Sunday, May 22, 2011

What have we been doing?

Visiting the Church Art Museum and their very cool new kids exhibit on the church in Latin America. Fun mission memories for me. Charlotte was in heaven with the Mexican dancing dresses you got to wear, and the boys had a great time with the Zarahemla life-size building blocks.

Having Claire push Charlotte and Seth in the doll stroller. Good practice for those handcart treks. She doesn't like to be the rider, just the pusher. (Probably scarred for life because Seth has dumped her out a few times rocketing around the house at break-neck speed.)

Adjusting to Carden's new glasses. His doctor checkup this year revealed an alarming discrepancy between his right and left eyes. An optometry exam explained that he has amblyopia, sometimes called "lazy eye." Glasses correct the vision deficiency in the bad eye, but he has to wear a pirate patch for 1-2 hours a day and do close-up work to force his brain to accept visual input from the bad eye. The hard part is because his brain ignores his bad eye, he sees no improvement with glasses, so he's taking it on faith that they really do make things better. His outlook has improved since I told him that playing games on the computer and iPhone count as "close-up work."

Seeking comfort wherever we can find it. For Claire that means left thumb in mouth, right hand rubbing her belly button. The thumb-sucking has been her therapy since she first was able to get it into her mouth. The belly-rubbing is new in the last couple of months. She hates when I dress her in onesies. Another drawback: when your two arms are glued to your body, your options for steadying yourself as you walk are limited. Face-plants create need for belly-rubbing, belly-rubbing creates opportunities for face-plants. We're kinda stuck in a vicious circle here.

Looking for the balance between enjoying the kids and still getting the work done. We'll let you know when we figure that one out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Piano projects

Carden and Seth finished their year of piano lessons in grand style. Carden earned a gold cup for receiving 3 years of Superior ratings in the Music Federation's festival. Both boys performed well at the final, and both won the award for having the most weeks of "perfect practice."Personally, I think that award should go to me.

Their teacher requires a "Creative Musicianship" project every year--they have to do something creative or artistic incorporating music. This year the projects turned into much more than I expected, but we had a great time doing them.

Carden and I had attended a performance of the American Piano Duo, two pianists who play these elaborate duets of famous music that has been arranged for two pianos. He wrote down his impressions of each piece and made a poster showing the flags of all the countries the music originated from or was written for, and his notes from the performance.

I was proud of his work on the poster--cutting out those construction paper flags was much more meticulous work than he usually goes for. But I was most proud of how much he had enjoyed an adult concert experience. He stayed focused on the music, behaved well, and had a great time. It gives me hope that my life is not always destined to be picking up Legos and Barbie doll dresses and changing diapers.

Seth had a harder time deciding on a project, but I remembered how much he liked The Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky. We first discovered it from the Disney "Fantasia 2000" movie and a Little Einsteins DVD. Then we heard a piano version by the Five Browns. So Seth and I learned the history of the piece (a Russian fairytale turned into a ballet) and watched a clip of Stravinsky himself conducting the finale a few years before he died. Seth even watched the entire ballet performed by a Russian ballet company. (YouTube sure makes research easy!) It took 2 days to get through the whole thing, watching in 5-10 minute spurts, but he really got into it. For his project, he wrote about all the different versions he'd seen and listened to. Now he wants a French horn for his birthday.

As usually happens when mom is the official "ghostwriter," I learned as much as they did. Once we got to the recital, I realized that they had put in much more time and effort than other students, but at the same time, I think we had more fun and really thought about the music they chose. Just listening to classical music in the background is great, and we do a fair amount of that at home or in the car, but really delving into the pieces, listening to them over and over or examining the different arrangements made them come alive for us.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Break

One of the reasons I blog is to remind myself that some days I really have it good. Digging through the archive reminded me that last year we spent the entire week of spring break suffering from snowstorms and stomach flu.

The forecast warned that this would likely be the only good weather day, so we took advantage. Lunch with Granny at BYU Creamery. Watched college students sweat out their last week of classes with extra large servings of french fries and ice cream (cramming Mormon-style). A trip to the park, the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, and back to BYU for the opening of the South Campus stream. The grounds department has built a half-mile stream along the hillside and marked the opening with a Rubbery Ducky Derby and ice cream.

The rest of the week was not quite as exciting. Lots of playing in the backyard, lots of attempts to dejunk the playroom, centered around my bribe, I mean incentive, that if they got rid of old toys, I'd take them to the store and let them buy a new one. This will leave me at a zero-sum game, which in our world translates into "the playroom will still be a mess, I'll just be stepping on new toys."

All in all, spring break did what it was supposed to do--gave the kids a break from school, and sent me signing them up for any and all summer camps.