Saturday, August 31, 2013

Change is in the air... kind of like a whirlwind!

Last week's calendar looked something like this:

Monday -- Bianca's first day of middle school
Tuesday -- Portia's first day of first grade
Thursday -- Jeana's first day of work
Friday -- Eric's last day of work

It has been an adjustment. Our mornings start with the ringing of long tones from Bianca's viola at six a.m. That's when I drag myself out of bed and start getting ready for work. Now I've worked flexible jobs here and there over the last eight years, but not full-time. The first day I came home from working my eight hours, my body ached (and yes, I have an office job where I'm sitting in front of a computer) and my head hurt with the loads of info crammed into it. 

Bianca and Portia on Portia's first day of school
I kind of feel bad now for always nagging my kids to get started on other things after they'd stagger in the door from school. They need some down time. Their brains hurt. I get it. Now, they veg in front of the computer or TV until I stagger in the door.

After Eric stopped working (and while he's setting up his own company), he's playing mom. He gets the kids breakfast and lunches, does the dishes, makes the bed. He has dinner on the table when I get home from work. We'll  eat better now that Eric's in charge of food! He is the master chef around here. 

I feel I need to explain why we made the decision we did: Things at Eric's work had gotten toxic. This was something he needed to do. I'm trying to support him even though starting our own company is risky. 

One thing is sure: Eric is a very hard worker and he's proven he knows his way around business deals. So I'll trust for now.

Any change takes adjustment. We're bending now, trying not to break in the midst of this whirlwind. This ought to be an interesting year! Wish us luck!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My little "gymnasticker"

When I was little, I wanted to be a gymnast more than anything in the whole world. I ate, drank, and slept gymnastics--when I wasn't actually doing gymnastics. When the television would show a gymnastics meet, I taped it on my VHS tape and watched it over and over until I had memorized every move that I could do most of the routines myself (minus the big-ticket stuff). I was obsessed. I cartwheeled or back-flipped everywhere I needed to go, even on concrete (the mother in me cringes when I remember that).

I still love to watch gymnastics on television. While I was watching a meet a couple years ago, Portia sidled up to me and watched over my shoulder. That's when she proudly proclaimed (as a 3-year-old) that she wanted to be a "gymnasticker". I put her in gymnastics for a year and then we moved, and fast-forward a couple years, I signed her back up for gymnastics lessons at Gymcats at Thanksgiving Point when she was five.

She and her friend Ashley have taken lessons together since March, and they had a "recital" this Saturday to show us (the parents) the progress our kids are making. After all, they have elaborate dance recitals for dance--why not have a gymnastics recital?

Uh oh, looks like Portia's arms may be double-jointed as mine are
Portia practiced her floor routine at home. She was cosi-cosi (our family's newly adopted Italian term meaning so-so) on bars, but bars was never my strongest event when I was a kid. She was completely clueless on her beam routine, but boy did she finish her routine with gusto (she did a round-off dismount and landed on her bum with all the force she mustered)! And her vault looked pretty strong as well. But by far, she looked comfortable out there tumbling on the floor. They even got medals at the end. Portia's convinced she got first place, and every one else fell somewhere behind her.

Lately, I've been giving Portia private gymnastics tutoring at home. She's loving it. She's been cartwheeling all over the place, even up the stairs. I didn't think it was possible either, until I saw it. And I'm loving this too!

My little "gymnasticker"

Saturday, August 17, 2013

An artist in the making

When I was a little girl, I spent all my days drawing and coloring. Before I could write, I would paste pages together to make books and then I'd draw stories. When I learned to write, my stories came to life in similarly glued-together books. The writing stuck, but somewhere along there, my first love--drawing--got lost in the shuffle. I see in Portia the same passion for drawing that I once had. (I find it interesting the things we can pass along to our kids.) Well, I don't want her love for art to get lost as mine did, so I'm trying to encourage her to keep it up. As such, I put Portia in art camp with Portia's old pre-school teacher, Miss Melissa, the second week of August.

It was all afternoon for four days, and Portia LOVED it! She made this awesome kitty mask (it was plastered from Portia's face, but she decided to add triangle ears to make it more cat-like).

She also made a clay pig (Portia painted hers blue), splatter-paint initial boards (I love how the splatter artistry is also attached to Portia's skin), and painted a woods scene. The pine trees and river and clouds were amazing. I called Melissa afterward and asked, Did Portia really paint that? She assured us that each child did their own work. The instructors taught the techniques to use the brush to make a pine tree or the splash of the water against the rock, but yes, it was all Portia. In the picture below, Portia's painting is to the right of her, as well as her blue pig with pink eyes.

The art camp was for pre-school alumni and friends, so Portia didn't really know many kids. Here is a friend she made named Jada.

I think my little girl has talent. I'll try not to let her forget about it despite the other talents she may be nurturing along the way.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on..."

...says Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest. The Tempest is one of my all-time favorite Shakespearean plays. And I realized this weekend that I have a lot of favorites. As Bianca and I sat at the Bard's Inn breakfast table eating our egg-and-bacon-crescent blossoms and fruit medley, we overheard a family going around the table answering which is their all-time favorite play of Shakespeare's. I can honestly say I don't know which is my absolute favorite. Bianca said hers was Taming of the Shrew, which she got to know up-close-and-personal this year as she played Bianca in Westfield Elementary's sixth-grade rendition. And, of course, it's her name-sake. I love that one too. The Tempest is my Miranda's name-sake, so this one is particularly special to me. There's even a quote from the play etched into her headstone--"O, a cherubim, thou wast that did preserve me. Thou didst smile infused with a fortitude from heaven." It brought tears to my eyes when I heard Prospero say the line at this year's annual mother-daughter trip to Cedar City.
Miranda and Ferdinand -- The Tempest

This year was the first time we spent two nights at the B&B and saw two plays, The Tempest and Love's Labour's Lost. I filled in the play-bill where it lists all the plays and you mark if you've seen it or not. (I didn't count community theatre productions, just professional.) I thought I had seen a lot of them, but I have a lot to go. I made Bianca promise me that we would always, always try to spend our weekend together at the Shakespeare Festival. She told me she would have to see if it would fit into her "tour schedule" as she has high hopes of becoming a professional violist someday. I smiled and told her, "We'll make it work."

Some years my friend Rachel and her son Conner come along, as they did this year. We did some "traditional" things, like Wingers (for some reason, we always eat there) and the Green Show. And of course, the plays, which were particularly interesting this year. I really liked both of them. We probably should have fit King John into the mix as well, as I hear it was fantastic, but I haven't even started on the Histories yet and am not sure how eager I am to tackle those. I'm not exactly a history person. Give me my tragedies and comedies for now.

Bianca and I took some early morning walks and we even checked out a house for sale down there--a cute little Tudor-style cottage. Now ideas of having a vacation rental that I can decorate all Shakespeare keep running through my head. I think it would be nice to have a place to stay down in a town that celebrates William Shakespeare. I'll have to think on this one...

I do love our time down in Cedar City. We need these mother-daughter bonding weekends. I realized that Portia will be the age next summer that Bianca was when we first started taking our trip to the Shakespeare Festival. She just seems so less ready. I might push it a little while with her. But the next time they do Merchant of Venice--Portia's namesake--I'll have no choice.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A little motivation

Bianca was working really hard. She practiced her viola most days while we were in Europe. She knew she needed to have several pieces performance-ready. Because of the audition. It's been looming over us all summer. Some days she would put in two or three practice sessions, without me encouraging her to do it. And the kind of practice was different--instead of running through her pieces straight through, she was stopping at mistakes, picking those sections apart, practicing them slower, then gradually faster up to tempo. It's like her practicing was become more mature right before my eyes (well, my ears anyway, as she practices upstairs in her room).

I knew she was putting a lot of pressure on herself. One particular week after a lot of extra practice sessions, Bianca's teacher was doing as she always does--finding parts that needed help and correcting her. Near the end of the lesson, something just broke. Roberta stopped and asked what was wrong. Bianca was in tears. I knew what it was--that her many extra hours hadn't really been acknowledged and that lessons were going on as usual and that corrections were continuing to be made. My eyes started welling up too, I'm a sympathetic cryer. And no one wants to see their child hurting. Larry, Bianca's teacher's husband, went out to feed the fish after the lesson and asked if Bianca and Portia wanted to come watch. Of course they did. I was glad for I had time to explain to Roberta what happened in the studio back there. She was full of praise for Bianca and worried that she's putting too much pressure on herself. Maybe she was. Bianca can be intense at times, and I think she felt she had something to prove.

Up until the audition yesterday, Roberta stressed that I needed to downplay the importance of the audition and that no matter the outcome, it doesn't change the improvements Bianca's made. But I was worried. If she didn't get the outcome she wanted--the coveted place in the prestigious orchestra--how could I explain to her that hard work really gets results?

Thankfully, it all worked out. Bianca was ready. She was confident, poised, and she played beautifully at the audition. She had the first two movements of the Telemann Viola Concerto prepared, as well as the courante from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1, which she had learned in three weeks. When the director said she had a place in the orchestra, she couldn't stop smiling. This orchestra is a huge commitment--every Saturday for over five hours. But it's a full-scholarship orchestra so once you get in, you're immersed in it. Saturday sessions include music theory and ear training classes and music history. I told Bianca that yes, she worked hard to get in, but it's just the beginning. This orchestra will be a lot of work. And a lot of early Saturday mornings.