Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hit a sour note

Yesterday was piano recital day. We've been practicing for months. I don't know why I said "we." The Cowgirl has been practicing. I've been enduring the practicing. I mean enjoying. She is actually really good. When she stops making the keyboard sound like a harpsichord or trumpets or Gregorian chanters and just plays the piano it sounds great.
But I digress. Recital. Twelve children. One piano. Nervous parents. But no one was as nervous as my Cowgirl. She stopped talking about an hour before showtime and only answered with terse nods. By the time she stood up and took her place at the piano she looked like a brave heroine about to walk the plank- stiff chin, terrified eyes and all.
And then, despite our every reassurance, it happened- she played the wrong chord. Her chin started to shake. Her eyes started to tear.
 I started to cry because she was so miserable I could feel it from across the room. She plowed through her two pieces, fled from the piano and threw herself in the Artist's lap where she commenced silent sobbing. She was mortified. Devastated. She still doesn't want to talk about it.
Every other child made a few mistakes or started over or lost their place and smiled in embarrassment and soldiered on. My child- not so much.
She expects so much out of herself. And if she does everything perfectly, she considers herself just adequate. It's ironic how some of the best people I know are the ones who feel like they just don't stack up. And some of the not-greatest people I know feel pretty snazzy about themselves. Just ironic.
Luckily, the Cowgirl has a sister.
And luckily her sister came wrapped in sunshine and smiles to brighten up our lives when we take ourselves too seriously. She stood guard while the Cowgirl sobbed, patted her head, occasionally tried to get a peek at her wet face- but no luck. That girl was hunkered down for over 40 minutes!
I've always known there would be tough things in life for my girls to face. I just didn't expect playing the piano would be one of them. At least when this trouble hit she had a warm lap and a loyal sister. I guess we should all be so lucky.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Take-Your-Child-To-Work Day

Thursday was take your child to work day. I remember when this started. I was in elementary school. It sounded awfully fishy to me, but incredibly fun. I begged to go count paperclips at my father's office. I made a lot of copies that day. I haven't had that much fun with a copy machine since. The Cowgirl didn't want to be left out, either. After a lot of pleading, she got her wish.
We took her and the dancer to work.

Oh yeah, that's right... we both work at home.

They live in the middle of our work. They are the main reason we grab our hair and give up on getting our work done. But in the spirit of adventure, we dove in. They went to Dad's office first.
He told them that their first duty was helping him clean the studio, which they did with gusto. 
Then he let them "animate" using a paint program. They took it very seriously.

Did some joint projects:
Got critiqued by their boss:
And after meeting some very tough deadlines, they knocked off for the day. By the time they got upstairs to my office, they were too tired think of a whole new story and write it.
Welcome to my world, girls.
It was almost an authentic experience. If they really wanted to go to work with me all day they would have done three loads of laundry, turned off every closet light, dug through the vacuum canister for a polly pocket shoe, found the green marker that someone left behind the piano, cooked something that burned and then sat down to write a clever and heart-wrenching tale of redemption while opening fruit snacks and checking homework. 
But I don't want to scare them too much, so we'll stick with painting pink elephants on the computer.

No donuts in the break room. No receptionist that smells like lemon pledge. No paperclips.
But also no school, so it's all

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I am the 1%

You didn't think I meant the billionaire club, did you?
Not that 1%.

Every year Amazon hosts a breakthrough novel award in partnership with Penguin Publishing and Publishers Weekly. (Yeah, I heard it. That was a mouthful)
Anyway, they accept 5,000 Young Adult Entries and the Artist convinced me to enter. (Believe me, it was a hard sell! I never told anyone I entered because it would be too tiring to tell everyone that I lost.) Those 5,000 get whittled down to an eventual winner.
I've been whittled a few times.
Tuesday they announced the 50 semi-finalists.

I am one of them.

Somehow I survived when they cut the other 99%.
And now I can say that at least when it comes to Amazon breakthrough novels, I am the 1%.

And mostly I just want to say thank you to everyone who believed when I didn't.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Flying kites 505 (the advanced course)

Perfect kite flying weather around here lately. We snapped some pictures of the girls with a new kite and as I was looking through them I started laughing. I had no idea how many kite flying positions there are.

There is the basic stance:
The back left thrust:
The lunging brace:
The Hail Mary:
The overhead twist:
And the hut, hut, hike:
You can tell we train all year round- basic fitness drills and advanced yoga. Please do not attempt this without professional training and supervision. 

P.S.  A snake actually slithered over the cowgirl's foot in this very field while taking these pictures. He's camouflaged, but he's there.

 That is why kite flying is considered a high risk sport. There's lightning. Field snakes. Power lines. Distance running. Moles.... you get the picture. Proceed with caution.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

She just needs a wimpy pet lion

This is not a Halloween snapshot.
This is not a costume party.
This is a picture of a Tuesday morning in April before preschool.
I think this is a side effect of living in Kansas.

The Dancer swooned over the "woovy" slippers in Payless.
I caved like a landslide because she said "woovy."

The Dancer feels happiest when she looks like Dorothy.

Mission Accomplished.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A room with a view

Out of time.

My life some days.
I don't like those days.

I looked at my husband a couple weeks ago and said, "We need to get out of here. We don't need to go far. Just out." So we did.
The Life Raft took my girls overnight on a school night, the Artist cleared his schedule and we drove twenty miles to downtown KC.
A corner room with a balcony.
Windows open, city lights. A gourmet restaurant.
For one night we packed our bags and ran away from it all.
And laughed. And talked about what we are dreaming for our future and what didn't go according to plan and what went better than we planned.
We were giddy because we could stay up late and sleep in.
By 10:30 I couldn't keep my eyes open.
I woke with the sun.
Some habits die hard.
But it was a beautiful sunrise from my room with a view.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A not-so-tough climb

I work hard to keep life from being too busy. And it is work! I battle to pull my time out of the hands of things that whittle my day down to seconds, dates and appointments and a lot of days I lose. but I keep fighting because I treasure long afternoons with nowhere to go except where we decide to go on a whim. Whim is important. Whim never gets added to to-do lists. Whims never make it onto the calendar. If we want our children to look back on their childhoods with some whimsy, we have to fight for it and advocate bare feet and unbrushed hair and windy walks. No one else will offer it to them.
I love to see my children lounging in a tree. I dare someone to tell me that God did not touch this tree, twirl it around His finger just for bright-eyed children to find. And find it they did. We spent almost an hour watching that tree come alive. When we first looked at it we only saw it's inviting shape. Then the ants appeared and mites and moss and tendrils and tiny plants weaving over the roots. The longer we looked, the more we realized we will never see that tree for how wonderful it is. I recited the following poem to the Cowgirl and she closed her eyes as the last rays of sunshine slipped from the sky.

Every time I climb a tree 
Every time I climb a tree 
Every time I climb a tree 
I scrape a leg 
Or skin a knee 
And every time I climb a tree 
I find some ants 
Or dodge a bee 
And get the ants 
All over me

And every time I climb a tree 
Where have you been? 
They say to me 
But don't they know that I am free 
Every time I climb a tree? 
I like it best 
To spot a nest 
That has an egg 
Or maybe three

And then I skin 
The other knee 
But every time I climb a tree 
I see a lot of things to see 
Swallows, rooftops and TV 
And all the fields and farms there be. 
Every time I climb a tree 
Though climbing may be good for ants 
It isn't awfully good for pants 
But still it's pretty good for me 
Every time I climb a tree