fun to watch kids experience something new. And after chasing after Rachel's sometimes challenging classmates, it was a nice reminder for me of what a great kid I have. I really should go on field trips more often.

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way