All Things Recital Picture Day.

Bella's been having a tough time at ballet class, lately. Sometime a few months ago, she decided to experience separation anxiety. Suddenly, there was a lot of crying even when Ken or I were there inside the room watching her. Her wonderful ballet instructor, the saintly Ms. Diane, reassured us that this was just part of the process, well at least sometimes.

So we've stuck it out. And now, it's time for Recital. I know, I hear the choruses of "break a leg" from all of you and trust me, they are very appreciated.

Kata, of course, is the resident veteran of recitals. She is six years old and has been in five recitals to date. Pretty impressive dance resume, wouldn't you say? She's taken on the unofficial role as Bella's coach. Here are some snippets of conversation between the two sisters, all incidentally one sided - "Bella, you get to wear tons of make up. And your hair is in a special hair-do. You wear a pretty costume. And you get flowers at the end. It's so fun. I can hardly wait until next year's recital." Let's try and survive this year's, please.

So here they are on Picture Day, with gobs of make up on as advertised and all fluffed out in lovely costumes -

There was a moment of tears but we soon got over it -

The sainted younger Ms. Hayley (yes, there are two Hayleys, at least) talked Bella out of whimpering.

And Kata held Bella's hand as she took her over to the Picture Taking Room. Parents were not allowed in there and surprise, there were no tears shed at all.

Three hours later, we had at least two pictures taken of the girls. Hundreds of wipes ready to take off that stage make-up. One tired brother who exhibited ultimate patience while waiting through all the girly moments. And two pleased parents.

Wishing you a coaching moment. You can be on either side -the student or the coach. Try it and see what happens.


All Things Pawsitively Outstanding.

A pause to get all braggy about one of the kids. I know and you, yourself are pausing to think - what again?

Alex had a wonderful year in Fourth Grade. He has grown so much this year both physically and mentally. And in the last week of school, he received the Student of the Month award. What a way to represent a year full of reaching Above and Beyond. Sometimes, we all felt his strain as he learned a new concept or struggled with something that was just a bit out of reach. But, he made it through and we're so very proud.

So in tribute, I thought I'd present you with:

Ten Random Facts About Alex at Ten Years of Age -

  1. He likes everything having to do with Harry Potter. And he finished six of the seven books during this past school year.

  2. He still loves all things Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Narnia.

  3. He no longer plays with his stuffed animals.

  4. His stuffed bear, a.k.a. Rainbow Bear still sits on his bed.

  5. Rainbow Bear has survived preschool, a move to a new state, too many time outs to count and a hernia operation (Alex's not the bear's) at Oakland Children's Hospital. Yes, Alex got to bring him in. I think Rainbow Bear may go to college with him.

  6. He no longer orders vanilla ice cream. His tastes have expanded to include mint chocolate chip and cookie dough.

  7. He still drinks water only. No milk. No juice. On occasion, a Gatorade after soccer.

  8. He plays soccer, basketball and Quidditch.

  9. He wants to be in choir next year.

  10. He's an all around great kid, who bugs his sisters but loves nothing more than running to pick them up from school.

And as an extra bonus - Braggy Mama had to share his book report for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. A shoebox diorama. Very, very cool. He worked hard on the diorama and even harder on the write up. Picture trying to summarize an 870-page book on the walls of a shoebox. The fact that he actually accomplished it sums up Alex, in a nutshell.

Now, go ahead, I dare you sum up your life right now. Don't think too hard. Give me Ten Random Facts, or even five, or okay, one comment. Either way, enjoy the current randomness that makes up unique little you.


All Things Mommy's Birthday.

We've been so busy with School Year Ending activities that I haven't had a chance to blog. So I thought I'd go back a few days, okay, two weeks, and talk about my birthday. Now,most of you know that I like the Blessed Event to pass without much notice. And my darling husband knows this most of all.

So in the morning, the kids and Ken all came in carrying lovely homemade cards, which truly need to be a separate blog post of their own and a gift. I loved my gift. Go look up at the header. Yes, two lovely bands which remind me of what I treasure most. One is the Latin wording of "love conquers all" and the other, well, you should recognize - the kids names. Ken knows how to follow a link to here, rather well? Lisa makes the most amazing jewelry and I'm a huge fan.

Well, I didn't expect much more, certainly nothing that could be deemed celebratory so when Ken walked through the door at four o'clock and said, "Come on, we're taking you out to dinner." I dropped that box of family sized Kraft Macaroni and Cheese as fast as my manicured fingers would allow me.

So off we went, to drink a well deserved and delicious Bellini. And eat...what else...macaroni and cheese?? But, these were shell shaped for the mermaid fixated six year old.

And to eat meatballs the size of, well, our kneecap.

We smiled and laughed and used our best manners. In fact an older couple at the next table came up to me to thank me for having such "beautiful and well behaved children". I glanced around to make sure that they weren't talking about the other family of five who was sitting close to us. No, they assured me, my kids. That would've been the best present of all.

But, they brought out chocolate cake. Mhmmm.

Take a moment and enjoy the frosting.


All Things Mother's Day Tea Party.

Last Saturday was Sunflower Preschool's annual Mother's Day Tea. This was my third one but my first with Bella. The best part was that it was just the two of us. The school asks you kindly to not bring siblings, but grandmothers, aunties and godmothers are all welcome. You can imagine the sea of pretty dresses and chatter.

Speaking of chatter, below is a picture of Bella's current BFF - Violet. Her twin brother, Kai, didn't feel like posing with the coy little duo. I don't blame him. Violet and Bella have tons in common - they obsessively collect rocks at every recess, share a common affection for the colors purple and yellow and enjoy a good bout of separation anxiety at Drop Off. Hooray for friends you can start collections with, share color charts with and scream with...I have a few of those friends still in my life.

So while the moms finish their muffins, fresh fruit, and coffee, the kids are rounded up in front of the school to sing their little hearts out. It's really very touching and I can personally guarantee that there is not a single dry eye in the audience.

Then the kids rush forth carrying their special Mother's Day creations. Bella's been working on hers for weeks. Every day when I picked her up she would mention that she's working on a "special project that's a secret..." and then she'd add "they are note cards just for you, Mama."

Note the pride in her face as she handed over her special present.

The celebration goes by too fast but every minute is a precious memory for both of us.

At the very end as we were walking back to the car, she asked me to take a picture of our shoes. When I asked her why, she replied, "Because today was nice. It was just you and me, Mama. Just you and me." So here's proof that it was just Bella and me.

Here's to a little You and Me Time. Find it. There's truly nothing like it.


All Things Graduation Day.

When I look at these pictures, I am at a complete and utter loss for words. Our oldest daughter is going to be a Kindergarten Graduate. I know it's the first true step in her academic path. But I cannot believe that we are already witnessing it.

It seems like just the other day, I was dropping her off at pre-school and she was clinging to my leg begging me to stay. And now, pigtails in place, she's on her way.

Wishing you an On Your Way Moment. Enjoy the steps and the path.


All Things Bear, Literally.

We kept hearing wailing police sirens this morning. And I truly didn't want to know what could be disturbing the peace of our little suburban sprawl neighborhood. But, literally just down the street from us, why not even a mile down the road, a 300-lb black bear was wandering looking for food. Here's the news story. [Side Note - five men to lift the bear, WoW.]

My friend captured these photos of the tranquilized bear. Look at those claws!! Yeeesh.

Anyone else curious about those amazing NV Department of Wildlife dogs in the back? They are certainly working dogs. I like the one on the left, he seems to be taking a break.

So what can I possibly add to this?? I could pull from Goldilocks and the Three Bears and tell you that if you eat someone else's porridge, bears will come after you. Perhaps, all we had here was a simple tale of a porridge thief.

Enjoy your weekend and be careful in those dark woods out there.


All Things Curly-Q.

There comes a time when all girls with straight hair want curls. And vice-versa, I suppose. For our family it's all about getting that straight hair curly.

Kata was very patient. I rolled the curlers with the collective experience of my grandmother and mother before me. My hands well versed in the movements. I mean why did I have all those dolls when I was little?? All that practice on their vinyl heads came to fruition at last.

And voilà (a term we're using a lot these days) after a good night's sleep in the softest of curlers, we had little Ms. Curly-Q.

She didn't complain one bit and was super proud. She's learning early that beauty sometimes is worth a little pain. I can hardly wait when her hair dye, eyebrow tweezing years are upon us.

Enjoy a moment of opposite. Do something that's the exact opposite of what you would normally do - try it. Go on.


All Things Quidditch.

Alex had been waiting for what seems like forever for his Harry Potter birthday party. And finally, the day came. Thanks to one of my online friends for her recommendation, we had Harry Potter light up magic wands for the boys. They also had Harry Potter glasses and to add to the mix, I made them Triwizard Tournament jerseys (don't ask, it was one of those crafty moments for me).

The first thing they wanted to do was rush outside and play. My friends son (below) dressed like Han Solo. How adorable was he?? He had the white shirt, blue pants, boots and vest. I loved it! Yes, yes, there was even a blaster.

The four wizards (Alex is second from the left) were totally prepped for their magic filled moments. And Kata, acting as none other than Hermione, held the paper with all the magic spells used in every Harry Potter movie. And yes, she was "coaching" the boys from way up high. Nothing like a little sister.

My best-est Mommy Friend on the entire planet, the illustrious Ms. Brandi, not only drove two plus hours to bring her kids over but carried with her the much coveted Mommy Juice. How appropriate because she coined the very term. These are actual wine juice boxes from Tarjay. The merlot was not bad when chilled but the cab, well, just so-so. We so needed it with eight kids and one daddy who just wanted to watch the NHL playoffs.

The cake from Biggest Little Cake Shop rocked!!

And the friends gathered around...

And the candles were lit...

And a very serious wish was made (aside - I love his face in this shot)...

Thanks to his friends and sisters, Alex had a very magical birthday indeed. Now go practice a few spells yourself - expellaramus! Let's see who will look that one up.


All Things Zoo.

Oh, we had such a fun day at Oakland Zoo . I mean it started out great, the kids rode on the back of a large, fake turtle. We like our animals staionary and plaster. But quickly, we moved on to the tigers, which most of you know I love the most - well next to lions, who were not as cooperative in being photographed on that day. Too many paps, I totally understood.

And then onto the giraffes. There were seven of them that day. That's two more than our family. We were duly impressed.

We even saw the giant (real) tortoise eating lunch - a nice, crunchy, leafy salad. We were a little hungry but we moved past it acknowledging that slow and steady wins the race almost every time.

Oh, and then we paid homage to the elephants. Most of you know, Kata has an obsession with pachyderms. She sleeps with her stuffed toy version every night. His name is Gate. No, we're not quite sure why. But the name stuck, so there you have it.

There were these marvelous apes. You could hear them from a mile away. They were screaming, "Woot!" I swear. It sounded like a group of small children. It was incredible to watch them swooping and woot-ing from branch to branch. I asked the zookeeper if they ever fell into the moat around their enclosure. He looked at me and shook his head, "No." Hey, I'm a Mommy, I had to ask.

At the chimp cage we were met with this reassuring sign - "One of the six layers of glass broken. Still very safe and secure. Yes, big male chimp did it. Probably threw a rock." I was simpatico with the male chimp, I'd throw rocks if people stared at me all day.

And then our favorite - The King of Madagascar came down for a look-see.

Bella loved the Children's Zoo the most. They had little doors just for her.

And little ants she could observe without her mother freaking out and grabbing a can of Raid screaming something about, "Dear God, do not let them get into the pantry!"

But, the alligator was a disturbing sight.

It was getting late and windy. Boy, were we all tired.

So we hopped on Daddy's back, hey if the monkeys could do it, we could too.

There's a wonderful little train that circles the Zoo. We boarded it quickly before meltdowns ensued.

We rode on out in style and chugged along happily waving to passersby. Many thanks to Grandma Sandi and Uncle Rog (who cleverly managed to not get into any of my pics) for making it a special day all around.

So now go and visit your local zoo and note how very similar we are to the animals surrounding us. Just a matter of a few chromosomes, in most cases. Woot!