Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Katherine auditioned for the area Youth Symphony today.
She was the youngest musician to audition, which worried her. She doesn't quite grasp the idea that since she started so young, she has actually been playing longer than kids two and three years older than she is.
Katherine rarely ever admits to being nervous, but she was nervous today. I watched through the window of the practice room as she played her piece again and again. When she realized that the violinist in the next room was playing a song she'd performed in church two years ago, she grinned and noticeably calmed. She knew she could play more difficult music than that!
I heard her play before the judges and she sounded great. Kate, however, thinks she played poorly. She was especially distressed about the music she'd had to sight read. I have not yet convinced her that the judges didn't expect her to play that piece perfectly.

I watched Katherine watching the other musicians and the veteran players with equal parts apprehension and longing in her eyes. No matter the outcome, this audition was a good experience. And I am so proud of my brave girl.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The First Rite of Summer

At the beginning of every summer the young families group from our church has a picnic at the country home of our dear friends, Larry and Linda. It's always one of the best days of the year! Last night we gathered on the first dry day we'd had in two weeks for a fabulous evening of fun and friendship. There were hayrack rides, s'mores, inter-generational kickball games, tractor rides, butterfly chasing, bubbles, babies to hold, kids running everywhere, and lots and lots of laughter. It was a perfect way to usher in summer...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Last Days

The crazy, stressful, long/fast last weeks of school are finally ending. This has been an entire week of Last Days for us.
Katherine's last day was Tuesday. She loved 5th grade. She was so anxious about moving schools, but she found her place and has gained new friends and new confidence. Because of aging buildings, declining enrollment, and major budget cuts, her school is being closed next year. Kate will be headed to Middle School for 6th grade and she knows she'll be okay there. She's even looking forward to it!

Steve's last day was Wednesday. Like teachers everywhere, he came home to just sit in stunned exhaustion for a while.

Rachel's last day of was Thursday. I sent her off in the morning clean and shiny and wearing new clothes. By the time school let out at 1:05 she had splatters on the back of her shirt, a skinned knee, mud from her knees to her ankles, and was missing a sock. The last day of 1st grade must have been eventful! Rae loved 1st grade, even though she tells anyone who will listen that she doesn't like school. She was happy to go every single morning and had endless stories of what her teacher said and what 7 year old girl drama had occurred during the day. She has been worried that she wouldn't pass first grade and was greatly relieved to see all A's on her report card today. We'd been out of school for perhaps 20 minutes when she started complaining that she missed her friends.

My last day is tomorrow, Friday. My room is stripped bare and packed away. (I hate it when it is empty.) I have to go back for a morning of greetings and last minute information and then I will be DONE!

We are all looking forward to lazy mornings and time to read our never-ending piles of books and day after day of chances to just hang out with each other. But right now, crickets are chirping, the scent of honeysuckle is drifting through the open windows, and we are headed to Sonic for half price shakes. Summer is officially here!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cartwheel Queen

Rachel has been spending every moment she can outdoors. She goes to the park or plays with the neighbor kids or rides her bike. And she spends lots of time turning cartwheels. Lots and lots of cartwheels.

She turns the usual two-handed kind. And also perfect one-handed cartwheels. She tucks her left arm behind her back and confidently flips herself over in in strong, precise circles.

Recently someone admired her skill and asked where she had learned to turn such beautiful cartwheels. Was she in gymnastics? Steve replied, "Nope. Just the front yard."
Just a front yard. And endless determination. And lots and lots of practice. But that's enough to create a Cartwheel Queen!

A Study in Iris

The iris plants in our yard bloomed this week. Steve loves irises, mostly because his grandmother grew them. When we first moved to this house, we dug up a few of the irises in her yard and moved them to our flower beds. Grandma is gone now, but I love seeing reminders of her blooming every spring. I went out last night to admire them.  [The iris blooms in our yard and most definitely purple, but they always look blue in photos!]

Saturday, April 11, 2015

In Celebration of Friends

Today the girls and I went to our friend Marguerite's 80th birthday party. Marguerite has been my friend since I was 8 years old, many towns and most of a lifetime ago. She is also my most dedicated blog follower. (Hi, Marguerite!) We all adore her.

When I was in elementary school, Marguerite and her husband Clark went to the church were my dad was the pastor. My parents were the sponsors for the church youth group, which Clark and Marguerite's sons attended. On Sunday evenings, Mom and Dad went off to youth group and my sister and I went off to Clark and Marguerite's. Robin and I loved spending time there. They took us out to eat steak fingers or the occasional banana split, but mostly we just talked. Clark and Marguerite asked about our lives and listened to our stories and gave us their complete attention. It was a wonderful gift.

Eventually, my family moved and I lost track of Clark and Marguerite, although my parents still kept in contact with them. I never forgot them or their kindness, though.

Many years later Steve and I moved here, to our little college town, and discovered that Clark and Marguerite had retired here. And they were as warm and loving as I had remembered. When the girls arrived, they welcomed them with open arms. I am honored and amazed at how this dear couple has loved and supported two generations of little girls in my family.

We see Clark and Marguerite often around town, usually when we are eating in the same restaurant. The girls always invite themselves to their table to talk. Clark and Marguerite ask about their lives and listen to their stories and give the girls their complete attention. It is still a wonderful gift.
Happy birthday, Marguerite! We love you!

Color Run

Katherine ran her first race this morning. She has never shown any particular interest in running, but when Steve brought home a flyer about a local color run she was intrigued. There was a 5K option, which she quickly decided was much to far, but she thought she could manage the one mile run. She has been practicing by running in the park and around the neighborhood. By this morning she was almost giddy with excitement.

This race was rather loosely organized, but it was a real race. Kate had an official t-shirt and a race number...
...and an electronic chip to wear on each shoe.
There weren't many people running, but she found a couple of friends from school and was glad to have someone to run with.
Her official cheering section moved on down the street to wait.
The start was a pretty laid-back affair.
But there was an explosion of purple powder and she was off!
The race plan was for everyone to run the first stretch of road together and then for the one-milers to turn back and the 5K runners to keep going, However, this was not clearly spelled out to the runners. When they reached the turn around spot (and a cloud of yellow dye) no one in charge mentioned turning back, so Katherine and a lot of others just kept running! Steve was worried about Kate and the distance she was covering and if she'd be scared or mad. He really debated getting in the car and going to rescue her but I convinced him to just let her go. She was with a friend. She knew how to run a bit and walk a bit. It was an unexpected adventure and she'd figure it out on her own.

Rachel had turned down the invitation to run in the race because she "didn't like to run". I'm guessing she meant she didn't like organized running because she spent the long wait until Katherine returned doing this:
That is, when she wasn't turning cartwheels, jumping off rocks and railings, and skipping across the parking lot.
 I'm guessing that she expended as much energy as any of the racers!

Most of the 3K race was over a hill and out of sight but eventually a familiar figure appeared alternately running an walking down the road.
By the time I could see her face, she was grinning.
She even found the energy to run the whole last lap.
She'd run farther than she ever had and finished the race and she was pretty darn proud of herself!
She knew she'd run farther than she was supposed to, but was amazed to learn she'd actually gone over 3 miles.
And she loved the silliness of being covered with colored powder.
I am so proud of Katherine! Proud of her for entering a race. Proud of her for running. Proud of her for not giving up when the route became unexpectedly long. Proud of her for finishing with a smile on her face. She's pretty amazing, this girl of mine!

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