Friday, April 29, 2011

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

I love the parties they have at Portia's pre-school, Kinderprep Academy. This time, right before Easter, they had a Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Here are some of the delicious treats. I love that Miss Melissa set up the food as eat-me, drink-me, take-one, just like it is in the book Alice In Wonderland. They had another five-course meal, although as usual Portia loved the chocolate-covered strawberry best. In fact, she returned home with the juice on her dress.

Portia was escorted to her seat by a gentleman again. This time it was Zander, who Portia tells me is her boyfriend. I'm not quite certain he knows about that yet. He is a cutie, though. So is she.

Here is a class portrait. Most of Portia's preschool friends from this year will be in her class again next year.

They sang songs and recited their poetry. And the photographer spent time with each of them.

Here are Portia and Miss Melissa.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's worth keeping?

"Publisher's Weekly destroyed me," I told my husband Eric when he got into the car with Bianca and me as we were leaving to see the symphony last night. I chose my words carefully, for all the various meanings it could possibly have. Before I left, I read the review over quickly, and I can't ever go back. Never. There was not one constructive thing; not one thing that I could fix to make it better; it pretty much said the entire novel was fit for the garbage--a terrible plot line and unappealing characters. No use editing. It's amazing how a project I worked on for two years can be whittled down to nothing in a matter of seconds. So much so that I don't know if I could ever send it out. Someone said something on one of the ABNA boards about some of the critics being "baby killers"  because our novels are our babies, we've spent so much time making them and loving them and fixing them up. I see exactly what they mean now. This makes me feel like a failure and makes me seriously wonder why I've been wasting my time. Should I even keep this awful manuscript around or do I trash it, just like PW did today. But I stayed strong all day and wouldn't let myself cry. I kept telling myself I would be strong.

I couldn't eat dinner last night. So I sat down to the symphony with an aching tummy, hoping for a relaxing night and a reprieve from the sad feeling that sat like bricks in my stomach. It was a night of popular classic songs that kids from the local Youth Guild were able to vote on. A local celebrity, Big Budah from Fox 13 News, was hosting and introducing the songs that had been chosen. At the beginning of the night, he asked the crowd, "Who here voted?" My little Bianca rose her hand. She was the only person in the entire crowd who had voted for the songs online about a month ago. Big Budah thought this was funny and kept referring to the pieces played, the performance "put together by the conductor and Bianca." At intermission, one of the women in charge came over to Bianca and asked her if she'd want to go up on stage with Big Budah. She excitedly followed the woman backstage. When Eric and I took our seats again, Bianca went on stage with Big Budah and did a whole ad-lib act where they were playing back and forth and joking. They had a really cute rapport, and he brought her out between every song for the rest of the performance to do skits and introduce the songs. Bianca was amazing, calm, and absolutely adorable. I sat there as Pachelbel's Canon in D was playing and a couple tears came. A teeny bit because I was thinking of that horrible review, but mostly because I was watching my daughter--my project of nine years--up on that stage, successful.

After we picked her up at the end of the night, so many people stopped us on our way out of Abravenal Hall to tell Bianca what a good job she did and some looked to me and said, "And you must be amazing parents!" And I couldn't stop smiling because I felt like it was a little gift I'd gotten to help me get through a heart-wrenching day.

On our drive home, Bianca was telling us all the things she'd talked about with Big Budah. One thing he'd said to her is that he wanted to keep her. And I know how he feels. She is an amazing little girl that I'm so proud of. I don't know if I can take all the credit for her, but she makes me happy every day and her successes are my successes. And even if I never make it as a writer (which looks pretty probable from where I'm sitting now), I have a supportive husband and Portia and Bianca (my real babies) and I get to keep them.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter and a Birthday

I feel sorry for people who have birthdays on holidays. Actually, I feel worse for their parents. This weekend, Portia’s birthday fell on the Saturday right before Easter.  There was a lot to do! 

I decided with Portia that I’d wait to have a birthday party with friends until she turns five. So, this year, when she turned four, it was just going to be us. We went to a movie—African Cats—and then Portia got to pick where we ate—Fuddrucker’s because they have balloons. But they also have cheeseburgers and French fries and the cheese dipping sauce.

Then we went home for cupcakes and presents. 

 Easter was the next day. The weather wasn't great, which is surprising considering how late Easter was this year. We had to rush home from church to do Easter eggs before it started to rain again. We thought we were on our own this year but at the last minute, Eric's cousin's wife's parents (Dale and Rosalie) invited us to their house for dinner. It's so wonderful that they included us in their gathering. They had a barbecue and, fortunately, on the east side of town, it didn't rain quite so much. As much fun as it was, I was relieved when this weekend ended.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Orchestra and boys?!?

I'm not a good influence on Bianca. I was a little boy-crazy as a kid. There was that time in first grade that I tackled a third-grade boy at recess and kissed him on the cheek. He told his teacher and I got into trouble. No worries--I got to dump that same boy in high school.

So on Tuesday, Bianca was invited to "guest conduct" for one of the other school orchestras in West Jordan. She was thrilled. They wanted her to play viola with their orchestra and then come conduct her song they were playing.  Bianca did great. As we were leaving the concert, one of the girls from the orchestra leaned over and said to Bianca, "A boy in our orchestra likes you."

Bianca nodded bashfully and kept walking. I leaned over and whispered, "Go ask her who it is.  Is he cute?" She refused. Yes, I know, it wasn't one of my finest parenting moments. But I can't help it; that time in my life was a lot of fun and I can only live it through her now. I'd hate for her to miss out on anything. But she's a much different girl than I was. She's shocked when I tell her that I kissed a boy in fourth grade. Bianca seems so far away from that, which is a good thing. Although I happen to know that there is a boy in her class she likes. I'm sworn to secrecy though.

On another "boy" note, last week after her school orchestra concert, two of the boys in Bianca's class told her they didn't believe she wrote that song the orchestra played. "It was too good," one had said. I told Bianca to just take it as a compliment and move on, but instead, she lugged her composition binder (with her 70-plus compositions in it) into her backpack to take to school to show them all the songs she's written. She said that shut them up.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stars Shining

I used to sing Portia a lullaby every night before bed. It was part of her bed-time routine while she was still in a crib. When she graduated to a big girl bed, she didn't seem to want her lullaby anymore. It wasn't until very recently that she started asking for one again.  Now she's much too big to rock, so I lay next to her on her bed and sing it into her ear. I think it's her way of putting off bedtime for just a little bit longer, but I'm glad she needs me again.  I have a couple of songs I rotate--Lullaby and Goodnight by Brahms and Dream a Little Dream by the Mamas and the Papas, which she calls "Stars Shining".

Portia discovered Jillyboo (our cat) asleep and thought she needed a lullaby. I particularly love the way she does "her opera" while she sings.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My little conductor

Bianca says she wants to go to Juilliard. I love that she has a dream. Just in case that dream never fizzles, I try to keep track of her musical accomplishments. It's never too early to start on your resume, right?  And she had better get some type of scholarship; I know what Juilliard costs.

I keep track of the time she spends volunteering at the Utah Symphony's Youth Guild, checking coats for performances and helping out with the instrument petting zoos (although she doesn't think this is work). I keep track of contests she wins. Last night, at the monster concert, she won the composition contest that the district held and she got up in front of twelve different elementary schools' orchestras, all playing in the concert together, and conducted them while they played her song. It was quite simply amazing. She had to stand up on a chair because she was so small no one could see her. But she loves it and just eats it up. I love it too. I couldn't have been more proud. I'm still baffled as to where her musical creativity comes from. But I'm glad she got it and glad we figured it out and even better, I'm glad she uses it. When she gets into Juilliard, she's not sure yet if she'll study viola performance, piano performance, composition, or even conducting--or any number of combinations. We'll have to wait and see.