Saturday, June 18, 2005

Turning the corner

It's summer in just over 48 hours. And as the seasons turn, I feel a tremendous sense of relief at turning the corner with our activities roster. In the past 7 weeks we've had an orchestra concert, the last of the art classes and an art show, a zillion soccer practices and games and the final soccer wrap-up barbeque, piano recital, the last of the piano lessons, Erin's rehearsals of her piano piece with orchestra and the performances... and all the usual stuff including the garden going in, the annual accounting and tax deadline, and the GRUBS club in high gear. With tomorrow's end-of-year Suzuki performance party, the last of the extra activities fall away and we are free to slide into summer.

For weeks I've been putting the kids off when they ask about doing this or that: "Wait until after all our stuff is done." The kids all have big lists in their heads of things they want to get to in the weeks to come. They want to devote a day each week to hikes/bikes/canoe trips, to major/messy arts and crafts, to building projects, to child-led cooking & baking and to the beach. I know it will be easy for things to slip into lazy days of chaos and serendipity at home; that's nice in its own way, but they're asking for some help getting some of these things organized and done, and I'll do my best to help. We may end up having a fair bit more self-designed structure to our summer than we've had to our 'school year'.

Erin's Bach Piano Concerto performances were great. The KiwiVine Guest House we stayed at in Nelson during the final onslaught of rehearsals was excellent. It was private, well-appointed and very kid-friendly and comfortable. We were there for four nights and it felt just like home. We had a lovely relaxing time and I think all four kids really enjoyed the time. I worried a little that the week would seem so focused around Erin's needs, but we had so much child-led time and relaxing that everyone felt quite happy.

Musically things went very well for Erin. Her movement was dead easy to put together with the orchestra and she played nicely, very much in control and with a sense of musicality. She also had the chance to deepen her relationship with her teacher and to hang out a little with the two older pianists she was sharing the concerto with, something she somewhat surprisingly quite enjoyed. She suffers not a speck of performance anxiety, but normally she is so unaware of the importance of the audience that she looks almost sulky and lazy as she takes to the stage. But suddenly with these performances -- Wow! She was wearing a sophisticated-looking formal dress and it was as if she'd suddenly gone from being a sulky child to a charismatic young woman. She walked smartly on stage, smiled welcomingly at the audience, bowed and took her place at the piano with calm assurance. Afterwards she smiled and bowed graciously and exuded some real Stage Presence. I felt like I was watching someone else's kid. She looked like she actually cared ... both about the audience and about her performance for them.

Fiona has been incredibly needy for the past week and a half. She's still a chipper little thing most of the time, and funny and enjoyable to be around, but she seems to want to nurse and hug her mom almost full-time, day and night, lately. I hope she'll get full of whatever it is she needs and things will settle down again soon -- it's exhausting for me.

The kitchen renovation, after being put off for a few weeks, is set to move ahead in a week or so. That will carry with it its own sort of chaos... missing plumbing, no stove, no cabinets, drywall dust, outdoor food preparation and the like. But after surviving the past few weeks this seems like small potatoes.

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