Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Simple Joys of Life

Ian found a new toy this week. This is his new favorite place to be. It is supposed to hold his toys. Now he pulls all the toys out and sits in it and just laughs. He is so proud of himself. You have to love the simple joys of life.

Kennedy's Big Week

Kennedy had a very big week this week. She got to participate in a vocabulary parade. She had the assignment to collect words that she didn't know and write down the definitions. Then she picked one and dressed up like the word. It gets a little tricky and you have to be a little creative.
Kennedy decided to use the word "expand". So she stuffed a pillow under her dad's t-shirt and there you have it. I think that she does expand very well.
She was very excited to wear her costume on the bus and everything. I was quite a site to see and she smiled the whole way.

Later in the week, she had a cello lesson. She has been working on passing of her second Suzuki book. Her teacher has her play a recital when she gets to the end of a book. So she had to go back and review all the songs and be able to play them while she was being accompanied. That is a difficult thing to do when you are 7. She worked for almost 2 months and she finally got the okay for the recital on Wednesday. She gave us some options on days and times but our schedules didn't quite come together until Friday morning. She said she could do it that night. I said that would be alright. So here I went. It was crunch time. It was a good thing I had cleaned the carpet a couple of nights ago. So all I had to do was clean off the eternally cluttered counter tops, clean the kitchen, sweep the floor, vacuum, make sugar cookies with purple frosting, and a chocolate cake. My friend, Jean, helped me out and made the chocolate chip cookies. So Kennedy got off the bus at 4:30 and that is when she found out that she would be playing that night. She did a great job. I was so proud of her. She stayed focused the whole time and that is not the easiest thing to do when you have an audience like she did.
Our good friends came and helped her to celebrate her accomplishment. She played for about 25 minutes and then we got to eat the treats. Everyone had a great time, especially Kennedy. It is really hard to be the middle girl. She doesn't get to shine as often as she should so it was good to see her get the spotlight that she deserved. Way to go Kennedy!

Surfside Half Marathon

So on Valentine's Day was the big day. I had been training for the last 6 months for this day and to tell the truth, I was a little scared. 13.1 miles is really a long way. Surfside, TX is a little beach town. I think it is the only official marathon/1/2 marathon to be run on hard pack sand. When I thought about running on the beach, I pictured, Chariots of Fire. I pictured the sun shining off the water, some white clouds in the sky, the surf lapping on the shore. I pictured a soft breeze coming off the water that kept me cool while I was running. That isn't exactly what I got.

My mom was in town and stayed in with kids so Scott and I could go down the night before the race. Scott works late so I went down with my 2 friends who were running with me, Rishelle and Melissa. We went down and picked up our packets and checked in. We had a good pasta dinner as well. It is amazing how much fun it is to go to dinner with a couple of friends without the pressure of having to pick up kids or get home to our husbands. We went to the hotel after that and Scott was waiting for me. We got a good nights sleep and then we woke up early and went down to the beach.
This is before we knew what we were really getting into. I have to admit it was pretty exciting as we waited for the race to start.
Then the race started. The weather was pretty good. It was over cast and foggy. It was warm and I didn't think much of it. We ran 2 1/2 miles down the beach and then turned around and headed back. By the time we reached the spot where we started the wind started to really pick up. Then it started to sprinkle a little bit. I wasn't that worried. It sprinkles all the time in TX and doesn't do much else. The scenery was beautiful. It looked like this the whole way. The only time I was not happy about running on the beach was when I came across a very potent smell. I couldn't figure out what it was. It smelled like death. Then a little while later I saw a dead dolphin washed up on the shore. That explained it. It was death. And I kept going. The wind got really hard to deal with and I was about to throw in the towel when I finally saw Melissa heading back the other way. She said the turn around was just a few hundred yard ahead. I was never so happy to see a bunch of cars in my life. After I the turn around, mile 9, it got a lot easier and I thought that I was going to actually make it. I did really well, mentally, until I hit about mile 12. Then the torrential down pour started. I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to run in the wind but the rain was horrible. The only good thing was the wind was at my back so the rain was hitting my back. At least it wasn't hitting me in my face. By the time I saw the tent at the finish, I was soaked through.
I was so happy to see Scott waiting there at the finish line, I almost started crying. I actually finished the 1/2 marathon. I can honestly say that I am glad that I did it but I don't think that I want to do that again.
I survived. I did it. It was painful but I did it. If it hadn't been for Rishelle and Melissa, there is no way that I would have been able to make it. We did it ladies.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Houston's Best Kept Secret

For those of you who don't know, I am a huge fan of Parker Elementary School. For those of you who do know, bear with me. Houston has some very fabulous schools in the school district. They have magnet schools. Magnet schools have a particular focus, whether it is language, music, fine arts, vanguard (like gifted and talented turned up a notch) math, science, etc. You can apply to the different public schools you would like your child to go to.

When I moved here, Morgan was 3 years old and the only thing I really thought about was if there was an elementary school close by. About a year later, I was sitting at a playgroup with some friends from church and they were asking me if I had thought about what schools I would apply to for Morgan. That was so foreign to me they had to explain. They told me about the schools that were close by and I hear that there was a school around the corner that taught Suzuki violin starting in Kindergarten. I couldn't believe my ears.

Scott and I had always wanted out kids to learn music. It was always important to us. In fact, when I was pregnant with Morgan, Scott started worrying about when to get a piano. I figured we had a little time. So we happen to move to Houston and there happens to be a school about a mile away from our apartment that happens to teach Suzuki in the public school. So this is the deal. For the bargain price of $125 you child gets an instrument, insurance on that instrument, a private lesson every week and then in 1-5 grades, they have a group class everyday after school. So you can understand what a bargain this is, if you paid for this program privately, through the 6 years of elementary school, it would cost over $26,000. Oh, that also counts a workshop week where they fly different clinicians, people trained in Suzuki, from all over the country and they get a lesson with them for 3 days straight and then they have a concert at the end of the workshop. Oh, and did I mention that this is in a PUBLIC school?

I love Parker Elementary. I do have to say they don't just have violin and cello. They also have band, chorus, piano, and guitar. It is an amazing school.

So this past week was Suzuki workshop week. It is a great week but a very busy week. So Morgan and Kennedy both have lessons Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Of course, they were at different times during the day. One at 9:00 and the other at 1:35. Thankfully, my mother flew in to help me with the kids. That meant that I didn't have to try and find babysitters throughout the week. Anyway, she is a lifesaver. So she flew in on Tuesday and then I left her for the next few days. Wednesday I had the lessons and then I came home and proceeded to make 4 dozen rolls and 3 dozen cookies for a luncheon at the school the next day. Thursday I had to deliver the rolls and cookies and then the lessons again. That night, Morgan started complaining about a stomachache. I thought that it was just nerves for the concert the next night. Oh, no it wasn't. She started throwing up at about 10:30 and didn't stop until about 2 in the morning. She was so upset. She cried that she had worked so hard getting ready for the concert and if she was sick she wouldn't get to go to the concert. She didn't have a fever and didn't have any other symptoms so I told her if she could keep her food down and she rested, I would let her go to the concert. So Friday, I just went to Kennedy's cello lesson. She is doing so great. I am really happy with how hard she works.

That night we had the concert. I just have to tell you how amazing it is watching 160 children on the stage at the same time. They play songs of all different difficulties. I have to admit that after going to 4 of these concerts, my favorite is when they all play "twinkle twinkle little star" together. It just brings tears to my eyes. If you could just hear it. Oh, you can if you go to my friends blog, Raising Ebenezers. It is linked on my blog on the right hand side. She has a video link on her blog and you can see and hear how great it sounds. I just can't believe how good it sounds every year. It is just the twinkles but it is something else. I love Parker. Have I mentioned that?

Oh, did I forget to mention that this is the only school like it in the COUNTRY! Not the only public school, the only school. There is nothing like it out there. If you did it privately, you would be lucky to get a group class once a week. Some are only offered once every 2 weeks. I love Parker.