Monday, November 28, 2011

I am thankful . . .

I know this is a few days late, but seeing as how I'm moving into a new house right now and unpacking things that have been in storage for FIVE YEARS (yes, five), I'm cutting myself some slack. So here is my Thanksgiving post. I am thankful . . .

For the satisfaction of finished projects.

For a healthy pregnancy and an at-home (MY home!!!) birth plan that has me so excited to bring this little boy into the world.

For a little girl who kept me company through the peeling and dicing of four huge "peanut butter squash" for Thanksgiving. :) As I peeled, she sat in front of her cereal and, without prompting, said a prayer of Thanksgiving for each and every member of our family. Amen.

For living close to my two favorite women, my mom and my sister.

For a game of Trivial Pursuit (a very serious pastime in this family) where I didn't lose by a landslide.

In fact, the three of us were tied. That's me in the middle. Unfortunately I didn't win. Stupid Sports and Liesure.

But guess who did win?

I'm thankful for heirlooms. More on this dining room set later . . .

And of course, I'm thankful for our new house, which we are quickly transforming into a Home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Just a quicky today :)

We bought our first house yesterday!!! It's beautiful, has a wonderful old soul, and I can't wait to start moving in, decorating, and nesting for this baby who is supposed to arrive in less than three months!

 This maple tree is my favorite feature!!!

 Yes, I cried when I read this. The family before us had 6 children in this house. Those are big shoes to fill!

Those who know us know what a long time coming this has been, and what a wonderful miracle it is that we are finally here. At our house. 

No, our Home.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our First Month of Preschool

Meet our preschool co-op. We sing, we craft, we read stories, eat healthy snacks, and one of our moms (my sister in law Kerri) lives on a farm, and hosted our first month of preschool. Here are our adventures from that month.

In September our theme was farming and fall. On this particular day we made apple crowns, read "Ten Apples Up On Top," and ate apple compote. Here's MaryAnn, one of the wonderful women in our co-op.

Kerri is our farmer mama, and so, so, creative with children. We made these cute little toadstool pillows for story time. Each child's is so unique!

When the older siblings are out of school, we all go to the park and play in the dirt. I loved seeing the little city they built from old bottle caps and things they found lying around the park!

I think the giant cockroach is a nice touch, don't you?

Hannah loves her cousin, Baby Rivers. She's going to be a great older sister. :)

 For our last day of preschool on the farm (at least until the rotation hits Kerri again), we had a special treat  - a field trip (literally) on Farmer Glen's tractor trailer!

He even let the kids climb around and explore the tractor. How cool is that?

Golden was a wonderful tour guide, and even let the kids sit on HIS red tractor. :)

I'm so thankful for this group of friends who have taken such an interest in the teaching and enrichment of all our kids. I hemmed and hawed about enrolling Hannah in a regular preschool in town, but what is a classroom filled with plastic toys, two teachers and 20 kids, compared with this:
No contest.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Michaelmas in September

September was a month of exuberant festivals! We attended Buffalo Bill Days, complete with line dancing, face painting, donkey riding, and outhouse racing. We also took part in a wonderful barn dedication at Lambourn Farm. I think my favorite of the September festivities, however, was Michaelmas. This was our first time observing the feast of St. Michael, me being the fledgling wannabe Waldorf mama that I am, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I wish I had taken more than a week preparing for this festival, and will remember to do so next year. For those interested, you can read a little more about Michaelmas over at Parenting Passageway. I drew ideas from many of the links on this page, and also from the book All Year Round.

 We invited my sister and her boys to take part in the festival, and we told the story of St. George and the dragon with little peg people I clothed as the characters in the story. My nephew Ethan especially liked the knight with his tiny little sword. Hans was a rather flamboyant puppeteer, and my narrating just couldn't compete with his theatrics. :)

Hannah and I also sculpted a dragon out of beeswax to go on our Michaelmas candle, which is meant to be lit every night until Halloween. It is a symbol of keeping darkness (the dragon) at bay as the days grow shorter, and we begin to turn inward to find the light and strength that will carry us through winter. 
 After telling the story and lighting our candle we ventured outside and reenacted the St. George story, with nephews as knights, Hannah as the princess (of course) and Hans as the dragon. I think this was the boys' favorite part. What little boy doesn't like being given permission to beat on his uncle with a sword?
Doesn't this chivalry make you swoon? :) After role playing, we came inside for a warm supper of chicken noodle soup and dragon bread, of course. I got the recipe for this yummy bread from the book All Year Round, and have since used it at least three more times! My bread sculpting skills could use improvement . . .

We then took the children outside for a Grandpa-built bonfire that ended up being a little more than we'd bargained for. Hannah spent the entire time nursing the "dragon" back to health. She was quite distraught that our knights had to hurt him. I'm thinking next year the story needs to go " . . . and then St. George told the dragon to 'be good!' and the dragon obeyed, and took up baking bread with his fiery breath for the village baker. The end." 

Almost caught up! Thank you for bearing with me and reading through these memories with me. This has been a wonderful exercise in record keeping. I'm excited to finish up though, and talk about all the fun things that are happening now!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Acting From a Place of Truth

Remember that little bit about playing Cinderella? While all our other crazy adventures were happening,  I was also rehearsing my butt off 5 nights a week! Our community theater's production of Rogers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" went up in August. I love taking part in community theater, especially in summer when spirits and energy are high. You might remember the down feeling I had after "Annie" last summer, but I had very little sense of loss when this show was over, not because it was a negative experience, but because I wasn't using theater as a diversion from reality this time around. I was in a much better place in my life, a place where I could give much more, and consequently I took away much more. Not only did I have my ever-thickening pregnant belly to nurture, but I gained wonderful new friendships and a healthy boost to my number of piano and voice students. Plus, who doesn't like to dress like a princess and sing and dance across the stage? :)

 It isn't always easy to explain why I love performing so much, especially at this little old theater. You rehearse to ungodly hours of the night (I sometimes didn't get to see Hans, because as soon as he came home from work I had to leave for rehearsal, and when I came home from rehearsal he was fast asleep in bed). You deal with the oldness of the building - broken air conditioning in the middle of July, dust, feathers and bird droppings (and sometimes whole birds) are constantly falling from the rafters and invading your senses. The water gets shut off and you have to go hours without a bathroom during performances. Our tiny backstage area is always ripe with drama - the kind that doesn't entertain or make anyone feel good. Oh, and did I mention the being pregnant while performing part?

Many think that theater is a self-centered hobby. That we like it because we like the attention. That's true. But I wouldn't dismiss it as anything less than a meaningful and worthwhile art form that enriches the souls of both the actors and the audience. I don't have many opportunities to step in someone else's shoes, or truly sympathize with an infamous character in literature. In fact, I always thought Cinderella was kind of a drag. This show allowed me to not only find worth in this short fairy tale, but to inject it with the spunk I'd always felt was missing!

And then there are the people. The "community" in "Community Theater." People from all walks of life - small business owners, insurance agents, district attorney assistants, physical therapists, teachers, stay at home moms - somehow manage to come together in this musty old theater and share their love for music and acting, and breathe life into their characters in ways I hadn't thought of. They are a joy to watch, and a pleasure to know. I treasure these people like my own family, and every show I'm involved in expands the family a little more.

And isn't that what community is all about, anyway? It invites new people to play a role in our lives - allowing them to influence us, love us, and remind us that our separateness is a lie. The truth is not that we all long to be connected, but that we already are.

Photo credits: Nick Schale Photography

Friday, November 18, 2011

July Part II: Everyone Needs an Uncle Paul

Later in July we had a special treat - a visit from my brother Paul and his kids Morgan, Connor and Riley. I hadn't seen them in about 3 years, and this was the first time Hannah would actually remember meeting her uncle and cousins. We missed having Paul's wife Sara for the visit. Hopefully we'll be seeing them all for Christmas this year (hint, hint!). :) Paul is closest to me in age, and though we have two older siblings, much of my childhood was spent with just him. Watching him play with the kids in the pool reminded me of being launched across the swimming pool by my brother, and I just had to smile at the full circle those adventures have made.

We'll start off with my single most favorite photo of the summer:
Pure glee. There are no other words.
This is the position Ethan usually assumes when uncles are in the pool.
This is the face Hannah inspires in most people.
Lessons in bravery . . .
Another sweet moment.
Tandem cannon balls.
 Pizza in a hammock. Can you think of a better way to spend a July afternoon?
We also celebrated the 10th and 11th birthdays of Zach and Morgan, and my sister Amy made this fabulous Harry Potter cake, complete with sorting hat, golden snitch, glasses and monster book.
Love their faces while we're singing to them. Let the embarrassed phase begin. :)
This was my gift to Zach, it's called a Loopz Game, and a really funny video advertisement can be found here. So naturally, Uncle Paul the Pianist had more fun with it than anyone. I think he did this for a solid half hour. I kind of want to post video of it too, but I've had such a hard time loading photos that it sounds like a daunting task (anyone else finding blogger slow and cumbersome with uploading photos? Tips, please?)

Those were our happy times in July. I'm on a roll, so help me stay motivated and tell me your favorite memories from this past summer!