Monday, May 31, 2010

Keepin' It Clean

So, I hate to clean. HATE it. It is a pointless waste of time. Case in point... I vacuum up the dog hair, and the minute a dog walks by - dog hair all over the place again. See? Pointless.

Ironically, I love a clean house. Few things give me such a sense of peace as a nice clean house. I love my house when it is clean; the couches free of dog hair, the floors free of mystery stains, the sink visible because the dishes are actually in the dishwasher. When my house is clean, I want to entertain, have parties and invite the world over for a marg.

Too bad that wonderful feeling lasts usually a grand total of 45 seconds. Why oh why can't my house stay clean? I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out this mystery. Granted, if I dedicated that same amount of time to actually cleaning as opposed to sitting and wondering, this whole question would probably be moot.

So, why can't my house stay clean? Well, I live with slobs. And I am queen slob. They say parents should lead by example; and my example is pretty poor. I am constantly harping on my kids to put their clothes in the hamper and their shoes away at the end of the day. Yet who is always all "Where is my green shirt?" and "Where are my black crocs?" every single morning? That would be me. Perhaps if I put my clothes in the hamper and my shoes away at the end of the day I would have them the next day or when I needed them.

I am also always all over my kids to put their dishes in the dishwasher when they are done. I am so tired of dishes being left all over the house. Yesterday, as I was loading the dishwasher, I walked around the house gathering all the miscellaneous cups, bowls and plates that my kids think it is just fine to leave anywhere - despite the house rule of "No Eating Anywhere but in the Kitchen". As I am about to blow my top, I realize that the armful of dishes I am carrying back to the kitchen are all mine. Dishes that I had left all over the place. And I wonder why my kids do it? In hindsight, I am the worst offender here.

So, I am a terrible example, yet I expect my kids to want to keep the house clean. Because I like a clean house. How do I make the house stay clean?

Magic? I have tried that - totally doesn't work.

Hire someone? Tried that as well; it is expensive and, they never do an adequate job. Funny, that I can be all judgemental about a professional house cleaner when I suck at the job.

Stay on top of it and do it myself? Ugh. But I am attempting this strategy; trying to straighten the house every morning, giving my kids a good example. Especially when I am expecting them to join in on the whole straighten the house every morning plan. Can you imagine their enthusiasm when I inform them?

I can hardly wait! Now I have to go put my coffee cup in the dishwasher instead of just leave it here next to the computer.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Rhys Glows!

Every year, the second grade classes put on a musical production called "Glow!". Each one of my kids have been in this production, but because life is what it is, I never got to see my girls when they had their turn to be in "Glow!". (Showings of this show are always during normal school hours.) José went to see Sawyer when she was in it, and a friend videotaped Kellan's turn, but I never got a chance to experience the magic of "Glow!" for myself.

Until this year. I vowed that no matter what, I would see Rhys, my baby, in "Glow!". Even if I had to take a sick day at work, I would not miss this. I asked the music teacher the first week of school when "Glow!" was going to be, and she looked at me like I was crazy, and said, "Um, sometime in spring??"

Rhys was excited to be in "Glow!" and he took the whole experience very seriously. He worked hard on his costume, and practiced regularly. He listened to his sisters' advice, and counted down until the performance, asking me over and over if I was planning on being there. I was, I had a colleague cover for me.

Gosh, it was so cute. The kids were all so adorable and earnest, and the play had a good message (everyone is important). Of course, I cried.

Check out Rhys in "Glow!"

Hmmmm, it was so good, I will probably have to make it a point to see Abby's performance in two years...


Sawyer as Jack

In my last post before I decided to not write for several months, I went on and on about Sawyer owning the part of Jack Skellington. And her actual performance was amazing. It gave me chills. Her confidence, and how comfortable she was on stage, in front of hundreds of people, simply blew me away. She hadn't rehearsed with the microphone, but she showed no awkwardness. She simply shines onstage, and and revels in the limelight. And since I have spent most of my life shying away from the limelight, and really never having the courage to even ever seek the limelight, I admire her ability to make it look so effortless.

The video I took is not all that great - I borrowed my friend Patty's camera, and didn't turn it off after the performance. There is a good 30 seconds of black. Also, I would get so entranced watching my daughter perform, that the camera would drift. So, the video quality is poor. As Sawyer told me, my camera work was a great big FAIL.

But here it is, enjoy!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Talent Show

This spring, Pima Elementary held a talent show. There hadn't been a talent show held for years, not since I have been there, at least, and I was happy with that. I am not a fan of talent shows. The judging and the heartbreak...I think it is just not appropriate for elementary school kids. I mean, they have to deal with enough ridicule and peer pressure every day, why throw a talent show into the mix to give children more opportunity to be cruel?

Ok...had a bad talent show experience in grade school. It's not obvious, is it?

So, Kellan informs me one day she is going to audition for the talent show. My heart skips a few beats, and my stomach knots up, but I try to be upbeat and supportive as I strangle out a "That's awesome, sweetie!" She informs me that she is going to sing by herself, has already picked out the song, ("Sally's Song" from Nightmare Before Christmas) and that she and Sawyer have already picked out the right version of the song for her to sing to, as well as worked out a little bit of choreography.

This is typical Kellan. She doesn't feel the need to run her decisions by me first. She always tells me after the fact that she has auditioned for parts. She sings with Pima Singers (the school's chorus) and they have two big productions a year. Without fail she auditions for everything. With Sawyer, there is preparation and nerves. With Kellan, it's "Oh, I tried out for Wendy and I got the part of the Mother, and I am so excited and I am also going to be a pirate." Maybe she knows that I am on pins and needles on audition day, and she is sparing me the worry. Actually, she has amazing self confidence, and doesn't need me to be her cheerleader.

The only reason I was informed of the audition for the talent show was because auditions were being held after school, and some carpool rearranging needed to happen.

So, audition day comes. I am literally sick to my stomach. I hear that there are several adults, both parents and teachers who will be judging the auditions. What will their criteria be? How sad will Kellan be if she is not chosen? God, I HATE talent shows.

When I picked up Kellan after her audition, she was exhilerated. She thought it went really well and was just happy to have been a part of the process. I looked around, and was absolutely blown away by how many kids were auditioning. I have known some of these kids since they were babies, and would never in a million years thought they would have wanted to audition for a talent show. Kids had formed bands, created magic acts and dance numbers, and were excited to be able to perform. Wow. Ok, maybe this talent show wasn't the horrible idea I thought it was...

Kellan made the talent did everyone who auditioned. It was huge event held over two nights. The teachers responsible for making this talent show happen worked closely with the kids during after school rehearsals, making sure they knew their cues, knew their material, and were supportive of each other.

This talent show wasn't about choosing who was the best. It was about giving these kids the self confidence to be able to get up in front of a room full of people. It was about doing your best. It was about supporting your friends. It was about having fun. All huge life lessons that these kids now have under their belts. Kudos to the amazing teachers that worked incredibly long hours during the last month of school to give this valuable experience to my child.

And now, I really am not all that against talent shows anymore. At least not the ones at Pima Elementary.

Check out Kellan's performance!


The Diving Meet

Ok, so I haven't written in awhile. A LONG while. For the two or three of you who follow this blog, my sincerest apologies. I have a ton of stuff I want to post, but I am simply going to start with the most recent, and work my way through everything I want to share.

So, this past Tuesday, Abby and Grace had a Diving Meet. This summer, they, along with their good friend Blayke, are doing the Swim Team and the Diving Team. There is an awful lot of work associated with these teams, and the few practices I have attended, I feel like I need to nap from just watching them. The swimming is endless laps back and forth across the pool, the diving is endless jumps and flips that look way scary from where I sit. But the girls are always excited and exhilerated after the practices, as well as incredibly hungry.

The first week was tough, and there were tears and vows to quit. Until they realized that they get ribbons at the meets. And who doesn't love ribbons? And after that first week, all the benefits of being involved in team sports started to show. They were making new friends, and gaining physical strength. And they try so hard. I know that I wouldn't have the stamina to keep going, so I am blown away that these three little girls are sticking it out and having a great time to boot.

Here they all are diving and jumping at the meet....

Abby, Front Jump Tuck

Grace, Front Fall In Free

Blayke, Front Fall in Free

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

She Owns the Part

As anyone who knows me can attest to, I have very limited musical tastes. I acquired them in high school, and really nothing much has changed since then. And, also as anyone who knows me can attest to, I am pretty obsessive about things I like.

My kids really had no choice but to like Def Leppard, Oingo Boingo and Journey. And since Danny Elfman moved from singing with Oingo Boingo to writing movie soundtracks, my kids are well acquainted with those ventures as well. Ask my kids what movie soundtracks Danny Elfman has written, and they will be able to list nearly all of them (Rhys is really only well-versed in recent work such as "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Spiderman").

In 1993, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was released. Directed by my favorite director Tim Burton (then, as well as now), I thought this was a simply amazing piece of work. The animation was spectacular, the comedy a nice shade of dark and the music....well, the music was awesome. The whole score was written by Danny Elfman, and he was the singing voice of Jack, the main character, as well. For a Danny Elfman fan, this movie was like a slice of heaven.

Quite inappropriately, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was one of the first movies Sawyer ever saw. (She saw it soon after the Star Wars Trilogy.) And while the Star Wars movies didn't spark her fancy as much as I would have liked, she absolutely loved "Nightmare." She was able to sing all the songs and recite dialogue at the very young age of four. And this movie has been a staple in her collection of favorites, even as she starts to develop her own lists of obsessions. She also loves all things Danny Elfman, and sometimes it is this common obsession that gets us through some of those inevitable rocky patches.

This year, in her chorus class, they are singing songs from "The Nightmare Before Christmas"! I mean, seriously, how awesome is that? She and I were both so excited that other people thought that movie and music was as cool as we did. Auditions were held in all the chorus classes for the "Jack" solos (the Danny Elfman part from the movie). With no hesitation, Sawyer auditioned for these solos. This music is a part of her, it was natural for her to get up in front of everyone and belt it out.

There was a lot of competition for these solos; but Sawyer got the part hands down. Her teacher told her, "You owned the part, no one else had the same passion."

I can't wait to watch Sawyer perform these songs. She has been practicing relentlessly, and she does own the part. But quite frankly, she has owned the part since she was four.


Volleyball - Who Knew?

My girls are not big on sports. Not at all. I am certain it is not because every time a sporting event is on TV, or José starts talking about sports, my eyes roll back into my head and I go into a coma. I am sure they don't like sports because sports are boring and tedious. And I am sure this is their opinion all on their own, and I have no influence whatsoever.

I do, however, see the value of participating in sports as a child. You learn a skill, you learn to be a part of a team, you learn to be a gracious loser as well as a gracious winner (one hopes). And sports can be a place where friends are made and fun is had.

When the girls were very young, they played Little League Baseball. And they HATED it. The coaches they had weren't very good, and they had little patience with children who had little experience in the game. And at ages 4 and 7, there is not a whole lot of experience to be had. We made the girls finish the season, but the experience soured them on sports. Which is a huge bummer.

When Rhys came of age, we had learned our lesson. José is either a coach or an assistant coach on every team for which Rhys has played. Rhys loves his sports.

This summer, I got an email from my good friend Amy, asking me if Kellan would be interested in playing volleyball in a league at her school. Yeah, right, I thought. But I decided to ask her; some of her friends were planning on playing, maybe she might want to join them.

Imagine my surprise when she gave me a hesitant "Yes." The league offered an all day volleyball clinic for players new to the game, so I signed her up. I told her (and myself) that if she didn't like it, I wouldn't make her start the league.

Well, she walked out of that clinic pumped up. She was so happy and excited. "Volleyball is sooo much fun!" she gushed. Color me shocked. She has been playing now for about 6 weeks. She practices twice a week and plays three games every Saturday. And her enthusiasm has not dampened one bit. Whenever she has a spare minute, she is outside working on her serves and bumps. An interesting twist is that her coach is not all that great, but she is having so much fun that it doesn't matter.

Amy is now organizing a winter volleyball team (with a new, more experienced coach), and Kellan is so happy she will be able to keep playing. I have to say I am amazed. I have never, ever liked sports. But José claims this new love of volleyball is in her genes, his family played as a team for years. Regardless of where the passion comes from, I am simply thrilled that it is there.

Go Kellan!