Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wiener, Wiener, Chicken Machiner?

Of course, we're crazy-busy-- Tis the season, right? School and kids' activities are wrapping up... Summer and kids' activities are kicking off... But, no matter how full the days get, I never lose sight of what's important, and I make sure I always do what's best for my children. So, I bought the good hot dogs.

But, now, I'm worried about the chickens... and the English language.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Songs of Spring

Always a fun day, the Catholic school Benjamin and Madeline attend had its spring music program. The theme this year was "Greatest Hits," with children in each grade dressing for a different decade and singing popular hits from that time. Dad had to go out of town for work, but was luckily able to attend the earlier dress rehearsal... but, I recorded for him, too, just in case.  Our Littles are getting to be Biggies, and, clearly, they love their music!

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Stand By Me

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Kung Fu Fighting

I Will Survive

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

High School Choir, Year One

Last evening was Amanda's final choral performance of her freshman year.  We feel fortunate to live within a community and a school district where the arts are clearly valued and celebrated.  I know Amanda is looking forward to getting on into a more involved and elevated choral group next year and in the subsequent years.  We just enjoy listening to all of them.  Here are the Freshman Singers (first) and Freshman Choir (following three songs) including a little solo by our little girl:

Can You Feel the Love Tonight

On the Great, Gettin' Up Day

Banquet Fugue

Circle of Life

Monday, May 22, 2017

Love Fest

This past weekend was one huge Love Fest.  By that I mean, that every hour (except the sleeping ones-- no, wait, those, too) were spent with people I really love, admire and enjoy.  I guess it makes sense in this life to surround oneself with wonderfulness... I just really noticed these past few days how lucky I am to have such a prime posse.

Friday morning began dark and early, as it always does for me, with a mini-celebration for a young friend from the gym who became a Mrs. this weekend.  She said she was coming in for one more single-lady workout before her big day, so we made sure to send her off with a little silliness and a lot of love.  Do you see why I've been able stick with CrossFit?  It's not only my health and fitness on the line... there are some amazing friendships, too.
Later Friday, Todd and I attended the funeral service of a young friend.  It goes without saying this is something no one ever enjoys doing, but something we all want to do to show our love and respect.  This day, as much as the tragedy of the death itself, was absolutely heartbreaking.  It was also tremendously heartwarming.  To be in the presence of such immense, eternal love and to feel it shared and spread amongst family and friends is truly the kind of legacy we are all meant to live and leave.  Because of the highest respect I hold for this family, I will not share details-- I may have shared too much already-- but I do ask you to please keep them in your prayers.  Pray for the peace that passes all understanding to guard their hearts and minds.

Saturday morning, Todd and Elisabeth and I got up early and headed to our favorite gym, where, amongst some of our favorite people but in the most unpleasant weather, we competed in the 2017 Murph Team Challenge.  As I am sure I have mentioned previously, Murph is a popular Hero WOD that honors the life of fallen Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy.  You can learn plenty more here.  For our Hotova CrossFit event, we registered with a partner to complete:

1 mile run
100 pullups
200 pushups
300 squats
1 mile run

The running segments are done together, with the rest of the exercises divided between partners, as needed.  My friend Steph and I competed together this year; though she is a much, much better runner than I am, we enjoy one another's company and typically work out together every day, anyway.  We ended up finishing in 34:08, coming in second place in the scaled division.  (This means some of the movements-- pullups and pushups-- were not to standard but were instead scaled to our ability level.)  The most exciting part of the event, by far, was that Elisabeth and her friend Grace finished third in this same division!  I was SO excited for them, I didn't even realize my team placed!  Todd and his partner took a bit longer, but they did the full Rx movements which is dazzling (and basically impossible) in my book!  Both grandmas were there to cheer on Libby, and her parents.  We were all frozen and soaked and happy.

After a lot of food and a brief rest, with some churchin' and some more eatin' thrown in, my parents, my MIL, Amanda and I took in the annual Broadway in Buffalo concert.  This Buffalo Community Theater project raises funds for scholarships for the Tri-M Music Society, a Buffalo High School organization into which Amanda was recently inducted.  Who doesn't love showtunes?!  We've attended this event for a number of years, and this one was the best yet, hands down!  I even managed to stay awake, even though a deep Murph-ache had set in.

Sunday morning again dawned early, with Todd making the coffee run and me packing up for a daylong road trip with my mom, the sisters and some nieces to an extended-family bridal shower in Rochester.  It is always nice to see family, but it was a darn, long drive.  The highlight was stopping to see my grandma.  She's sharp and slow and everything in between, just as it should be at 101.

While I was gone, Todd and the kids headed out with his mom and sister to visit the graves of two grandpas.  This is an annual or semi-annual tradition in Todd's family.  The kids seem to enjoy remembering, visiting, taking photos, and just "saying 'Hi.'"

I got home on Sunday just in time to change my shirt, pack up some food and the family and head to the high school for Amanda's theatre department banquet and awards ceremony.  There, Amanda received her varsity letter-- the second letter for this freshman, if you're keeping track-- for her onstage performances in two BHS shows.  She also received the Newcomer Award, singled out and told by the directors that they expect "great things" from Amanda in the years ahead.  When we returned home and collapsed, I told my daughter, "Honey, these rewards are lovely and deserved.  We are all so proud of you.  It's also getting kind of ridiculous; most people don't wake up each morning and think, 'Well, I wonder what I'm going to win today,' so, I want you to know, that if tomorrow, or the next day, there is no award, you are just as valuable and loved even more."


My heart is full.  My eyes are heavy and my legs are aching, but my heart is full.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Where, Oh, Where Does She Get It?

On the drive to school this morning, my oldest made a sound that made me think a hairball was about to appear, or maybe her lunch.  Very convincing.  But, when I looked over to see if she was OK, she was just staring at her phone, as usual.  "What's wrong?" I asked.  "Oh, nothing," she sighed.  "It's just that my friend just posted this super sappy message to her boyfriend because it's his birthday, and she said, 'You are my love, my heart, my everything!' And I am just like, 'Sweetheart, give me a break.  You are FIFTEEN, and you guys have already broken up, like, four times!'"

Thursday, May 18, 2017

In Concert

Two kids had concerts today, so Dad and I had to divide and conquer. How about a huge shoutout to all the extended family that always shows up?! We couldn't do it without them! And we couldn't do any of it without music.

Benjamin is in his first year of band and he is the lone percussionist in the beginner's group. I think it's so cool that the kids get to be in band starting in fourth grade at the Catholic school, and I thought Ben would be excited to get all the good percussion parts to himself, but he says he's lonely. Remember before you click, this is the inaugural performance of a fourth grade band:

Tonight, Elisabeth's choir groups had their spring concert. She sings first with the Chamber Choir (seventh and eighth grade girls) and then with the larger Seventh Grade Girls Choir. Libby sings in a small group on the last piece. She sure seems to be enjoying herself!

Will the Circle Be Unbroken:

Dream Tree:

Bring Me Little Water, Silvy:

I'm Goin' Up a Yonder:

A Girl's Garden:

Pop Medley:

Wicked Medley:

These kids are the music of my soul.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Times They Are A-Changin'

This month is one of constant activity, and this week is filled with big changes for the kiddos of Krinkeland! 

Amanda started her JOB.  She loves her time and her coworkers and her customers at The Costume Shoppe!  Granted, she's still in the honeymoon-training phase, but I have no doubt this will continue.  On Monday, we attended the academic awards night at the high school.  There were a lot of people and a lot of awards.  Amanda, as a member of the student council, helped greet and host at the event.  She was also among the freshmen honored for maintaining an A average throughout the school year.  That means she earned an academic letter, so, it's a good thing she got that job because a letter jacket is mighty pricey!

Also this past weekend, Elisabeth auditioned for the summer community theater production of "Mary Poppins"-- the only Krinke kid to do so, and today she got the call that she is cast!  Libby was also accepted into the WEB program at her school, where she is already getting training and will work all next year on community-building and inclusion at the middle school.

Benjamin is running his little legs off in his school's extra-curricular track program, where the volunteer coaches say he is so supportive and has such a positive attitude.  Tomorrow, he will perform in his first band concert.  Ben is the only fourth-grade percussionist, and he says he gets lonely in the back!  It should be quite a show.

Madeline had her six-month eye appointment, and the ophthalmologist reported excellent results!  She has been wearing a patch over her left eye to strengthen the vision in her right eye.  Maddy complains about this, but does it diligently, according to her teacher, and the dedication is paying off.  This was the first time since the process began that Madeline's vision tested 20/20 with glasses in her weak eye.  That is a great improvement from 20/40 six months ago.  The doctor has started a tapering program and says by the end of summer we might do away with the patch for good!

All is well in Krinkeland.  Hooray!  Amanda is even celebrating with a new look for spring!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Evening of Honor

Tonight, I wish I could have cloned myself or otherwise manage to be in two places at once.

Elisabeth was competing in the district spelling bee at one school while, at another, Amanda was being inducted into the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Thankfully, Dad was home so we could split up, and the grandparents and Aunt Lisa swooped in as support staff. I know as the kids continue to grow and pursue their many interests that we will have many more scheduling conflicts. There is just so much about which to be PROUD of these kids right now! The two older girls are on the A honor roll, Benjamin is finally getting his head in the game to work harder in school. He and Madeline are both pushing themselves in the extra-curricular track program at school. Amanda just got her first job!

Libby made it quite far in the bee this year and a tough word got her out. Even though she complained she didn't want to compete for a second year, Elisabeth was cool and composed and absolutely adorable on that stage.

We're still learning what Amanda's involvement in Tri-M will look like, but, clearly, it will be another music and leadership opportunity with a great group of kids. Tonight, she received an award marking the "superior" rating she and a sophomore-friend got at the recent solo/ensemble competition. There  is more greatness to come, and that's music to my ears, however you spell it!

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Weekend in Song

It was a wonderful, beautiful, full weekend. Everyone was (mostly) home and the weather was (finally) lovely. The highlights of the weekend, as becoming the Krinkeland way of life, revolved around music and music theater. Friday, Benjamin, Madeline and I finally took in the movie "Beauty and the Beast." The others had already seen it multiple times while the rest of us were too busy playing, so it was nice to get in the loop. On Saturday, my godson Solomon performed in a middle-school honor band. It was so good! Sunday capped things off with a trip into the city to see the Broadway touring production of "Wicked." Todd and I had previously seen the show, but it was new to all the kids. Amanda proclaimed, "I can't believe you've been keeping this show from us!" Naturally, that makes no sense, but is just the kind of thing I expect to come from her. We came home physically, emotionally and artistically exhausted, and that was simply from being audience members!

We have been changed for good.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May Crowning Final for Our Family

We celebrated May Crowning at school mass this morning, and, as is customary, the second graders who are recent First Communicants had special parts, honoring the month of May with special devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. Since Madeline is our last second grader, it's the Krinkeland finale of this special tradition. Oh, sure, we'll still attend, but without any role in the fancy preparations or ceremony. Madeline was very excited today, to be with all her friends in their finery and all the joy that comes with this day. We were blessed to have Grandma and Grandpa P., Grandma R., godparents, cousins and Grandma Jackie all join us.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Kids Playing

When we arrived at my sister's house for piano lessons this evening, we discovered the power was out. No big deal-- plenty of light coming through the windows and the piano in the living room is acoustic. With no power for the usual homework and bedtime aids, and to keep things quiet for lessons, everyone else went outside to play. Now, this is not entirely unusual, as my sister's kids spend a lot of time outdoors and the cousins always enjoy playing together. They also live in a lovely cul-de-sac where neighborhood children gather, so it is typically a lively scene. But, tonight, with comfortable weather (finally!) and nothing electronic to distract anyone, EVERYONE was outside, PLAYING TOGETHER! That shouldn't be so thrilling, but it was-- a seventh-grace girl, an eighth-grade boy, a five-year-old, siblings from numerous families all playing a fun and fierce game of four-square... it doesn't get more Norman Rockwell/Lake Wobegon than that! We stayed late... couldn't break up the party. Awesome. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Mouth on Her

Our youngest keeps me in so much material, I have trouble keeping up!  As I've previously said, some of my favorite times with the kids are when we are riding in the car.  It's a great time for a captive conversation, or just to catch up.  We spend a lot of time in the car, but rarely is it just me and one child.  Madeline and I generally have our weekly drive-chat on the pickup from gymnastics, while the other kids are all off at other stuff.  This week, she was quiet for a bit, and then suddenly erupted from the back seat, "Mom, I only know how to spell one private part-- butt and arm!"  I thought about correcting her on multiple points of that statement, but decided against it. 

She was quiet again... for a while... so, I asked her if she was OK.  Maddy sighed and said, "Actually, Mom, I think I made a bad choice today at gymnastics."  Oh, no.  "Why, Madeline?" I asked.  "What happened?"  She explained, "Well, we were on beam and this other girl accidentally stepped on my hand, and it was an accident, but it really hurt, and so I put my fingers in my mouth to suck on them and make them feel better-- but now I feel kind of sickish."  I smiled.  "Oh, Sweetie, it's OK.  Are you worried more about the germs or about the chalk?"  (My phobia is finally wearing off on someone and Maddy does an excellent job of scrubbing her hands first thing after gymnastics class.)  "Well, I was worried about germs, but now I feel kind of chalkish."

Madeline also recently began taking Zantac to see if it helps with some reflux-type symptoms she's been experiencing.  I overheard her telling another kid, "Yeah, so, I take acid pills."

I did allow her and her brother to attend Big Sister's high school musical production this past weekend.  It was not an appropriate show for children, but I wanted them to have a chance to see Amanda perform, and I was banking on the plot and dialogue going over their heads, thinking they would mostly be dazzled by the circus theme.  Before heading out at call time, Amanda asked her littlest sister, "Are you excited to see me in the show tonight?"  Madeline got real close, gently held Amanda's face in her hands, and sweetly stage-whispered, "I'm just going for the cotton candy."